and  the


2 Brothers
 2 Motorcycles
  7 Months
   4 Continents
    30 Countries

a travel tail





Sept - 2009  


12-9-09 ~ bike preparation 

The Mule was tired.   

It had been 3 mornings out of bed before 8am that week already - and now he had to be at the Donkey’s house to fit up the bikes on Saturday morning at 7am! 

Worse still, the bike was still filthy so would need a clean before being dismantled.  Which meant an even earlier morning. 

So at 6.30am the pounding sound of the 950 warming up woke the neighbours, who all came out to see what the noise was about... 


Mule - “Good Morning!” 

Neighbours - blah blah blah (something inaudible...) 

Mule - “what ?!” 


And at 7am sharp the Mule rolled into the Donkeys driveway for the day to begin... 


Donkey - “What are you doing here? - Did you shit the bed or something?” 

Mule - “You said to be here by 7am...” 

Donkey - “Yeah but since when are you on time for anything?” 

Mule - “Can i have a coffee?” 


13 hours later both bikes were prepped: 

·  Bark busters 

·  Foldable mirrors 

·  Michelin Off-road Tyres, heavy duty tubes, rim locks 

·  Oil change and filters 

·  Alarms 

·  All nuts and bolts removed and replaced with thread lock 

·  Safari Long range tanks - 30lt 

·  B&B Bash plates 

·  B&B Rear Racks 

·  High flow, (cleanable) foam air filters & pre-filters 

·  Larger Idle Jet to stop backfiring and improve throttle response 

·  Heated Grips 

·  Cruise control (throttle lock) 

·  Folding rear brake levers 

·  Touratech Side stand foot pads 

·  Fork air bleed valves 

·  50W HID globes and ballasts 

·  Touratech side panniers 

·  KTM tank bag and rear bags 


18-9-09 ~ The big Shake Down in the Flinders 

Monday morning on the Oratunga track... 

“that can’t possibly be the road...” 

And then the internal dialogue stops.  Only time to focus. 

All I see is rocks, big rocks and even bigger rocks, forearms burning, and hands are hurting. 

Scan ahead for smooth passage through, which of course there isn’t, so I make the best of it and just try to avoid the bigger ones - which of course I  can’t. 

The front washes out on some shale, I turn into it, and from what feels like the second storey somehow get a foot down to keep it up. 

Legs are like jelly, and breathing hard, but the big 950 effortlessly chugs its way up yet another hill, hurtling stones the size of your fist out from under the Michelin knobby like it’s firing rounds at the Red Devil behind. 

Madness, the last 15 mins had been a continuum of that awful feeling you get when you’re just about to fall off, and yet somehow the big Katoom keeps it’s feet and they keep moving forwards. 

A brief respite as the track improves marginally, and the 3 conspirators can have a seat and shake out their hands, but then its into another dried up riverbed full of rock with no clear path again - shit. 

The next rest stop at the top of a hill where the wasn't even enough flat ground to put the bikes on their stands... 

“I spent the last half hour continually amazed that i hadn't fallen off”  

“I’m not getting off the bike”  

the Red Devil is cackling manically and muttering something about the Diavolo Rosso. 

The gale force wind that will eventually bring a sea of red dust to the East coast of Australia howls and collectively they almost get blown over. 

“lets get out of here - i cant wait to have a beer...”  


We left Adelaide on Friday morning, intending to ride on some dirt roads to see how the bikes and gear held up... 

It’s 6.30am and the pounding sound of the 950 warming up wakes the neighbours yet again.  The Red Devil arrives on the XLV750R he’d borrowed for the weekend.  A quick chat and they headed off to the Donkeys place to start the ride to Wilpena Pound. 

Riding out of Adelaide on Main North Road, perched atop the 950SE and looking down into the cars of the urban commuters, the Mule couldn't help but think about how lucky he was not to be a part of it for the day, and judging by the looks from many of the motorists, they were thinking the same thing. 

They went via Gawler and Clare and arrived at Wilpena in the afternoon and made camp in the Caravan park. 

There they quickly settled into a routine. 

Start here... 

Donkey gets up at 6am, and wanders around quietly until about 7am, loses patience and starts banging pots, panniers or as a last resort the tents of the Mule and Red Devil. 

Mule and Red Devil get up around 8, they cook and eat dodgy canned breakfast (picking out the gristle) and then look at maps for a while. 

On the road by 8 or 9, ride out to a station getting lost on the way. 

Spend the next 4-5 hours riding the stations roads, river beds, stone infested hills and muddy goat tracks. 

Cannonball run back to either Wilpena or Blinman to get lunch at the pub before service stops at 2pm. 

Leave the pub at 3pm and ride another 2 hours through the back roads of the National Park for a bit of fun, learning that the 950 will spin the rear wheel in any gear at any speed. 

