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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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