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Thread: 10.2009 Australia II (from Center to West-Coast)

  1. #1
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    Sep 2004

    10.2009 Australia II (from Center to West-Coast)

    And so the famous Australian (red-) center arrived with Alice Springs.

    And the weather got hotter...

    The more into the center of Australia you get the more aboriginals you see:

    Alice Springs offers loads of museums and stuff, didn't have time to visit them all but at least saw some:

    In Australia the national heros are the Flying Doctors who have to operate on the vast land. With little roads in the bush the only way is to fly to bring medical help to remote places. In Alice Springs there was a museum for Flying Doctors and their equipment:

    180hp boxer engine - might even fit to GS?

    Our GS front headlights decided to stop working then, exactly as we needed to have the roadworthiness test done to get the comoulsory insurance for the Northern Territory of Australia. I tried my best to find the fault in some +30 C weather by stripping the bike and trying to check all the cabling as I myself was sweating all over. Without a tester I didn't find anything and then decided to bring it to a motorcycle workshop where they had an electrician. Ironically, it turned out to be a worn switch, but we paid (sic!) 300AUD to the workshop to find it.

    But not only the bike, also our riding gear was proving to have become completely worn. Not so long ago we had discovered that Kariina's helmet had some bit missing so she couldn't open it anymore, has to use it as a regular helmet:

    Mine's completely stiff, has rought movements in visor and lid.

    The "socks" we use under the helmet (to extend helmet's lifetime considerably):

    CE-protectors in our riding gear:

    Thankfully there's always the space-tape:

    My riding gloves:

    Boots are about to "explode":

    My jacket's front zipper doesn't work anymore - just so worn that rips itself loose. So I only can fix it with knobs I have. Hopefully I can get it sorted in Asia where loads of affordable sewing workshops are around (most of clothing is made in Asia anyway).

    We don't want to buy new gear, since it costs a fortune to get a good one and the more money we spend for the (in Australia mostly: expensive) riding gear stuff, the less World we see.

    But all the problems didn't come in the way of our overall positive mood as we celebrated the first year of our marriage with (alcohol free) ginger beer and bought some green stuff and fruits which we usually avoid since they're just outrageously expensive in Australia. But hey, this time we bought some since it was an important day:

    Then the obvious came - big rocks in the Central Australia (click to enlarge panoramas):


    In "front" of Uluru.

    Uluru in detail. If you have good enough eyes you can see people climbing there (after you've clicked it to enlarge of course).

    Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) from the distance.

    Kata Tjuta in detail.

    Mount Conner - higher than Uluru.

    After getting permits from aboriginal institutions of both states - Western Australia and Northern Territory our Great Central Road adventure started. The Great Central Roads starts straight from Kata Tjuta and is a 1130 kilometers long dirt road with the only sealed part being an airplane landing strip (approx 1 km long) - for the same beforementioned Flying Doctors:

    Great Central contains loads of sandy parts in the beginning:

    Click to enlarge panoramas:

    Later it become just good loose gravel and also some "forests" appeared - something we didin't see much in the eastern parts:

    One interesting thing about Australian dirt roads is the amount of crashed and/or abandoned cars. It's just beyond imagination how many of them there are. We counted over 50 cars aside the Great Central Road:

    We stayed in a campground next to a roadhouse where they had funny signs everywhere about unleaded fuel:

    Next day the weather got worse and worse... (click to enarge panorama)

    In the morning we got some sun to take a couple of pics.

    Click to enalrge pics/panoramas:

    A pig melon - a wildly growing melon.

    Till it started to rain...

    Things really started to get worse since the road almost became unridable:

    It hadn't rained since February there, and it was November, but EXACTLY the day we were there, it started to rain...


    While surviving allright some couple of hundred kilometers in those conditions, in the very last 5 miles, before the tarmac started...


    It was in around 60-80km/h crash, reminded a lot of highside since the front just got taken into the soft muddy ground while through my dirtroad riding reflexes instead of braking I rolled the throttle on to make front light, but the shitty Tourance having ZERO traction in mud, rather than making the front light, just slipped and made the rear to come sideways. With front penetrated into soft ground = highside! So yes, it's even possible in muddy dirt.

    And any highside does A LOT of damage on the bike and yourself!!!

    We both were kicked off the bike of course, I landed some 3 meters away, Kariina flew over the windscreen (braking it).

    While laying on the muddy ground, I called for Kariina and asked if she's allright. Fortunately Kariina seemed more or less fine.

