Past Rides and Adventures
For some time I have been interested in doing an IBA ride, IBA being a
group in the USA called the Iron Butt Association, and as the name suggests a
long time in the saddle. These guys do long rides, not speed orientated but
endurance. 1000 miles in one day up to 10000 miles in 10 days, and 50hrs
across the States and the 100k club, that is 100,000miles in one year. There
is also a group in Australia called the Far Riders that are affiliated with
the IBA but the rides are maybe not as demanding.
I emailed the IBA and asked if I could do a ride here in Oz and would it
problem”, was the reply. The idea is just to read up on the
requirements and do it, they do not want to know when etc, as this puts
pressure on the rider to complete the ride and the concern is safety.
As such, there were only a few people that I told I was going to do this,
thus leaving me a bit of an out if things got rough.
I had decided to do the SS1000 miles (Saddle Sore) in 24hrs and started
to plan accordingly. During this stage I was thinking that if I am going to
ride away from home for 1000 miles I might as well turn around the next day
and ride back, sounded feasible. That would give me the SS1000/24hrs, Bum
Burner 1500/36hrs and the SS2000/48hrs.
1000 miles = 1610km’s
and 2000miles = 3220km’s
For the rides to be accepted I had to have a documented witness at the
start of the ride and at the end, in my case I had an end witness at 1000mile
mark at Karratha and a witness when I returned to Geraldton. Also all fuel
receipts had to be kept showing the date and time etc and also one at the
start and end. The IBA may contact the witness and discuss what they saw.
The bike I ride is a Triumph Rocket 3 Roadster, while it is an excellent
bike, for the comfort needed maybe a Tourer model or Gold Wing may have been
best. But I had no problem with taking the R3R. I had a couple of offers of
company on the ride and I said,”OK,
no problem but I do not wait, if you come you keep up”,
the company faded.
I planned the route and trying to stick pretty close to the required
miles, but also doing a few extra as the IBA work out their calculations on
google earth, they do not accept your odometer as they are never correct.
The plan was to leave Geraldton ride to Mt Magnet, Newman, Port Hedland,
Karratha and return, with Karratha being the mid point and 1000miles.
I took a 10litre fuel can, couple of bottles of water and Red Bull,
(my wife’s) Airhawk seat to the bike, threw in a pair of socks
and a tooth brush, and also the UHF radio. I travel light. I had decided to
only take my summer jacket, as the weather was to be warm further north and
did not want extra gear. I also put in the tubeless repair kit, you never
Saturday morning 13/10/12 came and I fueled up at the local BP, Linda was
there to sign the start witness sheet, she also coerced a truckie to sign up
as well and I left at 3.26am on a coolish WA morning.
The next 3hrs to Mt Magnet had to be the most harrowing and scary ride of
my life. The road got foggy, there was rain in places, and roos, emus, goats
and sheep were in abundance. I knew I was going to have these problems and was
prepared for it. I wanted to do this bit in the dark while I was fresh and
hopefully be back next day before the dark. I got to Mt Magnet cold and sore
from being so tense for so long, it was almost over there and then. When I got
home I realized that the Mt Magnet till receipts had the wrong date and time
on them. I had to phone them and get a letter explaining the situation. The
IBA may have disqualified my ride because of this. I am still waiting.
I left and headed north, sun was out and the day got much better. I
cranked it up a bit and cruised a “bit
faster”. I had budgeted for a couple of speeding tickets.
I stopped at Meekatharra for fuel a can of Red Bull and then on to
Capricorn where the fuel gauge was reading empty and I did not think I would
get to Newman even though it is only 22km’s
up the road. I could have put gas in from the can but it would have been an
extra stop and time was of the essence. The road had been loaded with oversize
vehicles but all were going north, so this was no bother, I just pulled out
and passed them, I never really had to wait much at all. As I had the UHF with
me I could hear the truckies conversation and knew what to expect ahead.
On the way to Hedland there was a bit of traffic, but I was also amazed
at the works going on in the area. No doubt the mining and related industry is
booming in the Pilbara. Things have really changed since I was there last. It
is a nice ride up through the gorges. As I passed 2 trucks the rear one said
to the front truck, “Watch
out there’s a bike coming and looks like he is on a mission”, he was so right. I refueled at Auski Raodhouse and I
was told that they would be shut at 9.00pm. I had been thinking ahead and
thought I may come right back to Auski for a sleep, but I was not going to
make it by that time.
Got to Port Hedland around 4pm, quick refuel and back down to Karratha
and arrived there at 6.30pm as the sun set, remind me not to ride towards
Karratha as the sun sets. I have done this twice and it is not nice riding
straight into the setting sun.
As this was the end of the SS1000 I asked a random bloke to complete the
end witness form and also the girl behind the counter. They asked what it was
for and looked at me like I was on drugs or something. “But why ?”,
was the question. “Because I can”,
was the reply. The odometer read 1640kms.
I had a bit of a drink, rang Linda and checked in then left to return to
Hedland for the night. By now it was dark but a lot of traffic, mainly trucks
on the road so I was not concerned about animals.
As I arrived at Port Hedland around 9pm I had to pull into a truck bay
for half an hour as a very large oversize was on the move south towards
Newman. While there I talked to a couple in a ute and asked where to stay in
Hedland. They just laughed and said good luck, as all accommodation was taken
by the mining fraternity. The wife could not come to terms with the fact I had
travelled so far only to go back home, “but
I refueled in Port Hedland, looked for somewhere to stay, gave up,
decided to leave and head back down towards Newman. My idea was to find a rest
stop somewhere and crash out on a BBQ table for a while.
