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Old 07-19-2011, 01:21 AM   #1
bull600 OP
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Location: Adelaide South Australia
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Murray / Darling River Run

The plan for this trip was to check out some of the areas of the Murray/Darling River upstream of Loxton through to the Menindee lakes. With fine weather forecast for a few days we packed the DR650’s and headed off on a brisk Adelaide winters morning.

After heading up Anstey’s Hill we were soon off the bitumen and onto some tracks through the hills

The countryside was very green

and there’s nothing like a ride through the Mt Lofty Ranges during this time of the year

It wasn’t long before we’d picked up some more nice tracks

I don’t think the alpacas see too many bikes through here

Once past Mt Pleasant the country side opened up a little

With some wet patches thrown in

After a dispute between the gps and a fence line (which shouldn’t have been there ) we worked our way through what looked suspiciously an easement and made it through to the Marne River

This great little bit of road follows the normally dry bed of the Marne River through to the sleepy hamlet of Blackhill

From there it was a short hop to the river at Walker Flat

Where we waited for the punt to take us over to the other side

Once over the river we stopped at the lookout and could see that the mighty Murray looked in pretty good nick.

Now those observant ones amongst you may have wondered what those interesting green canvas bags were hanging from Paul’s handlebars. Wonder no more - they are the new patented (ex canvas awning) handlebar muffs designed especially by him and hand sewn (the day before) the trip. They seemed to actually work - I just told people he wasn’t with me

Once over the river we headed north east along the Bakara Sand Road

and then through mallee country

until we stopped at Loxton for a pie (some people get grumpy when they’re hungry )

The plan was to head to a know campsite out of town and settle round the fire for a few quite ales. With some beers already on board we just needed some ice

As we headed towards the river I noticed that things had changed quite a bit since last time I’d been through (pre flooding). The track in was now underwater and an alternative route was pretty rutted

then when back on course we found a locked gate and sign. Even the fence was a little tricky to get through

Never one to give in easily it was time to explore around for other options and low and behold a way through was soon found where an old fence had washed away

With a bit of maneuvering we got through the tree line

and continued on

It was soon pretty clear that there was no way a vehicle could get into this area at the moment so despite the changed circumstances we headed off for our elusive campsite

The main track I had previously used was now also under water so we skirted around looking for a way through. There were lots of areas of cracked mud where receding waters had left their mark and we soon learnt that any green coloured mud patches soon led to trouble

After heaving away for a while we got Paul’s bike out of its bog hole (and quickly warmed up!) and kept moving towards our camp

Of course this was all after Paul’s bike stand had slowly sunk into the mud. The weight of that ice bag made all the difference

Finally we got to our spot and found it was too soft to camp on Oh well, we kept plodding along and soon found a great spot on a slightly higher piece of ground that was dry and right on the bank. It wasn’t long before camp was set up

And those beers were thrown down

We then did a bit of a recee on the bikes and found that compared to the way in, there was a quick and easier way out, so we thought we’d run back into town for a feed.
And a good meal it was too!

Note to diabetics.. love handles are useful

Then it was back on the bikes with gps and led lights on and back to camp

Route Day 1

Day 2

Another clear cold morning greeted us on the banks of the Murray River

It wasn’t long before breakfast was on the fire

With the camp packed up at a leisurely pace we took our route out

Once off the river we headed east until we entered the Murray Sunset National Park on Carwarp Rd

This took us further east to Taparoo track where we turned north

until we came to the ruins of the old Taparoo Homestead

After a look around we then took the Berribee Track north

This was a great run through hard sand with emus and roos being the main concern. As we neared the Old Mail Road we veered off on the little used Pipeline Track

that eventually petered out in a claypan

so we followed a fence line until it met the road. From there we thought we’d check out the bridge repairs (Army Bridge) where it crosses over to Lindsey Island. The old one was there and passable to a bike last year but no such luck this time round

So back onto the Old Mail Road heading east past Lake Wallawalla which had plenty of water in it. In fact by the look of the posts it would have been well and truly underwater not that long ago.

