Monday, 27 September 2010
After waiting out the rain in Alice Springs, Leana and I were eventually back on the road – unfortunately to find that the usual head-wind was gusting again. About 200 k’s South of Alice we reached the turnoff to one of Australia’s great icons – Uluru (formerly called Ayers Rock). One can hardly be in the area without a visit to “The Rock”, so we cycled the 500 km diversion there and back to the Stuart Highway. On the way to Uluru we met Carson (his nickname) from Taiwan, cycling Darwin to Adelaide. On the return leg we met a Japanese guy who claims to be cycling around the world – he started cycling in his home country and then flew to Australia (perhaps the next leg of his trip will be Antarctica). Further South on the road we also met Mario, a middle aged guy from Adelaide who hopped on his bike one day and decided to tackle the Stuart Highway towards Darwin (his main concern is to reach Alice Springs in time to see the Aussie football finals on TV, and he’s also worried about meeting “funny” people along the way – I hope we didn’t fall into that category!). Once again we were bogged down in the rain, this time at Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse , and our tents looked like two bullfrogs in the red muddy lake which was the camp site. It is so unusual to have such rain in the area, that people were flocking to Uluru in an effort to get a picture of “The Rock” with water pouring off it. Since then we’ve worked our way steadily South, camping either at Roadhouses (R/H) or rest areas (R/A) along the way. We’ve had to cycle in freezing rain and wind – it’s quite a challenge to stay on track in a howling cross-wind when a Road Train rumbles past! However, people along the way have been friendly (especially the “Grey Nomads” in their caravans and campers – thanks to Daryll and Gloria for feeding us delicious cake and coffee on 2 occasions). We took a couple of days break at the first town we encountered South of Alice Springs, the “Opal Capital of the World” – Coober Pedy. For about 20 k’s on either side of town we cycled past hundreds of mine dumps resembling overgrown mole-hills on the desolate wind-swept plains. However, Coober Pedy is quite an interesting little town, exactly as one would imagine a frontier mining town to be (dusty corrugated iron buildings, and “miners” of many different nationalities who’ve come to seek their fortune in opals). People also live inside some of the old (and working) mine tunnels in town, and there’s even a few hotels inside the ground! On the road South we crossed the “Dog Fence” (which runs for thousands of kilometers to keep out the Dingo’s). We stayed over at Woomera town (base of missile testing area), and passed impessive salt lakes such as Lake Hart and Iron Stone Lagoon. Now we’ve reached the Southern shores of Australia at Port Augusta, the first sight of the ocean here at the Spencer Gulf since we Left Darwin 6 weeks ago. Daily distances cycled since Alice Springs have been:- Stuarts Well R/H 95 km; Erldunda R/H 111 km; Mt Conner R/A 137; Curtin Springs R/H 28 km; Yulara Resort 88 km; around Uluru Nat Park 37 km; Curtin Springs (return leg) 88 km; Mt Ebenezer R/H 107 km; Kulgera R/H 134 km; Maryatt R/A 61 km; Marla R/H 123 km; Cadney Homestead R/H 83 km; Pootnoura R/A 79 km; Coober Pedy 78 km; Ingomar R/A 94 km; BonBon R/A 79 km; Glendambo R/H 87 km; Woomera 125 km; Ranges View R/A 120 km; and Port Augusta 65 km. Total in Australia in 6 weeks since leaving Darwin on 13 August is 3 399 km. Total distance I’ve cycled on this journey since leaving Cape Town exactly 3 and a half years ago on 27 March 2007 is 63 906 km.
Thursday, 2 September 2010
Well, Leana and I have pretty much made it to the (red) heart of Australia – to the central town of Alice Springs. Locally referred to as “The Red Centre”, the Alice region is still a little off the geographical centre of Australia. Just North of town we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn for the first time since jumping that line on the way North through Botswana more than 3 years ago. After that we crossed the Equator twice, and have cycled back and forth over the Tropic of Cancer about 8 times. We found the tropical divide to be well placed, as we’d been battling into the wind the whole day and reached the line in the late pm (there was a water tank at the rest area, so we didn’t think twice about spending the night). I’d rather not say anything about the road and the scenery, except that it hasn’t changed much since my last report – however, it has gradually become more arid. The “feared” road trains are still not a problem, and the “Grey Nomads” (retired Aussies in their campers and caravans) are very friendly – even offering us water along the road. On the way into town we also posed for a self-photo at the unremarkable "highest point" on the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Adelaide. Now we’ve already spent a couple of nights at a camp site in Alice which is close to town – we’ve been cycling in to the supermarkets and bike shop in order to get what we need. What we also need is to start moving South tomorrow morning, before we grow roots. Daily distances cycled since my last report have been:- Barrow Creek 94 km; Ti-Tree 93 km; Aileron 63 km; Tropic of Capricorn 105 km; and Alice Springs 36 km. Total distance cycled in Australia so far is 1 580 km, and total since leaving Cape Town at the start of this journey is 62 087 km.