Lake Eyre Trip, April 2011

There is an accompanying gallery of photographs here.


Good Friday

Bill and Barb departed Holbrook around 7.45am for the beginning of

their journey to Lake Eyre in South Australia. Overcast conditions

prevailed and a temperature of 13 degrees created the need for

wearing full gear. The sun broke through at Oaklands, but only for

a short time and cloudy conditions again were the order of the day

at Deniliquin where we stopped for fuel and refreshments followed

by breath testing by the boys in blue. A pit stop at Moulamein in

warmer conditions saw the shedding of bike ‘over pants’. Tooleybuc

followed and lunch was partaken at Robinvale. The afternoon saw a

fox literally whiz across the road in front of a car (just in front of us)

and I do believe he left some tail fur under the front wheel of the

car. Fuel was purchased at Mildura before we headed into Renmark

around 5pm having completed 750 klms. A walk down by the Murray

preceded dinner at the pub, which in turn was followed with musical

entertainment by “The Chookman” –a very funny man. A noisy few

hours followed with some young things partying near the motel and

the endless thump, thump, thump emanating from cars, not to mention

the speeding up and down the street. At least all was quiet by 12.30am.


After the consumption of breakfast, and the setting off of the smoke

alarm (no I did not burn the toast – it was barely browned) we departed

around 7.45am. Our first destination was Berri, a quick look-see, then

on to Morgan for a wander round followed by yummy stuff at the bakery.

It was here that we (me) discovered ‘kitchener cakes’ – basically a jam

donut stuffed with cream. Absolute heaven. From Morgan we headed to

Burra and along the way we waved to a female push bike rider coming

out from behind the bushes (she waved first), checked out the shoe tree

(covered with shoes hanging from the branches) and right alongside was

the undie tree which as you may have guessed had underwear hanging

in the branches. Upon arrival at Burra we purchased fuel and visited the

old copper mine museum complex, very interesting, then headed on to

Peterborough. After lunch we checked out the motorcycle museum and

the steam train museum. Next destination was Orroroo for a cuppa and

then on to Hawker where we arrived around 5.30pm and stayed at the

hotel for the night. We rode approximately 450 klms today.


Many thanks to the Hawker Hotel for permission to leave our bike

panniers (and unnecessary items) behind, over night; we purchased

fuel and departed around 8.15am for Wilpena Pound. The temperature

and scenery were perfect for an enjoyable day riding. We called into

Wilpena Pound Information Centre (for information) and then rode the

bitumen all the way to Blinman. After a wander around, devonshire tea

consumed and a visit to the amenities we then headed out the dirt road,

through the Parachilna Gorge and onto Parachilna to rejoin the bitumen.

The gorge would be quite a sight after rainfall, not that you would be

able to drive through as there are many creek crossings, with a rather

large floodway at the end of the gorge. Lots of campers along the creek

bed, spectacular scenery, plenty of traffic and the occasional 4WD

owner who just couldn’t fathom that stones etc get thrown up when

you roar past. Hello – not a lot of protection when you are sitting on

a motorbike!! Leigh Creek (nature strips and lawns are all comprised

of stones) was our next stop for fuel, and then on to the Leigh Creek

Coal Mine for a look-see. Lyndhurst soon followed, with a lunch stop,

and also the end of the bitumen road. A little way out of town the

road turns to gravel for many kilometres followed by a 17 klms section

of bitumen, more gravel and then 5 klms of bitumen leading into

Marree. The gravel sections are quite wide and are comfortable to ride.

We arrived in Marree around 3pm to find a mix up with our

accommodation, but soon learnt we had a comfortable room at the

hotel. Atco buildings are popping up all over town to accommodate

the tourists. A shower, followed by a wander round town was the

perfect way to wind down. Many aircraft were observed at the

airport (across the back paddock from the hotel) for the tourists to

get a birds eye view of Lake Eyre. Some tourists fly in from the

capital cities, bus around the area, and then fly back out again after

viewing the lakes. The hotel has a buffet dinner each night and

members of bus groups (usually 2 bus loads per day) get first pick at

the food and the rest of us get the left overs. Several of us were

not impressed with this idea at all especially as it was $25 per head!!

