Sunday, 1 March 2015

Bikes: GTM out for a Duck!

Well it has been some time since I have written about a bike trip. That might be because it is some time since I have been anywhere of note. (Apart from delivering stuff to the hospitals for the bride's shop.)

So.. all the way from the USA is Todd. A fellow member of the Global Community of ADV (Adventure) riders. Todd is in Australia on business and had a day free for a ride. When he was last here, my riding buddy Gregor organised a day out.. so this time I went along for the ride too!

So yesterday morning at 07:30 hours finds me outside the Marriott Hotel in Brisbane where I meet Todd. I notice Gregor has brought his 650 Suzuki, not his 990 KTM.. this usually means the roads less travelled will be "interesting"... and here I am on Maximus Obesus.. all 260 kg of him.

First stop is Canungra for coffee and ice cream for Gregor and Todd while I have breakfast. (OK.. I slept in!) From here it is off to O'Reilly's Guest House. At this point I am in the lead and come across this series of signs on the fence at a turn off along the road.

Are these signs for real?

The ride up to O'Reilly's is great and eventually you come out through a canopy of rain forest. It is so long since I was here last. They now have a regular car park instead of cars all over the place and the road is bitumen. My first trip here back in early January 1970 with Ken Brand piloting his mother's Morris Major Elite was hot and dusty. Today it is just hot.. but as we rise into the plateau the temp drops.

Todd's view of me on Max in the forest!

Now Bernard O'Reilly who founded the guest house dynasty up here was a national hero when he found the crashed missing Stinson Air Liner back before WW2. The authorities were looking closer to the coast and even out to sea for the wreckage. There were three initial survivors and two eventual survivors ... and Bernard organised the rescue of these two men. I have been fortunate to have visited Westray's Grave on Running Creek and even the crash site itself. But even in 1971 the souvenir hunters had taken so much of the wreck away. Sad really. Tip: Google Stinson Crash QLD and read all about it!

In 1988 during our Bi Centennial year, they made a movie about the incident starring our own Jack Thompson. For the movie they made a life size prop.. a Stinson Airliner. This prop is still there but sadly it is falling apart in the weather, much like the crashed original.

This plane will never fly again.. actually it never flew at all!

Expanded foam radial.. must run cooler; has plastic exhaust pipes!

So.. after inspecting the Stinson, there is time for a quick drink and a rest break while Todd meets a couple of the local birds and then we will be off again!

Meeting a new bird!

Meanwhile back in the car park....

So from here.. Gregor decides we should be out for a duck. Duck Creek Road that is. This is a steep alternative route up and down from O'Reilly's.. and is 4WD only.. and "Do not use this road in the wet". Now I know why Gregor brought the Drug Runner and not the Kato. Naturally.. me being the biggest.. I get sent first. I think Gregor's theory is that I will make for a soft pillow if he lands on me. Just as we run into the start of the road a 4WD comes up.. and tells me there are 3 more behind hm... and as we find out later even more behind them.

This road is very muddy and slippery at the top and just when you get past all of that.. it goes down.. right down and so steep too with wash outs and tricky mud at the sides just waiting for fools like us!

At some more "flat" sections of the track I mange to capture these pictures.

Gregor and Todd. Todd had road tyres on.. well done mate!

Gregor the sneaky one left his KTM 990 at home.. I'll get even mate!

This road was formally opened in 1988 as a "Do it yourself road" according to this plaque.

On this spot in 1988 etc etc..

At this point we grab some more pictures before the final terrifying descent to the valley floor below us. I still don't know how I managed to get the beast down here and not drop it once. But I do know I used full 46 years of motorcycling experience and it seems to work.

Two thirds of team GTM.

The view ain't had bad from up here.

So finally we get to the bottom. I have no pictures of this because it is so steep one cannot really stop and get off for a photo opportunity. A couple of Pajeros and Land Rovers pass us going up in low range.. finally when we are on the valley floor we pass a Nissan X Trail heading up. Good luck mate! At this point we have lost Todd. He has literally fanged down the mountain on that Yamaha 660 like the man from Snowy River.  Eventually we find him at the gate where a donation box is set up asking for funds. I think it is to raise donations to cover the cost of the funerals for those who die making the trip up or down!

Here's Todd.. looking for any dropped money! (Not really)

So it is off to the bitumen and across a magic hill to reconnect with the highway. This hill is steep, well bitumened and deserted.... so I switch the S10's engine map to sport and wind up the wick. Just magic. The tacho needle sweeps to the redline, up a gear, throttle wide open  and back to the redline and well.... we are now are speeds that would be viewed upon very sternly by the members of QLD's finest. But talk about exhillarating!

The rest of the trip is something like this:

1. Drinks at Rathdowney.

2. A Tour of some diggers farm as Gregor's GPS takes us up into the hills to a locked farm gate.

3. Refuel for Todd at Boonah and we manage to lose Gregor. (Really sorry about that mate)

4. I escort Todd all the way back to Capalaba to return his bike.

5. The bride rings and asks me to collect a chicken on the way home for dinner.

Here is my Spot Satellite tracker map showing the trip:

The magic of the space age!

All in all a magic day out. Some 415 kilometres covered and really great riding. Arrived home with no sore back or bum (bonus!) and some great memories. Gregor, the trip was magic, even the Duck Creek part and Todd.. well mate you are easy to get on with and we hope you come back again really soon.. so we can do it all again!

It is magic being part of a Global ADV community that allows for trips such as this to be arranged.

I am indeed a lucky man!


  1. Mark, you are certainly a gentleman, I truly enjoyed the ride. A good time was had by all, and even with the mud, we all managed to stay upright. I would have had an awful time explaining a trip to the Emergency Room on my expense report. Thanks for looking out for me, and giving up your day to show me some of God's most beautiful country. I can't wait to do it again next time I'm down.
    - Todd

    1. Mate.. one of the best days out I have had. Glad you had fun. Will look forward to your next visit down under and show you somewhere else. Enjoy the remains of your stay in Oz!