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Old 09-09-2013, 04:05 PM   #1
crowe2815 OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: andamooka South Australia
Oddometer: 295
The Birdsville Track for a dirt virgin

Where to start, where to start? That is the question. The beginning is to far back and the end is never a good place to start so I think I’ll just jump right in about here.

“Let’s go to the Birdsville races” was the drunken cry from the cook as we stood around the Andamooka Hotel about three months ago. For those of you not from the promised land of OZ the Birdsville races are a country race meeting attended by thousands of people from all over the country.

It is held in the tiny Queensland town of Birdsville whose only real claim to fame is that it at the end of things.
They are at the end of the Birdsville track. A road that will play a heavy part in this tale, and they are also at the end of the Simpson desert another Iconic track for both bike riders and 4x4 enthusiasts alike.
Oh and camel pies, they are pretty famous for them for some unknown reason.
You can have a look at some more info about Birdsville here

Right where were we? Drunk in Andamooka if I recall. Well despite the fact that I had not done more than the odd day trip on my bike since I managed to pilot the thing home from NSW last year some time and I had not done any riding in about 8 months since my bike had stopped running and despite my best efforts of both throwing money at it and swearing at it on numerous occasions it would not go.

Despite these things, I in my inebriated wisdom declared to all and sundry that I would pilot my mighty DR650 up the Birdsville track to the races, This was met with both derision and mirth by the idol drunkards about the place who were well aware of my lack of saddle time and my “virginity” when it came to any sort of long distance high speed dirt riding.

So it was with a little trepidation that I took the plunge and dragged my bike the 300kms to the nearest bike mechanic and gave it to him with instructions to get it running and to upgrade the suspension so it could lug my hefty frame and a bit of gear without dragging its arse on the ground like a worm riddled dog.

Three bloody months they had the thing for. All that time to rebuild a top end and do some black art voodoo magic on the suspension with valving and gold and possibly the sacrificing of a chicken or two. I honestly have no idea what it was they did, but it works well. So 3 days before we are due to depart on our 1500k off road journey I finally get the bike back.
I had hoped to get some serious saddle time in prior to departure to confirm that I could actually ride a bike off road well enough to travel 1500ks and to ensure that the bike was not going to explode on me 100kms down the track.

The Big Girl back from the mechanics ready to rock and roll

I know there are those amongst the ADV fraternity that believe it’s not a real adventure ride unless you single handedly carved your engine block from a solid chunk of cast steel with nothing more than a toothbrush for a chisel and a thighbone for a mallet and the mere mention of a support vehicle makes them feel physically ill.

Well If that’s the case for you I suppose now is the time to say our goodbyes because as I mentioned earlier it was my wife who had first come up with the plan for this trip and considering that she doesn’t ride and there was no chance of her getting on the back of the damn thing with a N00B at the controls she would be following along on four wheels. And both I and another rider we found along the way was happy to have her along as you will see if you stick around for the tale.

The support vehicle

The big day arrived and after 40kms of blacktop we were on the Borefield road that runs from near my place to the Oodnadatta track.
The dirt was pretty solid though and was well packed for the first couple of Km’s so my confidence was up. until I hit the first section of loose gibber stones (small marble sized rocks).

The dreaded gibber

So I did what every good noob should do in a similar situation and forgot everything I had read, learnt and promised myself I would do.

I grabbed the handlebars in a death grip a screamed like a little girl into my helmet.

The motorcycle gods must have been smiling on me though because the gibber soon returned to hard pack and I was still on two wheels and the screaming had stopped ,but my heart rate was matching the rpm of the bike.

I was a little more prepared for the next lot and was loose on the bars and a little calmer all around, it was still a little sketchy getting through with the bike moving about under me a lot more than I was going to be happy with for 1500kms. I had only been going about 65kmh (40mph) when I hit the loose stuff so I thought what the hell lets give it a bit more right hand and see what happens. My logic being that the hospital was still only 20kms behind me at this stage.

