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8 Blokes. 9244km. 1 Great Ride

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #39

The plan was to fly to Perth, then head out to Steep Point. From there Greg ‘Bones’ Dunn and his crew would travel east, eventually doing a lap of Uluru, and on to Byron Bay.

We’d arranged bike transport from the east coast, travel permits, accommodation, flights, GPX tracks, analysed kilometres and fuel range, organised individual EPIRBs, extra fuel, water and camp meals.

I’d submitted 31 requests for localised permits, enough to cover nine people through our intended travel route, an area covering most of WA, with some parts even sneaking into the Northern Territory.

Everyone had up-specced and some even bought new bikes for the trip. My own bike had the suspension upgraded to deal with the extra weight that came with being fully self-sufficient and my camping gear was double checked and stowed safely. My riding gear had also been updated to deal with the expected harshness of the outback.

We all had new tyres and tubes and had ordered replacements to meet us at Alice Springs.

There was nothing going to stop us.

What wasn’t in the plan was The Farmer going over the ’bars of his Africa Twin and busting his wrist just before departure. (We missed ya, mate.)Eight riders in three different groups from NSW ended up starting the ride.

Bikes were transported from the east coast. Travel permits, accommodation, flights, GPX tracks, individual EPIRBs, extra fuel, water and camp meals were all organised.

Scott free

Kev and Pat were planning to meet up with us a few days north of Perth.

Rush Rush and I flew to the west coast where The Farmer and The Welder picked us up and spent a night bench racing. We collected our bikes and The KTM Kid and his 1190R joined us having arrived in Perth the day before. We all had a top night hanging out in Freemantle and, due to an auto-spell blunder on Rush Rush’s phone, his bike was christened with a new name.His ‘BMW 800GSA’ would forever be ‘Bob Scott’.

The well-known sandy track out to Steep Point, WA.

Paver way

Friday we waved goodbye and headed north.

As usual I got us on a wrong road within minutes, and we soon realised we were heading up the highway. Eventually we found The Coast Road, stopped at Lancelin for a cold beer and a look at the ocean, then rode on to Port Denison for the night. Thanks to The Welder I found half a paver in my saddlebag…much to the amusement of Rush Rush and The KTM Kid.

The author had a few offs before arrival at the westernmost point of the Australian mainland.

Sand struggle

Saturday saw us head to Kalbarri. We grabbed a bite to eat at Pink Lake and followed the coast north before coming inland to the Billabong Roadhouse where we had two nights booked. The boys were very happy to see a bar at the roadhouse and settled in for a well-earned rest.

Sunday was our first off-road riding as we made our way out to Steep Point. I hadn’t investigated how one might go about turning off the traction control, and it’s a fact I’m not a great sand rider. True to form, I had two or three offs before my triumphant arrival at the westernmost point of the Australian mainland. I marked my achievement by jagging a rock under my front wheel and toppling over again.

The KTM Kid and Rush Rush thought this was bloody hilarious, so it was only after much pointing and laughing they helped me put the big Honda the right way up.

The end of a successful day saw us back at the Billabong Roadhouse where we met up with Kev and Pat. The boys had been on the road for a couple of weeks, Kev on his V-Strom 650 and Pat on his Africa Twin. They were certainly enjoying the lifestyle.

From left: Pat, Kev, The KTM Kid and Rush Rush enjoying the smooth roads near Cue.


On Monday we fuelled at Murchison, had a bite to eat, then ended up camping at Nallan Station near Cue. It was a good day on mostly easy roads, and we slowly began getting a feel for the trip. We settled in to doing 50km between regroups and leader changes, the best way of combating the dust and sharing the lead and sweep duties. We stuck with the system through to the end of the ride.

We did close to 550km for the day and all pulled into camp felling pretty chipper.

Around the fire that night Rush Rush, The KTM Kid and I took a vote and decided we’d give The Gunbarrel a miss.

I wasn’t keen to hurt myself trying to ride 500km of sand, and I didn’t think they were looking forward to picking up my bike too many more times. This trip was about riding west to east and enjoying it, not about conquering legends and breaking things.

Back on the Ghan Heritage Road.

Pay to stay

After lunch at Meekatharra on Tuesday we buzzed the Goldfields Highway for about 180km to Wiluna. Our accom for the night didn’t show up on the GPS and there was some confusion as to where it was exact-ly. We had no service and weren’t lost… we just weren’t in the right place. “Just call ’em on the bloody Sat phone!” Rush Rush yelled, prompting a quick result, and we finally arrived at The Gunbarrel Laager “ This trip was about riding west to east and enjoying it, not about conquering legends and breaking things.” Traveller’s Rest. The place was clean and the tucker was good, but it was primo miners’-camp prices there.

