Trip Odometer: 11755km
Daily total: 624km

I made the decision to split from the Black Dog Ride, head for Brisbane and make a call to the suspension shop en-route once they open. I had a backup plan should they not be able to repair the fork seals, but that also required me getting to the shop before they left for the day.

I left Tamworth about 7am. I opted to go the New England Highway as I knew it would be relatively free from traffic, and it would also avoid the roadworks south of Ballina. I figured I should be able to cover the 600 kilometres in under 7 hours, and provided I can keep a moving average of close to 100kph, technically I should be closer to 6 hours. So no photo’s other than when I spotted the ‘Queenslander’ sign on the Border!

Aside from the cold, it was a pretty good run. The only real traffic I had to deal with outside of Brisbane was some school traffic heading into Armidale, and a few retirees and nomads doing the Stanthorpe wine runs.

I made a call to Suspension Improvements at around 9am and gave them a full rundown on my situation. I spoke to Steve, and he said provided I could get in before 2pm, they would fit the new fork seals for me. I rolled into their driveway at 1.15pm!

To their word, the bike was pushed into the workshop and repairs started immediately.

Before and and after

I can’t recommend Suspension Improvements enough. Steve and Graham went out of their way to help get me sorted. They clearly know their business, and had me back on the road in under 2 hours.

I also need to pick up a new rear tyre. The current one is toast, a bit earlier than I hoped at just under 12000km’s. Its probably got 1000km left in it, but not enough to make Cairns. I also want to get the tyre shop (Dave Oliver’s) to take a look at the wear pattern so I can get advice on correct pressures. Dave has kindly offered to open up his shop early so he can fit me in.

Once the new tyre is fitted, it will be time to repack the bike and try and catch up with the rest of the riders as they pass through Brisbane.

Trip Odometer: 11131km
Daily total: 483km

A short post today. I spent most of the day on Facebook and ringing people trying to find a solution to the damaged fork seal on the bike. I spent the day riding just in front of the tail end charlie, attempting to avoid any heavy braking and trying to dodge rough sections of road.

It was another cold start from Bathurst. -2.5degC on the motorcycle thermometer. Looking out to the west, the incoming cold front was visible, and it did not take long for it to arrive overhead. As we rode on toward Mudgee, the front stared pushing up the wind and we had some intermittent showers of rain.

Eventually we got into Mudgee, nudging just ahead of the front. The sun was shining on and off whilst the local newspaper got the story out of the organisers. We then grouped up for a photo before heading out again.

From Mudgee we went to Merriwa for fuel and a quick bite to eat. It was here that I got a call from a mate. He had located a place that had seals in stock for the forks, but were not open on a Saturday. I started working out the distance to Brisbane and the time it would take to see if it might be possible to get in at a reasonable hour on Friday before the shops shut up for the day. I ran out of time before we had to get moving again.

Leaving Merriwa, a wrong turn gave as a look at a nice painted silo. There is lots of these scattered around the country now.

After correcting, I raced ahead of the lead riding after mistaking some directions. Lucky for me I went off in the right direction and it wasn’t too long before the ride leader showed up in my mirrors. Arriving in Tamworth, we got a group pic in front of the golden guitar before making our way to camp.

By the time I made it to camp, it was too late to make an appointment with the suspension repairers, but I figured out I could get to Brisbane by about 1pm, so made the call to split from the Black Dog Ride early morning and head to Brisbane for repairs. Having not spoken with the company in question, I was not sure they would even be able to fit the seals, but at least I knew I could get some, then I could make plans to get some repairs done.

Trip Odometer: 10648km
Daily total: 390km

Temperature at the Canberra camp dropped to -4.5degC overnight. It was very hard to get out of the warm swag and into the cold. Of course, everything was covered in ice, so my hands were freezing after packing up.

After a cup of coffee and some toast and packing up the last of the gear, it was time to head to the briefing. I underestimated Canberra traffic, and only just made it to the briefing site in time. After the brief we started out toward Crookwell via Gurrundah, but there was confusion with GPS’ and we ended up doing some dirt into Crookwell.

Once in Crookwell, we were supposed to head to Bathurst via Trunkey Creek. However the road from Crookwell to Trunkey has only been fully sealed for 6 months, so our GPS’ were trying to route us via Goulbourn then back out to Bathurst. Eventually the ride organisers called up the Trunkey pub who got us sorted, so we backtracked back to Crookwell, and then hit some of the best motorcycling roads I have ridden in some time. After a great ride, we pulled into the Black Stump pub at Trunkey for a late lunch.

