Australia Prt 10, NT: Marree to Alice Springs

Route: Marree – Oodnadatta – Marla – Alice Springs

Day 103: 21 May 2019
From Marree to about 7 km before junction with Borefield Road
64,07 km (Total so far: 4534,96 km) – Altitude climbed: 225 m
Weather: Sunny, light and moderate head and side wind

At nine o’clock, I went to the police station again. This time, contact with Birdsville was made.
They seemed to be very happy with all the water on the other side of the line, while the local police here was complaining they didn’t get any here (although I did make it rain for a while yesterday – another ‘2 year drought broken’ after I appeared).
So, it’s final now, Birdsville cannot be reached by the Birdsville track, also not by pushbike.
There’s a stretch of 4 kilometer still completely under water.
It won’t open in the next three weeks, according to the Birdsville officials.
They only way open would be to ride 80 km back to Lyndhurst and take the Strzelecki Track to Innamincka and then the Arrabury road. From there I could ride into Birdsville, but not north from there, as those roads are closed due to floodings as well.
I go to the Oasis Pub, order a coke and stare at my maps.
What to do ?
The Oodnadatta Track, with all its grey nomads riding around with their caravans to see a wet lake ?
The Strzelecki?
Definitely the quieter option.
It would be hard. It is a long, long way from Lyndhurst to Innamincka (475 km) without any chance to buy provisions or get water.
And from Innamincka to Windorah, it’s another 450 km with nothing.
From Windorah I would have to go closer to the coast, towards Longreach, …. but that’s country where I don’t want to be (more densely populated).
I decide on the Oodnadatta Track.
The positive thing of starting so late, is that most grey nomads have disappeared already, and I have a reasonably quiet day.


The Rohloff leaked some oil again. Due to higher temperatures ? (It stopped leaking and never caused problems.)
Ready for the ride.


Bridge of the old ‘Ghan-Railway’ line which will accompany me for a while.


Another old Ghan Railway bridge.



‘We got the power to win’.




Wedge-tailed eagle




Day 104: 22 May 2019
From 7 km before junction with Borefield Road to near Kewson Hill
77,38 km (Total so far: 4612,34 km) – Altitude climbed: 177 m
Weather: Sunny, light and moderate head wind

Got up early again.
I hoped to beat the terrible bush flies which swarmed me yesterday all day. At least 500 of them.
It is terrible.
Unlivable !
And they stayed up till after sunset. But then they were joined by the mosquito’s and the moths. Also in swarms.
When I went out for a pee at 2:30 am, there were still a few bush flies up.
And before sunrise, they were all waiting already to greet and attack me.

More traffic on the Oodnadatta Track as yesterday.
A few very friendly people.
First, a Jeep with two girls stopped and offered me an ice cold bottle of water.
Further on, a father and his daughter stopped for a chat. They filled up all my bottles, cause they were gonna get to Leigh Creek for lunch and could fill up again over there (damn, lunch is in a few hours, and Leigh Creek is a four day ride for me haha). The daughter also gave me an apple and a croissant 🙂

The view point over Lake Eyre South is not so special. It’s pretty far from the (dry lake).

Lake Eyre


The quality of the track is very bad. When I searched accounts of other cyclists who rode here, they all seem to write they were lucky, because ‘the grader must have passed only a few days ago’.
Well, I think the grader has a sabbatical, because this road hasn’t seen any maintenance in a long time.
Heavy corrugations, with lines of deep gravel in between. At times almost unrideable.

Anyways, still good fun if you can neglect the bush flies.
Another car stopped. A young couple from Luxemburg, on a two year trip around the world, offered me some water as well.
All is good. I’ve got enough now and don’t have to go to Cowards Spring campsite, which would guarantee a sleepless night, like I had twice in Marree.
People chatting, slamming doors, shining their cars’ head lights in your tent until well after midnight. The first ones up again before 5 am (really !), stopping their car in front of your tent and running the engine stationary for 1,5 hour.
I hate campsites.

But here I am, at a fabulous wild camping spot.
Pitched the inner tent, dived in, killed 12 flies that joined me in that 2 second action, blew up the mattress and the pillow.
Brilliant. I can lay here forever staring at the sky through the mesh inner tent.
As I ride north, it’s heating up.
Well over 30 degrees.

Again, suddenly a tennis ball on the road.