We had a feed, a shower and a good sleep after a solid, 420km day.

Two good

Wednesday saw us do nearly 400km.

In the morning we headed east out of Wiluna and turned south to follow our noses. I was riding through central WA with four mates and just loving it.

The terrain was mixed. There were some good sandy roads with rocky sections, but it was all easy riding, and we were in good spirits knowing our first rest day was in front of us. We weren’t sure if Leonora or Laverton was the place to stay, but we met a station manager on Melrose Station. It was interesting to hear of his life and struggles on the massive station in the middle of a drought. His recommendation was Leonora, so we bid him farewell and rolled to Leonora through Nambi and Mertondale, enjoying what little scenery there was and taking in the massive expanse of drought-affected farmland.

We were once again staggered by the premium prices on basic accommodation and were discussing our options when Rush Rush piped up, saying he may have found something.

A phone call, a quick scoot around on his bike to check it out and we’d booked into a homestay.

What fantastic people the hosts, Terry and Di, were! Within 30 minutes of meeting them we’d booked to stay a second night, then settled on the back veranda to enjoy their company and savour the beers.

Checking out the Olgas.

Early night

After the rest and bike-maintenance day we left Leonora on the Friday refreshed and keen.

Our intention was to stay off the Great Central Road (GCR) for as long as we could, and we jumped onto the Old Laverton Road and joined White Cliffs Road up to Yamarna, a ghost town that, true to form, we couldn’t find.

Then it was on to the GCR to Tjukayirla Roadhouse. There were sections of nice, easy road and sections of sandy road, but all in all it was a pretty straight-forward run. We arrived with enough sunlight to get fuel, food and some cold drinks. Camp was in the dust, but we had a cracking fire for the night and retired to bed reasonably early.

Total distance for the day was about 460km.


Saturday was a straightforward 473km on the GCR to Warakurna Roadhouse.

The road had plenty of sandy sections and seemed to get worse the further we went. Kev’s Mighty V-Strom 650 clicked over 50,000km on this day.

They really are a trooper of a bike.

Eventually we made it to the road-house, only to realise it had closed 20 minutes earlier. We’d been caught out with the central time-zone difference so we made camp, had showers and ate some camp meals.

Werner, a bloke who knew the boys from WA, showed up on his trusty old BMW and camped with us.

It was quite a good night all round.

The campground was small but clean, and there was even some grass to pitch our tents on, which meant finally some light relief from the dust.

Uluru is a spectacular sight up close.

Border crossing

Waiting for fuel forced a late start on Sunday, much to Rush Rush’s dismay and the KTM Kid’s delight. Much bickering ensued.

It was after 9.30am when we headed back onto the sandy GCR for a few hundred kilometres towards Uluru.

The sand was manageable but still hard work, and we were glad to hit the tar, knowing it would be the riding surface for the next few days. We stopped and checked out the Olgas then did a lap around Uluru, and what a spectacular sight it is up close. After a few photos we headed for Curtin Springs where we’d booked a powered site for the night.

Well…didn’t they make it difficult.

Apparently, you can only have one camp per site. We had five tents, but took up one space. However, attempting to book in via administration proved quite difficult: “Yes,” “No,” “Go here,” “Come back”…we ended up in the free camping section where we showered and went in search of beers.

The day’s distance was 413km, and we crossed into the Northern Territory, which was cool.

Servicing bikes at Alice.

The Alice

On Monday we decided against going around the Mereenie loop to see Kings Canyon as a couple of us weren’t much for walking due to old injuries. That left a straight, 360km run to Alice Springs.

It was an easy kind of day. We cruised our way through town to Kath’s B&B with music running inside the helmets. We’d booked for three nights and had plans for things like servicing bikes, changing tyres and washing clothes, so we sat back and relaxed the afternoon away.

The B&B was fantastic and Kath was fabulous. She really looked after us and was happy to sit down for an afternoon beer and listen to our constant banter.


The next couple of days were spent having tyres changed and servicing the bikes.

While the bike shop did the tyres we took a stroll around Alice and found a nice pub which we booked for dinner, then went back to the B&B to do oil changes, a thorough check of the bikes and air-filter maintenance.

We did some tourist things and had tea and scones like proper adventure riders.

Our other group caught up with us in Alice – the three who had headed further north into WA and then come back on the Gunbarrel Highway. Our amazing hostess found beds for them all so we could spend the night comparing stories and sharing a beer. It was good to see how their trip had progressed and hear what they’d been up to.

From left: the author, Kev, Bricky, Mr Gill, The KTM Kid, Rush Rush and The Big O at Kath’s B&B in Alice Springs.