Not far out I caught up with the oversize again and was allowed past at a
truck bay. I was following another truck. He was a flat bed with no load, so
thinking that he would be travelling reasonably quick, I called him on the 2
way and said I was going to follow and he could shove the roos and cattle off
the road for me. I got a grunt for a reply but it worked really well. He was
getting along around 110km and I just sat behind about 100metres and watched
his lights. It was a really warm night, with little traffic and this was
really enjoyable even though there were a lot of cattle on the road.
At midnight the truck pulled into a truck bay, I kept going for a while
but there were still a lot of cattle around so decided that discretion was the
better part of valour and pulled into the Auski Roadhouse at 12.40am. It was
closed so I just slept on the bench outside. I had done 2109 km’s for the day, a lot more than I needed but it was
going to make my next day really easy to be home before dark.
I woke around 4am, there was the odd truck on the road so refueled from
my can and left for Newman at 4.30am. Daylight saw me at the Capricorn
Roadhouse, bit of fuel, a drink and set sail for Meekatharra.
Things were a lot different this time. There were a lot of oversize
probably 20 of these took up the whole road and had Police escorts, at least
they were coming towards me. Another can of Red Bull to keep me going.
Fuel at Meekatharra, and down to Mt Magnet for more. At this stage I was
calculating how many miles I had done, left, and needed to make the 2000. I
rang Linda to phone the Northampton servo and see what time they shut. They
were open long hours, so decided I may have to go to Geraldton, up to
Northampton and back to Geraldton to give me sufficient miles to satisfy the
IBA and have some up my sleeve.
Leaving Mt Magnet and all the oversize behind I cranked it up and headed
home, with no animals on the road this time.
As I came into Pindar I met another bike coming towards me, at least I
had one mate in the country. Good old Sisters came out for a ride and to
escort me home.
Refueled at Geraldton and then up to Northampton more fuel and back to
Gero for the final fuel stop and another end witness, this time Sisters did me
the honours. Time was 5.30pm on the second day. Rode the last couple of km to
home and was greeted with a big feed of steak and all the trimmings, with
apple dumplings for dessert. I slept for 10hrs that night.
Not bad for no meals or coffee stops. I just stopped for fuel and a drink
of water and kept going, I wanted to be off the road by dark the second night.
I think that it would be an easier task in the US where there is a lot less
animals on the road, in Oz this is a big issue.
And what do I get out of it apart from the kudos, a patch for my jacket
and a certificate from the IBA.
And last but by no means least, the R3R was magic, never missing a beat,
just my kind of bike !!!
13th and 14th October 2012
Early in 2011 I saw an advertisement in the Riding On Mag advertising a
motorbike tour of north Vietnam. I contacted Meaghann at Travel Managers and
asked for some info on the tour. Travel Managers are the Oz agents for Wide
Eyed Tours. And after very little consideration, I booked a trip for my wife
Linda and myself for early November.
We duly landed at Hanoi airport and after a long wait in the queue at
customs to get our visa approved, we were met by our driver and taken into
Hanoi. Accommodation was at the Hanoi Club hotel, only a $3 taxi ride to the
old centre of Hanoi.
Next morning we meet the rest of our group, 13 in total, 3 from WA, 4
from Queensland, 1 from NSW and 5 from Victoria. Most of us were Ulysses
members apart from 2 likely lads from Vic. We spent the day looking at some of
the sights around Hanoi, mainly where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked.
2nd day and we are off in the van for 4 hrs to meet up with the bikes.
The bikes we used were Honda 110cc and 125cc, and these were ideal for the
task ahead. The bikes had been hired from a business that is teaching young
locals the art of mechanics and creating jobs. One piece of advice, if you own
or can beg steal or borrow an Airhawk seat, do it. After a few days the bum
gets a bit sore and Denise had the foresight to bring her much coveted
The team from Wide Eyed Tours who were to accompany us, were Mike the
guide who is part owner of the business, a Kiwi and could speak very good
Vietnamese. Nhung was part of the office staff and spoke very good English.
Duc the mechanic followed along behind picking up the pieces and keeping the
bikes on the road, he also spoke pretty good English. We were trailed by Mr
An, the van driver carting our luggage each day.
The first day was pretty cruizy riding on mainly flat but busy roads up
the sweeping valley to Ha Giang following the river. An easy day to get used
to riding on the “wrong” side of the road. You need to keep an eye on what
traffic is doing in front of you and entering from the right as the locals
will just come out on to the road without looking left. As far as the
unwritten rule goes it is up to you to dodge traffic in front, never be
concerned with what happens behind, and the bigger you are the more right you
The next day we rode up to Dong Van. From here on the roads get steeper,
with winding twisting roads, beautiful scenery. Most of the roads are sealed
which is good but can still be pretty rough. The average speed is only 30 to
40kmh as you ride up and down steep roads. Each night we ate at a small
“restaurant” in walking distance from where we stayed. Food was fantastic
and that comes from someone who does not do the Indian, Chinese, Asian thing
very well at all. It was great to mix in with the locals, even though most had
no or very little appreciation of English. This was not a problem as one of
the tour group was usually handy to translate.
Thanks to Duc for repairing a flat tyre for me on the side of the road in
Jo managed a bit of a tumble over the side of the road after entering a
sharp corner a bit hot. Lucky she finished up in a paddock and the soft dirt
broke her fall. All good with just a couple of bruises. It does pay to keep
your wits about you while you are rubber necking.
About now a few extras fronted up on some bikes, a stuffed Deputy Dog,
and Daisy a large plastic cow riding as pillion. This brought a lot of
attention not only from the kids but a few mums and dads as well wondering
what these crazy people were doing.
