View Full Version : The Great FNQ Loop

28-11-2006, 01:20 PM
As a teenager growing up on the Mid North Coast of NSW riding everyday of the week everywhere that I could and some places that I was not supposed to, I always wanted to go on a big trip up north. The trip was to include as many National Parks as we could, and all the pubs that werenít to far out of our way as well as a few touristy attractions. Sadly this dream was lost because of other priorities. I even spent 15 years with no Bike. Now as a bloke in the prime of my life, (my wife said it was a midlife crisis!), I rescued this dream. I spoke to a long time friend about our teenage habits he also spoke about our dream to go north. It was unanimous. We set a date for departure 15th Oct 06. My mate Norm had also been off bikes for 20 years, because of a very nasty spill. His last words in this conversation were ďDonít you go without me you BuggerĒ.


Morning of the 15th Oct. My mate arrived from Coffs Harbour the day before knowing that this would be the last chance for a few days for a decent Brekky my wife cooked up a good feed of bacon & eggs. With that down the hatch we couldnít wait to leave. Excitement for the trip had built up and matured over 20 years.

We went out inspected our mounts one last time. My bike a 97 model DR 650 Norms a 2005 model KLR 650 purchased new within the last month just for this trip. I had to have a chuckle to myself some things just never change. This mate has been riding or driving machinery newer than mine for most of my life. Always one better than me (or so he reckons), this will be a test to see who is supreme.


Our first leg is the shortest possible route from South Kolan to Theodore some 400 kms away with a few stops. We set out at a casual trot. I planned the trip so I knew what was around the corner so to speak. The first stop was a lookout at Mt Perry (elevation 735m) with access only by bike or Shanks pony. Straight up for about 2km with Mitre drains, with lots of loose gravel. Norm would know what he is in for straightaway.


This is the view of the mountain where the lookout is. That is what we were about to climb. This is big for Bundy area


Morning tea break on top of Mt Walsh, near Mt Perry. This gave Norm a chance to brag to family members (by phone) about the lookout and bloody rough track to get there.

Next stop Monto mostly good, single bitumen road unfenced dry dusty and hot. We stopped right at the pub. I could see from here we might take a month to complete this trip if we are going to stop at every town and pub. I could taste the beer from ten miles out. Speaking to the Bartender usual question ďWhere you boys from?Ē We explained, he went on to say how he just returned from a bike trip to WA. ULLYSES Club banners everywhere. It seems like everyone has a bike now.
Last leg for the day 135kms mostly dirt but bloody good fun. I took pity on Norm eating all my dust all day so I invited him up front to ride next to me on the gravel when the road got a bit dodgy one of us would drop back to make room.


We would have covered 60kms like this open country mostly straight dirt road with dips and grids unfenced.


First day out using GPS Only took one wrong turn. Map magnification was off or user malfunction you work it out. I realised my error after a short time and backtracked.

Arrived at Theodore Hotel just on Happy hour couldnít have timed it better if I tried. Bartender informs us that this is the only pub in Theodore and it is owned by the Theodore Shire Council. There is one for the books!!!!

We didnít linger overly long, left to set up camp and throw a line in the water to catch a Barramundi for a barby dinner. We both brought our own rod and tackle. Theodore is supposed to have great Barra. Camping is free with free showers for any 24 hour period. The Barra was all Elusive I caught a snag twice, Norm caught a turtle the size of a hubcap. We had to settle for noodles that night.


Camping at Theodore



The leg today is to MT Moffat section of Carnarvon Gorge. First stop Isla Gorge NP, All highway bitumen.


Isla Gorge NP can basically all be seen from the car park. There isnít any walking tracks. No water very little shade, and amenities very stale. Theodore was a much better choice for a stopover. We arrived in Taroom about 9.30 am for a late brekky we had been hooking in cruising on 130 rounding up the roadtrains. It was a buzz!! Iíve never overtaken a road train before. I had heard a lot of ugly stories about roadtrains over the years.


