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Old 09-16-2011, 07:44 AM   #1
Wilmo OP
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Western Australia - 5200 km in 10 days to the Pilbara, CSR, and Rudall NP

A trip from Perth, Western Australia to the Pilbara region to ride the Canning Stock Route and Rudall River National Park.

I've wanted to explore the Pilbara region of WA for a long while, ever since meeting Greg (Dusty_Kiwi) at the 2009 Australian Safari, who always espoused the virtues of the pristine riding areas around his home town Newman. Greg works for BHP at one of the biggest Iron Ore Mines in the country and is a long term Newman resident.

When Alex (WAAlex) posted his intention to take a ride up this way, the opportunity was too good to miss. I was first introduced to Alex when he asked me some questions about the Yamaha Tenere XT660Z he eventually purchased (I already had one), and he sounded like a reliable sort of character at the time I remember thinking. An ex Navy Diver, and now studying to be a Doctor - he's well disciplined!

I'd met Jon (J_B), our other companion for this ride, on the way home from the Neale Junction Desert Raid earlier this year and knew instantly he was hard core! You don't ride from Coober Pedy in South Australia, to Laverton in WA on a fully loaded DRZ with 55L of fuel and 20L of water without some measure of toughness!

Its always difficult to find people of similar ability and mindset to ride with (we've all had experiences we'd choose to forget I'm sure), so riding with guys you don’t know can sometimes be a bit hit and miss. However, without really knowing each other, we all kind of knew the dynamic of this group was going to be something special, something that would see us through the taxing schedule we would set ourselves to cover not only 270km of the Canning Stock Route, but to visit Carawine Gorge and get in and out of Desert Queen Baths at the centre of the Rudall River National Park, in 4.5 days!

Here begins this epic tale.....

I’ve been on Sabbatical from work for the past three months (one may ask why I haven’t found the time to put pen to paper for this ride report until now as we’ve been back a couple of weeks!) , taking a ‘mid career break’ and spending some time with my young family and doing some riding. Time flies when you are having fun.

I had the time to extend our organised ‘team’ ride in the Pilbara to take a few days either side to explore the Goldfields on the way up to Newman and more of the Pilbara, and the Gascoyne on the way back. Jon and Alex couldn’t afford the extra time off so made a beeline straight to Newman where we would meet at Greg’s to stay overnight before heading off.

So the route I took was from Perth, North East via Goomalling, Dowerin, Paynes Find, Sandstone, Wiluna and Kumarina to Newman, and then home via Wittenoom, Karijini National Park, Tom Price, Ashburton Downs, Mt Augustus, Murchison, and Mullewa.



These legs I rode and camped out alone, which I must say was a liberating and at some times concerning (scary) experience. I’d definitely recommend to anyone to do some real self supported riding (ie by yourself), at some point in the ADV careers!

I’d assembled the appropriate safety gear before I left, on board I had an Inmarsat Sat Phone (which worked excellently I might add – who needs Iridium), PLB, and SPOT Tracker so my wife could follow my progress. We had a pact that if I stopped in one spot for more than a couple of hours without sending an OK message, then she should start ringing the local constabulary for assistance. I was diligent with the OK’s, but found I was moving almost constantly throughout the day.

I was riding my trusty 2010 XT660Z Tenere, and Alex would later be riding the same. Jon chose his well travelled DRZ400. We had zero issues mechanically with the bikes save for Jon that noticed a half-off chain clip at our first night camp which was quickly fixed and me with a flat front tyre (running too low pressure).

The good thing about riding in late August in WA is that the weather is starting to improve – particularly up North. I had blue skies for the whole 10 days I was on the bike, making for excellent riding conditions. Temperatures ranged from 0 to 35 degrees C .

Heading out from home after the rush hour traffic was relaxing and I enjoyed the scenic cruise through the wheatbelt east of Perth as the wild flowers were starting to come out (WA is known for its majestic display of wild flowers this time of year) .

Goomalling - the first stop of the trip.





It wasn’t long before the road turned to the red dirt and my smile widened. This stuff mixed with water is what flows in our veins!



After 400 or so km for the day I arrived in Payne’s find to refuel, here it takes 10mins to put 10L of fuel into the Tenere. When I quiz the lady behind the counter about it she tells me I should have used the other pump – as the one I used is broken! I tell her a sign on the pump would be nice.....it doesn’t seem to register......she tells me she’s been meaning to get it fixed for a while, perhaps this is how Western Australia attracted its moniker of ‘Wait Awhile’ I think to myself.

