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Old 03-19-2014, 12:57 AM   #1
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Oz Ride Report - Flinders Ranges - William Creek - Coober Pedy

Hi all - just got back from 8 days away in the Aussie outback, pics to follow! 8 days in total

Day 1 – Melton to Lake Crosbie (Pink Lakes)

I have been planning a trip to the Oodnadatta Track and Coober Pedy for a few months. I sold my Harley in Sept (I’ve had 24 years on Jap bikes, 2 on the Harley, happy to be back on a Jap bike!) and bought a 2010 DL650. 5100km, heated grips, Givi V46 topbox and paid $6500. I bought it in Adelaide and rode it back to Melbourne same day.
I’ve since added a weld86 bash plate, Givi crash bars, Dan Wessel tool tube, Oxford soft panniers and swapped the Suzi hand guards for Bark Busters. I’m very happy with the 650!
I’ve done a fair number of Outback trips in my 4WD and camper trailer with my family and friends including Birdsville, Innamincka (twice), Ooodnadatta, Flinders Ranges, Lightning Ridge, Mungo Lakes etc. I wanted to experience a small part of it on my bike. I don’t mind long distances on bikes, I did Melb – Perth – Melb in 8 days (stayed overnight) in 2000.
Anyway I was planning to go on my own (I’m happy travelling solo) but a mate who was a neighbour a number of years ago and I’ve ridden with all my riding life rang me 2 weeks ago, and said he was coming. He had a 2011 DL650 with a few farkles in a couple of days, 4600kms and paid $7600. Now Joe has never been camping except in a van by the beach, hasn’t really ventured outside capital cities, enjoys 5 star, so this was going to be an experience for him, and a laugh for me!

We headed off after a breakfast with our wives on March 8th, and headed to Lake Crosbie (Pink Lakes), which is between Ouyen and Murrayville in Murray Sunset NP. After turning off the bitumen at Linga, it was a 12km dirt run to the campsite. I was sitting on 70-80km when I hit the first soft patch, had a huge tank slapper and of course tensed up and eased off the throttle which made it worse….. anyway I survived and we made camp. Plenty of flies, only a couple of other campers, dinner and watched the sun set. I was swagging it, Joe had a tent and sleeping bag.

Day 2 – Peterborough

After an ok sleep, and baked beans and coffee for brekky, we packed up. Joe’s comment when we got up was that he had never experienced silence like that before – no noise whatsoever, absolute quiet.
We headed back to the bitumen (incident free this time!) and headed across the border into South Australia and the fruit fly station just before Pinnaroo. Thankfully we didn’t have to unpack everything! We filled up at the servo, and a pattern was set – every fill I was around $1.50 more than Joe – and he weighs more and was carrying more – and it frustrated me every fill! His exhaust had a slightly different note, but appeared identical to mine (both had the pea shooters cut off), but that was the only difference……
We headed north and arrived at Loxton, then west to Waikerie and got the ferry across the Murray and continued onto Morgan. Counter lunch at the Commercial was pretty good, but the temperature was starting to rise, and the next few days were high 30’s.
We continued on to Burra (one of my favourite towns) and we checked out the lookout over the old copper mine and fuelled up. Onto Peterborough and Doc’s (an inmate, also advrider) caravan park. Thankfully they now have a pool, so an hour soaking was magic after a pretty hot day in the saddle, then sausages in bread on the bbq. This is a nice park if you’re passing through! The camping sites were nice green grass, I told Joe it would be the last green grass he’d see for 4 days, I don’t think he believed me……
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Old 03-19-2014, 01:12 AM   #2
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Day 1 photos

Ready to head off - Joe on the left, me on the right

Joe's tent at Pink Lakes

Shadows as the sun sets

Me warming up a snack

Joe relaxing by the fire

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Old 03-19-2014, 01:55 AM   #3
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Day 2 photos

Me crossing the border into South Australia at Pinnaroo


The ferry at Waikerie across the Murray River


Us on the ferry


Overlooking the old copper mine at Burra


Setup at Doc and Robyn's Peterborough Caravan Park
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:26 AM   #4
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Day 3 – Flinders Ranges to Leigh Creek

