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Butz and Mrs Butz Tour Australia - Departure Imminent

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by Butzull, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. Hi all,

    I'm in the planning stage of trip from the BP on Cooper St, Epping near the Hume Highway to the BP on Cooper St, Epping near the Hume Highway.

    I realise that doesn't sound all that special, so I'm planning to spice it up a fraction by going via the GOR, then Adelaide, Albany, Perth, Geraldton, Broome, Darwin, Cooktown, Brisbane, Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra, Merimbula and Lakes Entrance. Should be somewhere between 16,500-17,500km, depending on detours.

    I will be travelling with my wife as pillion (yes, she's aware of the plan), and accommodation will be a mish-mash of camping, cabins, motels, etc.

    What I'd like to do here is post a proposed map for each leg of the journey, and get hints and tips from locals (and anyone else who knows the areas) about suggested alternative roads that may offer better scenery, less traffic or simply better riding.

    I'm also keen to hear about must-see/must-do things in each area, and perhaps great (but not expensive) places to stay or eat/drink within each leg of the trip, and especially at each destination. No need to provide any exhaustive lists (I can go to tourism websites for those), but would rather hear about the pick of the bunch from those in the know!

    The distances and times are according to Google Maps, so don't worry about commenting about them unless you think they are WAAAAY off.

    Grand Map
    Rough outline of the entire trip
    * Don't bother with the detail of this map, I just whipped it up quickly as an overview.

    Day 1
    Start to Port Fairy via GOR (389 km – about 5 hours 57 mins)
    This day is pretty well set. I know these areas well. ;)

    Day 2
    Port Fairy, VIC to Robe, SA (427 km – about 7 hours 9 mins)
    Route follows coastal roads where possible rather than inland highways, and goes via Portland, Nelson, Port McDonnell, Mt Gambier, Carpenter Rocks (Cape Banks Lighthouse) and Bridgeport.

    This is where I start to head into the unknown. I've never been past Port Fairy along the coast, and have only been to Coonawarra/Penola inland in SE South Australia.

    Thanks in advance for any help/suggestions.

    Butz. :beer:
  2. you forgot something
  3. Oh?

    If you mean the other 16,000km or so, they're on their way...slowly but surely. :p

    Butz. :beer:
  4. I did this trip almost exactly the same about 12 years ago, it was one of the greatest things ever. I started with quite good tyres, and replaced them at Alice, and shortly after I got back to Vic.

    Take your time to take the back roads.

    Keep hydrated and eat healthy. Watch out for accumulated fatigue
    over several days of riding. I stopped for 5 days at Alice,
    and 3 days at Darwin,
    and a week in Byron Bay, as well as lots of single days along the way
    at interesting spots.

    Take a MILLION photos, you can delete/throwaway the crap ones later.

    You can now buy a puncture repair kit for tubeless tyres, and a hand
    or foot pump, cheap and easy.

    Keep a diary, even if it's just place names to jog your memory later.

    Keep a bottle of Bundy or bourbon in a handy place, it'll make more
    friends and better thankyous than cash ever will. With a good attitude
    and a bottle to share, you can join almost anybody's party in any town...

    It might be worthwhile to buy or rent an EPIRB if you are going off the
    popular routes (that's a satellite Emergency Position Indicating Radio
    Beacon, same as in planes and liferafts). Works ANYWHERE in Aus
    or offshore, even if there is no phone reception. IF you activate
    this device, Search and Rescue emergency planes will be above
    you within the hour.
    That's handy to know if you break your gearbox 200km's from nowhere.
    These days they are cheap to buy. Go to www.dse.com.au and search for

    Have fun and good luck.
  5. Thanks Hotcam, great advice.

    I'm definitely planning to take some off-days, but how many and where I'll decide when I've figured out how many ride-days are required. The way I see it, if I average 400km per day, I'll have just over 40 days in the saddle.

    Life commitments (work, mortgages and the like) will limit me to 60 days, or perhaps even a fraction less. Once the planning gets further down the track and the finances are analysed in detail (as it will definitely include some leave without pay), if things are looking too tight, then I can always cut up the middle and skip the west, or not go quite so far north in Queensland or a bunch of other alternatives, but ideally it'll remain something like what the grand map currently shows.
  6. I hate you!