The next day completed the loop from Dong Van back to Ha Giang along a
different route. We arrived at the Chinese border at a small border post and
were asked to leave, there was a lot of tension with the Chinese at the time
with armed Chinese guards patrolling in the hills.
The roads were by now quite steep but the locals still managed to farm
rice on the sides of these hills where I would be on hands and knees just to
climb up and down.
We arrived at a small village where some bloke was set up by the French
in the early part of the 20th century as the King, but was really
only a glorified drug lord doing deals with the Chinese in heroin.
It was market day with people from all over the district, all dressed in
the traditional dress according to what ethnic group they were from. Extremely
colourful sight with bright reds, blues, pinks, greens etc. This was a common
sight as we continued on. People at the markets come and sell mainly food
items, fruit, vegies, and meat. If you are a bit squeamish be prepared as
there was always lots of meat, mainly pork out on trestles for sale. Other
items of pots and pans, live animals and always the bottles of water, local
beers and soft drinks could be bought. We left the market and passed a
colourful parade of locals all walking back home along the road carrying their
purchases. Some must walk for miles, no wonder they are so fit and healthy.
Each day something different appeared mysteriously on someone’s bike,
like Rob who was sporting Plucka, a stuffed chicken.
The end of this day saw poor Brian get side swiped by 2 young girls on
another bike. He suffered a pretty painful leg and shoulder and was out for
the rest of the trip. Lucky the girls were ok and no damage to their bike.
Brian if you want to meet with nice girls just ask them out like normal blokes
would do, this is not the stone-age, we don’t have to knock ‘em down and
drag ‘em back to the cave by the hair.
After leaving Ha Giang and heading through valleys of terraced paddy
fields and crossing a river on a temporary bamboo bridge, we had lunch.
Somehow after lunch Rob’s stuffed chicken managed to find a cage to reside
in on the back of his bike. Neil’s Daisy had a small child called Molly
riding on her back to keep an eye on Neil’s back trail. Deputy Dog by now
had a Mrs Deputy Dog strapped to the front of the bike as lookout and give
advice, as the Mrs is liable to do.. A couple of bikes appeared with colourful
cushions strapped to the seat in lieu of Denise’s airhawk that she was
guarding with her life. Pete had a large pink bear watching his back trail for
police and other reasons to cause alarm.
We stayed the night at a French Resort nestled in a small river valley
with the only access across a small swing bridge just wide enough for the
bikes across the river. The resort came complete with a spa and massage
facilities and most took the opportunity to get a few kinks out of the body.
For some reason Pete decided to catch up on a bit of sleep lying in the hot
tub with his snoring disturbing the rest of the guests. The young ladies in
attendance had a laugh and decided to leave sleeping dogs lie.
That night we had dinner with a family of 4 just down the road. I am
amazed how these people manage to produce a beautiful meal in copious
quantities with the most basic of facilities, and for the princely sum of $5.
We never left the table feeling hungry, quite the opposite. The daughter in
the family was learning English and she took the opportunity to practise on
Our next day took us to Bac Ha after negotiating a goat track almost
trouble free. Annie had a small oops on a steep piece of rough road and hurt
her knee enough to keep her off the bike for the last couple of days. By now
dodging buffalo, trucks, dogs and locals was becoming second nature. Most of
us could negotiate around the livestock, but Rob somehow had problems with a
poor chook just wanting to get to the other side of the road. Henrietta was
last seen protesting very loudly to her owner about her undignified treatment
by some crazy bloke on a bike. She was most concerned as he already had a
still life chook in a cage on the back of his bike, a previous victim no
On the road again to Sapa,, a tourist town 1500 metres up in the hills.
Here the ladies went crazy freely spending dong ( Vietnamese $$ ) as they
perused the town. Most of the blokes managed to find a relaxing masseuse to
take away the aches and pains. Robs stuffed chook managed to find a real chook
to share her cage with, that was nice. Several bikes woke up in the morning to
find large quantities of plastic bottles tied to the back of them like some
sort of wedding entourage. Those gremlins in the night got to be quite
inventive. Dave’s bike for some reason was wrapped in plastic and paper.
Next morning the weather had broken and rained all day. Lucky we only had
a short ride in the late afternoon down to Lao Cai on the Chinese border. The
bikes and us were loaded on to the train for the overnight trip back to Hanoi,
arriving just in time for breakfast as you do. The bikes had to be emptied of
fuel before being loaded, so several of the train station staff attacked the
bikes with siphons and hoses. I think that the fuel was probably spirited away
to their rides. The toys, chooks etc were also not allowed on the train and
became donated to the local “fund”, so it was goodbye to Plucka, Mrs and
Mr Deputy Dog, Pinky, Daisy and Molly as they went to some deserving kids.
Back on the bus and out to Ha Long bay for an overnight boat cruise and
looking around this world heritage park. This was a relaxing time enjoying a
few beers, being looked after by the all male boat crew as they created
magnificent culinary delights, and lying back in the sun.
Back to Hanoi and out on the town for a last meal out with the group.
Pete and Rob had scored a projector and there was a continuous slide show of
everybody’s photos during the night.
Next day most of the group flew out so it was sad goodbyes in the
morning. Linda, Pete. Rob and myself, stayed on for the weekend and
entertained ourselves. Mike took us on a half day pushbike tour of the
outskirts of Hanoi which was also very interesting.
This was a great tour and enjoyed by all, something I would recommend to
anybody wanting a Vietnam experience. To Mike and his team at Wide Eyed Tours,
thanks, I know I will be back to do the Central Vietnam Tour.
