View Full Version : Thommo's Long ride to Darwin April 2007

03-02-2008, 10:49 AM
The big day had arrived, Monday 23rd of April, This was the day that I was heading off to Darwin on Eddie, my FJR. Things were off to a bad start, I had intended to leave by 6am and ride to Winton to meet up with fellow riders, but I didn't leave until just after 6:30am ( The bad start was just an extension of the bad lead up to the trip). I headed off into Rocky to fill the main tank up and head for Emerald, the plan being, stop at Emerald, fuel both tanks up and head straight thru to Winton, no stops. That was the plan, as with most plans, they never seem to go to plan. After fueling both tanks up at Emerald, It was time to make miles and head for Winton. About an hour out of Emerald, I turned the aux. tank tap on and kept that black thing on the right handle bar twisted, which was all good until after I passed thru a small town called Alfa when I looked down at the fuel guage and noticed it was dropping at it's normal rate, somthing was amiss. The aux. tank wasn't feeding into the main tank.
So, I decided that stopping and finding out what was wrong was the order for the day. Fuel tap turned on... check. Fuel in the tank... check. Fuel line connected to the main tank.... check. Ummm... Fuel going thru the fuel filter... no check. Fuel was there alright but not flowing, a bit of wriggling and tapping and in general a bit of swearing and cursing and still no success. Did I mentioned that I had only fitted the aux. tank a few days before, and that it had never had fuel in it or even tested to make sure things were going to work for the trip? Well, I just did. ( the prototype worked just fine in simulated tests) Usually when I make somthing it works spot on first time round, so confident that I am in that regards. I thought I had made, at that point in time standing by the road, a fatal mistake thinking I can make somthing that works first time round.. Where had I made that mistake and why? These thoughts and many calculations were worked around in my head whilst heading for Barcaldine for the now compulsuary fuel stop, I made it after been on reserve for only 15km, a splash and dash there and off to Winton, As I arrived in Winton mid afternoon, i looked down at the Gps for a look see at the stats for the day and they were: 881Km @ avg spd. 111Km/Hr. Not too shabby.
I pulled up outside the Northern Gregory hotel and decided that the first thing that need to be done as a get a drink, as it was defiantly beer o clock time. Halfway across the room to the bar, this voice yells out out "Hey Thommo", I figured they had to be calling me so it was "Yo" as I turned around. Turns out it is a fella from rocky. With drink in hand i wander over to say g'day and have a chat and the first thing he says to me is, "you don't muck around do you?, rum and coke straight up". Hey, Thats me. He tells me that he recognised the bike from various pics on the net. After a few drinks, I decided that it be best that I move the bike round back before I get too pissed, roll the swag out and find out what why the hell the aux. fuel tank wasn't doing it's job.
To access the fuel lines under the tank, it's a simple matter of removing one of the panniers and pulling the fuel line out to see the fuel filters etc. Well i could see fuel in both filters, and then just after I moved the lines, bloody fuel started flowing thru! A bloody airlock, well didn't I say a few words at that, and then went back to the bar for another drink to calm my shattered nerves! The rest of the night was spent meeting up with the various people who were doing the ride. Next morning I was up early before sunrise packing the bike and having breakfast. I had enough food and cooking gear on the bike to last the whole trip.. almost.... I was carrying all that stuff as I was on a tight budget. Some legal issues in the fortnight leading up to the trip very kindly took the entire budget set aside for the trip. I left home with 350 bucks cash and $1932.40 in the bank, with bills to be taken out of the account and pay day not until friday, the same day we were to arrive in Darwin.
The Dayís run only had us going to MT Isa, a place that I have been to once or twice, and it was only roughly 470km for the day, a very easy run. A few stops here and there on the way. A stop at the Blue Heeler Hotel and than a bit further up the road for the stop at McKinly, the pub that resides there is a rather famous, most people have heard of it. Itís called Walkabout Creek Hotel. From there to Cloncurry was pretty easy and nothing to worite home about, espeaillly those city slicker who donít appreaciate the outback or even begin to understand it, which suits me just fine, as those lovely little spots that are simply georgous remain unpolluted, perhaps one day Iíll take the odd close friend to some of these spots.
A short stop at Cloncurry and a yack to some of the early riders coming thru, and then onto Mt Isa. After setting up camp in the caravan park just after lunch, I proceded to wander around the town for a bit, just to see what had changed and what hadnít. Lots hadnít changed one little bit. Brought some KFC for dinner and wandered up to the lookout and took some sunset shots before heading back to camp and a few rums from the tankbag with another tourist before hitting the sack latish that night.
The next morning I was up well before sunup and after I had breaky and finished loading the bike back up, I headed back up to the lookout point to take a few sunrise shots. I took a few quick shots and then headed for Cammoweal, the last place before crossing into the Northern Terroritory and also a quick fuel stop to top the main tank up, the last fuel stop i was going to make until hitting Tennant creek. The last time I had went to Cammoweal, the road from Mt Isa to Cammoweal was an absolute nightmare of a road, and I was pleasantly suprised to find that the whole road had been done up and it was like a superslab just begging for double ton speeds. I passed one bike on this leg, a blue cruiser and a woman riding it. A quick fuel up in Cammoweal and then onto the obligortory photo stop at the border only a few km further on. The Cammoweal to Barkly Homestead leg is a 270 odd km stretch with no fuel availble in between, for some, they had to carry extra fuel, for me, no problems even on the stock fuel tank. Along this leg are a number of rest areas that are actually water bores, and as i rode past the first one, i saw 2 bike parked in there, so apon chucking a u turn, i find that these 2 BMW riders had a smal fire going and all, they were having a breakfast/smoko. The 2 gentleman were quite nice chaps, they offered me breaky and all, tho i politely declined, (made a mental note to do the same shoudl the tables be the reverse.) I could feel the call of the road beckoning, whispering to me, I had to keep moving.
At the next bore/rest area i felt the need to do somthing that i do almost reglisouly on every trip i take out west, and that is to pull up along the road and go for a walk. I take my jacket and such off and leave it all on the bike and go for a little walk only about 20 ro 30 yards into the scrub, and just absorb the atmosphere, the peacefullness, leaves rustling in the wind, and depending on where i am at the time some of the rugged beutness of the country side as well as reflect on the history of the area, what some of the very first explorers went thru. Tis a moment of reflection before continueing on my way.

