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Sunken Miles: An unexpected end

Raman and I returned to Cairns from the Atherton tablelands to pick up the parts for my shock and finally get it fixed. The Lake st household  have showed us a great time. Taking us to music gigs, parties and generally including us in their day to day life. What fun, thanks Laura, Jerri, Brendan and Jake.

On Monday Laura took us to the Crystal Cascades waters falls for a swim in the afternoon. What a lovely spot tucked away in the hills just outside of Cairns.

Crystal Cascade

Crystal Cascade

That evening I began to feel unwell. I got a fair ol dose of the flu, so until Friday I was in bed with a decent fever. During all this I discovered that neither Wayne Leonard Motorcycles nor the Kawasaki dealer had the tools (a strong enough spring compressor) to get my shock apart. So it looked like I would just have to bounce my way to Townsville and get it done there.

Still not feeling well but feeling it was time to give the poor guys at Lake st a break from mr sick, I got my stuff together and headed out. Raman will head south now but I am not ready to be riding just yet. So, at least for a time, Raman and I will go our separate ways. Mark, a friend of Brendan and Jake’s, offered me to stay at his place.

On Monday I decided to get a doctor’s opinion and get some blood tests if needed to make sure what I had wasn’t Ross River or Dengue Fever. I didn’t think it was and the doctor didn’t think so either. I am feeling very low on energy. A little reminiscent of how I felt after I had Glandular Fever back in 2008. To help get me back on track I headed over to a Chinese herbalist to gets some herbs.

As I left the the car park of the herbalist, Mawson began to run rough and then stalled. “That’s odd.” I tried to start the engine again and there was a nasty kind of kick back. Almost like the engine bounding off the compression and heading backwards for a sec. It doesn’t sound great. This sound has happened before. I have cringed but its never caused an issue. I tried to start the engine again but this time the sound was different. It would turn over but no life. “Here we go” I thought to my self. “Here’s the mechanical exam”. Am I able to fix this my self?

I thought of a line from the book, Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance (that I am yet to read), “Find a good shady tree under which to carry out your repairs”.

Up here it is sage advice indeed. The 3pm sun beat down on my back in the bitumen car park but I soon found a place to push the bike to that was shady.

And so I began my exam.

Out came the carefully built toolkit. So what first. I thought the tank better come off. I’d check my spark plug first up.

Less than 10 minutes later the seat, side covers and tank were all off and I had blow all the grit out of the spark plug well with the compressor. The spark plug was a little black. I changed it for my spare and checked for spark by cranking the engine over with the plug out. Spark is good…but wait, why is the carby pulsing when I turn the engine over!?

At this point I knew I was dealing with something out of order in the valve train. Not good at all!

The next step was not so exciting. Pulled the cam cover off on the side of the street. Opening up the engine should be done in a clean workshop, not on the side of a street. However I have no clean workshop to do it in near or far, short of Donnie Lyon’s place 400km away. So I opened it up. Getting the cam cover off is tight and took a lot of effort indeed.

Cam cover off

Cam cover off

Once inside I could see the cam chain was loose. Not good at all! All the symptoms made sense. The intake valve cam had jumped a lot of teeth and was very much out of sync. I am not sure if a valve has hit the piston.

The cam chain is very very worn and has been rubbing against the case. A significant amount of metal has been worn away. The cam teeth have noticeable wear too. The cam chain tensioner is no longer able to keep the chain tight as the chain is so worn. The chain and cam teeth were in great condition when we did the rebuilt at Donnie’s place. This is the result of some sort of abrasive compound, presumably dust in the oil.

Wear on the case from the cam chain rubbing

Wear on the case from the cam chain rubbing

Cams out on the foot path *cringe*

Cams out on the foot path *cringe*

 

I retimed the engine but there wasn’t much point running it without tightening the cam chain. It would likely jump again, potentially doing a lot of damage.

I considered using quick steel to build up the chain tensioner to try to get me to Donnie’s.

I put it all back together and by this time is was 8pm and very definitely dark. Couldn’t have done it all without the help of my LED Lenser H14 head torch. Having spent five hours on the side of the footpath, I was tired and ready to call it a day. I pulled everything off the bike and called a taxi.

Back at Mark’s I ate and fell into bed in my tent. I would face the difficult question in the morning.

 

Waking on Tuesday morning, I had a very difficult decision to make. What should I do with the bike considering what I saw last night?

