Most adventure riders in Australia wouldn’t really think about the state of Victoria having much desert riding, but after reading Josh’s ride report, we’ve added this area to our bucket list for sure. Enjoy this ADV Overland ride report from Joshua Rykers…
I’ve ridden dirt bikes all my life but in the last year, I’ve gotten into riding in a bigger way. No longer satisfied with just a few hours on the weekend, I wanted more, I wanted bigger.
Back in April this year, along with Jake Sgubin, I completed a double unsupported crossing of the Simpson Desert in 24 hrs. The goal was to leave from Birdsville, cross the Simpson Desert to Mt Dare, refuel, turn around and ride back to Birdsville in under 24hrs. That’s 2200 sand dunes and 1,000kms. It was tough but it was epic. Jake set a new record for a double crossing at 21 hrs 12 min. I came in a couple of hours later at 24 hrs 23 min.
Challenge completed. I’d caught the bug. Desert riding is a bunch of fun! ? I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d be back riding in the desert.
Victoria has a desert?
Fast forward a couple of months and I’m itching to go for a long ride again. The rest of my family were away so I squeezed a couple of days off work, packed up the bike onto the ute, and headed off to the desert areas in Western Victoria. Big Desert, Wyperfeld National Park, and Murray-Sunset National Park.
I arrived late on Tuesday night to my motel and hit the sack. Morning came and I busied myself prepping my gear and bike. There’s nothing like a clumsy incident to start the trip off! I was checking the oil level on the bike when the motel manager came out and said good morning. I was holding the bike level and I let the bike back down onto the stand as I stood up to say good morning to her. But the stand had flicked up so instead of resting on the stand the bike went straight over. It dragged me with it as I tried to stop it from falling. She laughed. I cut my finger and had to break out the first aid kit before the trip had even started.
Day One – Rainbow to Renmark
All patched up, I left around 9:30 and pointed my 500 EXC towards 3 days of epic moto adventure. The first half of the day was almost all deep sand and it was a blast. The 500 just ate it up! I headed west toward the border track.
The Border Track runs along the Victoria/South Australia border. I headed north up the Border Track to Pinnaroo, South Australia, where I stopped for a pie and to fill the bike up. After lunch, I kept heading north up the Border Track towards Renmark, South Australia.
The riding after lunch was a blast. The track wound for kms alongside crops with canola in full bloom and scrub country where I had to give way to dozens of emus and kangaroos that ran in front of me. I arrived in Renmark around 5:30. Almost 7 hrs ride time and 380kms. What a ripper day. Some of the best riding I’ve done!
Day Two – Renmark to the Murray River
Day 2 started with a run to Maccas for breaky. I parked next 3 police motorcycles and I hoped they wouldn’t notice my lack of mirrors (I genuinely forgot to put them on) and my missing rear blinkers. Thankfully they were too busy sipping lattes to notice.
After breaky, I headed west out of Renmark and towards the Victorian border. At the border I turned left and headed as far north in Victoria as I could go, snapping a pic on the Murray River before heading back to the highway the way I had come.
On the run back to the highway I had a near miss with a kangaroo and an emu. These crazy creatures get your heart pumping when they jump out in front of you at speed!
From there I headed off the highway towards Mildura. The route I had planned out turned out to be just a big gravel road, which was a bit boring until I got to Rocket Lake. From there almost all the way to Mildura it was a mixture of whooped out 4WD track and whooped out single track. What a way to finish off the day!
I stayed with family on the Murray River that night. We went out for tea and had the best Indian food I’ve tasted. I’d been living on muesli bars for 2 days and the food was that good I couldn’t stop raving about it.
Day Three – Mildura to Rainbow
Leaving Mildura around 8:30, I headed for Rainbow where my ute was parked. I had one heart fluttering moment early in the day when a goat jumped out from behind a bush in the middle of scrub country on a long straight gravel road – that slowed me down for a while. Then it was back onto the sand! Sweet. It had rained overnight so all the sand was damp, which was nice.
What wasn’t nice was the sections of super slick clay between the sandy sections. There were at least 10 times where both wheels just started sliding sideways even at low speeds. Stopped at Underbool for lunch and then headed off again. I stuffed around for a while trying to find my way through the private property and across into Wyperfeld NP. After talking to a local farmer he told me to take any gate that was open and head straight across to the scrub. Then it was soft sand and awesome trails all the way to Lake Albacutya.
I had one final scary moment while riding a fence line track near the end of the trip. Someone had left a pile of old ringlock wire on the track and I didn’t see it until the last minute. Managed to stop before it got tangled enough to pull me off, but I still had to unhook it from my tank and around my wheel. It’s just another thing to keep you on guard out there.
As the sun was sinking on my right I pointed my bike down the final 15kms of bitumen towards Rainbow. The trip came to 1,160kms in total over the 3 days. Those 3 days were some of the best days I’ve spent on a bike.
If you haven’t explored this area of Victoria, go check it out – it won’t disappoint! Also, if anyone wants GPS files on the routes I took drop my a line via my Facebook Page. Very happy to share.
Highlights From The Ride
Based in Victoria, Australia Josh is passionate about moto based adventure riding. Specifically light-weight ADV riding. He currently rides a KTM 500 EXC with an Acerbis 20 litre fuel tank to extend the range and Wolfman Luggage Enduro Daytripper Saddle Bags. According to Josh, it’s a great lightweight setup that allows him to go long distances without sacrificing the light dirt bike feel he’s used to.