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Archive for the 'Experiencing' Category

Meningie – Kingston – Robe – Beachport – Millicent – Canunda National Park

It was really cold again and I departed in full thermals, fleece and hand warmers on. Who would know it is summer!
From Meningie, I headed through the Coorong National Park. At 42 Mile Crossing, I took a side track to have a look at the waterway, but it quickly became very sandy & steep. Before I got too far, I decided I should turn back, but in the process got bogged in the deep soft sand. I was rocking the bike and almost had it free when a guy in a 4WD appeared over the crest and gave me a hand dragging the front around. Saving me working up a sweat.

The first real stop of the day was in Robe. A fabulous little village, with a spectacular turquoise bay, and grand sea cliffs. After lunch I made my way through Beachport, which is where all the bogans in Victoria go for their summer camping holiday.
Moved through quickly.

After riding through the southern hemisphere’s largest windfarm, I made bush camp in the Canunda National Park, right next to the roaring Southern Ocean. It’s very peaceful and a perfect sunset observed after my lamb shank dinner.

Have noticed that everything takes longer to dry now. In the desert you could wash and be dry in a few minutes. Now things stay damp by the sea ;-)

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Wilpena – Clare – Barossa – Murray Bridge – Meningie

Left Wilpena nice and early in the cool, and had to dodge numerous kangaroos who were playing chicken with the bike.
Riding into the Clare Valley, the grasshopper pelting began again and I was covered again. Plastered with the little foul smelling jumpers.
This time there were many direct hits, and they really sting when they hit the chest or even worse the neck.
They mostly eased off by the time I reached Murray Bridge, but the temperature had dropped significantly and I had to stop to put on thermals. It was cold! The heated grips also were put to use, even on the highest setting!
The tempurature was a massive change from the hot desert days & nights, and I’m not really prepared for these sort of temperatures.
Tonight in Meningie sees me camped by the lake, but it’s very windy and cold. I’m in the sleeping bag for the first time since leaving Sydney.

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Marla – Oodnadatta – Peake – William Creek

A mammoth day in the saddle today, 450km of dirt on the Oodnadatta track, from Marla, to Oodnadatta and camp in William Creek.
The road was generally in really good condition, fast and smooth dirt.

Although some stoney sections, and alot of red gibber plains were passed through today.
There was some deep sand at the creek crossings, and I really don’t like sand. I’ve figured that it needs to be taken at about 40kmh, keeping momentum and try to steer straight though. Although if I get thrown sideways then I inevitatably slow and stop, then it is an effort to push the bike out of the bog sand. Not much fun in the heat.

I took a sidetrip to Peake Hill & ruins, which was 30km of very rough singletrack, very remote. The signs said to be careful, as no one would pass that way. It was true too.
For the entire day of 450km I didn’t see another vehicle.
On arrival at William Creek, they were a bit critical in the pub, saying I shouldn’t be travelling alone this time of year, etc etc
Otherwise the publican was friendly enough and nothing more was said of this once I sat down and ordered beer and food. The lamb cutlets were good.

Now ensconsed in tent, although the ground is still radiating heat through my sleeping mat. It is very warm to touch the floor of the tent, even at 10pm

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Alice Springs – Kulgera – Indulkana Community – Marla

Uneventful day, aside from leaving late due to Australia Post inability to do “post” Useless. Now they have no idea where the parcel is that contains my fastway pegs.

Arrived in Marla early, setup tent, had swim and a massive steak and chips. Vegetables are non existent and it’s starting to wear thin after 2 weeks. I’ve got a few apples, but try ordering anything green in a pub…. Doesn’t exist.

I have a real problem with my left arm/shoulder. I think it is just overuse/over-exertion, but the pain in my shoulder blade is really bad, but only when I lie down. On the bike it is fine. Hope it doesn’t become any worse, because it makes sleeping painful.

