XR250 & DR650: Adelaide to Cooktown via the coast, back along the Birdsville Track

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by fatty, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. fatty

    fatty Moderator

    Messages:
    12
    XR250 & DR650: Adelaide to Cooktown via the coast, back along the Birdsville Track
    This is a trip I did 4 yrs ago, this is what I wrote back then: My bro and I have been planning to see more of the Australian east coast as we’ve lived in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley for most of our lives and only had holidays up the Queensland coast when we were little tackers. Anto was pushing me to do the trip on a motorbike where I was thinking it would be comfier in my hilux, but eventually I woke up and realised motorbikes would be better: camp anywhere, park anywhere, cheap to run, and for riding past gates into national parks to find the best tracks. Anto willingly gave up his casual work and I have just started a new job and told the boss that I needed 4 weeks off before I started, all good.
    There wasn’t much planning: we had 4 weeks max due to my work and estimated it might be around 10,000km from Adelaide to Melbourne, to Sydney, to Brisbane then to the top of Cape York (Queensland) and back down the centre via the Birdsville track.
    Anto prepped his Honda XR250 (2002) with a borrowed Acerbis 21L fuel tank, did an oil change and welded up a rear pannier with a $40 Mitre 10 toolbox bolted on. He also rolled up his swag tighter than normal before occy-strapping it on the seat.
    [​IMG]
    Anto’s sweeeet ride