The trip from here to Injune was lining up to be quite an adventure it is the shortest route but the worst road so bad that all traffic bypasses this section and travels an extra 100kms to go around, the straight through leg is 170kms of dirt sand and bulldust no towns or homes visible from the road. The only life we saw on this despicable stretch of road was the Dept of Main Roads supposedly upgrading the road with grader rollers and water truck. About 1km from where they were in the area they had just graded the road, it was as bad as any other stretch of the leg. Norm had a couple of near misses in big rutted sanddrifts. It shook him up a little. I was having a ball. I havenít had this much fun since I popped my first wheely down the main street of my hometown at seventeen. I surprised a couple of slow to move emus that were standing in the middle of the road just around a bend in the road.


We arrived in Injune right on lunchtime. We parked our numb sore arses on a stool and asked for a couple of Qldís coldest. It was gonna take a lot to get us to move before rehydration was going to be at an acceptable limit. It was really good to sit on something that didnít vibrate. After consulting with the local expert (the barmaid), on the gorge we decided to give Mt Moffat a miss. Apparently this time of year it is not a place to go to by choice because of heat dust and wind. We were unsure of the distance in and out to Mt Moffat, it is estimated at 150kms each way, and that didnít leave much room for error, especially where fuel was concerned. We were also told the distance was further than 150. Whatever, we save a day here that we can use later on to relax at a pub or next to a pool.

So we headed for Mitchell our stop for the night. After all the dust and heat our eyes were quite sore. Norm chose the pub this time and lady luck smiled down there was a couple of nice young German backpackers acting as barmaids, they didnít speak very good English not that that matters, it was great to watch them work though.

Spoke to some locals who informed us of a free campground by the weir with showers. We had a few more beers, a seafood platter and set off to make camp.



Late start only 180kms to do today all Highway to Charleville, make camp book a nigh-time viewing at the Cosmos Centre Observatory. Look around Charleville, it is a town of many pubs I cant remember all of them. What is a vivid memory of Charleville is the butchers shop of dead Kangaroos that are squashed all over the road for 100kms, the smell was horrendous. Hunters vehicles driving into town with scores of specimens hanging on a rack on the truck after a successful night on the hunt.

OBSERVATORY visit highly recommended but the best time of year for this is winter-time because of clearer night skies.



Early start 520kms to do today. We refuelled and we put Charleville in our mirrors.
We decided to go for broke and knock most of this over before lunch to escape the heat. The road was flat and straight everyone drives at 140kmh so we match it. There for a while I thought Norm was going to finally spit the dummy because he was always bringing up the rear. A brief look in my mirror showed him travelling so close behind me he was practically riding shotgun. He pulled out to overtake got beside me then the KLR died in the arse, so he would pull in again gather some speed pull out to overtake then suffer the same result all over again. It was such a crack up to watch. Later on that day he told me the only way he could stick with me was to slipstream me and that apparently is what he was doing. On reflection I think it had a lot to do with that bloody great parachute he had on called his luggage. The day was a great ride basically breaking the speed limit from the time we got up in the morning until Longreach.


Longreach was a 2 day stay. My turn to choose the Pub not many to choose from in town as a sure sign of the drought and hard times there is only a few compared to richer times. In richer times I am told there was 40 pubs here, now only 4 are left. We stayed upstairs at the good old Royal. Oh she was rough, but it had aircon and cold beer and a lot of character. By now you can be sure my wife has just realised that my holiday was just another name for a glorified Pub Crawl. Everything had been going so well till now. I have done my absolute best to promote this sport to my wife over the years. I even bought her a bike so she could come with me. She has not made it out of the yard yet though. On her Maiden voyage she was doing blockies around our home (and impressing me with her skill too I might add) all of a sudden our garage jumped out in front of her. It was nasty she broke her hand. That was the end of that.


Longreach main street. View from hotel upstairs room.


The next morning we go to the Stockmans Hall of Fame (above). Highly Recommended.

We also visit the Qantas Museum. They have a Boeing 747 to walk through, awesome bit of gear. Iíve got a nice pick of a 747 doing the biggest roost you ever saw. Highly recommended.


Qantas Museum Centrepiece


Roadtrains parked at Longreach.