Lo and behold a little faster and the bike flew straighter through the loose stuff and it felt a hell of a lot more stable.
"Lets give it some more go gas then" were my next thoughts and so I did. I got the old girl up and humming to between 90 and 100kph 55-65mph. Oh yeah baby this was the sweet spot.

The bike was humming and my rear end was no longer puckering at the sight of loose gravel.
I was off and running.
I was grinning that much my cheeks began to hurt.
100kms later I was still grinning as I hit the Oodnadatta track but now it was my butt cheeks that were hurting , I had forgotten about the marble seat that Suzuki had installed on their bikes.

At the Oodnadatta track

The view from the end of the Borefield road

I decided to give standing on the pegs as a go as I hurtled down the Oodnadatta track towards Maree. I had installed lowered pegs in the past but it was still not enough I just could not get real comfortable in a standing position I need to raise the bars just a little to get a more comfortable stance on the bike. So it was back to sitting and back to bouncing my rear end around on the slab of marble.

Thankfully there are a few things to see on the track like these weird and wonderful sculptures stuck in the desert half way between the Borefield road turnoff and Maree.

Weird and wonderful sculptures stuck in a cow paddock on the Oodnadata track.

There was also a lot more traffic on the road 4x4s towing camper trailers and caravans , and throwing up dust and rocks that brought my vision down to five fifths of fuck all.

And they were all traveling bloody slowly, on the plus side the amount of traffic had pushed a lot of the gibbers into neat windrows leaving nice clean wheel tracks to run in. On the down side I was going to have to get across these windrows at speed to pass theses slow moving behemoths if I was ever going to make it to Birdsville before the races were over.

I never really ended up feeling 100% comfortable crossing over them at speed but I managed to do it without biting the dust.

We made it the 200kms to Maree and fueled up the bike and the car with fuel and then headed to the pub to stock up the beer fridge. Another great thing about having the support vehicle is the ability to have cold beer on hand if and when the day ended with me still upright.

An old mosque at Maree. They brought a heap of camels out here in the late 1800's to transport goods between remote cattle stations and towns, they also brought out a heap of Afghani cameleers to run them.

We left Maree for the 200k trek up the Birdsville track to Mungaranie pub, our overnight stop for the day.
The road was in good condition with only a few loose sections and a bit of sand scattered about.
I was feeling good and the bike was doing its thing my arse was still sore so I was alternating between sitting and standing in an effort to get the blood flowing to my nether regions again.
I had to pass a dozen or so slow moving caravans which added a little spice to my life. Whipping past a couple of ton of bouncing swerving metal at 100kmh on loose gravel does wonders for your concentration, especially when you get up close and visibility drops to zero for a few seconds

We got to Mungaranie pub at about 15.30 and I was still pumped up and grinning like an idiot as we set up camp and cracked a few beers.

The camp site was pretty full in all of the areas with shade so we ended up in the middle of the paddock with nothing but dust flies and thistles for company

There is a very neat little water hole near the pub that is home to a wide range of birdlife and is an oasis in the desert for all manner of life including fat blokes on motorcycles.

Mungaranie Pub a great place for a beer and a chat.

The water hole beside the pub.

The desert dunes coming right up to the waters edge

We met a few blokes from Melbourne in the pub that were also on bikes I’m not sure if they are members here on not but they were a great bunch of blokes that we would run into over the course of the next few days at the Birdsville pub. They had done the trip from Melbourne only hitting about 500kms of blacktop out of the 2500km they had traveled.

Sunset at Mungaranie

After a great feed a few beers and talking shit with the Melbourne boys the adrenaline or dopamine or whatever it was that had me feeling as happy as a pig in shit had worn off and I realized I was knackered, both physically and mentally. I was in bed real early and I slept like a log.

Some of the birdlife at Mungaranie, their squawking in the mornings ensure you dont sleep in.

To be continued.
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:41 PM   #2
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Top stuff, love your turn of phrase
shed time IS quality time
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Old 09-09-2013, 06:32 PM   #3
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The next morning we were up early to the screeching of the gallahs and the coughing and hacking of old men packing up their caravans and campers.