    I sold my kick-arse Kawasaki KLX450R and bought a new 08 Suzuki DR650. Bought a Ventura tail bag with it, and a 30L safari tank. It is big. I bought some bicycle touring saddle bags and also bolted on a $40 toolbox. My huge swag got occy strapped on the back. I didn’t compromise on the mattress because I wanted good sound sleep, and it was a comfy as a back rest too. We also put 12V car charger sockets on our bikes to recharge our mobile phones.
    [​IMG]
    Me and my DR650 behemoth
    Mum told us to watch out for crocodiles every five minutes for the 3 weeks leading up to departure, and Anto’s bike wasn’t starting the day before we left. Ended up changing the spark plug and all was good (Anto: “I’ve never changed that before”). I’m not sure how comprehensive his pre-trip service was....
    [​IMG]
    Left the Barossa Valley (in South Australia for you overseas types) on the first day and after fuelling up at Tailem Bend we tried crossing over to the Coorong beach via the 42 mile crossing. We’d been out riding on the beach before, but unfortunately this time the bikes were too heavy for going up the sand dunes. Dropped the DR going back down the track! Wasn’t the last time I dropped that 230kg pig.
    The XR had been playing up a fair bit using about 9L/100km fuel and fouling plugs. We suspected the old Acerbis fuel tank flooding the carby (taps weren’t working properly), or the aftermarket carburettor itself. Anto was keeping the bike going by cleaning (sanding) his spare plug and swapping plugs over every 50/100km.
    [​IMG]
    Camping spot on Kingston Beach
    The XR had a flat rear tyre on the way to Mt Gambier the next day, probably by the tube being pinched by a hole in the sidewall of the aging tyre.... and our 12V air pump broke the first time we went to use it.
    [​IMG]
    Flat tyre. XR propped up with logs from a paddock nearby
    After pumping the tyre up by hand we got to Mt Gambier and stripped the bike down to remove the carby. Couldn’t find a problem with it so we left it with the mechanic at the Honda bike shop over night. We camped in the forest beside the extinct volcanoes just west of the Blue Lake. The view over Mt Gambier at night was spectacular which more than made up for a long day riding and fixing the XR.
    The mechanic couldn’t find a problem with the carby the next morning, but noticed the aftermarket Wiley exhaust was blocked up. He cleaned out all the gummed up carbon and a broken screen in the muffler and the XR was running sweet. For 30kms. Then like a dog, fouling up plugs again. Called the folks and arranged for them to send Anto’s stock carby on to Melbourne for us. Until then the XR just had to run rich.
    Cruised right through to “The Cove” at the start of Victoria’s Great Ocean Rode, camping in the bushes for the night with a small campfire. The next morning a local copper spotted us riding along the walking track from our camp spot, but he accepted our explanation that “we were just having a look” and let us go. Lucky he was busy.
    We rode on and did the tourist run checking out the Great Ocean Road cliffs that include pinnacles, bridges and the 12 Apostles where only about 6 of them were standing.
    [​IMG]
    12 Apostles. Too many tourists so we kept cruising
    We took the Old Ocean Rode from Princeton which was great scenery and a welcome break from the bitumen. Then we found a nice track – Parker Rd and Snowy Ridge track: National Park management tracks in the Otway National Park. That was a great ride through overgrown tracks strewn with trees, grass and mud. Highly recommended to take this over the highway! No photos because I was enjoying the ride too much.
    We went on to look at Be8lls beach and headed on to Torquay south of Melbourne. Found a hidden camp spot between a nude beach and a golf course! We stuck to our camp over the nude beach because there were cars doing doughies in the beach carpark.
    [​IMG]
    Fire at the golf course
    Next day it was into Melbourne. We picked up the stock carburettor from the post office in central Melbourne and fitted it in a back alley just off Queen St. Took a couple hours and after that it was key bangers (motorbike backfires) all the way down Queen St and out of the CBD! There was actually many a key banger on the trip to break up the boring stretches and see if we could make some poor bugger jump!
    Rode through Friday afternoon peak hour traffic down to Wilsons Promontory that evening and camped on a dam at Duck Points.
    Beaut sunrise in the morning over Corner Inlet (a lake). We headed into the National Park and climbed Mt Oberon for some spectacular views. Went down to the campsite for a free cold shower - our first in 6 days! Rode on through Foster and Sale to Lake Tyers where we decided we would try to cross the river mouth on the beach instead of heading back out to the highway. The river mouth was sanded over, so we rode out through the beach car park onto the beach, past fisherman gawking at laden motorbikes going full throttle over soft sand! Realised we couldn’t get onto the road on the other side of the river mouth because of steep sand dunes in the way, so we had to ride back past the fisherman... at least I didn’t drop the big DR in front of them. Camped near a national park on Cape Conran.
    Next morning was a good ride through Cape Conran Coastal Park tracks to the Old Ocean Rd. Then we took more dirt roads from near Bemm River to the bitumen near Cann River, a highly recommended ride.
    [​IMG]
    Bridge near Bemm River
    I nearly ran over a long black snake, it was one of those moments where I had time to avoid it or hit it... and as much as I wanted to cruise over it I thought of the trip ahead and played it safe by riding past its tail. Had lunch at Eden and saw some great forests along the road. By Batemans Bay I noticed the XR had lost the exhaust pipe brace that holds it onto the bike, and the rear tyre was going flat again. We wired up the exhaust pipe with some fencing wire and pumped the tyre up planning to fix the tube when we camped. Well we couldn’t find a camp spot so I gave my mate Brad in Wollongong a call to ask him if we could crash at his place. Top bloke – it was fine even at such late notice. It was a long ride, pumping up the rear tyre at every petrol station of with the crappy $7 foot pump I got on special in Mt Gambier. It was a long day with about 600km total travelled. A couple beers and a hot shower at Brad and Angie’s place really helped!
    We got clothes washing done the next morning and oil changes on the bikes, along with a new tyre for the XR. Cruised up to Sydney which we had both passed through the airport before, but never had a look around the city. We went to Bondi beach which was busy being a hot day, and left the car park with a few key bangers. Then travelled north over the Sydney Harbour Bridge - very impressive. Took the old Pacific Hwy through the hills north of Sydney and had dinner at Terrigal beach – nice spot. Ended up camping next to another golf course near The Entrance.
    [​IMG]
    DR at Bondi Beach
    Rode through Newcastle the following day and followed some sandy tracks along the powerlines out to Nelsons Bay.
    [​IMG]
    Later I learnt letting down the tyres helps when riding over sand
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    What’s broken on the XR this time Anto? Yeah I have some spare wire
    [​IMG]
    Heaps of tracks
    Rode out onto the dunes at Anna Bay and chased a big FWD tour bus around on the sand dunes. Then it was onto the Myall Lakes National Park and we rode over to the sea on the first FWD crossing. After dropping my bike a couple times trying to make it stand on the sand we had a refreshing swim.
    [​IMG]
    Oh yeah
    [​IMG]
    Getting back over the dunes.
    Rode up to the ferry and the operator told us not to take the ferry but ride on the management tracks up to Seal Rocks. Lad. Said he had done the tracks a couple years before and we wouldn’t get in trouble because the manager had knocked off for the day anyway. After we got past some muddy spots it was a great ride right through to the Bungwahl / Seal Rocks road. Be aware it is hard getting your bike out at the other end, especially if it is big and heavy.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Camped at Yagon campground and met a fisherman Tony who travelled up from Newcastle for some fishing. Tony was a proud KTM 640 adventure owner himself so there was plenty to talk about.
    [​IMG]
    Dingo at Yagon Campsite
    Next day Tony took us sightseeing and fishing, even cooked us fresh brim for dinner. It was a great day having a rest off the bikes. Seal rocks has it all: whales, dolphins, sea eagles and scenery. Tony is up there regularly so checkout the Yagon campsite if you’re in the area.
    [​IMG]
    Rode out on the headland on walking tracks (No walkers were hurt in the production of this photo) Seal Rocks in the background
     