Obligatory stop at Longreach


About halfway between Longreach and Winton


Heading towards Kynuna



Blue Heeler Hotel at Kynuna


Walkabout creek hotel at McKinlay



looking towards the mine from the lookout in Mt Isa





I got some nice shots up there whilst having kfc.

Breaking camp the next morning.


03-02-2008, 10:54 AM
Rolled on into Barkly Homestead and parked under what shade I could find there and just happen to look down at the clock on the dash and thought at this rate Iíll be in Tennant Creek before lunch. WELL before lunch. An enforced stop here was now the order of they day. After Buying some hideously expensive trinkets at the servo/shop/bloody everything and yet nothing building, I found a nice shady bench which, after evicting the local ants made for a good spot for a cuppa (amazing what you can pack on a bike!!) and then a nanny nap.
I awoke to to the sweet noise of a couple of bmwís slowing down, soon followed by another couple of bikes. After having a yack to them and seeing them off I figured it was about time to get moving again when a few more bikes turned up, so some more yacking!! Once back on the road again, I soon settled back into bike and the kilometres rolled on by awfully quick, by the time I got to the turnoff at Three Ways and turned south for the roughly 20km run to Tennant Creek I had caught and passed all but 1 bike. Since I was in Tennant Creek early, I just wandered around the town and had a look see, just on the northern side of town there an abandon telegraph station among other things. Some interesting history in the area. I was going to go for a quick blat down the road to the Devils Marbles, but someone mentioning rum coupled with the very cheap price that the chickybab at the motel offered me put an end to thatÖ
What was left of the day was spent yacking, drinking and watching bikes roll on in. Some people had never done more than a day trip in their lives and some were really showing it. Most tho had this glint in their eyes that said it all. In the course of the afternoon yacking you meet some odd people and on of these was an fjr owner, he had a couple of interesting things on the bike, small but interesting nevertheless, but the thing that blew me away was that he was cleaning the bike, every nook and cranny, going around with a rag and a bottle with some sort of stuff in it. I asked him why and he said that he had to have a clean bike, couldnít leave it dirty. Ah fer fecks sake, your on a road trip, leave it till yer get home.
The next morning it was up before sunup, a couple of riders the prevous night had said they wanted an early start but were worried about the night life, so I volunteered to run them thru that, bastards tho, I couldnít get them to much quicker then 85ish. Wasnít impressed with those bloody bmw riders!
The first fuel stop for the day (only for those barvarianÖ) was at Elliot, not much to say about the place. From Elliot it was onto Daly Waters and the little pub there for a midmorning snack Ďní yack. More fuel for those bmwís. From there we hurled arse until Mataranka, about an hour south of Katherine for fuel and a drink at the pub.
Davo finally puts in an appearance huffing and puffing and telling tall stories about giving another bloke his spare fuel and then running out himself. Methinks he just ran out of fuel, he has been known to do that once or twice J. He had just run from Barkly Homestead, and the prvious day had rode from his place at the sunshine coast thru to Barkly Homestead in one hit, piece of piss for him!!!!
He had been really moving along that morning catching up to me, the orginal timetables that had been put up werenít really been followed at all, and with my early start had put some distance on him. He had been asking about me all morning, most didnít know who I was but whenever he described the bike that was enough!

We arrived in Katherine somtime in the afternoon and chucked gear into our rooms and then settled in at the bar and other places yacking and having the odd drink. It was here that I had prearranged to meet with a lady and her partner to let them have a look at the bike, they were interested in buying an fjr and had posted up on an fjr board only a few wks prior. Perfect timing! They now have 2 fjrís, his and hers!!!!

Sunrise at the lookout in Mt Isa


Halfway to Cammoweal


Signs say it all!!




2 NICE bmw riders




But i gotta have a clean bike


north of Renner Springs




03-02-2008, 01:18 PM
nice write up, intresting how ya plumbed in another fuel tank too.

03-02-2008, 03:16 PM
Plumbing an aux. tank on a carby bike is easy, just tee into the fuel line. On a fuel injected bike the easiest way is to drill a hole in the main tank with a christmas tree bit (uni bit) and put in a bulkhead fitting. Wack some dry break connecters in the fuel line for easy removal of the tanks and job done!.

03-02-2008, 03:36 PM
yeah, i think ill stick to just carring a fuel container around, which i generally dont do because i havnt found one that doesnt leak yet. just have to keep in mind i have about 200km range at worst