Soon we had past Ned’s Corner and headed along the river on Swifts Creek Track

This area was still pretty wet and we soon lost the track but meandered along the river between the gum trees and small lakes

The past height of the river was clear on the trunks of the trees

This was a great area so we decided to stop for some lunch at a spot on the river’s edge

After a bit of a break it was back to the Old Mail Road

before we hit the bitumen just out of Wentworth. Here we crossed the river on an interesting one way bridge. After sitting at a red light for 5 mins (as the bikes seemingly didn’t trigger the traffic light sensor in the road) a car finally came up behind us and the light turned green. However, as we headed off a great semi trailer came across the bridge towards us. Top system

Next stop was for fuel, water and ice. Luckily the service station guy saw me filling my pack with water and came out to say it wasn’t drinkable. He gave me a key to the drinking water tap and with extra fuel on board we were set

Just as we began to leave we spied something that took our fancy

So a quick pie was scoffed down before we headed for the Lower Darling Road. After some bitumen the dirt soon started and we headed towards Pooncarie. We had a good campsite sussed on Para Station having stayed there on a previous trip through by 4x4 a few years ago. When we arrived at the station we found a new caretaker in place who was, let’s say, a little bit “vague” We explained we’d had permission to stay before but he wasn’t really sure without speaking to the owner in Wentworth. He did say we could stay by the station but we thanked him and headed off to look elsewhere

With it now close to dark we eventually found a nice spot tucked well away from anywhere

And soon we had camp set up with a nice fire to keep the chill at bay

Route Day 2

Day 3

With the Darling River at the foot of our camp

we started another day

Once camp was packed up we continued on along the Lower Darling Road and were amazed that they had crops this far out. On our previous trip out this way the place had been as dry as a bone

It wasn’t long before we were on the Higher Darling Road and then cut through to the river at Minda Station. When you look at his kit, those from South Australia will understand this next shot

This section of road had only recently been opened (with road closed signs still down one end) and it was a nice ride close to the river.

From there it was a short run into Pooncarie where we stopped at the excellent café and gallery

John and Pauline who run the cafe are very friendly and helpful and John makes a egg and bacon roll to die for. Don’t miss one if you pass through

At this stage we topped up out tanks with an extra 5 litres bought in Wentworth as there is no fuel available anymore in Pooncarie

Then it was off to the pub to stock up on a few supplies

Then the unthinkable happened when Paul was restocking the esky

He knocked over one of the beers and the can split . Luckily not much was wasted!

Our next stop was Bindara Station on the western side of the river about 100kms north of Pooncarie. With the road still officially closed on the Government website I rang Barb Arnold at the station and she assured me it was all ok but that a detour did need to be taken. The first section of road was wide and in good condition

And we soon passed the old bridge over Yarlta Creek

It was getting close to lunchtime so we decided to head in close to the river and start a fire

and marvel at some of the ancient gums that line the river

The detour was pretty obvious when we came to it, despite Barb telling us that a couple of 4x4’s had gone straight through and winched themselves through the bog

Then the road ran close to the river

where it was obvious that any bit of rain would cause issues. In fact talking later to Bill at Bindara, they had no road access for 7 months after the river flooded

Bindara Station itself is a wonderful spot

The Arnold’s are set up to cater for tourists as well as run the farm. What we really liked about the place was not only their friendly and down to earth attitude but the fact that they allowed us as much space as we needed. We camped a few kilometers upstream from the homestead where we could go where we liked with plenty of room and firewood. All for $10 a night

It was a great campsite right on the banks of the river

With the frigid water of the rivers putting us off having a wash on the previous few days (getting soft..) we decided to head back to the main camp area and grab a shower and cook some tea on the communal fire

You can’t beat that Heinz Chunky Soup

With a little Uncle Ben’s rice to top it off

Then it was a few beers and yarns around the fire with Bill and some of the other campers

Not only is Bill a top bloke, but like all “real” farmers he’s got a few hidden gems in the shed

Route Day 3

Day 4

I reckon it was about 4 am when I awoke to the familiar “pitter patter” of rain on the tent fly. Mmmmm… this wasn’t in the plan, the forecast was for cloudy weather but no rain. Oh well, we started with a hot cuppa around the fire

But it soon became obvious that the rain wasn’t stopping anytime soon and it if the soles of my shoes were any indication, the roads in this area could be rather slippery!

Once packed up (isn’t packing in the rain fun ) we had a chat to Bill and checked the weather forecast. It didn’t look too good with a band of drizzle stationary over the area. We were keen to get out as we had to be back home in a few days. So we crossed our fingers and headed off towards Menindee via Tandou Farm. The road wasn’t too bad to start with and the occasional pig (both dead and alive) kept us on our toes.

Some of the clay sections were getting pretty slippery but we were soon through to the boundary of Tandou Farm, a 80,000ha cotton/wheat/sheep operation The sign indicated it was a pretty friendly place (must be something to do with those “organs” that it produces!)

At one stage the road had been washed out and a bypass had been put in

Not far past the Tandou office we came to the T-junction which runs west to the Silver City Highway or east to Menindee. Our plan was to get to Menindee and then reassess where we would go. Our original plan had us heading back down the road that followed the Anna Branch past Tor Downs but with the current rain that was ruled out.

As we headed east the road became more and more slippery until the inevitable happened

I remember a little twitch of the front followed instantaneously by me sliding along the road with the bike sliding past me. The left pannier was flung off with a few broken straps the result. It was so greasy it was hard to walk!

