Early March, 2010 my mate, Nev and I set off on our Weestroms (Suzuki DL650A motor cycles), his a K7 and mine a K9, travelling from Melbourne, Victoria to Albany, Western Australia for the Ulysses Club 2010 Annual General Meeting. representing those Ulyssians who meet regularly in Elizabeth St every Saturday morning.
For both of us it was the adventure of a lifetime – transcontinental in both directions, first from the East coast to the West coast, then return. The longest single trip either of us had ever attempted. We figured it would be around 8,000km for the entire trip. And we decided to camp out every night. This meant we were well loaded up.
Loaded Up and ready to go.
Within this ride report I will cover our day by day activities, provide maps of the route over, our trip log, what was carried on my bike and finally, details of our bikes.
Day By Day
March 2: Day one has us travelling from Melbourne to Warrnambool via the Great Ocean Road, where we stopped for fuel and supplies for the evening meal then on to Halls Gap for the first night – camping out with the stars and wildlife for company. Into the tents within 30 minutes of sunset after a great 500km run and a campfire meal. Awoke in the morning just on dawn to find a small mob of 10 inquisitive kangaroos grazing nearby.
The (remains of) 12 Apostles from the Great Ocean Road
Between Warnambool and Halls Gap
Camp site at Halls Gap
Early morning visitors
March 3: From Halls Gap, through Bordertown and into South Australia, skirting the traffic of Adelaide and after a stopover at the Australian National Motor Museum in Birdswood where you can see in one place the vehicles that played such an important role in defining the economic and social development of Australia.
That's not for you Nev - Would be a bitch in traffic!
Sorry - This one does not look very reliable.
Now this is a bit more our style !
The collection of cars, bikes and commercials is a careful blend of the unique and the popular, the home produced and the imported as well as the exotic and the ordinary. Pressing on after the break we arrived in Clare, one of Australia’s famous wine regions around 4pm having covered another 500km.
Great camping at the Clare Caravan and Camping park having pitched our tents on soft almost green grass – with a cooling swim in the pool before camp fire dinner then into the tents, again just an hour after sunset.
March 4: Up at Sunrise then skirting Adelaide again, through Port Pirie and into the lightly timbered desert country to Ceduna on the edge of the Nullarbor.
A wrong turn here would take us over 8,000 km off track!
Passing Spencer Gulf
Another 500 km day. Camped at the Ceduna Big4 caravan park where after spending 30 minutes trying to drive the tent pegs into the hard packed road base surface of the assigned tent site we gave up and scrounged some big rocks that we put ropes around and then used instead of pegs.
Note the "gravity" pegs!
At least the showers were hot and we a decent meal at the pub that set us up for bed around 9pm.
March 5: Again up at sunrise and off across the Nullarbor with a few side trips to look at the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight.
At the Head of the Great Australian Bight
We called in at Eucla and took a look at the abandoned telegraph station before pushing on to the Mundrabilla Roadhouse where we had planned to camp.
One look and we decided we could do better. We pressed on for around a further 10 Km then found a great camp site in the bush, about 500 metres off the highway. For the day we covered just over 950 km.
Preparing for dinner.
Almost as soon as we stopped this guy wanders over from another camp – about 50 meters away and introduces himself as a fellow biker and member of the Ulysses club even though he did not own, let alone ride a bike, he was in a 4 wheel drive ute – we were trying to make our camp and prepare our evening meal – thankfully he eventually wandered off.
Our persistent camp visitor
A camp fire meal then into the tents just after dusk. The sky at night – around 3 am woken by a call of nature - was simply outstanding.
March 6: Around 5 am, just before sunrise, Nev gets out of his tent to attend to a call of nature and that same guy starts heading over to our tents, camp seat in hand ready for a chin wag over his first cup of tea for the day – he must have been watching and waiting for the first of us to rise – Nev tells him to bugger off and gets back into his tent. Eventually we get up just after sunrise, campfire breakfast, then break camp and hit the road, headed for Salmon Gums in Western Australia battling strong head winds.
More views of the Bight.
