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Old 04-08-2015, 07:03 PM   #1
Dingus OP
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5500 Solo kilometers though Aussie Outback.

Late last year I decided to go down to Lake Gairdner in South Australia for the DLRA Speedweek (The Aussie equivalent of the Bonneville event). I decided to ride down, go offroad (well unsealed roads anyway) as much as practical, and see as much country as possible on the way. It turned out to be an amazing two week trip, covering around 5500km of outback Australia, and taking in some really amazing locations. I did it on my own as I couldn't find anyone to go with, which made it all the more exciting. I could not have hoped for a better trip for my first overnight ride. I'm writing a massive report about the ride, places and people (about 5000 words), and was wondering if this is too large. I couldn't find any other reports this big but if people are interested I'll post, otherwise I'll find another avenue to express myself. Just don't want to look like a self obsessed douche.
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Old 04-08-2015, 07:24 PM   #2
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Yes please. Would like to hear about the trip
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Old 04-08-2015, 07:24 PM   #3
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Please post as much as you can....I hope to go someday on a solo adventure
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Old 04-08-2015, 11:42 PM   #4
Wallacey
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If there are enough photos, people will be happy.

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Old 04-09-2015, 12:07 AM   #5
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Scrolled down and it hasn't started yet.
Hurry the F**k up. lol
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:54 AM   #6
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Keep it coming mate
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Old 04-09-2015, 04:01 AM   #7
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:04 AM   #8
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:26 AM   #9
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Lone rider on a dirt bike heading to the Aussie Speed Week down long lonely stretches of the outback to watch nitro Hayabusa's scream across the desert. Who doesn't want to read about that?

I'm in!!!! Bring it on.

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John Downs

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Old 04-09-2015, 08:33 AM   #10
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I'm in

Get the feck busy writing, mate

First pic looks good... hoping for many more

I have a lot of work to do but would rather read your RR!
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:53 PM   #11
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Here it is. 5000 words+pics.

The first day from Miles to Lightning Ridge is uneventful and boring, so Iíll start at Day 2Ö

I arrive in Bourke around lunchtime and proceed to the local police station to enquire about the best route to Wilcannia (there are two dirt roads that follow the Darling River from Bourke to Wilcannia, one to the east of the river, one to the west.) Iím told that I should proceed to Louth 100 km along the way, and make enquiries there. Iím also cautioned against going to quickly on the gravel; a motorcyclist had been killed on that road two weeks earlier when a goat had run out of the scrub in front of his bike. There are thousands of goats in this area. They are skittish and panicky animals, and often attempt to flee from oncoming vehicles by running directly in front of them! Kangaroos, emus and cattle are also present in large numbers on this road, and exhibit the same idiotic behaviour. I soon learn to slow down and beep my horn when approaching areas where shady trees border the road, the shade more often than not harbouring animals seeking refuge from the 40 degree heat.

Another hazard to contend with on this road is the highly variable surface, which changes from hard gravel to corrugations to deep, slippery sand and back again every few kilometres. Not a big deal for an experienced rider, but my lack of off-road experience, balding rear tyre and overconfidence from the hard gravel sections prove to be a dangerous combination, and itís not long before I have my feet out in a sandy section, bracing for a spill. It takes me a while to adapt my riding style and position but by the time I arrive in Louth Iíve got the general gist of reading the road surface and slowing down, leaning back, standing up etc. as required to remain upright and pointed in the desired direction.

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The lady behind the bar at the Louth pub/store/petrol station advises me that the road to the West of the river is most likely in better condition, so I cross the bridge and head towards Tilpa, where I plan to camp overnight. The road to Tilpa is a bit better with less sandy sections and I can cruise along at a very comfortably at 100km/h.