Tomorrow begins the Oodnadatta Track

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Kings Canyon – Merrinee – Ormiston Gorge – Glen Helen – Simpsons Gap – Alice Springs

It rained a massive thunderstorm last night, which didn’t bode well for the 250km of red dirt I had to ride in order to get up to the West MacDonnell Ranges, but I was up and awake at 5:30am, ready for the walk around Kings Canyon. I was (wisely) advised to do the climb early to avoid the heat of the day, and it was good advice.
The views from the top of Kings Canyon were unbelievable, and it is an absolute must do destination.
Due to the extensive (and unseasonal rain) the rivers and waterfalls were flowing, and the last river crossing required wading across through refreshing cool water.

After returning to the resort and packing the bike, I set off on the Merrinee loop road for Alice Springs. I had checked the conditions with everyone I should have, but the only real advice was just to “give it a try, no one has done it on a bike before. You need a 4WD”
The first 50km were shocking, and I thought about turning around more than a few times.

The wet red dust had turned into a slip and slide after the downpour, and a few times after a hairy moment I’d look back at my tracks to find the front and rear wheels had taking different tracks.
There were a number of swollen creeks to cross, and the third one I came up against was about 500mm deep and flowing pretty fast with a mud bottom that couldn’t be seen. After a pause I headed in and the front wheel slipped out mid creek, I threw both feet down and managed to save the bike from going over, but wasn’t fast enough to get the clutch in also, and the bike stalled. How I didn’t fall in/off is beyond me. The bike was right over 45 degrees with the water pushing it down. I managed to get it upright and started again, exiting the muddy creek with 2 boots now full of muddy water, and another 230km to ride.
After numerous other close calls, including getting bogged at a washout, the road eventually rose into the ranges and the views made it all worth it. The road dried out and the speed was able to pickup. At one point there was a snake on the road, which I couldn’t swerve away from. I didn’t hit it, but I saw his head rear up and mouth open as I went past. I don’t know what he was going to bite, but was glad for the boots just in case.

Wild brumbies were a regular sight on the road and they would stare at you intently until the last moment before racing off. Lots a beautiful small finches too, that seem to like playing with the bike, deliberately flying close and darting off in the pressure wave created by the bike. Although one got too close and collided with the handguards, spraying me with bird blood. When I stopped about 20km later, I found an eagle was circling directly above me, quite close. He must have smelt the blood and homed in. It was only then that I noticed I had been sprayed with blood and the splatter on the bike.

I powered on to stop a Glen Helen for fuel, where I misplaced my key, which had me panicked for a few minutes, until I found it in my helmet.

After Glen Helen, I made regular stops due to the frequent sights and gorges to see. At Ormiston Gorge, there was a beautiful waterholes and I went in for a very refreshing swim.

I really twisted the grip on the way into Alice, which hammered the fuel economy, but I was checked into a huge suite at the Crowne Plaza at around 7pm.
It was a great day on the bike, very challenging and plenty of learning.

Tommorrow, maintainence day for bike and body.

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Yulara – Curtin Springs – Kings Canyon

Today was a short day in the saddle. Just a 300km hop from Yulara up to Kings Canyon via Curtin Springs cattle station.

Last night there was a decent downpour which meant that the road was often covered with water and/or sand. The water is fine, only 20cm deep, but the wet sand is a hassle to navigate, trying to snap the wheel out from me and throwing the bike around.

About half way I was starting to feel tired, although it was only 10:30am (probably lack of sleep due to the storm last night) so I pulled over and had a 40 min nap by the side of the road in a rest area. Brilliant. It was so quiet, just listen to the bush. And it was cool. Had all my riding gear on and zipped up, so it was like in a sleeping bag. Very comfortable. The aqua pack makes for a perfect pillow too :-)

So after arriving at Kings Canyon, had lunch and a swim, followed by a nap. (again) Holidays can be like that.

Tonight there is a soft rain, lots of thunder and lightening storm going on. Which wont help he 350km of dirt I have to navigate.

