Gday all.Been a while. I recently completed a 4500 klm round trip to the centre of Australia to attend what is known as the Off Centre Rally.
This event has been running for over 30 years and legend has it that it started when 4 blokes went on a ride together into the great wilderness. One of the blokes had a Sara Lee self saucing pudding which he never got round to consuming. It was decreed that they would reconvene in 2 years time, at which time they would consume said pudding. Of course at that meeting the pudding once again never got eaten. It has now been to every Off Centre rally for the past 2 years, where an auction is run and funds distributed to the Royal Flying Doctor.
An auction is also run to see who will deliver the pudding to the next rally and the winner must promise to take it to the next event. This years event was held at the famous Mungarannie Hotel which is exactly half way between Marree and Birdsville on the Birdsville track. ( part of the rules of the Rally is that is must be held in a remote location, so adding to the adventure of getting there)
Our ride started a few months earlier with a call out to a few friends to see who may be interested in attending this esteemed event. Of course at the time everyone was keen, but as is always the case the numbers dropped off as departure day grew closer. The excuses came flowing thick and fast.......letterboxes needed painting...cats needed shampooing. the missus wont let me etc etc.
In the end it was just myself and my mate Steve who would be on his first big outback trip.
My ride started with a cold ride through the night to Steve's place in Toowoomba, where as is often the case when going on a ride with Steve I was met with Cold beer, Fine wine and a massive steak.
The next morning after a fair bit of faffing around we departed.
At this point I am going to let Steve write the rest and give you his versions of events which may or may be factually correct.
Day one we headed out to some where beyond Cunnamulla. Guy will claim that I faffed around. Stuff I call making us breakfast, washing up, taking out the rubbish.
Quick stop in St George for Coffee and cake like all good Adventurers' should do.
Guy may have run a red light at some point, coz' he's Italian and he don't stop at no stinkin red lights.
Late afternoon pub stop at Cunnamulla for a bottle of bourbon and a beer.
Some fat chick, whose arse looked like two baby walrus's wrestling, in a see-through white bag of a dress, announced. "Hey somebody's bike fell over". But did it really? There are no pics. Meanwhile Baby Walrus's bestie, Loud Drunk Lady, was begging for drinks and offering Guy a bed for the night.
The woman at the bar, heartbroken at Guy's rejection, grabbed me by the hand as I walked to the Gents and made the same offer. I was tempted. But I couldn't let Guy ride off into the fading afternoon sun by himself.
He made me pose for a picture, so he could remember the one that got away.
We stopped at the Eulo Queen Hotel.
The pub is named after Isabel Grey. She owned 3 pubs, a general store, traded opals and ran the gambling back in the town's heyday. Legend has it the name Eulo Queen stuck after she used the term to describe herself to a patron questioning his ejection from one of her establishments.
These days there is one pub left. We met and had a few drinks with Al and Jerry, a couple of BMW Touring Club riders. One on a GS sidecar. The other on a Cross Stitch.......ahem Cross Challenge. They had already decided the light showers may close the roads west to Cameron Corner. They planned to take the long way around via Quilpie and Birdsville.
When we awoke the next day it was still raining. They may have been right.
Day 2 - Eulo to Cameron's Corner 512km
The passing showers predicted by the BOM were showering at 06:00. Guy's precautionary look on the GPS yesterday evening at alternative routes, in case of road closures, was now not seeming so pessimistic. A further look at the weather radar and the sky and we decided to head for the clearer skies 120km west to Thargomindah. Our rough bush camp was broken.
Guy told me to stop faffing. I told him to get fucked. Hate it when that cunt is right.
On the road early and we dodged the showers. We stopped at a remote billabong in Thargomindah.
It was a bit rustic. We are hardcore adventure riders. Guy reckons my eggs benedict is breakfast for poofters. So he threw some of his steak on my plate and told me to man up. Three blokes pulled up on bikes, Pete on a Triumph Tiger 800XC, Steve on a KTM 990 Adventure and Pete's brother Daniel on an XT 660. Not the first group of blokes we'd come across heading to OCR. Going via the same route as us, they would be come our drinking companions the next few nights.
On to Noccundra pub. By this stage I was getting sick of riding bitumen. Surely Thargo is the end of civilisation. Nope. Another 120km of bitumen.