After getting the bike up I was able to reattach the pannier by re-rigging the broken straps and with nothing busted we continued on into more rain and a wetter road. By now we had entered Kinchega National Park and the road was getting worse. Initially, we were able to run along the edge of the road (which was a piece of corrugated shit anyway)

but soon that option disappeared and we knew we had our work cut out for us

At one stage a 4x4 came past us and ended up sliding into a ditch on the edge of the road. My 50/50 rear tyre now resembled a glazed donut and it was close to impossible to keep it running straight. Finally, I got it caught in a rut and managed to get a kilometre or two down the track to where I could see a flashing blue police light in the distance. I then saw this on the side of the road

and stopped to see if they were ok. That was a bad move, because once I realized they were fine and just waiting for a front end loader to come and get them out, I had sunk down and was stuck firmly.

With some help pushing I soon got moving again and with some relief made the safety of the bitumen

In talking to the copper it seemed that it had been drizzling for 16hrs straight and all the roads out of Menindee, except the bitumen to Broken Hill, were closed and likely to stay that way for several days. Without much choice we cleaned off a little mud to get the tyres free

and then headed into Menindee to get something to eat

Try as we might we couldn’t get much mud off our boots and we left quite a dirty trail through the shop which they were very good about (good burger though!)

By now it was bloody freezing so after a quick look at the Menindee Lakes before we hit the bitumen for the 110km run to Broken Hill. With little in the way of know bush campsites near Broken Hill it wasn’t hard to make the decision to opt for a cabin at a local caravan park. The first one we went to was full but we got lucky with the last available cabin at the Lakeview Caravan Park. It seemed that 4x4’s were flocking in from all round the place with so many of the roads in the area now closed

The cabin was great for $55 (especially as it was $36 for 2 tent sites) and soon we had the heater on full bore, a tarp on the floor and all our muddy crap off and drying

With directions to a reasonable pub organised we then headed off to grab some food and a few cleansing ales

Route Day 4

Day 5

Options for our return home were now pretty limited. We had a day and a half to get there and with roads east of Yunta also dicey we made the decision to hit the slab and head straight back to Adelaide. We’d seen on the news the night before that the maximum temperature in Broken Hill was 9 degrees that day (no wonder it was so bloody cold on that last leg) and so we put on every piece of clothing we had for the 500km trip home. I know it’s hard to see but there is a person sitting on the bike and yes that is a beanie shoved under his neck to keep the freezing wind out

First stop was the thriving whistle stop of Cockburn for fuel

We thought about a quick stop for a beer at Olary but decided against it (we must have been cold)

More fuel and a pie at Yunta

Before checking out the almost ghost town of Terowie

From there the sun finally came out and it wasn’t long before we were back home

Despite the trip being cut short due to the weather it just leaves us more to check out next time we’re in the area


Route Day 5

bull600 screwed with this post 12-25-2014 at 04:36 PM Reason: Fixed corrupted photos
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:06 AM   #2
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Excellent !
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:21 AM   #3
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A fabulous adventure guys... and an excellent ride report with good photos.

Well done!
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:46 AM   #4
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excellent RR , this is one of the best parts of the world, best of all you seen it on DR's.
Excellent photo's as well
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:51 AM   #5
hunting and riding!!
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Nice RR thanks for posting it up
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:59 AM   #6
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I really enjoy reading your RR's Bull. You go to interesting places, add a degree of difficulty and warm it up with humour and great photographs.
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:01 AM   #7
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Great RR

What a great rip. Love it, riding with friends,
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:05 AM   #8
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Excellent report as always

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Old 07-19-2011, 03:15 AM   #9
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Great shots, and tale
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:18 AM   #10
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Thumb Rr

That was a great read and good pics . Well done .
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:28 AM   #11
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Fantastic fellas, gotta love the DR ... thanks muchly for posting, a great read.
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by bull600 View Post

It wasn’t long before we were on the Higher Darling Road and then cut through to the river at Minda Station. When you look at his kit, those from South Australia will understand this next shot

I'm wondering if this whole trip was so you could do this joke.

Another inspiring and well written (and photo'd) (and mapped) report. Thanks for your efforts, Greg. And thanks Paul for your hand bags.

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Old 07-19-2011, 03:34 AM   #13
free range
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Great report, I like your style of trip. If you get up that way again check out the old wentworth-renmark road on the north side of the river near chowilla, I think youll enjoy it.
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:56 AM   #14
roughing it :)
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great RR and photos guys.
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Old 07-19-2011, 04:13 AM   #15
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Thank you for posting Great photos

There is some Great riding to be had along the Darling river .

Cheers Ian
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