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July 10th, 2011, 02:39 PM   #1
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Mental Anarchist's Avatar
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On March 1st 2011 my Brother set out from Hong Kong on a 125 day 10 Country 10 Charity Adventure Ride to Brisbane. The trip had been n the planning for 2 years and at time of departure had raised more than USD200,000 for the charities. A film crew would be following along at different stages to capturer footage for a TV series to be aired in 2012.

All my adult life I had wanted to 4WD or ride through the extensive Australian Outback and Desert. Here was my chance.

I set about researching a suitable bike and equipment for the trip and decided on a KTM 690 Enduro R. A mint condition second hand bike was quickly found and purchased.

12296:Bike Stock.jpg]

After a couple of 400km rides I had a list of bits that I was going to bolt on. After lots of research and a plan to purchase from o/s taking advantage of the strong Aussie dollar I stumbled across an Australian Website. Discussions with Steve put together a package of everything I need at a price that made supporting Aussie worthwhile. All the bits were bolted on and the bike was serviced and ready to go on a truck up to Darwin.

12297:Bike with gear.jpg] 12298:Loaded up ready to go.jpg]

Accessories list:

Safari Tank – 14 litres

B&B Bash Plate

B&B luggage rack

Pivot Pegz

Foam Airfilter

Giant Loop – Great Basin Bag

Giant Loop – Fandango Tank Bag

Liquid Containment 8 litre Fuel Bags x 3 (for both bikes)

Dunlop D606 Rear and Standard Continental TKC Front

TwoNav Sportiva GPS

Power Socket

Assorted Camping Gear inc. cooking and clothing

Due to delays with shipping brothers bike from Timor Leste to Darwin and then a very prolonged period of 7 days to get container of boat, unpacked and thru customs we rolled out of Darwin exactly 2weeks late. Unfortunately this meant we were unable to do the top end of the trip, which included Kakadu and Arnhem Land by bike, but we were still able to enjoy all of Kakadu and Litchfield by 4wd. This is a special part of Australia and I implore all Aussies to visit this part of Australia.

The Outback

12316:The Outback.jpg]

Rock Pools like this are plentiful but a lot have crocs

12299:Gunlon Pools.jpg]

Natural Horizon Pool

12300:Gumlong Swim.jpg]

This is where we had our bath...sensational

12301:Florence Bath.jpg]

Monster Girls at Darwin V8 Supercar Race

12302:Monster Girls.jpg]

Catching up time….

If anyone has ridden 390km late afternoon / evening slept in a tiny bed and then ridden 1100km from 8am thru to 10.30pm in the evening with a temperature of zero degrees Celsius on a stock KTM 690R seat would know what the first 2 days were like as we blasted from Darwin to Alice Springs along the Stuart Hwy at 120 – 130km/h. Just to paint the picture – motocross gloves, motocross helmet and goggles and a headlight that is about as good as holding out a cigarette lighter. I was cold, no frozen and mentally fatigued by trying to spot and avoid wildlife trying to commit suicide in front of me.

The Devils Marbles near Tennant Creek

12317evils Marbles.jpg]

Time caught up … let the fun begin!

A new Dunlop D606 was mounted up first thing in the morning ready for the run from Alice Springs to Finke. Now I must admit that I rarely ventured onto the actual race track (a fully laden bike set up for adventuring does not a finke race bike make) but I had enough of a go to know that making it 240km from Alice to Finke in under 2 hours on that track requires great skill and even more madness. I calculated more than 30km of whoops in the final 40km. The road/track beside the racetrack can be challenge enough 3 weeks after race weekend and there was plenty of soft sand and ruts to contend with making the ride a highlight.

The Road to Finke for sane people

12303:Road to Finke.jpg]

The Racetrack to Finke for the insane

12304:Finke Race track.jpg]

The Finish Line - Day 1...Now do it in reverse nutters!

12305:Finke Finish.jpg]

We cruised thru the town of Finke and pushed on to Lamberts Centre, the geographical centre of Australia after being told on 3 separate occasions that “you don’t camp in Finke”. Lamberts centre is 20km west of Finke and accessed first by dirt road and then a 13km tight and sandy corrugated 4wd track. As was to be the theme of the trip by time we got to this track darkness had fallen. As was to be experienced the next morning as we left it was a great track and we carved it up but at night with KTM’s crappy headlight the soft sand and 4wd tracks proved to be quite a challenge but worth the effort to enjoy the company of a wonderful extended family around their campfire for several hours that evening.