We said goodbye to Doc and Robyn and headed north – today the real adventure began! We headed to Ororoo for a coffee, then to Hawker to refuel. Joe decided he needed a flynet for his hat. I asked the guy at the servo if he had one with a tiara on it, and from here on Joe was introduced to all as Princess! I got lots of laughs from it!
We decided that rather than just head straight to Parachilna, we’d go through the Flinders Ranges to Blinman, then across to Parachilna via Brachina Gorge, where I’ve previously camped and the scenery is spectacular.
We entered the Flinders and almost immediately Joe had a VERY close encounter with an emu – it ran onto the road as I passed it, Joe probably missed it by less than a metre…. Welcome to the Flinders Ranges! There were lots of emus around for the next few days, more than I’ve seen up that way before, and also a number of wedge tailed eagles – magnificent, huge birds that I never get tired of seeing.
We stopped at a couple of lookouts near Rawnsley Park and continued on to Blinman – what a road! Smooth bitumen, great corners, undulating, some of the best roads I’ve ever ridden on, not to mention the spectacular scenery. We passed Willow Springs Station where I’ve camped twice over the years (home of Skytrek) and onto Blinman for a counter lunch. Cold drinks were very much appreciated as it was bloody hot!
We backtracked about 25 km to the Brachina Gorge road and spent the next hour or so enjoying slow riding through some magnificent red rock gorges, following the river bed in spots before reaching the western side of the ranges and a fast dirt road to the bitumen just south of Parachilna and the Prarie Hotel. Just a beer here, and a chat with some Canadians before heading off again. I had planned to camp at Farina, but it had been a fairly long day and it was very hot so by the time we got to Leigh Creek we decided to get a cabin – and for $20 each, why not!
The maintenance man who droves in Queensland during the cooler months had a ¾ dingo ¼ red heeler named Foxy Lady and she kept us company while we ate and watched a bit of TV and came up with theories about what had happened to that missing airliner…….

Southern end of the Flinders Ranges




Brachina Gorge Road






Prairie Hotel, Parachilna
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:50 AM   #5
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Day 4 – Oodnadatta Tk to Coward Springs

After brekky we headed to the servo but had to wait 10 mins until it opened at 8am – I think unleaded was 179.9. We then headed to Lyndhurst and took a photo at the Strzelecki Track sign. Not far after Lyndhurst the bitumen ends (except for a short stretch) so it was dirt for the next 2 days. We continued on to Farina ruins. I love this spot, and its amazing to think the post office only closed in 1960. We had a good look through the buildings, unfortunately the underground bakery is now locked up as they run it for a few months a year during tourist season. The buildings are terrific, and when you read the history, it must have been a bustling town at the end of the rail line. After plenty of photos, we lowered our tyre pressures to around 25 and 32psi and continued on to Marree.
We called into the roadhouse and topped up at 199.9 and had a decent morning tea as we probably wouldn’t eat until we got to camp mid afternoon. Joe was concerned that the meat in the sausage rolls and pies might be something other than beef (it wasn’t) and suggested stopping further on – I advised him there was nothing further on, not until William Creek tomorrow! His response was a bit of a blank look! He did have a laugh about the almost empty bottle of Southern Comfort on the table amongst paperwork though.
After the obligatory photo at the Oodnadatta Track sign, we cruised at about 60 kmh and scanned the track for soft patches. The track was in pretty good condition, could have gone faster but we had plenty of time and didn’t have to stress the tyres etc. When a soft patch was coming I’d drop down a gear and accelerate and it worked pretty well – I had a lot of confidence in the bike. If we came across a long soft patch we’d generally slow right down and idle through in first gear.
We stopped every now and then for a drink and a chat, Joe just couldn’t believe the distances and the fact that there were actually farms out here (Anna Creek station is the biggest station in the world at 24000kms – eight times larger than Americas biggest, but only carries 14000 head of cattle in a good year, down to about 4000 in a drought).
Eventually we arrived at my favourite campsite that I’ve come across – Coward Springs. I camped here about 5 years ago on my way to Oodnadatta. It has palm trees, toilets, showers, shady campsites and of course the natural spring spa surrounded by sleepers from the old Ghan railway. It really is a piece of paradise, other than the flies!
We set up and soaked in the pool for a while – sensational! I told Joe I was going to boil the billy for a cuppa, and that all we needed was a couple of Swiss tourists to call in – well guess what! A small bus pulled up after the billy boiled and 17 Swiss and British tourists pulled in for a swim! The look on Joe’s face was priceless when I arrived back at the pool with a few young Swiss girls! We all squeezed into the pool and had a great hour or so talking about where they’d been and what they’d seen and plenty of laughs – the things that happen when least expected!
As they were leaving a French couple also pulled in for a paddle on their way to William Creek.
After our visitors left we had tea, another soak then a shower (didn’t worry about lighting the heater) and a fairly early night. Unfortunately the moon was pretty bright so not a lot of stars.
What a fantastic place!

