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Old 10-01-2010, 07:30 AM   #1
OzBen OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: SW Australia
Oddometer: 15
Neale Junction on the 'bomb' road (Great Victoria Desert)

PART I - 1,600kms Perth to Neale Junction

Steve (1200Adv), Chris (1200GS) and I (KTM690R) rode from Perth to Neale Junction on the Anne Beadell 'bomb' road in Western Australia.
Neale Junction is in the Great Victoria Desert and the Anne Beadell passes through various Aboriginal reserves for which we had access permits.
Mike (F800) joined us for two days out of Perth but had to return home once we started on the Anne Beadell.
Most of the 3,000km was on dirt - 800km on the Anne Beadell without fuel or facilities and if you like sand, you'll love this ride - there's lots of it.

In summary, Steve modified his bike…

each of us had a spill...

and Chris destroyed a tire.

The Anne Beadell Highway is a 4wd track running east-west through the Great Victoria Desert.
Further north is the Gunbarrel Highway (another east-west running track).
The Connie Sue Highway runs north-south and links these two. Where it intersects with the Anne Beadell is Neale Junction.
Len Beadell (road builder) officially named these tracks 'highways' – he either had a warped sense of humour, or he'd been too long in the bush?

On Sat morning we met for breakfast and Robin was there to bid us farewell - he kindly 'volunteered' to be our standby man in Perth if things go wrong.

Got on dirt at Pickering Brook in Perth...

and stayed on dirt...

Morning tea at Popanyinning…

Got in touch with our feminine side by smelling the wildflowers (and crushing them in the process)...

Good farm roads to Hyden…

Lunch at the bakery, 350km from Perth.

Another 150km to Breakaways…

Towed firewood to the campsite…

Vic Rock Road on Sunday…

The rock…

A quick look (from outside, Sue & Camille & Kerry) at the oldest working brothel in Australia...

Broad Arrow tavern, 40km north of Kalgoorlie...

No room left on the walls to write our names…

Ora Banda for lunch...

Then to Rowles Lagoon, which has the dubious honour of being the local ski resort when there’s water (almost never)…

Took the bikes for a swim…

Mike got carried away – think he imagined he was a ski boat…

The Goldfields roads are always good when it’s not raining, but when wet they’re slippery as ice...

Kookynie historical hotel.

The sensible way to traverse a puddle…

and the right way.

Camping in the bush – unfortunately Mike (F800) had to head back to Perth the next morning.

Laverton, last civilization for 800km - we all had long range tanks but needed an additional 20 liters of fuel each, and extra water.

The start of the Anne Beadell Highway – 380km to Neale Junction.

Why was the Anne Beadell built?
Why is it called Anne Beadell?
Who is Len Beadell?
Why is it a 'bomb' road?
Why is it called a 'highway'? (f**k knows...but read on for the rest)

Bear with me, it’s a good yarn and worth a read...
I’m no historian so I’m open to correction, but my understanding is that it all started with the German V2 Rockets that relentlessly bombed London during the Second World War and embarrassingly outwitted the English. They were helpless against the formidable and technologically advanced weapon. After the war England was keen to be part of the nuclear weapons development process and required a remote area to test new weapons.

Australia offered the Woomera area (central South Australia) as a joint facility for the establishment of a rocket range. Desolate land stretching thousands of kilometers to the west could be used for testing. For 30 years Woomera functioned as the base for the largest overland rocket range in the western world. Its most famous rocket is the ‘Blue Streak’ which is probably also its biggest failure. Initially, there was no access to recover fallen bombs/rockets so a series of ‘bomb roads’ were required, covering many thousands of kilometers over extremely harsh, dry and desolate land.

Enter Len Beadell, a young military surveyor keen to make a name for himself and with more guts than good sense. That attribute stood him in good stead and helped make him an Australian legend in time.
His initial involvement was to survey an airstrip for Dakotas to land at Woomera but he was then tasked to build the bomb roads. Len proceeded to carve himself a notch in Australian history with a Land Rover, a bulldozer, a grader and his small team through a lifetime of camping, surveying, exploring and road making in the vast empty areas of Central Australia, opening up for the first time more than 2.5 million square kilometers of the Great Sandy, Gibson and Great Victoria Deserts. He also selected and surveyed the sites for the rocket tracking station (now Giles Meteorological Station) and Maralinga (Aboriginal for 'thunder') where the British atomic bomb was tested.

