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Archive for December, 2010

Coober Pedy – Marla – Erldunda – Yulara

Set out from Coober nice and early, and it was fantastically cool. Which made for pleasant travels

Just watching the scenery changing was beautiful. The colours, especially the greens are just magnificent.

One other observation was that if you think the French are fashionable, then you’ve never seen the French on holiday! Walking around in old underwear because it’s too hot for them.

I made pretty decent time, even with some long rest breaks, and was at Uluru about an hour before sunset. The view was simply stunning and I lost track of how many photos I took.
Although this meant that my arrival in Yulara, and setting up my tent, had to be done in the dark. Less than ideal, but was completed without incident, aside from the nutter English bloke in the next campsite, who came over said hello, and his next question was “have you met any hot chicks?” I think he had issues. Bumped into him again the next day at the store, where he was asking someone else the same thing.

Tent setup, dodgy burger for dinner. Tomorrow explore!

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Orroroo – Port Augusta – Woomera – Glendambo – Coober Pedy

After a steak and a couple of Coopers at the Orroroo pub, I woke to refuel the bike and myself in main street Orroroo, and set off for Port Augusta. There was a magnificent set of twisties crossing the range and as i got stuck behind a truck for the last 10 minutes downhill, i actually turned around and rode back to the top and back down again (in a much higher set of gears)

After stopping at the information centre in Port Augusta, the road opened up to Woomera. What a dismal place. They try to talk it up and suggest it on the tourist trail, but there is no good reason to be in Woomera. It feels like Canberra (1000x smaller, stuck 50 years ago, in an oven)
Didn’t see any signs to the detention centre. But if you were sent here, you would have to think you made a mistake coming to Australia.
So after taking some photos of rockets, I was back on the road. And what had become evident was that the colour of the landscape was changing. Much more red in the earth now.

Today’s objects of disdain as they tried to knock me off were families of emus and road trains. It was a really windy day and as each road train passed, I was getting blown about the road. I was glad for the weight of the bike, but less so for the windage in the panniers.

After a while, I started to smell what I thought was rain and could see of in the distance, dark clouds over the desert. And it did rain, for at least an hour, which washed the bike of most of the dead grasshoppers (conveniently) and also cooled me down to a comfortable level.

I stopped to refuel at Glendambo and met my first other bike on the trip. Elise was riding her Honda CB250 from Alice Springs to Melbourne! What a star, and doing it with a huge smile. She gave me a tip for dinner in Coober Pedy and we headed off, me north, Elise south. It’s a strange thing where there are only 2 possible directions to go for 1000km.

Arrived in Coober Pedy at around 6pm, just as the downpour stopped and the tempurature had dropped suddenly from 38′C to a very pleasant 21′C

Pulled into Radeka’s underground hotel and had a couple of Coopers, compliments of the manager. We sat around talking hotel business until 11pm, when I went and picked up a MASSIVE pizza from John’s Pizza. I couldn’t even begin to finish it, so shared it with 2 German travellers who were so stoked, as they got to keep the leftovers for breakfast.

Tomorrow may be the last stretch into Uluru!

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Copi Hollow – Menindee – Broken Hill – Silverton – Broken Hill – Olary – Peterbourgh – Orroroo

Didn’t log as many km today as previous days, due to maintainence tasks, etc
Today’s animals trying to dent me had changed again, to Emus and grasshoppers. Millions of grasshoppers.

Started out from Copi Hollow (an absolutely top spot by the lake) and had breakfast in Menindee township. After viewing the lake, headed into Broken Hill where refueled, bought map, visited post office, bought more earplugs and visited Beaurepairs, where I managed to bodgy up an insulating guard for the radiator hose from an old inner tube and zip ties. (the crash bar was rubbing a hole in the radiator hose, this should prevent an early disaster)
After fartassing about with all this, I then proceeded to ride out to Mad Max territory, Silverton, saw the cars & ruins and headed back into Broken Hill for the worst steak sandwich ever, at the cafe inside the tourist information. Was served by the rude fat chef, named Luke. They should sack you mate. You can’t cook, you are rude & lazy to boot!

So headed west to Peterbourgh, but was struggling, so stopped at Olary for a sleep on the bench outside the pub. Ended up chatting to the publican and his mate, but felt refreshed and headed on. At Peterbough the plauge of grasshoppers intensified so much that I spent the next 100km ducked under the windshield, but still managed to slaughter thousands of the beasts. This was too much and Peterbourgh was overrated, so in the hope that the plauge would ease up the road (unlikey) I made tracks for Orroroo. There were fewer grasshoppers at Orroroo, but it didn’t get better without it getting much worse first, so much so that I had to wash all my riding gear of grasshoppers on arrival. Unsurprisingly, squashed grasshoppers smell like grass. Condensed and magnified 100x. So I smell like I’ve been dragged here across 450km of grassy fields.

Orroroo has a decent campsite and pub, so settled in here for the night in a basic cabin. (I’m the only one here too)
Tommorrow to Port Augusta and beyond, maybe to Woomera.