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At the Tilpa pub I order a beer and start chatting with the friendly barmaid, she advises me that a group of Ďbikersí are on their way. Within a few minutes the thundering din of several large-capacity, orange adventure bikes can be heard. Their support vehicle arrives first. ĎHere we goÖí I say under my breath, failing to hide my irritation at having my peace and solitude shattered, and I joke with the barmaid that she should tell them that the campgrounds are fully booked. The group however turn out to be top blokes and very experienced riders, many with a racing background, and we start to talk bikes and bullshit as the beer flows. They regard my decision to make my first bike adventure a 5000 km solo mission through the outback with delighted bemusement.

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The beer continues to flow and before long I start to question the feasibility of setting up camp in my current state, let alone negotiating the 5km ride in the dark to the unlit campground. The pub has no rooms left apparently, and Iím advised by one of the other riders (none of whose names I can recall for some reason) that theyíre going to roll out their swags in the park across the road, and that Iím welcome to join them. Sounds good. Like I said: top blokes. The barmaid, who possibly has similar misgivings to my own about my ability to make camp offers me a room at the pub, one which they donít normally rent out for some reason that I donít quite recall, but I do recall telling her I donít care about the linen or whatever, and I gratefully accept the offer of the room.

I wake up the next morning with no recollection of how I made it back to my room. As I arrive for breakfast (naturally a BBQ affair in the back yard of the pub), I realise that everyone else is in a similar sorry state, and my fear of being told about how I had been carried to bed after passing out on the bar turns out to be unfounded, as apparently I had toddled off under my own steam before humiliating myself too badly. After breakfast we go our separate ways. I feel surprisingly healthy and itís only a short 140 km ride to Wilcannia.

I roll into Wilcannia and proceed to the local cafť in search of food coffee, after which I decide to head out to White Cliffs, a small opal mining town about an hour to the north. On arrival I head towards a hill into which have been built all manner of unusual, alternative dwellings. As I ride onto the dirt road covered in sharp rocks, the advice of one of the riders from Tilpa regarding my rear tyre comes to mind: ĎShould get another thousand kays out of that no worries, just be careful of sharp rocks. Sometimes when the knobs wear down rocks can penetrate the tyre and puncture the tubeí. At the time Iíd thought ĎOkay cool, thousand kays, no worries. Iíll get a new one fitted in Broken Hill on Mondayí.

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Later in the afternoon, on the return trip to Wilcannia, the rear end of the DR suddenly feels weird. I glance down at the rear tyre. Shit! Completely flat.

[IMG][/IMG]

At this point itís worth placing the next episode of the adventure in context.

1. I have never changed a motorcycle tyre. I have watched several instructional videos and have the tools on board, but I have never done it.
2. I only have a spare front tube on board; I was advised before I left that a 21 inch tube will fit onto 17 inch rim in a pinch, thus eliminating the need to carry two bulky tubes.
3. Wilcannia is a remote town where unemployment, alcohol abuse and violence are endemic, all the shops have bars on the windows and all the advice that I read when planning my trip suggested that one does not want to be in town after the sun goes down. Some even advised not to stop here for fuel! I suspect this last bit of advice is hyperbole but nonetheless, the townís reputation plays on my mind and as I push my bike the last few hundred meters into the shade of a large gumtree at a truck rest area on the outskirts of town, I notice that the sun is quite low on the horizon.


I get the wheel off, remove the tube and awkwardly stuff the 21Ē tube into the tyre, smothering it (and myself) with talcum powder, and being careful not to pinch it. At this point a couple of friendly gents pull up and offer assistance, they are experienced riders and are a bit dubious of the tube advice Iíve been given. We chat for a while and I discover that they are also on their way to Lake Gairdner. They lend me their compressor and assist with the rest of the job, one of them even lying down in the dirt at one point to help locate the rear brake disc between the callipers as I refit the wheel. On completion of the job, one of them retrieves a bottle of cold water for me from his car fridge, I pack up my stuff, bid them farewell and head out of town, stopping at the service station to buy a patch kit, just in case. The place Iím camping at is only a few kilometres out of town, and Iím really only concerned about getting there for the night. I can make arrangements for a proper fix in the morning, although the nearest replacement tube is at Broken Hill, two hundred kilometres away.

