Thommo's DustyButt ( Pending Certification)


IBA Member
Only those with a love of dirt, dust and flies would truly enjoy riding 1600km + of dirt in under 24hrs. I’m one of those.

I started toying with the idea of doing the DustyButt in late 2009 and it wasn’t long before I whispered sweet nothings into Russ’s ear who by that time was having to deal with that horrid monster called cancer. This gave Russ something to focus on among other things and we had the rough outline planned in short order.

That’s when the Faffing truly started. This was to become the theme of this ride for near 7 years. Late 2011 rolls around, Russ has recovered enough to have a crack so we make plans to wander out and see how much mischief we could get into. Sadly, the Faffing reared up and we had our leave dates all mixed up which lead to Russ heading out to have a look see and dip the toes in the dust.

With that attempt not getting off the ground we went back to fine tuning the details, revising the route etc and 2012 rapidly went by as we went about our normal routine of general rides with mates etc. Ed and Phil ( Roadbandit) were dragged kicking and screaming on board by the end of 2012 as they’re gluttons for punishment.

Things stagnated until late 2015, we continued about our lives and doing various rides when we could, but the DustyButt was never far from our minds.

There are many things about the DustyButt that make it unique. Its all dirt. You’ll generally be in a remote area of Australia which brings even more challenges. Fuel will be an issue, if you want 24hr fuel, you need to plan around major towns on national highways. Wildlife, day and night. Mobile coverage is mostly non-existent. You need to be mentally prepared for near 100% focus for 24hrs as dirt is not so forgiving of lapses of concentration, The list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s not that I’m ( or the others) are afraid of dirt, we’ve ridden many kilometres of it over the years, and raced the odd dirt bike. I’ve taken my FJR1300 down the Birdsville track, a few 1000Km dirt days on my DR650, 400Km mostly dirt days on postie bikes etc over the years. It’s just the DustyButt is just that bit further…..

2016 rolled around and this time it seemed we would have our proverbials together, the date was set for the first week of October, leave booked and cross checked to make sure we were on the same road. Sadly Phil’s work circumstances were to put the kebosh on his plans. I planned to make a holiday out of it with my other half, taking her to Coober Pedy in the 4wd with the DR on the trailer and spend some time in the Flinders Ranges before doing the run.

The year progress swiftly, I built a camping setup on the ute and went over the trailer with a fine tooth and comb before moving to bike prep which was the easiest part. The Off Centre Rally was being held at Mungerannie and by all reports the roads were in our favour by miles. Hindsight would be a wonderful thing as the weather gods decided that we had not payed enough homage and the roads soon became a quagmire of mud and churned up roads.

A little over 2 weeks out from kickoff, with the roads alternating between shut and open to high clearance 4wd’s, we called it quits and the wheels once again never turned. Saddened, but not thwarted we set a date once more for Easter Sunday 2017. Making a holiday out of it for Sandy and myself was not going to be financially viable this time round, so it would be situation normal for me; strap everything onto the bike that I would need and throw the swag out as I normally do. When you barely earn 40grand a year, slumming it in motels every night etc is simply not an option.

With Easter looming very rapidly, it was high time I re-prepped the DR as it rarely sits idle and would need new tyres, a full service etc. I’d noticed the clutch slipping for about the first half hour when going to work or a ride and with a little over a week out it got the better of me and I pulled the bash plates and gear off, pulled the clutch cover off and had a good look at the plates. The frictions weren’t that great, but I’ve pulled out worse, and the steels showed signs of heat. Better shove some new plates in. The friction plates were out of a gixxer 1100W I put in in 2010 in South Australia one trip.

Wander up to the first local Suzuki dealer only to be told they only order in genuine not aftermarket. The price I was given just for frictions was the same price as a complete set of Barnett plates ( steels, frictions, springs etc). After a bit of back and forth, I politely declined ordering genuine in, the dollars was a hit on the bank account I didn’t want before kick-off. That was money for an emergency if something went wrong.

Up to the next bike shop, another Suzuki dealer but predominately dirt bike focus repeat my request and get the usual what year etc to which I reply current model ( the clutches from 96 to current are the same as are many other parts). Well that set the parts bloke off on a tirade. “ don’t fall into that trap” ‘ they’re not the same’… After a few minutes of this, I’d had enough and let him have it. I’m not a pure ranga, but I had enough. The conversation ended with him being told if he actually rode like they claimed, he’d know the difference between his arse and a front wheel. Spares monkeys are chosen on the hair gel they use I swear.