We only had a 300km stretch into Birdsville today so we were in no hurry to get moving. Breakfast in the pub followed by a shit and a shower and we were away.

Breaky at the pub. A great way to start the day.

The track was definitely a bit rougher from this section forward and the traffic was a lot heavier as well.
There were quite a few fist sized rocks littering the track along with deeper and longer gibber filled sections.
It took me a while to get back into the swing of things but it wasn’t long before I had the big bitch bouncing and dancing along nicely.
I had a few big impacts with decent sized rocks on the front wheel that kept me on my toes and continually waiting for the front tyre to pinch a tube or bend a rim.
I soon came up on the boys from Melbourne and scooted past them. Last night during our chat in the pub they told me they were traveling at about 80- 90 kmh and to be honest this had me thinking and worrying that I was going too fast, as these blokes had a hell of a lot more experience than me.

I gave it a shot early on but 80-90 just did not feel as stable to me so I just went with what made me feel the most comfortable.

A couple of camels out doing what ever the hell it is camels do in the desert.

The dust was pretty bad along the track with the amount of traffic on the road so I was happy to be going a tad faster so I could clear the convoy of 4x4s and vans as soon as possible.
I had a few “OH Shit” moments during the morning when I got bounced into some deep windrows of loose stones after bouncing off some baby head sized rocks stuck in the road.

By the time I had reached the turn off too Innaminka I was in the groove and feeling good. I pulled over to have a smoke and scratch my balls when a whole new convoy of cars, vans and trucks came trundling up from Innaminka. “Bugger me “this will take a month of Sundays to get past these blokes. I was not a happy camper.

The turn off to Innaminka

The missus had caught up by this stage so I had another smoke to let the convoy get ahead a bit in the hope that they would be traveling at a speed that would mean I didn’t have to overtake them all.
Smokes finished and balls scratched it was back into it.


“SHIT, BUGGER, BUM, BITCH, COCK, FART, POO” What the fuc……. did I just hit? I didn’t have a great deal of time to think about things though because the back wheel was currently trying to overtake the front wheel at about 90kmh’s
SHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTT. LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT the back wheel was all over the place like a crazy womans shit and I was working like a mofo to keep the big girl up right whilst at the same time trying not to shit my pants.

I finally got the bitch pulled up and off to the side of the road so I could assess the damage.

One very flat back tyre and one bloke with shrunken balls and wobbly legs.
I had a spare tube and puncture kit along with my tools on board in my panniers so I had started to strip the back wheel by the time my wife had turned up. She had the big tyre lever in the car along with a decent compressor. No use having a support car if you don’t use it to good advantage.

I had the tyre off in no time with the long levers and the tube was rooted it was ripped in half.
Out with the spare tube only to find that the ones I had bought had been miss labeled and I actually had two front tubes and no back.

After a I cursed the prick who had sold me the tubes and then myself for not checking the them I just went with the assumption that if I could get the tube in it could work its self out in there once I pumped it up.
So I jammed it in and wheeled it over to the car to pump it up.

Look at the state of that thing. The tyre was rooted. I must have ridden over a fucking chainsaw. One knob completely gone the other ripped in half and the tyre carcass was holed.

Well thats ugly.

Well not much I could do about it besides pump it up and see how far I could get before it blew again.
So I threw it back on and that’s when I noticed that I was also missing a back brake pad. So a little more swearing and cursing was required to make me feel better about the whole deal. I hadn’t really had a need for brakes up till this point in time so I was happy enough just to keep on keeping on without the things now.
2kms later and the back wheel was dancing a merry jig again trying to overtake the front of the bike.

Sitting by the track

I was 100kms short of Birdsville and not going any further on two wheels.
I was truly happy to be labeled a soft cock now for having the support vehicle with me. Off with the back wheel and into the car I go.

The body language tells the story. Second blow out. Although inevitable it was still a kick in the nuts.