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Dubbo – Narromine – Cobar – Wilcannia – Copi Hollow

Left Dubbo at around 8am with a view to making it to either Wilcannia or maybe even Broken Hill. Stopped in Narromine for breakfast, bacon egg and tomato roll which took an exceptionally long time to arrive. Noticed the kitchenhand ran out and came back with carton of eggs from the supermarket :-)
The waitress said the “kitchen wasn’t ready” but the coffee was excellent.

Fairly uneventful run down the Barrier Highway to Cobar, although observed that the suicidal turtles have given way to suicidal galahs and lizards. Biggest observation was just how green the landscape is from previous visits out here. There were areas of so many different vivid shades of green and grey, it was really magnificent, and a pleasant change from the dusty past.

Stopped for longer than desired or anticipated in Cobar, after taking a few photos, talked with the lady at the tourist info about the floods, and then had lunch with a train driver who grew up in Ingleburn.
After then filling up with fuel, finally exited Cobar at 3pm.
Shot for Wilcannia with thoughts of previous visit there, and hoping it had somewhat improved and might make a good camp… It hasn’t, so I didn’t
By this stage it was 6pm, and Broken Hill was too far to make today, as I didn’t want to ride at dusk to avoid the wildlife (roos specifically)
So decided to head for Menindee Lakes, about 150km south west of Wilcannia. The road, which was dirt, turned out to be fairly trashed during the recent rains, lots of washouts, some 3ft deep, and heavily rutted by trucks driving on it when it wad closed.
Tried to recall all the offroad advice, STAND UP! Etc etc
It wad good fun, although almost got off at 80kmh when I got swallowed by a big rut and thrown about. Managed to stay on, with increased heartrate.
There was just as much wildlife here, with alot of cattle and goats on the track.
Came across one big herd of cattle in the middle of the track, so had to stop, there were 2 bulls and the younger one wasn’t happy that I was there. He was about 3M away and his head kept dropping. I thought he was going to charge at me a couple of times. It was bit of a Mexican standoff, except that he had all the firepower. I tried rolling backwards, that didn’t help so thought I would have to make a run for it. Just when I was about to, he turned his head for a moment and I was off! I didn’t need to be told to get out of there.

Not long later I stopped to take a photo of the sunset, and a Hilux with 2 farmer lads pulled up out of nowhere, asking if I was ok. They were very amused at the city boy taking photos of the sun and horizon.

My plan to arrive before dark was dead in the water, but there was a campsite by the lake about 13km outside of Menindee. Managed to arrive just as darkness fell and the mozzies swarmed.
A rushed setup of the tent in the dark and some 3 minute noodles, and I’m spent. Goodnight

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Riding the Wilcannia-Menindee Road

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ef4_NYO5qs

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Sydney – Lithgow – Bathurst – Orange – Molong – Yeoval – Dubbo (430km)

So I managed to set off almost on time, everything was loaded on the bike and Megan, Maarten & Aldo came to see me off.
Of course the one thing I forgot, was my helmet, so back into the house to collect that essential item.
So to hugs and waves from the departure party I set off, first stop, the Shell on Epping Road. The new super silicon earplugs purchased from the US wouldn’t stay in, so they were dumped in favour of the traditional safety plugs.
Once I reached Bells line of Road the fun began, not much traffic and fabulous views. Stopped just before Bell to take some photos and admire the view. Up over the pass and into Lithgow it got a bit cool, 16′C and the jacket was all zipped up.
Once down the other side, the smells of the country became evident to my pleasure, the scent of livestock, sillage and growth all so pleasant.
On reaching Bathurst I thought it would be a good idea to do a lap of Mt Panorama, which was fun, so I did it a second time and had a chat with an old lady who took my photo.
The track is much steeper and narrower than it appears on TV, hairy stuff at speed I imagine, even at 60kmh it was daunting.

Then made haste for Orange, where I stopped for lunch, parked the bike and went off to a cafe. Halfway through my sandwich I realised I had left the keys in the bike. Dumbass.
After lunch headed to Molong and decided to take a detour via Yeoval on the backroads, turned out that the bridge after Yeoval had been washed out. There were a couple of guys drinking UDL who I asked how I could get around the river. They pointed out that they could help me cross by carrying my panniers to the other side while I road the bike through the gap of remaining road. So obstacle was overcome.
Road into Dubbo where after a good feed, crashed at the caravan park. Dubbo is still blockaded due to the floods a damage. The whole place smells like a muddy river, and alot of damage to buildings, roads and trees.
Feeling pretty good, not too sore (yet) aside from some sunburn on my neck (the only thing exposed) must visit Target Country tomorrow to get a bandana to cover it.
Tomorrow towards Cobar…

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Travels on a F650 GS

So here it is.  I’m off to ride the F650 and see how far I can get with a few spare parts, a tent and some food.

You can track my progress here:

and also on the Moblog for more interesting photos: http://doherty.net.au/wpress

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