Tomorrow I’ll be up early for the walk around Kings Canyon and see if I can add to the blisters after the 26km walks at Uluru.

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Coober Pedy – Marla – Erldunda – Yulara

Set out from Coober nice and early, and it was fantastically cool. Which made for pleasant travels

Just watching the scenery changing was beautiful. The colours, especially the greens are just magnificent.

One other observation was that if you think the French are fashionable, then you’ve never seen the French on holiday! Walking around in old underwear because it’s too hot for them.

I made pretty decent time, even with some long rest breaks, and was at Uluru about an hour before sunset. The view was simply stunning and I lost track of how many photos I took.
Although this meant that my arrival in Yulara, and setting up my tent, had to be done in the dark. Less than ideal, but was completed without incident, aside from the nutter English bloke in the next campsite, who came over said hello, and his next question was “have you met any hot chicks?” I think he had issues. Bumped into him again the next day at the store, where he was asking someone else the same thing.

Tent setup, dodgy burger for dinner. Tomorrow explore!

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Orroroo – Port Augusta – Woomera – Glendambo – Coober Pedy

After a steak and a couple of Coopers at the Orroroo pub, I woke to refuel the bike and myself in main street Orroroo, and set off for Port Augusta. There was a magnificent set of twisties crossing the range and as i got stuck behind a truck for the last 10 minutes downhill, i actually turned around and rode back to the top and back down again (in a much higher set of gears)

After stopping at the information centre in Port Augusta, the road opened up to Woomera. What a dismal place. They try to talk it up and suggest it on the tourist trail, but there is no good reason to be in Woomera. It feels like Canberra (1000x smaller, stuck 50 years ago, in an oven)
Didn’t see any signs to the detention centre. But if you were sent here, you would have to think you made a mistake coming to Australia.
So after taking some photos of rockets, I was back on the road. And what had become evident was that the colour of the landscape was changing. Much more red in the earth now.

Today’s objects of disdain as they tried to knock me off were families of emus and road trains. It was a really windy day and as each road train passed, I was getting blown about the road. I was glad for the weight of the bike, but less so for the windage in the panniers.

After a while, I started to smell what I thought was rain and could see of in the distance, dark clouds over the desert. And it did rain, for at least an hour, which washed the bike of most of the dead grasshoppers (conveniently) and also cooled me down to a comfortable level.

I stopped to refuel at Glendambo and met my first other bike on the trip. Elise was riding her Honda CB250 from Alice Springs to Melbourne! What a star, and doing it with a huge smile. She gave me a tip for dinner in Coober Pedy and we headed off, me north, Elise south. It’s a strange thing where there are only 2 possible directions to go for 1000km.

Arrived in Coober Pedy at around 6pm, just as the downpour stopped and the tempurature had dropped suddenly from 38′C to a very pleasant 21′C

Pulled into Radeka’s underground hotel and had a couple of Coopers, compliments of the manager. We sat around talking hotel business until 11pm, when I went and picked up a MASSIVE pizza from John’s Pizza. I couldn’t even begin to finish it, so shared it with 2 German travellers who were so stoked, as they got to keep the leftovers for breakfast.

Tomorrow may be the last stretch into Uluru!

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Copi Hollow – Menindee – Broken Hill – Silverton – Broken Hill – Olary – Peterbourgh – Orroroo

Didn’t log as many km today as previous days, due to maintainence tasks, etc
Today’s animals trying to dent me had changed again, to Emus and grasshoppers. Millions of grasshoppers.

Started out from Copi Hollow (an absolutely top spot by the lake) and had breakfast in Menindee township. After viewing the lake, headed into Broken Hill where refueled, bought map, visited post office, bought more earplugs and visited Beaurepairs, where I managed to bodgy up an insulating guard for the radiator hose from an old inner tube and zip ties. (the crash bar was rubbing a hole in the radiator hose, this should prevent an early disaster)
After fartassing about with all this, I then proceeded to ride out to Mad Max territory, Silverton, saw the cars & ruins and headed back into Broken Hill for the worst steak sandwich ever, at the cafe inside the tourist information. Was served by the rude fat chef, named Luke. They should sack you mate. You can’t cook, you are rude & lazy to boot!

