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Thursday, 26 January 2017

The countdown begins..

As the time nears to leave on my trip, it seems there is ever more to do!!

Hopefully next Saturday, 30th July, 2011 is departure day. The plan for the trip... there is no plan except to do a lap. I have 2 months to wander this beautiful country, i am hoping by not setting an itinerary, it frees me up to simply enjoy the moment, not worrying about having to make a certain town on a certain date. The Kimberley is one of the main focuses of the trip, as it is so remote, i hope to spend at least a week, maybe 2 there.

I am really happy with how the bike has turned out, it rides great and feels so much smaller than when i bought it. You can see my build report here:


I really need to thank those who helped me get the bike to where it is today.

Mike, thanks for the factory space and your attention to detail and skill, those who know me well would understand that if the bike was all my doing it would not look anything like it does now, it would have been held together with cable ties and duct tape, so thanks very much for all your help.

The members of both Stromtrooper and ADVRider also provided many pearls of wisdom, special thanks to Glitch for letting me into Thinstrom HQ.

Thanks Adrian for your help and constant coercion that forced me to buy a MacBook Pro, my bank account hates you.....

A big thanks to Shane for helping with my panniers, i really appreciate all your help.

All the last minute jobs on the bike have been done (i think !!) so now it is time to start figuring out how to load it all.

Tomorrow will be one last shake down ride, i'll make sure that the bluetooth headset talks to the GPS and iPhone. After the ride, i'll start figuring out how best to pack the bike, there is a fair amount of stuff i will be dragging around the country.

Here is the bike, a 2011 Suzuki DL650A, i'm tipping this is the last time she will look this good. I'm sure that 18,000+ Kilometers will add some character...















































Cheers until the next update.

Day 1, Home to Bega.

30th July, 2011. Day 1...

Odo start of trip, - 1,418


Odo end of Day 1 - 2,034k


Distance Travelled today - 616k


Accommodation, Grand Hotel Bega, ensuite room $55.00
good room and great cheap eats and beer $4.30 for a corona.



I finally got underway at 10:10am, i started loading the bike at about 7:45am, i had planned on using  my Giant Loop bag, but luckily i discovered i could get all the stuff in the panniers : )

I did spend a bit of time worrying that i had forgotten something as the load looked fairly light.










The ride started off very weird, i must admit to feeling out of sorts when i jumped on the bike, i literally hadn't even thought which way i was going to turn when i got to the end of my driveway!! 

I was literally making it up as i went along. I rode through Belgrave heading to Narre Warren, where i would have to make a decision… either go straight ahead onto Cranbourne then follow the coast through to Wonthaggi then onto Sale, or hit the highway. 

The dark grey clouds to the South helped me choose the highway, it meant a boring run, but hopefully it would give me an easy day tomorrow cruising through Sydney then onto North Avoca

I fuelled up at the Shell servo on Heatherton Rd at 11am, this would be the first time for a real run on the bike, so i had no idea about fuel range. With such average weather i decided to simply get as many k's under my belt as possible. I finally pulled into the Can River Servo at 3:45pm to fuel up both the bike and myself. 19.35 Ltrs of fuel for 420K's, the last block of the fuel gauge had been blinking at me for about 40k's. I was starting to worry that i would run out of fuel on day 1… I had a crappy microwaved pie and a hot chocolate.

It was freezing cold East of Can River, it felt like an arctic wind was blasting me. The guy at the servo told me it was -5C last night!! Time to hit the road and get as far as i could, the roads were damp but there was still decent daylight so i wanted to get to civilisation before the critters came out to play.

I rode into Pambula looking for a place to stay but didn't find anything, so it was time to push onto Bega. Riding through town, i spotted the Grand Hotel, it looked like a great option. $55 for an ensuite room seemed like great value, so i am sitting in my room typing this before i head downstairs for a Parma…..

Only 1 quick photo, fueled up at Cann River


Tomorrow, it will be a leisurely cruise up the coast, then into North Avoca to stay with friends for the night...

Day 2, Bega to North Avoca.

31st July, 2011. Day 2..

Odo start of Day - 2,034k

Odo end of Day - 2,595k

Distance travelled today - 561k


Accommodation, Crashed at a mates place......


Today started off with the sound of rain pelting the roof of the Grand Hotel in Bega at 5am…

I had to put the camera in the middle of main street to take this long exposure, it was pitch black so excuse the crappy framing.



After trying to get back to sleep i finally gave up and decided to hit the road early. 6:30 saw me packed up and ready to go. I decided to take the tourist drive out of Bega, it was wet, dark and freezing when i left the pub, i took it slow, deciding that i'd rather stay upright than risk an off dogging a roo at sunrise. I was greeted with a lovely sunrise at Tathra, 



I proceeded through Tanja, Bermagui, Moruya then the George Bass Way to Batemans Bay. It was then the Pacific Hwy onto Ulladulla for Breakfast… Well a hot Chocolate and a tank of fuel for the bike.