Early start 750kms to do today, destination Volcanic NP at Mt Surprise. Guaranteed to be a flat road very few corners lots of dirt, gravel, potholes, wheel tracks, dips not to mention hot dusty unfenced and desolate. I was looking forward to it. The beauty about staying in the pub was that our swag was already packed the night before, so we could leave early. We hit the road at around 7am kept a steady pace and kept a sharp eye out for skippies. A car eventually caught up to us, we let it overtake then followed it at a safe distance. Eventually we were on our own though as we turned to go to Muttaburra. Refuel in Muttaburra, the next leg is 200 kms of forgotten country and it was not hard to see why. Just outside of Muttaburra my clutch cable sheared through on the engine casing end, not a problem while I am moving, But a real hassle when I stop to take a picture which was often. Imagine the scene: Really bloody hot completely flat ground, no shade wearing, all my Santa Claus gear pushing and riding my bike loaded with at least 25 kilos extra weight and stacked high at that; like a scooter sweat pouring out of me, or was it beer? Anyway then engaging first only to have the dam thing stall and have to repeat the process a number of times, all this on a regular basis to take photos



We rode into Hughendon about 10.30 am, refuelled went to the bike shop. Alas very helpful,l but no cable. Closest cable was Charters Towers 250kms away for $60. I noticed he also repaired lawn mowers so I asked if he had any small copper sleeves with a grub screw set up in the side of them he said, ďYes actually, I did not think of one of those!Ē It cost me a dollar, worked like a charm and is still on my bike now.
Next stop Porcupine Gorge NP. Again Guaranteed to be a flat road very few corners lots of dirt, gravel, potholes, wheeltracks, dips not to mention hot dusty unfenced and desolate. This time however it is 300kms to oasis Roadhouse.


Porcupine Gorge NP. Now this was nice but would be gorgeous after a good rain. From here it would be150kms before we saw water again. Just past this point we rounded up a new Falcon on the dirt crawling along at about 40kms, we both went past doing 120kmh. He would not have seen us catch him but would have sure as hell seen us leave him in our dust. I would not be in a cage if you paid me.


We arrived at the Oasis Roadhouse (above) around 3pm scoffed down a late lunch had a beer of course. We watched on in interest as the local inspector (the bird) looked over our machines


The Inspector. I think we were just lucky that he was called away on unexpected business.

The last leg was 130kms and we were pleased to see some hills ,trees and most of all bends. My mates KLR had not missed a beat although it shouldnít being new. I think he was getting rather tired of eating my dust struggling to keep up and using more fuel than me. He was always bragging about the trip to everyone at home, but at the same time he was sick of the flat country the heat and dust. He was itching to see Atherton we were both tired it had been a long day. We will be at Undarra NP for 2 nights and have a rest and a few beers. We made camp.


Undarra NP, this is a great place to relax


Walking track entrance to Lava tubes.


View from inside a lava tube and looking out.

We had a great time doing the tourist thing here. I highly recommend it. Campsites are cheap, great amenities, meal prices are a bit steep. I urge everyone to take the drive to the Mt Surprise Cafť, great food, cheap prices.

Norm thought he had worked it all out that his air cleaner was clogged from always coming a close second. He painstakingly cleaned it with borrowed bucket and fresh fuel. The trip to Mt Surprise was going to be a quick one. No parachute this time. Overall it made no difference he was still out classed. The GPS clocked us at 160kmh I reckon it lied though. My speedo said 170kmh. Mind you I was ringing its neck with standard gearing.


Mt Surprise Cafť


View from Kilkani Crater Lookout. Savannah Country.


Sunrise at Undarra. NP


Destination Barren Gorge NP, 350kms via the waterfall circuit and anything else that looks good.


Mungali Falls, definitely worth a look


Millaa Millaa Falls, definitely worth a look.


At Millaa Millaa Falls.

We were on this circuit at this waterfall when my partner decides that he has seen enough and been away from home for long enough his Family had driven all the way from Coffs Harbour NSW to share his Holiday. I guess he should not have bragged so much. Anyway we parted company on great terms. We have had a blast together and will remember the trip always.

At the next waterfall no more than an hour after he leaves the DR spits a joining link. At first it did not phase me, until I realised the spare is with my friend, it is a Sunday, shops are shut. I am 16kms from town. It is 50kms from nearest bike shop. So I ask you what do you do?? I set up camp in a farmers paddock near the waterfall. Tomorrow is a new day, shops are open. I will just get a lift into town, buy a link plus a spare. No problem.