The lanscape was changing. Guy was stunting.
We fuelled up at Noccundra pub and had beer. The lady publican was great. When our new friends arrived she leaned out the side door and announced, "We're out of unleaded. But the mechanic reckons you can put diesel in the Triumph."
She reckons outback pubs are changing to meet the demands of the grey nomads, who roam the lands trying to outrun death and gather in metal herds at night. They don't drink much and rarely have a meal. But they do expect a cappucino in the morning, so an espresso machine was on order. She said she charges extra for gluten free if she suspects the patron is following a fad.
After a couple of beers we headed out of Noccundra onto the dirt. Around the first corner our new friends were stopped behind a couple of local boys running a herd of weaners up the middle of the road. "Fuck yeah, mustering"" I thought to myself. I went round and decided to help these boys move their cattle along just a bit quicker.
And so we were off down the Warry Gate Road. The landscape changed again. Fewer and much smaller trees and the odd featureless horizon.
Right into Narilyco Access Rd which becomes Cameron Corner Rd
"Take more pictures of me, cunt", says Guy.
So, I did.
About 3:30 we roll into Cameron Corner. The point where NSW, SA & QLD meet. There's a pub with some accommodation & camping, the corner marker, a 3 hole par 9 sand golf course and........no and then....that's it. First $100 fuel stop - Rotopax & jerry were filled. The next stop could be more than 500km if Lyndhurst had no fuel. The beers were cold and they had a spare cabin. Fuck our original intentions of a quick beer and then camping further out along the road.
Our new friends rolled in about 20 minutes later and were similarly convinced to stop for the night.
After a couple of beers I went to look at the corner marker. It looks like this.
Pete came over with Steve and Daniel. He had a small jar in his hand and a small action cam. They asked me to film them scatter some Pete and Daniel's Dad's ashes across three state. He had recently passed away and was a motorcyclist and would have loved to have joined his boys on this ride.
The way the wind was blowing I think most of Dad ended up in QLD.
Guy went for a ride around the fenceline.
Whilst stopping for a pee and to take the above pic, Guy says to himself
"What's that on the ground? Faark, it's me wallet."
Lucky find. Bit difficult to get cards replaced out there on a Thursday and the beers were $7 each.
A few other riders rolled in, so we had a decent crowd for the night. Herb from Switzerland, who was rocking a DR in his leather chaps and camo guy. Never got camo guy's name...... because camo.
The bar has money stuck all over the ceiling with tacks. Minimum $5 note wrapped around a 20c piece for weight, then thrown with an upward palm. The money is taken down once a year and donated to the RFDS. Usually about $5k. The lady publican said bikes numbers had been steadily increasing the last few days and Phil at Mungerannie was starting to worry about having enough supplies and especially staff. Rumour was up to 800 were descending upon his little oasis by Saturday.
There is a cattle grate as you leave the Cameron Corner store heading west. "I'mma get some air over that as we leave in the morning. Take pichas cunt", suggested Guy. Up early, but not as early as the bloke on the DR that left about 3:30am, we stayed for a cooked breakfast and headed off. On closer inspection, and taking inspiration from Bike Me!'s resident whupmeister, Guy declared the take off angle too shallow and we continued on to Rieck's Road. 110km and 250 dunes to the Strezlecki Track.
Not much sand on the dunes but some sharp unmarked turns off the crest to catch out the unprepared. Twenty minutes later we came across Pete, Daniel and Steve.
Daniel had a pinch flat on the front of the XT660. Daniel, resident of China, faux factory rider, bike prepared by his brother, Pete. No correct tool to remove the front wheel. We stopped to point and laugh, take pictures. Herb and Camo Guy also arrived and still nobody had the right size hex bit socket. The bolt on Steve's chain breaker fit, but the axle could not be moved. Decision made to repair the tube insitu.
We continued on and left them to their repairs. I stopped on top a a dune. Some cunt was coming fast. Thought it might be Tony Prince on a training run for the Atacama Rally.
At this spot there used to be on old London double decker. Just abandoned and used as a camping spot. But like many things, spoilt by cunts who abused the land and left their rubbish around. So, the station owner got a dozer and buried the bus in that depression.