I don’t know how or what wore the cam chain, but I am pretty sure it will have worn everything the oil is in contact with. Some how dust has got into the oil, it seems.

The reality of all this is that, without pulling the whole thing apart, I just don’t know how much wear has occurred. I have to assume lots. There just isn’t any sense paying a bike shop to change the cam gears and chain knowing what I do. I am at a difficult cross roads. What do I do with the bike?

After talking with my parents a bit and thinking I decided to freight the bike back to Vic where I may swap out the engine in my own time in my workshop.

So, I took the plunge and found a company to freight the bike home.

The last of Mawson before Sending him home

The last of Mawson, all packed up but dead, before sending him home

Wayne’s Motorcycle towing offer a service from Cairns to Melbourne for bikes at $660.

And so, quite unexpectedly, the Sunken Miles journey comes to a close.

I am standing here blinking, in shock how quickly it has all come to an end. Less than 24 hours from the problem to it being gone on a truck. What a crazy set of events.

It has been an amazing journey and I am very grateful of the experiences, challenges and lessons it has thrown up.

Mawson got me to Cape York and back out. I am glad that it has happened this way rather than in some remote place.

I have done my very best to keep the bike functioning despite the harsh conditions. I managed to ride my bike for just on half a year in some very challenging conditions time and time again without injury and for that alone I am very happy. The fact that the bike is in poor shape and I am well is much better than the other way around.

I rode Mawson from Victoria up the Great Dividing Range through some of Australia’s toughest country to the Northernmost tip of Australia and back to Cairns over 16,266 km in 175 days.

 

An incredible journey of challenge, Sunken Miles.

An incredible journey of challenge, Sunken Miles.

Thank you to all those who have contributed to this incredible journey. Your are always welcome in my home.

I have enjoyed sharing this amazing experience with you all.
Oliver Holmgren

Sunken Man

Sunken Man

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Atherton Tablelands

A taste of the Atherton tablelands.

The enormous Curtain Fig near Yungaburra

Strangler fig tree roots detail

 

The mighty Cutrain Fig

The mighty Curtain Fig near Yungaburra

 

Camping on lake Tinaroo

Camping on lake Tinaroo

Flocks of water birds heading south just on dusk

Flocks of water birds heading south just on dusk

Many many flocks passed as the light faded.

Skeletal leaf remains by lake Barrine

Skeletal leaf remains by lake Barrine

Lake Barrine

Lake Barrine

Lake Barrine is one of a few volcanic craters from about 12,000 years ago. Its about 65m deep and was formed from magma super heating the ground water under rock and material that trapped its expansion until a very large explosion blasted of the surface material leaving a crater to slowly fill with rain.

 

CairnsA (7 of 29)

CairnsA (6 of 29)

Hairs on the fronds of the Lawyer Cane vine

Hairs on the fronds of the Lawyer Cane vine

 

Lawyer Cane vine

nasty grappling hooks on the Lawyer Cane vine

 

 

Detail of lower section of the vine

Detail of lower section of the vine

 

Detail of the hooks

Detail of the hooks

 

The beauty of transmitted light. Looking upward in the rain forest

The beauty of transmitted light. Looking upward in the rain forest

 

The 5km track around lake Barrine

The 5km track around lake Barrine

 

Bushturkey

Bushturkey

 

Trees are trellises for the many vines in the forest

Trees are trellises for the many vines in the forest

 

Young leaves, caught in the sun light. Transmitted light once again.

Young leaves, caught in the sun light. Transmitted light once again.

 

Massive Rough barked Kauri trees on Lake Barrine, estimated to be around a thousand years old!

Massive Rough barked Kauri trees on Lake Barrine, estimated to be around a thousand years old!

 

A forest of vines

A forest of vines

 

Who can resist climbing such a vine

Who can resist climbing such a vine

 

Great ropes

Great ropes

 

Gillies Range lookout. A hang gliders loft point.

Gillies Range lookout. A hang gliders loft point.

 

The great Cathedral Fig

The great Cathedral Fig

Standing under this tree is truly awe inspiring!

 

In the canopee!

In the canopy!CairnsA (25 of 29)

Another world

Another world

...another world

…another world

 

The strangle fig has an amazing habit of joining back together with it self. Roots dangle way down and then join back up with another section of the tree, seamlessly blending into the wood.

 

 

There are so many fantastic subjects in the forest on the tablelands.