Payne’s Find.



Heading North East in the late afternoon sun.



I set up camp around 4.30pm leaving plenty of time to collect some firewood. This is the first night I’ve EVER camped alone in the bush and I do it in a pretty matter of fact fashion - without too much of a care or concern.



I’m enjoying the serenity and have a couple of glasses of red and a good meal, and am tucked up in the tent by 8.30pm nodding off. Then it starts.....like the sounds of zulu warrior drums in the distance, a low frequency thud, thud, thud, I think I’m dreaming but then realise I’m camped pretty close to a male Emu that is nesting – as this is the sound they make! The male Emu sits on the 12 or so eggs laid by the female until they hatch and then stays with the chicks whilst they mature. So much for equal opportunity!

I wonder about the aggressive tendencies (or not) of Emus, my mind races, is a marauding Emu going to tear through my tent with its rather large claws any second whilst defending its chicks from what it thinks is a predator? Defence plans are drawn up in my mind, run to the bike, ignition on, clutch in, start, then rev! The sound from open exhaust on the Tenere should scare it off pretty quickly!

Needless to say, my concerns were unwarranted, I didn’t get attacked. But old man Emu was sounding a warning all night, so as to let me know he knew I was there. I couldn’t see him the next morning, but he was certainly within 50m of my camp site, perhaps closer.

I recall now whilst scanning the area in the early morning light, four huge Red Kangaroos towering over 7 feet each jumped through and around where I was camped, like a freight train – all in single file. An amazing sight up close. It was like one of those scenes out of the movie Jurassic Park, almost like an animation they were in such perfect formation.

Leaving camp around 8am (why rush?) I head NE again to the small town of Sandstone, which is basically an outpost for the mining camps in the area. Here I catch up with my parents who are touring the Goldfields with their caravan taking in the sights and the new season’s wild flowers.



After a hearty lunch (thanks Mum), I head off towards Wiluna.







Wiluna seems like a friendly place, its pretty dead (it was a Sunday) and I don’t stop as have enough fuel on board to get me to Kumarina Roadhouse – 160km from Newman.



Just north of Wiluna I pass the start (well 1) of the Canning Stock Route, (more on it here.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canning_Stock_Route), we would later ride from well 30 to 23, only, in a southerly direction.



To be continued.....
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Wilmo screwed with this post 09-16-2011 at 07:57 AM
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:23 AM   #2
TonyRDR
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[QUOTE=Wilmo;16868475]A trip from Perth, Western Australia to the Pilbara region to ride the Canning Stock Route and Rudall River National Park.

Great pics Wilmo hanging out for more Very impressed with how light you packed, very interested to hear about how your bike went, Klm /L etc.
Cheers Tony
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Old 09-16-2011, 02:33 PM   #3
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...---...

Excellent
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Old 09-16-2011, 02:56 PM   #4
LC8TY
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This looks good, bring it on Wilmo.
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Old 09-16-2011, 04:25 PM   #5
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Old 09-16-2011, 04:37 PM   #6
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I was wondering why this ride report is taking so long. Nice work so far...
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:02 PM   #7
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Nice rr. The sand is so red there. Looks like a good trip.
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:31 PM   #8
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:32 PM   #9
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This could help me....

I'm currently suffering post trip blues after a 2 week trip through the Flinder Ranges. So you RR may help sooth the red dirt cravings!

Although I do notice a sense of extreme jealousy rising

Love the photos. Keep 'em coming. They are helping!

Cheers
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:32 PM   #10
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Can't wait to see the rest

Nice RR Wilmo, didn't know you had such well developed literary tendencies. What tyres did you run on that blue monster and how did they handle it
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:35 AM   #11
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:42 PM   #12
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Great start
I sympathize with the strange sounds at night. I've had a similar experience, camping alone does make you a bit twitchy....
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:46 PM   #13
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Farken, farken! I sat down thinking "Great, the ride was done weeks ago this will be the whole report in one sitting. Nothing better on a Sunday morning."

S'pose I'll wait, but at least I know it will be worth it. Love your work, more so 'cause I too love the red dirt

Wilmo looking forward to more (soonish would be good Sir .)
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:59 PM   #14
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A detour off the Wiluna North Road, into North Pool saw me get to a waterhole that was obviously well utilised by the stock and wild animals that roam these parts. I saw wild horses, some cattle and the prints of dogs (Dingos most likely) in the river sand track I rode in on.