I had my fingers and toes crossed that I would be able to scrounge up a spare tyre in Birdsville.
The servo in Birdsville was flat strap when I got there punctured car tyres covered half the workshop floor and the blokes on the tools were working flat out trying to keep up.

I finally managed to get someones attention and asked the question
“Do you sell bike tyres?”
“Yeah mate. We got some, what size is it?”
“110,130 17” mate”
“aaww jeez I don’t think we have any 17” tryes”

I went from being pretty bloody happy to extremely worried in the space of about 10 seconds.

He lumbered upstairs and was digging around behind a mountain of gear when all of a sudden he tosses a tyre down from upstairs barely missing a couple of customers and a dog. This was followed closely by a tube in a box that actually did hit the dog.

I could have kissed the bloke when he came back down stairs and gave me the tyre and tube. $235 dollars later and we were off to find a camp spot and somewhere for me to change the tyre.

The condition of the tube after changing the tyre in camp

2 hours after rolling into town we were rolling out again new tyre fitted and ready to go.
I got the wheel fitted and cruised into town again this time on two wheels.
We had plans to go and watch the fights at the last boxing tent touring Australia that night but by the time I got back to camp both me and the wife were knackered.

We had a couple celebratory beers and cooked up a quick feed and then hit the fart sack. Day two was done albeit a few hours longer than we had expected.

The support crew sitting around the fire at camp after a long day.
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:27 PM   #4
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Waikiki, Western Australia
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Great write up, had a good laugh and look forward to your next instalment.
Woops, I read your first part and didn't realise the second part had been added, my bad.
Off to read it now !
Farewell, shitty day, don't forget to fuck thyself on the way out !
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:04 PM   #5
crowe2815 OP
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Location: andamooka South Australia
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I was up early again after another early night so I gave the bike a quick check over
Engine. Still there. Check

Wheels . Two of em. One at the front and one at the back. Check.

Chain. Still there. Check

So with the bike maintenance complete I decided to head off in the support vehicle out to the edge of the Simpson Desert to have a look at big red the last sand dune in the Simpson Desert.

View from Big Red

more from Red

There were a few people out there trying to belt their 4x4s up the eastern side of the dune but despite their best efforts no one made it up the hard way while I was there.

The photo doesnt really show the steepness of the dune. This guy got the closest,he just couldnt get over the top. He did manage to break his fridge,speedo and console though in his multiple attempts.

It was not a bad way to spend the morning though sitting back enjoying the view and watching blokes egos overcome their common sense as they kept trying to outdo each other.

We headed back to town parked up the car and walked into town to see what was going on. It took us all of 15 minutes to walk around town before we decided well that that we may as well go to the pub.
And so it was we sat outside one of the most photographed and iconic country pubs and proceeded to get on the outside of copious amounts of beer.

Sitting in the dirt out the front of the Birdsville pub getting drunk. God its a hard life.

I thought perhaps I had had one too many when I walked outside and saw a man riding a bull with a hat on its head down the main street. So after confirming that I was not seeing things I took a couple of happy snaps and continued to down cans while the bull just did its thing.

Yep, just a regular friday in downtown Birdsville

It apparently did not take long for the bull to get sick of all the attention it was getting, so after being there for 15 minutes it took a large shit just outside of the pubs doors and then wandered off.
No explanation was ever offered as to why there was a bull with a hat on in the main street and I never thought to ask, it’s Birdsville races weekend seemed to be answer enough to anything weird that went on.

We spent the afternoon sitting and drinking and just watching the “weird” go by. There are some truly strange people in the world and a lot of them seem to be at Birdsville on race weekend.

We caught up with the Melbourne boys at the pub and spent a few hours talking shit about this and that before heading across to Fred Brophys boxing tent to watch amateurs put their hand up for a chance to fight professional boxers in a tent. It was a trip back in time to the 50’s right down to the Asian boxer being called Chopsticks. It was a great day and a great night.

Inside Freds boxing tent
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:06 PM   #6
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Heh... Nothing a couple hundred patches shouldn't fix...

