Around Australia - 9 days

tj189

Administrator
#1
Around Australia - 9 Days (edited the subject heading as a number of overseas riders do not understand what our big paddock is
)

Around the Big Paddock – 9 Days

I found it easy to describe the actual route taken on this run, jump on the National Route 1 and follow it around Oz back to where I started. Responses were good, like, wow! What a great trip, fantastic! taking some long service are you? What a great thing to do, etc., then the magic question is asked, how long will you be away? It all then turns into disbelief from those who just can’t get what long distance riding is about and I am sure there will be a few readers who still won’t get it by the end of the report….9 days!! You won’t be able to do that, geeze are you nuts? Or simply the nod of disbelief.

I am sure others have done the ride around Oz in their own way and I know of a few that have done it more than once. They did it how it suited them and enjoyed what they accomplished, I, as a LDRider, enjoyed immensely what I achieved and what I believe was the manner in which it was all planned, executed and to me, most importantly, being able to manage my fatigue. The one new item I took along this time to assist in this was a Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) camera to help with night riding, more on that later.
One other item I used this time, was the programme Bubbler on my Android phone with is the Galaxy 111. I actually thought I had it working but unfortunately did not get it to function correctly until Port Augusta. From then on it performed very well and allowed my tracking for the rest of the trip without fail.



My attempt was to start on the south side of Brisbane and travel in a clockwise direction. The two pieces of the highway that were important to me, was to ensure that I included the run from Katherine up to Darwin. Secondly to make sure I travelled the highway out to Borroloola in the NT where the bitumen runs out on the National route 1 as it heads to the Queensland border some 290Km away (I just do not travel well on dirt roads or like attempting river crossings with my bike), then head down to the Barkly Highway onto Cloncurry then up to pick the National Highway at Normanton. From the research I had completed on the route, it appeared that most people included the run up to Darwin but on the way back by passed the turn off at Daly Waters, that is part of the National Highway and continued on down to Three Ways, turned left onto the Barkly Highway, down onto Cloncurry where they would then turn left to head up to Normanton and once again pick up the National Highway. I wanted to maximise the amount of the National Highway that I was to complete.


I understood that day one was going to be not only my longest day but more than likely the most difficult. This part of the ride included riding through the highway through one of the busier parts of Sydney then knowing that I would be tackling all the little hamlets down the south coast of NSW. This was one of the many considerations in planning this ride, do you do it first or last? Well from my perspective it was definitely better doing it all first, I would not like to tackle the east coast of Oz having completed eight days of riding prior, I would have ended up being nuts all right.

Around midnight was my start time which allowed easy access down through most of the road works in northern NSW, especially around Coffs Harbour. The run through Sydney took place late morning so that I missed the peak hour traffic at both ends of the work day. The real slowing down occurred after Bulli pass. Not only were the number of smaller towns an issue but there is also a large amount of road repair/rebuilding occurring. Like most things on a trip there is nothing you can do but just keep going being satisfied that you had a bed for the night at the end of the day, come on Lakes Entrance!!....sleep was easy.

I was hoping to hit Melbourne just before peak hour traffic, however, the run up through the hills with a bit of wet weather around took its toll and I hit the jackpot with the traffic. It was amusing though, in Brisbane on my way to work we will get three lanes of traffic bumper to bumper and travel at 5Kph, in Melbourne they have five lanes of bumper to bumper traffic and still do 100Kph!!

With the slow start and weather that you hoped would not come, the run across Victoria became a real challenge. Decisions needed to be made. The rain was there, all the way, so was the wind, boy was the wind there, it was trying to keep me horizontal. Do I stop and hope that it dies down or take the battle to Mother Nature. Well the battle continued for the next few hours, not at the speed that was required but at least I was still going forward, it was a great feeling to reach Port Augusta. Changed rooms at the motel due to a really bad fish smell in the room, fixed Bubbler so that it was now working and found sleep very easy again.

By this stage and only two days in you will have already guessed that I was a bit behind in my plan, well that is what the NT is for :) I had used my buffer of a couple of spare hours and was now looking at cutting down the extra time I had planned for fuel stops. The vast majority of fuel stops were planned for 20 minutes which may seem excessive to some but it was also my last line for obtaining time back.

Well, for me the ride was really about to get into the full swing, out onto the paddock on the bottom edge and cruising across those incredible plains. This time the flowers were in full swing as was the wind and the fuel consumption rising. It was about this time that I was thankful for the external tank.


