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Old 07-20-2014, 07:11 AM   #1
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Across OZ... Corner by Corner

Well it seems that lots of guys in OZ are out doing some big outback/desert trips this year.

My group has just returned from an epic trip across the middle of country from the west coast to the east coast and I thought you guys might want to have a look.

We have a core group of 4 who like to stay well away from the bitumen and take the road less travelled and we like to do one big trip each year. As some of you would know, if you like the more adventurous riding it’s sometimes hard to find riding partners that enjoy the hard slog and are willing to push on. I am lucky to have these guys to ride with and enjoy some tracks and places that others only dream about.

This year it was decided to ship our bikes from Central Queensland East Coast to Perth in Western Aust. We would then fly over and pick up the bikes and ride home through the centre, stopping off at Alice Springs to watch Australia’s biggest desert race (Finke) and then onto the Simpson Desert and home to the east coast in QLD.

Because we had a year to organise the trip, the route changed a few times as I found new points of interest that NEEDED to be ticked off. Ultimately it was decided that we needed to start our easterly trek from Steep Point WA (which is a 1000kms north of Perth and is the most westerly point of Aust.) and then take in the Gunbarrel Hwy including the abandoned part thru to Surveyor Generals Cnr. If we were going to do SG corner then we may as well do all the other state corners as well.

These survey markers have no visual appeal, they are just a “been there done that” sort of thing.

The other points of interest were The Olgas, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Finke Desert Race, Dalhousie Springs and the Simpson Desert via the French Line.

The problem was after cramming in all these places there was only a two week time frame because a couple of the guys worked for themselves and couldn't get any more time off. That meant 7500kms in 17 days with 2 days at Alice Springs for the Finke race didn’t leave much room for error when traversing some of the most demanding tracks in Australia on fully loaded bikes.
During the lead up we picked up some more players, we now had 7 starting in Perth and 1 meeting us at Uluru. Some had long distance experience, some did not. Nothing like getting thrown in at the deep end! We made up some rules and expectations so that someone who turned up unprepared didn’t impact anyone else’s holiday given the limited time frame.

None of us are photographers so some of the pics are less than perfect and my story telling maybe a bit ordinary.

Bikes waiting to be picked up by the bike freighters (Bikes Only)

Holy fuk, did he bring the kitchen sink on that KLR?

The trip started with drama as not everyone was on the same plane to Brisbane and a power outage caused flight disruptions which meant Craig and I only made the connecting flight to Perth by seconds after being raced across the tarmac in a car. That might not sound too important except this was the last flight (midnight) and Craig and I were the organisers of the trip, the others had no idea about what was happening in Perth.

Us taking delivery of the bikes in Perth

I was hoping this was not going to be a sign of things to come but we only made it 1km before we had to visit Super Cheap and dismantle a bike.

Wallys DR had a flat battery when we picked it up but once it started the carby spewed fuel out the breather and after trying to get the needle to seat with a few hits it had to be pulled apart.
I think every ride that Wally has come on this bike has given trouble, luckily we werent going far

Now one of the things I was adamant about was that all the riders had to be able to navigate themselves with their GPS, people waiting on corners is last century and slows the trip too much. Of course at the first sightseeing detour (which was clearly marked on the GPS)
The Pinnacles, only 3 of us managed to see them.

My big KTM

The highway runs very close to the ocean.

We caught up to the rest and camped at Geraldton in a caravan park that took an hour to find the entrance.

The point of camping here was to make sure we hadnt left any camping gear behind before we left civilization. We could buy it here in the morning, the next major town was 4000kms away.
We sent our bikes semi packed 1 month ago so it was easy to forget what we'd packed and what we hadnt.

rider911 screwed with this post 07-20-2014 at 07:28 AM
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:08 AM   #2
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Old 07-20-2014, 04:37 PM   #3
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Old 07-20-2014, 08:19 PM   #4
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Keep 'er coming!
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Old 07-21-2014, 04:18 AM   #5
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Awesome trip!