Farina





Joe in the bath!





Start of the Oodnadatta Track




Lake Eyre South



Coward Springs - my favourite!





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Old 03-19-2014, 03:18 AM   #6
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Fantastic
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:32 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by PK2 View Post
Coward Springs your favourite spot you say? Can't for the life me of understand why
Great report thanks for sharing
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:33 AM   #8
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I'm subscribed.
I love that area, looking forward to getting there again later this year
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:11 AM   #9
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Thanks, I'll post up the second half tomorrow night
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Old 03-19-2014, 05:07 AM   #10
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Wow! Much more betterer with pics!

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Old 03-19-2014, 07:54 PM   #11
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Day 5 – William Creek to Coober Pedy

Forgot yesterday we stopped at Lake Eyre South and walked onto the lake. Bloody hot, no water. I’ve seen it dry 4 times, said to my wife next time its full we’ll just make a beeline and check it out.

We packed up (getting good at it now!) and hit the road before 8am. 70 kms to William Creek. Not a lot of new stuff to see, just more dirt road, red soil and some wildlife. Just before William Creek there was a dead rabbit on the track. Now that got me thinking – how bad would your luck have to be to get run over on the Oodnadatta Track!?
We pulled in to William Creek and topped up – at 225.9, but we only needed $15 worth so no worries. Into the pub and although it was about 10am we had a drink anyway – well you have to have a drink at William Creek! Unfortunately a lot of the business cards, undies, photos etc have been taken off the walls/ceiling, but they will build up again fairly quickly again I reckon! There was a drilling crew there from Qld, waiting on a couple of trucks to head to Coober Pedy and then Alice Springs. I was imagining a couple of flat bed trucks, but 8 B-Doubles pulled up half an hour later, loaded with drilling rigs and stuff. We had plenty of laughs with them mainly at Princess’ expense, and the barmaids joined in. The barmaids are all pilots who do the flights over Lake Eyre and the Painted Desert, two of them were from Melbourne.
After a toasted sanga we headed off to beat the trucks onto the road, and headed direct to Coober Pedy (170km), a road I haven’t done before. As this road heads pretty much south it travels between the dunes, and so doesn’t have the low washouts of the Oodnadatta Track, but does have plenty of soft red sand patches so no time to relax – concentration was imperative. I was pretty comfortable with my bike but Joe lost a bit of confidence after a couple of near get-offs and slowed a bit. I could always see his headlight in my mirrors and stopped every now and then to let him catch up.
The trucks caught us one by one so when we’d see huge dust clouds coming behind us we’d stop and wait for them to pass. Luckily the wind was blowing from the south so we didn’t get covered in dust as they passed.
I really enjoyed riding this road (Joe less so) but after a few hours we came into Coober Pedy and hit the bitumen. We’d made it with no tyre or bike troubles, a bit of a relief!
After a photo or two at the Coober Pedy sign we headed to the Oasis CP and grabbed a cabin for the night. After a swim in the pool, we headed down the main street and Joe bought an opal and white gold ring for his wife, Now, being of Italian descent, Joe likes to bargain. The ring he liked had a $1650 price on it. After a few minutes he walked out with it having paid $500!!
We had a drink at the Desert Cave International Hotel which was great, then tea at a restaurant over the road. Stopped at the bottle shop for some Woodys to take back to the cabin and a well earned sleep.









