To Hell and Back


IBA Member
So after 2 failed attempts at the cape to cape, and when I mean failed, mechanical failure on my legendary bullet proof DR650 Frankenbike. I end my rides on my terms not mechanical! The sheer cost of these two attempts and using every bit of leave I had which included my leave hours that I have to set aside for the yearly xmas work shutdown periods left me get back home from the last attempt with a very bleak xmas coming up with nothing to show for it.
A successful ride would have made me felt better at xmas time. I started to niggle Ed about the Heaven To Hell ride and the possibility of the two of us having a dig at this ride before xmas. The thought of having at least A successful ride to make up for the 2 failures and lack of finance over xmas would lesson that pain somewhat.
The itch about this ride wouldn’t go away and I kept nagging Ed and work gave me the perfect timeframe for this ride over the Melbourne cup weekend. I had a 4 day weekend like it or not, I couldn’t let it go to waste. 2 weeks before the weekend, Ed was still an outside chance with so much happening his end, and I still didn’t have a bike that was setup, the DR was in the naughty corner with a blanket over it. I have a brand new ktm1190 in the shed that was bog stock, but I decided than and there to make do with what I had on hand. In a week and a half, I stole the aux fuel tank off the DR, scrounged a 2nd hand bashplate and made it fit, new tyres, serviced it and 2 nights before kickoff day, I dodgied up a driving light solution using a couple of shelving brackets and zippy ties.
Andy of Andystrapz gave me some things he wanted me to take for a good ride and test and Ed finally managed to get the planets to align a few days before and was a goer too, which was good, as I think we have similar riding style, and his company is always good. Rocked out of Melbourne on the Saturday morning and a solid 400km of rain and wind before arriving in Mildura to meet Ron and Ed. Ron Regaled us with tall tales of his last ride before we had to continue our way west.
I’m a newcomer to this coms on the bike thing and Ed linked our Sena’s together which I’m sure he has regretted doing and for a long time to come as it was near nonstop yack all the way to burra before we called it quits at the quietest pub in town.
A quiet dinner and a few bevvies before turning in and a steady start the next day to head north to Marree and Coward Springs for the night. Our coms weren’t working, I think Ed just turned his off…

Midnight Oil anyone?

On the way up, I was buoyed by the lack of fresh and even old roadkill, which I thought bode well for our run back out in the dark. Missed a couple of photo ops with the eagles standing proud on their nests and standing their ground beside what little road kill there was.
We rolled into Lyndurst mid-afternoon only to find there was no longer 24hr unmanned fuel there, diesel only, the publican told me they ripped the petrol out only a few months before. Which left us heading back towards Copley or Leigh Creek. Copley was all shut and Ed ran out of fuel before getting there, I had enough to get to Leigh Creek so fuelled up the fuel bladder and returned to collect one Mr Ed.
A short discussion on the ride plan for the next day saw us buy a 20Lt jerry can and heading to Maree, nothing has changed much at Marree since last time we were there, although the concept of what we do is accepted it seems when we told them where were headed. They remember all of us who use Marree for these rides.

We arranged with Joe the manager to leave the 20 Lt jerry and Ed’s 6Lt fuel bladder behind the pub before making our way out to Coward springs and my first test of riding the ktm on dirt proper. Up until this point, I’d done less than 30km of dirt on the big thing so this ride was a good test to see how I would go on the much bigger bike with 19 inch front. KTM’s are renowned for chocolate rims, not many grey nomads with jacks and clamps out here at this time of year to bend the rims back into some kind of shape, so the trip out to Coward Springs was a very cagey and plotted 140km at 95 to 100km/hr to miss the bulldust holes and big rocks.

For those who have travelled out here, the flies are no surprise, but as soon as we arrived to set up camp, the mozzies did their best to devour us. Good thing I packed the bushman in the tank bag!

Into the hoochie/swag at a moderate hour before arising at 2 am local time for a very relaxed and un hurried break camp which included making a cuppa before making our way back to the lookout area for our spot ping and photos a half hour behind schedule. Whilst not ideal, we weren’t stressed about being late. The ballasts on my el cheapo HID setup failed to fire as we left camp, so it was tuck in front of Ed for the good light as KTM stock headlights, while better then a postie bike, do suck.

