IBA Australia - 20th Anniversary 50CC Ride


Well-Known Member
Back in 2003, 4 motorbike adventurers set of on what was to become the first certified 50CC IBA ride in Australia, from Port Melbourne to Darwin.
The four trail blazers consited of 3 Aussie's, John McCrindle IBA # 172, Bernard Petherbridge IBA # 7623, Derrick Sutton IBA # 202 and Bill Thweatt IBA # 207 (from the US).

So I suggested to TJ, Skidoo and Derrick about an idea I had where we could have an IBA Australia - 20th anniversary 50CC in 2023 to celebrate the original Port Melbourne to Darwin 50CC .

So a plan was born.

We thought of having a group start 50CC at the same time then each rider can ride his/her own ride plan/schedule to suit their own requirements.

The IBA Australia - 20th Anniversary Ride is open to any IBA member. If interested, please refresh this thread regularly as details could be added/altered in time.

Start Date -Friday 25th August 2023.

Start time - 2am

Starting from - United 24hr service station (outbound) 2 West Gate Fwy, Port Melbourne VIC. Any IBA member not contemplating this anniversay ride are more than welcome to come along to the start location to send off the riders.

Finishing at - Shell 24hr service station, 37 Daly St, Darwin NT

Some riders may choose to ride the 50CC, others may choose to ride a 100CCC (150CCCC Skidoo), either is fine. Once you successfully complete your IBA ride and send your documentation for certifying, a special 20th anniversary certificate to reflect your ride in return would be surely one for the "pool room".

The following link may be helpful in answering any questions you have, if not feel free to ask them here. It is up to you to know the rules/requirements of the ride you are attempting.

Below a couple of accommodation options, 10km from the finish at 37 Daly St: A few are staying here.

Another close option is BIG 4 Caravan Park click here:

If you are interested in doing this ride please register via this Ride Master link, https://rides.jasonjonas.com/regRequest.php?id=876.
Click here to see who has registered already, https://rides.jasonjonas.com/riderList.php?id=876

A handy link to ride reports for IBA Aust Coast to Coast rides is here: May be a handy reference for information /ideas if you are contemplating riding the IBA Australia - 20th anniversary 50CC.

A couple of handy Vic, SA & NT road condition sites are here:

If enough riders are staying in Darwin for a day or 2 after their 50CC, a dinner for the Sunday night may be arranged to have a few drinks and share some stories. See below for details:
The Midway Berrimah Hotel, 644 Stuart Hwy Berrimah NT has been booked under my name for up to 20 people for dinner on Sunday 27th August at 6pm. I would suggest if you would like meeting for a pre dinner drink in the bar around 4pm and to share some stories.

What if I am not able to commit to a 50CC?
You have the opportunity to complete any IBA ride, but you must start you IBA ride on one of the following dates: Friday 25th Aug 2023, Saturday 26th August 2023 or Sunday 27th August 2023.
Upon completion of your ride and certification, a certificate to reflect that you rode this IBA ride to "Commemorate the first 50CC in Australia" or similar wording would be issued to you.

Any questions please feel free to ask.

A lot of interest has been shown already so with over 7 months before the start you have heaps of time to prepare for this once in a lifetime experience, hope to see you on Friday 25th August 2023.

Derrick may add a few of his own thoughts also.

Edited 31/01/23 - Added Ride Master link to register
Edited 19/03/23 - Confirmed 2am start time. Added links to Caravan Park Accommodation
Edited 12/04/23 - Added Ride Master link that shows the list of registered riders
Edited 03/05/23 - Added link to previous IBA Aust Coast to Coast ride reports
Edited 02/07/23 - Added Vic, SA & NT Road condition site links & Dinner details
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IBR Finisher
This is from a partial writeup I did at the time (updated where appropriate).

(Read this as if you are in 2003!)

The Stuart Highway Ice Price Survey.
(or how only fools and mad Americans go out in the midday sun.)

I know there’s a few people to blame for the actions recalled in the following account. Butt since I’m one of them the rest also get off lightly.

