The sun was shining and the road was lovely through the green fields, lush with grass and bright coloured flowers. We left the cottage of my past and cycled through the rolling hills.

The Mawson Trail

The Mawson Trail

Just before Melrose I passed 41000km from Eindhoven. This will be the last 1000km milestone (kilometrestone) before the end of the trip.

41000km from Eindhoven

41000km from Eindhoven

As we were riding through Melrose, we saw a heavily laden bike parked out the front of the café, and got talking to Nico. He’s been on the road for 4 years now, and has some amazing stories to tell. We will ride the next little leg together, but may be stuck in Melrose tomorrow with the next bout of rain. We’ll see..


I opened the door of the cottage of my youth and walked in. Nothing, but nothing had changed. The rustic farm-cottage kitchen. The beds that swallow you up. The living-room with the topographical map above the fireplace – the one we had donated all those years ago. And mum’s handwriting in the guest book. Our names were in that book going back to 1980. Now, in 2016 I stood here and breathed in the spirits of the past.

Our second visit in Olive Grove Cottage

Our second visit in Olive Grove Cottage

We cycled to the end of the dead-end road that we had driven down so many times before, and put the bikes in the outhouse of the cottage as the three of us – Dad, Clement and I – walked to Mt Brown – one of the standard walks we used to do. Now part of the long-distance hiking trail – the Heysen Trail – the path took us along a creek, and up through the wooded landscape with beautiful views over the rugged Flinders Ranges mountains. From the windy and cold summit we could see Spencer Gulf – our first sight of the sea since Darwin. We have really crossed the continent from sea to sea.

Bald Hill lookout

Bald Hill lookout

View from Mt Brown

View from Mt Brown

The walk took quite a while and it was getting late. Just after leaving the summit, Clement left, running back to the cottage to get our headlamps, and returned to Dad and me who were taking it slower just as the last photons of light were disappearing. Without the headlamps the last 2km would have been very dark.

We cooked sausages and marshmallows on the fire, and the bush damper (yeastless bread) in the oven as we didn’t have any aluminium foil to cook it in the fire before crashing into bed. A fantastic day with Dad, who is now no longer on the opposite side of the planet to myself.

Day 463. 26km. Quorn

Posted: September 27, 2016 in Australia, Cycling
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‘I thought I recognized you!’
It must have been nearly 30 years since we last saw her – the owner of Olive Grove cottage where we used to come every year for the long weekend in October.
‘We gave you the big map to put on the wall above the fire,’ said Dad.
‘Yes. Yes. I remember!’
A few phone calls later and we can go and visit this holiday house of my childhood once more.

Today I got my haircut. The hairdresser knew my grandmother’s cousins. They all knew the places we used to walk. I kind of felt a bit like a local. It’s been a long cycle, and now I’m here.

Dad joined us from Adelaide, and we headed off along the 15km dirt dead-end road to Olive Grove cottage to camp there, but turned back when the rain got heavier and Dad’s car almost got bogged. An evening in Quorn it was with a nice meal and a warm bed.

No photos today. Oops. I forgot. There’ll be some tomorrow when the weather is better.. ☺


I sat at the café in Hawker and cried. Hawker is like any of the Flinders Ranges towns that are so familiar to me from my youth. I know why I have been lacking my motivation. I need some time by myself to process this. My journey is coming to an end, and I need some time alone.

The road to Quorn

The road to Quorn

Clement and I are in different places mentally. I cursed at every bit of mud and every rock in the road while cycling in the sun through the grassy, green fields on the beautiful Mawson Trail. Clement hurtled forward with excitement and enthousiasm, making my irritation even more complete.
Do I want to get home quicker? Finish this two-year life-time dream? No. I don’t want it to end. Yes. I want to be in Brighton, Adelaide. I want to walk down the jetty where mother’s ashes dissipated into the water. I want to be back. I don’t know what I want, and so here I am, in the café, bursting into tears.