I had a book put in front of me of the plants and animals of the tablelands that blew me away. One aspect of the photography that really caught me was the incredible depth of field. It didn’t seem possible with conventional photographic equipment. More depth of field in my macro photography would be a breakthrough. How are they doing it? I had to know. Reading a little more about the process the photographers used revealed a process that is both challenging and time consuming. I felt I had the skills and tools to attempt the process.

CairnsA (28 of 29)

Classically shallow depth of field. A nice feel at times and very limiting at others.
5D MK3, Canon EF 100mm F2.8 @5.6

I could have stopped down to F11 for more depth of field but much of the flower would still be far from sharp. Going much beyond F11 would degrade images sharpness.

 

5D MK3, Canon EF 100 F2.8 @ 5.6, 18 images merged

5D MK3, Canon EF 100 F2.8 @ 5.6, 18 images merged

The composite image is created from 18 images with focus shifted slightly between frames and merged in post processing.

I am thrilled to add this effective but time consuming process to my photographic toolkit.

 

 

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Cairns

Cairns is a huge city when compared to the tiny towns we have been travelling through but when it comes to getting my rear shock absorber rebuilt even Cairns was light on for such facilities. I have ordered the requisite parts from Choice Suspension in Vic who revalved my shock and installed heavier springs to suit this type of riding.

Unfortunately the suspension specialist at Wayne Leonard Motorcycles is on holiday until next week.

We are staying here in Cairns with a friend of Claire’s, Laura and her house mates, Jake, Jerri and Brendan. Its great to have a base. Thanks Lake st residents.

While parts are coming in we plan to head up to the Atherton tablelands and have a look around.

 

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Ayton Beach to Mossman

Try show just how big this strangler fig is I put Mawson in the shot but the very wide angle lens (actually 17mm) compresses everything. A truly amazing tree to stand under. Bloomfield track.

Trying to show just how big this strangler fig is, I put Mawson in the shot but the very wide angle lens (actually 17mm) compresses everything.  A truly amazing tree to stand under. Bloomfield track.

 

 

 

We have stopped in again in Mossman to see our friend Ben before heading down to Cairns tomorrow to see what repairs I can get done to the rear shock.

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Cooktown to Ayton beach

Mawson under the wind blow paperbarks

Mawson under the wind blow paperbarks

James Cook Museum, Cooktown

James Cook Museum, Cooktown

I spent hours reading in the James Cook Museum. What amazing history. I can soak up a lot of info but I was pretty overload after 4 hours in here.

A canon and the anchor from the HM Bark Endeavour

A canon and the anchor from the HM Bark Endeavour, Cook’s ship.

Cook beached the HM Bark Endeavour here to repair it after seriously damaging its hull on the barrier reef an nearly sinking.

Cook beached the HM Bark Endeavour here to repair it after seriously damaging its hull on the barrier reef an nearly sinking.

Would I be here right now if the ship had sunk?

 

Camp at Ayton Beach

Camp at Ayton Beach

 

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Coen to Cooktown

Musgrave road house and air strip

Musgrave road house and air strip

Grave under a big mango tree at Musgrave

Grave under a big mango tree at Musgrave2

The road south of Coen. Xanthorrhoea heavily populate the understory.
The road south of Coen. Xanthorrhoea heavily populate the understory.

Long dusty miles

Long dusty miles

Cooktown; firelight under the paperbarks

Cooktown; firelight under the paperbarks

 

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Chilli Beach to Coen

Chilli Beach

Chilli Beach

Glossy salt resistant leaf

Glossy salt resistant leaf

 

Pandanas palm

Pandanas palm

 

Supplementing breakfast with a little coconut

Supplementing breakfast with a little coconut

 

Fire, a part of this land.a

Fire, a part of this land

The burning up here is so relaxed. I saw no one keeping an eye on the fire. Its just ticking away, smoke totally covering the road. Fire right to the edge of the road.

Wild horses

Wild horses

 

A forest of termite mounds

A forest of termite mounds

 

 

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Weipa to Chilli Beach

The Frenchman’s Line track is a nice ride although I was having to go very slowly to avoid getting thrown off my bike. Also my fuel economy is very bad at the moment. Its up to 8L/100km and above at times so I am having to carry fuel for even short legs. I don’t know what is causing it. Perhaps as the engine wears more it is becoming less efficient. I have also noted that my thermostat is acting oddly, staying more and more toward cold. I think it might be failing too. Perhaps this is contributing to the high fuel consumption.

