Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 first ride

As many  of my  friends know I had surgery on an ankle in 2011, and despite a lot of rest, it has proved to  be a problem, often "clicking out" when I  least  expect it.

As such  the bikes have sat  in the shed pretty  much  since then.

Well, I  went over to my  UK friends blog " No Hidden Lycra", and became inspired to  give it a crack.

The tried and true Cannonade Prophet turns 10 years old this year!

So, today I  took the Cannonade Prophet down to  the polo fields simply  to  "spin" along the flats and see how I  shape up.

Needless to  say, I am  unfit. Too much  Christmas pudding, beer and wine have seen to that, and I  am  a long way  off doing 200km a week.

Today  was warm, and the fields looked good with  horses and cattle. I  set off and kept the gearing up  so  that I  had to really  spin (  i.e. get the revolutions rocketing).

The ride was short 15km. However I was breathing quite hard when I  returned to the truck.

The plan of action is- one month  3 days a week at this distance, increasing to  25km the following month, then introducing some hilly terrain.

Overall I  felt good, no ankle soreness and I  am  keen to  get back out!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Innaminka Station and the year that was.

Innaminka Station is located in the north east  corner of South Australia. Its a total in excess of 2 million acres and carries about 13,000 head of cattle.

It  is part of the Sir Sidney Kidman dynasty and my  daughter works there. Just before Christmas I  drove up  to  collect her and back again. Its about 3400km round trip.

The new 2014 Landcruiser.

Seeing that I  seem to be spending more time in the outback, it made sense to buy a new land cruiser and get it kitted with a few essentials- bull bar, side rails, UHF radio etc.

The trip involves familiar territory- Kurrajong-Bourke-Hungerford-Thargomindah-Innaminka and return.

Small strip of tar in Ghost  Town of Yantabulla.

The road heading from Bourke to  Thargomindah is called the Dowling track. essentially  following the Cobb and Co coach  route it heads North west to the dingo fence and the township of Hungerford, then onto Thargo.

The track from Yantabulla.

The track from Bourke varies in condition a great  deal, and in some sections can  be hard on a vehicle and its tyres. I  strongly advise to  carry  2 spares, extra jacks and wooden chocks, and run  your tyre pressure at 50psi at least.

Fords bridge is the first town- More just a great  pub and history. Yantabulla has a rural fire shed, public phone and looks like a scene from Mad Max- as if people just  left yesterday.

Hungerford is my  favourite spot. Population of 7, with a police station, a brilliant pub run by Grahame, and friendly  locals. Its always a good place to  stop  for lunch and a beer. Its even better to spend the night.

The next 210km the road improves greatly as the Bullo shire are constantly working on it. However the numbers of emus, kangaroos, wild horses and cattle also increases, and keeping a vigilant eye open as well as keeping the speed down are essential. Its not a track I  would recommend to  drive on at night, regardless of how much money you spend on  driving lights.

Thargomindah is a tidy town. There is a Toyota dealer, caravan park and general store as well as fuel.

I pulled in and topped the cruisers tank up and headed towards South Australia.

Innaminka on the horizon.

The road to  Innaminka is called "Adventure Way". In the peak tourist  season it looks like a conveyor belt with  white goods on it- being caravaners.  Its mostly a single strip of tar, with  heavy rocky edges.  The "Way" climbs through the Grey  Range and it really  does remind me of travelling on the bottom of a dry  ocean bed.

My advise to travellers on this section is-tune your UHF to channel 40. Road trains (  trucks with  3 or more trailers), mining vehicles and nut jobs towing camper trailers too fast are a constant.

Communicate with  on coming traffic, and get off the road.  Simply sitting on 100kph and passing another vehicle showers stones everywhere. Road train drivers cannot stop, or pull over as their rig can become twisted.. so be courteous and pull over.

The final section of road is dirt and in poor condition on the South Australian side.

Innaminka, frankly,  does nothing for me. There is a nice Pub, and a general store but thats it. I  pulled in  for a beer before driving the 3 km to the Cattle station.

The front lawn is a stark contrast to the desert just metres away.

Innaminka Station is at the pointy  end of the cattle production in  Australia. well run, well managed, it represents to best  of the best and carries on a tradition spanning over 100 years. My  daughters home is neat and tidy. The lawns are constantly  watered. One day  without and it dies. With  temperatures in the high 40's the cool of the verandah was most welcome.

The South Australian road.

A stay  over night, and an early  start back to  Sydney was in order. So I  hit the hay  early and the following day, repeated the trip back.

Vehicle report:-  I  meet a lot of tourists in my  travels, and they all want to  talk about vehicles and whats best. Many are critical of the Landcruisers, as they  talk number of airbags, KW, NM of torque etc.  Everyone is welcome to  an opinion, and I am yet  to  meet someone who has invested in $50-$100,000 tell me they  "got it wrong".

I  like my  Landcruisers. They are tough. The front end, with  live axle needs little or no repair, (  i.e. bushes) for 100,000km at  least. The V8 is lazy, good on fuel and the truck is happy  to  sit on 120kph all day with  a load on the back.

There is no doubt that the V8 is not as good in the bush, as it has too much  power for idling without wheel spinning, and I am  not too sure the airbag dash board will last like the old steel one.

My  daughters working dog- A Cooley. Smart and tough.

The wider tack at the front does make for interesting handling in  sand.

However,  it suits me. It  has a big clutch, big gearbox and big diffs, and that  is a formula for getting 400,000km out of it. Yes, you  do have to  keep onto the oil changes, and be sure the fuel is clean more than an  older one. Sure, statistically an Amerok/Ranger/BT50 produces as much  power and are more comfortable.  But they are not for me. The front ends fail, ( as it did in my  2011 FJ cruiser twice!), and as an auctioneer in the fleet  industry I see it first hand. The trim and fittings cannot stand the constant punishment of a life off road.  Yes, I  know mines are moving away  from Landcruisers- But those who  don't use roads (  Surveyors, cattlemen etc), still use the Landcruiser.  And whats this business of having to  change the oil in a BT50/Ranger 3.2 litre diesel in under 20 minutes or you stuff the motor?

So, I am delighted with my  purchase, and look forward to  many  more travels!

Happy  2015 to all my  readers.