It was then back onto the Pacific to Nowra where i took the back way through Coolangatta and Gerroa it was then back to the Pacific until i took the Shellharbour road into the back of Wollongong. My plan had me using the Sea Cliff Bridge and Royal National Park as my entry into Sydney. 

Bikes parked at the lookout for Seacliff Bridge...




I then stupidly used my GPS to get me through Sydney bypassing the Toll Roads… I should of just paid the money, the ride to the Sydney - Newcastle Freeway was atrocious, never again. I always liked Sydney drivers, they were aggressive but courteous in days gone by, Today they all seemed like lemmings sitting in the right lane sitting 10kph under the limit… Maybe it was just Sunday???

I finally arrived at my destination in North Avoca at 3:45 pm, so a total of almost 9 hours on the bike, covering 550k's according to my Zumo.

We ended up at the local Surf Life Saving club, where the very cheap alcohol was consumed in generous quantities, hence why i am writing this at midnight, lets hope it makes sense… Some how i don't think it will be an early start tomorrow.

Day 3 North Avoca to Glen Innes.

1st August, 2011. Day 3...

Odo Start, 2,595 K's


Odo End 3,191 K's


Distance Travelled 596 K's


Accommodation, Great Central Hotel, Glen Innes. $30 for a room.


Happy anniversary Mum & Dad, and Tracy & Shane, i hope you all have a great day...

A big thanks to Julie, Peter, Seb and Alex for a fantastic night, as usual guys it was a fun night, i really appreciate your hospitality.

After Peter forced many cheap drinks into me at the Life saving club last night, it was a much later start the yesterday. 

I left North Avoca at 9:00 am, and headed off to find some roads recommended by Glitch and MountainLagoon on stromtrooper.com. I left the Newcastle Freeway and headed on to the Peats Ridge Road, it was a glorious morning, the sun was shining, the air was fresh and i was looking forward to some great roads…

The last fuel top up was at Ulladulla, yesterday morning, so i planned on fuelling at Wollombi, i was cruising along having a ball, listening to tunes from the Zumo, all was good with the world. about 15 - 20 k's before Wollombi my fuel gauge started blinking at me, it was all going to plan until i arrived in town, i was stopped by some road works so i asked the stop/go bloke where the servo was….. I didn't get the answer i expected, no fuel in Wollombi!!! It was either divert towards Cessnock or Try Broke, i decided to try for Broke. I have never ridden so slow in all my life, caressing the throttle, trying to get the best fuel economy i could, sitting on 60 - 80 kph, this was going to be close. I looked at my fuel odo it was reading 415k on the tank already and it had included yesterdays commute through Sydney, this was going to be close…

I made it in to Broke at 10:50, thankful that i didn't have to walk. I fuelled the bike, it took 19.81 Ltrs for a trip distance of 446k's, it seemed the economy was getting better.

It was now onto Singleton, then  taking Glendonbrook Road to East Gresford

Glendonbrook Rd Image…



This area is beautiful, absolutely stunning, OK so the roads are a bit rough around the edges, but the scenery is spectacular. After leaving Dungog, things got interesting as i turned onto Monkerai Road, through Monkerai Nature reserve, the road turned to dirt, it was a good surface, but the local council guys were out cutting spoon drains into the surface, these were sharp enough to give the front end a big jolt. After about 10 k's of this the bike started feeling funny, the brake lever tightened up and all of a sudden it felt like i had a rear flat, i stopped as quick as i could and checked the bike out, all seemed OK…. I jumped back on and rode off slowly, the problem never re appeared… very odd.

Monkerai Road...



It was then onto Gloucester for the start of the Thunderbolt Way. I played it safe and fuelled up, the bike took 7.39 ltrs for 160.6 k's, so much for trying to figure out fuel economy.

Thunderbolts Way was great, i tucked in behind a feisty local in a Commodore and had a ball, luckily i could see where he was driving to miss the worst of the pot holes so although the surface was crap, the ride was good. There is a ton of roadworks going on, so it seemed that every few minutes you would come up on a set of those timed traffic lights, it put a slight damper on the ride.

I stopped at the lookout up the top, the weather had changed from beautiful and sunny to FREEZING and spitting rain. I started talking to a couple who had just driven from Walcha, they had been staying at the pub, they were told apparently that a few bikes had gone down due to the condition of the road, the potholes and ridges in the asphalt obviously caught a few people out, so take care if you are doing this road soon.

As i have a business meeting tomorrow in Brisbane, i decided that i could not make Jackadgery, so i have called it a night in Glen Innes, and tomorrow i am in two minds, either the quick direct way to Brisbane or Glitch's fun way....