Looking forward to more.


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Old 07-21-2014, 05:04 AM   #6
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Well we headed off on Day 2 and had breakfast at a roadhouse about 20km north of Geraldton. Errol who is riding a DR 650 notices he has lost about 5 knobs off his Dunlop 606. After we all check our own tyres, Errol and Rollickin (KLR) head back to Geraldton to find a new tyre. The plan was that the rest of us will keep cruising and meet up at Denham where we had already booked accommodation.
We all had new tyres when we left Perth and everyone was running 606s on the back (including me) and most had HP4s on the front. I have been running this combo for more than a few years and have found them very reliable so we put Errols tyre down to bad luck.

Turning off Highway 1 into the Shark Bay region

Awesome scenery heading west

Crawchie makes an appearance

Eagle Bluff

Hey, its not all about the bikes

We made Denham and promptly found a pub to wait for the other 2. Rollickin and Errol were already there but had some bad news.... the new 606 had cost $200 bucks!!! no that wasnt the bad news, the new tyre had flung off another 4 knobs 1000km and 2 tyres ???
We wanted to go out to Monkey Mia for a look, its about 25km so maybe we can study the tyre eating DR on the way there to see if we can see a problem with the bike. All the bikes have got roughly the same weight (apart from mine), same tyre pressures and same speeds (110-115kph) so something must be wrong. Unfortunately we couldnt see anything.

Monkey Mia - We didnt see any dolphins, apparently feeding is always before lunch.

Back in Denham for a feed at the pub on a beautiful night.

Breakfast at the Denham Bakery

Today we are planning on heading out to Steep Point (western most point of Australia) but Errol felt he needed to get another tyre and not risk the next 3500km with the time bomb he had. The problem was the nearest tyre was 300km north and it was Saturday, so he headed off early for a 600km round trip to buy a $300 Heidenau

We went straight to Hamelin Pools where we had booked into for the night and dropped off as much weight as we could before heading to Steep Point. Research had suggested that the last 20km was pretty soft sand.

Hamelin Pools Caravan Park

Steep Point

Crawchie gets weird

I have some helmet cam footage of Steep Point so I'll have to go and edit some and load it to YouTube which at this point I have no idea how to do
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Old 07-21-2014, 05:33 AM   #7
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Nice work guys. looking forward to the rest of it..

load it to YouTube which at this point I have no idea how to do
Only one way to find out - jump right in and start swimming (or dog paddling)
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:33 AM   #8
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OK that video shit is not a 5 min job is it!!

This is a snippet of the ride back from Steep Point. Sorry about the wind noise.

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Old 07-23-2014, 04:53 AM   #9
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We made it back to Hamelin Pools and downed a few coldies. The owners looked after us very well with beer, BBQ packs for tea and breakfast and a donger that slept 7, all at a more than reasonable price.

Did a quick wash

Its a 300km round trip out to Steep Point and back plus the 100km down from Denham in the morning so its pretty much a whole day.
There is some history at Hamelin Pools so we spent some time looking around.

One of the unique things about the place is that it has these things called Stromatolites. They're not pretty to look at but are apparently very interesting to those that are that way inclined

Headed off next morning on the start of our journey east ward. Errol was ready to go again with tyre number 3

The obligatory group photo

Our plan was to do as least amount of bitumen as possible from here and fill up at Cue then bush camp somewhere SE of Meekatharra.

Murchison Oasis Store/Caravan Park. It was a very nice place but it makes you wonder how a place like this in the middle of no where could make money.

Crawchie doing a line for the owner

Some wide open super smooth dirt roads.

Didnt get a pic at Que but it was a old ugly/dirty mining town so nothing to see here. We did try to have a beer at the pub but on a Sunday arvo it was shut WTF

First bush camp for the trip

On the road to Wiluna... someone went to some effort to do that

Some of the proper locals pulled up for a chat.

