‘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


‘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.