The next day after having a blast carving up the 13km track we headed west for 350km on dirt roads before turning north for another 60km up to Curtain Springs. The roads were often heavily corrugated with plenty of bull dust and we found that about 95 – 105km/h was the best speed to smooth it out and keep the bike straight…ish thru the dust.

12307:Bike on Dirt Road 2.jpg]

The next few days were spent around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) with the film crew in tow capturing all the footage that they needed for the Australian episode. Uluru and the Kata Tjuta need to be seen in person to believe their scale and impact on the landscape.

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

12308:Kata Tjuta.jpg]

12309:Kata Tjuta close.jpg]

Uluru (Ayers Rock)


We left the Uluru area at about midday for the run back to Alice Springs. Midday proved to be far too late as we made our way along Ernest Giles Rd looking for the Bogey Hole track which we were to cut up to get to Hermannsburg and then on to Alice. Now on the Hema map the Bogey Hole track (98km) says experienced 4wd. This should be no problem for 2 guys on heavily laden adventure bikes…right? Well 7 hours later and well after dark (there’s that theme again) we rolled into Hermannsburg to find the servo was closed and we were going to be camping stealth in the scrub about 3km out of this Aboriginal Community for the night until the servo opened the next day.

The Bogey Hole track follows the Finke River through Finke Gorge National park for about 70km of the 98 km track. When I say follows it I mean it runs along the creek bed and crosses backwards and forwards many times. Creek beds are often filled with rocks and soft sand. The Finke River has massive amounts of both. Throw in some 10 or so water crossings and you have on a 450 Enduro bike in daylight probably a grade 3 or 4 ride. In the dark on adventure bikes carrying a good 30 – 50kg of equip it is a grade 20+ ride! We both fell many times and I must say we did some silly things considering how remote we were. The silliest was heading into a 50m wide water crossing in the dark with no idea how deep it was. It proved to be deep enough for the front wheel to completely disappear. Luckily we both made it through because drowned bikes out there would have been catastrophic. I could go on but I am sure you can imagine what 7 hours to do 98km looks like and the physical, emotional and mental drain that it is. All I can say is, “it was EPIC”.

In the morning we fueled up, had a feed and rode the 126km into Alice to shower and make repairs to my brothers GS800. Repairs done we fueled up again and headed for the Plenty Hwy. We made the 340km to Jervios after dark and camped the night. After the start of the Plenty Hwy it is all dirt and except for corrugations is pretty good road. What was the big threat was the wildlife. There were huge numbers of cows, kangaroos and pigs so as dusk turned to night we were on edge once again and there were just too many close calls to count.

The dirt road from Jervios to Boulia (478km) is pretty good and we blasted along at about 105-110km/h. The KTM made this distance on the standard and safari tanks (26 litres combined) and didn’t need to touch the 8 litres of Ultimate I had in the fuel bag. That was the Plenty Hwy done and we were now in Queensland, which meant a beer was definitely in order and as was often the case all the food options were closed so a meat pie was dinner AGAIN!

12306:Bike on Dirt Road.jpg]

Another day and another 380km of riding as we made the run down to the Birdsville Pub for a beer. We were getting close to the end of the dirt and I was equally happy and sad.

12311:Birdsville Pub.jpg]

I had virtually no knobs left on the Dunlop 606 and by the time we hit Charleville after 842km (290km dirt) the next day I was running on the rubber between the knobs. Surprisingly I made it all the way to Brisbane on that tyre and as you can see it is stuffed. But after about 4000km of high speed dirt, corrugations and bitumen I must say I was bloody impressed with its performance. I was talking to the bike shop guy in Charleville and he said he had a bunch of them ready for the guys doing the APC Rally so it is not just me who thinks they are a good dirt focused adventure tyre.

Stuffed Dunlop D606

12314unlop 606.jpg]

From Charleville we rode via Roma, Toowoomba and on to Mount Nebo where we met up with about 20 friends on dirt bikes who escorted us into Brisbane and the Regatta Pub for a well-deserved beer. Was awesome to be reunited with the wife and my 3 young kids.

My Boys

12312:Boys on Bike.jpg]

The ride was awesome and as is always the case will get more awesome as time passes and the pain of 6000+km on a dirt bike seat fade into the distance. Australia is a vast and beautiful landscape. It should be part of your bucket list to do on a bike or a 4wd. As the case was for me, if you don’t just bite the bullet and set a date and commit to it life will pass and so will the opportunity. You don’t need to be super fit or extremely talented you just need to have the adventure in your heart. Would I have enjoyed it more if I had the kids and wife with me? Yes. Will I take them back one day? Absolutely.