Wiluna Roadhouse. I hadnt been into an indigenous community shop for more than a year and Id forgotten about the smell

Start of the Gunbarrel Hwy at Wiluna

Our Plan was to get to Carnegie Station this arvo. They cater for tourists who are traversing the Gunbarrel. We had also booked into this place months ago and hopefully they will have some beer and steaks for us.

The road so far was in good condition

Having a rest

I like to pull over and stretch the legs somewhere between 120-150km even though we can easily ride further. I think it helps keep you less fatigued at the end of the day.
The other thing it does is allows you to have a quick look over the bikes and twice on this trip we found major things.
At this stop, Craig noticed he had lost his iPhone which was mounted on the handlebars and supplying his music. He told us of a washout that he had hit maybe 50km back and thought that was probably the culprit as it nearly broke his wrists. He decided to go back and have a look, the rest of us thought a beer at Carnegie seemed like a better idea.

Craig going back for his phone... AND he found it

Entrance into Carnegie Station

Checking in with Graeme the Manager; Top bloke

Really good rooms, great hot shower and excellent kitchen.
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Old 07-23-2014, 04:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by rider911 View Post
OK that video shit is not a 5 min job is it!!

This is a snippet of the ride back from Steep Point. Sorry about the wind noise.
Yes it certainly takes time.
As for the wind noise I often add music to the video to hide the wind noise.

Keep it coming, this is great!!
Ride while we can!!

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Old 07-23-2014, 05:41 AM   #11
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fourcorners... im in
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Old 07-24-2014, 05:05 AM   #12
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Today we are riding the main part of the Gunbarrel Hwy, its one of the iconic 4WD treks in Australia, I have done it before but in a 4WD and it was so long ago the only thing I remember is the corrugations. This part of the GB Hwy ends at Warburton (on the Great Central Rd) and is 470km and I will need about 35 litres to make it, so I dont fill right up. The Safari tanks will take 50 ltrs full to the brim, and I dont need to carry more weight than necessary

Graeme from Carnegie asks how many days it will take us to Warburton, we tell him we will be there this arvo, and after filling up, we'll do another 125km to camp. He reckons "not a chance" some people take 3 days, he obviously doesnt ride bikes.

Filling up at Carnegie... @ $2.70 a ltr I was glad I wasnt filling a 4WD but hey, we were just glad that they sold the stuff

The mustering rigs

The road was quite good up until we changed council shires.

Saw a fair few of these guys

Although the road still looks ok it was starting to get very difficult to ride. It wasnt sand but the strange gravel was similar to ride and the colour made it impossible to see the wheel ruts. The only answer was speed and hang on.
Everyone was having a bit of trouble getting their head around it. I read another RR recently and the guys also commented on the strange gravelly shit.

So we pulled up for a rest and to tell some tales about how we'd all nearly crashed. Craig thought his DR was doing something strange.

That stick in his pannier was the least of his problems but one of the reasons that Im not a fan of soft panniers.

This was going to be interesting theres no way that the other side is not going to break on this shit (fun) road.

So after some McGyver talk this is the best we could do.

The ratchet strap actually pulled it together quite well.

When Rollickin turned up he also had a tale to tell

Apparently a tree jumped out in front of him, it was a bit worse than it looks.

Errol was also starting to really struggle with the relentless soft gravel, he was the elder of the group and his fitness was not what he had hoped. Atleast now we had to slow down because of Craigs predicament

Off we went again with all our fingers crossed.

Craig went first and left 5 min before the rest because apparently he was going to take it easy, well after 30 mins of going flat out I still hadnt caught him you know yourself, its always a race

I had to climb a gnarly little hill to see Len Beadell's theodolite (he was the builder of all these roads in this region in the 50's)
No one else was keen to do it.

Awesome view

I have no idea what was at camp Beadell

Although the pics I have of the track dont look too bad there was plenty of wash outs and gullies in places. Sometimes you would end up in a dead end and have to climb out a steep bank to find another way. Its a shame one of us didnt take any pics of these places.

Finally made Warburton... Fuel, Food and a welder!!