    Awesome trip, you will have an amazing time.

    Be sure to keep us up to datte with planning and details to make us even more jealous.
  7. About the only thing I could suggest (over the last 6 years having lived in the Kimberley, Central Australia, Darwin and until April this year in Mt Isa), would be to time your trip across the top to co-incide with the cooler months for a couple or reasons, not the least being a more comfortable ride.

    The first one is that the wet season storms can be rather heavy and full-on, completely cutting-off major highways (with some regularity too - Victoria Highway at the Victoria River, Katherine itself, Adelaide River, The Barkly Highway west of Camooweal) due to river rises and can absolutely drench you within a matter of seconds.

    The second is that while you might like to be able to get away from it all, if something seriously goes wrong you best friend in a time of need will be a fellow traveller. There are many more on the road from around June through to October.

    I'll pick this one up from Kununurra, as that is about where the extent of my exposure to WA's roads begins and ends. Not much in town. The population swells from around 5,000 in the wet to around 15,000 in the dry. Things worth seeing: Argyle Dam wall, see the Bungles from a morning flight from Kunners - they usually leave around 6am, with 9am and afternoon flights as well, but be assured the 6am one is the very best one to be on as it is a much smoother ride. There are other local touristy things around town. Allow two days for it all including a bit of a breather or a ride up towards Ivanhoe Crossing up the middle of the Ord River Irrigation Area. There is a brewery/distillery and the Zebra Rock gallery. DO NOT allow your significant other to lull you into visiting the Argyle Diamond mine or their "floggem" shops.... your wallet will suffer badly! Emma Gorge and El-Questro if you wish to brave the Gibb River Road.

    Moving east.....

    Some of the places (that really are not all that far off the main roads) are at their best in the early dry season with the run-off winding down - Litchfield Nat Pk out past Batchelor (the Darwinites closest thing to twisties unless you count the bridge at The Narrows.... I'll get flamed for that one I reckon.... :LOL: but in all honesty I enjoyed places like Wangi and Florence falls more than Kakadu), Kakadu - Nourlangie Rock, Yellow Waters (do the cruise, you won't be disappointed), Jim Jim falls etc (allow about 2 full days of exploration around the entire Nat Pk). Either stay at Cooinda or Jabiru, both have their pluses.

    Darwin - allow around a week or so to see most of it. I wont bore you with what to see and do (the tourist shops do that well enough), except that one place you must see is the Mindl Beach Markets - they run twice a week during the dry season only. I'd reckon that the local Netriders would be able to help you out here....

    Katherine - allow a day or so to explore Katherine Gorge and to do a cruise on the Gorge.

    Mataranka (about 100km south of Katherine) has some thermal springs (fantastic for a breather from the orad for an hour or so), and a couple of servos..... and a s#!tload of flying foxes that s#!t everywhere. Take a chamois.....

    Heading south.....

    Most of the little settlements have servos (use them). I think the longest stretch was around 260km from Renner Springs to the Threeways.

    Tennant Creek. It is almost unavoidable now there is a 130km/h limit on the Stuart Hwy. My advice - stay at the Threeways, don't bother staying in town, it can be ugly especially on Thirsty Thursday.....

    Now if you were to head the 500km further south to Alice, I'd suggest staying about a week or so in the area and doing the Western Macs (a big day, or two smaller days if you stay at Glen Helen Gorge) stopping at Simpsons Gap, Ellery Creek Big Hole for a swim, Standley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge the rest of the other little spots they have out on the Larapinta Road, which is sealed all the way out to Glen Helen. The RFDS visitors Centre, the Desert Park and the like are all worth a visit. Stay at the Hevitree Gap resort.

    If you were going to head down to Ayers Rock (oh, silly me..... Uluru), stay at Curtin Springs. Tell Peter, Ash or Steve that "That Pylut Fella" sent you.... :wink: It is a good spot to base for The Rock, The Olgas and for Kings Canyon.