Day 105: 23 May 2019
From near Kewson Hill to just before William Creek (in the creek)
71,26 km (Total so far: 4683,60 km) – Altitude climbed: 199 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side and head wind

Kept bumping forward on the Oodnadatta. The track is again really bad in some places. Corrugations that make your eyeballs fall out, deep gravel, big stones. All of it. The material suffers. One of these bottle bags I have on the handle bar breaks under the weight of a liter of water in it, and all the bumping. It’s probably around 1200 bumps per kilometer on these corrugations, so that’s close to a 100.000 bumps and bangs your material and your back gets each day.
As long as I last longer as my material, it’s ok.

Flies, flies, flies
everywhere flies



People were friendly again.
Ted and Maria offered me water yesterday already, but I didn’t need anymore then. Today, I gladly accept. We stand on the side of the road, chatting (and desperately trying to keep the bush flies off). They are on an eight month road trip with their two sons. No caravan. They do tent camping, or the occasional hotel. They too were swarmed by the bush flies at camp and attacked by the midges.
Yes apart from the flies, the moths, the midges have arrived as well now. And unlike the flies, they do bite.

I have been told now by two separate sources this is the worst bush fly season in 30 years !

Some cyclist had a real problem here. I don’t know where you’re gonna find your nearest bike shop. Alice Springs, about 850 kilometer from here, I guess.
Ted and Maria.

Two motor bikers stopped for a chat. They went up and down from Marree to William Creek (200 km) and can’t get their head around it that somebody on a ‘pushbike’ would go the whole 620 kilometer on the Oodnadatta. When I explain them that, during hard times, one just has to think about that chair in the office, that computer, that airco, all the over time hours, and you’re good to go again no matter what, they laugh and say they want to have a job like me.
I assure them they really don’t haha.

From a couple of grey nomads, who kindly stop as well, I top off some more water. Now I have sufficient until tomorrow morning, so no need to roll into William Creek tonight. Can sleep happily on my lonesome in a nice place, instead of suffering with the crowds.
Because crowds is what’s out there. The Aussies arrive in their thousands to make the ‘scenic flight’ over Lake Eyre, which is supposedly filled for 60% now.
I camp just before William Creek (pop. abt. 10), in the creek bed itself.
The small airplanes keep taking off until well after sunset. It’s pitch dark, they won’t see a thing.
But I guess the pilots are happy to keep flying out.
The people are waiting in line, eager to get rid off their money just to be able to say they flew over it.
Golden times for the pilots.


Not only bike wheels brake, the caravans seem to collapse as well. But who on earth leaves a naked, beheaded doll next to his old wheel on the Oodnadatta Track ?? Curious whether I will find that head somewhere later on.


Schermafbeelding 2019-06-25 om 02.57.02
This is what the land I’m traveling through looks like from the sky.  Isn’t that insane ?


Day 106: 24 May 2019
From William Creek to 55 km after William Creek
58,78 km (Total so far: 4742,38 km) – Altitude climbed: 252 m
Weather: Cloudy, moderate head wind

When I opened my eyes this morning, I witnessed a superb sunrise through the mesh of my inner tent. Jumped out of it for a few pictures and heated up water for a coffee.
How nice to be doing this, walking around without all the flies around and on you. Eating is in the tent, with all the zippers closed, because soon they ‘re all out again.

I usually never get up before sunrise, but when nature offers you this….

The flights to see the lake were taking off from sunrise again.
The landing strip of William Creek crosses the Oodnadatta Track. You have to keep your own eyes open. No one to stop you from cycling under the wheels of a plane. But you’d have to be real stupid to do that of course.
Went in the pub from the hotel for a coke I was dying for since a few days.
Don’t count on resupplies here. Apart from a Mars bar, you’re not gonna find anything.
Speaking to a couple from Alice Springs at the bar, the man told me he was a park ranger over there. Flies haven’t been as bad as now since 20 years, he says. And it gets worse as you’re heading north.
Worse ???
How is that possible ?
Haven’t I reached the limits yet ?
Imagine you stick your head in a wasp nest. That’s how I am riding around here, except these flies don’t sting of course.
They have the midges for that.

Entering William Creek.


Inside the William Creek Hotel Bar.