Len's first road was the Gunbarrel Highway and after that the Connie Sue Highway named after his daughter, the Gary Highway and Gary Junction Road for his son, and the Anne Beadell Highway for his wife, and more...he died in 1995, and his ashes were placed at the site of the original survey peg to mark the centre line of the rocket range.

Enough academic bullsh*t...let’s ride again - the first 150km of the Anne Beadell were good…


Minnie Creek Road junction…

Abandoned Yamarna station....

And then there was sand...

Some better sections in between...

which create a false sense of security, so you still get caught out…

We'd each had a fall by the time we decanted 10 liters of fuel…

Yeo Lake abandoned homestead - 220km from Laverton, with a rainwater tank...

but I wouldn't rely on the rainwater.

There’s a dunny ‘beyond the black stump’ - gents to the left and ladies to the right, but they all end up in the same dunny…

a 'bucket' shower...

a well (not potable)...

and if you’re really hungry, some tucker in the well.

Another good section after Yeo Lake…

Then sand and rocks again - unfortunately not many photos of the challenging sections because 'you slow down - you go down'.
And another thing - rocks and sidewalls don’t mix well...

Three plugs reduced it to a slow leak (tubeless)…

Camped 50km short of Neale Junction.

We got to the 'official' camp spot near the junction on Tues morning - if you’re lucky, there may be rainwater in the tank.

From here we called Robin (in Perth) on the sat phone to arrange for a new tire to be sent to Leonora (the nearest place we could get a replacement tire for Chris at short notice).

1,600km from Perth and 380km from Laverton we got to Neale Junction - where the Connie Sue Highway intersects with the Anne Beadell Highway.

The plaque was placed here by Len Beadell in 1962.

Found this entry by 'Hill Billy' in the visitors book, kept in a metal box behind the Neale Junction marker.

PART II – 1,500kms Neale Junction to Perth

Originally we planned to take the Connie Sue Highway north from Neal Junction to the Aboriginal community of Warburton (350km), but that would mean an additional 700km on the ruptured tire to Leonora (from Warburton).
The sidewall damage was getting worse so we decided against that option and headed back the way we came, which meant only 500km to Leonora.
So we decanted the last 10 liters of additional fuel into our tanks and away we went...

On the way back Steve gracefully proceeded to demonstrate how to over-end a heavy 1200, re-shape it and at the same time, unpack all the gear...

The handlebars were bent and the mirror broken off…

One side of the triple clamp came away from the fork - the steering column bearing must have crushed as there was half-an-inch free play, allowing the handlebars to rock from side to side...

You-beaut strong and expensive BMW panniers…

Steve was a flustered (who wouldn’t be?) but he’s a tough boy and got back in the saddle after we gathered his belongings and tied the bike together as best we could.

It took some practice riding the bike with bent and loose handle bars...

practice session 2…

session 3…

session 4...

After a number of falls Steve mastered the bent and broken machine and (amazingly) did not fall again, even chasing the odd camel along the way...

Meanwhile, I had broken my mirror on a protruding branch…

and Chris had to stop more frequently to add more plugs and inflate his damaged tyre - the sidewall tear was getting bigger and the slow leak was getting faster.

We spent Tues afternoon at Yeo Lake, straightening up Steve’s bike...

and installing a tube in Chris’ front tire.

Wed morning we did the challenging stretch between the two abandoned stations and reached Yamarna relieved, without further incident.

I had lost a mirror - they're XR mirrors and $25 each, so pretty expendable...

From here the remaining 120km is easy going…

hard ground…

Back in Laverton for fuel…

125km to Leonora on bitumen – scary stuff!

and boring...

A new tyre was waiting for Chris in Leonora (thanks Robin).

Not an easy thing breaking the bead on a tubeless rim...

From here we headed to Lake Ballard on the Mt Ida road…

A short run up Granite Creek for a look–see…

Small copper mine along the way…

View of Lake Ballard from Snake Hill…

Took the little-orange-thingy for a swim, and admired Anthony Gormley’s sculptures that are planted throughout the dry lake…

The helmet compliments her looks - I'm sure the artist would agree?