    Now, if you decided to miss the Centre (missing the best bits IMHO) and headed east from the Threeways instead....

    Barkly Homestead - the home of probably the most astromical prices for fuel in this country, but not a bad spot for a bite to eat. I wouldn't stay there though.

    Camooweal. Well 22,000,000,000 flies cannot be wrong.....

    Mount Isa. Not much to see or do except an underground tour of a non-operational mine. Acommodation gets booked out very early. A good spot to eat is the Irish Club (southern end of town) or the Buffs Club in town. Catch-up with a mate of mine (Rob at the local AirBP at the airport) and he might even show you the Mt Isa twisties on his TL1000R....

    Cloncurry to Charters Towers. Not a lot there as far as touristy things go but there are things like Kronosaurus Corner and a few other bits and pieces you'll come across as you head east. Charters Towers is a nice place to stop for the night.

    I'll let the FNQ correspondents take the story from here as while I have worked in Townsville/Cairns, I've never lived there.

    The only other thing I'd suggest is that riding outback roads at night is suicide. There are 1000's of km of unfenced roads that run through cattle stations and those very cattle can be impossible to see at night, especially the darker coloured ones. The sheer number of kangaroos and their unpredictability is reason enough not to want to mix it with them either. You might see roadtrains (of up to 55mt in length), do not expect them to leave the centre crown of a single lane road (such as what the Barkly used to be to the west of Camooweal). It is much wiser to pull over to the side and let them past, even if going the other way.

    Above all, enjoy the diversity of what this country can offer. I wish I was going with you.

    I hope this helps.


  8. Have a great time Gav, its a top country to live in and if you haven't as yet been to these places you will enjoy it all.

    Make sure you get to Head of The Bight along the Nullarbor for the whales
  9. And Davo would do it in 8 days :p
  10. I was thinking more the bit down the bottom
  11. Wow, awesome post Taily, lots of great detail in there. Thanks for taking the time to write that up. I'll definitely take a lot of that into account when I get around to the northern parts of the trip.

    At this stage we're not planning to head down into the centre, purely because of time. If it's possible, then we'll definitely take the detour, but I think this time we'll go around the edge, because we can always duck across to Adelaide and up the guts for a shorter, but more thorough trip sometime in the future.

    I had been planning a late-May, early-June departure from Melbourne (all things, especially work commitments, permitting), as I had definitely planned to be going across the North West, North, and even Tropical Queensland during the winter to take advantage of the cooler, drier weather...even if it means it will probably be cold and wet until we get past Adelaide, and again in SW WA...but a recovery day curled up by a fire drinking a bottle of red in Maggy River will make it all grand. ;)

    Since the trip is mostly coastal (or at least not at altitude), I don't need to worry about snow as I head back down the south-east corner too, as we won't be going via Jindabyne, Mansfield or anything like that.

    @Davo: Thanks for the wishes. I love reading your posts and sites, and had considered trying to get to the next Far-ride, but time away is problematic at the moment. If we do a 1000km day across the wide open expanses and I keep the receipts, can my wife and I get honourary membership? ;)

    @Ibast: Ahh yes indeed. I thought someone would mention that. Again, it's time constraints. Much like the red centre, a proper tour of Tassie is also pencilled in for the future. My parents have retired to a couple of acres of river frontage on the Tamar outside Launceston, so we get down there a few times a year, and one of these days it'll be with the bike to do it PROPERLY! ;)

    Keep the good thoughts coming. I'll get the next leg (Robe to Adelaide) up next time my manager has a long meeting (actually alas not...I have to prepare to chair a meeting in a few hours...damnit! :(

    Butz. :beer:
  12. Give us a yell when you're in Brisbane. Plenty of good people up here to meet. We could maybe organise a group ride with you, taking you through our favourite roads. :grin:
  13. :roll: ummm..... no :LOL:

    But if you do 1600klms in 24hrs and follow all the IBA requirements then you can be a real Iron Butt rider.