Back home and a post put up on a local DR page yielded results in ten mins flat and by the next afternoon I had a near new set of friction plates in hand with a buy a beer or 2 on our next local ride. While the frictions were soaking in oil, it was out with the orbital sander and a careful scuff up on the steels before reassembly and some shim washers under the springs as they were a bit soft. A quick blat up the road yielded positive signs, not great but it would have to do.

A test of the new driving light led’s setup on a changeover relay gave me more light than the previous setup. Dr’s have a rather limited electrical output, 200Watts if your lucky.. The street fighter headlights in the Kato fairing are dismal at best at they are a vast improvement over the stock headlights! My arrangement was thus; halogen streetfigher lights as low beam and the 2 led light bars as highbeam.

By now it was 5 days out from leaving home, and I had decreed that for once, I would not be packing a bike up the night before or a few hours before a big trip. Saturday was tyre change day, I spooned a set of near dead half road tyres on, these would be ditched when I got to Marree whereupon I would spoon a new set of knobbies on. Sunday was bike pack day, panniers with the essential gear/spares I might need, swag new tyres etc. by Sunday night, my camelback/backpack was also packed with water, forms and phone/camera charger.

It was now simply a matter of waiting for Thursday morning to arise so I could sally forth.

A leisurely start Thursday morning saw me set off with Sandy on her way to work at 7am and it wasn’t until she took her exit and I was halfway across Melbourne that it sunk in. Barring the clutch blowing upor the remnants of cyclone Debbie trying to shove her weight that far out, this ride was finally going to happen.

As I cleared the Tullamarine aiport I noticed the seat was somewhat harder than it should have been. My airhawk had went down. Some faffing around told me it had a leak and I decided to have a look at it when I got to Mildura for the night. A thought occurred to me at this point. It had been near 12 months since I had done more than 500km in a day. Coming home from Tourer’s Funeral in fact.

I met up with Ron ( Grey Gentry) at Sealake for a cuppa and looking at the spot track for my other 2 cohorts yielded them as still in Canberra. That couldn’t be right. It was. Public servants sure know how to faff. That and Euro trash motorcycles living up to their reputation, although buggered if I know how a motorcycle can fail to proceed AFTER its tied down on a trailer. A fork seal had started leaking badly and they’d faffed around buying new seals, oil and tools totry and fix it on the road somewhere. It would be after 9Pm before they arrived in Mildura with the trailer of shame.

A bit of fiddling around in Ron’s shed with various fork seal saver tools didn’t show much promise and by now Russ was slightly worried that his ride may not happen as the KTM Guru in carntberra told him he needed all sorts of special tools to dissemble the forks to change seals. After all these years of faffing around with this ride, I could understand his worry and I reassured him I could change the seals when we got to Marree using his toolkit on the bike and not lose any fork oil.

Next morning the Minister for Faff and the Lord of Faff Faffed some more. And some more. At this point I told them I’d make them pay for their faffery when it really counted, left them and headed for Peterbrough whereupon I lived up to my reputation and found a park bench seat to snooze on until they finally arrived. Lunch and the faffery continued so I left them again and droned up the highway to Leigh Creek where I waited for them to catch up for the last 100km to Marree. At this point my arse was calling me an arsehole over the stock DR seat. It’s a truly horrendous thing on sealed roads. I’d worked out by then that I could stand on the pegs and partially sit on the swag which was far more comfy.

The faff brothers finally arrived and I forgave them for faffing as Russ was more than a tad worried, his other fork seal was leaking profusely. I tried reassuring him things would be good as gold mate, we’ll fix them tomorrow. Perhaps I shouldn’t say such things…

I reckon within 10 mins of us getting into Marree just on dark we were the talk of the town.

Saturday sunrise

Ride day eve. The Faff brothers simply outdid themselves. A shining example of public servantry. However, by lunchtime, I’d changed my tyres to knobbies, and showed Russ how to change fork seals without losing anymore and not completely dissemble the forks. Perhaps I should work for the KTM Dakar team…

The afternoon we set off for a 200km up and back run of the Oodnadatta to clear out heads and within 10km I had a problem. The DR was skating around that much on the loose gravel it was going do it’s best to throw me. I’d run these tyres before and never had this issue so lots of faffing around changing tyre pressures and weight position up to Lake Ayre South along with tweaking the rotary hydraulic rally steering damper gave me something I was moderately happy with. Not great but okay. I’d just have to try and deal with it. The clutch was fine which was a big bonus. Fork seals on Russ’s bike showed no signs of leaking which put Russ at ease that at least he would be clocking on the next morning.

