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Brisbane to Kenilworth

Brisbane to Kenilworth: Day 68

Hitting the road this morning was particularly exciting. Having, for the most part, kicked the flu I was feeling much better, my bike is running oh so very much better than it ever has and, last night, I finally did what I have been threatening to do since Dargo, cut all my hair off! It feels great ūüôā

Before

Before (Photo by Jancy Ma)

 

 

Its gone!

Its gone!

 

I really want to thank John and Nancy for their hospitality. So glad to have had a spot to hunker down while sick. Lots of good talks too. I am looking forward to “meeting” Sleepy John on the road some day ūüôā

Headed up the coast and stopped in at Soundrider. The head sets for our CB radios were from Soundrider and all had broken in the first two weeks.
Jim, the proprietor, was good enough to help me out on his Saturday avo. He gave me a new head set free and gave me the number of the distributor of the head sets. I was grateful for the assistance on a weekend but not really happy with another of the same headset or being told to go elsewhere but, unlike me, I went with it. Perhaps there is a reason. Jim told me “That’s what you get for an $85 headset. It’s just not robust.” I have come to the conclusion that the head sets have a design fault and are not fit for sale as such. I will follow up with the distributor on Tuesday. I have an idea that might work well. We’ll see. We spent over $400 on these headsets so I want a solution that isn’t being told “you should have spent more.”

The product in question is an iMC Motocom hs 410. Do not buy one! I would be very careful of all products from this company.
One of the manufacturing faults is the in helmet part of the system has a plastic moulding around the jack and the strain relief for the cable exiting this plug is entirely infective as it is made of hard plastic. Yes, a stain relief from solid plastic! What the hell. The other side of the connector has proper softer rubber strain relief.
Ok, enough of a rant on that. I just want others to be able to learn from my experiences and I am hoping to be able to get a solution that will help others as well.

On to Kenilworth.
Really enjoying riding and being by my self for little bit.

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Brisbane

Our time here in Brisbane has been focused on servicing the motorcycles. Sunken Miles are tough going and maintenance is an important part of the experience.
I do as much of my servicing as possible. One of my aims of this trip and generally motorcycle touring is to learn the ways of the four stroke engine and become at home with its workings. By learning through my interest in seeing Australia I keep the process enjoyable. I had little knowledge of the inner workings of a four stroke engine and even less so the confidence to get in there. Choosing to own a simple single cylinder motorcycle was a conscious decision to improve my mechanical skills. I bought a workshop manual and, apart from the 1000km service, I have done all the servicing. Mawson now has over 36,000km on the clock.

From time to time I think it is good to have a specialised mechanic look over the bike to check I haven’t missed anything.

Two main items presented them selves for getting some help with.

The first, surging at highway speeds that developed since the deep river crossings (not sure if there is a correlation). The second, significant engine vibration above 4500rpm. The latter I just assumed was what the ol beast was like until I rode Jackson’s 2009 KLR. Jackson is Sleepy John’s son who has recently returned from 14 months touring Europe on a motorcycle(not the KLR).
Both Jackson’s KLR and Gregor’s 1990 KLR Tengai (the one Vince rode) run significantly more smoothly all the way to red line at 7500rpm. Mine has been the way it is since I bought it.

I fully disassembling my carb to see if I could find any issues. There was some junk in there although not much. Not wanting to prolong our time in the city, I booked it in with TeamMoto Kawasaki here in Brisbane for a carb tune. The mechanic had suggested this could well we the cause of the excessive vibration. I did the usual forum research and turned up a few things that we checked when working on the carb, like engine mount bolts. The bike ran as well as it ever has after my carb clean but I still wanted to chase up the vibration issue that hadn’t changed.

Alex from TeamMoto Kawasaki was great to work with, stuck to his quote, worked through a hiccup to get the bike back to me ASAP and to my surprise the bike runs like jackson’s KLR now, with minimal vibration. Thanks Alex and team.
The rejetting has also given the bike a little more power. I am keen to see if it has affected fuel economy. I am hoping it won’t have changed it much as the main jet only acts in the top 1/4 of the throttle range. Hence I hope it gives more power when needed but doesn’t affect the fuel consumption when taking it easy which is most of our riding. To the chagrin of some motorists, we tend not to do more than 80km/h. This tends to save about 25% on my fuel consumption over sticking to the 100km/h speed limit.
I keep records of every tank of fuel and the associated fuel economy figures. I intended to put these up here at some point. I am also logging expenses and have a full breakdown for those interested. Here’s a rough sneak peak though. I am averaging about 4.5L/100km and daily costs running a little under $60.

