Burra via Tothill RangesNov 2011 | Fipsy's Ride Reports

Burra via Tothill Ranges
Nov 2011

After taking delivery of my 'new-to-me' R1200GSA back in September, I was keen to get a maiden voyage under way. With the help of various ride reports from advrider.com, and a bit of researching on my part, I thought I'd start with the easy option of an overnight stay at a pub at Burra, and spend the following day chekcing out some local tracks. 

The Tothill Ranges extend south from Burra, and are popularly accessed by adv riders via Taylor's Run - a scenic dirt road which begins it's run north from a point about 10km west of Kapunda, on the Kapunda-Tarlee Road. Later ride reports have video footage of Taylor's Run. 

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Regrouping at the start of Taylor's Run.

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After getting up to Marrabel, we turned east for a few kms, then at the junction below, headed north to travel up the western side of the ranges.


At the southern end of the ranges is a communication tower, accessed by a short, steepish track, which was recently washed out (below). This track continues over to the eastern side of the ranges.


The views to the west, from the base of the tower track, were impressive, with the wind farm in the distance - which would be our next stop.

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Meanwhile, just  before we left, we made a gruesome discovery by the side of the track. Someone had made a poor attempt at covering up a pile of dumped sheep carcasses. It wasn't clear how they were killed - there were no signs of bullet holes in the skulls. There would have to have been at least 50 carcasses. It was rather disturbing to see really - half-baked attempt at a mass grave.

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From there we continued north. This shed had obviously seen better days - and strong winds by the look of it.

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After heading north up the valley a short way, we turned west up Quinns Gap Road and stopped by the wind turbines for a look.



If you've ever heard what Doctor Who's Tardis sounds like - the noise from the turbines is a pretty close resemblance.



Views to the east of Quinns Gap. You can jsut make out the dirt road croosing the opposite range through Webb Gap - where we were heading next.

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We found out pretty quickle that the descent down the western side of Webb's Gap was pretty steep. I managed to lose the front end after running wide onto 'marbles', and Grant, behind me. I've never seen someone lift a bike so quick so avoid the camera! Nick tried to stop to help, but his road-biased tyres were no match for the loose gravel and basically continued down the rest of the decline with the back locked up, to no avail.

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We then sauntered into Burra via Emu Downs, along some fast, but scenic main dirt roads, and went straight to the bar.


We had  a great feed at the pub, and dragged our gear upstairs to the classic country-pub-style rooms, and spent the rest of the night on the balcony, till we were kicked off at about 1am - "What? There are other guests?"

The next morning, we headed up to Mt. Bryan where we turned off, onto the Mt. Bryan East Rd, to go and check out the old school house I was put onto by Sundowner from AdvRider fame.  The school and residence was built in 1884. A hall was also built adjacent the school. The school was closed in 1947.

Mount Bryan East School House is on the Heysen Trail and has basic facilities for the trail walkers inside, including the original dorm-style bedding setup. The school and residence was built in 1884, then a hall was built next to the school house. It was then closed in 1947. Normally the entrance is locked with a combination padlock, the combo to which is available from the Heysen Trail website.


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After having a good look around, we determined this would make for a great camp site for future trips to the area. 


From the school house, we headed south east to the eastern entrance of the Caroona Creek CP. This entrance is for 4wd vehicles only, due mostly to a few washed out creek crossings where clearance on a vehicle would be essential. To get to the main part of the park, we needed to climb a reasonably steep hill to get over the range, which on this occasion was pretty washed out in sections, and more due to a lack of experience on our part, decided to leave it for another day.

The climb ahead - yep, it's as steep as it looks. However, later trips to this track revealed that the dog-leg seen below is the most difficult part,and the climb above that point is relatively easy, though still a reasonable incline. We  were also to discover on later trips here, that even this section of track gets graded occasionally, leaving me feeling somewhat sheepish about baulking at this attempt. 

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The weather was pretty hot, and we needed to start making our way back towards Adelaide. So next stop was Burra Creek Gorge.

…which turned out to be pretty busy with campers. We also found the ground was covered with swarms of grasshoppers. Thankfully, they weren't airborne over the faster roads, or it would have been pretty messy.

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From here it was an easy dirt run down to Point Pass, where we stopped for a thirst-quenching ale or two, before the final run home.


This was my first off-road trip on a dual-sport bike, and couldn't have been happier with my choice of steed. I was to find out on later trips, just how deep the deep end was that I had dived into, forcing me to sharpen my off-raod skills pretty quickly.