The Long Ride is an annual event during which motor-cyclists from all over Australia are invited to participate and ride to a pre-determined destination, and if they are able raise additional funds on the way on top of the modest registration fee of $50. All money collected is donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Prostate cancer does not discriminate and can strike at any age; a recent case was Dennis Hopper, the actor-director of Easy-Rider fame.
In 2010 the destination and rallying point was awarded to Darwin in the Northern Territory.
A group of motor-cyclists from Geraldton, mainly Ulyssians, decided to participate and on Saturday May 1, with bikes loaded up, and some towing trailers assembled at the Shell Roadhouse in Wonthella. There was a variety of bikes, as disparate as their riders; two Harley Davidson Road Kings with trailers, two Honda ST 1300’s, a big Kawasaki Vulcan tourer, a throaty Triumph Rocket 111 with trailer, and several lighter weight cruisers and road bikes. The ages of their riders were as varied, from the 40”s to the mid 70’s.
At 10am it was time to push the starter buttons and head down the highway, looking for adventure! The team was accompanied by several friends and acquaintances anxious to ensure that we actually left Geraldton, and who joined us for varying stages of day one, some as far as Mullewa, the first fuel and coffee break, and others staying over-night at Mount Magnet where tents and swags were unpacked and a few beers and dinner enjoyed by all at the local pub. Earlier in the day a lunch stop at Yalgoo was a good opportunity to make sure nothing had been left behind. After a warm afternoon that night at Magnet was quite cool, the last for some time. The days
Ride was an easy one of about 340km.
On Sunday morning the manager of the caravan park at Mount Magnet kindly put on a cooked breakfast for all which was most appreciated. The Geraldton group had been joined at Mount Magnet by a group of riders from various Ulysses branches in Perth who were also participating in the Long Ride. One of these gentlemen, Doug, was able to assist Peter who had left home with a terrible bout of influenza. Doug is a faith healer and his laying on of hands on Saturday evening brought some relief to our worthy sufferer.
The Geraldton crew left Mt Magnet early and with fuel, food, and rest stops at Cue. Meekatharra and Kumarina arrived at the camping ground at Newman in the late after-noon having travelled about 640km. The warm weather today made it a relief to relax with a few drinks and a meal at the nearby tavern. Unfortunately the local pub band had a different concept of what constitutes loud music than most people and even at the distance of the camp-site from the pub, ear-plugs were a requisite for some of us to get to sleep.
After an early breakfast we were on the road at 7am on a beautiful clear calm morning. The spectacular scenery of the Hamersley Ranges made a couple of photo stops necessary. Mean-while Doug’s ministrations seemed to have worn off and Peter was commenced on a course of anti-biotics which gave good results in a couple of days. Maybe he would have recovered anyway! There was a fuel and food stop at the Auski road-house, by which time the speedier Perth crowd had caught up with us. The next stop was Port Hedland where the local Rotarians put on a welcome sausage-sizzle and cool drinks and a free fuel fill-up for all at the nearby Caltex depot. Riders from the Poet Hedland Harley group joined us here and everyone set off for the evening’s camping spot at Pardoo Roadhouse, arriving at 4:30 pm. Today’s journey was 590 km. The new kids on the block from Port Hedland knew how to party on well into the night but eventually peace descended over Pardoo and a restful night was had by most of us.
Tuesday was hot and a head wind had to be contended with. We were on the road by 7am and stopped at Sandfire road-house for fuel and coffee etc. After another rest break we arrived at Roebuck Bay for an early lunch. From there it was a short run into Broome where we booked into the Palm Grove Holiday Park at Cable Beach for the night. There was a very welcome swimming pool and a nice shady area for the tents. Some enjoyed a swim in the ocean and others a walk on the beach.
There was a late departure on Wednesday May 5 as people had various things to do in Broome but the crew was on the road by 10:30 am on another warm and windy morning. It was planned to travel further than Fitzroy Crossing and set up a bush camp at Mary Springs but only Bill and his mate Warren from Mingenew managed this as they had left Broome earlier in the day. The rest of us stopped at Willare Bridge road-house for fuel and lunch, negotiating some deep bull-dust on the driveway in. We arrived at Fitzroy Crossing about 4pm and decided to camp at the big caravan resort there. There were ample grassy tent sites and a handy camp kitchen. Despite its reputation there was not a lot of drunkenness evident, so the recently introduced alcohol restrictions must be having a beneficial effect. Today we covered about 400km, a relaxing day.
Thursday was warm with a head wind again. We left Fitzroy at 6:15 am W.A.time and stopped for breaks first at Halls Creek and then Warmun (Turkey Creek) for lunch. Here tragedy struck. Cyril’s bike had been making abnormal noises which became progressively worse and it was clear that it should not be ridden any further. One of the Port Hedland people was travelling with a utility and trailer (riding his bike while his partner drove the truck).He very obligingly loaded the offending Harley onto his trailer, Bruce hitched Cyril’s bike trailer to his Kawasaki and we all set off again, arriving at Kununurra in the late afternoon. Cyril arranged to have the bike checked out at the Harley-Davidson dealership in Darwin. We enjoyed a barbecue dinner and a few beers at the caravan park in Kununurra. The evening was somewhat marred by an extremely noisy and annoying group of German back-packers whose behaviour deteriorated further as the night progressed, the result of a mixture of marijuana and alcohol. Eventually they were taken away by the boys in blue, apparently summoned by the park manager, and peace reigned again. Today we had covered about 650 km
On Friday we left Kununurra at 6 am W.A. time soon crossing the border into the Northern Territory. There was some spectacular scenery on the way to Timber Creek where we stopped for fuel and then at Victoria River where we had lunch. The weather was much better as we no longer had a head wind. We arrived at Katherine in the mid afternoon after an incident-free day’s ride, except for some stupid riding by a couple of the Port Hedland Harley group, who gave one of our Geraldton group a bit of a scare.