The last time I went across or should I say came back across the paddock the most expensive fuel was at the Nullarbor Plains, so this time it was nice to just pass it by.








It was an interesting feeling to hit Norseman in WA and turn left instead of the normal turn to the right, now for a bit of a trip into unchartered territory. Down into Esperance for a corner docket and then over to Ravensthorpe for a sleep. The uncertainty of fuel always plays on my mind and due to my arrival time I was concerned of the availability of fuel here. An earlier phone call prior to the trip confirmed that the servo would be closed by the time I arrived but 24Hr fuel was available via the use of a credit card. I actually refuelled in the morning prior to departure using this magical system which allowed me to utilise my savings account and not my credit line…..it worked flawlessly, phew.


I continued on towards Albany and out towards Denmark for another corner docket but in the back of my mind was reminded that it was down this way that Tabledrain (Ian) had a run in with a roo on one of his IBA ride attempts, boy was I ever mindful of this which helped in keeping my mind very alert. The rain had hit again at this stage and kept up for a few hours and required, due to my riding style, a bit of a slower pace. Once the weather cleared it was a nice run up the Old Coast Rd and through Perth and out to Cataby. That trip up through Perth seems to take forever. BP Overlander was the stop point for a sleep and refuel, again time management was critical as missing the closing time here would have meant a long wait before being able to obtain fuel.

The run continued on up through Carnarvon and onto Port Headland where I was expecting to refuel, well it is a big place with lots of people due to the mining in the area. On arrival at the pumps there was only 91 octane unleaded. The choice was to return to town and search out another servo, losing some more valuable time or top up and continue on. Well I still needed to make up some time so reluctantly filled up. I did keep in the back of my mind that some of the owners at OzSTOC have been using 91 for years without issue so I did feel a little better knowing that I would be back to 95 or 98 at the next refuel….hopefully?

Roebuck Plains Roadhouse was the turning point for what I considered as the run across the topside of the paddock, which meant I only had a boundary and a half to go on my attempt. What a trip across the top part of the paddock this turned out to be, three days of 40c+ temps. The water bladder in the tank bag was hot enough to make a cup of tea with. I regularly need to change out the water and purchase more across this part of our beautiful country. I was a little shocked to pay four dollars for a 2 litre bottle of water at one of the roadhouses. My sleep spot was at Fitzroy River Lodge where I paid $150 to sleep in a tent, now don’t get me wrong it was a great tent with an on suite, air conditioning and was very comfortable. After a long hot day in the saddle it was soooo worthwhile. It was along this next stretch of road, minding my own business, when out of the blue this great, no gigantic demon bird attacked my bike and ate, well swallowed whole, my right side HID driving light, damn demon bird!!


Onwards, onwards towards Kununurra and out through the WA/NT border and then to Gregory National Park which I had been looking forward to all trip. My last run up this way, earlier in the year, on the Australian Southern Cross run, had wet my appetite for this great stretch of road through the park. 130Kph, fantastic road with wide sweeping bends and a smile on my dial from ear to ear. I just don’t have this opportunity anywhere else in Australia, how good was that!!!!






Refuel at Katherine and then continue the following of the National Highway 1 up to Darwin and a sleep for the night. The regular stop for fuel in Darwin was having problems and was unable to provide fuel so back down the road to the Coles Shell, refuel and up to Doctor’s Gully for a photograph. I like taking the opportunity to visit Doctor’s Gully as it is a personal reminder of OX (Peter) and acts as a trigger for me to remember some great LDRiders here in OZ including Tabledrain, Crappy, the Cudlins, Grey Gentry and Marls, Derrick, Margaret Peart and a whole range of other names/nicknames that I just can’t put my finger on, more than likely as I don’t have access to a forum regarding IBA in Australia at the moment. I suppose that, it is my way of reminding myself, that we have some extraordinary LDRiders doing some extraordinary rides out there, good on you all!!


From Darwin it is off down to Daly Waters for a refuel and into uncharted waters for myself as I have not travelled this part of the National Highway 1. This is very much the single lane Highway, if you see a truck in the distance, best advice is to pull well of the road and let them pass, as the chances are it will be one of the very long road trains. Thankfully, I only need to move off the road three times on the way out to Borroloola and found that oncoming traffic moved off the road or partially off to allow me to stay on the bitumen.