We made a good consistent 95 to 100km/hr back to Marree, and I sure was making friends with the big bike on the dirt, the main thing I noticed was you do need to put more effort into guiding it along, whereas on the DR, built for that purpose, one can be very lazy. I can be in the middle of a big patch of bulldust doing a dollar before thinking oh, I better get up on the pegs and off the seat and casually make that last minute change. The 1190 on the other hand, you do need to be much more proactive getting up on the pegs and steering through your feet.
At Marree, it was a slower stop than planned which put us a bit further behind schedule as we fuelled from the jerry can, and left it beside the front door with a thankyou note and donation of the empty jerry, got our start docket and headed out of town with Ed in front and me close behind chanting we’re not Ed!

Even with the fuel range a little on the close side to make Hawker, the lack of roadkill and animals of any sort soon had us getting up to a nice decent pace and we made a few mins up getting to hawker. Once the sun came up however, the wildlife decided that they would get out of bed and give us a mighty farewell. We made good time to Burra and again made up some lost time despite the torrid cross wind and it being very fresh.

At Burra, it was a refuel and mung down a very nice sausage roll before making our way towards Renmark. Once we hit Morgan, the wind eased and I also had an attack of the nods. A mental run of the checklist told me it had been sometime since I had a sip from the camelbak and a snack, so a drink or 3, an apple and switch the Sena onto a FM channel and the only station it could find soon sorted those nods out. The charge was on for Mildura where Ron would guide us through.
The dust storms out here, while amazing, are scary at the same time, one section of the road looked like some middle east highway with the sand dunes leading onto the road edges. By the time we met Ron near Merbein, our overall average had hit the high 90’s and was improving all the time.

At Mildura, Ron went above and beyond, while we were refuelling, he dashed around, cleaned visors, screens and lights. A big shoutout to Ron, thanks mate! Ed decided he would have one more go at getting his Sena to work with mine, he could hear me, but I couldn’t hear him. I reckon he just had his turned off as it worked this time. I was going to regale him a tale of sugarmills, but decided not to push my luck and end up getting kicked into the table drain.

We hit the leading edge of some storms leading out of town and gave us another weather change for the trip. We kept going from strength to strength towards Hay where Ed had us down for a 30min break, but about 30mins out, we decided since we were running so well, to splash and dash at Hay and make our break at Wagga Wagga ( Gumly Gumly to be precise). We rolled to a stop at Gumly Gumly feeling pretty pumped and slightly ahead of schedule with an overall average of 99km/hr.
An ordinary snack, refuel and nice break before back on it as the sun went down and onto the last major leg to Jindabyne. The pace slowed considerably after Tumut as we made our climb up the high country and begin dealing every Babe, Bambi, Skip, Black Beauty and keg on leg wombats in existence. The above combination were a match for the flies and mozzies at Coward Springs.
This photo shows what the wildlife is like beside the road up there at night…

At Kiandra, a KTM was spied beside the road with Russell huddled down beside the engine for warmth. A welcome site indeed and he led the way up to Jindabyne scaring every one of those critters out and into Ed and I. We were watching a lightening storm as we made our way up, and from Adaminaby, we had Lightening and clouds to the left of us and stars to our right with every Kamikaze critter wanting a piece of us to the front.
Jindabyne rolled into sight with an overall average for low 90’s for a docket from the ATM in town with Russ telling us he hadn’t left the heater on, but the beverages were in the fridge getting cold. I almost told him that if he left them outside they would get colder than in the fridge..
Only 40km separated us from Jindabyne and Charlottes Pass, but added to the wildlife combination was rain which turned into sleet borderline snow, visibility was much reduced and a bit on the torrid side, but we knew we had this ride done, so it was steady as she goes up to the top, some photos and spot pings before making our way just as steady back down to Jindabyne and paperwork signed off in the comfort of a cabin that warmed up quickly.
I’d said to Ed on the way up to Jindabyne, I was feeling so well that if I had the time off work and some spare dollars I’d turn around and have a crack at a return to the lake for the double, even after the torrid run up to the pass and back I still felt in good form.

Tuesday saw a relaxed start and departure from Jindabyne around 10.30 am and down to Cann River for me and a detour down the dirt to Point hicks and a Lighthouse there, but I was thwarted by the road being closed, so another time and onwards towards home in Melbourne arriving at 7.30pm and a little over 700km for the day still feeling pretty good and ready for more miles.
This ride certainly has the lot no matter how you approach it. If you approach it as we did, you have documentation technicalities, dirt and wildlife in the dark on one end, and the other you have twisty roads, wildlife and documentation again at the end. The weather plays a part in it’s own unique way just to add that bit extra to the mix.
I’m certainly glad I rode this with Ed, I would like to think we powered each other along and made this ride the cracker it was.

I still think he turned his Sena off…

Now... I think it's time to set a date for another Dustybutt this time on the 1190, the Dustybutt sure is crazy good fun.