Anyways, with 15 liter of water I leave the tiny settlement.
A few kilometer out of town is the junction towards Coober Pedy and the Stuart Highway. Everybody seems to take that option, so the Oodnadatta is death quiet from here.
Riding from below sea level to a somewhat higher plateau through what is the driest region of the driest continent, with the ever lasting head wind is hard. How I wish for a few days of tail wind.
But it’s a super nice experience to be riding on your own here.
I start listening to the ‘Serial’ podcast season 2 which is sitting on my music player since ages. No better place then here, away from all distractions to follow the story. It’s about an American soldier who walked of his post in Afghanistan, got captured by the Taliban and was released after five years after Obama made a deal, …


Not a bad landscape eh.

The routine now is to find a camping spot about half an hour before sunset (17:30). You can’t take your head net of or enter your tent as long as the flies are out.

The nights here are complete dead silent. Pitch dark, big sky full of stars and the Milky Way.
It is brilliant.

For the first time since long I make a campfire.

Day 107: 25 May 2019
From 55 km after William Creek to Algebuckina ((Neales River)
94,25 km (Total so far: 4836,63 km) – Altitude climbed: 285 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind

So, apparently I just have to ask for it ?
About the best day on the Oodnadatta so far with the hills of the Davenport Range and the Denison Range to my right.
I had tail wind (!) and the scenery between Warrina and Peake Creek was marvelous, very colorful. Also the quality of the track, at times really bad, became much better after Warrina. That combined with the tail wind means I was flying over the track at times at 30 km/hr.



I could have cycled much farther today, were it not for all the encounters. Traffic is sparse, but it seems I know everybody out here by now.
Only 4,5 km into my ride today, an old, white Toyota van pulls over. Out comes the man I talked to outside the William Creek pub. His self made old electrical mtb on the rear rack of the van. But the battery is broken, and so are the rear lights of his bicycle rack, and the wires going to that rack and ….
He is divorced since a while, doesn’t see his family anymore, retired and is happily traveling around the country since.
My water bottles are topped up.
After a chat of more than half an hour, we resume our trip.

Not much later, the guys in the white VW stop for a chat.
Then, a couple stops. They tell me a French couple on bicycles is behind me. They stopped to offer them water as well, somewhere between Farina and Marree. Apparently they each had less than a liter but still refused, claiming there would be enough opportunities. They are riding very narrow tires. ‘That’s gonna be hard on this track’, I tell them.

A bit later a 4WD stops. The man behind the wheels jumps out declaring, I have to have a word with a fellow cyclist. I lower my bandana and take off my sunglasses.
‘Koen !’, he says.
It was Stan and his wife with whom I stayed in Kettering, Tasmania.
What are the chances !


Flat, stony desert.

Further on, another guy with a caravan stops.
‘I’ve seen you riding yesterday. You’ve come a good way already. Where are you from ?’.
‘Belgium’, I reply.
He tells me how hot it gets here in summer and soon he goes on in a frenzy, ‘these Germans they come out here in the middle of summer, then take take one of these side tracks and try to walk out. Of course they fail and then they die’.
When we talking about the remainder of my trip and the regions further north and me asking about the crocodile situation, he tells me not to worry, ‘it’s those Germans when they’re out there, they get caught and …..’.

‘What’s his problem ?’, I’m thinking. I find my German neighbors among the friendliest and most helpful people, it’s a beautiful country and they make damn good quality stuff.

The last 2,5 hours of the day I see nobody anymore and make such good progression I end up at the Algebuckina bridge by 4 pm.
This railway bridge was built between 1878 and 1891 and made up of nineteen 30,9 meter spans. With a length of about 600 meter, it is the largest single bridge in South-Australia.
I could ‘ve taken advantage of the tail wind and continue for an hour, but the camping possibilities next to the Neales River are just too good to foresake. Apart from a few leftover puddles, the river is dry.


Algebuckina bridge


Day 108: 26 May 2019
From Algebuckina ((Neales River) to Oodnadatta
63,79 km (Total so far: 4900,42 km) – Altitude climbed: 327 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side wind

Another nice ride. Nice hills both sides of the track. Very colorful desert scenery. I arrived in Oodnadatta (pop. 180) and ate an Oodnadatta Burger in its famous Pink Roadhouse. There’s paid camping at a dusty piece of land behind the roadhouse, or free camping behind the hotel or just opposite the road. I cycled a kilometer out of town for a quieter night. Heard the dogs barking in the distance







The world famous Pink Roadhouse, Oodnadatta.  The interior is pink as well.
Oodnadatta Burger.