Raman had his 20,000km service at TeamMoto Yamaha which cost a hefty $700 (ouch).

He is happy to have his steed back.

Both Raman and I have had some, er…¬†panel beating¬†to do on our panniers. We are both really grateful to John and his wife Nancy for sharing their home and business workshop. Thanks so much John and Nancy ūüôā

 

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Raman thrilled to have arrived in Brisbane at John & Nanacy’s

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A day ride back up Mt Mee area with Jackson, his mate on an ol Honda SL250, Raman and I

Raman outside Sleepy John's workshop. We both admired the we set up Suzuki DR650 and the BMW1200GS

Raman outside Sleepy John’s workshop. We both admired the well set up Suzuki DR650 and the BMW1200GS

 

 

 

CameraPro

I couldn’t come through Brisbane without visiting my friend, Jesse Hunter, founder and manager of CameraPro.
Thanks for putting us up Jesse and Jancy.

I met Jesse some years ago in the hunt for reasonably priced but legitimately sourced photographic equipment. It’s been great to see how he has shaped his business and the team he has put together. Congratulations on your recent listing in Business Review Weekly as the fastest growing retailer in QLD among other distinctions.

I highly recommend CameraPro to professionals and beginners in photography alike. I have never been supported or sponsored in any way by CameraPro.

Great work Jesse.

We are almost ready to leave the metropolis and then Oli goes and gets sick. Damn!
Its taking a bit longer to get better than I had hoped so we decided that Raman might as well head off up the Sunny Coast for a bit.
It’ll do us good to have a mid trip break anyway. All has been going well between us and I’ll catch him sometime soon.
I feel excited to have some solo miles ahead too, even if only briefly.

So for now, I am resting up in shelter and comfort waiting for this dratted flu or what ever it is to pass.

*update*

I am much better after a good bit of rest. Thanks for all the get well comments, I’m working on it ūüôā

As it happens I think Raman is getting his turn now. He’s up the coast a little way, taking it easy I gather.

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Thornton to Brisbane

5 July – Day 60

Much of today has been bitumen though farming country. Headed up the eastern side of the Wivenhoe dam and across the mountains toward Mt Mee.

Found some great tracks over the mountains with lots of stream crossings through some great forest.

 

A relaxed lunch in Dayboro before heading down into the Bris-vegas to meet up with Sleepy John of AdvRider.

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Boarder Ranges to Thornton

4 July – Day 59

Up over the ranges and into Queensland.

Lunch at The Governors Chair lookout.

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Over a little track, The Bicentennial National Trail to be precise, to Thornton. A bottle of American Honey for the 4th of July.

And I ate snake for the first time. Road kill of course.
Quite nice although I can’t say there was all that much to it. Only a taste.
Your spirit is with us Vince.

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Murwillumbah to The Boarder Ranges

3rd July – Day 58
Rode back past Mt Warning although on the west side this time.

Heading towards Kyogal I recognised a friends dads place that I had been to back in 2009. What a surprise. I knew paul Hunter lived in te area but I really didn’t expect to come across his place by accident or recognised it at 80km/h.
Had a chat with Paul and headed on toward Kyogal.
We passed a few spots recomended by Christi of Perch Creek. I think I will visit the pinnacle on the way back down. Too wet for my liking right now.

Lunch in Kyogal. Off toward the Boarder Ranges National Park.

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Boarder Ranges camp

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Mullum to Murwillumbah

2 July – Day 57 : Mullum to Murwillumbah

The rain didn’t let up until well after mid day. There were a few breaks in the cloud and even a little sun for a short bit.

Heading up toward Main Arm and over Mt Jerusalem Nation Park put us straight back into the cloud. The gravel road was well made. Progress was fine. That is until we got to the flooded rivers. The most significant river crossing of the trip so far and lots of them.

Dropping the bike in water is a problem but not the end of the world. Getting washed off the cause way and down the river is a much bigger concern!

