I did this ride solo on my BMW R1200 GS motorbike. I’ve owned it since new (2008). The bike had its 230,000km routine service just before this ride. The engine is original and has never been overhauled. It performs as it did when new. But a thorough wash and polish no longer brings it up like new.
I rode daily for nine days and covered 3,385kms. For perspective, this is 348kms more than the road distance from Adelaide to Darwin.
The first day was my longest, when I rode 699kms from Apollo Bay to Murray Bridge in South Australia.
I started and finished at Apollo Bay on the west coast of Victoria.
My route was:
Apollo Bay – Ararat – Stawell – Horsham – Bordertown – Murray Bridge – Clare – Orroroo – Hawker – Blinman – Parachilna – Copley – Arkaroola Village – Leigh Creek – Hawker – Orroroo – Peterborough – Burra – Birdwood – Woodside – Strathalbyn – Victor Harbor (two nights) – Milang – Wellington (ferry crossing of the Murray River) – Keith – Naracoorte – Apsley – Naracoorte – Mount Gambier – Nelson – Portland – Warrnambool – Peterborough – Port Campbell – Apollo Bay (bold indicates overnight stay)
I arrived back in Apollo Bay an hour or so before sunset on Friday 23 April 2021.
Murray Bridge to Blinman
Blinman to Copley via ParachilnaGorge
Copley to Arkaroola
The red marker shows the exact location of my roadside puncture repairs. The Spot satellite messenger (the orange device on the left) created this location marker on a satellite image of the area.
Arkaroola to Peterborough via Copley
Peterborough to Victor Harbor and the Fleurieu Peninsula
My hosts for two nights, Barb and Colin Francis, who provided me with luxury accommodation and world class hospitality at their home in Victor Harbor. Barb and Col and Liz and I have done some extended motorbike riding together in the Victorian high country. We know them from our days in Port Lincoln in the late 1970s, when Liz nursed at the local hospital with Barb. Col owns a couple of BMW motorbikes, among numerous other vehicles. His tourer is the BMW R1200 RT. Col and I did a relaxing tour of the SW Fleurieu Peninsula on the bikes shown, including a visit to Cape Jervis.
I should also mention the other Francis family member in the photo on the left. Barb is holding Rose (pronounced as in the drink, not the flower) the affable chook. Rose and her companions live in the lap of luxury in quarters (with more than adequate indoor and outdoor living and recreation areas) built by Barb and Colin. They produce eggs (which I had for breakfast and which were delicious), and provide company of sorts. But on balance, I think these chooks came out clear winners in the deal with their life of leisure and luxury fully catered for in return for a few eggs a day which I’m guessing they were going to lay anyway. I suppose there is also the occasional less than onerous social obligation such as this photo shoot, but I don’t think that changes my assessment. As the photo shows, enthusiastic and intelligent social engagement and involvement is neither required nor provided.
While in Victor Harbour, my puncture repair eventually started to leak. 700kms on the repaired tyre was quite acceptable. I had a new tyre fitted in Victor Harbour.
Fleurieu Peninsula to Apsley, Victoria
At next to no notice I contacted my friend Ian to see if he was on a flying mission (a regular occurrence) or, improbably as I thought, on his farm east of Naracoorte. Turns out he was home and he kindly extended great hospitality for an overnight on the farm. Ian’s claims to fame beyond aviation and photography are too numerous to mention. But I will note two: (1) at the age of 24 he rode a Honda 50 motorcycle (50cc and top speed less than 40kph) from Adelaide to Darwin in four 15.5 hour days plus a final 15 hour day; and (2), there is cave on the Nullarbor Plain between the head of the Bight and the SA/WA border, accessible only by abseiling down from a high sheer cliff to its entrance which faces the Southern Ocean. This cave is called IOJ cave, named after Ian in honour of his voluntary services with his aircraft to exploration and mapping of cave locations in the cliffs which are visible only from sea between the head of the Bight and Eucla. This involved flying the length of that stretch of coast over the sea and below cliff top level, with high tech cameras recording the sights and other data as they flew. Ian has abseiled off the cliffs directly above the cave bearing his name, and entered the cave with the experts who were exploring, surveying and mapping the caves and tunnels penetrating inland from the cliff under the flat plains above. He is the only friend I have with a cave on the Nullarbor Plains named after him.