03-02-2008, 05:25 PM
The next morning was a fairly steady affair, as there was only 300 odd km to Darwin, and the organisers wanted us to all arrive there in a large group for the final shin dig into Darwin itself. Rusjel and is Co came down from Darwin and it was good to finally meet the bugger. From Katherine we wandered up to pine creek and had a look around killing time. Rus and I rode up to the lookout overlooking the old mine that was once there. Interesting spot. From there we meandered our way to Adelaide River and killed even more time. I spent the time wandering around yacking to the various people who had made the journey so far.
Once we arrived at the outskirts of Darwin we all assembled for the parade type thing into town and to someplace to officially end the Long Ride. Group riding. Yay. Not. I manage to make sure I was at the very back of the pack and made sure no bastard was going to try and run into me.
After that was all done Rus, Davo and myself than went to Russís place, as we were staying there for the few days we would be in Darwin. Twas a nice steady night with Russ and his lovely wife. The next day they took us around the local sites and in general, we amused ourselves, checking the local wildlife out among other things.
Saturday night was the big dinner at the yacht club, it was good night, various things were auction off for the RFDS, a few drinks were consumed, only lightly tho, cos we were ridin!! Hahaha.
After the bash, Rus and I swapped bikes, him riding the road train and me on his Tiger. I had never ridden a Tiger before and I was very impressed with it, nimble and quick! Being used to jap 4ís, singles and cruiser twins, I found the triple to be very revvy, nothing wrong with that tho. The next morning, Jeltje, Russís wife took us out to Fogg dam, and at that time of the year it was absolutely beautiful!
The rest of the day was spent wandering around siteseeing and enjoying things, the top end is a place that I would quite happily go to again and even live there.
At Midnight that night, Russ and I escorted Davo outa town, we simply had enough of the bastard!! J There was no other choice but to run him outa town J He was making a run towards Port Augusta. After we saw him off, Russ, again on my bike took me for a midnight ride around someplaces in the Darwin area, I have no idea where we went, you would have to ask him that, but it was a fun 2 hrs or so of riding! A little weird chasing my bike thoÖ He sure did take to the FJR like glue!
Finally got back to his house for another few hrs kip, before packing and saying my goodbyes and leaving town myself just after 8am heading for Three Ways. I wanted to see Cutta Cutta Caves, and apon arriving there I found out that I had missed the first tour by less than 5 mins, and no amount of cajouling would convince that fella there to let me play catch up with the tour. The next tour wasnít going to be until 2pm some 3hrs away, which I didnít fancy sitting around for, so the next time Iím up that way, Iíll just have to drop in again and take a bigger stick to convince the guideÖ

Daly Waters was again a stopping point for a snack and drink before trundling down to the Three Ways for the night, arrving there just before 5pm and some 900odd km for the day. Whilst having a feed and a drink I met a gent on a Moto Guzzi Le mans v11, and it turned out he was from Bundaberg. Small world! He was heading back to home, and after hearing my plans for the next day wanted to tag along, which was fine by me as long as he kept up!! Which he sure did.
We left Three Ways at sunup, which time zones and all that jazz was pretty darn late! The timestamps on my photos tells me sunrise was around the 7am qld time. A quick fuel stop for the Guzzi at Barkly homestead and than onto Cammoweal for another splash and dash and onto Cloncurry, where we stopped for fuel again as well as pit stop at the local bakery! We blasted outa Cloncurry and stopped again at Kynuna for the Guzzi tank again before running into Winton and a short stop there for the guzzi again, as he wasnít sure if he would make it all the way to longreach. True to his word he was in and out in a flash, by this time I was really admiring him, nice sounding zorst, everything else was stock, no sheepskin or anything!
It was at this time that I fully understood by what he meant by ĎLongreach, make or breakí, he was using a very dark tinted visor and had no clear visorsÖ
As we headed out of Winton, I knew that the darkness would beat us, it was just a matter of how far we would get before the sun did go down. We got to within 40km before the daylight faded and the pace really dropped down to a crawl, he later said all he could see was my lights and he followed my every line exactly, knowing that he wouldnít hit anything that way. When we finally hit Longreach, the gps told me we had an overall avg of 114km/hr for the day and over 1200km, which I didnít think was to shabby at all considering!
I had intended on running the final 700odd km straight thru to home, but seeing that tuff bastard in my mirrors all day, I decided to hang around in Longreach and have a drink with him. We ended up getting rooms at different places for the night really cheap and agreed to meet at the Quantas museum carpark the next morning at 7 sharp.

By 7:05 the next morning we were on our way towards Rockhampton, for me, pretty much home, but for him, he had another few hrs before getting to Bundy. We made Emerald fairly early and after that we keep things pretty steady to avoid mr plod, arriving at a little takeaway shop in Gracemere, a couple of kís away from Rocky, where we had lunch and then went our separate ways, me, the final few km to home and he, another 3 hrs to Bundy. By the time he got home he would have done 3 1000km days back to back.