Not wanting to be stranded at night on the side of the road in Wilcannia, with no one to call for help in case my dodgy repair job doesnít hold, I proceed to the police station and ask for their direct phone number in case I get stuck. I head of out of town and am dismayed (but not really surprised) to feel the familiar, loose feeling in the rear end of the bike less than a minute out of town. I turn around and ride back very slowly to the police station to enquire about the safest option for overnight accommodation.

As I push my bike down the street, Adrian, the proprietor of the cafť across the road calls out to me. He very kindly offers to let me leave my bike in the secure compound behind his cafť, and suggests that I take what I need and head off across the bridge out of town to the caravan park. I remove the saddlebag containing my food and cooking utensils from the bike and my rollbag with tent and sleeping bag, and head towards the bridge.

The caravan park is spacious and picturesque, on the banks of the Darling River, with freshly mowed lawn, and several massive gumtrees providing shade (although warning signs caution against camping under them due the tendency of the huge limbs to break off and fall onto unsuspecting campers) The caretakerís house is guarded by a couple of large dogs with deep, fierce barks. I call out and he comes out of his house (I donít think he was expecting late arrivals) He refuses my offer of payment for the night due to the fact that there is no running water in the park as the toilet block is undergoing renovation. He kindly lends me his own 5 Litre water container out of his ute, which I gratefully accept and wander off to find a spot to camp. This proves to be an easy task as I am the only one in the park. I cook my dinner, lie back in my tent, and listen to the band at the club across the river belting out very tight covers of Cold Chisel, Credence and Chuck Berry. Nice.

When the band finishes and the pub closes the mayhem begins. From midnight until dawn Iím prevented from sleeping by a nonstop barrage of shouted abuse, threats, screaming and very vocal fighting, not directed towards me, but nonetheless disconcerting. A couple of vehicles pull in to the park and do a slow lap before leaving. I find myself devising plans to deal with a bunch of drunken locals who might decide to have some fun with a lone camper from out of town. At some stage I fall asleep, and wake up with an enormous stray dog circling and sniffing at my tent before licking the residue of last nightís dinner from my mess tin.

Sunrise comes, Iím still alive. I pack up my stuff and head back to Adrianís cafe to attempt a repair job on the original 17Ē tube. The damage to the tube is more of a cut than puncture, and I use the biggest patch in the pack. I inflate the tube and immerse it in water. No bubbles. Sweet. The tube is promptly reinstalled in the tyre and the wheel refitted to the DR. I thank Adrian for his help and head off on the 200 km journey to Broken Hill.

For the first 50 km out of Wilcannia I check the rear tyre obsessively. The repair seems to be holding, but almost exactly at the 50 km mark, the tyre deflates instantly. I know when Iím beaten. I have no spare tube, Iíve used the only patch in the kit big enough to fix the hole and Iím 150 km from a new tube. I call the RACQ for a tow truck, retrieve my Jerry can of water from the back of the bike, put on my hat to provide some shade, and wait in the scorching outback heat for the tow truck.

[IMG][/IMG]

Itís Sunday when I arrive in Broken Hill so thereís no chance of getting a tyre until the following day. RACQ organise accommodation in a beautiful old brick cottage with a great view of Broken Hill and provide me with a hire car, which I use to explore the area, including the nearby town of Silverton, about half an hour out of Broken Hill.

Silverton was established as a mining town in the 1880s, and is now home to about 50 people. It feels more like a collection of historic buildings, rather than an organised town. I wander through the cemetery, which is arranged in the same, almost haphazard, manner as the town. It is full of century-old graves fenced with rusted wrought iron; many of them the final resting place of miners killed in accidents around the turn of last century, and their children, many of whom died of typhoid. This was always an inhospitable and dangerous place to live. Some of the graves do not have headstones, and of those that that do, many have fallen over and broken and not been repaired. The abandoned, dilapidated feel of the cemetery, the isolated desert backdrop, and the absence of any noise give the place an eerie and melancholy feel.

