Saturday, July 28, 2012

The tale of Yoshimura

For years I have always wanted a Yoshimura. I mean, they add so much more performance, and in such a little well crafted pipe.

The difference in the sound and the way it makes the bike "crisp" is really evident. Yoshimura makes pipes for all sorts of motorbikes, Ours is a carbon fibre/stainless steel combination that saves weight, and adds about 8kw of power to the bike. With a shift in engine mapping, increasing idle by 200rpm the CRF is a crisp competitive ride. Most of all it sound good!

This weekend we spent the day adjusting the settings of the bike. All in all a great way to spend a few hours!

Dave testing the difference on the track

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Birds of Kilcowera

Lake Wyara. Expanding the photo displays the huge numbers of waterbirds.

Having just received an email from my friend Ken, who is continuing the work in Roudsea Woods UK, I felt inspired to do a post on the Birds of Kilcowera.

With its eastern boundary backing to the Currawinya National Park, and many of its creeks and run offs filtering towards Lake Wyara, Kilcowera is home to about 180 species over a wide terrain. Lake Wyara lies in a semi closed basin being fed by 5 large creeks. This results in a widely fluctuating water level. In 100 years it has dried 18 times and overflowed 5. This results in beaches at different heights. Dense samphire shrubs, succulents and saltbushes line the shore. To the north large River gums grow on the dunes and, in the water, sea grasses. Lake Wyara is a salt lake, and, close by, separated by a large dune is Lake Numalla. This is is a fresh water lake. It is because of this uniqueness that Currawinya was declared a national park in 1991.

A great Cormorant disturbed by our presence takes to the air for a look. ( photo Dave Cotter)

What is unique about Kilcowera is you can experience as much of this as you wish at whatever level you are at, or just camp, or bush walk, the choice is yours. I was de;lighted to discover that Peter Slater who produced "The Slater field Guide to Australian Birds" has used Kilcowera and left fabulous photographs, books and his old binoculars there. The book is a favourite of mine as the bird drawings are superb, and the book is robust and shaped to fit in a pocket.
A Whistling Kite flies in to take advantage of the water birds lifting from the ground. ( Photo Dave Cotter)

However, with Dave and myself working on Kilcowera we only had a few short hours to do some birding. In that time we had see over 80 species. Some are favourites of mine e.g. Brolga and Major Mitchell, and its always nice to see flocks of Budgerigars, Pied Honeyeater and Australian Hobby.

Map of the National Park and its lakes. To the west is Kilcowera, To the north is Boorara. The map shows the old family homestead locations of Currawinya and Caiwarro.

Birds are a vital barometer to the health of the planet, by simply watching them and keeping a record you can obtain statistics that assist scientist research. I keep lists and can use them the next time I am there and gain a picture over time. Its a good excuse for a walk and also helps you observe other animals. We saw feral cats, pigs and goats whilst out and about as well as Kangaroo.

Red Tailed Black Cockatoos. ( Photo Dr Jim Fowler 2011)

Kilcowera Bird list. Australian Magpie, Apostle Bird, Australasian Grebe, Australian Darter, Australian Hobby, Australian Pelican, Australian Raven, Australian Ringneck Parrot, Australian White Ibis, Australian Wood Duck, Black Kite, Black Swan, Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike, Black-shoulderd Kite, Blue Bonnet, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Blue-winged Parrot, Brolga, Brown Falcon, Budgerigar, Cattle Egret, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Cockatiel, Crested Bellbird, Crested Pigeon, Diamond Dove, Dollar Bird, Emu, Galah, Great-white Egret, Greater Cormorant, Grey Fantail, Grey Teal, Hardhead, Hoary -headed Grebe, Intermediate Egret, Laughing Kookaburra, Little Black Cormorant, Little Corella, Little Crow, Little Pied Cormorant, Major Mitchell, Masked Woodswallow, Mulga Parrot, Nankeen Kestrel, Orange Chat, Pacific Black Duck, Peaceful Dove, Pied Butcherbird, Pied Cormorant, Pied Honeyeater, Pink-eared Duck, Plumed Whistling Duck, Purple Swamp Hen, Red-capped Robin, Red-rumped Parrot, Red tailed Black Cockatoo, Richards Pipit, Royal Spoonbill, Sacred Kingfisher, Singing Honeyeater, Splendid Wren, Spotted Bowerbird, Spotted Harrier, Straw-necked Ibis, Stubble Quail, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Swamp Harrier, Tree Martin, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Welcome Swallow, Whistling Kite, White-faced Heron, White-plumed Honeyeater, White Browed Babbler, White Necked Heron, White-winged Cough, Willy Wagtail, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Yellow- throated Miner, Zebra Finch. Total 83.. July 2012.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Simons FJ Build and 30k road test

Drifta Drawers with water tank.