What I learned that I can pass on:

- You don’t need a GPS because signage is excellent.

- Having a Satellite Phone gives you an element of comfort and confidence that can’t be valued enough in the remote ness of the Australian Outback/Desert.

- Plan your trip then add a few days so you can stop and enjoy stuff you didn’t know existed.

- Carry as little as you can but carry enough that you are safe.

- KTM 690 Enduro R is a bloody awesome bike and can do anything that you throw it at.

- Having a bike that can handle the toughest stuff with easy is a worthwhile compromise for the small discomfort that it has on the long easy stuff.

- When on corrugated bull dust strewn roads, pin it wide open and don’t worry about the bike being loose underneath you.

- In soft sections with deep wheel tracks look as far down the road as possible and you will keep it straight and in the tracks. Look only a few metres in front and you WON’T!

- A hotel room, a shower and a restaurant after along days ride is SOOOOO much better then a tent with a thin hiking mattress, a wet-one and dehydrated ration pack!

- Giant Loop Luggage rocks!

The 2009 KTM 690 R:

This is a great bike with heaps of power and great handling. I had no mechanical issues at all over the 6000+km’s. The bike was faultless except for these 2 issues:

The stock pipe has melted the plastics badly.

The stock headlight is woefully inadequate for night riding off road or at high speed.

The smell of burning plastic

12315:Melted Plastics.jpg]

Hope you enjoyed my trip report and I hope you get the chance to do something similar soon.
Attached Thumbnails
Mental's Adventure Ride-bike-stock.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-bike-gear.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-loaded-up-ready-go.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-gunlon-pools.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-gumlong-swim.jpg  

Mental's Adventure Ride-florence-bath.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-monster-girls.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-road-finke.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-finke-race-track.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-finke-finish.jpg  

Mental's Adventure Ride-bike-dirt-road.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-bike-dirt-road-2.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-kata-tjuta.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-kata-tjuta-close.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-uluru.jpg  

Mental's Adventure Ride-birdsville-pub.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-boys-bike.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-dunlop-606.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-melted-plastics.jpg   Mental's Adventure Ride-outback.jpg  

Mental's Adventure Ride-devils-marbles.jpg  
Mental Anarchist is offline  
July 10th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #2
Joined: Mar 2011
From: Atlanta Ga.

Posts: 222

Sounds like a blast. Get thee some Clearwater Krista's (HPLED's) and your headlight woes will be over!
BHarvey is offline  
July 10th, 2011, 04:17 PM   #3
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Really jealous, not only of your journey, but that you live on a giant island with only 20M people. Do me a fave, give me dual citizenship, and then don't let anyone else in.
mylexicon is offline  
July 10th, 2011, 05:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by mylexicon View Post
Really jealous, not only of your journey, but that you live on a giant island with only 20M people. Do me a fave, give me dual citizenship, and then don't let anyone else in.

Its getting crowded these days as there is nearly 23 million!

The Northern Territory is just awesome. It is like the other capital cities were 20 years ago. There are less rules on what you can't do. Speed limits are 130km/h. It is full of European backpackers! You can drive for hours and not pass another vehicle and the landscape is largely untouched and spectacular.
Mental Anarchist is offline  
July 10th, 2011, 05:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BHarvey View Post
Sounds like a blast. Get thee some Clearwater Krista's (HPLED's) and your headlight woes will be over!

Thanks for the tip.
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July 11th, 2011, 04:15 AM   #6
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Great report MA....your country is on my bucket list.
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July 11th, 2011, 04:37 AM   #7
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Great stuff mate. Im truly jealous because id love to do something like that. Kudo's.
chopperman is offline  
July 11th, 2011, 09:23 AM   #8
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Dude, excellent write up. Those pictures are stunning! The color and natural beauty. What a fantastic adventure Mental. And nice shot of the ladies too.
Jumkie is offline  
July 11th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #9
Joined: Apr 2011

Posts: 372

That is a awesum trip well done and thanks for sharing.......I'm jealous have to get my family to Kakado one day soon.

Man so your brother heads out from Honkers what a trip he has done.

Yep I agree 23million is crowded !
FTE217 is offline  
July 12th, 2011, 02:19 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jumkie View Post
Dude, excellent write up. Those pictures are stunning! The color and natural beauty. What a fantastic adventure Mental. And nice shot of the ladies too.

When I got the shot with the monster girls I was thinking...this one is for Jumkie!
Mental Anarchist is offline  

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