It was here that someone pointed out to me the oil leaking from the left hand fork. It was immediately obvious that fork seal had blown out. I put in a quick call to Team Moto in Brisbane, but they were unable to get a replacement seal fast enough to do the work on Saturday when I would be in Brisbane. So I am going to have to get it repaired in Cairns by the look of it. I will make a few more calls tomorrow to see if I can figure something out.

After lunch, it was off of to Bathurst. I rode at the back of the group and took it pretty easy on this leg to try and prevent more oil leaking from the fork seal. We rode straight to Mt Panorama for a lap and a few pics.

I departed before everyone else to head to Super Cheap Auto to pick up some rags and degreaser to attempt to stem the flow of oil down the forks and potentially into the brakes. A rag cable tied around the seal should suck up any oil before it becomes a problem, and I can replace the rag when it becomes saturated.

Approximate Course.

Trip Odometer: 10258km
Daily total: 93km

Well it got cold overnight, real cold. Ice had formed on the swag before I went to bed, and the temp dropped to -2.5degC overnight. I left some water in the pan I made dinner in last night, and it went solid.

The plan for today was basic, pick up a few bits and pieces to replace failed or non existent camping gear. I departed for Tentworld around 9.30am, and the air temp was still sitting at 2.5degC. The bike even showed its ‘ice’ warning symbol it was that cold.

I dropped into Tentworld yesterday as they were near the Triumph dealer (who looked at the coolant overflow issue). I picked up the bungee cord I needed to replace the broken cord in the swag poles but forgot everything else I needed. The most important thing was a new inflatable pillow. The old one sprung a leak at Ballarat. The pillow, along with a good mattress and sleeping bag is the key to making a shit camping experience comfortable. I lashed out and spent $50 on a decent pillow that will hopefully last.

I also wanted some small tent poles so I could use the flysheet without having to find perfectly spaces trees. There was not really anything close to what I wanted, but I picked up some cheap 3 piece poles and pulled them apart and discarded the middle section. Not ideal, but they will do. Also cheap at $14.

We had one engagement today, and that was with one of our sponsors, Indian motorcycles. Turns out the dealer here (Canberra Motorcycle Centre, aka CMC) also has heaps of accessories, and is madly repairing and servicing a heap of the Black Dog Rider’s bikes. Bonus is they had Merino inner gloves, so I lashed out and bought a pair in attempt to prevent frostbite to my fingers in my pathetic Queensland winter gloves. CMC also has an awesome cafe, so a coffee and a bacon and egg roll was purchased for lunch.

I was a little concerned when I arrived at CMC, as I had coolant leaking out again. A closer look and it was obvious that I had overfilled the tank last night, but I will still keep an eye on it.

The afternoon I decided to go see one of the other Riders who is having a bit of a tough time the last few days. I thought he might toss it in, but to his credit he is going to continue. I was actually pretty chuffed when he sent me a text and said he was back!

After a cup of Tea with John, I was desperate to get back to camp before the sun went down so I could erect the fly sheet over the swag in attempt to reduce the amount of dew/ice in the morning. Its much easier to dry the fly sheet than it is to dry a canvas swag.

Tomorrow we are off to Bathurst, then Tamworth. I have made the long hard decision the last few days that my helmet need to be replaced. I was going to attempt to repair it by replacing all the pads inside but I have also discovered in the rain that the seal around the visor is damaged, and its leaking not only turbulent air (that is noisy and makes it hard to concentrate even with ear plugs) but also water that makes it hard to see when its raining. Given I also spent some money on a new visor and pinlock insert (anti fogging device) I was really trying to avoid replacement. I have also discovered some damage to the crash foam as well. At the end of the day, its just not worth skimping here. I have managed to extract 7 years out of that helmet, so I am happy with that. I rang AMX in Brisbane (Virgina) today and they actually had stock of the helmet I wanted and the size I needed and they have put it aside for me. This means a slight detour and night in my own bed at home! It will also give me a chance to offload some stuff I bought along with me that I don’t really need.

Trip Odometer: 10165km
Daily total: 492km

TODAY I CRACKED THE 10000km mark! Only about another 16000km till I get back home.

We assembled at the caravan park at 7am to see off the Victorian Riders. Once they departed we did a quick brief and gave them half an hour to get well ahead of the Around Australia Riders.