The caravan park was pretty full as we were now joined by Long Riders from the South and East of Australia but eventually everyone squeezed in. An excellent buffet meal was served in the resort dining area and a good night was had by all.
There was another early start on Saturday at 6:30 am and it was cold for a change early on. After dodging a big kangaroo we stopped for fuel at Pine Creek and then had a good break at Adelaide River before continuing to an assembly point 20 km south of Darwin. About 200 motorcyclists gathered here and at 1 pm set off in orderly fashion two abreast in each lane up the Stuart highway, arriving at the final destination, the local greyhound track for the usual welcoming speeches and accolades etc.
After the formalities the Geraldton group headed off to friends of Peter and Cheryl, Bluey and Christine, who kindly gave us the run of their place for a few days, including a pool which was well patronised.
The closing event of the Long Ride was drinks and dinner at the Fanny Bay Boat Club where presentations were presented, speeches spoken, and a fund-raising auction held, a highlight of which was a successful bid of over $3000 for an authentic Slim Dusty hat! I’m not sure of the final figures but I believe the Long Ride raised a total of around $200,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
There were now a few R and R days in Darwin and the time passed quickly with visits to the Sunday markets, museums and shops, and mouth-watering barramundi dishes at the Wharf area. Meanwhile there was no joy for Cyril regarding his bike. The Harley dealer in Darwin was unable to identify the problem and Cyril eventually had to fly home, leaving the bike there, hopefully to be shipped to Frasers, the Perth dealer.
On Wednesday 12 May Cheryl and Peter, Linda and Graham, Austin, Bruce, and Graeme left Darwin and took the road to the Kakadu National Park, stopping at the Bark Hut for lunch and the visitors centre, then on to the bakery at Jabiru for afternoon tea. We then proceeded to Gagudju Lodge at Cooinda to set up camp for a couple of nights. We ate in the restaurant after a swim in the pool and then it was time to seal ourselves into the tents to escape the voracious mosquitoes.
Thursday was a beautiful calm day and we set off after breakfast for a tour of the area. After negotiating a couple of creek crossings we stopped at the East Alligator River and then visited the Ubirr site looking at the ancient rock paintings and enjoying a scenic walk. Then it was back to the bakery at Jabiru and a visit to the strangely deserted looking super-market, before returning to Cooinda. At one point in the after-noon heat Graeme neglected to ensure that his side-stand was down properly before getting off his bike with the consequence he ended up under the bike. There was only minor damage, mainly to his pride. That evening we escaped the mosquitoes by cooking a barbecue in the screened kitchen area after another relaxing swim in the pool and drinks at the bar. Overall it was a good day.
We packed up early on Friday and were soon on the road again, stopping at Mary River and then back to Pine Creek, enjoying coffee and cake at the bakery. From there it was on to Adelaide River and Batchelor, finally arriving at the Litchfield Park resort about 2 pm, the venue for the ‘Top End Odyssey’. Tent sites were not cheap here, $20 per night per person! It was a barbecue tea again and there was some local entertainment by a character whose repertoire was mainly obscure C.andW./Folk stuff from the 50’s and early 60’s.
There was quite a downpour of rain overnight or early morning and a few of us were caught short with no fly covers on the tents.
Saturday dawned sunny again and in the afternoon Bruce, Linda, Graham and Graeme went for a ride up to Wangi Falls, a beautiful scenic area at the end of a good road with some bendy bits. The swimming area was closed in case of crocs but the views were worth the visit.
The Top End Ulysses crew put on an excellent barbecue tea and a couple of wines and beers ensured a good night’s sleep.
Sunday 16 May dawned cloudy with rain forecast. It was time to pack up and it was also the parting of the ways for the Geraldton crew. Peter and Cheryl returned to Darwin, Peter going to Timor for a few days before they continued their adventures over East. Bruce, Linda and Graham travelled back to Katherine the down the centre via Alice Springs Coober Pedy and home via the Nullarbor. Austin and Graeme were joined by Leo, a Warnbro Ulyssian also riding a V-Strom, and returned to Geraldton via Katherine with stops at Timber Creek after a wet day, Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Port Hedland, and Minilya.
All in all it was a great trip with some fun times and beautiful scenery.
Graeme 06 June 10
LONG WAY OVER……..SHORTER WAY BACK AGM PENRITH 2009
Saturday March 7 dawned warm and windy and after a photo shoot for the Guardian, Gary and Arthur led our contingent of six out of Geraldton just after 7am. By the time we reached Mingenew the rising sun had ceased to be a problem. Yves joined us here and after fuel stops at Carnamah and Dalwallinu and from memory lunch at Wongan Hills we arrived at Southern Cross after another stop at Merredin at about 5pm.
After booking into the caravan park we proceeded to the Palace Hotel for a cold drink and meal. The beer was great but the bread around the steak sandwiches had aged to concrete-like status. Russell joined us here so there were now eight of us. Russell Arthur Gary and Yves rode Harley-Davidsons while Dale Mark Barry and Graeme kept the flag flying for other makes; Suzuki Boulevard, KTM Adventure, Yamaha FJR
1300 and Suzuki DL 650 respectively.
After a comfortable night at the Southern Cross Caravan Park and breakfast on the run at the Caltex roadhouse we rode off into the rising sun at 7am on Sunday morning. Graeme did his own thing again he went non-stop to Coolgardie. Actually he didn't see the rest of the group who had stopped for a break 100km east of Southern Cross.