Some Stranger I met in Katherine


Rusjel and his borrowed wing at the Pine Crk lookout


The three stooges, again at Pine Crk


Many will know this man, Tex and Bundy


Plum tuckerd out!! At Adelaide River, Nice guy to talk to and nice DR


A little waterway near Russís house


Sunset a few meters up the footpath




Sunset on the beachfront Darwin yacht club




03-02-2008, 05:50 PM
Sunrise Fogg Dam


Some more of Fogg Dam




Katherine on the way home


Daly Waters and some chaps I know


The road



A chap from South Oz


I woz been shadowedÖ.


More road on the way to Three Ways


Sunrise heading towards Barkly homestead, mins after leaving Three Ways


Roadtrains at Barklyhomestead, taken while waiting for the guzzi to fuel up.


Heading towards Cammoweal again


Back at the border again, I couldnít stomach taking a pic of the 110 sign


The sunset heading from Winton to Longreach. One may notice I donít stop often when taking pics


Heading to Rocky, I was been followedÖ.


04-02-2008, 04:32 PM
Ohhhh boy...just finished the 3. part....the 2. time around.
Talk about addiction :thumbs::thumbs:
This is exceptional stuff....and your pics are prime material !!! :clap::clap::glu:glu
Lurking talents indeed !!

Many thanx for sharing this !!!
Would it be ok if I edit in the relevant links to the subsequent parts, so the various parts are strung together?

04-02-2008, 09:31 PM
Once I had arrived home, things werenít over yet, in a few days time I would be at Moree, for the FarRide, the budget was still holding up and so far I had more money than I thought I would have, so it was with that, that I did some washing, went into town and did a few things there, and that night repacked the bike in preparation for a short hour ride to mates place the next morning. I spent the day with him mucking around and having a few drinks that night when I got a phone call to say a friend had come back from overseas, would I be able to rock up for the weekend. Well I couldnít, but I could spend the Friday doing so, and with that sorted, early Friday morning it was on the road again, this time heading back out west to Emerald and then north to Clermont before than turning west for a little while. I was west of Blair Athol, a coal mine.
I managed a short nanny nap during the afternoon, and not long after a nice roast dinner, I than departed once more, hitting Clermont not long after 8 30pm. From Clermont, it was on to Emerald, and along the way I scored 2 rabbits, poor fellas, they didnít stand a chance playing chicken with me! After fueling up at Emerald, I head for Banana, thru Springsure and Rolleston, there was a bit of traffic on the road and the wildlife had picked up in the last few days, so I set a fairly sedate pace, watching a semi clean up a mob of small pigs, very messy and it wasnít easy trying to pick a way thru the mess without finding something to run over. I ended up getting to Banana just after 2 30am and decided that a nap was in order. It was a bit chilly here, so leaving my leather jacket on, I leaned up against the nice warm zorsts and engine area, things were nice and toasty!
Waiting up a while late I haded off for Miles, my next fuel stop, and from there it was a nice easy straight run thru Goondiwindi and onto Moree and in the end, arriving a little early. No big deal!
After the luncheon and having a gas bag with the various rider who had turned up, it was point the bike back towards home, I was now on the final leg of this trip, stopping to fuel up in Goondiwindi and than I decided to head straight for home, Davo had offered his place, which makes for a nice trip going that way, many options for some nice roads, but, after nearly 2 wks on the road I felt it was time to head home.