The build so far- to make a great vehicle even better I took the FJ to Ultimate Suspension and had the suspension height increased by 50mm, fitted a bull bar, side rails, driving lights, air compressor, tow bar and UHF radio and all terrain tyres.

Last week I took delivery of a set of Drifta draws. Storage in the FJ is a real problem and I wanted a set of draws to suit. What a great product. Luke from Drifta did everything he said he would, built and deliver a quality product. It took 10 minutes to fit and a couple more to fit the water tank. The draws come with a pull out picnic table, and a nicknack storage unit.

Whilst being made of timber and not as robust as the steel draws I had in the troop carrier, I rationalised the purchase on price, weight and the fact I would not be placing as much in the draws. They fit like a glove, the draws glide smoothly and are lockable. Even the water tank fitted well and I can still get a huge esky or fridge inside.

So how is the car and build so far after 30,000km? About half has been on rough outback old/NSW roads getting to cattle stations.

The Draws even come with a pull out picnic table.

Likes- I loved the way the car felt in stock form. Very comfortable and a great tourer. Brilliant, also, off road.

Dislikes- the standard front bar is awful and dangerous, made from soft plastic and is totally unsuitable for driving on the stations or the roads leading to them.

Likes the look of the bull bar I had fitted.

Dislikes- The adverse way the ARB bull bar affected the front suspension and damaged the vehicle. This is a problem that ARB acknowledge and are designing a replacement bar to fit. 7 months and still waiting....

Note;-If you are going to add weight over the front you simply must have the suspension modified.

Likes-the balance of the vehicle now I have the draws in and the suspension has been designed to take the extra weight. It rides as it did when stock.

Dislikes- the lack of storage. Having been spoilt with troop carriers and tray backs I must purchase a roof rack.

Likes- the BF Goodrich All terrains do an adequate job everywhere.

Dislikes- They chip way too easy on the rough rocky roads, and are ordinary in mud. I will replace these with a more suitable open lug design.

Likes- The doors. They make the car easy to use when camping.

Dislikes- the doors- Awful in an underground carpark when you have limited space and passengers.

Likes- They way the fj can sit on the speed limit and then have ample power for overtaking.

Dislikes- the tiny tiny fuel tank.

Likes- they way it sits on the dirt tracks at speed without being twitchy.

Dislikes- The traction control coming on when I don't need the car to drive me..when I am driving it.

Likes- its "off road ability".. It really is very very good. One of the best I have driven ( I have had about 20 4x4s)

Likes- the 21st century feel and design, without all the bling that modern cars seem to have.

Dislikes- The mud flaps are not long enough and the plastic flairs tend to stone chip way too easily.

Likes- the easy wash out interior.

Dislikes- the plastic is really too soft and is not durable. If you brush up against Mulga it marks.

Some of the items the drawers carry.

Problems- I need a new windscreen. It chips more than any other 4x4 I have owned. Now I have done 30,000km, 10,000 of which are on really rough outback roads I notice the doors are starting to squeak a little. The rear door is "styled" and when you open it red dust drops into the cabin. The squeaks could be dust in the hinges. The bull bar is a soft mount.. that means it moves about. I am reluctant to put a winch on it for this reason. If the bar stops a roo strike damaging the radiator I would be happy, but don't expect it to be like your 70 series bar. An alloy one would be better suited in retrospect.

Also the air filter is not an "industrial type" like what you get in the commercial range of Toyota. Servicing is every 10,000km.. Ok if you drive around the city... but the 70 series had a 'heavy duty" air filter and snorkel and you can have a heavy duty service which does not seem available on the FJ. I have already replaced the air filter and fuel filter. The air filter was like a dust bag in a vacuum cleaner..!

Fuel consumption- Loaded up I am averaging 12.5 litres per hundred. I took a risk moving away from the factory turbo diesel and into a petrol 4 litre, but the fuel consumption is about the same. The car is very very comfortable, and I am delighted when I drive it. It tools around town, with enough power to over take and is like driving a ford falcon or commodore. Yet throw a tent in and you can be on the Dowling track heading to Birdsville, or in low range crossing a dry creek bed.. Only Range Rover used to be able to claim it could do that.