Flooded cause ways.

Flooded cause ways.

 

How deep is this going to get?

That was always the question as you powered through the fast moving water. The water was up to the boxes on several occasions and part way up the boxes on a few more.

450mm on the marker and more importantly moving damn fast.

450mm on the marker and more importantly moving damn fast.

 

Gee, that got the heart racing. I had to ride across leaning up stream to stop being tipped over.

Gee, that got the heart racing. I had to ride across leaning up stream to stop being tipped over.

We are wet! We ended up pushing the bikes through the next crossing one at a time as it was ever worse. We figured the two of us on foot would be more able to resist getting washed over and then washed down stream.

The flooding got worse as we got further down into the low lands off the mountains. Fortunately the crossing we pushed the bikes through was the last ford and the subsequent crossings were bridged. In some cases the water was still over the bridge but not too badly.

My leathers are saturated. My boots were holding several kilos of water each it felt like but I was warm thanks to the really good thermals and wool I had on.

The weather is mean to be on the improve. I can see some stars now as I write this.

What an amazing afternoon. We didn’t have to go far from civilisation for this adventure!

Here’s a taste of the afternoon.

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Mullum

18th June –¬†Day 43:¬†Mullum

We’ll stay in Mullum for a bit I think. Do some repairs and servicing of our bikes. We had planned to do this in Brisbane but maybe it will happen here a bit.

 

Day 43-1

A cuppa in Mullum and a game of chess with Stav, a fella in the RocknRoll cafe who looked up for a game. A great game, thanks. He beat me ūüôā

Day 43-3

The noise hasn’t gone away! The cushdrive rubbers and bearings were not the source of the noise.

Day 43-2

Soaking it up

Day 43-5

Local, fresh, creamy milk for $1/L. Fantastic!

 

19th June –¬†Day 44:¬†Mullum

Raman ran into a fella, “Buddy”, ¬†yesterday who we met in Lismore at the Kawasaki dealer. He is a motorcycle¬†enthusiast¬†and mechanic and invited us around to do some work on Mawson. To hopefully arrest this darn clunking. The joke that has emerged is that we are really ¬†Clunking Miles.

Day 44-5

Trying to work out what is causing the clunk. We suspected the chain as I had found a very tight link.
Day 44-2
We took the chain off and clean it in kero. After a lot of fiddling around with a few stiff links we decided one was probably the cause and removed it. Replacing it with a spare master link I have. After replacing it I realised there were some very worn links and some perfect links. Some links had no play at all and others had up to 3mm each. Bingo, uneven wear was causing the variable chain tension and hence the noise. I had managed to get rid of the noise by running the chain very loose but I did notice a bit of chain slap when I did this. This chain was a DID 520 oring Gold Link and got 17,000km. The Original was an Enuma EK 520. I changed it at 18,000km. The chain I replaced the DID with was an Enuma EK 520 xring.

Day 44-4

Two heads, four hands. Replacing the stuffed chain.

Day 44-6

Buddy, the Guzzi man, showed us his ol beasts that he is restoring over a very nice coffee

Day 44-7

Packing up after a successful day

Thank you Buddy! Really appreciate your company, hospitality, mechanical knowledge and your generosity to open your house and garage to us. See you soon.

 

20th June –¬†Day 45:¬†Mullum

Planted out lots of seedlings at Cyrano’s house. Its raining today. Not hard but steadily.

21st June –¬†Day 46:¬†Mullum

Winter solstice music and dancing at the Durrumbul hall near Mullum. I have sore legs from all the dancing ūüôā

22nd June –¬†Day 47:¬†Mullum

A relaxed day after last nights great event at Durrumbul, with a little spice thrown in when someone in the community drove a car off the edge of a cattle grid. Spent a while jacking the XTrail back up and getting it off its belly.

1 July – Day 56 :Goodbye Mullum

The stay here in Mullum has turned out to be our “half way” pit stop. We have done repairs and maintenance on the bikes and soaked up life here in this alterno region.

Raman wanted to check out the Byron region and it has worked out for us to stay here for a good length of time.

Bangalow Market

Bangalow Market

Brunswick Heads

Brunswick Heads

"super moon" rising from Cape Byron lighthouse. The Eastern tip of Australia.