    I had a sore shoulder and knee, but managed to get up, limp to the bike and try to get it up (oh shete - then I really screamed with sharp pain in my shoulder), but managed to lift the bike up with the help from Kariina.

    Dented tank.

    Broken windscreen.

    Ripped off mirror - thankfully didn't damage the front break master cylinder.

    And broken rear subframe.

    Those were the first results on inspecting the bike. Surprising was that Verns aluboxes weren't touched at all - just scratches!

    With a broken bike and souls we limped to the next town Laverton and tried to get some rest in the campground. Not eaten for a complete day, being completely muddy, in the pouring rain we set up the tent and tried our best to get inside w/o dirtying everything around ourselves in the tent...

    Next day, both in pain (probably just the physical shocks etc) started to ride (read: limp) to Kalgoorlie, since there weren't many workshops in Laverton to get some primary repairs done. Also the gearbox had started to make LOUD whining noise while riding (fer fox sakes why now!).

    Things weren't going good at all.

    We got to Kalgoorlie and I went to a Yamaha shop asking if I could work in their workshop to repair my bike myself since we have nowhere enough money to pay for Australian labor that is priced at ripoff heights (around 100 AUD per hour, hard lesson learned from our broken headlights case). Yamaha's answer was NO.

    But thankfully there was a guy named Lance in the shop who heard our talk with the shop manager. And when I was on the way out of their shop (thinking "what the feck I'll do now...") he was already there waiting for me and said: "Mate, I have a backyard and tools available, if you want to repair your bike, you can do it in my place". Lance - God sent guy really! Exactly when I thought we are in a deep shit we actually had a promising solution to our technical problems.

    So we pitched our tent in his backyard and I started to work on the bike with some help from Kariina to strip it down.

    It ended up being 3 days of busy work for me:

    Broken subframe ment this (hours of work to get it off):

    Thankfully Lance had a mate he could borrow a welding set from and he also could weld. I prepared the subframe for him, and just in case I also made reinforcement kits:

    And let Lance to weld it:

    Result isn't beauty but does the job.

    And in one evening Lance came home and prepped us a barbie:

    Mmm... tasted bloody good! We haven't eaten proper meat since ages being budget travellers it's been can-food fest all the time so far.

    Whining gearbox ment this:

    Half of a bike that still stands on it's own.

    I opened the gearbox up and started to search for the cause of the noise:

    Didn't find anything wrong in the front so I had to completely rip the shafts off from the box:

    Shifting mechanism seemed to be intact.

    And soon the BINGO! moment came:

    It was a bloody "Made in Japan" (on a German bike!) bearing at the end of the input shaft that was moving like someone had put gravel into the bearing. Certainly too early failure for a GS at 101 000 miles.

    And then a deeeeeep depression came into me - where the hell do I get a new bearing from? Contact BMW in Melbourne, have it shipped? Could take a lot of time. If they don't have it in stock it'll take ages to get new bearings from Europe.

    Lance reckoned I should call couple of bearing shops in Kalgoorlie, since it's a mining town and they have very well equipped bearing shops. I got the phonebook and the first company I called and explained my problem answered:

    "We are sorry, it is Saturday and our shop is closed". The guy said: "What bike are you riding by the way?" BMW I replied. And there was an instant change of mood in him "Oh cool, it's not a Japanese bike!". For a moment I thought he's some mind-reader knowing about my dissapointment in Japanese product quality. He continued: "I really want to help you then. Where are you? I'll start my car, pick you up and bring you to my bearing shop - I should have that bearing in stock."

    All I got to say was WOW. Our luck really had changed in Kalgoorlie meeting such good people.

    Otis, the bearing guy who came to pick me up, turned out to be a Triumph fanatic, having 3 of them in the garage. The day he was born he was delivered home on a Triumph rear seat, so no wonder why he's a fan of British bikes.

    He brought us to his bearing shop where he really did have the bearing I needed and also he had dozens of bearing pullers that helped to get the old one off:

    Turns out they were exacly the same bearings BMW sells. But like all other automotive manufacturers BMW asks 3 times the price of the original bit - just put into OEM bag. I paid around 30$ for the 2 bearings, from BMW they were quoted well over $100. Otis said it's pretty common on different manufacturers, including Japanese themselves.

    Giving big thanks to Otis I could start putting the gearbox back together with new bearings on the both input shaft's ends:

    After loads of work with the heat gun and $$$-costing seal glue I put the gearbox back together:

    Put the bike together:

    And went to testride it to around Kalgoorlie since we needed aluminium welding to repair the windscreen mount and we got one:

    Yeeehaa, gearbox whine dissapeared and gearbox didn't blow up after the test ride. So looks like my first ever gearbox repair went successfully!