"I don't really know, I've been too busy falling down."
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TwilightZone View Post
Heh... Nothing a couple hundred patches shouldn't fix...

I have a few decent sized patches but i didnt have a 20 gallon drum of glue to get em all to stick.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:47 PM   #8
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And they’re off and racing.
We headed out to the races today on the free courtesy bus.

I got a couple of shots of the finish line and one of the horse I bet on in the first race as it crossed the finish line heading for the starting gates.
It was a good thing I saw it cross the line here because the stupid animal got to the starting gates, trampled or kicked a gate attendant and was then promptly scratched from the race.

Finish line

The only time my pick for the race was going to see the finish line.

It was not long after this that I realized that they were only serving mid strength beer at the races. I’m not a fan of mid strength or light beer, in fact going to a pub to have a light beer seems about as useful as going to a whore house and having a wank. Anyhow I digress.

The races were packed and it was a nightmare to get to the bookies because every man and his dog were in the betting ring trying to stay out of the sun. I’m not a big fan of crowds and as I’ve pointed out earlier I’m no fan of mid strength beer either so after watching another couple of races we decided to call it quits and head back to town to have another day at the pub.

We had another wander around town and had a chuckle at the way they had packed some of the poor people in. These people paid good money for a coach trip with tent accommodation supplied and this is where they ended up. I was a 5 minute walk from town and I could have let a 12 gauge shotty off and not hit a soul. I would have lost my shit if I turned up and found out that’s where I was forced to stay.

That camp ground is fuller than a fat girls sock.

Anyhow back at the pub the beer continued to flow we caught up with the boys from Melbourne again as well as a few good blokes we had met the previous day and down at Mungaranie on the way up. We also caught up with another member from here Kalaharigeorge. So we spent another afternoon talking bikes and bullshit. Tomorrow it’s back on the bike.

Me and the support crew standing outside the pub after another perfect day.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:18 PM   #9
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homeward bound

Home ward bound. Unfortunately I had to back track the way I had come I didn’t have the time up my sleeve to do a round trip and make it back to work on time so ill keep this last part short and sweet.
40kms out of town I came across a rather familiar sight. A forlorn looking bloke holding his rear wheel in his hands. I pulled up and he was on the hunt for tyre levers and a compressor he had gotten a puncture and was about to try and hitch back into town.

Once again my support driver came to the rescue with the goodies and we had the ever thankful young bloke back on the road in no time.
After that it was a pretty uneventful ride back to Mungaranie for another
night of camping and a few beers, followed by another day of belting down the birdsville track dodging caravans and 4x4s all the way.
I got home with a bike mostly intact and an arse as numb as hell but I still cant wipe the smile off my dial.
Thanks for reading

More of the birdlife at Mungaranie on the way home.

The Old and the new. one of the 4x4s i had to contend with on the track as well as some of the first vehicles used by the early truck drivers to deliver the mail and goods to homesteads along the track. There is an old Leyland Badger and a couple of Chevy Blitz trucks slowly turning to rust here.
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by crowe2815 View Post
I know there are those amongst the ADV fraternity that believe it’s not a real adventure ride unless you single handedly carved your engine block from a solid chunk of cast steel with nothing more than a toothbrush for a chisel and a thighbone for a mallet and the mere mention of a support vehicle makes them feel physically ill.


Great RR + pics.

Looking forward to more.


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Old 09-10-2013, 03:24 AM   #11
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Hilarious read. Well written mate and sounds like an awesome trip.
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:57 AM   #12
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GREAT report - thanks for taking the time to post it.
Going to Japan? Im there and happy to help.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:07 AM   #13
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Great stuff mate. You should write a book, it would be a bloody good read.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:49 AM   #14
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Brilliant RR. Love the commentary

Definitely on my list of places to go (on two wheels this time!).

Thanks for sharing
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:21 AM   #15
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Damn you Aussie boys. Every time I see a report like this it's a chunk of the present parlayed for vicarious adventure. I may have to cob together some sort of blinders to shield me from your contagious wanderings.
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