The greatness of the centre of the road

15 – 18 July 2017

T – I was super excited to ride straight through the middle of Australia. A road that stretched from the back of Uluru to a town in Western Australia. It covered some 1100kms and was a rough dirt road made up of sand, rock, dust, holes and miles and miles of bone jarring, bike breaking corrugations. So fun!

We filled up the bikes, filled up the jerrycans, strapped an extra 15 litres of water down and headed past Uluru, around Kata-Tjuta and onto the start of the red dirt road! We were on our way.

C – We had driven this road many years ago and whilst my memory wasn’t that clear, I was feeling a little nervous at the enormity of the road and the landscape. Right, Rosie, we did death road in Bolivia, we did the Devils Trampoline in Colombia and countless dirt roads in all the other countries so we can do this!.

T – The going started out quite well. The road was relatively smooth and not too sandy. Occasionally we had to skirt around a huge wash out where the muddy water looked deep.

For a while we were ticking along at 60 and 70 km/hr. It was that easy. But it didn’t last. Soon the corrugations that this road is famous for started to pop up. They were awful. The bikes would hit them at 60km/hr and almost instantly 5km/hr was wiped off of the speedo. The bikes rattled and bounced. Shook and vibrated. Then the sand came in waves. We would hit the soft spots and wobbly precariously down the road as we pounded from one set of deep corrugations to the next. Soon I began to smell oil. But not engine oil.

The rough road was already causing Mabel to have a few issues. Both the o-ring seals on the tops of her forks had blown out and each bump sent a squirt of fork oil spraying out over the motor. Yikes!

C – The scenery that first afternoon was so breathtaking. This desert is so full of life, but so rugged and raw. I felt a little rusty off road to start with and so unfortunately, spent most of my time with my eyes glued firmly to the road. But when I did get to glimpse around, or we stopped for a break, it was just so special.

T – We plugged on and 180kms later we pulled into our campsite for the night. We were totalled. The amount of concentration was incredible! As we rode through the super soft sand that marked the entrance to the free camp I decided to give Mabel a twist of the throttle. There was a very alarming cracking noise and the a weird creaking as I rode into camp. Uh oh. Not the place to have a major break down! A quick inspection showed that Mabel had ripped half of the teeth off of her front sprocket.

Looking at her chain it was quickly evident that something in her rear end was askew. I could only assume one of her rear shocks was shot and that it was causing the rear sprocket and chain to twist to the left and put pressure on the front sprocket. I would really need to baby her along for the next 4 days on this road. There’s no postie parts out here!

C – We made it to the free camp next to the community of Docker River and were greeted enthusiastically by a lady hoping to sell her paintings. After sharing a conversation, she headed off and we spent the evening sitting around a campfire, chatting with three other couples. Despite the lovely fire and pleasant conversation, we were both exhausted and headed off to bed not too long after dark!

The thing we immediately noticed, and what we always notice when we are in the desert, is the night sky. The milky way was bright, full and clear and like you could reach up and take a bite. Stunning.

T – Each day that followed we would zip along the smooth stuff at 70km/hr and crawl to 30km/hr through the sandy corrugated stuff. The desert scenery was just spectacular all around us. We chatted to a few of the indigenous folks we met along the way. They were always so happy and loved to have a chat. Must be the beauty of living in the desert that makes people happy!

C – We visited a few of the historic sites on the road and the communities along the way. Lasseters Cave was a highlight for us – such beauty in the riverbed and an incredible story! Lasseter claimed to have found a “reef of gold worth millions” in the desert in the late 1800’s. He returned to the desert on a mission to find this reef and make his millions, but unfortunately, he never did find the reef again. Instead, he ran out of water and sheltered in this cave for about 25 days before trying to walk for help. He died along the way and the mystery of Lasseters Reef lives on today. Is it out there???

T – We had some lovely riding and stayed in some gorgeous campsites and eventually we reached the last 195km of dirt. It was while we were pulled up on the side of the road that a car pulled up. We were quite literally in the middle of absolutely nowhere and the couple driving across the road recognised us from our blog! Anthony and Janet. We had a lovely chat to them and could have quite happily set up camp there and chatted to them all night!

From there it was a quick ride to the start of the bitumen. We were so proud of our little bikes. They had made it across the centre of Australia. Mabel was suffering quite badly and now had 3 teeth left on her sprocket, no oil left in her forks, and a broken sagging bottom. Her chain was stretched and had only one more very small adjustment left in her.

C – 1100kms across the dirt without a single drop! I was so proud of myself as we pulled onto the bitumen and celebrated the completion of our Great Central Road adventure! I loved every minute of riding this road and it was certainly not the challenge it could’ve been. Yes, it was rough and corrugated and sandy sometimes, but all in all, the road was a fun ride, made all the more beautiful by the desert scenery and the people we met. I really encourage anyone riding Australia to get out to this road – it sucks, you’ll love it!

T – We turned south and headed for the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie 350kms away. Along the way we stopped in at the old ghost town of Gwalia. A small mining town that the locals just picked up and left. A few small houses remained and inside them was some of the original furniture left behind by the miners. They lived rough and were tough buggers thats for sure!

At our camp that night we pondered the possibility of making it all the way to our home town of Mt Barker in one day. We chucked it into the GPS and found out we had around 770kms to go. No way would we be able to do that in a day!

But there we were. I was so happy to have ridden the Great Central Road as it had been on my bucket list for years! What a ride. What a rush!

Tomorrow we start the final trek back home.

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6 thoughts on “The greatness of the centre of the road

  1. Jax

    Great photos – horrible road… I too blew out both Mo’s fork seals getting to Birdsville.

    • tncpowell

      Thanks Jax! The poor posties can only put up with so much cant they. They are tough little bikes

  2. Gym Fry

    Awesome for you guys making it back home. Can’t wait to follow part two of your trip. Thank you for sharing your adventures with those of us who followed your blog and were fortunate enough to meet you on the road. Still hope to see you again in the future.
    Gym

    • tncpowell

      Gday Gym! We have no doubt that we will see you again for sure! Our plans do bring us back to your neck of the woods.

  3. Chris D from Ippy.

    Fantastic photos from you blokes again. Congratulations on putting together such a great collection. You have really captured the vastness of the interior and the state of the road. Have yourselves a well earned rest and then let the story continue.

    • tncpowell

      Cheers Chris! Much appreciated

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