P.S. The Stuart Highway which connects Adelaide and Darwin was not fully sealed until February 1987. Ian’s epic ride on the Honda 50 was well before then.
There is an intermittent creek, dry when I was there, which meanders through a paddock beside the airstrip paddock. It supports an exotic array of beautiful gum trees of which these are only a small sample.
Apsley to Nelson via Piccaninnie Ponds
The Spot Satellite Messenger showing three greens, which indicates that my message identifying my location for the night has been sent to my family. They each receive an email with information including a satellite photo showing my position. The blue dot with the red marker is where the motorbike was in the picture on the left when I activated the Spot device. The Spot Messenger will work anywhere on the face of the earth. It uses satellites, not telephone networks.
Nelson to Apollo Bay
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6 thoughts on “Solo Motorbike Tour of the Flinders Ranges, South Australia April 2021”
Hi Frank. Your first longer comment did not arrive. Your brief comment with the question in that regard did.
Hi John. I’ll try again. I wanted to comment about the Flinders Ranges. I went there in my little teardrop caravan a few years ago. I’m still trying to find time to do it again. One of my favourite places is Kanyaka, an extensive ruin some distance south of Hawker. Great for night skies. You can see them here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFAC-DWAueI
I’m 71 now. I live in Ballarat and spend much of my time learning about photography around Port Campbell, Queenscliff, and places in between. I grew up at Warrion near Colac and my brother and I tried out diving along the coast, usually uneventfully, however he did go on to diving on the Loch Ard, probably in the seventies. He and I planned to dive on the City of Rayville, a hare-brained scheme if ever. Because tank filling was a bit hit and miss in those days we decided to snorkel part of the coast. I was there recently and I cannot imagine how we got down there, but we did, snorkelling in fleecy singlets because we couldn’t afford a wetsuit. There is a blowhole somewhere there in the cliff face. The first we knew of it was when we were washed in. I got out by riding a big swell and landing on a rock shelf.I looked around to see my brother pretty well buggered, because he had been washed right in and had swum out. I was able to pull him up by his singlet onto the same shelf, also on a big swell. I used to know some Apollo Bay residents. I knew James Fry of Skene’s Creek (RIP), JannyFlitton of Apollo Bay and another, a Helen Murnane who grew up at Naringal. My wife and I, these days, spend much time trying to get good photos of Gibson’s Beach and the stacks there, as well as the usual formationd throughout that area. We like night sky stuff, but struggle with it a bit.
I didn’t reply to talk about myself, but it is easy to do. I enjoy and value your posts. Thank yo, and I look forward.
Thanks Frank. Success this time. Thanks for your interesting comments and observations. I’m sorry now that I missed the Kanyaka ruins on my recent ride. I hadn’t heard of them. The drone video you provided a link to was very well done. As for your activities and interest in the west coast from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell (and no doubt beyond), and in particular in the shipwrecks there, it seems we have some overlap of interests. We also have a common interest in photographing subjects such as Gibson Steps, and in night sky photography. I can’t imagine there is clearer air on the planet than the night skies above the northern Flinders Ranges at their clearest. I really noticed it on my recent visit there having taken quite a few photos of the stars along the west coast of Vic in recent years where the night sky, while it can be spectacular, is certainly less clear than the outback night skies.
Your early exploits with your brother in snorkelling on the west coast sound as though there was some luck in you both surviving those adventures.
I don’t know any of the people you mentioned in the AB district, but the Murnane name is certainly a well known name in the area.
Thanks for sharing those interesting stories about yourself.
I’m pleased you enjoy my posts on this blog.
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A great adventure Great White!
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It was indeed Gill. I found some new unsealed roads to explore in the northern Flinders Ranges on my next ride to the area.
Fantastic photos as always, John. Also as always, wish I’d been there with you.
I spotted an error in your postscript – you said that your blog remains “entirely uninfluential”. I’d argue that’s up to the reader and certainly isn’t true in my case! Keep up the great photos and stories.
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