I’m not really sure where this all started. Bill Thweatt, a fellow Iron Butt Rally veteran from 2001, is out in Australia with his wife Tari for two years on a work secondment. In the US of A it’s a big thing among the Ironbutt Association crowd to complete what is known as a 50CC – crossing from one coast to the other in under 50 hours. (There’s also the big brother to this ride the 100CCC, that’s right, over AND back in 100 hours). The most common route, but by no means only or easy, is from San Diego California to Jacksonville Florida, which equates to about 2,350 miles. By comparison Sydney to Perth is 4,000- odd kilometres, equating to 2,500 miles.

Enough background, now let me go back a step. In August of this year I went on a thing called the Border Run. It basically consisted of a ride to the WA/SA border for a counter meal and conversation with other motorcyclists from around the country. Then turn around and come home. A 4,000 kilometre, 3 day long weekend. (I have a write-up for this jaunt too, if you want a copy just let me know).

In the bar on the Saturday night I heard someone talking about this crazy American who had tried to make Perth from Sydney in under 50 hours over Easter, and how it couldn’t be done. Ears pricked I explained that not only did I know the gentleman in question, but that, with the right strategy, discipline and no mechanical snafus that Sydney to Perth was in fact do-able in under 50 hours.

I said as much to Bill when I got home. I asked him when his next attempt was to be and he replied the weekend of the 8th and 9th of November.

Cool, that would let this current trip fade from my wife’s memory before hitting her up with some story about how we couldn’t let any bad things befall Bill in his quest to cross the country and that I should accompany him. A selfless act you understand. =:^))

As time goes on discussions involving John McCrindle (99 and 01 IBR finisher), Bernard Petherbridge (IBA member), Bill and myself take place. It was along here that Bernard floats the idea of a Melbourne to Darwin 50CC. It had more good than bad points going for it as far as I was concerned.
  • I had already done 60% of the Sydney – Perth route in August.
  • All the road north of Port Augusta would be new to me (a big selling point), as well as the opportunity to do a north / south version rather than an east west version.
  • The enlightened view of the Northern Territory government with respect to solving the time distance problem (no speed limit) was an added bonus!
So it’s settled. Melbourne – Darwin. Since I now work for myself my plan was to fly back from Darwin in time for trading Monday, then return in two weeks time on the Friday night to pick up the bike and head home. I actually managed to use some frequent flyer points to book a flight at a time that suited me. (Why does no-one want to leave Darwin @ 2am Melbourne time for a 6.30am arrival at Tullamarine?)

John had been travelling to Europe during all this, after previously stating that he was looking pretty doubtful as to whether his work/riding balance would permit his participation. Butt once firm plans were in place he came on board pretty quickly. John came down from Brisbane on the Thursday/Friday morning of departure day, had his bike serviced and got a new set of tyres and then some rest at Bernard’s house.

Bill left Sydney early Friday in order to be in Melbourne in time for our Friday night 8.00pm departure.


IBR Finisher
The Ride Itself.


The others had met at Bernard’s place so there was a quick hello when we met at the South Melbourne Fire Station where Officer David Woods witnesses our starting forms. That done, down to Fisherman’s Bend for some sand and water (for the spiritual part of the ride) and onto the Shell Westgate ( Jan 2023 - that Shell is now a United) for fuel and a receipt that would be our official starting time.

First stop in Horsham for a top up and I was already thankful I had made the decision to purchase an in helmet headset that plugs into my handheld UHF CB. Bernard had a flashier version that also gave him radio and mobile phone ability so we had a test run. It was nice to know from the truckies that the local Divvie Van was out in Ararat, not that any person in their right mind would speed through Victoria…..

Onto Tailem Bend for our next fuel stop. In Horsham Bill had mentioned that he was looking forward to some rest. This had puzzled me a bit as, even though plan ‘a’ had us stopping in Tailem Bend for a few hours we were now working off plan ‘q’ or some such revised version number which had no such stop pencilled in. In any case there was nothing open so we marched into Adelaide.

On the main road into Adelaide we stopped at a motel, but couldn’t raise anyone. John suggested the park across the road for an hours’ shuteye. Bernard had never slept in a park before so I think it would be fair to say his horizons were being expanded. Anyway after ¾ hr and no sleep I got up for a wander around. Bill had also risen and had found a loo (to continue his survey from Easter, ask him for the report).

After the hour had passed I roused John and as always he jumps straight up and says he’s “right to go”. Bernard is snoring so the park can’t have been that bad (although his back does give him reminders of his get off last year after a brush with a kangaroo). (Jan 2023 - Bloody kangaroo's have me at physio twice a week since March 2022!)

