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Iron Butt SS2000M Day 1 - Newcastle NSW to Glendambo SA

By Wom Battle
Category: Rides

I was heading up to Darwin on my Harley-Davidson® for the NT HOG® Rally, time was short for the trip so an IBA SaddleSore 2000 (miles) on the way there seemed in order. Translation, I needed to ride 2000 miles or 3220 kilometres in 48 hours with documentation to prove it.

This morning Newcastle was still being lashed by the tail end of a "weather event" that had caused havoc in Victoria and Eastern NSW.  To be honest, I wasn't that keen to go out in it. However I woke my wife and son to sign the ride start witness forms and at 4am I was at the local 24 hour servo filling up with fuel while chatting with a FarRider of note, OX-34, who'd braved the hour and the elements to see me off and wish me good luck. I was disconcerted by the weather and fumbled around trying to get everything on, earlpugs in and the start entry of the ride log done but managed to head off into the dark and rain.

I rode up through Hexham and Maitland to join the early morning procession of vehicles heading to the mines, happy that while the ride planned was big I knew this traffic wouldn't stop me from making it in the absence of any other "issues".  Soon enough I was through Branxton and turned left heading towards Mt Thorley, right to Jerry's plains (where surprisingly there was a service station open) and then to Merriwa. I was still dark by the time I'd reached Merriwa, the rain had thankfully cleared but it started to get cold.

I had in the back of my head that I might be lucky enough to get fuel at Dunnedoo as I passed through there in daylight, but OX was right, none to be had. So I turned right towards Gilgandra, wondering if I would make it there without running out, not too concerned though, the top box that is usually on my Road King® had been replaced by a quick release rack holding a 20 litre jerry can full of Premium 98. I hadn't been this way before, the road was nice, it was cold, there was some fog about, but I was liucky enough to witness the first of a number of lovely sunrises for the trip.  391k's from the start by the odometer with about 1k to go to fuel at Gilgandra, the Harley's tank ran dry. The engine just stopped without any notice at all and strangely I just laughed. I took a couple of pics and refilled my Harley-Davidson for the first time with the jerry can, now with enough on board to keep pushing on to Nyngan.

The 110k zone started soon after Gilgandra and a right turn at Nevertire presented an open road all the way to Broken Hill.  A quick fuel up (tank and jerry at Nyngan), doco's done, receipts secured saw me ride again until the fuel tank almost ran out and I refilled from the jerry can in a rest stop. I discovered this time that I needed to let the tank run more dry before refilling, it didn't take the full 20 litres and because of that I managed to spill fuel all over the tank and motor as it overflowed. Lesson learnt.

This part of the ride was relatively uneventful except for passing a rather disturbing accident which saw a 4WD on it's roof still attached to the lower frame of a caravan that had otherwise been destroyed.  I caught up with some Police that were clearly returning to Wilcannia after the collision and wasn't really prepared to take the risk they'd be in a good enough mood to see me pass them and head off into the distance.

589kms from Nyngan and over 1000 for the day I fuelled up quickly at the Shell at Broken Hill that I rode in to on fumes, another hint at why I needed to run the tank more dry before refilling it.  After a drink and a scratch I was soon on my way to the Cockburn on the South Australian border for a quick photo and then further west towards Yunta. Somewhere along this flat, open, quickly cooling stretch the sun went down. It was an amazing experience riding pretty much due west chasing the sunset, I stopped and took a couple of snaps.

At Yunta I topped up with more fuel and had a large coffee to warm up, it was dark and cold.  Then I rode west through Peterborough and Wilmington. Just after Wilmington I had my first opportunity to ride the revered Horocks Pass for the first time. This piece of road is special to FarRiders and I was very glad of the opportunity to leave some footpan on the bends.  It was a short ride then to Port Augusta, all up just short of 1600kms from home.

By the time I arrived at Port Augusta I was cold but not yet done.  I'd been speaking to my wife on the phone who had rung ahead to the motel at Glendambo S.A. and had booked and paid for a room there. She SMS's me the room number and the location of the key so I could walk in and walk out. While filling up at Port Augusta I spoke to a couple of locals who considered it madness to take on that stretch of the Stuart Highway at night with lots of warning about cow carnage, big 'roos and uncaring Road Trains. I was no less determined, but determined to be very alert.

Fortunately I saw no cattle on the road, lots of foxes, some bunnies and only on big 'roo that was standing to the right of me as I rode by.  It turned its head and looked me straight in the eye as I passed it. Clearly I was more frightened of what it could do to me than it was of me. Again I was really impressed by the performance of my new LED Auxilliary Lights, an absolutely recommended upgrade to any Harley-Davidson rider who tackles this sort of ride.

I arrived in Glendambo at midnight, 1850ks done and 20 hours in the saddle (taking into account the timezone I crossed.  Glendambo was completely shut, I had a brief conversation with a guy who was outside his motel room having a drink and a smoke who was kind enough to sign a witness form to confirm I had been there and the odometer reading.  If the wheels fell off tomorrow at least I had an SS1600k under the belt. I quickly unpacked the bike, ate some oats, cleaned up and hit the hay with the alarm set for 5am already thinking about tomorrow's ride to Tennant Creek.


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October 2022