I got to Miles without incident, had a snack and also fuelled up, that way I wouldnít need fuel before getting to home. Left Miles just on sundown, and proceeded to rattle the last 450odd km to home a a quick rate. Things were all good, so I thought.
About 25km north of Miles, now fully dark, things really did go bloody dark, the bike simply cut out on me, lights and all, not a nice thing when your allegedly over the speed limit!!! By the time I got the thougt into me head of What Thaa?? It came back to life again, I swear that it that bike was chain drive, the chain slap would been a cracker!!! So what caused this, side sstand not up properly? Nope, as I started flicking thru things it did it again! Ok, this isnít good, by the time I came to a stop it had cut out and back in again. Umm.. somthings loose there somewhere, after about 20 mins wriggling things and swearing away quite happily and finding nothing amiss, I got moving again, after about 5 km, Wammo, again we go. UmmÖ this time it wouldnít start. Umm.. now Iím in deeeeeep doo-doo. This thing is a maze of electronics, Iíd rather have this happen on my 600, at leas I can jury rig that bastard to run. After checking more thing including battery terminals, it started again, and whilst it was idling just fine, I thought about my next move, would it get back to Miles without me having to walk a lot, SFA mobile reception here too.
Whilst scratching my head rather intensely, I became away for exactly where I was, if my memory was correct less that 2km up the road was a quarry looking spot that I had remember seeing a donga/caravan looking thing that obviously served as a crib hut when main roads or the like were there. I figured I could make that, even if I had to push the sucker, at least myself and the bike would be off the road, outa sight, outa mind type deal.
So I set off in 2nd gear just idling along and the damn thing didnít miss a beat and just over a km up the road sure enough it was right where I thought it would be, got the bike around the other side of the donga and it even had a bit of a lean too, AND a little spot for the fire!! Bloody hell, home away from home. Inspecting my surroundings, I found I couldnít break into the damn donga, so I set up camp beside it, lit me very small fire and put the kettle on (I have a trianga). I didnít really need the fire and after walking back out to the road, the donga was iin such a good spot, no-one woud know I was there, providing I kept things nice and small.
After a cuppa and some noodles for dinner I set about having another look at the bike, but in the dark, I couldnít find a thing.
After getting my nice axe outa the tank bag and making sure things were secured on the bike, I made sure the fire was well and truly put out and then crawled into my swag securing it also, no-one was going to sneak up on me thatís for sure!
My last deed for the night was to finish of the last of me rum in my little hip flask!
Needless to say I slept rather well until just before sunup, a bloody wallaby frighten crap outa me when I stuck me head up and outa the swag, prick was having a gander around me swag.
Packed up camp and had another cuppa, things were looking a bit grim in the cuppa department, I was now outa sugar, still some coffee and even a tea bag left, but no sugar.
After this, I turned my attention back to the now in disgrace FJR. After a good hr of tinkering around prodding and jabbing and checking things with a mulitmeter, I still could find nothing wrong. The damn thing was idling fine, so I reckoned I would chance it and keep heading north, and bugger me dead, it didnít miss a beat all the way home. I even got cocky and made a few short detours off the main road to cheack out a few areas that make for good camp spots!
I finally arrived home just after lunch, after neally 2 wks on the road and many thousands of km.
12 days and just over 10,000km and I still had 400 bucks to my name!!!