Similarly dickheads tore up the short cut from Rieck's Rd to the Strezlecki. The owner of Lindon Station now has it pegged as a private road.
Out onto the Strezlecki Track 433km from Cameron Corner. Look how smooth it is. The need to carry extra fuel becoming apparent.
I had time to stop and take pics, Guy was riding so slow. ( edit fuck you slow fuck) Uneventful except for the odd eagle feasting on some road kill. One in particular I could have reached up and grabbed its talon it was so close as I rode by.
I suggested that the 1190 would have easily coped with this road. Guy reckons he would have collected a camel at 200kmh. Best not to be tempted.
We stopped at Montecollina Bore for morning tea. Well not tea. Tennessee coffee. Coffee and Jim Beam Triple Aged Black.
"Get that fuckin' piece of shit outta the way, cunt. I need to roost" By the end of the trip I was starting to think my name was "Cunt".
A quick beer stop in Lyndhurst and we quickly pushed north for Maree; keen to test our actual fuel range. Just in case Mungerannie was out of fuel. Guy rolled into Maree, about 515km from our start, and ran out of fuel as he rolled into the servo. I put 33 litres into my 30 litre tank.
Our night's accommodation was at the Maree pub. Our drinking partners from the previous night eventually rolled in and made camp. We stayed in a room at the pub. Questions were asked about whether our camping gear was riveted to our bikes. I think Guy called them "povvo camping fags". There were a few stragglers from a Victorian Variety club event hanging around the pub. One group had blown a brand new engine on a 70's F250, went back to Lyndhust and bought an old Commodore to complete their trip to Darwin. Another blew up their car and went and bought an ancient petrol Pajero which sounded like it was running on 5 cylinders. Lucky for Daniel there was also a mobile mechanic who used a breaker bar and the right socket to loosen his front axle.
There were a couple of old boys flying around in a plane for the weekend. They could be heard making plans for the next day, Coober Pedy, Longreach or Birdsville were some of the options considered. They were complaining that they were no longer allowed to taxi into town and park next to the pub.
This is one of the mail trucks of "The Original" Tom Kruse, who operated the Birdsville Mail run from 1936 to 1957. The fully restored one is in the National Motor Museum in Braidwood SA. I reckon this is just an old truck of the same model that the locals couldn't be bothered moving.
Saturday - Part 1
On Saturday we only had 205km to run up the Birdsville Track to Mungerannie. After a quick breakfast we decided we'd head up the Oodnadatta Track about 50km to the Mutonia sculpture park at Alberrie Creek. The area used to be a siding on the old Ghan rail line. Robin "Mutoid" Cooke, a former mechanic turned artist went there after an outback anti-uranium protest in 1997.
As you approach you see what looks a couple of large crosses. These turn out to be Plane Henge, two Beechcraft Barons welded together with their tails buried in the ground. This was the first of Cooke's art pieces. Supposedly he goes back every winter and adds a new piece.
There's a dog made out of an old rail water tower.
A lot of smaller figures like this
A couple of hippies in old campers had wired the gate shut and were squatting. We left them to it and headed to the Ghan Hover Bus.
Guy rode through deep soft sand to the bus. "Take a picture of me roosting the bus, Cunt!"
But I followed too close and fucked around trying get him and the whole bus in the frame. I got a picture of the 640 buried to the axle instead.
"Herp fucken derp, Cunt. You missed it!", he yelled in that unwaveringly encouraging tone. I then took some time to find a rock to put under my side stand, take another picture of Guy beginning the retrieval, take my helmet off.
"You gonna fucken start digging, Cunt" he asked politely. So we digged, tried to ride/drag it out and then dug some more. A few minutes later after luggage was removed we had it out.
"Don't get fucken bogged in my hole."
"Yeah thanks for the advice. It's great you've got my back, mate"
A couple of photos and we headed back into Maree, where we fueled up and bought coffees
Coffee making dude immediately handed me the flat white he'd just made for himself. Guy's long black was ready a minute later, I didn't leap up to collect it.
"Why you acting like such a cunt, Cunt?"
He gave his best I'm not fucken amused glare, made even more steely as he was looking over the rims of his reading glasses.
When the food was ready he leapt up and got his own bacon & egg roll. "Indignant petty cunt" I thought. We both ate in silence, until a question was asked of one of the locals about the Lake Eyre Yacht Club.
