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Old 03-30-2007, 08:36 AM   #1
Eaglebeak OP
Aussie BM rider, West Oz.
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Location: Perth.
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Zanthus, Peak Charles - Western Australia

The following is a report on a 5 day, 2,000km ride through Western Australia. ~60/40 tar /dirt and four riders.

My older brother, John L (Archie55) on a V-Strom 650 was back on a bike after about a 15 year lay off. He's a good photographer and many of the following shots were taken by him.
My old mate John B on his GS1200, Pat on his TTR600 and me on my KLR.

Just as a taster, this shot by brother John

We had 600 kms of tar before hitting the dirt east of Kalgoorlie, a large Gold mining town in the interior, due east of the Capital of WA, Perth. So an early start was in order and we all met in the foothills at a servo.

An obligatory stop at the little wheat belt town of Tammin where they have one of the biggest shop interiors I've seem for a servo.

and some typical local architecture

then out of the wheatbelt and into Pastoral Country

Then on to Coolgardie

all the time allowing Pat time to refuel the little tanked TTR between commercial fuel outlets

My bike meanwhile looking in almost showroom condition, not long to the dirt !

Finally arriving in Kalgoorlie, the last fuel for ~400kms. Everyone tops up tanks and we take on a little extra, anticipating variable consumption in the dirt and sand ahead.
We hit the dirt after checking out the roadkill hanging on the sign

and racing the light

finally camp just on dusk

We're in a forest reserve, the road has a bit of traffic heading out to a Community and we're knackered (tired) so we sit around the Fluoro rather than bother with a fire.

Early dawn

and Pat does a little maintenance

and then we're on the road.

Passing the Community down the road

Brother John hasn't done much dirt before and the V-Strom is shod with some pretty road orientated Trailwings, luckily it's a good beginners road with very little loose material to worry him.

We're riding the service road for the east-west rail line line across Australia and around midday we arrive at the former busy little rail service centre of Zanthus. Home now to a young welder and his offsider (his Dad). Both have spent most of their lives out in the desert, the young guy having been born in Rawlinna, another service centre 200 kms further east. Rawlinna is also deserted and the hardy pair spend their working week moving between the two doing repairs to the tracks.

We spend some time checking out an derailed carriage

and refuelling the bodies.

While we're there a goods train heading east pulls over to give priority to the west bound unit

Then we head due south down the track about 200kms to Balladonia roadhouse. Balladonia is situated on the main tar road between Perth on the west coast and 'the rest' of Oz on the east.

This condition of this road is unknown to us. It started well

but soon deteriorated. For Pat and I on the singles, it was no biggy and John B always copes well on the bigger GS, but brother John started to have trouble.

We regrouped every 5 -10 kms, John B and I in touch at the front and rear with UHF radios.

We estimate about 70 kms of the track had large sections of bulldust.

There was mining activity in the area but we saw no vehicles during our time on the track (8 hrs/180kms)

Finally another late camp near a diesel fuel trailer

THe next day we came across this dam with abundant birdlife.

and then later this conga trail of caterpillars end to end.

The last 10 kms improve and we cross the airstrip at the back of Balladonia roadhouse

where brother John is relieved to hit the tar again after numerous drops in the bulldust.

He had been picking good lines through most of the mess but with his lack of dirt riding and the handicap of a heavy road shod bike it was always going to be tough.
The V-Strom came through unscathed apart from a cracked indicator housing (lens still working) and a hand shield broken. He had a good sump protector on order but it hadn't arrived in time for the trip.

After a feed, fuel and drink we hit the tar heading west to Norseman ~200kms away.

There we parted company with John heading due south on the tar to the coastal town of Esperance and John B, Pat and I heading 50 kms south on the tar before turning west onto a dirt road to ride to ride 50kms to Peak Charles for the night.

We climbed the hill for some inspiring views

and then it was back on the bikes for the ~200kms of good dirt

to the small town of Lake King where brother John was due to meet us in the Tavern around midday, having come around via the tar after a quick look at the beaches of Esperance.

Lake King is on the edge of the wheatbelt, pretty marginal country due to the scarity of rain. But it has a dynamic spirit and a bloody good rammed earth tavern. Just the place for a steakburger and a beer !

Midday afternoon we pushed off for Wagin, no more dirt.
Here we encountered the worst head and side winds I have ever ridden in. The little singles were knocked around badly. Large dust storms roamed across the surrounding paddocks and coupled with the long drought we've been having it was a pretty depressing sight.
Western Australia had yet another Cyclone (Hurricane) building in the far north that was affecting the weather all the way down the coast.
The last half hours riding to Wagin was done in heavy ovcercast conditions and by the time we arrive it was raining. No arguments about taking a Motel for the night !

Our Pub counter meals arived just as the power supply to the whole town went out. We ate by tea candles and retired to bed early.

By early morning the sky had cleared and brother John and I went for a wander around town.

Aussie country towns are something else. It doesan't seem to matter how small it is, it's got to have a few Hotels and one has to be called "The Federal".

Hmmm....should I get it for Mrs Beak ?

Having grown up in a coastal country town I never tire of these little places or the people. As our cities change/evolve with new streams of migration, the Aussie country town seems (to me at least) to just stop time itself.

Our ride was really at an end now, just a few hours on the tar back to the city and it would all be over.

This one was a bit special, it seems unbelievable, but this was the first time in my long riding career that my brother and I had ridden together.

John, thanks for coming along, thanks for having a go, thanks for the great photo's and I'm looking forward to the border run.

John B and Pat. What can I say that I haven't said before ? Good riders, good people, great company, lets do it again soon.

Andrew Linton.