    I just had a rider on the same bike as you have register for FarRide #6

    Thanks for the comments, always nice to get feedback. btw Australian Road Rider mag on the shelf now has the Transcon ride I did in it. (and FarRiders is one word its trademarked to me :cool: )
  14. Re: Lap of the Map - Planning

    No day is set in stone, so please feel free to offer suggestions about alternative end-points, routes or what have you even after I post the next stage(s). I'll intermittently post the whole route-to-date, including whatever changes may have been made.

    Day 3
    Robe, SA to Adelaide, SA (363 km – about 5 hours 33 mins)
    Pretty straightforward until passing Hahndorf, then a few little detours. The route through the hills is an absolute guess though, so please feel free to tell me which is the nicest way down into Adelaide itself. :)

    I'm deliberately skipping Kangaroo Island for the time being, as I'd like to spend a few days there at some point, so we'll do it as a separate short break from Melbourne at some point in the future.

    Cheers again!

    Butz. :beer:
  15. Re: Lap of the Map - Planning

    Silence is deemed approval, so I'll take it my path into Adelaide is ok. :grin:

    Day 4
    Adelaide, SA to Port Lincoln, SA (646km - about 8 hours 14 mins)
    This is the first >500km day of the trip. Pretty much straight forward journey, straight out of Adelaide, up around Port Augusta and down to Port Lincoln. It doesn't look at a glance like there are too many worthwhile off-highway options for the trip without making it a real long day, so it's straight up and down to the destination.

    Day 5
    Rest day in Port Lincoln.
    After just over 1800km in four days, it's time to have a day out of the saddle, rest, recuperate, have some nice saefood and liquid accompaniment, and probably do some laundry. ;) Looks like there are a couple of nearby national parks that could be worth a detour too, so seems a nice spot to chill out.

    Day 6
    Port Lincoln, SA to Ceduna, SA (403km - about 4 hours 48 mins)
    Pretty straight forward day again, straight up the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula to Ceduna via Streaky Bay. The coastal route should allow me to check out Murphy's Haystacks on the way. Even though apparently Pildarra Rock is pretty cool, I think I'll go coastal rather than inland...unless someone thinks that's a mistake?

    Day 7
    Ceduna, SA to Madura, WA (676 km – about 7 hours 42 mins)
    Pretty straight forward day again, across the first bit of the Nullarbor to Madura, checking out Head of the Bight and whatever else there is to see along the way.

    Day 8
    Madura, WA to Esperance, WA (736 km – about 8 hours 28 mins)
    Final stretch of the Nullarbor and then down to the SW coast at Esperance.

    Day 9
    Rest day in Esperance.
    Again, just over 1800km but in three days this time, so it's time for another day out of the saddle for all that R&R stuff I mentioned earlier. Never been there or heard much about it, but Esperance sounds nice, and they have the Great Ocean Drive just outside town, so we'd definitely check that out along with whatever relaxing and domestic duties are required.

    From Esperance and around the SW corner will be covered next time, but I'm after some advice from the Westralians. I've spent a reasonable amount of time in Perth and went as far south as Mandurah (not far I know), but don't know much else. As a rough itinerary I was thinking of:
    Option 1: 10 Esperance->Albany, 11 Albany->Margaret River, 12 Margaret River->Perth

    However, then I started thinking about trying to fit Wave Rock in. That would mean either:
    Option 2: 10 Esperance->Hyden, 11 Hyden->Albany, 12 Albany->Margaret River, 13 Margaret River->Perth
    Option 3: 10 Esperance->Hyden, 11 Hyden->Margaret River, 12 Margaret River->Perth

    Firstly, is Wave Rock worth it? Then, if it is, is Albany worth it, or particularly the coast road from Albany to Margaret River worth it. Option 2 means an extra day but the only coastal strip I miss is Esperance to Albany. Option 3 is the same number of days as the original plan, but misses out most of the coast in the SW corner.

    A last option that would be a bit of backtracking would be to go to Wave Rock straight from the Nullarbor (changing day 8 and adding a day 9 on the road, with day 10 taking me to Esperance), which would then mean we get the whole coast of the SW corner.

    Thoughts/suggestions from people who know that corner of the world well would be greatly appreciated.


