Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category


Today I felt tired. Tired until the final sprint. I turned around and there it was – the thunderstorm from hell. And the tailwind to go with it. 60km in 2 hours to Cobar.

Thunderstorm

Thunderstorm


The wind was meant to be a tailwind, but it didn’t know what it wanted. The road undulated, climbing slowly towards Cobar. I didn’t have the energy to fight the wind, so I crawled along. I slept for half an hour at each of the rest stops.

The road to Cobar

The road to Cobar


Afternoon nap

Afternoon nap


The last rest stop was 62km from Cobar. I wanted to get a bit closer, and headed off around 5 to do a few kilometres before setting up camp.


Before long I turned around. Behind me was black. The friendly sky in front was not reflected behind. A big storm was rolling in. Suddenly the wind picked up. The air smelt of storm. The wind was 100% in the direction of Cobar. So I took it.

Travelling at 40kmh, I realised that  Cobar was reachable this evening –  and looking at the storm – I really should reach it.

For 2 hours I rode the wind. The undulations made no difference. The wind blew me up anything. I arrived in Cobar at 7. With all hotels booked, it’s airbnb for me.


‘I grew up here and now live in Newcastle. I’m here to buy the house I grew up in,’ said the lady camping next to me in Wilcannia. ‘Properties with derelict houses sell for $600 – yes – less than one grand. Ones with good houses go for $10,000.’
My jaw dropped.

The road to Cobar

The road to Cobar


After pushing through 200km to Wilcannia yesterday, today I was lethargic. I only had 100km to do and was in no hurry to do them. The road climbed a hundred metres which was slow. I stopped at the nice reststop half way for ages.

More trees today

More trees today


I walked in to the Emmdale Roadhouse.
‘I hate it here,’ said the owner. ‘I’ve been here 4 years and my wife 10. Can’t wait to get out.’
He looked at me perplexed with my bike. Not in an amused way. In a way, like, this guy is crazy but as long as he pays, I’m ok with it.
‘We’re making shitloads of money here,’ he said.
On talking to them I understand why they’re so frustrated. Legal disputes with the neighbour so they can’t sell. Stuck a long way from the grandchildren.

The wind is looking good, so Cobar may be on the cards for tomorrow.


‘You look hot and thirsty. Would you like a cup of tea?’
The group of 4 from yesterday in Broken Hill passed me. A welcome break from the nose down and eat the kilometres.

Would you like a cup of tea?

Would you like a cup of tea?


The aim now is to get close enough to Sydney to have no worries getting there when my holiday is up.  For the next few days I’m going to eat the kilometres and try to camp near water. Today I had an ambitious goal of 200km to get to Wilcannia. I had a tailwind, it was flat and not too hot. Make hay while the sun shines.

The road to Wilcannia

The road to Wilcannia


The plastic bag on the ironing board, I cut the white powder with my pocket knife. I had bought too much of the stuff. Caring is sharing when it comes to milk powder.

Sharing the white powder

Sharing the white powder

I met the group of 4 at the Mundi Mundi lookout and spent the evening at dinner and then in our very kitsch hotel – the Palace Hotel of Priscilla Queen of the Desert fame. Only wanting 200g of milk powder, and only being able to buy a kilogram, I gave them the rest. It led to much amusement and a funny video.
Chris, Ben, Kamidy and Peter

Chris, Ben, Kamidy and Peter

The Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel

The road to Silverton and Mundi Mundi lookout signifies the end of the outward bound part of the trip. It’s as far west as I’m going. From here on I’m east bound.Mundi Mundi is a lookout on the top of a hill looking out over endless plains to the west. Normally these plains are barren red. This time they were green – endless pastureland.
Mundi Mundi

Mundi Mundi

A stop at the famous Silverton hotel for lunch before a 27km slog into the wind that had blown me there that morning.

A nice creek bed for lunch. Out of the wind. I turned off the road and cycled 10 metres towards the creek into the soft clay before my wheels stopped moving. Pushing the bike didn’t work – my sandals just slid in the clay, collecting it on the way. Time for a declay.

Fix the mud

Returning to the bitumen pushing the bike was impossible. The bike had to be carried. Memories of the Oodnadatta Track in the rain. This clay is solid.

Oh, the mud

Oh, the mud


What I originally thought was going to be a massive tailwind turned out to be a massive sidewind – in the beginning with some side-rain. Nothing like some projectile throwing to release the frustration.

Projectile throwing into the wind


At the end of the day I climbed into some hills. Yes. Hills. I wasn’t expecting that. The scenery feels like the Flinders Ranges to me. Desolate landscape and some small hills. The town of Broken Hill has a South Australian feel to it too. It is nearer to Adelaide than to Sydney of course.