“super moon” rising from Cape Byron lighthouse.
The Eastern tip of Australia.

 

A very big thanks to Cyrano and Bianca for making this possible by giving us their your new house. Without your generosity our stay would surely have been fleeting.

Biaca and Cyrano's new home and our Mullum "holiday house".

Biaca and Cyrano’s new home and our Mullum “holiday house”.

The best of luck in your new community. I hope to drop in again in the near future.

Installing a bracket to join two large beams that allow many of the internal walls to be removed.

Installing a bracket to join two large beams that allow many of the internal walls to be removed.

 

Many hands make light work. Installing one of the beams.

Many hands make light work.
Installing one of the beams.

Cyrano excitedly¬†declared¬†us his first WWOOFers. “And I’ll be damned, a Holmgren at that! Haven’ the tables turned” he exclaimed one afternoon. We planted some vegie seedlings too and boy do things grow quickly around here but all in all we got off very lightly for WWOOFers! Thanks again. Enjoy your new home.

 

 

A big thanks to Buddy Guzzi for helping us with maintenance and generally great hospitality. Really chuffed to know exactly which Guzzi it was that Su rode back in Napoli in the early 70’s.

Su's Moto Guzzi

Su’s Moto Guzzi

 

 

Thanks for getting us in on the night life Aaron. Had a really great dance at both Durrumbul and Byron. Hope to catch you again somewhere you crazy bugger ūüôā

Goodbye Mullum-13

You da man!

 

Glad to have met you Claire. Thanks for showing me your surfing paradise. I have always been into snow boarding more than surfing, mad as it is in this country of ours that has such good surf and such poor snow. Perhaps I’ll head for the coast next time instead. Enjoy being you. Enjoy the waves while you can see them!

Goodbye Mullum-11

 

Seeing the Perch Creek Family Jug Band play in Bangalow was great fun.

Goodbye Mullum-4

 

Really glad to have you meet Christi. Good luck with your year 12 and your dream of riding up through Australia on motorcycle. Might catch you back in Melbourne some day.

Christi Hodgkins blowing us a away on trombone

Christi Hodgkins blowing us a away on trombone

 

A great voice after something spooky on the saw

A great voice after something spooky on the saw

 

And finally, what a lot of rain! The whole area is swimming. I was going to go to Mt Warning but the track is closed due to a land slide. I really wouldn’t be surprised if more falls away after the rain we are getting now. The BOM (Bereau of Meteorology) is saying that much of the area has had over 50mm (and less than 100mm) since 9am and it has been raining for days. Some of the roads are flooded now. We were going to leave today but the rain said quite loudly, “wait”.

Tomorrow’s prospects are much better though according to the BOM.

 

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Black Rocks NP to Mullumbimby

17th June –¬†Day 42:¬†Black Rocks National Park to Mullumbimby

First stop, Lismore.

new cushdrive rubbers, new wheel bearings and new mirrors.

New cushdrive rubbers, new wheel bearings and new mirrors.

Then on to Mullumbimby to catch up with Cyrano and Bianca, friends who have just moved in a little community, Bindari, just out of Mullum.

Cyrano and Bianca have just had their second child, they just bought a house and Cyrano is renovating it. Its all happening here!

 

Opening up the new house

Opening up the new house

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Black Rocks NP

16th June –¬†Day 41:¬†Black Rocks National Park

 

A relaxed day on Ten Mile beach, playing a form of bocce with water rounded stones, swimming and light hearted fun things. The water is a very comfortable temperature for swimming and there don’t seem to be any nasties like jelly fish…yet.

 

Sun rise on Ten Mile beach, Black Rocks NP

Sun rise on Ten Mile beach, Black Rocks NP

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Gibralter Range NP to Black Rocks NP

15th June –¬†Day 40:¬†Grassy Creek, Gibralter Range National Park to Black Rocks National Park

Got the earliest start of the trip so far this morning. Up at 6:30am and had my tent packed and in the bike in 10 min.

Excluding food, I only have one pannier 3/4 full. Very happy. The bike feels much more manageable. Moving more things up front last night should improve handling too.

Grassy Creek. A lovely clear mountain stream. Deeper than in appears.

Grassy Creek. A lovely clear mountain stream. Deeper than in appears.