I read that other owners drown their FJs in mud and twist them on trails. Each to their own.. I really see it as a robust Prado and not an "industrial" vehicle. As such, mine will not be used to strain fence posts, or pull water pumps out of 300ft bores. The 76 series wagon is perhaps the real great grandson of the FJ/BJ 40s and is much more suited to an industrial usage.

Conclusion- its a great product in every sense. I bought it as a tourer I could sweep out when dirty and it fits that role. I have a friend who has both an FJ and a V8 Cruiser 76 wagon. For outback travel he prefers the V8. I understand why. Its solid "non plastic build", live front axle and lack of electronic gadgets are a proven combination. Its horses for courses. I am far more relaxed over a 12 hour journey than in any of the Patrols, 60 series, 80 series or 100 series I have driven. My 1986 Range Rover was just as comfortable but I was never relaxed as I was always waiting for something stupid to break.

See, the Fj can do it all. Some of the issues can be overcome e.g. long range fuel tank.. wider flairs and longer mud flaps. As my son said.. " Its so good, its almost boring"..

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Working on Kilcowera

Here we spent time repairing a submersible water pump in a 300ft bore. Here we are preparing to pull the 300ft poly pipe out of the ground and replace the pump with a new one.

Preparing the Landcruiser for fire control

Here is Dave keeping an eye on things.

Mustering anyone?

Checked Stock

Got generators running for water pumps...

Then at the end of the day, got the yabbie pots out ( those green things on the bull bar)

caught and cooked up fresh Yabbies and a cool beer for dinner....all in all a great way to spend time!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Birds on our Kilcowera trip

These are just a handful of birds we saw. For a better look of Daves photos Click on them....

Wedge-tailed Eagle Photo Dave Cotter

Plumed Whistling Duck. Photo Dave Cotter

Orange Chat Photo Dave Cotter

Blue Bonnet Photo Dave Cotter

Australian Hobby Photo Dave Cotter

Brown Falcon Photo Dave Cotter

Blue=faced Honeyeater

Sunday, July 8, 2012


The Dowling Track.

Situated in outback Queensland approximately 100km NW of Hungerford is the cattle station Kilcowera. This iconic property was once part of the historic Boorara Station, is home to a wide variety of birdlife and has the infamous Murderers bore.

If you are looking for a top quality birding facility, or want to experience life on a cattle property, or perhaps you just way to sit under the shade of a Coolibah tree, then Kilcowera is for you.

Fords Bridge.

Beautifully managed, there are superb camp site, clean shearers quarters and hot showers. The camp sites have wood supplied. You can have guided bird tours, head out with Greg and experience a day in the life of a real cattle self guided, or have Toni and Greg Guide you...Do a lot, or kick back and do nothing. What ever your level or choice, its there waiting.

Dave at the wild dog fence.

I was keen to travel the Dowling track as it was an area that our family were involved in. For those of you who want to travel the track its condition is quite good. There are a couple of sections that are stony and another couple of sections where creeks have washed the road surface away. An average vehicle should have no trouble along its way. Naturally a vehicle with better ground clearance and all wheel drive capacity is an advantage.

Yours Truly in the FJ at Hungerford.

We cruised along the route in comfort and the FJ had no trouble with some of the softer bull dust sections. Within 9 hours we were at Fords Bridge, and finally made the push, through the wild dog fence to Hungerford and the famous Royal Hotel.. A Cobb and Co Coach stop.

Royal Hotel. Here you will find a photo of Roy Dunk.

The fence was in place for many years and part of my Pops job was to maintain it on horse back.. The gate at Hungerford is still used to this day. There is not much in Hungerford, its tidy and the steak sandwiches were very , very good! We refuelled and pushed on the last 100km along the border of Currawinya National Park.

Old Home Hungerford.
Currawinya, along with Caiwarro, was also a sheep station that our family was involved in. De- stocked its looking in superb condition. Alfred, "Fred" Cotter was the brother of Plummer who ran these properties in QLD. Sadly he went mad and ended up in Callan Park mental institution. A brain tumor was the cause. Quite sad really.

Alfred "Fred" Cotter
After 12 hours of driving we arrived at Kilcowera and were greeted by the owners Greg and Toni Sherwin. That evening we shared a meal and settled into the shearers quarters, ready for the work ahead.

Superb Shearers Quarters.

Next- a day in the life of cattle station.