Next time I will settle for a burger from the café.

1540 klms completed so far.

Monday (Anzac Day)

We enjoyed breakfast (cereal and/or toast) after the hordes had

finished theirs (they had earlier flights over Lake Eyre) packed up

our gear and rode out to the airport to watch some flights leave.

We then rode ‘back into town’ and visited the Lake Eyre Yacht Club,

had a cuppa at the Oasis Café (counter staff are young and foreign

– had to explain that ‘white tea’ meant tea with milk and not

something more exotic), took some more photos then headed back

out to the airport for our flight at 10.30am. Our flight of one and a

half hours ($280 each) in an Airvan consisted of the friendly pilot

(Paul) who was from the Cooma area and only 4 passengers. Bill

was promoted from passenger to co-pilot. In windy, clear blue

conditions we took to the sky and were not to be disappointed.

It was breathtaking. Paul was very informative pointing out all the

highlights. Flying across the water was dead smooth, unlike the

bumpy conditions over land (which I had trouble stomaching on the

return journey). There were lots of other planes sharing the same

air space (could be a bit of a worry), a large flock of pelicans and

lots of chatter on the headsets. Apparently there is more water

coming down from Queensland, should arrive in 5 weeks, and

tourists are expected to increase in June and July. After our flight

(I felt like kissing the ground, or throwing up) we headed back to

Lyndhurst with a stop along the way to visit Farina – an eerily,

beautiful old ruin settlement. Lunch was again purchased at

Lyndhurst and we rode the bitumen all the way back to Hawker

(more fuel at Leigh Creek) to collect our panniers and re-pack our

belongings. Our stay for the night was at the Austral Inn at Quorn.

We enjoyed the company of some fellow tourists and enjoyed our

best meal so far.


After breakfast at the Inn we went for a wander, and a ride (got

fuel) around town as we had time to fill in before a ride on the Pichi

Richi Railway at 10.30am. We struck up a friendship with a young

couple from Melbourne which contributed to a much better time on

the train as the ride was long and not very interesting compared to

the train ride at Walhalla in Vic, or the Wilderness Railway in Tasmania.

Leaving Quorn we then headed down to Wilmington, Murray town

and then across to Port Germein on a fantastic section of road. Prior

to reaching Port Wakefield we stopped for ice creams and a cold

drink at a servo and watched the city traffic returning after their

break. Our stop for the night was at Gawler, huge motel, had pizza

delivered, got the laundry done and had to put up with people

opening and shutting doors all night. Will not stay here again!


We packed up our gear and headed into Adelaide to enjoy breakfast

with Adam and to check out our photos and movies on a bigger

screen. Our next stop was Birdwood, via Chain of Ponds, for lunch

at the bakery and a visit to the Motorcycle and Automobile Museum

(very impressive). Several other bikes were out and about on the

roads. We rode back to suburbia along Gorge Road (great corners)

and eventually down to Stirling and Clarendon for another bakery

stop. Our stay for the night was Victor Harbor (affectionately known

as “God’s waiting room”) where after unpacking and a quick shower

we enjoyed a wander round town and dinner at McDonalds.

2400 klms completed so far.


We packed up and rode down to the bakery for breakfast (toasted

sandwiches) followed by a further wander around and some photo

opportunities. With the sun again shining down we headed on to

Goolwa, Strathalbyn, Wellington and Meningie for a cuppa. Then

came a boring ride down the Princes Highway to Kingston where

Bill checked out the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse (I lay on the grass in

front of the lighthouse enjoying the warm sunshine) followed by

lunch at the bakery. Very windy along the road today resulting in

my having to hold onto my helmet, with my hand, to stop my neck

from being snapped in two. Millicent was our stop for the night,

with friends, complete with a home cooked meal and great

conversation. We were informed that along the Princes Highway

not only kangaroos but also emus and deer bursting out from the

bushes alongside the road could catch out travellers, especially

at night.