It’s 4.30am and as John and I wait for Bill and Bernard we hear this racket coming from the main road. Looking out we see some bloke doing “street luge”, lying on a skateboard like contraption heading down the hill while his mate follows in a car making sure no trucks run him over from behind and put an end to his fun. For those that don’t know the descent into Adelaide is a 7% + grade for at least 10kms including a short section thru a tunnel. We surmised that he’s probably come all the way down like that. And people say I’ve got a weird pastime…….

Those Wacky South Australian Kids are still at it!


IBR Finisher
Adelaide to Alice Springs

Back on the road Port Wakefield and Port Augusta pass without much ado, apart from Bernard getting caught at set of lights and then missing the only important turnoff in the 2,700 odd kilometres between Adelaide and Darwin. The CB comes in handy to catch him before he gets too close to Perth and we are back on track. (Jan 2023 - I still give Bernard curry for this!)

We arrive in Glendambo mid morning and it has certainly warmed up. The last of the thermals and heated gear is packed away, and camelbacks filled with cold water. (1,330 kms in 15 hours including an hour and a half in Adelaide.)

Next stop Coober Pedy. You know you look pretty weird when the locals in a place like Coober Pedy give you repeated sideways glances. Heres 4 blokes on motorbikes, it has got to be 40 degrees C (100+F), they’re all in full protective gear and they’re all shoving ice into every available pocket and camelback they can find. And they’re smiling. And so the Stuart Highway Ice Price Survey begins.

The ice and wet shirts last for an hour and half or so. Trouble is the next place we stop for fuel is Kulgera and that’s 4 hours away.

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (16).JPG
The might ZZR600 in full battle dress! (Jan 2023 - I think I can safely say the only ZZR that's seen the Northen Lights in British Columbia, and the length and breadth of Australia. And now it rests under a bike cover in my carport, not having moved in 7 years. Still ran when I parked it with 190,000kms on the dial.)

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (14).JPG
Left to Right - John was aboard his reletively new 1100?RT, Bill on his 1050? GS, and Bernard with his decked out Hoonda Varadero

A quick photo shoot and top up for Bill’s tank from his Jerry can at the NT border and on into Kulgera. “Into” is probably a misnomer since Kulgera is like most of these Roadhouse/Pub/Campground/Caravan Park/Motel all rolled into one places and consists of only one main set of buildings.

We are now in the Northern Territory. This is where the short stops and discipline to the task in the past 21.5 hours pay off. We manage to make good use of the available daylight hours and the open speed limit to make Alice Springs just before dark. (2,290 kms in 24 hours).

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (17).JPG
One for the Pool Room!

After refuelling we converge on the Hungry Jacks across the road where plans for the next few hours are made. I had booked a room at Barrow Creek, 300 odd kms north of Alice Springs. The folk there had wanted us in by 10pm (the room was within the hotel) butt that wasn’t the only thing against it (it was now 7.30 pm local and the “nightlife” on the roads up here certainly slows things down). The room wasn’t air-conditioned. A quick phone call to Ti Tree confirms they have two twin air-conditioned rooms. Win!


IBR Finisher
and now back to memory,,,

Alice Springs to Ti Tree

One thing I failed to mention, in deciding on Melbourne-Darwin over Sydney-Perth was that, at that point in time, the Alice Springs to Darwin railway was under construction. This meant that the bulk/ a lot? of the Darwin bound freight would arrive by train to Alice Springs late daylight hours Saturday, for transhipment to Road Trains. I knew we could leverage the northbound Road Trains, since they tended to get a couple of hours north of Alice Springs so that they could make their Monday morning deliveries in Darwin on time.

And so, with that in mind we set out from Alice Springs. I felt we would find a Road Train and settle in behind them. Bill and I, the only bikes with extra driving lights took the lead. Kangaroo's were certainly around so we kept it pretty steady. Eventually we ran up behind one of Gilberts road trains, and the benfit of the UHF came in again. The Gilbert's driver was travelling in convoy with another fella and invited to sit in between the two of them. They generally gave each other a fair bit of space (so they could both use the high beams/driving lights, and so the second fella could stop in time if the first fella hit something!)