A quick fuel up here after re-grouping and then it was an early lunch stop at Balladonia before we knew it. Bob and Jill joined us here and we arrived at our next camp, Cocklebiddy around 5 pm. Here we enjoyed excellent steak sandwiches a couple of coldies and a motel bed .Today we clocked up around 800 km.
Monday dawned cloudy and cool and we even briefly donned wet-weather gear soon after departure. A stop at the bight for photos after fuel at Eucla was followed by lunch at Nullarbor, and then another fuel stop at Nundroo or Penong and landfall at Ceduna in the late after-noon. The evening meal was at a handy fish and chip place with an alcohol ration for some to compensate for the hard bunks in the park cabins. It had been another 800 km day so all slept well.
On Tuesday we set out in the half-light along the Eyre Highway. There were stops at Poochera for fuel, Port Augusta for lunch and then it was on to Clare via Wilmington Laura and Gladstone. Today was a shorter ride of 650 km so after a relaxing after-noon at the well-appointed Clare caravan park, we rode back into town for a choice of dinner. Some of us opted for a delicious pizza, others Subways .Barry had left us this morning to meet Kate in Adelaide and they would rejoin the group at Hahndorf.
From Clare on Wednesday morning we proceeded to Gawler for a short break and then it was on to Hahndorf where we met up with Barry and Kate and enjoyed lunch at a traditional German Hotel. There was a lot of German immigration in the early settlement of many parts of South Australia. After lunch it was on to Mount Gambier via Tailem Bend, Keith , and Narracoorte. A couple of us tried the Princes Highway coastal route for some 30km but were persuaded to rejoin the main party. We ran into some wet weather 40 km out of Mt.Gambier which developed into a full-blooded thunder-storm just after we reached the caravan park. A shuttle-bus taxi took us back into town for an excellent dinner at one of the clubs. The further east we travelled the more tender and tasty was the steak!. We covered 570 km on today’s ride.
Thursday morning was fine and clear after heavy overnight rain. We stopped at the blue lake for photos, the crater of an extinct volcano and now the district’s water supply. Then it was on the road again, destination Lorne in Victoria on the Great Ocean Road. Early in the day we sighted a koala which had safely crossed the road in front of us. We travelled via Heywood, Port Fairy, Port Campbell, and Apollo Bay the home of an excellent ice-cream shop. We arrived dry at the Lorne caravan park just
before another thunder-storm, lucky again! After the rain we walked into the town and enjoyed a delightful meal at one of the many restaurants in Lorne. Today was the shortest leg of the journey at 400 km.
Leaving Lorne at dawn the following morning, a heavy mist obscured our view of the remainder of the Great Ocean Road. We fuelled up at Torquay, safely navigated Geelong and Baccchus Marsh and after a minor hitch with the GPS’s proceeded on to Mansfield via Woodend, Kilmore, Broadford and Yea. We enjoyed coffee and a snack here and then negotiated the scenic King Valley route, arriving at Wangaratta our Friday night stop at about 5pm. Accommodation and a great counter meal was provided at a motorcycle friendly hotel whose landlord is a fellow Ulyssian. The bikes were stored overnight in an undercover secure compound. This would have to have been the most comfortable and value for money night’s stop of the entire trip. A continental breakfast was also included in the very modest tariff. Our journey today Friday 13 March was 470 km.
On Saturday we set off for Bega, early as usual, travelling via Beechworth, Talangatta (a welcome coffee) Corryong, and then into the snowy mountains. We encountered mist and then quite heavy rain before stopping for lunch at Cabramurra the highest “town” in Australia. Then it was more or less downhill to Cooma and then Bega near the coast of NSW. We camped the night at Bega enjoying dinner and a few drinks at the local RSL club which also provided a courtesy bus there and back to the caravan park. Today was probably the most scenic ride of the trip with spectacular mountain views and a distance travelled of about 500km.
Sunday dawned cool and fine; the big day, the day we had t o negotiate serious traffic, the day to put our faith in the mighty GPS. It was a lovely ride to Narooma on the coast then up the highway to Batemans Bay. There were food and fuel stops at Ulladulla and Nowra and then we joined the throngs around Wollongong and went our various ways to Penrith. Some of the local bikers managed to cut a couple of us off and the original route via Picton was abandoned by most of us, but we all arrived safely at Penrith albeit at different times and by different roads. We had travelled a total of 5500 km since leaving Geraldton, about 450 of them today. Those of us staying at Nepean Shores found it to be a very pleasant venue, close to river walks, the large shopping centres, and the actual A.G.M. site.
At Penrith Arthur Gary Mark and Yves were re-united with Bev Paula Anne and Lynn; and with the arrival of Bruce, Cyril, and John, Colleen and Terry, Cheryl and Peter, and later in the week Austin; the ranks of the Geraldton contingent swelled to 24; easily the largest group of Ulyssians from Western Australia.
The week at the AGM passed quickly; a highlight being a cruise, with a first-class lunch included up the Nepean River on board the “Nepean Belle”, a paddle-wheel boat built along 19th century lines in the 1980’s, but powered by diesels instead of the traditional steam engine.
The owner/skipper provided an informative and at times humorous commentary on the river and it’s history since the beginnings of European settlement to the present day.
There were rides into the Blue Mountains and train trips into Sydney to all the tourist destinations, a 20 minute trip on the express service or over an hour if you accidentally boarded an all-stops (about 20 of them) service.
The inner man was comfortably catered for at Penrith with excellent meals at a variety of venues including the Penrith Panthers rugby league club, other service clubs, the Lone Star Steak House, and the AGM dinners on the Friday and Saturday nights, both of which catered for a couple of thousand guests. Our French outfits were a success.