Finally today we managed nearly a full day of Sunshine. I started a bit cloudy, but old yella was trying to part the clouds. After departure from Lakes Entrance, we headed toward Cann River. A coffee and a hot pie was desperately needed here to help combat the cold.

From Cann River it was off to Cooma via Bombala and Nimmitabel. By now the sun had fully emerged, and the clouds had departed. This was not much help as we climbed up into the great dividing range and watched the temperature drop to 5 degrees. Still, the riding more than made up for the cold. I have done a lot of the roads in this area, and they really are quiet beautiful. They are also great for motorcycles. This road however, I have never travelled on, so it was good to check out some new country.

Once in Cooma, it was time to refuel, and then we had an hour to spare to have a look around. I have been through Cooma and the main street many times, but I have never had a real good look around the place. I headed up to Nanny Goat Hill Lookout for some photo’s with Winston.

We departed Cooma and were intercepted by the Australian Federal Police for an official escort into Canberra.

When we arrived in Canberra, I parked up the bike only to see coolant leaking out underneath. Given I am not even half way through the ride yet, I had a sinking feeling. After looking closely, it was clear that the coolant had come from the overflow pipe. There was still coolant in the overflow bottle, but not much. The bike never overheated, and the thermofan was working fine. After setting up camp, I took the bike down to the local Triumph dealer in Canberra. They suggested that its quite common, and not to be concerned. They also said it would probably never happen again! I topped up the coolant tank and so far so good.

Camp tonight is at the exhibition grounds, about 6km from the rest of the crowd. There is only 2 of us game enough to attempt the Canberra night in a tent and swag. Tonight’s forecast is -1degC, and tomorrow is -3degC. I have had worse!

Trip Odometer: 9673km
Daily total: 526km

This post is also going to be a day late. Even though I have started it on Day 10, I had to finish Day 9 post because I chose sleep over social media! This one will be easier, as I will note down all the detail and finish it off tomorrow. I will also get a chance to catch up on it all in Canberra where we have the next rest day.

Another early brief, just as the sun is about to attempt to poke through the clouds. Due to my preference for sleep last night, I also failed to refuel for the next day. So after the brief I disappeared briefly to refuel. Thankfully I got back seconds before everyone was about to depart.

We departed through some great riding roads today, but alas the rain came down which made a cold day even worse. Still, despite the conditions, we enjoyed some great riding and fantastic scenery. Our first stop today was at the Beechworth Bakery at Healesville. This was more of a rest stop, but it was a good chance to get talking to people in a busy area, which we did.

From there we went to Old Gippstown for lunch. For the campers, it was a quick stop for a toilet break, then out to try and get into camp before dark and attempt to dry out some of our gear from last night’s rain. Mind you, some of the campers had a hard night in hotel accommodation last night, so had nice dry gear today! The rest of the riders enjoyed a lunch. I am not sure who put on the lunch unfortunately, as I did not stick around to enjoy it.

Found this guy in the old shearing shed at Old Gippstown. Not exactly sure what is going on there?

Dinner tonight was at the other caravan park (the one that has no camping!). Tonight was not a community engagement, but a farewell to the Victorian riders that did a great job of both escorting us through some great riding country and introducing us to some of the communities they support in their area. Nonetheless, there was also plenty of discussion about why we are doing this, and plenty of talk amongst the riders who are sharing their stories about their battle with the black dog, both personally and with friends and family.

Dinner was soup and and a roast meal, around a massive fire. Just what I needed after battling through the rain and cold in Victoria. Perhaps the Vic riders can turn up the heating for us next time!

Trip Odometer: 9147km
Daily total: 402km

This post comes a day late. I really hit the wall yesterday (I write this on Day 10), and was battling fatigue all day. I decided to sit out all the formal proceedings and get an early night. Needless to say, that fatigue also meant very little time was spent taking photographs, but I did get some!

It was yet another early start today. with a 7am briefing. This does not seem too early, but the sun does not rise until after 7am in this part of the world. It was also a bit of a new experience as the number of riders in the leg swelled to over 100. I rode out toward the end of the pack, and the sight of the riders as far as you can see was a bit of spectacle.

Riders arriving at the Mt Gambier briefing point

Departure was at 7.30 for Portland. This took us via some pretty neat coastal roads which I have travelled before, but still enjoyed thoroughly. We arrived to a warm welcome at Fawthrop Community Centre in Portland and as usual, the reception left me speechless. Morning tea here was organised by several community groups and was so much more than I had expected. I have said it before, but the support we are getting from the community is beyond overwhelming. Its clear the black dog touches more people than we think.