Lake Ballard Wed night...

Menzies Roadhouse Thurs morning for breakfast and fuel…

Steve’s throttle had jammed (again) so it took some work to get him back on the road...

The roadhouse owner collects signs.

Steve (wisely) decided to head back home on sealed roads and Chris and I continued on the Menzies-Evanston dirt road (we passionately hate bitumen, and so would anyone riding a little-orange-thingy).

Morning tea…

Lunch at the Evanston-Bullfinch Road junction…

Bullfinch Lake…

A thirst quencher at the local pub…

To Baladjie…

Took the bikes for a swim on the salt lake in the morning...

Went a bit deep and broke the surface crust…

Turned the bike and dragged it out (under it’s own power).

Good farm roads from here…

Breakfast at Frankies in Trayning…

Lunch at the Cola Cafe in Toodyay…

Chittering Valley…

Home after 3,100kms (most on dirt) in 7 days.

Thanks Steve, Chris and Mike for a great ride. The remoteness, risk and uncertainty is what we love...
Steve, you’re the man of the match mate - riding a big bike in sand is difficult enough, without having to deal with loose handlebars and an unpredictable throttle.

Steve's short video of the ride - it's a good watch...


OzBen screwed with this post 07-26-2011 at 01:43 AM
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:04 AM   #2
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Looks like the BMW went down hard!!

Scott in Shoreview
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:18 PM   #3
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Hi Ben looks like a good ride bit of every thing you blokes have all the fun , what happend to Robin, Neale Junction was his idea see ya paul
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:49 PM   #4
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:55 PM   #5
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once again another ride report to make us all bloody jealous..... nice work Boet
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Old 10-01-2010, 04:40 PM   #6
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Really looking forward to this one. One day I"ll get'll be good to see how you overcome the fuelling difficulties.

That sand.....soft panniers for me I think!
Difficulties be Damned
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:23 PM   #7
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Well? C'mon then. Out with it.
Looks like an epic.
Armageddon Was Yesterday, Today We Have a Problem

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All the Way to Nowhere & Back Again. 2010

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Old 10-02-2010, 03:01 AM   #8
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Location: Perf, Western Australia
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Looking forward to the RR. Good to see Steve looks much better than his bike in the after shot.

See you at brekky tomorrow?

Life is what you like.

DR650....well equipped
The Grey Mare "flying brickette" '96 BMW K75 that bike!
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Old 10-02-2010, 04:55 AM   #9
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Ah, those 19 inch front wheels again hey Ben, good to see your still gaining even more street cred, pitty about the choice of bikes, I'm heading down to Neil Junction next week so I'll look out for your tracks, down the gun barrel yesterday and heading for Sandy Blight junction rd tomorrow.....just a pitty I'm driving a 5 t truck, but then again it has got air con, and an Engel, and.......
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Old 10-02-2010, 06:09 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by FIIG Rick
Ah, those 19 inch front wheels again hey Ben, good to see your still gaining even more street cred, pitty about the choice of bikes, I'm heading down to Neil Junction next week so I'll look out for your tracks, down the gun barrel yesterday and heading for Sandy Blight junction rd tomorrow.....just a pitty I'm driving a 5 t truck, but then again it has got air con, and an Engel, and.......
............. no beer
'02 GSX 1400 outfit........lot's of grin factor
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Old 10-02-2010, 06:45 AM   #11
Joined: Jan 2010
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Harden Up

What's happened to you Ben?

A tent AND a chair! Isn't that a bit too much weight for luxuries?

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Old 10-02-2010, 07:49 AM   #12
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Another great RR Ben. You have way too much fun!
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Old 10-02-2010, 05:22 PM   #13
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:09 AM   #14
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Great stuff Ben

Bring on the rest of the pics and story!
Some men like the fish'n,
Some men like the foul'n,
Some men like to hear........
to hear the cannonball a roar'n!
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Old 10-03-2010, 04:57 AM   #15
Hill Billy
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Well come on, hurry up with the rest of it will you.
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