Pete and John's Carnegie & Karijini Ride

Pictures and words by John McKinnon

Backroads Bakers Hill - MukinbudinThe ride really began for me after I'd ridden from Albany, then to Bakers Hill. Map of the ride here. From Pete's place we took all back roads, lovely gravel tracks to the road from Mukinbudin to Bullfinch. The weather was cool (about 18 degrees) and sunny. Click on the pictures to the left to view them larger. All pictures taken on Panansonic Lumix TZ7 9 megapixel resolution with Leica 12x zoom lens, which proved an excellent compact travel camera. It can also shoot HD video.

Stopping for a drink at the Bonnie Rock turnoffGradually the country opened out into large wheat fields, and the tracks became a little more sandy but still no problems to ride.

Enough wheels on the tractor?We arrived just on sunset to stay in a spare house on a farm. If it's a large wheat crop you're going to put in, I suppose you need a large tractor to do it. It was very cool that night, with a totally jet-black sky highlighting crisp stars.

Great road going north from BullfinchNext day we were on the Bullfinch - Evanston road. Again excellent condition roads and no problems. The distance without fuel is 441 km, since there is no fuel at Bullfinch. We both carried 9 litres extra to get to Menzies. Mine was in 2x 4.5 litre plastic jerry cans above the pillion pegs and Pete's was in a bladder strapped on top of Mount McGrath. Going along this road felt like going back in time to what parts of the lap around Australia were like in 1973 on my first BM. Video file 6MB m4v format riding with a redneck on the Evanston Track. Video will play with VLC player if Quicktime doesn't work. Download VLC for Mac, Widows, Linux here:

Rare to see open water in this country...There was even open water in the Lakes Deborah and evidence of recent rain on the roads between them. The small section of windy sand between the lakes was well-damped and pleasant riding. A good change from the straighter drag north to Evanston.

Turnoff in the middle of nowhere...At the turnoff, you could go west to Diemels and then north to the Mt Magnet-Sandstone Road, but we were headed east to Menzies (165km) and then off the main road again after 45km towards Kookynie and the Grand Hotel.

The exceedingly grand hotel at KookynieAnd there we were, ready for an evening of wining and dining with the host Kevin and chef, Margaret. Pete recommends the rib eye steak and I recommend the Shiraz. Sadly missing were our companions of last year, Bob, Mole and Adrian and our sons Andy and Jesse. Also gone were the world's largest shower heads. They are now replaced with more conventional items.

Camping with the dogs and dingoes for company...Less flash were our accommodations next night, as we headed up the back dirt road towards Laverton, turned north through Leonora, fuelled up at Wiluna then out to 50km from the beginning of the Carnegie road and bush-camped.

Spot of tea, old chap?We caught up with a group also travelling to Carnegie when the chain of one of the bikes spat its joining link. Pete had a spare sideplate that fitted, and I suggested using the glue I carry to replace the missing spring clip. We left Lang hammering the bent bits together. I heard his precision description: "We'll just belt the fuck out of this.." We travelled a little further and caught up again in a nice dry riverbed were we had a spot of tea and a chat, very British-style.

He was reluctant to move, this one...The road was very firm most of the way. There were a couple of other road users to watch for, though. Not the usual little old men in hats but eagles, roos, emus and cattle. There were a few boondies on the road to damage tyres and rims if hit too hard, at least one rock ledge - but I was watching for that - the odd wash-away gutter after a gravel down-sloping dip (always good to get the heart started that one) and just a couple of corners had rutted sandy patches in them for steering experiments at speed.

Early campers at Carnegie...Suddenly, it seemed, we were at Carnegie Station. It was Friday and only a handful of people were there yet. When I registered I was given 007 as my raider number and went around calling myself James. My BM R1200R had set a personal record for lack of fuel consumption because I was taking it easy. My bike was so little dusted that one guy acused me of cleaning it. It was a Pythonesque conversation to have: "You've cleaned that bike!" "No, I haven't!". Repeat. At 80 - 90 km/h in 6th gear on the dirt with a load of 9 litres extra on board, it was doing 66 mpg or 23.3 litres/km or 4.3 litres per 100 km. It would have done well past 400 km on its own tank at that rate. But it's always better to have too much juice than too little...

Jack on BM F800GS arriving at sunsetAll that afternoon and evening and next day bikes and chairs kept arriving until there were 72 registered entries (from proven faulty memory) and tent spaces around the main building were getting short.

650 single with 17l plus 11l plus 11l = 39Points for longest fuel range without having extra bits strapped onto the bike must go to Lloyd with 39 litres on his 650 Dakar giving a theoretical range of 1000 km.

The man says it all himself...Points for the best t-shirt of the weekend would have to go to this one, modelled by Greg from Albany, freshly arrived from that fashion capital on his KTM 950.

Marvellous innovation in chair designAnd final points for best chair streamlining would have to go to Tom Toad, which streamlining also had a bonus feature in that it flashed at night. Surely worthy of a safety award too...

Everythings bigger up north...After Carnegie, Pete and I headed north to Karijini. Along the way we had to overtake some big shockies on a truck. But there were lots of lovely hills to look at.

Lovely vista from tent-siteEven the camping ground at the Eco Retreat had a lovely view from just outside our tents.

Pete tootling along on the DakarNext day we just tootled around the Weano Gorge road and soaked in the fantastic scenery and lovely temperature - about 25 degrees. The day after that we began the long trek home. By the time I got back to Albany I'd done 5000 kilometres in 2 weeks. Video file 4.6 MB m4v format puttin' with Pete in the Karijini national park.