  2. fatty

    fatty Moderator

    Messages:
    12
    Next day we rode up to Pt Macquarie and crossed the ferry to Pt Plomer. There is a cool track from there to Crescent Head, plenty of woops, also sand mud and potholes. Following behind Anto I picked up his foot pump and rear bag while he was getting carried away doing jumps over woops.
    [​IMG]
    Met Ian, a guy who makes sandboards, up at Crescent Head who was out at the beach for some Kite-surfing. He had a cool trick where he rode the board up to the beach then launched in the air with the kite and flew about 30m over the sand, landing on the softer sand. Crazy man.
    Had subway for dinner at Coffs Harbour (Anto whinged about all the other things you could buy for $8 of subway like almost 200km of fuel) and camped along the highway north of Coffs in a forest clearing. Pity trucks were using their exhaust brakes on the highway past our spot!
    Rode through some tracks outside the National Park the following day, Anto had a stack in a deep washout breaking his brake handle and RH mirror. We had a spare handle so continued on ok. We followed Collets Crossing Road through the forest for some scenic riding while dodging horse crap from all the wild horses in the area. I saw three racing along through a clearing.
    It did cross our minds that there may be a river crossing ahead, but if a FWD could manage it so could we. After probably 30mins we came up to the crossing.
    [​IMG]
    Collet's Crossing
    Anto tackled the crossing on his XR in a shallow bit to the north of the track. He made it about three quarters of the way before the rocks got the best of him, dropping his bike in the water. And drowning it. After we pushed it out the other side of the river we took the plug out and turned it over. Water got pumped out of the top of the engine!! Put the bike on its side for a bit and took the air filter off which was saturated. After tinkering around for a while it started. Damn I was happy, didn’t want to have to tow that thing all the way to Grafton! We carefully pushed my DR across the river with one of us on each side of it. Unfortunately the water was a little higher than I thought getting my saddle bags wet, damaging a camera charger.
    We got to Grafton just after midday and immediately changed the oil in the XR which was going a little whiteish from water.... and I was sick of carting around my monster swag so I bought a smaller swag and sent the old one back to SA. Continued on through Tweed Heads and Surfers letting a few key bangers go. These were places we knew so we continued on through Brisbane and found a campspot about 50km north of Brissie at about 1am.
    [​IMG]
    Our Camp spot in a forest clearing north of Brisbane
    Cruised up through the Sunshine Coast the next day, stopped at Noosa Heads for a swim. Met Justin, a guy who has started up a company “All Aussie Adventures” and we had a chat about travels. He invited us to his place the next day for a BBQ, beers and a shower – three of the things I valued mostly at the time! We decided to camp in the Great Sandy Reserve for the night so we bought beer and permits, crossed on the ferry and cruised about 30km up the beach on firm sand (low tide). As we were going along a couple guys sitting on deck chairs in the surf drinking beers waved us over for a light. I obliged and we ended up camping with Luke and Dave for the night, them having wood for a fire made the decision easy. There was probably between 100 and 200 campsites along the 15km of beach that camping was allowed, and we had a great night. Pity there was police cruising up and down the beach carrying out speed and RBT checks, didn’t feel as special!
    [​IMG]
    Camp spot in the Great Sandy Reserve north of Noosa
    [​IMG]
    The view from the camp site – warm water unlike South Australia!
    We didn’t leave early the next morning to ride out on another low tide, instead having a couple swims and taking it easy. We should have rode out early. The 20km plus beach ride was tough at high tide, the wet sand was soft and it was hard staying in the FWD tracks on the soft sand because the FWDers were all individuals who didn’t like following the same wheel ruts. It took over an hour to ride back to the crossings onto the gravel road. And our bikes were covered in salt and sand. Pressure cleaned them as soon as we got back to Noosa.
    We had another swim at Noosa Heads before heading around to Justin and Kate’s for a bbq, shower and we even got some washing on! Justin was keen to learn about our trip and we shared photos and stories. He had travelled up the east coast in a van recently and had some awesome photos. We rode towards Gympie that night and camped in what we thought was a hidden spot.
    Well I woke up with a car passing by about 10m away. The bush track we picked went along side a bitumen road! That was the worst spot we picked.