    Later we spent a good night out with Lance and his mates in the outback near Kalgoorlie:

    Next day Lance gave me some sheet aluminium so I could repair my windscreen:

    From a bike shop I bought a cheap plastic handlebar-mirror to replace the original mirror and most of the problems were sorted!

    All thanks to Lance. He really is our hero. He's a kart-racer himself with loads of trophies at home:

    Not only he's a racing champion but also a hosting champion! Lance:

    The day we were supposed to leave we thought we should see around Kalgoorlie, the city we found so much luck from.

    Being a mining city there's obviously loads of mines around and everyting else that's related to it. I.e. the World's biggest truck tires that cost $20 000 each, those seemed to be worn tho:

    The same trucks carry excessive loads in the Super Pit mine, the biggest mine in Australia:

    A shovel from $10 000 000 costing 3714-horsepower bulldozer:

    One shovel-full is 60 tons.

    A panorama of the Super Pit (click to enlarge):

    And funnily, we saw a llama in Kalgoorlie, familiar to us from South-America:

    We were on the way to South-Ocean coast from there on. Road to Esperance had some nice nature around it.

    Burnt forests.

    Dried lakes (click to enlarge panoramas):

    And other sorts of flora and fauna:

    Till we've finally got through the central Australia and the ocean greeted us:

    With different animals:

    Esperance had Skylab bits in their museum. It was a 77 tonner US space station that fell down in Australia. So we went for a visit to the museum:

    Museum in the front.

    Skylab bits:

    Titanium sphere to hold fuel for the orbital stability boosters.


    And then the looooong ride from south up to north through West-Coast started...

    There are incredible amount of wineries aside the roads there. Sometimes there's 2 wineris every miles!

    Trees get bigger-stronger as well in the South-Western side of Australia:

    All in all, we Estonians coming from the forest zone really liked it there with the smells of blossoming flowers and fresh air around.

    Forest panorama (click to enlarge):

    And you can listen a recording from the same spot.

    Typical signs.

    Kangaroo protection on cars.

    Cape Leeuwing on the Indian Ocean coast.

    Panoramas (click to enlarge each one and click again in a new window to see 'em in full size then scroll them horizontally):

    Just some random patterns from there:

    A bit further North you can see the Pinnacles, strange formations:

    Panoramas (click to enlarge):

    Not far away from there the colors of the sands got even more interesting - WHITE sands!

    And the Indian oceanside there (Click to enlarge panoramas):

    And there we wild-camped. What a windy night it was, couldn't believe the tent would stand up in those winds, but our Hilleberg tent again proved it's bombproofness.

    Loads of termite nests around (click to enlarge panorama):

    And temperatures got horrific even in the shadow:

    +43C !!! It's just exhausting to ride a motorcycle in that heat and humidity. When you ride you actually overheat in those temperatures. It's like someone is blowing hot air into your body with big massive heat gun. The faster you ride, the worse it gets! Hard to believe? Try it!!!

    We had to close our riding gear vents - while you sweat like hell it's still better, since it's actually cooler to ride when the air doesn't move so much. And we had to ride slower as well.

    In Exmouth peninsula there's the World's most powerful VLF transmitter (click to enlarge the pics):

    And a nice lighthouse.

    Most of the West-Coast Australia is basically a nice (tropical) beach as well:

    (click to enlarge panorama)

    They have tides there, quite powerful. You can actually see water moving away or combing back to the coast with your own eyes.

    Creating nice sceneries to walk around and mangroves where many species have found their home:

    In Broome the white-golden sands switch to red again (click to enlarge the panoramas):

    Creating strange formations on the beaches:

    With dinosaur tracks printed from the past:

    The heat has been just getting unbearable since we got further up north, closer to the equator. Haven't been in the mood to go to see any of the tourist attractions anymore in that heat. One evening in Broome, we just picked up a coconut fallen from the tree and drank/ate it:

    And spent most of the next day just lazying on our mobile sofa:

    But while the heat was unbearable we had to move on. Through Kimberley:

    Till we got to Kakadu National Park where I only took 2 pictures:

    We had come to Kakadu in the wrong time of year. Unbearably hot and nothing to see other than stinking tourists with their vans or 4x4s. So we were off on the way to Darwin - our last destination in Australia.