On the way to our lunch stop, we stopped briefly in Warrnambool for a a quick photo shoot with the local press.

After fueling up on food at Portland, we headed to Mortlake for lunch. Once again, lunch was hosted by the Lions club, another stellar effort.

The final ride for the day was on to Ballarat. Most of the riders stayed at Sovereign Hill, but half a dozen of us peeled off to camp at the local caravan park. I opted out of the group dinner tonight and chose to get some sleep.

Trip Odometer: 8745km
Daily total: 483km

Today was a bit of a later start, with only a reasonable short distance to cover. However we had Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch and Dinner engagements, so it was going to be a fairly long day. Not a lot of photo’s today. I will try to add some more to this post a little later.

After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs at Goolwa RSL, we left for our next engagement. After on and off rain again, we arrived at Meningie RSL for morning tea. The local Lions club served up scones with jam, soup, homemade sausage rolls, anzac biscuits, quiches and more stuff than I can remember. All home cooked! And to top it off, they presented us with a $200 donation.

Lunch was at Robe Institute, which I politely declined due to eating to much at Meningie.

After lunch, we had probably one of my favourite rides so far. We followed the coast from Robe to Mt Gambier. I am definitely returning home via this same road, as I want to poke around in some of the lakes between Robe and Millicent.

I was feeling pretty tired by the time we got to the campground at Mt Gambier. However we had a dinner with the Victoria Riders that are joining us for the next few days. I was actually a little surprised by the numbers, our little crowd will swell to over 100 riders for the next 4 days.

Trip Odometer: 8262km
Daily total: 542km

We departed Port Augusta back over Horrocks pass and onto Wilmington. It started of nice and sunny, but once over the Flinders Range the sun dissappeared and the temp drop to around 7 degrees and stayed there just about all day.

The first stop was Jamestown for a quick top up of the fuel tanks and to try and warm up a bit.

Departing Jamestown, we then headed to Clare for a morning tea supplied by Woolies. Woolies is a sponsor of the Black Dog Ride, although I am unsure of the extent of their involvement with the ride.

Off to Robertstown for lunch. $10 bbq. Nice little pub in a interesting little town. So many of these small towns in South Australia have a lot of history, but its near on impossible to get a full understanding of it all. There are so many old buildings that I am sure have plenty of stories to tell. We also did a quick refuel at Robertstown before heading off.

With a quick fuel stop at Truro, we had an awesome ride through some fantastic Adelaide wine country into Goolwa. The campers headed off to the unpowered sites up the back, where we quickly discovered an unused camp kitchen that was cleary there for peak season overflow. A couple of us rolled out the swags in the unused space, and we all parked our bikes undercover. It was nice to wake up with a fully dry tent.

Off to Goolwa RSL for dinner provided by the Lions. Goolwa RSL is struggling with members, but is a trove of memorabilia. Once could spend quite a few hours in here looking at everything on the walls.

Goolwa lions presented the Black Dog Ride with a cheque for $1000, and the RSL also kicked in a couple of hundred dollars.

I am not even going to pretend to know where went today. I knew a few of the places in the Adelaide Hills, but that’s about it. It was mostly all new country for me.

Trip Odometer: 7729km
Daily total: 136km

Rest day today meant time to sleep in and clean up a few loose ends. I took some time to go over the bike and look for oil leaks and water leaks as well as check oil levels. Nothing bad to report. The rear tyre has some strange wear patterns, which is a problem given I am hoping to get a minimum of 15000km out of it. After getting a few people to look at it, the general consensus from the adventure rider crowd was to increase the front and rear pressure, which I did. The bike certainly handles a lot better, but the ride is a bit rough now, especially in the front. I may have to adjust the front pre-load a bit, but I will leave that decision until I do a full day ride.

After playing around with bikes all morning, we met up at 11am to go for a ride with the local guys. The first stop was out to Quorn, where we had lunch at Emily’s Bistro. This place is awesome, and I highly recommend anyone who passes by Port Augusta take the time to visit Quorn and Emily;s Bistro. Its like a blast from the past. The food and drinks are Emily’s is also first class.

After lunch at Emily’s, we headed back to Port Augusta via Wilmington and Horrocks Pass.

Horrocks Pass

A quick stop at Woolworths (a Black Dog Ride Sponsor) to fill up the panniers with food for the next few days and then it was back to camp.

Flinders Ranges from camp