The wind was at our back – the same wind that has been our bane all the way from Darwin. Today I put in the music and I went – full speed hurtling down the Lasseter Highway to Uluru. I screamed out at the top of my voice – ‘I’ve made it all the way to Uluru!’ I am very happy.

The road to Uluru

The road to Uluru

Not only did we cycle 160km, but we stopped for a leisurely three hour huge lunch at Curtin Springs. Life is good with a tailwind on a good road. We are camping 40km from Uluru and are all ready for our sunrise viewing tomorrow morning. Uluru – here we come.

Mt Connor

Mt Connor


Men in red and white pyjamas, camels, cockees, fields of sweeping yellow, headwinds, rain, cold and to end it all a wine in front of a fire at the Salty Creek rest stop. Not bad for one day.

Fields of yellow

Fields of yellow

I lay in my tent in the dark at the lunch picnic area near Kings Canyon. The wind was flapping the entrance and the rain was splatting on the roof above me. When I heard a howl of the wind in the trees in the river-bed just metres away I knew that in a few seconds the tent would react. We kind-of weren’t meant to be there camping, and I had visions of the little square of dry ground under my tent being a give-away sign that we had camped there, even if we had moved the tent and were innocently eating breakfast at the lunch tables. This was a fantastic thing for me to worry about – I like worrying about anything – so it was to be – a night worrying and lying watching the tent shudder in the wind. We packed in a hurry in the rain and were off into the freezing cold morning.

The sulfur-crested cockatoo didn’t like me. He sat on the ranger’s arm. He sat on the tree – and then he sat on Clement’s arm – but not mine. He let me pat him though, and was very sweet. Our mascot at King’s Creek station – the last place with water for a very long way.

Cockatoo

Cockatoo

They they sat on the side of the road – three men dressed in red and white striped pyjamas, sitting on folding chairs, watching the world pass by. They had an old Holden Kingswood car with crazy decorations pulled up in front of them. We had passed a whole parade of such cars, and been cheered and tooted by most of them. They were raising money for under-privelaged children in Victoria, and this was their celebratory rally. While we were talking to them Batman and Robin pulled up. I helped Robin get out of his suit that was inside out. Its not every day that you can undress Robin. They men in striped pyjamas went on a short cycle on our bikes. Clement now has a slow puncture..

The red and white brigade

The red and white brigade

We were slowly climbing the hill against the strong headwind, and there they were – camels at the crest of the hill. As we approached they made their way off the road, but were close and watching us as they passed. Funny that – we have seen our first camel, but not our first wild kangaroo. Where are all the kangaroos that I was expecting? I remember coming here before and seeing one every 10 minutes. Times are changing.

Camels

Camels

As we headed south it got greener and greener. This doesn’t feel like the desert. We passed fields and fields of yellow, and, my, it smelt lovely. It has rained recently here, and the desert has come to life!

We rolled up to the parking area and were invited to join Des and Robin in front of their fire. It was a great evening talking with them, and then with Clement. Clement was very happy to have some good Australian wine. I must admit that I don’t get the whole wine thing. It tasted like wine – such a scandalous thing to say, thinks Clement..


And there he stood, in a handstand, on the edge of the massive cliff at Kings Canyon. The people on the cliff-face opposite clapped, and then stopped when they saw what he was doing. There was a gasp of apprehension. What would his mother say? I know he can do it, and a lot more.I did the worrying for his mother.

Handstand at Kings Canyon

Handstand at Kings Canyon

Today was a lot cooler and cloudy. No troubles with water today. We made it past the last kilometres of corrugated dusty road to the bitumen before Kings Canyon. The canyon is spectacular – two massive cliffs facing each other with a beautiful green valley below. We walked amongst the beehive-like rock formations, and sat on the edge of the clifffaces breathing in the spirit of the landscape. This place is millions of years old – the remains of an eternity of erosion. It is hard to comprehend the scale of time that has passed to create this place. It will be here, in all its awe long after we are all gone.

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon


‘Have you got any water?’
I wanted to do it without flagging a car down, but that was not to be. The people were lovely and filled up our bottles and let us guzzle more water down before leaving. Bad road cycling in Australia.

On the road to Kings Canyon

On the road to Kings Canyon

When I was 20 I had my nose broken when practicing Tae Kwon Do. Since then I have not been able to breathe properly through my nose. I have never got around to getting it fixed. It was quite annoying today. My mouth was constantly dry, and I had to keep it open. This is a big source of evapouration. I can’t do much about the amount I sweat (which is not much in the not so hot, dry desert), but, a nose operation would help with this problem. I had drunken 10 litres of water since our last water stop at Glen Helen. Clement had drunken 2.

On the road to Kings Canyon

On the road to Kings Canyon

The road continued past a line of rocky hills. It was all amazingly green, and didn’t really feel like a desert at all. It wasn’t possible to look around much, though. Full concentration was required on the road to navigate the path of fewest bumps. Rocks and corrigations made for a slow and bumpy ride, and despite cycling for over 7 hours, we only made it 75km. Tomorrow Kings Canyon.


This is beautiful country. Rocky ridges which are lines of exposed red rock, and then flat plains with red rocks jutting up to the heavens, visible for miles and miles around. And there is not a soul here. When you stop, you just hear.. nothing. This is the Australian outback.

Glen Helen Gorge

Glen Helen Gorge

We had a little walk this morning to the top of the ridge behind Glen Helen station. It was a fun scramble up to the top of the cliff face with a spectacular view over the plains and ridges of mountains. After talking with a cycling couple and Julie – the cyclist from France – we only ended up leaving around 11.

Glen Helen Gorge

Glen Helen Gorge

View from Glen Helen Gorge

View from Glen Helen Gorge

Lunch was at the top of a mini-pass with the most amazing view out over the plains and Gosse Bluff – a rock formation formed from a meteor strike and then millions of years of erosion – two kilometres of erosion. It’s hard to comprehend such time scales.

Gosse Bluff

Gosse Bluff

We are now on the 150km of dirt road to King’s Canyon, and I am sitting in front of a lovely warm fire at the top of a little crest in the road. The sunset over the endless plains spread out before us. There is not a cloud in the sky, and not a breath of wind. And not a sound. Beautiful.


Tailwind – our first. Clouds – our first. Mountains – well, hills – almost our first. It was beautiful cycling through the MacDonnell Ranges that once used to be higher than the Himalayas. We passed water holes and rivers as we passed between the beautiful rocky red ridges.

The road to Glen Helen

The road to Glen Helen

We were blown to our lunch destination at a water hole. It popped up out of nowhere. Too cold for a swim for me, but Clement braced the chilly water. This evening we are staying in a sandy river bed near the Glen Helen Resort. We spent the evening speaking with Julie – a French cyclist who is working there for a month, an American cycling couple, and some backpackers.

Glen Helen Gorge

Glen Helen Gorge

It was good to get back on the bikes after a 5 day break in Alice Springs. Our time there was wonderful with lots of food, drink and fun people. We were welcomed in with open arms by Julie (her uncle and my auntie are married) and her husband Lyall. We became part of the local car rally community, joining in on their BBQ and then their rally as they hurtled around a course between the sticks. Thanks for everything!!


Today we left the tropics – although the tropical weather ended long ago. It’s been about 9 months since I entered the tropics in China and about 18000km. Now onward into the temperate winter.

Tropic of Capricorn

Tropic of Capricorn

We’ve arrived in Alice Springs, and are staying with my uncle’s niece Julie and her husband Lyall. A lovely couple who have welcomed us into their family and life here.