Day 109: 27 May 2019
From Oodnadatta to Wooldridge Creek
68,72 km (Total so far: 4969,14 km) – Altitude climbed: 137 m
Weather: Sunny, light side wind

I rode back into ‘town’ for breakfast and to use the general stores’ wifi. Yesterday was election day in Belgium and I wanted to check whether the good guys had won, and also check on e-mails quickly. Did some laundry at the water tap at the roadhouse, some more grocery shopping, entertained other travellers and by 11 am I was good to go.

Many places in South-Australia you find these water containers.  4 AUD will get you 20 ltr of drinking water.  Excellent !

At the junction with the Finke Road I stopped, still in doubt which option to take. The Finke Road means I could stay a bit longer on the dirt tracks, but I saw most of the 4WD’s and ‘off-road caravan’ traffic was going that way, to the Dalhousie Springs and Mount Dare. Also, this desert race that’s coming up attracts some traffic. So, I just continue on the Oodnadatta Track towards Marla.
Good decision, only two more cars for the rest of the day (one fool coming from the other side at 140 km/hr).
I camped in the Wooldridge Creek, which is a few kilometer wide, has some bushes and low trees. Very scenic as a camping spot.


Day 110: 28 May 2019
From Wooldridge Creek to abt. 64 km before Marla
82,37 km (Total so far: 5051,51 km) – Altitude climbed: 282 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side and head wind

Day 110 was a hard one.
The track was heavily corrugated all the time. Closer to the side the corrugations were a bit less, but there was a layer of sand a few centimeter deep, which made progress very hard. A reasonably strong wind coming from the wrong side, the flies that were out as never before, making eating even impossible…. I suffered and hated the Oodnadatta Track today.

The region north of the track is the Pedirka Desert, the one to the south the Painted Desert, so I get two deserts for the price of one.


Late afternoon, as I start to look for a place to pitch the tent, I am in a stony region, no trees giving shelter for possible winds overnight. I continue and continue. To my frustration, the lamentable track starts to climb. Only between 1 and 3%, but given the conditions I had, and the hunger creeping in, I was exhausted by the time I reached the ‘summit’, where I found, behind a ‘tree’ a small piece of land free of stones.
A very picturesque setting, very ‘Aussie’ for a very death cyclist.

I rounded the 5.000 km unnoticed today.



Day 111: 29 May 2019
From abt. 65 km before Marla to 4 km before Marla
64,28 km (Total so far: 5115,79 km) – Altitude climbed: 202 m
Weather: Sunny, strong head wind

More of the same as yesterday, but throw in a strong head wind now.
About 20 kilometer before Marla, the track starts to improve somewhat.

A few cars pass me, all racing by at high speed, leaving me in a cloud of dust.
Then a car stops, offers me some water. And a beer !
They tell me the two French cyclists have been rescued not far out of Marree and shuttled out by car towards Coober Pedy.



In the Australian interior, in the most unlikely of places, you find the most unlikely of crashes on straight roads. Do you understand why I am never at ease with cars ?


While I’m searching for a suitable place to camp (hard, because it seems the whole region had flooded recently), another car stops.
This time two beers are offered, no water anymore.
Good I’m near the end of the track, because who knows where this would be going haha.

So I’m sitting in my tent. Two ice cold cans of ‘XXX Gold’ beers (Full Flavoured Australian Lager, 99% sugar free – no preservatives) are empty. Very light beer, 3,5% only.
The can of ‘TED (The Clean Crisp Taste – 4,4%, also 99% sugar free and 30% less carbs than regular beer !) is for later on.
I wonder who gives about all those details when buying beer. You ‘d think you just want a good beer, no ?
It remains very windy all night.


Day 112: 30 May 2019
From 4 km before Marla to De Rose Hill Airport
116,89 km (Total so far: 5232,68 km) – Altitude climbed: 209 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate and strong tail and side wind

Arrived at the Stuart Highway, the (only) main road crossing the continent away from the coast in a north / south direction. East / west, no main (paved) road is crossing the continent away from the coast.
I wanted to avoid this road at all costs, riding up via Birdsville, Boulia and Mount Isa, the much lesser travelled option, but alas, circumstances decided otherwise.

The roadhouse at marla has a decent selection to stock up. In a side street, there’s again a drinkwater station container from the government where one can refill, 4 AUD for 20 ltr.