At this stage of the ride, this had been the most isolated piece of road that I had ever travelled but that was about to change very quickly. Once I had been out to Borroloola and the end of the bitumen for the National Highway 1, I returned to Cape Crawford and the roadhouse for a top up of water and headed down the Tableland Highway towards Barkly Homestead for fuel and a sleep, (387Km).


This section of road, for me, has to be the most isolated section of road that I have ever ridden. From memory I may have been lucky to have seen three vehicles. I am sure that I was able to get the bike airborne on at least two occasions, travelling at a speed that was less than the posted limit, and on the way back to terra firma the wind gusts could be felt around my crutch. The road in places was like a roller coaster, it is not a road I would travel at night. I was also amused to see some signs “Road subject to flooding for next 30Km”. This piece of real estate was incredible to see and my mind was blown away with the vastness but yet so much beauty in its landscape.




The stop at Barkly Homestead was good, problems with the Premium pump due to the heat so the need to use 91 again. I treated myself to one of their Barra Burgers before putting my head down for a sleep. Up early and off down to Cloncurry for the turn up to Normanton. Just out of the “Curry” I needed to change out of some gear and found a rest stop. The pleasant surprise here was meeting up with another rider who had earlier arrived from Cooktown and was waiting to meet up with a mate so they could head off to the ghost town of Mary Kathleen. It was a great conversation and straight away I was in awe of this gentleman and his escapades on bikes (he had three bikes). When I arrived he had his billy on (trangia), with the rollie hanging out the corner of his mouth. His softly spoken and calm voice fitted in so well with his dry weary face. He reminded me of conversations that have been had with some old drovers and their ability to draw you into their world and incredible adventures. I must apologise as I have forgotten his name. I left that stop with a sense of proudness that I had met, chatted with and shared a moment of time with a real down to earth adventurer, it was a part of this ride that will stay with me. His parting piece of advice, as he limped slightly in my direction, was to visit the croc in the main street of Normanton, I did.

Having lost my glasses a couple of days ago and attempting to purchase some reading glasses over the last couple of days, I thought I would give this town a go as well, fantastic found some. This now made it a lot easier to write up my logs and check my spreadsheet. Oh, I also visited the croc before refuelling and heading back out to meet up with the National Highway 1 once again. It would have been around a 932 kilometres to travel across from Borroloola in the NT to Normanton (as I said before dirt roads and river crossing on my bike are just not me).





How good and beautiful is that run across the top of the tablelands near Atherton, wow! Just fantastic. Then the run down the mountain into Cairns, I worked my butt off coming down there, unfortunately it was dark but I am sure the ride in the daytime would be an exciting one as well, might have to go back and do that one day. I stopped at a new servo/maccas on the south side purely for a rest and a quick bite to eat, grilled chicken and chilly wraps, love ‘em. This was only night that I had not planned an overnight stop in a motel/hotel. I did this to ensure I had flexibility for the last part of the run down the final part of the paddock boundary.

The Bruce Highway does not have a very good name here in Australia for safety and of course, there is a fair amount of repair work being done. I think, that by keeping this in mind, it then allows the rider to accept that there will be time issues and that you just have to work around that, again not much else you can do. My run down this last leg was, well, really uneventful. I do remember saying to myself, it’s not over yet, concentrate……. I pulled into one of the stops at Caboolture for a corner docket and continued on with the last piece of this puzzle back to my starting point.
Normally, for us as LDRiders, at the end of our journey, there is no fanfare, just get in and get the last docket and head home. For me however there was a fanfare, bands playing, fireworks all wrapped up in Crappy (Michael), here was a man that had ridden and hour and a half to say well done… what a great bunch of people we have in this LDRiding community in OZ, thanks mate!
My spreadsheet had shown an arrival time of 21:57 and the final docket recorded a time of 21:40, I am happy with that.


Epilogue
The tyres were brand new, Pirelli Angel GT, and there is still a good amount of treat left, of course I am in need of a good service for the bike but it performed flawlessly and is a great touring bike, 2008 Honda ST1300. I need to rethink the water bladder in the tank bag and have a cover made for the external fuel tank. Replacement spot beam driving lights are also now needed, thanks to that “demon bird”. The GPS using Igo Primo was exceptional as was the excel spreadsheet.

I have left out the use of the FLIR camera as I expect it may be a little controversial and would hate to think that its discussion may detract from the ride itself. I will put up a thread on one of the threads at Distance Riders Australia to discuss the equipment and how it was used. May I say though, I firmly believe that any piece of equipment that makes you as a rider, feel safer and comfortable like fluro vests, roo whistles, daytime running lights, extra rear lights, tall screens, wet weather gear, heated clothing etc., all go towards assisting in your fatigue management. To me the FLIR camera was part of that. So keep an eye out on the DRA site for its discussion.