So headed west to Peterbourgh, but was struggling, so stopped at Olary for a sleep on the bench outside the pub. Ended up chatting to the publican and his mate, but felt refreshed and headed on. At Peterbough the plauge of grasshoppers intensified so much that I spent the next 100km ducked under the windshield, but still managed to slaughter thousands of the beasts. This was too much and Peterbourgh was overrated, so in the hope that the plauge would ease up the road (unlikey) I made tracks for Orroroo. There were fewer grasshoppers at Orroroo, but it didn’t get better without it getting much worse first, so much so that I had to wash all my riding gear of grasshoppers on arrival. Unsurprisingly, squashed grasshoppers smell like grass. Condensed and magnified 100x. So I smell like I’ve been dragged here across 450km of grassy fields.

Orroroo has a decent campsite and pub, so settled in here for the night in a basic cabin. (I’m the only one here too)
Tommorrow to Port Augusta and beyond, maybe to Woomera.

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Dubbo – Narromine – Cobar – Wilcannia – Copi Hollow

Left Dubbo at around 8am with a view to making it to either Wilcannia or maybe even Broken Hill. Stopped in Narromine for breakfast, bacon egg and tomato roll which took an exceptionally long time to arrive. Noticed the kitchenhand ran out and came back with carton of eggs from the supermarket :-)
The waitress said the “kitchen wasn’t ready” but the coffee was excellent.

Fairly uneventful run down the Barrier Highway to Cobar, although observed that the suicidal turtles have given way to suicidal galahs and lizards. Biggest observation was just how green the landscape is from previous visits out here. There were areas of so many different vivid shades of green and grey, it was really magnificent, and a pleasant change from the dusty past.

Stopped for longer than desired or anticipated in Cobar, after taking a few photos, talked with the lady at the tourist info about the floods, and then had lunch with a train driver who grew up in Ingleburn.
After then filling up with fuel, finally exited Cobar at 3pm.
Shot for Wilcannia with thoughts of previous visit there, and hoping it had somewhat improved and might make a good camp… It hasn’t, so I didn’t
By this stage it was 6pm, and Broken Hill was too far to make today, as I didn’t want to ride at dusk to avoid the wildlife (roos specifically)
So decided to head for Menindee Lakes, about 150km south west of Wilcannia. The road, which was dirt, turned out to be fairly trashed during the recent rains, lots of washouts, some 3ft deep, and heavily rutted by trucks driving on it when it wad closed.
Tried to recall all the offroad advice, STAND UP! Etc etc
It wad good fun, although almost got off at 80kmh when I got swallowed by a big rut and thrown about. Managed to stay on, with increased heartrate.
There was just as much wildlife here, with alot of cattle and goats on the track.
Came across one big herd of cattle in the middle of the track, so had to stop, there were 2 bulls and the younger one wasn’t happy that I was there. He was about 3M away and his head kept dropping. I thought he was going to charge at me a couple of times. It was bit of a Mexican standoff, except that he had all the firepower. I tried rolling backwards, that didn’t help so thought I would have to make a run for it. Just when I was about to, he turned his head for a moment and I was off! I didn’t need to be told to get out of there.

Not long later I stopped to take a photo of the sunset, and a Hilux with 2 farmer lads pulled up out of nowhere, asking if I was ok. They were very amused at the city boy taking photos of the sun and horizon.

My plan to arrive before dark was dead in the water, but there was a campsite by the lake about 13km outside of Menindee. Managed to arrive just as darkness fell and the mozzies swarmed.
A rushed setup of the tent in the dark and some 3 minute noodles, and I’m spent. Goodnight

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