We passed the Nullarbor roadhouse and checking our fuel my mate Nev, on his Wee was positive that we had “plenty” of fuel in reserve to get us across the true Nullarbor and well beyond the next fuel supply at Boarder Village on the Western Australia, South Australia border. Bugger me! About 40 Km short of Boarder Village Nev runs out of fuel and rolls to a stop on the side of the road in the desert. We had been pushing very strong head winds while maintaining a GPS average speed just a tad above the posted limit. I still had some fuel so while he waited I continued on – all be it at just 45 kph in an endeavor to eke out as much distance as I could with my meagre fuel reserves. Just 1 Km from the fuel stop I also ran out of fuel – but I already had devised a cunning plan.
Nev and his bike - sans fuel!
Our camp stove ran on white spirit – or camp fuel – which is very much like a regular octane petrol – so I emptied the stove fuel bottle of just 1 lt into the fuel tank, crossed my fingers and hit the starter button. Eureka – my trusty Wee started and got me to Border Village where I fueled up then made a spirited dash back where Nev was waiting. Siphoned fuel from my Wee into his and then we both headed into Boarder Village where we both filled up. From there we headed to the mining town of Noresman where we intended to shop for the supplies for our evening meal.
We arrived in Noresman around 2 pm to find everything – the total town, even the police station – closed. It was the towns annual race day! Bugger. So we pressed on – without any food for that night to Salmon Gums.
In all that day we covered around 850 km. Arriving at Salmon Gums we were initially disappointed with the Camp Grounds being , like almost all of WA and SA, just more sand and dust – but the people there made the difference. On arrival we were advised by the curator that camp fee’s worked on a honesty system – he gave us a plain envelope for the camp fee’s – just $5 each – with the instructions to leave it in the honesty box.
Salmon Gums Camp - and more gravity pegs.
We were wondering what we would do for our evening meal when the same person then told us they were having a BBQ at the camp ground to fund camp ground improvements – cost $5 each for all you could eat – steak, beef sausages, lamb chops, salads the works – our dinner problem was solved. With a quick round trip to the local pub, we contributed a slab of beer to the BBQ vittles.
March 7: Salmon Gums to Wave Rock: An uneventful run, though we did pass a large number of salt pans – reminded us that Australia is predominantly a desert country with most arable land (and population) on the East coast and we were well well West.
We were not intending to stay at Wave Rock but when we arrived there, while waiting to pay our National Park entrance fee we overheard someone being told about the features of the Wave Rock Camp Ground – that included a swimming pool. We were sold – earlier intentions of pushing on to Heyden were immediately abandoned and we stayed at Wave Rock – the pool was great.
Nev the explorer
Sunset at Wave Rock
March 8: Wave Rock to Albany. Noticed that our tyres, which were new on both our bikes when we set off were now well squared with some concern that they may not last the distance of the return trip to Melbourne.
We wondered if the 1,000 Km plus push across the Nullarbor Plain with strong headwinds and highly abrasive road surfaces had something to do with the tyre wear?
March 9 – 11: Three days spent swanning around at the AGM at Albany. Albany, the second major port for Western Australia, was originally a busy whaling station but it is now focused on exporting the produce of the WA mining industry.
Camp site at the AGM - our little bit of paradise, quiet and close to all facilities.
Albany also seems to be the WA equivalent to Florida USA – I reckon 9 out of 10 of the residents are retirees! The whaling station – that ceased operation over 30 years ago - was a big disappointment as was the so called nearby Valley of the Giants – seen much bigger trees in the forests of Victoria. Still both are known as Tourist Attractions – so maybe we should have known better.
Remember the guy who “wandered” into our camp site when we were camped on the Nullarbor? Well we saw him again in Albany. When we spoke to him he had no idea who we were. Bloody short memory span – wonder what he was smoking!
March 12: Albany to Esperance: An uneventful start to our return run home. Found a nice camp ground near the beach, pitched our tents then headed off to the showers. On our return we found that 2 elderly blokes in the biggest 4 wheel drive you could imagine had made camp – in the smallest tent you could imagine – just near us. No problems but when we start-up up our bikes to ride into town for dinner one of them, from within the tent, gives us a mouthful of abuse for “causin all that air pollution!”.