My digs for the night.





Day 4, Glen Innes to Cotton Tree.

2nd August, 2011. Day 4….

Odo Start 3,191 K's

Odo End 3,669 K's

Travelled 478 K's


Accommodation, Cotton Tree Caravan Park, $34.20 for an unpowered site.


This day should be sub titled... "Oh the Shame"


I woke this morning undecided what to do…

Take Pete's advice and do the dirt road meandering beside the river… Or

Hightail it into Brisbane and get the work over and done. 

I spent a couple of hours with the GPS last night plotting Pete's route, it looked great. This morning however i decided to hit the highway to Brisbane,, i know… i know….

My logic was that i could get my meeting in Brisbane over and done with, then get up to the Sunshine Coast ready for another meeting tomorrow.

I now find myself with a beach front unpowered site at Maroochydore, Cotton Tree to be precise.

This must be some of the most expensive real estate anywhere… The joint is full of mega motorhomes and 4x4's towing caravans, there must be millions of dollars worth of stuff sitting here.

How much do i hear you ask is an unpowered site?  $34.20, yup for 1 night, not a week what  a business!!

Not much to report on todays ride as it was simply the main highways from Glen Innes to Brissy, then up the motorway to Buderim.

Here is tonight's Sunset from my campsite..



I promise the holiday starts tomorrow afternoon…..

Day 5, Cotton Tree to Buderim !!!!

3rd August, 2011. Day 5…

Odo start, 3,669 K's

Odo end, 3,688 K's

Distance Tavelled 19 K's


Accommodation, Buderim Motel, $82.00


With my morning meeting not starting until 10am, i fitted my 180mm lens to the camera and went for a short walk.

I caught these guys coming back to shore..



































































Here is a shot of the campsite, i have just bought the tent after taking my old MacPac in for repair and seeing the look on the repair guys face! 




The new tent is a Nemo, Losi 3 person. I must say i am extremely happy with it. It is my first mesh tent, so it will be interesting to see what i think of it when i get into dusty conditions. The tent go's up in minutes and has tons of nice little attention to detail features, it features 2 large vestibules and almost vertical walls.

I then decided to look at repacking my kit, the pannier holding my laptop was simply way to heavy, i unpacked everything and looked at how better to distribute the weight. I am much happier with the setup now, but i am sure it will be refined further.

Yesterday i decided to strap my backpack to the bike instead of wearing it, WOW what a difference, i think it will stay strapped to the bike. I have noticed that each morning i have been waking with a very sore neck, i assume it is just my body adapting to wearing the helmet for such long durations.

The whole day was spent at Heliport recording studio, it really is a spectacular place, check this out for a view…



































































I spent the day playing with this stuff…


































































Thanks James, have fun installing your new 24 channels tomorrow, 72 channels now, whoo-hoo

As the day got away from me, i am in a motel in Buderim for the night. checkout the wall mounted climate control!!!



Featuring custom zone control….



I'm now off to look at some maps for tomorrow.

Day 6, Buderim to Rockhampton.

Thursday, 4th August, 2011. Day 6…
Odo start, 3,688 K's
Odo end, 4350 K's
Distance Travelled. 662 K's
Accommodation, Criterion Hotel, $65.00 for a room with shower. Food and drink prices on par with Metro hotels, $7.00 for a Corona.

I left the motel at 8:30am, the skies were overcast but things were dry. Being my first day with no time constraints, i wanted to let the day unwind, and see where it would take me… Nice sentiment hey!

Unfortunately things didn't start very well. For the last 5 days i have been enjoying 3,500 songs on my Zumo, screaming along to Barnesy and Diesel inside my helmet as i rode through this wonderful country. Today the zumo wouldn't play music, well the media player was playing but no audio was getting to my Sena SMH-10. The phone worked through the Zumo, so obviously the 3 products were all talking to each other, but there was no music. After trying multiple restarts and re connects, i gave up, it will be tonights job to try and get working again.

So listening to the deepening exhaust note of the bike, i cruised along the coast. I even stopped short of Noosa to take this pic.



Want ing to prove to myself that i could slow down, i even took a detour to a scenic lookout! I ended up at "Tewantin Forest Reserve" here is the view…



It was onto Gympie, where once again i made the bold move to follow the Tourist Drive, ignoring my prepared route, what a bad move that was! After riding through industrial back streets, i looked to my Garmin and headed to Tin Can Bay. This is where my attitude started to change. I rode into Tin Can Bay and wondered why i had bothered. It was just another tourist sea side town.

After having a good think to myself about what i want to achieve on this trip, i decided it was going to be about the remote areas of this country and not everything along the way. With that decision made, it was time to high tale it out of town. Rockhampton became my goal for days end.