Day 9

Bike fixed. Get organised to leave Destination Mossman 200kms try to pick up where I left off. Stop over at Lake Eacham. Riding here is an absolute picture lotís of hills, twisties and greenery. It was a welcome contrast to the drought stricken outback.


Windmill farm, Ravenshoe


While at Lake Eacham the weather came over cloudy and wet. I got a wet arse even before I could get my gear on. Called off the rest of the waterfall tour headed straight to Mossman via Mareeba.


Swamplands north of Mareeba

Arrived in Mossman made camp did the laundry thing it had been a while I was getting a bit Feral. Cooked dinner no more disasters. The withdrawals of not having someone travelling with me was a bit daunting. I had gotten used to stopping for a beer and having a chat with someone I know (Norm). Anyway I am still determined to carry on and finish the trip. So I decided to hit the sack early get a fresh start tomorrow.

DAY 10

Destination Lions Den Hotel via the Daintree and Creb Track.160kms Creb track is 4WD territory only creek crossings, dirt roads, extreme twisties on extreme gradients. First stop is a Daintree river Cruise. Departs 10.30am returns 1pm. I hope to see some crocodiles. Highly recommended.


Daintree River Jungle.


Boat ramp of departure for River Cruise


Daintree jungle

After the river cruise it was time to cross the river by barge and explore the Daintree at length. I was now quite conscious of a breakdown out here with no partner to help out so I took it rather gentler than normal plus there was a lot of scenery to soak up. I also did not have anyone to stay in front of. I took quite a lot of pics these are just some. I hope you like.


Mouth of the Daintree River


Cape Tribulation NP


This creek was one which I had to ride through


The Bloomfield River


The Notorious Bloomfield River crossing now has an all weather concrete causeway.
Not so long ago this was without a causeway and a highlight of the trip.


Bloomfield River Falls

At one point negotiating the steep single lane road I came across the Dept of Main Roads grading, rolling and watering. The road was incredibly slippery and steep. A 4WD would have dug trenches up the hills in it effort to climb the hills. It is definitely not for the faint hearted. It was a great ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I made it to the Historic Lions Den Hotel at about 3.30pm. Walking through the front door you walk back in time at least 100 years. The first thing that strikes you as out of place is the 60 inch TV sitting in the front bar on the Fox sports channel. The beer was great, the mosquitoes were enormous you could put a saddle on them. However I was still feeling a bit lost without my drinking partner. I looked around and could not find a substitute, the place was empty so I mounted up and headed south towards Cairns via Mt Malloy. The time was 4.30pm when I left not the best time of day to be mixing it with the fauna. By 8pm I was throwing down a cold one at a tavern in Cairns swapping stories with my brother. The day ended well.

Day 11

Packed my swag mounted up and headed south destination Airlie Beach. Stopping in Cardwell, then Castle Hill, Townsville, 700kms. First things first I had to get a new rear tyre fitted, the rear one was a tad bald and would not make the trip home. It was brand new 11 days ago! Go figure.

The day was progressing nicely I was making good time so I stopped for brekky at Maccas. As I pulled out on to the road I did so right behind the dam cops. Talk about cramp your style. He was cruising on 90 waiting for a victim. I chose it not be me so I followed for at least 30kms. He was really getting me down so I took the next right. I didnít care where it took me. I was having a break. I found a really nice NP hideaway the waterfall track was closed but I managed to get a couple of nice pics.


NP north of Townsville, name not known


Unknown NP

Arrived in Townsville and made my way to Castle Hill Lookout it is an amazing view.


View of Magnetic Island from Castle Hill

I was getting a bit dry by 2pm so I stopped at Ayr in a great new pub under new management everything was cheap and their was lots of it so I stayed longer than I should have. I still had quite a way to go good news is my bum was not sore anymore. It was beyond feeling anything except numbness. It made it damn uncomfortable to ride though. It felt like your stomach was sitting on the seat not your arse.


View taken from Bowen

Arrived in Airlie Beach at 4pm made camp.


Camped at the Big 4, Airlie Beach Great place


Great Pool


I had an early night lots to see tomorrow. One day to rest before the big leg home.


