Hobart, Tasmania. 5 crazy people set out on a motorcycle outback
adventure... I could go on about our aims and aspirations, but like any
real adventure, it all evolved differently..
We started this trip mid March 2011. I'd say all of us were desert
rider novices, but with various skill levels. It turned out to be one
of my most cherishable motorcycle trips that I have done. The weather
conditions this season were quite unpredictable and we took a punt with
the date of departure. We were extremely lucky - apart from
rain & cold the first and last 2 days, we had absolutely brilliant
conditions for all of 3 weeks. Riding every day between 150 - 450
km, mostly camping in tents. These pictures tell the story...
start of all trips (?) - well known places - Great Ocean Road
after 2 days pushing through the clouds in wet weather gear - toward Mt
Gawler Ranges in sight - the adventure begins
aha - this is what it's like - dust & sand holes - very tricky for
the fabulous Mt Ive Station - great place to hunker down and explore
from - shearer's quarters open, guests welcome - wonderful people!
mild evening - the first of many to come
Lake Gairdner - rarely wet, but here it is (Speed Week was cancelled
only days before due to the flooding). We were stunned by it's beauty
and serenity - the salt pan in the background
now we are getting into it - it's better than the keenest dream. I feel
climbing up hills reveals the vastness of this place. What looks like
cozy little tufts of grass is spinifex - each blade so pointy it
pierces your flesh to the bone before you even touch it. Yet some
animals manage to make sleeping quarters in them!
mesmerising skies - mind blowing
the bane of the novice adventurer - bottomless sand pits. Bike loses
it's mind, rider becomes distraught
there are hundreds of salt lakes dotted around, we are going to check
this one out..
fascinating! Very strange, bit like a moon walk..?
waiting for the others to catch up - still sometimes treacherous this
sand, you never know when it gets deep
corrugations don't faze the XRs much, yet one looks for relief on the
it really gets this bright. We were lucky, a southerly breeze kept
you might think this is boring, but it ain't. You just speed up a bit,
that makes it interesting! Good to have a machine with some poke.
Seriously, this Flat Country has an amazing effect, one feels quite
alienated - should we really be here..?
Lake Eyre - I'm standing in it!!! Water is warm and as salty as the
sea. It's blue and clear and reaches over the horizon. The cool breeze
from it is welcome. But being there is a really big thing for me!
This was the spark for me to take up the journey - 'swimming' in Lake
night falls graciously out here
Outback outpost Marree - camping is a bit bare bones but meals &
facilities are good. Postoffice can handle parcels and has some staple
goods in the shelves. Here we took a plane flight..
this desert is wet. Cooper Creek, one of the main feeds of Lake Eyre.
Another peak flood is expected in June due to ongoing rainfalls in QL
& NT. It takes about 2 months to reach this lowest point of the
Australian basin. Two big streams end up here and drain into Lake Eyre
for evaporation and seeping into the vast underground water store which
is said to extend to one quarter of the continent's area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Artesian_Basin
it is so green! Usually vegetation is hardly visible from this height.
A rare state of this land, once in a lifetime perhaps. Tourism is on
the up - next day 3 more light planes arrived to facilitate more of this
improved outfit - better for the heat. Motif is "Marree" with camels.
But it's white, that's the point, mesh & armour underneath replace
the Dririder jacket. The 2 XRs are in full kit. Not quite as nimble as
usual, but manageable. In 6500 km not a single problem with either,
just topping up oil and one air cleaner flush and keep goin' - can't
help to mention that the 3 beemers where not quite as trouble free
(nothing too serious and perhaps more operator related).
one of a few astonishing oases - this part appears to be a natural
soak, likely some springs nearby - this once was a booming outback town
- only one station is operating now
passing this one by (sigh) - maybe next time. Many of the big tracks
were closed due to flooding
In the wild the Emu flocks are a strangely ancient encounter. Felt a
bit like being in Jurassic Park. Usually they flee from the bikes, but
when you stop and turn the noise off they become curious and approach
with deep grunting
can it get better than this? I won't keep it a secret - these are the
Flinders Ranges, one of the most ancient mountain ranges on our planet.
Parks keeps these roads is excellent condition - we were really
impressed how vigilant the departments of the mainland states look
after their roads.
more sand. Expect it in the most unlikely places and you are prepared.
Just go slow. The power-up trick doesn't really work with our heavily
a flooded side arm to the Darling River - making for a spectacular
this desert country is full of surprises
further south it becomes ever lusher - approaching the Murray River
the Murray River - filled to the brim. The steady rain of the following
night caused a dramatic change to the 20km clay track...
this was interesting going indeed! The track we came in was impassible.
Just a few metres onward, hidden in the grass was a deep water filled
channel which forced us
reconsider the road.. we made it out to firm ground eventually and with
difficulty - we
learned: think before you venture into the unknown. Be
prepared to sit out the conditions. In this case, my new tent's floor
had failed in the steady rain - it would have been not good to spend
another night there.
This marks the end of the journey, from here it was tracking back to
Tasmania, rain following us all the way.
If I had to quote one highlight, it might be this:
Mungo National Park - visit to the "Walls of China" - the dune is a
remnant of the beach of an ancient lake. Since the lake dried up some
40,000 years ago, it has been there and only recently started rapid
erosion due to a rabbit plague. We were guided by 3 local blackfellas -
lovely blokes with big smiles and a great sense of humour - very
humbling in the light of what has been done by "us" to their people in
the past.. makes you think
- I hope this may inspire some to venture out there and see for
yourself. I am happy to receive your comments here -
all for now - Jim