Not far

Thursday started with us all gathering for a photo out the front of the B&B, the only time we would all be together on this ride.

Everyone was in good spirits – apart from The Big O, who was unfortunately heading for the airport and home. His bike finished the journey on a truck after he’d damaged his ankle and thought it best not to risk further injury.

We left together but soon split into two groups: Pat and Kev rode the good roads to Marla with Mr Gill; Rush Rush, The KTM Kid and I were joined by Bricky, and we headed to Finke, then cut across to Marla to meet up with the boys.

The day started out fine, heading down Maryvale Road and onto The Ghan Heritage Road. It was sandy, but okay to ride, and we followed along getting glimpses of the Finke racetrack.

Then the old GPS struck again. Having been set for the shortest route for the previous few days of tar, it put us on the Ghan Heritage Trail without us realising. After a few kilometres we stopped and discussed turning around due to the horrible, sandy, twin-rut track, but it was decided that, seeing it was only 35km, we should push on.

Not good

About three hours later, with my tank bag split, damaged ribs, a few new marks on my big Honda and not much water left, I crested the last little hill with Bricky beside me saying, “Come on, mate. Only another 100 metres or so.”

We finally rolled back onto the Ghan Heritage Road. What a horrible three hours it had been. We’d only done 35km in that time. The boys had helped, laughing and making sure I got through it, but I didn’t enjoy any of it.

After a rest and some painkillers we rolled on towards Finke. The road turned to soft sand about three kilometres in and as I was trying to stop and open my visor, down I went again. I was absolutely spent, and as Bricky helped me right my bike again, Rush Rush arrived, heading back towards us, and let us know it was worse up ahead. It was decided to go back to Alice for the night and see where tomorrow took us.

I guess we did close to 400km that day, and by the time we were back in Alice we were all ready for a shower and bed.

The boys were keen to have a gander at Lake Eyre from above while it had water in it, so they booked a flight at William Creek.


Friday had us up early, on the tar and heading south on the Stuart Highway.

We aimed to push for two days and catch up with the others. They’d enjoyed a tip-top day cruising south and bunking down at Marla before tackling the Oodnadatta track.

The Honda made it about 400km.

I went to overtake a caravan and the big girl spluttered in protest and wouldn’t rev over 3500rpm. I pulled into the servo and looked at it with sadness.

The KTM Kid, a mechanic by trade, said it sounded electrical, so we checked battery terminals, looked at all the fuses and let it cool down some. After a while I fired it up, went for a spin, and it seemed to be fine. Just then The KTM Kid’s fuel bladder burst and began to spew petrol, so we splashed all the leftover fuel into my bike and pushed on down the tar to Coober Pedy. I thought if my electrics finally did die it’d be easier to get rescued on the main road.

It was a boring 670km drone down the highway, but, to be honest, it was probably the best thing for my damaged ribs and battered Honda.

Coober Pedy offered beer, tucker and an early night.


The next day meant getting back on the dirt to meet the other three – Kev, Pat and Mr Gill – near the Flinders. After 170km to William Creek the boys were keen to have a gander at Lake Eyre from above while “ The KTM Kid had managed more than a wee off and was having trouble breathing. ” it had water in it, so they booked a flight and I sat in the sun with a cold beer and had some more painkillers. My bike had been fine since Marla so I was a little less on edge.

Three hours later, with plenty of pain-relief pills in my system, we took off for Maree on the Oodnadatta Track. The dust had been crazy, but this was our first really heavily used road and we passed vans and 4WDs by the dozen. Looking out for them and their oncoming brethren kept us on our toes all the way to Maree, a further 204km. I arrived to see Rush Rush relaxing with a cold drink, and soon we were all there and ready for the last 115km to Copley where the other three were waiting.

The Ghan Heritage Trail was a horrible, sandy, twin-rut track.


What’s that?” exclaimed Rush Rush, pointing to the Africa Twin’s rear.

Somewhere along the track my exhaust had begun to unpack itself.

“More bits falling off the Honda, mate!” The KTM Kid laughed, then sprayed rocks all over my forlorn figure as he took off down the road giggling.

He was right, there was exhaust packing wrapped around my bag racks.

Lots of it. I decided to just get to Copley and see what could be done there.

We rolled in thirsty and close to dark, parked up the bikes, had a tub and went for a beer and dinner. It had been another reasonably long day – nearly 500km – with a three-hour break for a scenic flight in the middle.

The next day the group split again with Kev and Pat planning to wander home over the following three days and Mr Gill and Bricky beelining to their respective homes over the next two days.

It’s fair to say we turned it on at Copley that last night together.

A straightforward 473km on the GCR to Warakurna Roadhouse.