And so, for the next hour or so we 4 bikes sat in convoy with these two triples, with Bernard and I talking over the UHF with the drivers. They did this run solo, from Adelaide to Darwin, one round trip per week. (Approx 6000kms and 72? hrs driving time). They'd told us about cattle and camels, and even the dead horse that a truck had hit recently (& that we would see tomorrow).

While all this chatter was happening we could see kangaroo's jumping towards, and in front of, the front truck. They'd either reverse course or you'd see them come out in front of the truck on the other side. UNTIL 1 DIDN'T!. The bloke in the second truck was telling us something and then pieces of kangaroo started being spit out the back of the 3rd trailer! He then started laughing, coz here was 4 bikes tail lights going every which way trying to avaid the carnage. Old mate up front jumped on the UHF and said "I tried to warn you there was pieces of kangaroo headed your way, but old mate wouldn't shut up for a second to let me cut in!". We all backed off a couple more seconds from the front truck after that.

We rolled into Ti Tree about 9.55pm, fueled the bikes and got to our air-conditioned rooms. That were 45 degrees celcious, because they were actually donga's and electricity is generated on site, so no-one had turned on the air-cons. I want to say I had a swim, but it may have just been a shower to cool down while the aircon tried to wrestle control over the still warm ambient air temp.

We'd discussed departure times and settled on 5/5.15am


IBR Finisher
Ti-Tree to Darwin

On arrival to TiTree we'd cover 2,486 kms in just over 27 hours. Add in 7 hours off the bike and we had about 1,320 kms to cover in 15 and 3/4 hours. Did I mention that the NT was unlimited speed limits back in 2003? Putting all that together, we were well within target, and with some time for sightseeing!

We set out pretty conservatively given it was pre-dawn. But once that sun was up we may have tested a few things out...

Stopped at Devils Marbles for a few snaps. You can tell its early in the day with the length of the shadows...
Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (3).JPG

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (4).JPG

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (2).JPG

Fuelled in Tennant Creek @ 8.16am (and now I see the photo's above were taken during this leg, the avg speed for that leg (320kms) @ (106 kph) and fuel use (12.75 kpl) make sense;).

We kept on trucking to Renner Springs, where one of our chaperones from the night before was parked up. Time for a few photo's.

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (8).JPG

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (5).JPG
Bill (left) and John. At the time John worked for BP, I wonder if he could've claimed a per km rate for the site visit!

We had a 1/2 hour here for breakfast, and had another talk to the truckie before wishing him well.

Stops @ Daly Waters Inn, Mataranka & Pine Creek followed. With a Bag of Ice purchased at each one as the temparture climbed. We did this ride in November, and it was HOT! (and sweaty - my leathers had salt stains in all sorts of places!)

And then we were done! We'd arrived in Darwin right at the 47.5 hour mark, where I (as planner and self appointed tour leader) proceeded to take the other 3 on 3 or 4 (or 5?) U Turns as we found the end servo, the Darwin Fire House and the Darwin waterfront.

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (12).JPG

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (10).JPG

Nov 2003 50 CC Melb Darwin (11).JPG



IBR Finisher
The Way Home

After getting paperwork out of the road I seem to recall having Pizza and Beers (and Icecream!) in the room of the hotel that Bill, John and Bernard had booked into.

Working for myself at the time, I had managed to use some frequent flyer points to get a seat on that nights red-eye Darwin-Melbourne flight, with the plan being to go back in 2 weeks and pick up the bike and come home.

John and Bill left the next morning and hot footed it south east via Mt Isa to Brisbane and Sydney respectively. From memory Bernard stayed in Darwin an extra day and also came home via Mt Isa and then south to Melbourne.

On the plane, I was asleep before the plane took-off. And I'm sure I had people on the tram the next morning wondering "What's up with that bloke?" as I sat there in shorts/t shirt/thongs, salt encrusted leathers slung over my shoulder, helmet and tank bag in either hand, and an ear-to ear grin on my sunburnt dial as I smiled about having a story about "The time me and 3 mates rode to Darwin 1 weekend!" :cool:


Well-Known Member
Great to read this and understand of the rich history we have here in Australia. What an adventure!

This ride is very tempting. Provisionally yes, subject to work commitments.
Martin with 7 or so weeks after the IBR finishes in the US, you may want to get your Iron Butt back a bike by then. LOL

Hopefully work commitments stars align.