The Saturday morning parade went very smoothly, thousands of bikes assembling at the finish at the Penrith Paceway for the usual speeches .
The weather was fine and sunny, if a little humid, for the entire week.
On Sunday March 22 Paula Bev Anne and Lynn caught an early train and taxi to Sydney Airport for the flight back to Perth and Austin was also up with the sparrows for his drive back to Sydney and flights to Perth and Geraldton. Yves decided to stay a bit longer and make his own way back at a more leisurely pace, while Arthur, Barry, Dale, Gary, Graeme , and Mark left at 9am for the first leg of the shorter way back to Geraldton. We took the main road to Katoomba and Lithgow and then on to Bathurst for lunch and a sedate lap of the Mt Panorama race track. Then it was on to Cowra and a caravan park at Grenfell for the night after an excellent meal at the local Chinese restaurant.
We left Grenfell at dawn on Monday and followed the Mid Western Highway to Hay for lunch and a fuel stop, and a visit to the wool museum .It was then on to Mildura for the night via the Sturt Highway, finding a well-appointed comfortable caravan park handy to the city. Dinner was at the RSL club and up to the usual high standard of such establishments.
On Tuesday morning we breakfasted at a bakery near the caravan park and were able to catch up on some shopping while Arthur had his rear tyre replaced at the local Harley shop. A word of advice; don’t buy a lot of fruit at Mildura- it’s cheap and fresh but you either have to eat it all before Renmark or surrender it at the fruit-fly checkpoint there. We did a bit of both!
We had lunch at Berri then it was on to Waikerie and across to Morgan and a short ferry crossing of the River Murray. Next stop was Burra where wet-weather gear was donned, a timely decision as it was quite wet on the last leg of the day to Peterborough. On this stretch of road Gary’s eski compartment parted company with the trailer necessitating minor repairs before we took the short cut at Terowie across to Peterborough. From the caravan park there we had a leisurely walk into town for a few beers and dinner at one of the locals. We saw some beautiful old buildings in this historic railway town.
After breakfast at 7am on Wednesday in Peterborough we were on our way again stopping for fuel at Port Augusta, lunch at Kimba arriving at Ceduna for the night after a day’s ride of 600km. An early arrival enabled us to catch up with domestic duties like washing, ready for the longer days ahead. Dinner was the local fish and chips revisited.
Thursday morning dawned clear and mild and we left from the Ceduna BP truckstop in a cloud of mosquitoes, as the stars were beginning to fade, destination Cocklebiddy. There were fuel stops at Penong and then Nullarbor, where local hospitality took a new turn. We were required to surrender our driving licences before being allowed to use the pumps. Apparently “drive-offs” have forced the operators to take this draconian step. We had lunch here, photographed the local dingoes, then rode the next 180km to Eucla for coffee and fuel. From here it was a quick stop at Madura then on to Cocklebiddy before the setting sun became too much of a problem. The cheerful proprietress at the motel made us welcome as usual and we enjoyed the local steak sandwiches and cold beer/ wine/ cruisers/ or soft drinks depending on our fancy.
After a continental breakfast on Friday we set off west at dawn again; it was cold and foggy and everyone kept a wary eye out for wild-life. By the time we reached Balladonia the temperature had risen and jumpers and jacket-liners were shed, and at Norseman, our lunch stop a couple of hours later, it was decidedly warm. It was even hotter at Coolgardie, about 40 degrees. We had another short break between there and Southern Cross and then booked into the caravan park at 5pm.
We decided to risk the Palace Hotel for dinner again and were pleasantly surprised, avoiding steak sandwiches, and some of us opting for beef curry and rice which was washed down with a few glasses of an excellent red or a cold beer or two, and all served with a smile by the charming back-packer bar staff from Scotland.
In no time at all it was Saturday morning, the last day of the journey and we were ready to roll at our usual 7am. A few kangaroos crossing the road south of Bullfinch kept us alert but after that the local fauna stayed in the paddocks. We fuelled up at Koorda via Muckinbudin had a mid-morning coffee, then followed the back roads to Cadoux and Kalannie and across to Dalwallinu then up to Wubin for lunch. Then it was across to Carnamah from Bunjil and home via Three Springs, Mingenew, and Walkaway or Dongara depending on choice.
The return trip from Penrith was 4400 km making a total round journey of about 9900km.
A foot-note about the bikes. We all know size isn’t everything and this is especially true of modern motorcycles. A dual purpose sports tourer like a Suzuki DL650 is perfectly adequate for a trip one and you have the added benefits of good fuel economy and a long range. The seat is surprisingly comfortable but an Air-hawk cushion made it even more so.
10 April 2009
riders trip to
Riders:- Russ Hacon—Terry Newport—Roger Glass—Noel Dun stone
Lindsay Mathews—Howard Mathews.
Vehicle:- Garry Cripps—Austin Cannon—Iain ( Les ) Jackson-Wood head.
Bikes:- (Russ) Suzuki DR650
(Terry) Suzuki DR650SE
(Howard) Honda 650
(Garry) Suzuki 650 V. Strom
Depart Noels place 09.15
Cyril Mckenzie-Bruce Ralph-Graham Stewart-Arthur
& Bev Thorp & Jamie Hacon accompanied us to Mullewa. While we were at
Mullewa all fuelled up so as to get to
Lunch at Yalgoo.