    Butz. :beer:
  16. Hey Great Work!
    I am planning to do the around australia trip too.
  17. Re: Lap of the Map - Planning

    Thanks Silverflash. Good to see someone is reading. ;)

    And on we go...The decision about which option to take through SW WA ended up being a simple one when I saw the road back down to Albany from Hyden (Wave Rock) went smack-bang through the Stirling Ranges, which based on some piccies I've seen look STUNNING.

    Day 10
    Esperance, WA to Hyden, WA (382 km – about 4 hours 44 mins)
    Esperance to Hyden to go see Wave Rock around sunset (and possibly early morning the following morning too.

    Day 11
    Hyden, WA to Albany, WA (431 km – about 8 hours 3 mins)
    Hyden to Albany via a scenic loop of the Stirling Ranges (in recommended afternoon direction from a local website).

    The fact that Google Maps suggests over 8 hours for 431km makes me wonder if there might be long unsealed stretches. I need to investigate this one further unless a WA Netrider knows? It appears to be the main/direct route from Wave Rock to Albany, but I know the main highway goes either back up to Perth, or back down to Esperance.

    Day 12
    Albany, WA to Margaret River, WA (444 km – about 5 hours 54 mins)
    Mostly following the highway (looks nice like a lot of sweeping curves to keep entertained anyway), with a couple of small detours into National Parks.

    Day 13
    Margaret River, WA to Perth, WA (389 km – about 6 hours 54 mins)
    Swing south for a few km first, then around onto Cave Road and follow that around to Busselton, then up the coast through Mandurah to Fremantle.

    Day 14
    Rest day in Perth.
    Broke the 1800km theme, just 1646km between rest days this time. :p

    At the end of this rest day, it's two weeks done. For the stats freaks out there, it's a total of (obviously estimates based on Google Maps) 5,286km at 378km per day, with 73:26 in the saddle at 5:14 per day (stats include zeros for rest days, so riding days are actually longer than the stated average).


    Butz. :beer:
  18. Day 4..I'd recommend going via Gawler, Clare, Gladstone, Melrose, Wilmington to Pt Augusta, if you have time. It may add a little, but the A1 is dead boring on that run North, as it's much the same on the way South to Pt Lincoln.

    We are planning to ride to WA again in October '08, but we will probably plan around 800km days. You will have lots of time for sightseeing and pics, based around the 300/400km days planned.
  19. Thanks for the advice GreyGentry. Done and done!

    Revised Day 4
    Day 4 - Adelaide, SA to Port Lincoln, SA (671 km – about 9 hours 9 mins)

    Regarding the "shortish" days. Yeah, we plan to stop wherever we want, for photos, rests, detours etc. Plus some days we'll be camping so there's camp setup/packaway time, etc, and given it will most likely be a winter trip, daylight hours are a bit limited.

    I may well have to look into collapsing some days together and/or cutting out some detours when the plan gets further around the country. Unfortunately the trip can't take "as long as it takes", unfortunately life commitments will set it to an absolute max of 60 days. Ideally the plan would be around 50 and allow for a few unscheduled extra days off if tired or incredibly impressed with a place. And given that it's taken 1/4 of that time just to get to Perth...

    Butz. :beer:
  20. Hi,
    If I can backtrack to Adelaide... I'm not local but when I visited the area I spent a couple of days just cruising around the Hills and Barossa and had a wonderful time. On that basis I would suggest taking a bit of a break there to explore the area as it is fairly small and you spent a lot of time basically going in circles so it lends itself well to that approach rather than trying to ride through. There's lots of accomodation of all kinds up there and I'd say most of it will be more enjoyable than Adelaide itself which is a nice city as far as cities go, but really nothing out of the ordinary either.

    But at the very least extend your route a bit further north. Go deeper into the Hills towards Birdwood then into Adelaide through Chain of Ponds - these are the riding roads around Adelaide... maybe someone local will chime in with more detail, but you could probably find a fair bit of info just searching this website for terms like 'adelaide hills' 'chain of ponds' or 'birdwood'.