We sat in front of the fire under the starry heavens listening to the crackle of the wood as it disappeared in flames. Beneath the sound of the fire silence reigned. We were miles from absolutely anywhere in the middle of the Australian desert. Then the white ute with the floodlight headlights passed our fire, music blaring from the windows. The car stopped, reversed, and turned into our little side-path, and out jumped Quentin.

The sand was soft

The sand was soft

A big black fella with a beard and jovial face lumbered up to us and lit a cigarette. His massive dog jumped out of the ute and sniffed around. Quentin was from another community and was driving to Ernabella for the footy. He works there herding camels with the ute and helicopter. He had his wife and kids in the car.
A high-pitched stream of unintelligible syllables streamed out from the car window.
‘Me wife,’ chuckled Quentin.
She tooted the horn.
‘We might see you in Ernabella.’ I said as he returned to his car.
The floodlights were on, and the music thumping car reversed, returned to the road, and drove off into the night.

Not many cars ply this road. A red, sandy road that heads south into endless nothingness. The country is green from the recent rains and very beautiful.

Mt Connor

Mt Connor

Wreck

Wreck

Mt Connor

Mt Connor

Flowers

Flowers

And the flies were bad today. They can keep up with me while I am cycling, and are dreadful when passing through deep sandy stretches. Both hands are required on the handle-bars as I slide and wobble through the sand. One extra hand is needed to shoo away the flies. The lack of a hand has led to stacking the bike on several occasions.

Flies

Flies

We were passed by several people that mostly stopped to chat. A couple from Ernabella, and also the teacher from there. We are cordially invited to drop past for a cup of tea. I’m looking forward to Ernabella.


Today was a day going back along the same straight road through the featureless desert. I put on music that brought me back to my time as an exchange student in France, and my childhood in Australia. I was brought back to the hospital room where I said goodbye to my mother for the last time in 2005. I could hardly see forward for all the tears. I am getting close, mum.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Our breakfast was scrambled eggs and sausages taken from the rubbish bin at Yulara. Nine eggs and three sausages. Maybe I’ll try the garbage tin exploration next time. I am still a novice at this. It’s a shame to see the food go to waste.


‘I’ve found some chicken!’ exclaimed Clement, holding up the plastic bag he’d found in the rubbish bin. We dined on that before a second visit resulted in eggs, sausages and bread – all ready for breakfast tomorrow. Dumpster diving in Yulara.

Uluru from a distance

Uluru from a distance

I had already reached 39000km before even leaving the carpark – so – the required selfie.

39000 km

39000 km

Camping next to Kata Tjuta, we were the first to enter the Valley of the Winds, and could pass through in total silence, admiring the massive red domes looming above us on all sides. The slopes were covered in green, with huge carpets of purple flowers.

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

The return to Yulara and civilisation was slow against the headwind we had used as a tailwind the last few days. After a big shopping spree and dumpster diving effort, we headed off into the night to our camping spot – our sunrise viewing spot of yesterday morning.


‘Wow!’ was Clement’s expression as we turned the last bend to Uluru. The massive rock was looming over us. We were small, insignificant ants next to this ancient dinosaur.
Today we saw the sun rise over Uluru and saw the sun’s last rays on Kata Tjuta. In between was the Uluru experience.

Uluru

Uluru

The sunrise viewing area on my app was not signposted at all, and we passed all the people sleeping in their caravans to our own private rise in the landscape to see the rising sun illuminate the big red rock on the horizon. Cold, but happy, we continued on our way to the tourist village of Yulara.

Clement climbed the rock while I stayed at the bottom. The aboriginal owners would prefer people not to climb the rock, so I stayed down and instead had a lot of fun speaking lots of the languages that I know. I really get a kick out of that.

The road around the rock was beautiful with lots of stops. It stimulated Clement and I to have theoretical discussions on what is religion, and what is the history of a people. Clement puts a lot of importance on the written word, leading to unchanging accounts of history. Word of mouth is too changing between generations. Aborignal dreamtime stories have only been passed down through word of mouth. Also, a religion only can be called that if many thousand of people follow it. I disagree, but it was an interesting discussion – interrupted by a sighting of an amazing lizard.

Thorny devil

Thorny devil

Uluru

Uluru

Sitting on 38999km from Eindhoven we find ourselves camping near to Kata Tjuta, ready for an explore tomorrow.


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