Every two years dirt bike nuts travel to a location nominated by attendees at the last event to attend the Off Centre Run or rally as some prefer to call it (2012 was at Bramwell Station on Cape York). The rules being that each location has to have at least 200Km of dirt to get there.
This time it was a Drysdale River 60 km off the Gibb River Road south of Kununurra in August 2014.
Leaving Canberra early on a Saturday I was supposed to hook up with three other blokes at Cobar, Ian Horsburg, Andris Murnieks and Paul Evans; however the motorcycle gods conspired to thwart my efforts.
I headed out towards Parkes NSW but 30 Km short my old 1993 Honda 650 Dominator decided to go half power. My mate bought a second hand CDI out to me from Canberra but that turned out not to be the problem (it was no good any way as it turned out.
So I booked into a motel. In the middle of the night I reckoned I knew what the problem was so arising before first light I went out the road, pulled the carby out and found the needle had come loose because the bayonet type retainer had come off. I rang the blokes I was supposed to meet up with and told them I would be in Cobar by 11:00 am.
5 Km out of Cobar the old girl expired completely, so I sent word to the others to go without me. The bike was transported to Cobar where the extremely helpful Parisi Motorcycles ordered new ignition parts for the old girl. I installed the CDI but kept the Hall Effect sensor in my bag as it was working and it would have meant pulling the side of the engine off to install it.
I headed for Broken Hill but short of Little Topar Roadhouse the old girl stopped again. I laid the bike over in the sand took the engine clutch cover off and fitted the Hall Effect sensor. On a little further, ran out of petrol. A young bloke on a bike went into Topar and returned with some more Juice. I overnighted in Broken Hill and stopped at Yunta in SA for brekky.
Out the front of the road house I met a bloke on a 650 BMW Dakar. Rob Walton was just riding nowhere in particular. After some discussion we agreed to team up and go north on the dirt to Arkaroola. (I had told my family I was going up the bitumen direct to Alice Springs).
Next day we set off up the Oodnadatta track across the bottom of the Simpson and Gibber deserts, on to Finke where we camped in the bush until the servo opened the next morning. We followed the route of the old Ghan Railway to Alice Springs. A perilous journey on loose sand pretty well all the way. Three “offs” and another mechanical stop on the way
At Alice Springs as soon as I turned my lovely Optus phone on (if you see Optus in the bush they’re lost) it went stupid. Seems my wife and my brother thought I was dead and reported me to the coppers as missing. Sorted that out and set off for Halls Creek the next day.
The trip to Hells Crack as it’s known means crossing the Tanamai desert, 600 km of it without a petrol station. We did it in a day arriving at the Bililuna Aboriginal settlement. My mate was coughing up blood so after consulting the local doctor we set off for the Kununurra hospital 400 km away. Turned out to be a lung infection so he wasn’t dying like he thought he was.
We traveled on until we got to the Pentecost River. The crocodile warning signs and our long day meant we thought it best if we camped the night and tackled the problem the next morning. I arranged for a bloke with a trailer to take our gear over and his and his wife and kids sat on top of it to make sure it didn’t fall in. Rob rode across first making it just fine, I set off hit the big river stones and dropped the old girl. Surprisingly it started straight away. Those crocs make you get back on in a hurry.
Later that day we finally made Drysdale River. The last 60 km was deep loose grave pushed up into deep corrugations requiring a full throttle approach until firmer ground was encountered. We spent a couple of days there drinking grog and partaking of the excellent buffets laid on by our hosts.
We set off south as I wanted to visit my brother in Mandurah south of Perth. After Broome Rob went his own way and I continued on. 100 Km South of Port Hedland the old bike expired permanently next to a big rock with Jesus Loves You on it. It didn’t seem to apply to me at the time.
The old girl had a buggered engine and a flat tyre. I also broke down with a severe case of diarrhea. I hitch hiked back to Hedland, booked into a motel and during the course of the night and morning bought a falcon Ute for $6K. Went back out and picked up the bike and headed south stopping every 60-80 Km to run off into the bush. After four days I hadn’t been able to keep any fluids or food in me I dropped into the Dalwallenu hospital where a lovely nurse stuck some fluids in my arm and sent me on my way.
I spent a week at Mandurah, went glider flying at Narrogin with my brother then drove back to Canberra stopping at Horsham to check out a glider my brother was thinking of buying.
Final score….Dropped the bike six times…no damage or injuries…What a bloody great holiday.
Post Script. Sold the ute fitted a new piston to the Dommie all I need to do is pay for it all. Next one is in 2016 at Mungerannie Hotel, South Australia