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I wander around town, bypassing the ĎMad Maxí museum and various quirky outback art galleries in favour of a few beers and lunch at the pub.

Later that day I receive a call from Rob at Robís Dirt Bikes regarding my tyre. I drive over to his shop, where Iím told that a Dunlop 606 is the best option for the remainder of my ride. Iím also informed by Rob that the tyre that was fitted before my departure was a poor choice and would be better suited to a small capacity bike rather than a big 650 on a 5000km tour of the outback. Oh well, lesson learned. I head back to my cottage to soak up my last night of civilised living before heading to Port Augusta and then Lake Gairdner.

When I wake up the next day, the 40 degree heat has been replaced by cold, gusty weather. The 400 km ride to Port Augusta is cold and unpleasant, with an icy southerly wind blowing across the highway for most of the trip, and by the time I arrive in Port Augusta Iím in a foul mood, not helped by the knowledge that the tyre incident has delayed my arrival at the salt by two days. I go through the motions of pitching my tent and cooking my dinner, and retire to my bed. Shortly after midnight I hear the pitter-patter of a light rain falling on my tent. Itís damned cold, and my jacket, pants and boots are outside in the rain. Not relishing the idea of putting on cold, wet gear on a cold, wet morning, I force myself out of bed and stash my pants, jacket and boots in an undercover BBQ area.

The weather the next day is better, I hurriedly pack up my gear and head out of town towards Iron Knob where Iíll turn off the sealed road and head to Lake Gairdner. Finally. Once Iím on the dirt the ride is fast and fun, the road is mostly hard gravel, except for the last 20 km or so, which have become badly corrugated and sandy due to heavy traffic to and from the lake. I find that with the improved grip from the new rear tyre, and applying what I learned on the way to Wilcannia these sections are a lot less intimidating and can be traversed at similar speeds to the rest of the gravel roads. I arrive at the ĎSaltbushí camp, set up my tent and give the bike a once over to see if the notorious corrugations have rattled anything loose. I find no evidence of any loose fasteners, and my homemade tool tube and associated brackets are intact and remain firmly fastened to the bike. I wander down to the makeshift pub on the hill that overlooks the 9-mile long course in search of cold beer and information on vantage points and access to the salt.

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[IMG][/IMG]


The event itself is very well organised and well catered and the organisers allow bike riders to ride onto the salt to access the start line and pits. Itís not much of a spectator sport, but for those who appreciate the raw and purposeful aesthetic of vehicles built for the sole purpose of achieving maximum terminal velocity, it is a veritable art gallery. I spend many happy hours talking to friendly strangers at the bar, watching and listening to the vehicles on the distant track hurtling across the salt. The noise of howling inline fours, roaring twins and V8s, and screaming two-strokes as they struggle for traction on the slippery surface before accelerating into the distance is pure heaven.

[IMG][/IMG]

Everyone is extremely friendly and the friendliness extends to hospitality once they discover Iím travelling alone. Several people strike up conversations as they walk part my campsite, (surprising how many people have owned DR650sÖ) and extend invitations to use their gear, tools, cookers to cook my food etc. I also come across the two kindly gentlemen who helped me repair my tube in Wilcannia.

The group camped behind me are running a frighteningly fast-looking panhead Harley, and they invite me to their campsite for a few beers, we drink and chat and they regale me with a few stories of disastrous motorcycle (mis)adventures. I retire to my tent for dinner (a small can of some sort of repulsive stew and a lukewarm and gritty mug of red wine that I bought in Port Augusta.) Pleasantly inebriated and having achieved my primary objective of making it to the lake, I sleep very well indeed.