    [​IMG]
    Near bundaberg
    Next nice destination was Airlies Beach, next to the Whitsundays. The plunge pool was great, along with the pub about 100m up the road.
    [​IMG]
    Gene pool at Airlies Beach
    5 mile creek just outside Townsville on the way to Cairns was a nice swimming hole, specially as we rocked up when a bus load of backpacker chicks were there too! Had dinner on the Cairns foreshore and camped in the forest about 50km north.
    [​IMG]
    Near Cairns
    The next day we rode to Cape Tribulation and swam in a couple waterholes on the track to Bloomfield.
    [​IMG]
    Ferry across Daintree river to Cape Tribulation
    Some river crossings with slippery flat rocks on the way, but getting the feet wet didn’t matter as it was so hot.
    [​IMG]
    Crossing back over for a swim in a waterhole
    [​IMG]
    Wet feet!
    Pretty fast ride to Cooktown after getting to Bloomfield as the roads were really good. At Cooktown we stopped for a feed at the bakery and checked the map. That was about as far north as we’d decided to come cos we didn’t have enough time to tackle Cape York, so it took a few minutes to digest the fact we were heading south again!
    [​IMG]
    Bay at Cooktown
    Boring and stickin hot ride to Mareeba and then onto Tinaroo Falls where we camped alongside the dam – and paid our national park camping fees too! Got pulled up by some cops for an RBT on the back roads to Tinaroo, don’t know what the hell they were doing out there on a Thursday night.
    We had a swim in the dam the next morning and then rode through Atherton and Herberton to go down the Silver Valley road and see some of the bush. Well we saw heaps of the bush as Anto’s Tomtom GPS program decided to take a track that didn’t exist and bringing us close to a ground fire. The locals were doing some burning off and we were getting really close as we rode through farming paddocks and through creek beds trying to find the bloody track. Ended up turning back but not before both our parcel racks got further broken from bouncing up and down as we rode over some big rocks. Eventually we got to Innot Hot Springs without getting burnt and had a relaxing swim in the hot pools. Anto discovered his rear wheel was getting a little wobbly... great the rocks had also busted his rear wheel bearing.
    [​IMG]
    Some of the more exciting scenery in Central Queensland
    We decided to ride on with it making some crazy screeching sounds at slow speeds. From Lynd Junction we decided to head towards Charters Tower on a bitumen road to get to a motorbike shop that would have a new bearing over heading directly to Hughendon on a dirt road, that we guessed would have a smaller motorbike shop. That was one helluva ride, apart from not being sure if Antos bike would make it, we rode alongside an electrical storm, while dodging emus, roos and a deer and passing road trains on a single laned road in the dark. We had one short stop over that 260kms, and ended up camped at a secret location inside Charters Towers.
    Started raining the next morning. We went straight to the Honda shop and got all the parts, they were nice enough to let us go under their verandah and give us a bike stand while we did the repairs. Got going by 10am – we took our time according to the mechanic there - it was the first bearings we had replaced ourselves! Rode straight to Hughendon (243km) without a stop. Stopped in the main street under a public parking car cover and a storm hit within minutes. Very lucky! After an hour we left for Winton. There were a few small showers along the way, and the sides of the road were very soggy from the rain. When trucks drove on the side of the road their tyres were ripping the edges up. They make roads tougher in South Australia.
    Met another adventure rider Zac who was intending to ride to Boulia and onto Alice Springs at the supermarket. He had a BMW 1200 that looked heaps heavier than my machine! Said he had to unpack it whenever he dropped it before lifting it back up. I felt heaps better about mine!
    He was staying the night in the town so we agreed to meet him on the road in the morning and travel to Boulia together. We headed along on the Boulia road for 60km before camping and I didn’t see any Min Min light. Only bloody roos.
    [​IMG]
    Camp spot along Boulia road. Looked like more rain but none came.
     