With the mood still as black as Guy's coffee, we headed out to the bikes and fuck! Flat tyre on Guy's bike. So, gripes forgotten and with renewed combined purpose we got to work. An old car wheel & tyre under the bash plate of the 640 and the wheel was quickly off. New tube in.
being an unusually warm winter's morning it was decided we should go back to the pub for a rehydrating ale after our labours.
After getting up at 7am we finally left Maree for Mungerannie at 11:30
The Birdsville Track next
Saturday Part 2.
After spending the morning sightseeing we finally hit the Birdsville Track. 205km to Mungerannie. Like the other tracks it was superhighway smooth for the most part. Only a few moments when riding in Guy's dust and some tight corners came up through a muti-channel creek.
Heading down a dead straight bit of road we came upon a dazed KTM 990 rider who had fishtailed and thrown himself face-first over the handle bars.
"Oi Cunt! Why'd you nearly ride past a lone rider in need of help?" asked Guy.
Mounted on a bike with Brembos, he has no clue just how shit a Bush Pig's brakes are. Shane was a big unit and hit hard. Got the front in the marbles in a moment of inattention.
No bones sticking out, a sore wrist and only minor damage to the bike. Busted indicator, bent barkbuster and a bit of gravel rash. He was more concerned about losing the mouthpiece off his Camelbak, which I found a short distance away. Shane was escorted into Mungerannie, 40km up the road.
There were already a couple of hundred bikes on site when we arrived. Some had been there since Thursday.
After buying a $7 beer we struck up a conversation with a bloke out the front. (Maybe his name was Rob? Details get hazy after this. Phil, the publican was selling cases of cans for $60, but it's a four hour wait for ice. So, there was nothing else to do but buy a case and drink it all before the beer went warm. So, we sat out the front drinking in the warm afternoon sun, watching people arrive, watching one of the outfit riders doing circle work. One BMW rider had already made the mistake of putting diesel in his tank. Those old airhead will run on anything....or not.
Some interesting machinery. Outfits, posties, sportsbikes, lots of old BMW's and according to oz_johnno a large number of DR's.
All brothers of the handlebar. Except this conflicted wrongun' wearing a Chillin' Like A Villain Bike Me! T-shirt, pyjamas and an orange milkmaids bonnet.
Our drinking companions from the last couple of nights rolled in and then joined us for a drink.
Some time before the sun set the events that lead to Guy punching someone in the face began to unfold.
We decided we should set up camp before alcohol and dark made that too much of a challenge. I suggested that we should set up near the gray nomads. Maybe we'd get offered a coffee in the morning. Guy declared he could go one better and get a bed for the night with one of the lovely ladies. Faux factory rider, Daniel, brimful of Carlton's finest and youthful bravado, bet Guy $500 he'd be sleeping by himself. Silly lad. Guy took that bet and the windup began. Guy declared it was time to meet the ladies, downed the rest of his beer and headed to his bike.
"Cunty!" he yelled, using his favoured honorific. "Take pichas, Cunt. I'm gonna mono passed the pub"
I took Daniel aside and explained the error of his bet. All Guy had to do was to offer one of the ladies $100 to film him stepping from their van in the morning, an extra $50 for a parting kiss on the cheek. "Basically, you're fucked mate. Have you got $500 in cash on you? Real men honour their bets. Even the stupid ones."
Guy monoed past the pub.
A decent effort given the bike was fully loaded with fuel and gear and Guy was half loaded with beers and gin.
readers will recall Guy had made a bet he couldn't lose involving bedding a Grey Nomad, or at least capturing video suggestive of such a tragedy for the woman.
After a sick minger to add to his collection of world famous landmark mingers, (apparently the Mungerannie Hotel is such a place) Guy proceeded to set up camp about 15 metres away from a luxury land yacht type van.
Faux factory rider Daniel, now on the hook for half a gorilla was in full cock-blocking mode. "Feeling confident?", asked. The beer says yes. "Look at the name on that van, mate. 'Utopia' it's an omen. Yeah, you're still fucked, mate." Guy was yelling at someone on the phone. Might have been telling Sam what a beaut travelling companion I am, or some such.
Daniel was trying to distract Guy by helping him set up camp. We fed him some whiskey and continued the wind up.