    One night we had a giant visitor in our tent:

    It's size was bigger than my hand! With the help of some clothes I got him/her outside safely w/o being bitten.

    Some other spiders were around as well:

    And not so long it took before Darwin was under our tires. Actually our tires were so worn that I could see textile already coming out of rear one. Got a new pair of Tourances from the BMW dealer in Broome (did not have enough time to order Heidenau K60 from Melbourne) with reasonable prices and went to get a shop where to replace 'em. Most of the tire shops were busy, I only found Honda shop who could do the job, but to save the money I took the wheels off and put them back myself. Not an easy job in +35C weather!

    Thankfully we met Mick in Darwin who let us stay in his place and do some additional work and maintenance on our bike before we ship it to Asia.

    Paralever bearings were worn, so I had to replace them:

    Did the complete service and the bike is ready to be shipped to East-Timor:

    So now we are bikeless for over a week. Mick has showed us around tropical Darwin meanwhile, which is a lot more fun in an air-conditioned car rather than being soaked-swet on a motorcycle (click to enlarge panoramas):

    Good thing is that in Darwin we received a parcel from Estonia where one guy took pity of us and sent us brand new helmet socks and riding gloves:

    There are some really good people in the World!!! Only thing we can hope is to return a favour (whether to the same or a different person) someday!

    That's it folks. We have a flights to Dili booked for Friday. Sooo, if all goes well the next instalment will be about war-torn East-Timor and Indonesia. If the heat hasn't killed us meanwhile that is.

    Good morning from Ozziland, Margus

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2005
    ever had the feeling you've been cheated
    Way to go Margus. What an experience. Great pics again.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    North Essex, England n frequntly up the creek without a paddle!


    Hey guy's awesome trip, pic's n write up, fantastic, great to here you weren't hurt too much in your spill, and great that you found the 'real people' they're out there, are you a bike mechanic, cause you preformed major surgery there, in difficult conditions n locations, sand n 43 degrees, phew bloody hot n humid, keep up the reports, I for one am hooked (yep I'll buy the book and the DVD) all the best, n safe rest of journey, your fan, Dusan

  4. #4
    Subscriber Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Oct 2006
    exceptional report - you're handy with a spanner! if I'd faced the crash damage you did I couldn't have tackled it myself. Looking forward to next instalment!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2008
    A Field
    Fantastic report as always!

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2002
    officially THE best place to live . . . . Wokingham
    Margus your tours are amazing in their own right but the way you take time to post the pictures, panoramas and videos on this site makes them compelling viewing. Thank you so much!

    Ride safe and happy.



  7. #7
    Subscriber Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    May 2003
    Englefield Green, Surrey.
    Congratulations on the gear box rebuild Margus. I watched the You-Tube video and could see, even at speed, how much work was involved. I've done some repairs on my own RTW (Exploringrtw) but never anything as serious as that. I was pleased to read about the gloves. Gerbing sent me some cost price gloves when mine were stolen in Peru. It makes a lot of difference these things don't they.

    I hope your bike arrives ok.



    Too old to be young, too young to be old


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  8. #8
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    Jun 2006
    wickford essex
    WOW ! what a fantastic adventure its amazing how people just seem to come good at the right time

    heres looking forward to the next instalment
    Dont Bogart that joint my friend, pass it over to me

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    The Exotic East
    As always, a fantastic report.

    For the first time, I could see the attraction of Australia as a destination.

    Then you had to take pictures of the spiders.

    Your pics are so good I really think you shuld write up as a book when your travels pause (I'm sure they'll never stop).

  10. #10
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    Sep 2007
    The Marble City (Kilkenny) ,South East Ireland
    Great report and fantastic pics ...brings back loads of good memories from all my trips down fact, need to go again I think

  11. #11
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    Dec 2004
    Northumberland, England
    Some trip. Well done
    We should learn from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism. [/I]

  12. #12
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    Jan 2008
    haydock england
    What a fantastic trip report, a real adventure !

  13. #13
    David Lee
    Really enjoyed your report, hats off to you for your mechanical skills too.

    Well Done

  14. #14
    Great trip, great pics, and great work done on the motorbike. As u said u reallly ware lucky when find such kind people.
    Congratulations for your Australian trip!

  15. #15
    its a nice adventure... you're surely have a great trip with during those time thanks for sharing it with us... I remember those days in perth beach it was great day but its been a long day now...

  16. #16
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    Oct 2007
    Royston, Hertfordshire
    Truly awesome, excellent detailed report. Look forward to the next post.

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