The hills near Broken Hill

The hills near Broken Hill




The sky was grey and the wind churned up waves that hit the shore of the beautiful lake. I was waiting for the storm to break, perched in a dead tree standing in the water. Lake Pamamaroo before the storm.

Lake Pamamaroo

Lake Pamamaroo


The storm felt imminent all day. Most dirt roads were already closed. A meander down the Darling River was thus cancelled. The road to Lake Pamamaroo is the last to close, apparently, so off I went, battling into the wind there (and blown all the way home).

The road to Lake Pamamaroo

The road to Lake Pamamaroo


I swam for over an hour in the refreshing waters, watching a pelican from my perch in a tree in the lake.

Lake Pamamaroo

Lake Pamamaroo


Lake Pamamaroo

Lake Pamamaroo


Lake Pamamaroo

I listened to the rain in my hotel room most of the afternoon. Tomorrow should be dryer and the wind should turn. My hope is to be blown to Broken Hill tomorrow.


‘Be off the dirt roads by Friday – the heavens are opening up!’ warned a lady yesterday who stopped to give me water.
‘What’s the road like to Menindie?’ I asked the barman in Pooncarie.
‘Rough as guts!’

The road to Menindie

The road to Menindie


It was 125km to Menindie, 100km of which was a dirt road. It was hot, there was a headwind and the road was bumpy and had soft sand and corrugations. And there were flies. I felt tired today and just wanted to get there.

The road to Menindie

The road to Menindie


The road passed close to the Darling River (Australia’s second largest river) several times. I had hoped for a swim, but it was hard to get to and not very inviting.

The Darling River

The Darling River


I’m having a day off tomorrow to watch the heavens open. 🙂


Early to rise and early to shine – to get to the visitor’s centre by 9:30 for the Great Wall of China tour. Today was a slog to get to Pooncarie, leaving Mungo at 1:30pm. I did it, as I am now sitting in Pooncarie.

Pooncarie

Pooncarie


The 70km tourist loop of Mungo – also recommended for cyclists – continued its corrugated way, throwing in short sand for good measure. It was very peaceful and beautiful, though, passing along it in the early morning light.

Morning corrugations

Morning corrugations


Morning corrugations

Morning corrugations


When I heard the Great Wall of China tour was actually at 11, I raced off to the Mungo Lodge to feed. I caught the tail-end of the breakfast buffet. In the half an hour I had, I consumed most of the calories I needed for the day. `The buffet and… a caramel milkshake.

Walking onto the sandhills that make up the ‘Great Wall of China’, under the guidance of a local aboriginal, you see a lot more. The dunes are alive with animal tracks – painted lizards, snakes, magpies, kangaroos, goats.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China


The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China


Leaving Mungo at the hottest part of the day, I made my way along 50km of bumpy, corrugated, sandy road. The start was fine, with a tailwind and better road surface. The last part was awful, and I was counting the kilometres to the main road.

The road to Pooncarie

The road to Pooncarie


When the road did come, it was heaven. Perfect bitumen, flat and a strong tailwind. I made it to Pooncarie in time for a big chicken schnitzel. 🙂

A beautiful cycle through a barren moon landscape. Malley scrub, massive flat saltpans, sand formations and corrugations. Oh, and a caramel milkshake.
On the way to Lake Mungo

On the way to Lake Mungo


The morning was still so time to take out the drone.

The view from above

The view from above


The World Heritage Area began with a climb over a little ridge to see a huge expanse of flatness with a dead straight white line bisecting it to the horizon.

The vast saltpans

The vast saltpans


On the horizon were blobs of shimmering white. They looked like wheat silos from a distance, but as I approached, I saw they were sandhills.

The sandhills before Lake Mungo

The sandhills before Lake Mungo


As I proceeded, I climbed lines of sandhills to descend to the next salt pan.

When I arrived at the main loop around Mungo, where all the tourists go, I hit the corrugations. Sometimes they were ok, and other times they pummeled me to a standstill. The road to the campsite was a bit bumpy in the evening light.

The road to Belah Campsite

The road to Belah Campsite


The east side of Lake Mungo is flanked by a range of sandhills. Blown there by the prevailing westerly wind, they form a range of odd sculptures.

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Belah campsite is busy. Not the solitary experience I expected. Still, a nice bench to cook dinner on, and a chorus of mozzies and flies to keep me company.

The mornings are beautiful. Crisp air and beautiful light. As the afternoon ages, the flies pick up, and the bum gets sore. My water stop became an afternoon learning about the farm. Thanks Ryan for giving me a glimpse into the day in a life on the farm.

Taking the cattle off the truck

Taking the cattle off the truck


The track continued west with kangaroos and emus crossing.

The track westward

The track westward


The track westward

The track westward


Around 3 the flies picked up.
The flies picked up

The flies picked up