I spend the following day enjoying the sights and sounds of dry lake racing. Another guy on a DR whose arrival I acknowledge with a friendly wave wanders over to my camp and we start chatting about bikes, mods, and routes back home. He introduces himself as Phil as he and his travelling companion, Greg, pull out a map and advise me that if I want to see some country I should head approximately 230 km north up the western side of the lake to a place called Kingoonya. The the prospect of solitude after the unpleasant highway trip into Port Augusta, and to be honest, the pure romance of following directions of a fellow traveller on an unplanned and unknown detour through the desert, appeal to me immensely and I decide to follow his advice.

After packing up my camp the next morning, I head back to Mt Ive for fuel (Mt Ive Station is a working sheep station that also offers accommodation for tourists wanting to visit the salt lake). I get some vague directions and a map from the small general store and see that there is only one route north, so getting lost shouldnít be a problem.

[IMG][/IMG]

A few km into the trip and Iím glad I took Philís advice. This is the desert that I was hoping to find. The road surface changes regularly from gravel to rocks to sand to bulldust (that fine, powdery dust which has the consistency of flour, and is often found in large, deep potholes that canít always be easily identified). On the way I pass several inlets of Lake Gairdner and a neighbouring lake, Lake Everard, as well as the Pondanna ruins, the crumbling remains of shearersí quarters built in the 1880s.

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[IMG][/IMG]


In Australia, remote sheep and cattle properties cover vast areas, and a lot of the road runs through private properties. Around the halfway mark the road ends abruptly at a locked gate, behind which a flock of a few hundred sheep crowd around a trough at the base of a windmill. There is a driveway off to the side of the road leading to a house with a ĎNO PUBLIC ACCESSí sign prominently displayed. I decide Iíll have to ride up to the house and ask for directions. A ĎTRESSPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTEDí sign leans against a shed, and there are a couple of utilities as well as several dirt bikes parked in the dusty yard, but no one around. I wonder around, call out a few times as politely as I can, and eventually enter the house yard and knock on the door. After a few minutes of knocking a guy in his 50s in a blue singlet with thin dreadlocks comes to the door and I ask him if Iím on the right road. He tells me that theyíve locked the gate because they are mustering sheep, but Iím on the right road, and if I go through the yard I can rejoin the road on the other side.

Relieved, I set off again. If I had taken a wrong turn, Iíd have had only just enough fuel to make it back to Mt Ive. After another hundred or so km I see a communication tower in the distance, which I assume to be Kingoonya. The Ďtowní consists of a pub, with half a dozen or so adjoining motel units, a couple of houses and an abandoned caravan park. It is home to about 10 people. The main road is a wide, dusty area in front of the pub which doubles as the local cricket pitch. I get a room, and change out of my sweaty, dusty riding gear. I get a beer, and sit on the veranda of the pub, which is furnished with a mismatched assortment of lawn furniture and the kind of plastic chairs that you find in school halls, watching a long train go rumbling past on the tracks that run parallel to the road as the sun sets in the background.



Itís Friday night, and a few locals turn up for dinner shortly after sunset. Everyone knows each other, and the ten of us sit outside to eat our dinner, drink and chat. The proprietors of the pub, and Bretty and Muzza, join us, and the gathering feels more like a BBQ with friends than dinner at a pub. The conversation turns to routes back to Queensland, I toy with the idea of going north to Coober Pedy, but examination of Muzzaís atlas reveals that there are no direct routes back to the east coast, unless I travel the thousand or so additional km up to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, then back though western Qld. I retire to my room contemplating my options, and decide to make a spur of the moment decision in the morning.