Saturday night was spent in the company of the greatest karoke singer in all of South Oz. no really. The greatest. It certainly was something that helped ease our nerves a little while we discussed many small things and did final check over our gear. GPS’s were checked, spot tracks checked, 2 sat phones were checked and tested. Ride schedule was went over and plans were discussed if we were ahead or behind time etc. Witness forms sorted.

We bade everyone an early night and I had one of the better sleeps before a big ride before the alarm went off at 0230. We were almost instantly, fairly nervous, exited but focused on the day ahead. Geared up, ATM dockets secured, GPS’s and spots switched on, bikes started and idled out to the start of the Birdsville track so we didn’t disturb our neighbours J The obligatory photo at the sign and nosed our way into the darkness.

Nervous. Excited and focussed. 60K an hour soon became 70 soon became 80 and so on before we settled around 85 to 90. Our method of dealing with eating dust and making sure we could keep an eye on each other was a 15km point rotation. We’d each spend 15ish km out front before slowing or stopping an waiting for the other 2 to ride past. We also travelled a few hundred metres to a kilometre apart just outside the dust but for the most part still in sight of each other.

This method actually improved my hydration plan. Every time I passed a bike or my 15ish K was up, it was take a few sips from the camel bak. Every time, no exceptions. The downside to this is you need to pee a lot. About every 150km. I’d do my point duty, come to a stop and I’d have enough time to put the sidestand down, rip the gloves off, take 3 or 4 steps from the bike, water the dirt, gloves on, sidestand up and by that time the 2nd bike would be going past and id be moving again.

The further up the Birdsville track we went in the dark, the more the nerves went away. The tyres scuffed up and the bike became pretty solid under me, the pace was good, wildlife was sparse and the stars were out.

Soon, Mungerannie disappeared behind us in the darkness and then the sun rose and we settled into a cracking touring pace that we were comfy as with. The road was in great condition and this buoyed our spirits greatly. It didn’t seem all that long and we crossed into QLD and into Birdsville with an OA of 90km/hr. 520 km down and our first fuel stop. A happy and pumped trio.

The benefit of having a clear tank is knowing how much fuel I have. Those marks are all 100km marks, and yes I can run that tank absolutely dry.

I decided it was time to do some faffing of my own. I told them faff brothers I’d make them pay when it counted. I took my winter lining out of my main jacket, winter gloves off etc and summer outfit on. My spot was telling me the batteries were low, so while I faffed around buying new batteries and changing them Russ kindly refilled my camelback. I’d like to think it was kindness on his part, but I suspect he wasn’t greatly impressed with the timing of my faffing…

Obligatory photo at the Birdsville pub and southward bound we went setting a cracking but enjoyable pace. The day quickly heated up and that combined with rattling along at 105 to 110km/hr increased our fuel consumption enough that was we approached Mungerannie, we signalled each other during our rotations that it would be wise to stop there and refuel instead of risking running out doing a non stop run back to Marree. Mungerannie was a scheduled stop in our base ride schedule anyhow, so it was no biggie stopping there.

A word for the unwary here. Out in the outback, never be in a hurry to fuel up and get going. Most of the time there is only one petrol and one diesel bowser. While waiting in the cue to refuel, time was not being wasted, camelbaks refilled, munchie bars munched, faces washed as camelbaks were refilled etc.

Nek minnut, we were back in Marree and back in the one bowser cue with 1041km down an OA of 90km/hr. Camelbaks refilled, face washed etc in the cue. We were a good hour ahead of our base schedule and we decided to switch to Plan B for the rest of the ride. Our original plan had us heading to Olympic Dam a full fuel load there and than up William Creek as we originally didn’t think we’d make it to William Creek before they shut. We’d get into William Creek, OK the spots, take a couple of date/timed stamps photo and try and find someone to sign some corner witness forms before the final 209km back to Marree.

Change of plan agreed on we headed for William Creek. This would become the hardest leg for me after the 100km mark. Heading into the falling sun on a hotish afternoon, my sunglasses were starting to dig into the side of my head and the onset of a headache beckoned. By the time we cued up for the bowser at William Creek I was somewhat knackered. 1245km down at an OA of 90km/hr.

A munch on some fruit cake, wash the face, refill the camel bak and finally get fuel and the return leg to the Borefield road, the sun setting before we got there. This leg was much better for me, the stop at William Creek was what was needed and my A game was back on.