The Kid goes down

On Sunday we were all up early (which surprised me) and the boys heading home were packing bikes while Rush Rush, The KTM Kid and I were doing the opposite. We’d planned a day exploring the Flinders. My injured ribs were still voicing their displeasure and I was quite uncomfortable and struggled to get around, so Rush Rush suggested I take a layday and relax while they had a squiz.

I gratefully took up the suggestion, and after saying goodbye and seeing every-one off, went back to bed.

My phone rang at about 2.30pm, and it was Rush Rush. The KTM Kid had managed more than a wee off and was having trouble breathing. He and his bike had been transported to Hawker, thanks to two passing motorists.

So there I sat, alone, waiting for the phone to ring while my two mates were 180km away.

I spoke to the publican and he arranged for the bike to be stored at Hawker pub until further notice, and we discussed posting The Kid’s gear home. Rush Rush made the decision to return to Copley and leave The Kid in the care of the medical centre. After all, he’s a builder, not a doctor. He was fair knackered by the time he made it back.

We ate quietly and spoke to The Kid over the phone, then turned in early.

The end cap had blown off the Africa Twin’s pipe and unloaded most of the packing.


Next morning we gathered up The KTM Kid’s stuff and left it to be posted from Copley. The great people there couldn’t do enough for us.

We headed to Blinman, Martins Well and Yunta, and along the way my ABS and traction control stopped working.

I did a quick investigation but couldn’t see anything obvious, so we kept rolling.

The mood was sombre without The KTM Kid, and from Yunta the two of us headed east on the Barrier Highway to be absolutely belted by wind coming straight across, right-to-left, all the way to Broken Hill and then Silverton, a 615km day.

We learned The KTM Kid had just copped a good knock and would be on a plane home within the next day or two and our spirits picked up a bit.

We still had a ride to finish.

The wind absolutely belted across, right-to-left, all the way to Broken Hill and then Silverton.

Bush mechanic

The ground was wet the next morning and we hoped the overnight rain would keep the dust down. Rush Rush changed his prefilters and we headed to Menindee and rode up the east side of a very poor-looking Darling river to Wilcannia and the first vegetation we’d seen in weeks.

We meandered northeast. My Sena had gone flat, so I had no music and I figured that was the reason my bike sounded crazy loud. I was wrong. The end cap had blown off the pipe and unloaded most of the rest of the packing. The Africa Twin was absurdly loud, and after we’d cruised the last few kilometres into Louth Rush Rush mentioned he probably wouldn’t be doing much following from there on.

We pulled into the pub, grabbed a beer, and I asked a bloke in work gear if he had some fencing wire and a drill. He did, and we fashioned a fix to hold the rest of my exhaust packing and baffle in place.

The lighthouse

Rush Rush took the lead the next morning, and after listening to my bike I couldn’t blame him.

We continued up the Darling River to Bourke, where I put 23.75 litres in my 24-litre tank, before rolling on to Collarenebri and ending up at Moree for the night. It was another 550km day.

The next morning we ticked off North Star – it was all pretty dry out there – Texas and Tenterfield before booking into a pub at Killarney. We’d clicked over another 450km day and looked forward to a shower and a beer…maybe too many beers. Rush Rush wanted in on the darts comp and I watched and laughed.

I had a stagger on when I eventually headed for bed.

An early start in heavy fog the next morning took us to Woodenbong, Kyogle, Nimbin and down through The Channon towards Clunes, until eventually we found ourselves only about 30 minutes from Byron Bay and I started to get excited. This trip had been first conceived some 18 months before, and there we were, half-an-hour from completion.

It was a beautiful clear day as we rolled in through the Byron Bay township and out towards the lighthouse before parking the bikes and finishing on foot.

After a celebration handshake and a picture with the sign we felt satisfied.

The Kid

Back on the bikes we rode down the highway to Grafton. It was one of the most painful rides I’ve done. The road-works and mega traffic really got to me, probably because we hadn’t seen many cars for three weeks. We rolled into Grafton, had a shower, haircut and shave, and made the decision to head to The KTM Kid’s house for our last night.

It meant 600km and was a good last real day together for Rush Rush and I.

It was great to see The KTM Kid again and we had a top night at his place, with a home-cooked meal and some MotoGP. He’d been sorely missed at the lighthouse.

Rush Rush and the author celebrate a huge accomplishment.


I rolled in through my front gate around 11:30am on Sunday after only a small splash of rain. I’d clocked up 9244km on the journey and it really was a great way to spend a few weeks. I know some have done bigger, wilder rides, but this was my ride, I did it with a great bunch of blokes, and we had a ball. We laughed our way across the country, and we’ve already been in front of the wall map to plan the next one.

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