Morning comes and I pack up my gear and head west to check out the abandoned ghost town of Tarcoola. On the way I come across two sheep stuck in one of the many cattle grids on the straight and featureless dirt road. I lift them out one by one. They are not in a good state, and the first takes a few steps before collapsing and doesnít move again, the second stumbles off weakly before falling over and I suspect that neither will survive the day. Itís a grim reminder that if anything does go wrong out here it can be a while before someone finds you, and too long out here without water, let alone with injuries, say from crashing a bike, and your prospects are not good. At Tarcoola, brightly painted childrenís playground equipment stands out among the dull, earth tones of the rest of the town. Perfectly good houses sit empty and boarded up, and weeds grow through cracks in section of paved road outside he school, on which can still be seen the words: ĎSLOW. CHILDREN CROSSINGí in enormous white letters. Itís a dull, overcast day and the place has a creepy vibe. I donít hang around long. On the way back to Kingoonya, I make the decision to head back home via Port Augusta rather than going north. The overcast sky has me worried that if it rains, the trip to Coober Pedy will involve 280 slow and isolated kilometres of mud, and even if it doesnít, this route will take longer than I have time for.

The ride back to Port Augusta is just as painful as the first time. Endless stretches of straight highway, convoys of Ďgrey nomadí caravans, road trains which leave a huge, turbulent wake behind them and a gusty crosswind make me regret my choice.

The weather and terrain pleasantly surprise me the following day, as I head towards Mildura on the Murray River through the rolling hills of the Clare Valley, then through the vineyards and orchards that line the banks of the Murray. I pull into a caravan park a few km out of Mildura on a lake and make camp for the night. When I head off the next day, my intention is to get to Parkes, but itís just more of the same. School vacation has started, and the roads are busy, straight and boring, and I decide that when I reach the next town Iíll find an alternative route, preferably on unsealed roads or tracks.

After two hours Iím at Balranald, I locate a map, and see that there is a road that runs north through Mungo national park to a town called Ivanhoe, 230 km away. The road is sealed for the first 100 km, then dirt. At Ivanhoe I fuel up the bike, and head towards Cobar, another 230 km away on a dirt road. Apart from the stop in Ivanhoe, I donít see another vehicle for the whole 460 km trip. I relish the sandy dirt surface, and cruise along at 100 km/h, standing up for much of the way, and leaning back on rocky sections to lift the front end of the bike and avoid sharp rocks puncturing the front tyre. By the time I hit the last stretch of road to Cobar, the sun is low on the horizon, and the goats, sheep and kangaroos that inhabit the area (Iím now about 100 km south of the road from Bourke to Wilcannia) are very mobile. Every few hundred meters, a group of one sort of animal or another runs out of the scrub (which is more dense that on the road to Wilcannia) across the road. I have one very close call when two kangaroos, run out in front of me, I brake as hard as I dare to avoid them before the smaller of the two turns around and jumps back across my path, avoiding my front wheel by a couple of feet. I pull into the pub at Cobar exhausted and relieved and perform the familiar ritual of requesting a room and ordering a beer.

This is where the adventure essentially ends. The following day I head to Narrabri via Coonabarabran. The terrain is hilly and very beautiful but the roads are busy and it drizzles on and off throughout the day.

After dinner at the Tourist Hotel in Narrabri, I have my ass kicked at pool by local lady Tina (who I swear was born on the pool table).The barmaid kindly lets me lock my bike in the beer garden after they close. I retrieve it in the morning, pack up and set off on the painfully boring 400 km highway ride home.
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Old 04-09-2015, 06:06 PM   #12
Dingus OP
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Location: Western Queensland, 'Straya.
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Part 2-More pics

Noob ride reporter cant figure out how to edit a post properly.What can I say. Here are the rest of the pics.

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[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:53 PM   #13
Mcgee
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Great report! What beautiful scenery, would love to come to Australia and explore on two wheels. Thanks for taking the time to let us ride along!
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Old 04-09-2015, 08:41 PM   #14
sparkingdogg
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Holy shit matey, that was an awesome report! Thanks a heap for taking the time to write it!

I enjoyed every word, you are a talented writer!!

The scenery is very nice, really enjoyed the pictures too. Just a brilliant report. Enjoyed it very much!
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