It turned out that the wiring loom going down the headstem was to tight and there was a crack wire there, the vibrations must have been just right and it was then killing the bike. Now well and truly fixed!!

Sunrise between Taroom and Wandoan




Some bikes at the Moree FarRide


Awwww a cute cuddly teddy bear


Sundown at Miles


The next day just north of Taroom at the Chain Lagoons (dry by the way)


Umm, another table for me to camp apon (Chain Lagoons)


Isla Gorge Nat Park lookout. Iíve camped here a few times and the views that can be found are rather nice methinks.


And there is only 1.5km of dirt to get to the look out!!!!


This mudflap was square before I left for Darwin


What remained of me UHF ariel, on the wayhome, just before the Cammoweal border, there were a flock of massive eagles on the road, and no matter how much they flapped, they still didnít seem to make much height. The guzzi rider later reckoned that it looked like I had clipped 3 of them. I sure did feel their presence!!! It wasnít until later that day that I saw just how close.


13-02-2008, 09:41 PM
The Metz Z6C rear after the trip:


13-02-2008, 10:32 PM
a good write up, your rear tire looks huge... you have a habbit of parking on the road a lot :-)

14-02-2008, 07:39 AM
... you have a habbit of parking on the road a lot :-)
M<ate...that's their equivalent to our Safeway-carpark down here :poke::bs

14-02-2008, 09:40 AM
heh yeah i remember reading peoples stories out that way, camping on the side of the road and still not seeing a car...