Airlie Beach Mariner


Chute Harbour Mariner


Day 13

It would be a great place to visit with more time. Next time I definitely think a cruise is in order. Maybe a fishing trip to the reef. I went out for a meal and a beer or two at the Airlie Beach Tavern. I need another early night. The two weeks have been draining not far to go now.

Day 14

I am away and looking forward to seeing my family I have tried to stay in contact as best I can but mobile net is a bit slack for coverage in a lot of places. I will need a new phone for the next trip. My hopeful destination is South Kolan it is 800kms it will be the biggest day yet but worth it. The day was going well apart from the usual of crouching down to lessen the wind impact, the sore right hand, cruise control would be great. Countless other complaints but what is the point in counting it has been a great Trek. There has been no major breakdowns or unscheduled dismounts.

Ok we have made it to Rocky but at a price it seems the back end bearings are a bit sad. One of those things that didnít get replaced before I left they looked fine but the bad roads have slowly but surely done them in. So if I donít use the rear brakes unless there is an emergency that will have to do. The day was dragging on I wanted to get the bike home safely. Having to shave 40kmh of the top speed (120 down to 80) would mean I will have to camp over and finish in the morning. Well that canít be helped I made camp at Calliope about 3hrs from home. By now the back wheel had 1 good centimetre of movement. I really hoped I was going to make it. I donít want to even entertain the thought of a rescue this close to home.

Day 15

Left early 6am. Held a steady pace of 80kmh all the way to Gin Gin stopped for a last inspection. Rang my wife told her to put the kettle on. I arrived home at 9.30am.That feeling of driving in to your home after a long trip is priceless. The sense of pride in the vehicle that did it is also paramount even if it was in need of some work.

It has been nearly a month now the bike is ready to go again and every time I walk into the garage I feel it calling to me. The boss tells me I can go again next year but only for one week. I will have to work on her as well, a bit more than I had to the bike.

I found this site by accident surfing ebay looking for parts. I asked a question to Nigel King about his DR parts anyway it is a long story.

THANKYOU NIGEL. Hopefully I can team up with some Fellow Suicide Jockies from all sorts of places and enjoy some safety in numbers. :chug:

28-11-2006, 01:38 PM
Outstanding :chug:

Great report, great photos!

Man a lot of that country is so familiar, I travese the same areas quite often, but you have given me some good ideas for new destinations.

Tops :D


28-11-2006, 01:47 PM
Cooool!!! Thanks for that.

JJ adds a decent capacity chook chaser to his growing list of "must haves"
sigh.. so little money, so many bikes I want........

Hey Poiter, you reckon knobbies and long travel suspenders will fit onto the GS :?: :?:

28-11-2006, 03:16 PM
Thanks for your help on the info to help this review work. It must get easier with a little practice. Just like ridin a bike! Leon I hear you are a fellow Bourbon drinker ,That is another thing to talk about when we meet. I will look forward to meeting you guys one day. :chug:

28-11-2006, 04:25 PM
Outstanding :chug:

Great report, great photos!

Man a lot of that country is so familiar, I travese the same areas quite often, but you have given me some good ideas for new destinations.

Tops :D



Thanks for a great report.

I did a lot of that country in a 4WD about 20 years ago. Time I did it again on 2 wheels.
Thanks again :clap: :clap:

28-11-2006, 04:55 PM
Cooool!!! Thanks for that.

Hey Poiter, you reckon knobbies and long travel suspenders will fit onto the GS :?: :?:

I know of a complete KLX300 frontend waiting for a bike... :lol:
USD forks/triples/brake incl. master cyl./ 21 front wheel....complete ...

At least the legs are beefier than what's left of the originals after watching Gromit smoking the crap outta that GS last Saturday.... :wink: :rofl: :rofl:

28-11-2006, 05:02 PM
What a story...and the pics....prime stuff :D
Fantastic trip by the looks of it...THANKS for sharing.

Oiii, Leon :lol: :P :P (whisper) someone's been raising the bar ! :P :P :P

You guys are making life tough....if it wouldn't be for all the other already- planned rides , FNQ would be on the board NOW! :twisted:

28-11-2006, 05:06 PM
Greetings fellow DR650 owner... Great report !!! :chug:
Note to self: Tour QLD dickhead !!!!!!