Next morning when we were leaving to head off to Eucla – just after sunrise- we again copped the same abuse, again from within the same tiny tent, for the same reason. Funny that – it reminded us take extra care to ensure the motors on our bikes were well warmed up before we rode off. We could still hear shouts of “bloody pollution” drifting in the air as we finally headed off with our motors well and truly warmed up – it’s the little things in life that make you laugh the hardest.
March 13: Esperance to Eucla: Another uneventful run with an almost bush camp site at the very remote and wild Eucla Camp Ground. Fantastic cloudless night sky.
March 14: Eucla to Ceduna: Camped at the Ceduna Airport Caravan Park as it advertised that it had a pool. And the owner pointed out some green grass where we could camp – the rest of the place was barren, wind swept dust.
A little patch of green in a sea of sand and dust.
Well the pool was covered with floating dead insects and as we went to plunge into it we saw that there were dead lizards on the bottom – at that point we decided to give the pool a big miss. In the morning we woke to find our bikes our tents and ourselves covered in very very persistent flies and it was only then that we realised why we were able to camp on green grass – we were camped in the middle of the effluent runoff area from the caravan parks septic toilet system. We could not get out of there fast enough!
Ceduna locals bike.
March 15: Ceduna to Clare:
No fuel here....
The things you see when least expected!
Got to Clare and headed for the Clare Caravan Park where we had such a pleasant camp on our way to WA, looking forward to a great site and a pool. First up we were told all the “nice grass” sites were being rested and we were offered – yet another sand site. Well we protested and complained and we finally allowed to use a nice grassed site.
Back at Clare on grass.
Up with the tents then off to the pool – only to find it was closed because of some malfunction – Shit!. Back into regular gear then we headed to the pub for a great meal. Back at camp around 8 pm and into the tents.
March 16: Clare to Stawell: Up at sunrise and a quick camp breakfast then hit the road. Set the GPS for the shortest run but to also avoid major roads – we ended up travelling over some of the best bike roads we ever had experienced – and that was even before we were out of South Australia but once we joined Dukes Highway at Murray Bridge then it was the main highway all the way home, via our last overnight at Stawel where for the first time we did not camp but pampered ourselves by staying in a Motel and having a smashing pub meal.
First (only) wash of the trip.
March 17: Stawell to Melbourne. Another early start, straight down the highway, with a minor diversion into the Great Western wine region for some final day wine purchases then on to Backus Marsh for lunch at the bakery and finally on to Melbourne and Home.
The Route Over
Day 1: Melbourne - Halls Gap
Day 2: Halls Gap - Clare
Day 3: Clare - Ceduna
Day 4: Ceduna - Nullarbor Bush Camp
Day 5: Nullarbor Bush Camp - Salmon Gums
Day 6: Salmon Gums - Wave Rock
Day 7: Wave Rock - Albany
My Trip Log
What I Carried
What we rode:
Nev’s Bike: A 2007 Suzuki Vstrom 650 cc with ABS brakes DL650AK7 – Bridgestone Trailwing tyres, Givi V460 top box, Givi touring screen, Oxford heated Grips, Suzuki centre stand, Scottoiler chain oiler, soft throw over panniers, Soft pillion bag, Tom Tom GPS, Custom LED running lights, Suzuki SV650 lowering irons, Hyperlight brake light. BlueAnt interphone Bluetooth intercom fitted to helmet.
My Bike: A 2009 Suzuki Vstrom 650 cc with ABS brakes DL650AK9 – Metzler Tourance EXP tyres, Givi V460 top box with aux brake lights, Givi touring screen, Madstad windscreen brackets, Oxford heated Grips, Afrika centre stand, SW-Motech Crash Bars and Bash Plate, Givi panniers, Andy Strap A4 Pillion bag complete with underbag, Scottoiler chain oiler, Stiebel Air Horn, HID Headlight conversion, VAPOR auxiliary speedo, Garmin Nuvi 760 GPS, custom LED running lights, 2x12V aux power sockets, Hyperlight brake light. BlueAnt interphone Bluetooth intercom fitted to helmet