After consuming breakfast, packing up and saying our goodbyes we

headed off towards Mount Gambier. Just out of Millicent we

observed a very large wind farm near the coast, quite an impressive

sight. At Mount Gambier we purchased fuel then headed on to

Dartmoor to check out the woodcarvings – some are carvings of

soldiers (or war related) and another large carving with nursery

rhyme characters all over it. Near the latter carving a large selection

of mushrooms was growing – don’t know that the locals knew they

were there as they were hidden down the slope from the road.

Would have fed the entire town! Travelling through Digby and Merino

our next stop was Coleraine for a cuppa (black forest cake was to

die for). We were informed, by other riders, that the roads we wanted

to ride in the Grampians were closed due to damage from recent

flooding so plan B was put into operation and we headed back to

the coast via Hamilton and down to Port Fairy for lunch (bakery) and

look-see. Next we rode through Warrnambool and along the Great

Ocean Road, stopping for obligatory photos, and on to Lavers Hill

that was our stop for the night. Burning off in the area hampered

our view of the coast from the top of the hill. We were not

impressed with the motel room floor being made of slate (not

carpet), so cold under the feet. Needless to say Bill improvised

and after finishing reading the newspaper it became mats for the

floor on either side of the bed. What a difference! A meal of Spaghetti

Pollo (chicken spaghetti) was thoroughly enjoyed at the adjoining

bistro and a slab of lemon meringue pie was taken back to the room

for Bill to enjoy later in the evening. I settled for a melting moment

to enjoy with my cuppa.


Following breakfast, at the bistro, we rode (in cloudy conditions)

out to the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk a short distance away. Tickets

are $22 for the walk and for the Zip Line ride it is $115 (all booked).

Once the walk was completed we enjoyed a devonshire tea in the

Otway Café while watching the ‘zip line participants’ gear up and

receive instructions. Next on the agenda was a visit to a Californian

Redwood Plantation (1938) a short distance away that was very

impressive. Huge trees! We rode down to Apollo Bay (fuel) where

we observed a ‘spider’ ridden by an Asian couple (not often we see

an Asian on a motorbike and no offence meant in singling them out).

From Apollo Bay we turned off the highway at Skenes Creek and rode

a magnificent section of road up to Forrest where we detoured across

to Colac for lunch. Following lunch we headed up to Cressy, Ballarat

(3pm too early to stop for the night), Creswick, Daylesford (too

expensive to stop for the night), and Castlemaine (all booked out due

to big event at Bendigo – also booked out, which overflowed to

Castlemaine). A decision was made to fuel up and head for home.

Leaving Bendigo in daylight we headed to Shepparton (darkness and

where my music gave up the ghost) and onto Benalla (where Bills

music gave up) for McDonalds. Warm food preceded the re-applying

of all our warm clothing and the alternative music system was set in

place, which unfortunately for Bill gave up not far out of Benalla.

Thankfully we had an incident free ride home arriving at 10pm, cold

and tired, and happy to be home – not to mention how happy Jack

(the cat) was to have us back home.

Informative information

  • 4,050 klms – drama free
  • 110 kph on most SA roads
  • 0 x sore rear ends
  • 8 x nights restless sleep
  • 2 x headlight globes
  • 7 x Bakeries - ‘huge servings’ at bakeries in SA
  • 1 x snake (near Farina)
  • Digital TV reception is really bad in most places we stayed
  • Pack the phone car charger (can be used on bike) for when phone battery goes flat – such as the last day
  • Pre-book accommodation (we did first 4 nights) especially if you have activities booked nearby