 

Shortly after Grassy Creek we came to a couple of slushy sandy hill climbs around tight bends that got my heart racing. I am glad I changed sprockets and moved weight forward.  The bike is working well making the hill climbing much easier.

We found our way onto the track running north on the range that I had hoped to meet up with.

Day 40-2

We past another section of the National Bicentennial Trail. In fact the range track that we are on runs parallel to it for the length of the Gibralter Range NP.

The track is muddy as all heck and we are sliding around like crazy! We considered turning around several times. Eventually we came to a locked gate. We got around it. There was a sign on the other side suggesting we might have been…er in the wrong place.

Descending steeply on a disused and largely grassed over fire trail cut into the side of a very steep mountain, we dropped 300m.

These are the types of tracks that I love. This is what adventure riding is all about for me. What an adventure!

As we got lower the mud got worse and there was evidence of a 4wd. The ruts got really bad and our knobby tires filled up and spun like slicks. There were sticks flicking up often.  One caught my foot and ripped it off the foot peg. Luckily with no lasting ill effect. I am glad I made the full mesh guard that covers everything from the bashplate up to the tank and most importantly the radiator. Raman had his foot sort of poked off the foot peg also. The second time left him with a sore leg.

After a break to see how the leg was going, we got back on and slid, flailed and spun our way on, ever mindful that that whatever we went down we might have to go back up if we couldn’t go on any longer. It is very easy to go down a slope that is too steep to get back up.

A benign looking bit of track that was actually as dicey as they come!

A benign looking bit of track that was actually very slippery as witnessed by the big slide!

There were some nice level sections of track too. Even these were slippery as heck too.

We rounded a bend and the ruts got even worse. Raman was almost riding side ways at times as the back wheel continued in a rut and the front in another, until he found him self parked side ways across the track.

The trees are very tall and the understory thick, there are many vines and ferns in the gullies, Xanthorrhoeas on the slopes and poa tussocks on the track. We have stopped to soak it all up a few times. A grand forest that feels a little more like a rain forest.

We stopped at these severe ruts and mud and again thought of turning back. But again we decided to keep going. Raman got through the ruts and mud but couldn’t get up the hill on the other side. I got off and pushed him which helped enough to get him through. With my leathers plastered in mud I finally pulled the pin. We had to turn around. Raman thought the hills we had come down were too steep to return. A one way trip?

What a climb! By keeping to the grass in the middle of the track and going for it, we managed to make it back to the top. Not without a good deal of flailing about though. I forgot to mention we had already let our tires down to 12psi to aid traction.

Raman dropped his bike a few times but all at walking pace slipping around in the butter.

 

Day 40-5

Day 40-7

On the way out Mawson ticked over 35,000km which also marks 4,000km since leaving home.

 

Day 40-8

 

The Gibralter Range has been a real adventure with some lovely trails through interesting forest.

 

I have parts waiting for me in Lismore. New cushdrive rubbers and wheel bearings.

Thinking back on it I have to question the wisdom in heading out into terrain that tough with an ailing drive train but there you go. We got out of the bush and continued along the Gwydir Highway which immediately drops sharply off the Gibralter range.

One of my primary interests in undertaking this trip up the length of the great dividing range was to study the micro and macro climate changes. I have been enjoying watching the changes in vegetation and animals but nothing could have prepared me for the amazing change as we dropped off the edge of the New England plateau from over 1000m to 100m in less than 5km.

Every switch back in the road brought new species and saw other fade and disappear.

In those 5km we went from a landscape that didn’t feel hugely dissimilar to places in Vic to a distinctly subtropical landscape of ferns, palms and vines. The eucalypts are mostly different too. No more yellow box and iron bark. ¬†Goodbye home. I feel I am finally stepping into the vegetation and climate of the north east of Australia that is so foreign to me.

Riding to Grafton there was plenty more proof of the change. Mango trees on the road side and fields of sugar cane, Illawarra flame trees and pawpaw.

Stocked up in Grafton and headed for a Black Rocks N.P.

This is the first camp in a national park we have come across that requires online or telephone booking and payment. Gee. Lets get away from the pacific highway (the M1). It is a nice spot though.

We’ll spend a day here tomorrow taking it easy on the beach and on Monday we’ll head for Lismore to pick up the parts for Mawson.

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