To be continued....

rider911 screwed with this post 07-25-2014 at 07:11 AM
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Old 07-24-2014, 05:16 PM   #13
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Good stuff, thanks.

And another broken DR subframe!
shed time IS quality time
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Old 07-25-2014, 05:39 AM   #14
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OK back to broken DRs

So when your in the middle of bumfuck nowhere and the back end of your bike is about to break off, it would obviously be wise to ride very steadily until you get somewhere to repair it. NO... No its a race and one should only think logically after the race is finished.
Luckily for Craig that ratchet strap worked like a charm an he powered on for the last 200km.
After the turn off to the Heather Hwy (which you are supposed to take) there was some great fast twin tracks where I saw 135kph while racing Troy.

At the Warburton Roadhouse we tracked down a caddy welder and a bit of scrap steel and set about fixing the Dune Rooster as those Suzuki wankers liked to call them.

It took awhile to strip some shit off it.

KTM rider pulls DR rider out of the shit!!

That should do it, old mate even had a bit of paint

So while that was going on, poor old Errol had realised the riding was a bit too tough for him and unfortunately our time frame for the trip didnt allow for a slower pace or unscheduled rest stops. He decided he would pull out and camp up here at the compounded Warburton Roadhouse/Caravan Park. Apparently they'd had some big riots in the community the night before and I was keen to get out of there.
Our original plan was to do another 125km but that was not going to happen as it was getting late but we needed to make some miles to keep on track, 3 of us headed off out of town and onto the abandoned part of the Gunbarrel Hwy and found and set up camp just on dark. Craig and Rollickin would ride into the dark to catch up after putting the DR back together.

So after Graeme at Carnegie said we'd need 2 days to make Warburton, we'd wasted stacks of time with the broken bike and done another 50km past Warb. only 75km short of our goal.

Not many people do the Abandoned GBH because its a little harder to get a permit, potentially worse condition than the main GBH and sort of a useless loop, as the Great Central Rd shortcuts it. But for us it was a non negotiable because if you are gonna ride the GB then you are gunna ride THE Gunbarrel.

A new day starts and the plan is to ride the GB all the way to our first CORNER, that being Surveyor Generals Cnr. The intersection of Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory.

First break

Ready to race

The Abandoned GB was an awesome ride with some beautiful scenery (better than my pics show) and great tracks.

Warrakurna Roadhouse (Giles)
Filled up and bought some supplies for tonight. 500km before the next fuel.

The Giles Meteorology Station is just down the road from the roadhouse and has a couple of attractions.

Len Beadell's old grader

One of the GB road markers erected by Len Beadell


First corner ticked off

One interesting piece of trivia is that fewer people have visited this site than have been to the South Pole.

It is almost impossible to get a permit to go any further east than SG cnr and you have to retrack back to the GCR. We were very lucky to have a contact in the right place to pull some strings and get us through legally on a track that few have ever travelled. In fact it was so disused in the beginning that without a GPS you'd never find it.

Very remote camp

People think when you ride unsupported that you have to eat out of a can
Plenty of steak, sausages, onion, rum, bourbon and coke

Brecky, sausages, bacon, coffee and toast.

The country was in awesome condition, I thought we were in drought.

Craig got a flat

This looked like it was going to be the longest tyre change in history so I decided to catch JB and Rollickin and see if they wanted to climb THE ROCK. We wernt going to climb it due to the time factor and lack of interest but I knew JB and Rollickin were disappointed in that. So off I went and left the others to cheer Craig on.

The Olgas

That was such a good ride it would probably be worth the $1000

When we got to Uluru it was very windy and they wouldnt let us climb it, we were obviously disappointed but I have climbed it before.

Thats alot of pics of THE ROCK but even though I'd been there before its still very impressive.

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Old 07-25-2014, 07:35 AM   #15
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Great RR, great photos, keep it coming
Did the Gunbarrel/Heather Hwy in June so was interested to hear your comments. That deep red gravel is tricky stuff eh. Looks like you guys were going a fair bit faster than us.
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