Eaglebeak screwed with this post 04-01-2007 at 02:45 AM
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Old 03-30-2007, 09:34 AM   #2
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Wow!! What a gorgeous trip!! Thanks for the report and the great pics!!

What kind of front tyre is on the KLR?
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Old 03-30-2007, 03:28 PM   #3
Eaglebeak OP
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Just a Trailwing. Rear also. There seems to be about 4 types of Trailwing pattern available over here.
I have two bikes, both of which I use to daily commute in the city (week about) and I don't want to be changing tyres constantly. The 'wings' give good wear.

That said, next dirt trip I think I'll throw something else on the front, maybe a TKC80.

If you look at the V-Strom, it too had Trailwings, although a much more road orientated pattern.

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Old 03-30-2007, 05:34 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Eaglebeak

Andrew Linton.
Those night shots were great! What camera and settings did you use? Tripod?
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Old 03-30-2007, 05:54 PM   #5
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That strom looks just like mine... even down to the motodry softcases... and I'll be doing my offroad debut tomorrow so have something to look forward to.
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Old 03-30-2007, 06:27 PM   #6
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fantastic !!!
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Old 03-30-2007, 09:00 PM   #7
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Remarkable photos!
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Old 03-30-2007, 09:13 PM   #8
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Bloody nice canvas bag you have there Mr Beak.

It's been a while since your last report... well worth the wait.
Knit fast, Die warm.
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Old 03-31-2007, 01:54 AM   #9
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Great report/pics. Sensational country, pity it's so far from the east coast.

Originally Posted by TymeRider
Those night shots were great! What camera and settings did you use? Tripod?
Picture properties - must have been a tripod.
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Old 03-31-2007, 02:30 AM   #10
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Great pics, thanks for the report.
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Old 03-31-2007, 03:03 AM   #11
Eaglebeak OP
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TymeRider. Those two shots were taken by my brother. He's registered on the site as "Archie55". I think he's having trouble with his modem at the moment. I'll get him to reply when he can.
I can tell you he had a tripod. He takes a good pic doesn't he ?

Of the photo's in the report, I took about 1/3 of them ! We took similar shots in many instances, but his were nearly always just a bit sharper and at other times he just had an 'eye' for composition.
Of course I just blame my cheaper camera !

Thanks for the replies, it takes a while to download photo's and write up reports, but I've had so much enjoyment from others stories, you have to make the effort in exchange.

DRF, lovely Aussie bag, nice and simple, who needs all the extra pockets when one ginormous bag will do ! (now, if I could just find somewhere to hang the old Aussie canvas waterbag)

My little ply rack extension under the bag just lifts off to double as a safe, flat surface for the cup of Port. Bliss.

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Old 03-31-2007, 05:26 AM   #12
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Hi Anrew GREAT ride

Thanks for shering

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Old 04-01-2007, 02:27 AM   #13
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Davo he's nicked your bag ... the trumpy might be next

great pics and report guys
Stuff this i'm off for a ride!
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Old 04-01-2007, 03:07 AM   #14
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Photo technique

RPN & Tymerider

I used a tripod, as you guessed from the properties - a simple old metal one that extended only to 1.2m, but folded down to 320mm x about 45mm dia. (RPN- how did you capture that data?)

I tend to be a lazy technician, and use the camera's automatic settings a lot. For night shots, I use manual focus and the 10 sec shutter delay (to avoid finger shake), and leave the auto setting on, unless the subject is close and calls for some depth of field. Hence, in these cases where it didn't matter, the long shutter speed and wide aperture. The camera has a max. shutter speed of 30 secs, which I've always found to be enough.

I've found the technique also works a treat at the local Perth Observatory for star photography. Although I tried to capture the incredible star displays out where we were bedded down, I just couldn't do them justice - I needed a fisheye lens.

I ended up with about 350 successful photos, a bit on the light side for me, mainly because I was so busy either trying not to fall off in the sand/bulldust, or racing to keep up with the others when we were on a transit stage. I'll be going back at my leisure to get some more of them.

Andrew was right about that second last day, between Lake King and Wagin. I've never ridden in strong winds, especially gusty crosswinds, and riding with the bike on a permanent but shaking tilt was an experience and a half. Normally, if I was in a car, I'd have stopped to photograph the gathering storm.

Earlier that day, while the other three were doing their Peak Charles bit, I was riding the 250km from Esperance to Lake King. This included about an hour of passing through a locust plague currently bedevilling the area. Made a bit of a mess on the bike and my legs, but the V-Strom windshield did its job beautifully. Once again, I didn't stop to argue with the insects.

All in all, this trip, my first out of city traffic on a bike, was an adventure, an eye opener, a delight and a trial, by turns. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, but I'll be changing a few things before I tag along off-road with Andrew again. The bike will get knobbies of some sort, especially the front, I'll lose some of the weight I had packed on it (and me), especially the top box - that was too much, too high, even with only lightweight contents - and I'll do a crash course in muscle-building. Fallen V-Stroms are not easy to lift when you're tired!

That said, I found the bike a great tourer on bitumen and graded or hard packed gravel. It's got a lot of guts, and hums along sweetly for hour after hour. My overall trip meter read 2247km at the end of 4.5 day's travel, with an average of 20km/litre of fuel. Even the (for me) horror stretch of 180kms sand/bulldust at between 1km/h and (sometimes) 30km/h still returned 19km/l. I finished that 2-day total stretch of 381km with 2 litres still in the tank! The worst was the stormy day (17km/l).

Thanks for all the comments. I have enjoyed reading all the reports by others. It's good to have a part in returning the favour.

John Linton

Archie55 screwed with this post 04-01-2007 at 03:26 AM
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Old 04-01-2007, 04:55 AM   #15
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Great Report mate !
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