Clement and I parted ways today. He continued down the bumpy but beautiful Mawson Trail. I took the straight, flat, bitumen road and entered into myself, gliding along with a tailwind in the sun. Over and over again I burst into tears. I was going to Quorn where my grandmother was born, and where we returned every year to walk and enjoy the Flinders Ranges. I had flashbacks of those times. Of my grandmother. Of my mother. Of everything. And everything brought back the tears. The journey is ending, and here I am.

I pulled over at a windmill. I used to love these windmills as a kid. We used to count them when driving up here. A game to pass the kilometres. These windmills are so iconic in my mind. I sat next to it and ate a whole packet of Tim Tam biscuits. It was sunny and warm, and I didn’t want to arrive in Quorn. But I did want to. I don’t know anything anymore.

Windmill

Windmill

Windmill

Windmill

I checked in to the first hotel I passed in Quorn, showered away the infinity of dirt and grime from my weather-beaten body, and then went to the train station to stare at the station building with ‘Quorn’ written above the door in big, friendly letters. Everywhere I looked were memories.

Quorn

Quorn

Clement will catch up with me tomorrow, and my father will drive up from Adelaide. We are going to spend a weekend here in this memory-filled place. Then it’s the last stretch – the last 350km – into Adelaide.


Today I was not motivated. The Mawson Trail was always beautiful, but bumpy in parts, and I just couldn’t be bothered. I was eyeing off the short-cut to Hawker, but was talked out of it. Cycling through the grassy fields with the rocky mountains as backdrop in the evening light made it all worth it. Still, a comfortable bed and a hot shower would be nice soon.

Mawson Trail in the evening light

Mawson Trail in the evening light

The Mawson Trail is a bit fractal around Wilpena Pound going 5 steps forward and 4 steps back. We returned to the main road from Port Augusta to Marree only 50km from where we turned off at Parachilna to enter the Flinders Ranges. Before that, we skirted the outside of Wilpena Pound, and then passed between the pound and the Elder Ranges – another line of rocky outcrop mountains. When the rain-looking clouds were gathering, and the wind was again a headwind, I found my motivation dwindling to leave the beautiful smooth bitumen road that was only 30km from Hawker, to cycle down a dirt, corrugated road in the opposite direction. I am here to enjoy the landscape, and the main roads certainly aren’t as nice.

Elder Ranges Road

Elder Ranges Road

Maybe an early night will fix my blues.

Day 460a. Wilpena Pound

Posted: September 24, 2016 in Australia
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I got to the top of the rocky outcrop towering over the spectacular landscape and looked down. There was Clement, waving frantically perched on a small rock jutting out from the cliff face. I needed to get there too. Cliff face scrambling at St Mary Peak.

Spot me in this picture - Wilpena Pound

Spot me in this picture – Wilpena Pound

St Mary Peak at Wilpena Pound is one of my favourite places in Australia. From the top, you have a spectacular 360 degree view of the circle of mountains that is Wilpena Pound, and also the ridge of mountains that stretches into the distance that form Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges (as well as many others). The rain and hail had stopped by the time we got to the top, so we were able to enjoy the view for lunch, our feet dangling over the edge.

Wilpena Pound

Wilpena Pound

Wilpena Pound

Wilpena Pound

St Mary Peak

St Mary Peak

We returned via the interior of the pound – another feast of amazing views.

Wilpena Pound

Wilpena Pound

Other than the amazing walk, we were excited to run into Alex and Alaine again – our friends we met in Oodnadatta and camped with on the moon plain. In the evening we had another interesting talk with a couple, the woman of which collects mannequin heads. Rather an unusual hobby..

Alex and Alaine

Alex and Alaine


Today was wet and cold. Our plans of visiting Brachina and Bunyeroo gorges along small, beautiful roads were foiled by cold rain, wind and ever-muddying roads. We aborted our plans and headed to the main road, and pushed on through the cold to Wilpena where we hung out in the cafeteria all afternoon.

Pine trees in the rain

Pine trees in the rain

It was also my anniversary of leaving Eindhoven. I’ve now been on the road for two years, and the end is getting very close.