 

Chris on the Frenchman's Line track

Chris on the Frenchman’s Line track

Pandanas palms in a swamp

Pandanas palms in a swamp, Frenchman’s Line track

A typical section of the Frenchamn's Line track

A typical section of the Frenchamn’s Line track

The Pascoe River

The Pascoe River

 

This crossing was challenging and took a few hours what with lunch and waiting for a few 4wds to cross first.

Coen (39 of 69)

A german lad trying to get his Nissan Patrol out of the Pascoe River crossing.

A german lad trying to get his Nissan Patrol out of the Pascoe River crossing. He did finally manage but it didn’t look good. He scraped the rear diff at lot and broke a few other bits

Raman working his way down to make the crossing

Raman working his way down to make the crossing

 

Raman getting a bit stuck on his way out the far side

Raman getting a bit stuck on his way out the far side

 

Erosion landscape SE of the Pascoe crossing

Erosion landscape SE of the Pascoe crossing

 

Hills! Its been a while since we have had a view like this.

Hills! Its been a while since we have had a view like this.

 

Termite mounds on the plains

Termite mounds on the plains

Shortly after this we said our farewells to Chris as he had already visited Lockhart River and Chill Beach.

Its been great riding together. We have really appreciated your company.

 

 

 

Some curious fellows watching birds at Chilli beach

Some curious fellows watching birds at Chilli beach

 

Chilli Beach, what a place. Can't wait for some good light on it!

Chilli Beach, what a place. Can’t wait for some good light on it!

 

Got us a few coconuts

Got us a few coconuts

 

Tiny crabs making patterns on the beach

Interesting patterns on the beach from what I assume are tiny crabs

 

Camp

Camp a little back from the beach

 

 

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Weipa

We came to Weipa to stock up, get some parts and hopefully repair my shock.

After some inquiries, it seems we would be waiting around here for quite some time to get parts sent up so I decided to try to make it to Cairns. I figure I have managed the telegraph track so I should be able to get by, pending nothing gets too much worse.

We did a little maintenance today and Raman discovered a tube from his airbox was missing a bung which was allowing sand and dust to be sucked into his engine!

Sand inside Raman's airbox

Sand inside Raman’s airbox

 

Another engine rebuild in the making?

 

 

KLR air filter showing big improvement

KLR air filter showing big improvement (363km, Vrilia to Weipa via OTT)

I have been very impressed with the modifications to my air intake location that have allowed for a much more reasonable service interval. Interestingly though, the post filter that I made and installed inside the main filter has consistently been showing that dust gets though the main filter without showing any sign of dust on the inside of the main filter. I believe this is due to the dust up here have a fraction that is super fine.

 

For comparison purposes, the image below was from before the reducting of the air intake showing a huge amount of dust after only 40km while the above is much cleaner after 363km.

40km from Cobbold to Forsyth

40km from Cobbold to Forsyth

Unfortunately it is a weekend and Monday is a public holiday so the parcel of parts that I ordered way back in Rockhampton that is here in the Weipa post office will stay there for the time being. I’ll have to get it redirected as we are heading for Lockhart River via the Frenchman’s line track tomorrow.

 

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Canal Creek to Weipa

We stopped in at Fruit Bat falls for another swim.

Fruit Bat Falls

Fruit Bat Falls (photograph from our northbound OTT trip)

The ride south on the OTT was a lot of fun despite the stuffed rear shock.

Coen (29 of 69)

climbing out of Palm Creek

 

Coen (30 of 69)

Stand up, lean forward and power on!

And yes, I do work my suspension hard.

Although I only have a few shots from Palm Creek, the OTT was hours of great riding. Reaching Palm Creek signified the lower end of the track and the return to the wide open PDR. Which in places is a great road, in good shape, while other parts are terribly corrugated with bulldust and sand.

 

long distances, big spaces and lots of dust

long distances, big spaces and lots of dust

 

After crossing Batavia Downs and getting onto the Weipa road we ran into our first thunder storm. Boy, did it pour! I could barely see a thing. The road was a river and I was wet to the bone. Oddly enough, I felt joy well up inside of me and I sang all the way to Weipa. I could feel it all though my body. What an adventure! What a journey!

Sun Down in Weipa

Sun Down in Weipa

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