Hobart, Tasmania. 5 crazy people set out on a motorcycle outback adventure... I could go on about our aims and aspirations, but like any real adventure, it all evolved differently..

We started this trip mid March 2011. I'd say all of us were desert rider novices, but with various skill levels. It turned out to be one of my most cherishable motorcycle trips that I have done. The weather conditions this season were quite unpredictable and we took a punt with the date of departure. We were extremely lucky - apart from rain & cold the first and last 2 days, we had absolutely brilliant conditions for all of  3 weeks. Riding every day between 150 - 450 km, mostly camping in tents. These pictures tell the story...

start of all trips (?) - well known places - Great Ocean Road

after 2 days pushing through the clouds in wet weather gear - toward Mt Ive Station

Gawler Ranges in sight - the adventure begins

aha - this is what it's like - dust & sand holes - very tricky for the novice

the fabulous Mt Ive Station - great place to hunker down and explore from - shearer's quarters open, guests welcome - wonderful people!

mild evening - the first of many to come

Lake Gairdner - rarely wet, but here it is (Speed Week was cancelled only days before due to the flooding). We were stunned by it's beauty and serenity - the salt pan in the background

now we are getting into it - it's better than the keenest dream. I feel elated

climbing up hills reveals the vastness of this place. What looks like cozy little tufts of grass is spinifex - each blade so pointy it pierces your flesh to the bone before you even touch it. Yet some animals manage to make sleeping quarters in them!

mesmerising skies - mind blowing

the bane of the novice adventurer - bottomless sand pits. Bike loses it's mind, rider becomes distraught

there are hundreds of salt lakes dotted around, we are going to check this one out..

fascinating! Very strange, bit like a moon walk..?

waiting for the others to catch up - still sometimes treacherous this sand, you never know when it gets deep

corrugations don't faze the XRs much, yet one looks for relief on the track's shoulders

it really gets this bright. We were lucky, a southerly breeze kept temperatures bearable

you might think this is boring, but it ain't. You just speed up a bit, that makes it interesting! Good to have a machine with some poke. Seriously, this Flat Country has an amazing effect, one feels quite alienated - should we really be here..?

Lake Eyre - I'm standing in it!!! Water is warm and as salty as the sea. It's blue and clear and reaches over the horizon. The cool breeze from it is welcome. But being there is a really big thing for me!
This was the spark for me to take up the journey - 'swimming' in Lake Eyre.

night falls graciously out here

Outback outpost Marree - camping is a bit bare bones but meals & facilities are good. Postoffice can handle parcels and has some staple goods in the shelves. Here we took a plane flight..

this desert is wet. Cooper Creek, one of the main feeds of Lake Eyre. Another peak flood is expected in June due to ongoing rainfalls in QL & NT. It takes about 2 months to reach this lowest point of the Australian basin. Two big streams end up here and drain into Lake Eyre for evaporation and seeping into the vast underground water store which is said to extend to one quarter of the continent's area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Artesian_Basin

it is so green! Usually vegetation is hardly visible from this height. A rare state of this land, once in a lifetime perhaps. Tourism is on the up - next day 3 more light planes arrived to facilitate more of this

improved outfit - better for the heat. Motif is "Marree" with camels. But it's white, that's the point, mesh & armour underneath replace the Dririder jacket. The 2 XRs are in full kit. Not quite as nimble as usual, but manageable. In 6500 km not a single problem with either, just topping up oil and one air cleaner flush and keep goin' - can't help to mention that the 3 beemers where not quite as trouble free (nothing too serious and perhaps more operator related).

one of a few astonishing oases - this part appears to be a natural soak, likely some springs nearby - this once was a booming outback town - only one station is operating now

passing this one by (sigh) - maybe next time. Many of the big tracks were closed due to flooding

In the wild the Emu flocks are a strangely ancient encounter. Felt a bit like being in Jurassic Park. Usually they flee from the bikes, but when you stop and turn the noise off they become curious and approach with deep grunting

can it get better than this? I won't keep it a secret - these are the Flinders Ranges, one of the most ancient mountain ranges on our planet. Parks keeps these roads is excellent condition - we were really impressed how vigilant the departments of the mainland states look after their roads.

more sand. Expect it in the most unlikely places and you are prepared. Just go slow. The power-up trick doesn't really work with our heavily laden mules

a flooded side arm to the Darling River - making for a spectacular evening scene

this desert country is full of surprises

further south it becomes ever lusher - approaching the Murray River region

the Murray River - filled to the brim. The steady rain of the following night caused a dramatic change to the 20km clay track...

this was interesting going indeed! The track we came in was impassible. Just a few metres onward, hidden in the grass was a deep water filled channel which forced us to reconsider the road.. we made it out to firm ground eventually and with difficulty - we learned: think before you venture into the unknown. Be prepared to sit out the conditions. In this case, my new tent's floor had failed in the steady rain - it would have been not good to spend another night there.

This marks the end of the journey, from here it was tracking back to Tasmania, rain following us all the way.

If I had to quote one highlight, it might be this:

Mungo National Park - visit to the "Walls of China" - the dune is a remnant of the beach of an ancient lake. Since the lake dried up some 40,000 years ago, it has been there and only recently started rapid erosion due to a rabbit plague. We were guided by 3 local blackfellas - lovely blokes with big smiles and a great sense of humour - very humbling in the light of what has been done by "us" to their people in the past.. makes you think

- I hope this may inspire some to venture out there and see for yourself. I am happy to receive your comments here - <thetwo@netspace.net.au>

all for now - Jim