Terry ran out of fuel 5km out of Magnet, did not
try reserve (he thought he was on reserve but was not.) Fuelled up at BP
Booked in to Caravan park, Terry’s bike had been running rough ever since Magnet, so he had around 9 different suggestions of what was wrong. With the help from Brett Gannon it was soon fixed (at 20.00hrs) cause stuck choke! After booking in and starting to set up camp site Garry decided to turn up the music in the vehicle, and was promptly told by some old dear to turn it off, she came to the park for peace and quiet.( All this about 16.15)
Garry made some comment as she walked away, she heard him and said he was an uneducated person!!!? After a while Jamie decided to check out the roads around the caravan park,( remember he is riding a Harley) just to annoy a certain cranky old dear.
A good nights rest was had by all.
Left Sandstone at 07.30
Howard & Jamie had a drag, the Harley lost a reflector goes to show the Honda’s built tougher. Howard had a problem with his kick starter, it came up too quick for him & whacked him on the back of the leg, for which he needed a band-aid or two.
Somebody said over the radio that Noel had lost his
torch, Garry then stopped & picked up the bits & pieces of a torch
that were not Noels anyway he had not lost a torch. Took the two bikes on
trailer off so as Garry & Austin could start riding. Garry’s radio did
not work due to
Fuelled up at LAVERTON then pushed on to camp 100kms from LAVERTON About 30kms out Terry fell off in some very soft sand, loaded his bike on trailer and went back to LAVERTON hospital, Terry stayed in hospital so as to get his hand seen to. Looked like he had dislocated fingers or broken ones because of this he could not carry on. We had tea at the pub, some drinks at the police social club and camped at Lindsay’s nephews place.
Left LAVERTON at 07.34
Fuelled up at TJWKAYIRLA Roadhouse and teamed up with two young blokes riding BMW DAKARS. Noel had a leaking air valve in the rim of his front tyre.
Fuelled up Warburton and camped aprox 70kms on. I don’t know what the Dakar boys thought of the gero mob after the high jinks of that night ( as Garry said what happens in camp stays in camp ) Lindsay tried to pass off roo turds as dried figs.
Left camp 07.45
Fuelled up WARAKURNA roadhouse.
We were shown around the GILES Weather station by
Helmut, this was for about 2 hrs (very interesting) Left Giles saw a few
camels the fuelled up at KALTUKATJARA (DOCKER River) place looked like a tip.
We camped approx 40kms from
Left camp at 07.40
After another 140kms hit bitumen, at last! Passed
the Olgas and Uluru , Some put in fuel at
A few of us stopped at Kings Creek Station, where
we met a bloke who was running Harley Tours He told us that he was Dave
Priors brother Dave worked at 98.1FM in Geraldton. Camped
For tea some had barbeque and some had pizzas ( YUMMY ) Had a good nights rest, except for the very early ablutions of our German tourists. I did not know women let rip so loudly and for so long.
This morning there was no rush to leave, so Noel
& Iain went on a helicopter ride over
I think Noel & myself had a much better view from up where we were. Around 10.00 we headed for Hermannsburg all gravel. Roger rode his bike along this road and found out how bloody rough the last 5kms were. The trailer did not like the roughness nor did the Toyota’s tyres , at Hermannsburg there were two punctures on the Toyota, soon had them fixed but the trailer was a bit sus. Some had a feed then on to Standley Chasm, Noel went on to Alice to tee up somebody to fix the trailer Saturday .On to Stuart Caravan Park ,pitched camp, Had a shower then to town mainly for grog and some nibblys.
Met three more Ulysses at the park from N.S.W. or
VIC cannot remember. All went to the Memorial Club Bistro for a $9.90
Carvery One had eyes bigger than his stomach ey Lindsay. P.s.
No body was up with the sparrows, as today we did our own thing, sightseeing or whatever. Iain & Howard went shopping ( Don’t travel with Howard in an enclosed cab you will regret it, enough said) Howard required two new tyres for his bike that is why he was in the vehicle. Sat arvo visited the Museum Of Central Australia then went and picked up tyres for bike then the trailer,back to the park . Fit tyres to bike and load trailer for Sunday departure. Russ helped a lady out by pumping up her mattress, very nice of Russ!! We all went to tea at Lasseters Casino And Convention Centre, tucker not to bad beer good but the pokies bad!!! Noel and Howard won.
Departed from having breaky at Mcdonalds 08.30
Headed off down the
Leave around 08.30.
Off again with
At all camping sites we had breakfast of Bacon, Eggs, tomatoes & toast.
Garry had a problem with his fork he could not find it, guess who was using it Lindsay.
Set off at about 08.15.some bikes topped up at Warburton. Just out of Warburton is Creek of water, if you go around the left it is shallow but rather deep in the center. Everybody went left except Russell who went through the middle and got thoroughly drenched.meantime. Howard then decided to do the same ( with a lot of persuasion from others) so he did it faster than Russ, well the result was spectacular a Totally Soaked Rider from his boots to helmet. It was heard that Howard said, Why do I listen to these older blokes??. Come in sucker!!! We camped about 110kms from Cosmo Newberry in what looked like a gravel pit. Second last camp oven a very very mild Curry.
Up early decamped 07.30
About 194kms of gravel to go, on the way Lindsay’s
B.M.W just conked out, checked it out could not find anything wrong, after a
while he started it up and off he went without any more trouble. Iain just missed
a Roo good thing Roger saw it early. Had lunch Leonora, arvo tea at Leinster
then on to
After breaky of the last of the bacon, eggs, tomatoes and toast, packed up and off to fuell up Mount Magnet. On the way an Eagle took a dive at Noel, he said not a nice experience.
Fuelled up then off to Mullewa for next fuel, with
a short stop at Yalgoo on the way. At Mullewa we were met by Les,
Everybody returned to Noels Place to do some
Just before this was achieved we had morning tea supplied by Neva & Roger, which was very much appreciated. When all was done a Night of Disgracefulness and Reminiscence was organized.
See you all there!