At the Borefield turn, I put the winter woollies back in and we set off towards Olympic Dam, headlights once again our world. Wildlife was still sparse, however, the rabbitos were out in force.

Ed must have taken pity on me and the mighty DR’s candle power lighting system and pulled up beside me with his lights and it didn’t take long for the pace to be upped and we caught Russ and from there it was 3 abreast at a good 95km/hr on the gps. Except that bit where a roo was hopping down the middle of the road in the same direction as us. Russ and I had a plan however, we deftly maneuvered ourselves behind Ed. Why would we do that? Well Ed has quite the collection of shoo-roos….

After 1500km Olympic Dam appeared in the darkness and the servo we had planned on was pitch black. Dammit. The bastards shut early on us! Alas, no, power was out. To the BP in Roxby ‘ol chaps.

As we fuelled up laughing like idiots we all agreed that perhaps 3 abreast doing high 90’s whilst great fun was a bit too intense to hold for the last 200km leg back to Marree. Especially in the middle of the night.

Our OA had dropped down to just above 86km/hr at this point, but that didn’t bother us in the slightest. We weren’t saying it, but with some 5 ½ hrs left to do 190 odd km, we had this ride wrapped around our twinkies. As we munched on some gor-met sausage rolls Ed casually mentions his driving lights have ceased to work. Crap. We dragged ourselves off our comfy patches of concrete and commenced faffing around his bike eventually deducing that a trigger wire must be a bit loose or dodgy. I even brought some electrical replacement smoke from the servo but apparently it doesn’t work on Austrian hate machines.

Oh well, we’ll just travel a bit slower on the last leg.

Russ and I were ready to go and Ed was still faffing around. The more Ed faffed, the more I could see the minister for faff slyly looking for some handy rocks. The more he moved his beady eyes, the more I sneaked my camera out to catch whatever dastardly act that was sure to happen on film. Because pictures or it never happened…

I think Ed must have been downwind and picked up the scent of something in the wind cos he was geared up and had that bike out the driveway faster than I could blink.

We very sedately commenced pottering down the Borefield Road happy as you could say. Mentally and physically I was happy as. The Dr was running sweet as it always does and rock solid on the road.

Ed’s driving lights decided that they would work again and before long we were back to doing a pretty consistant and solid 90 all the way back to Marree. Pulling up in front of the pub, I was surprised to see the lights still on. Not only that, the bar was still open. Now what better way to stamp some aussieness on this ride by getting our end docket buying a beer. The aussie ‘She’s right mate, the pub still open and the beer is still cold’

End Dockets and paperwork all sorted a yack with the publican and a couple of locals before retiring to the upstairs verranderra with a Roadie and looking out into the darkness feeling rather chuffed.

The new dawn would reveal new stratospheric levels of faffing, but that I shall leave to someone else to tell…

Would I do another DustyButt? Sure, without a doubt. Riding dirt in serious but immensely rewarding.

Marree Hotel, Probably the best hotel in town.


Well-Known Member
Replacement wire harness smoke, eh. Long way to go to get it. I'll have to enquire at my local car accessory outlet. Great read Thommo. Even better photos. Congratulations on finally overcoming all the "faffing" and achieving a grand outcome.


Well-Known Member
The Prince of Darkness, Lucas electrical fix now available in a bottle, wonderful.

Well done Thommo, Russ and Ed on conquering the dirt. A BIG well done boys!


Premier Member
Congratulations guys on a mamoth ride.
I reall enjoyed the ride report, all the planning and how things evolved and panned out, well done. I remember chatting to you a few years ago about a 'dusty butt' and at the time though you were mad :eek:
Great pics, looking forward to your next adventure!!!


Well-Known Member
Excellent report Thommo and and excellent ride. Just Fafftastic!
"Euro trash motorcycles living up to their reputation" :)
"Fruit Cake" Was it Lions Club from Peterborough?
Congrats again to the three of you for knocking off such a demanding ride.


Premier Member
Epic ride and top shelf report with photos!! This adventure has it all. This certificate will be one for pride of place in the pool room!


Well Thommo, yours was the last report I got to read and was just as good as the others, in all the three reports were a fantastic read. Great insight into riding on the dirt thanks for posting this up mate.


Premier Member
All good things eh Thommo! Great read about a great riding adventure all the more memorable coz was done with great mates. Long live the 3 Faffers!