Day 449. 43km. Oodnadatta – Bush

Posted: September 7, 2016 in Australia, Cycling
Tags: , , ,

We made it 100 metres past the bitumen – first cycling, then pushing, then dragging. And then we stopped. It was 6:30 in the morning after one whole day of waiting in Oodnadatta, and now we were returning, backtracking the bespoke 100 metres. I dragged my bike and set clay clogging my wheels the 100 metres back. Clement took off and walked the luggage back before carrying the bike with wheels locked solid over the road of damp clay. We were stuck in Oodna-bloody-datta.

Clement carrying the bike over the mud

Clement carrying the bike over the mud

Stuck in the little outback town – a collection of houses lost in the middle of endless flat nothingness – the people that would normally only greet each other briefly actually conversed. All the roads were closed, and we were locked in to this small grid of bitumen streets. There was a pub. There was a school. There was a museum and there was the Pink Roadhouse – the outback icon with all its violent pink décor and parafanalia.
Everyone was so lovely to us – the wacky cyclists. We were fed a breakfast of bacon and bread. We were given spending money. People were all keen to help and give advice on what to do with my newly broken stand that had snapped that morning as the fully loaded bike sank into the clay. Should I try to get it welded? Araldyte? Find a stick to prop up the bike instead? We became a family of the trapped as we stood in the lovely warm sun in front of the Pink Roadhouse, watching the ‘road closed’ sign and discussing what to do next.

Meet Alex and Alaine – our new travelling companions in the campervan. On the way to Williams Creek (like us), they have been wandering around Australia with their campervan and have now taken on the role of being our guardian angels. They were there as we tried to leave the bitumen road of Oodnadatta town and returned after one metre in the mud on the first morning. They provided us with the hose fittings to help remove the infinite amount of caked-on clay after our second attempt to leave Oodnadatta on day two. They were there with good conversation, good advice and many cups of tea as we sat contemplating our next steps.

It rained a lot during our first night in Oodnadatta with Clement and I snug and dry in the cabin paid my Alex and Alaine. The road (a mudbath in the morning) was almost dry in the afternoon of the first day after a beautiful sunny day – just wonderful for cycling. There was mist the second night which turned the road into sticky clay which foiled our attempt at leaving early in the morning. Reliable rumours were out that the road to Coober Pedy would open, and probably remain open until a big downpour one day later. Our new guardian angels offered to follow us, camp with us, and sit it out being stuck somewhere if needed. Apart from being great company, this removed our fears of running out of food or water if we got stuck.

Alex and Alaine

Alex and Alaine

With no realistic prospect of the direct road to Williams Creek being open in the next week, we waited a bit for the road to dry and left around lunchtime – heading for Coober Pedy.

The road was spectacular – flat, wide absolute nothingness.

Road closed

Road closed



Camping spot

Camping spot

The road was still soft from the water and the going was tough as the wheels sank into the clay. There were regular mudbaths that clogged up everything, and eventually the clay dried between my wheels and mudguards to make it almost impossible to move forward. Clement had wisely already removed his mudguards before departing. We stopped where Alex and Alaine were waiting and took off my mudguards which helped a lot.

We had a wonderful evening chatting about everything with Alex and Alaine in the absolute middle of nowhere. Tomorrow the rain is coming and we will be stuck somewhere. Let’s see where, and what the universe has in store. This time yesterday I didn’t expect to be here. The universe it like that sometimes.

  1. Jodi Dutta says:

    The universe is indeed like that sometimes. Loved hearing about all of this, and wishing you continued blessings…

  2. valerievolk says:

    You were so lucky to find some guardian angels! Blessings on Alex and Alaine! In retrospect, this whole interlude may turn out to be one of the highlights of your journey. It’s fascinating reading.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Definitely fortunate to have met such caring souls. Hope you make it out of there!

  4. At least there was bacon, though!

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