Guy was pleased with Daniel's camp set up.
Next Daniel helped Guy remove his tennis boots (they're Diadoras).
This is Phil, publican extraordinaire. If you stop for a while and talk, he'll just keep bringing drinks, forgets what he's served and you then just leave him some money.
Much drunkness ensued.
Eventually the pudding was auctioned. $2,000 was the winning bid, but the winner didn't realise the full conditions. One of which is you must take the pudding to the next OCR. That right/responsibility was auctioned separately and another $500 was raised for the RFDS. There was some kind of attempt at deciding the location for the next OCR.
A while later we find ourselves sitting outside the land yacht talking to Mandy and the Utopia lady. Having a last whiskey before bed. Some kind of meaning of life conversation ensued. Guy headed to bed. As did Mandy. She may have been a looker 30 years ago, but age and muscular dystrophy had robbed of that outer beauty. So, yes she was on her knees in front of me. As any gentleman would, I helped her to her feet and up the stairs into the van. Nothing to see here.
Another clear desert sky greeted us the next morning. A great day to ride to Windorah via Birdsville.
I'd love to say we took twelve hours to do the 300km facing some significant challenges. But it was smooth and uneventful.
We stopped at the pub.
"Oi, Cunty!"using my usual honorific. Well, you know what comes next.
With another world famous landmark ticked off Guy's list, we headed to the Bakery for a pie, before fueling up and making for Windorah.
It was 380km away and definitely wanted arrive before skippy hour. Guy went to the main servo across from the caravan park. Allegedly he was nearly punching on with some cunt who dared to browse in the shop without moving his bike away from the bowser first. I went to the Mobil. Only cunt there. But competition is a good thing. I went to the other servo to find Guy.
This rough Royal Enfield was there. A 2010 model the owner had managed to spear into a tree in the Flinders Ranges a week earlier. But he continued with a few bruises dents and no first gear. No I don't know what that blue plastic tank on the trailer was used for. Maybe acid bath for hitchhiker body parts.
Another commute along the well maintained Birdsville Development Road saw us in Windorah by late afternoon. No rooms at the pub, so we found a place with cabins a licensed bar and food. Steve from Mackay joined us. Five long days on the road and Guy was in bed even ealier than usual.
"Wake me up for the MotoGP, Cunt"
I turned the TV on just in time to see the last half a lap of Iannone's win.
The next morning we decided to part company. Guy wanted to make some miles and I was going to have nurse my rear tyre for 460km into Charleville.
The Tractionator Desert HT was great on sand and dirt roads, but the wrong choice on a trip that included about 1,800km of bitumen.
Here's a random country letter box.
No fuel at Quilpie and a headwind all morning. About 30km out I stopped to put fuel in from one of the Rotapax. A couple of kays up the road I find Guy parked and out of fuel.
"Where the fuck you been, Cunt? Giz fuel." He quickly called RACQ and cancelled the rescue trip. Too late. As he hung up the service bloke arrived. Fortunately the young bloke in the RACQ ute was pleased just to get out of the workshop for a bit.
Then I gave him the rest of my fuel. Happy Guy is happy.
We rode into Charleville together. Guy found a pie. I found a bike shop with an MT21 in the right size. at this point we said our goodbyes Guy slabbed down the Warrego needing to back to work.
I headed south east towards Bollon. The bikes shop guys said the Bollon road must be crap. A couple of blokes on BMWs came through the previous week with tales of sloppy rutted woe, blown fork seals on one bike (no gaiters). But the road was in good condition with the usual hazards.
There was naked dancing around the fire. guy would have loved it.
Twas an epic trip. GUY was a great travelling partner. ( just ask him)
So there you have an epic week indeed. After leaving Stve I droned down the highway and it was after Dark when I ariived at the very interesting possum park, where I spent the night in an EX WW@ underground ammunitions bunker
POssum park is an interesting place. I had a bit of a look around the next morning. Have to go back for another look I reckon.
The final day for me was spent meandering home via some back roads.
Another Epic trip and Steve was an excellent travelling partner ( if a little slow, a little blind and a little lazy)
Thanks Steve for putting this together. ( I am also a little lazy)
Will be back in November when we have another big trip planned.
See ya then.