I stopped for a refuel and drink at Torbanlea at 1pm. $27.50 of fuel 19.4 Ltrs for 406 K's



It was raining, and blowing a gale when i left the servo, the oncoming semi's were really pushing me around, the peak on the Zeus is not a great asset when it comes to wind gusts. It was time to put my head down and cover some miles. 

I pulled into Rockhampton at 5:45, i did a quick reccie of the pubs in town and decided on the Criterion, it was more expensive than the Heritage, but they would let me park the bike off street.

Is it just me or is there a trend emerging with my photos?????

The Criterion…


The Heritage….


Maybe the ride report need to be about an Aussue wide Pub Crawl : )

So i'm about to try and get the music playing, then figure out how far to push tomorrow.

Day 7 Rockhampton to Townsville.

Friday, 5th August, 2011. Day 7…

Odo start, 4350 K's
Odo end,  5,093 K's
Distance Travelled.  743 K's
Accommodation, Townsville Walkabout Palms Caravan Park. $28.00 for an unpowered site!!

The day started at 8:30, my choice of Hotel may have not been the best!  I sat and listened to the people on the floor above me stamp around until early in the morning, so very little sleep. I put aside some time to sort out my music problems. I set the system up in the room and it worked perfectly !!

I got away from the hotel late as i got talking to a bloke who had just ridden across Russia, 9:00am i was fuelled up at the BP in Rocky. I put my in ear monitors on and got ready for some fine music…. No go !!! I spent 15 minutes trying to get it going, no luck! I tried removing the Zumo from its cradle and straight away music played. hmmmm i have to think about what may causing this.

The bike took 18.07 ltrs for 372 K's, i can't get a handle on the fuel economy, it is all over the place!

The skies were overcast but rain didn't seem imminent. The days plan was cover as many k's as possible, Townsville was my ideal destination. The terrain is really suprising me, i didn't expect the mountains, it is great riding through endless sugar cane plantations, with this mountainous backdrop. The weather has been perfect, it almost seems like a Melbourne spring, no humidity at all yet, just low 20C days with fresh breezes, perfect.

I refuelled at the Kolijo Roadhouse, 18.98 ltrs for 388 K's, a quick Cherry Ripe for lunch and back on the gas. I finally rolled into Townsville just after 5 pm. My elation at arriving quickly soured when trying to find accommodation, i ended up at the Big4 Camping compound. Apparently there is a Jehova's Witness gathering up here this weekend, so virtually everything is booked. $28.00 for an unpowered site on the Bruce Highway, makes Cotton Tree seem like a bargain!

I only took 2 pics today whilst waiting for roadworks, i was on a mission...



Roadworks...




Day 8, Townsville to Paronella Park

Saturday, 6th August, 2011. Day 8…
Odo start, 5,093 K's
Odo end,  5,496 K's
Distance Travelled.  403 K's
Accommodation, Paronella Park, $36 gave me entry to the park and 2 nights accommodation  on an unpowered tent site. 

I left the Compound at 9:00 fully fuelled ,he bike used 16.28 ltrs for 351 K's.

I was already sweating just filling the bike, it seemed i had finally found real QLD weather, i decided to remove both liners from my jacket and open all vents. I was extremely comfortable, my new Rev'It Jacket has exceeded all my expectations. The day was perfect (except still no music!!!) I was riding under beautiful blue skies and once moving the breeze was fresh and comfortable.

Seeing a sign for Wallaman Falls, i thought, why not. A 100K round trip seemed like a great idea, i had a ton of time to burn, so left i turned. The skies suddenly became dark and i could feel the moisture as i rode.

Here is where i am came from..








Here is where i am going...



Lovely ride in to the falls, a mixture of steep twisty bitumen and graded dirt.  I passed a couple on a CBR1000 on the way up, i'm glad i wasn't on that! The falls were spectacular. 260+ mtr drop here are a few shots…










































































I was in two minds about refitting my liners, it was getting cold, but it looked fine down on the coast. I decided to toughen up and leave them out. 

Cardwell was a surprise, after seeing the devistation after Yassi, i was amazed to find an absolutely beautiful sea side town, what a magic place. I decided to stop for lunch as the skies were clear and the day was once again fine. I stopped at Vivia Cafe and had the BEST steak, cheese and Bacon pie ever. Do yourselves a favour, you local guys drop in and visit this cafe, the food is made onsite and is great..

Checkout the pie..





The shop that made the pie... do yourselves a favour.







The Beach at Cardwell...




The destination for the day is Paronella Park. Riding towards the park, it it was almost like riding through Victorian Dairy country, beautiful paddocks with cattle grazing. When i arrived i was greeted by the owner Mark Evans, what  a gracious host. I would recommend visiting here just to support business owners who go beyond the call. It is a fantastic place and the story is truly inspiring.

Here is Mena Falls, you can see the hydro on the right of the picture..