As a member of OzSTOC, the Australian ST Owners Club, I also participate in their Rider Assistance Network, on this trip I notified our two wonderful club members, Jean (Pocket Stoker) and Chris (ST2UP) that co-ordinate this for us, of my trip and gave them the link to follow my journey should they so wish. This is not part of what they do but had I needed the services of the RAN then it was there, same as my membership of RACQ, again all of this adds to fatigue management as it is something else that is not playing on your mind. Thanks for the phone calls guys.

This journey ends, the boundary ride around the big paddock completed…now need to look for the next journey on this never ending road…….

 
Last edited:

Nico

Well-known Member. Moderator
#2
Thanks Trevor. Great report on a great ride!
I love the remoteness as you do, but those northern roads sound a little more out there than some I've been on.
I have a loose plan to do a lap next year, but will not be going for any record times.
You've given me some good info though.
 
#4
Hello Trevor,
Wow! What a great and extremely enviable ride! Thanks for describing it so well. It makes me dream to learn to ride on the left!
I also have a FLIR Pathfindr IR mounted on my H-D (thanks to the expert advice from Tim Masterson). It works well most of the time, but not if I am riding through sleet or heavy rain. The cold rain masks the heat signatures of critters. I am curious about your experience with it. What have been your limitations and when have you been glad to have had it.
--Chelsea
 

tj189

Administrator
#5
Hello Trevor,
Wow! What a great and extremely enviable ride! Thanks for describing it so well. It makes me dream to learn to ride on the left!
I also have a FLIR Pathfindr IR mounted on my H-D (thanks to the expert advice from Tim Masterson). It works well most of the time, but not if I am riding through sleet or heavy rain. The cold rain masks the heat signatures of critters. I am curious about your experience with it. What have been your limitations and when have you been glad to have had it.
--Chelsea
Hi Chelsea,
...and with some of the rides over your way, I dream of learning to ride on the right!
All my information was also gathered from Tim. The FLIR camera is fantastic, interestingly I did have some heavy fog one ride, but did not see and critters, not sure if it was just because there were none around. The area I was riding at the time is not known for a large animal population.

One of the best things I get from the system is extra peace of mind. Along with all the other things we do to reduce fatigue, this system is a part of that and I find it great from a psychological perspective. I only wish it had a wider field of vision. The system also requires a fair amount of practice. Getting used to using it in a similar way as we do our side mirrors takes a bit of time and mind power.
My most humorous part was somewhere in middle Australia, I came up around a bend and found myself braking heavily after just noticing a large number of heat signatures on the screen. I'm thinking a herd of water buffalo....... after stopping and nothing moving, I found myself looking at termite mounds (they can be quiet large here). Well, that kept me amused over the next few days.
TJ
 
#6
Trevor, you gave me a chuckle. I wouldn't have thought that termite mounds would be warmer than their surroundings. That false-positive is easier to deal with than water buffalo blocking your path, though!
I found that dense fog also reduces monitoring distance. Unfortunately, when riding through the soup or cold rain is when having the extra information would be most valuable. It does work well though during pre-dawn and dusk for showing elk and deer.
--Chelsea
 

Gatey

Premier Member
#7
I remember reading this back in the day and just trying to get my head around the size of this ride. The mental ability to get this ride in the best place before the ride even starts. This is a massive ride to get sorted first then getting to grips with actually doing the things.
The end result Im sure I posted a reply in. No doubt about that.
So I'm looking at the maps above and your routes like 3 times longer than any big ride I've ever done and you only have those 9 days to fit the thing in. Wow......wow too big for wow really .

So how much does a ride like this cost. Real cost not estimated expectation and a fuzzy leaf feel to save the world... but true good info cost to ride an ST at the pace needed to get around the paddock in such a time.
 

tj189

Administrator
#8
An interesting question and one I do not have an answer for. I tend not to look at a cost, from any perspective if I can.
 

Gatey

Premier Member
#10
An interesting question and one I do not have an answer for. I tend not to look at a cost, from any perspective if I can.
I'm hearing you mate. Cost...well I was curious and thats what catches mice and cats and stuff.
Living a ride only brings profit..or other stuff.
I've done some sums since then threw the note in the bin and started looking at the map again.