  3. fatty

    fatty Moderator

    Messages:
    12
    Well we didn’t see Zac on the ride to Boulia and we waited there for about 3 hours too. There was a few flowing floodways we crossed so he may have waited for them to go down a bit rather than risk the pricey BMW getting drowned.
    [​IMG]
    Water over the road
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I'm hoping there’s a half metre deep crossing up ahead?!?! This was the deepest it got, a little deeper than 1 foot.
    We ended up thinking we would have to stay in Boulia for a few days as the roads south were all closed to Birdsville (400km away). There was a huge sign saying “ROAD CLOSED. TRAVEL ON CLOSED ROADS IS PROHIBITED AND HEAVY PENALTIES APPLY. It had rained here for the first time in 3 years and the Sandy Creek was flowing with dirty flood like waters, and all that water was headed in the same direction as us to Lake Eyre. So we fixed our bikes and chilled under the Sandy Creek bridge.
    The local copper Mark Mulligan rocked up after a while and sat down and had a chat with us. He told us how he shot a cow recently cos it was looking so malnourished and also that we should just ride on towards Bendourie and Birdsville because ‘motorbikes will make it through easy’. So we took the hell off!
    Came across a totally washed out road after 150km, and took some careful checking and manoeuvrings to get around it. Plus there was some really muddy spots, but neither of us went down!
    [​IMG]
    Why the road was closed
    [​IMG]
    Going around the washouts
    Camped about halfway to Birdsville in the middle of nowhere. Still found enough wood for a fire although it was almost a desert, and a little frog crawled out of the ground and joined us at the fire. And ants joined us later when we were sleeping..... used up about half a bottle of rid to keep them at bay.
    It was onto Birdsville for fuel the next morning, with some minor creek and mud crossings along the way. Fuelled up and got some happy snaps before hitting the 518km Birdsville track across the Great Stony Desert.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    We made good time along the track to the Mungerannie pub, 300km along.
    [​IMG]
    Exciting stuff
    There was some muddy parts which we went around, also sand drifts across the road and billions of sharp rocks.
    [​IMG]
    Plenty of old tyres in piles along the road too, chewed up by the rocks. It was a good ride, and we had lunch and a drink at Mungerannie. Continued on and the rest of the track was as good as a gravel highway. Only passed one farmer’s ute over the whole 500km track.
    Got to Marree, got some fuel, then got the hell out. S*** hole! Picked up some more fuel at Leigh Creek and made it to the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna by about 7:30 that night. Covered 813km in a day, so the beers tasted pretty damn good. Stayed late chatting to the staff. Almost all of Parachilna was there - the 7 Prairie staff! One was out of town. Cruised on later to camp in Brachina creek I had used on a previous FWD trip.
    [​IMG]
    Camp spot at Brachina Creek
    The following day we covered the last 400km back to the Barossa through Gladstone and the Clare Valley. Then it was cleaning and unpacking time. Three days later I was back out riding motorcycle tracks with the stock fuel tank, a complete service done and a new back tyre. Seeya later safari tank! Just need to figure out how to stiffen the front suspension and everything will be hunky dory. Anto had the XR serviced and back riding dirt tracks the following day after getting back, 3 weeks of riding and we just wanted to do more!
    [​IMG]
    The XR250 makes it back!
    [​IMG]
    And gets some TLC
    Trip total was 23 days for 9300km. My DR used between 4 and 4.5L/100km, and the XR used around 3.5L/100km so it was a cheap trip! Butt soreness lasted pretty much the whole trip, how can Suzuki make such a good bike but not bother giving it a comfy seat?
     
  4. jayjacinto

    jayjacinto Member

    Messages:
    67
    Up for this one! Nice photos! I can almost experience the trip!
     

Share This Page