“When I crack the throttle it reminds me of a sprint car” 

Get back to the campsite by 5.30pm, fill the bikes with fuel, buy beer, ice and firewood. 

Drink aforementioned beer, and borrow an axe and split aforementioned firewood. 

Light fire and cook gourmet dinner. 

Keep the rest of the campsite awake laughing about the adventures of the day. 

Shower and go to bed. 

Repeat x 4. 


Day 1 Highlilght Skytrek 

On day 1 the Quadrupeds and the Red Devil (now known as the Diavolo Rosso) were very tentative on the dirt roads, wobbling their way down to the Skytrek 4wd track... Thinking the road leading to the station was fun...  that was all about to change. 

Skytrek is a challenging 4wd track about 100km long, with terrain ranging from average dirt road, to riverbeds, steep rocky ascents and slippery decents, series of whoopee doos, fast flowing track and some amazing views from the top of Mt Caernarveron at 932m... 

the final push up the mountain is getting difficult now, the road is all slate rocks and there’s one mound after another in the road with tight uphill turns.  I wasn't expecting this. Not all all.   

Trying to be gentle with the throttle to keep the motor smooth off the bottom, but with more power than most small cars that’s not easy.   

The bikes jump and bump over the rocks, impossibly soaking up even the biggest hits to the front end, and making me feel a little stupid for not being a little better at this. 

Finally we're at the top, breathing hard but smiling, and laughing a little manically 

“Am i the only one who almost binned it a hundred times up there?” 

“nah i did too” 

“me too...”  



Day 2 highlight - The Alpana Track 

Just when the conspirators thought they’s seen the worse they could possibly ride through, the Alpana track threw yet more creek beds, bigger rocks and steeper hills at them. 100% fun. 


Day 3 highlight - The Oratunga Track 

They should have thought better of it when the station owner initially told them it wasn't passable at the moment -  

“ ... we have big adventure bikes” - said the donkey 

“Ok well i guess you can have a crack at it” 

At times resembling a martian landscape, red, stony and dry, the Oratunga track is in 2 loops, one nastier than the next. But by now the Donkey, Mule and Devil weren't afraid of anything, so they gritted their teeth and ground their way through it.  Highly recommended. 


Some stand out moments on the Trip included: 

·  The three 4wd tracks described above 

·  The Red Devil Fearlessly riding into a muddy water crossing at 60km/hr - that turned out to be almost a metre deep.  Initially aquaplaning but  somehow keeping his footing, turning 90 deg and riding along the channel, before doing the same thing again to exit on the other side, completely covered in mud from head to toe and laughing hysterically. 

·  The Donkey falling off his camping chair—always amusing! 

·  The Red Devil’s fruit box malfunction, (see pics for what happens when you leave a fruit box in your luggage when riding rough roads). 


The bikes... 

The 950 Super Enduro’s are amazing, it defies logic that something so well mannered on the road (or even a racetrack with the right rubber), can also take the sort of abuse administered on this trip.  For the first few days i was continually listening for sounds that the thing was about to go to pieces, but it just kept on chugging away.  And when you open the throttle the thing builds speed down a dirt road at rate that’s hard to fathom... 

“It feels like being shot out of a cannon” 



il Diavolo Rosso (otherwise known as Sam) 

The Red Devil has been kicking tyres with the Donkey and the Mule since they can remember, and would probably be coming on the Donkeyandthemule trip but he has bigger priorities right now with a little one on the way, but a few days away were definitely appealing, and with a Honda XLV750R sitting in the garage - why not! 

It’s a narrow angle V twin 750cc  shaft drive trail bike.  Circa 1985 with only 16000km on it.  So we saddled it up with some new rubber, put on some rego and fitted a luggage rack, and thinking we’d only be riding on dirt roads we figured it would be fine for this trip...  

Well things got a little rougher than we’d planned, but credit to Honda for building such a solid bike, and even more credit to the Diavolo Rosso for punting it through such rough terrain! 


In Summary... 

We learned a few things on this trip, not the least of which was how to ride off road a little better, thankfully all those skills learned racing at Mallala and Philllip Island on a race bike have somehow translated ok to serve us well off-road too. 

But also... 

1. Camel backs are a brilliant idea. 

2. Head lamps are an equally brilliant idea. 

3. All the camping gear we bought has been perfect. 

4. The bikes are mental (we already knew this, but even more so now). 

5. Our ‘Waterproof’ riding gear is not 100% waterproof in a Cyclone. 

6. We need to carry more water. 

7. Fully loaded on the highway, the bikes will travel about 470km on a full tank. 

8. Travelling slowly on goat trails, the bikes will only get about 300km out of a tank. 

9. A rear tyre doesn't last long when you’re power sliding the bike at high speed on gravel roads. 


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