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Old 03-19-2014, 08:00 PM   #12
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Day 6 – to Peterborough

We had a big brekky at Coober Pedy on our way out and aired back up. Today was a pretty big day in the saddle, we were aiming to get back to Peterborough – about 690km.
We took it pretty easy for the first 100km as it was still fairly early and I was on the lookout for wildlife. The number of wedge tailed eagles was amazing, a lot of them didn’t even bother flying away from their brekky as we passed. We pretty much sat on 120 or so down the highway and stopped at Glendambo to fill up and have a coffee. From here we continued on at a good pace, stopping about every 100km for a quick drink of water. We stopped at Lake Hart (another salt lake) and as we approached Port Augusta we travelled alongside a huge train (I think it was the train from Perth) which was going at a good pace.
We filled up at Port Augusta and continued on, turning left 25km south to Wilmington. What a great road! Climbing across the mountain range near Mt Remarkable, the smooth tarmac twisted and turned and was terrific after such a long straight stretch. We stopped at Wilmington for a drink at the pub and then continued to Ororoo for a VERY late lunch and met up with a rider from Queensland who was touring on a Buell. He has three, and has just ordered the first EBR (Erik Buell’s new bike) in Qld, possibly Australia. We said our goodbyes and headed on to Peterborough and caught up with Doc and Robyn again, before a dip in the pool. This was our last night camping as we’d booked a cabin in Mildura for our last night. Joe reckons it would be the last time he ever slept in a tent! Me? I would gladly turn around and do it all again!



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Old 03-19-2014, 08:06 PM   #13
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Day 7 – to Mildura

Well, we were on the home stretch now! We left Peterborough and stopped at Terowie to check out the cemetery (Joe is a stonemason). As with most old cemetaries, the number of people and kids who died so young makes you realise how harsh times were 100+ years ago. We arrived at Burra for a coffee and a good look around, Joe had a neck massage as he’d been struggling with a sore neck for a few days.
We continued on to the ferry at Morgan and then followed the Murray. Amazing to see so much green after spending a few days in the outback!
Lunch at Barmera overlooking the lake, then on to Mildura and our cabin. Greasies for tea (Hungry Jacks) and we watched a movie on TV with a couple of drinks and a lot of talking about our trip. It was such an eye opener for Joe, and a reminder for me of why I love this country and the outback so much. I want to keep going!

Terowie Cemetary


Burra


Mildura
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:07 PM   #14
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Day 8 – Home!

No photos for today! It was drizzling as we left Mildura for a simple run down the highway and home. It had stopped by the time we got to Ouyen for a coffee, then started raining heavily as we filled up at Sealake. It stopped just before our lunch stop at Charlton and we got lunch at the bakery.
A quick stop at Bridgewater, then onto the Calder and down the highway to home at 3pm.

Well what a week! Neither bike needed a spanner put on them which was great, we greased the chains at least once a day, we spent under $300 each on fuel (still cant work out why I was consistently using more than Joe!), I spent around $700 in total for the week (paid cash for everything).
It was such a huge culture shock for Joe. I’ve showed him photos of our outback trips and told him all about it but it was something he just didn’t understand. He said it was a life experience and something he never would have done on his own. We’ve already had a few coffees and gone over the photos since we got home. I’m going to do a calendar for him with photos from the trip.
I reckon we did alright for a couple of 50 year olds!
For me it was great to revisit some of my favourite places – places like Burra, Brachina Gorge, Parachilna, and of course Coward Springs and Coober Pedy.
I’m so glad my boys (now 25 and nearly 18) can look at the photos and go “remember when we were there and so and so happened?”, or “remember that night with the Swiss tourists at Oodnadatta?” My kids have camped over a lot of this country, and my son and his partner and my grandson have started to camp with us at the Murray on the weekends we are there, which I think is fantastic.
I’m also lucky that my wife loves camping and travelling as well, and she understands when I need a roadtrip!

Now, where’s that map……….
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Old 03-21-2014, 03:21 PM   #15
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Great ride report, planning a trip to Oodnadatta on the 500x in early April.
Any idea when that underground bakery in Farina is actually open?
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