From the waterhole I took a track that was marke on my GPS that indicated it would join back up to the Wiluna North Road, but found myself at a dead-end fenceline after about 10km, which turned east and went straight up a rock/boulder strewn incline.



To turn around I had to do some bush bashing, and while stuck in a small creek bed there an eerie scream filled the air! At first I thought it was my radiator fan, as it was hot and the bike was working bogged down in the sand. I turned the bike off and there it was again, this time louder. I did a quick scan of the surrounding bush but couldn’t see anything. Then I heard it again, this time louder, (I’m now getting a little freaked out), so hurriedly turn the bike around and get out of there. I can’t explain the strange noise, its as though a dream time spirit is warning me away from the area. There is no logical explanation.



Safely back on the main track I blast through the creek beds and over the track chopped up by the hooves of the many animals living around the waterhole. I decide this probably isn’t the best place to camp given the potential for several visitors during the night coming down for a drink, so press on back to the Wiluna North road. I get another 50km or so on, past the many cattle I see dotted along the road edge. There are some large Brahman bulls, they seem to stand their ground on the road when you approach longer than the others, but eventually turn and run as you ride closer – I still wouldn’t like to meet one up close without being on the bike for a speedy exit.

I choose a spot to camp 100m off the road, nestled in amongst some small trees which I think will give me some protection on one side if any cattle wander through during the night. Its now 5.00pm and starting to get dark, so I quickly collect some firewood and set up camp.



Another restless night ensues, as the cattle (one in particular) vocally announce their presence. I’m not sure what was going on but it sure sounded like one of them wasn’t enjoying it!



The road starts to open up the closer I get to the Great Northern Highway, past Ned’s Creek station. I had originally thought of detouring throught the station, as the owners advertise that they are fine with people coming through as long as you let them know. I emailed Raelene one of the owners, but unfortunately was now running out of time to get into Newman so by passed the station on this trip.



I spot 6 water bottles that have ‘fallen off the back of a truck’ and are lying scattered on the road. 4 of them are intact so I think why waste the water and fill up my 4 bottles carried in the Andy’s panniers, saving myself $12 in the process as water is expensive out here.



I get to the Great Northern Highway and then have a mundane 160km on the tar to reach Newman, but not before stopping in at Kumarina Roadhouse and grabbing an excellent burger with the lot for lunch.



I catch up with Greg in Newman and do a bit of washing and repacking whilst waiting for the boys to arrive later that evening. We spend the night with Greg, his wife and his in-laws and have a great meal and talk about Greg’s adventures on the APC Rally and check out his heavily farkled F800GS. Greg and Megan’s hospitality was fantastic and my wife and I will certainly repay the favour when they are next in Perth! The guys arrive without any problems and we ready ourselves for our next adventure tomorrow before hitting the sack.

To be continued.....
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:20 PM   #15
Wilmo OP
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To answer a few questions before I go on:

Tyres – Pirelli MT21 on my bike. Rear can last anywhere between 2000km and 4000km, I totally shagged a brand new one I put on in Newman for the trip home in 2000km but I did do 1142km in under 12 hours to get home which = lots of wheel spin on hard dirt and stony roads up north. The one I had on for the first part of the ride did 3000km and still looks like it has another 500km in it.

Bike - The Tenere went well, I’ve done the suspension on mine, and it bottomed out a lot less than Alex’s one with stock suspension. It was 100% reliable and they are tough bikes. We had to tweak the forks back into alignment a couple of times after crashes in the sand on the CSR but that was it. We were getting a comfortable 450km to a tank if you keep the revs around 4000rpm (100km/h) in 5thon open dirt roads. In the CSR section I got 347km out of the tank, but was gunning it up the dunes.

Back to the report.....we head out from Newman around 9am after doing a bit of shopping and take the main drag north to Nullagine. The first 100km is bitumen, then turns to a dusty road well used by road trains.



We sit sucking one’s dust for a while as the road is too twisty to pass on as it weaves its way through the ranges.



The country up here is spectacular, and we are enjoying the ride even though its starting to heat up. I left my jacket in Newman and road in a MX jersey over my armour which was perfect for this time of year.









We arrive in Nullagine, where just the week before a copper got stabbed by a local whilst trying to break up a fight (it was in the news). After refuelling we head up to the look out and snap some pics before heading out on Skull Springs road which starts just out of town.





To be continued.....
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