452 km of highway. Sigh.

I’ve got a good tail wind for a while, but as the wind starts to pick up during the afternoon, it also starts to turn a bit to the east, while I’m heading north, direction Alice Springs.
For 20 kilometer, there’s a good shoulder, otherwise, there’s none. Unless you’d call that 25 cm of crumbled, worn bit off asphalt beside the white line a shoulder.
Very good progress today, my shoulders and backbone are happy to see some asphalt again, my eyes, my ears and my brain aren’t, because the better travelled road means being (much) more cautious to stay alive, much more garbage along the road, the re-appearance of roadkill (kangaroos, cows, a horse (!), birds,…) and traffic noise throughout the night.

Of the 450 kilometer highway to Alice Springs, about 20 km or good, with this nice, wide shoulder.  The other 430 km, you better watch your mirror.  Every 3 seconds.  They approach fast.

Day 113: 31 May 2019
From De Rose Hill Airport to near Kulgera
76,30 km (Total so far: 5308,98 km) – Altitude climbed: 185 m
Weather: Sunny, strong side and head wind

I entered the Northern Territories today, Australia’s third largest state (well, actually not a state but a territory).
Cycling along this asphalt road, I feel there’s not much to mention.
Very slowly the road climbs higher and higher, so I’m now above 500 meter.
Had to wear a jacket all day due to the cold wind. Daytime temperatures are about 18 degrees, night time around zero. It was +4°C in the tent, but the outer tent was frozen, some vegetation a bit white.
Kulgera Roadhouse has a pub, but the shop has almost nothing apart from drinks, chocolate and chips. Water must be bought in bottles. The campground looks horrible, in between the highway and the gas station.
I rode in the Finke Road for two kilometer where there’s ample space for a nice, calm night in the wild.
Oh, and the plus of the colder night temperatures, less flies, and those who survive tend to come out much later in the morning.

Border between South-Australia and Northern Territory.




Day 114: 1 June 2019
From near Kulgera to 4 km passed Erldunda
85,00 km (Total so far: 5393,98 km) – Altitude climbed: 111 m
Weather: Sunny, strong side and tail wind


Day 115: 2 June 2019
From 4 km passed Erldunda to Chandler Range
81,57 km (Total so far: 5475,55 km) – Altitude climbed: 203 ù
Weather: Sunny, strong tail and side wind


Suddenly I wondered whether I had a picture already of this most Aussie of signs. Look at the very generous shoulder.



Day 116: 3 June 2019
From Chandler Range to 43 km before Alice Springs
77,00 km (Total so far: 5552,55 km) – Altitude climbed: 324 m
Weather: Sunny, strong side wind

Zebra Finch after an encounter with a car.
This desert race is causing a lot of trouble for me; messing up the Finke Road and many hundreds of extra cars traveling the Stuart Highway from South-Australia to see the race.


Encounter with an Italian cyclist.

Day 117: 4 June 2019
From 43 km before Alice Springs to Alice Springs
53,87 km (Total so far: 5606,42 km) – Altitude climbed: 156 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side and head wind

I haven’t written anything anymore the last days because frankly speaking, I hated it.
People who say the Stuart Highway has a shoulder and who claim ‘you can camp anywhere’…. don’t believe them.
They lie.
Unless you want to camp 15 meter from the road of course.
All land is fenced off. Sometimes at 15 meter from the road, sometimes 40 meter, but never further so you have to search for unlocked fences or the occasional side track. Traffic is horrible and the behaviour of the drivers on this road is third world standard.
Occasionally you may have a few minutes between cars, but then the whole lot comes again, one after the other. As long as there’s no traffic from the other side, you could be fine. If there is traffic from the other side…. your life is worth nothing.



My first 5.000 km in Australia were very good, the last 500 were big shit.
And still…. this is where I meet more cyclists as during the first 5.000 km.
Listen to me, avoid this road.

Day 118-121: 5 – 8 June
Alice Springs

I stay a couple of days in Alice Springs, kindly hosted by Sophie. Got a lot of things to do like shopping for provisions, shellite, bike maintenance, haircut,….

Some figures about the Australia trip so far:
Total distance cycled so far: 5.606,42 km
Average km per cycling day: 54,43 km
Total altimeter: 45.683 meter

Shortest cycling day: 5,52 km (Gog Range)
Longest cycling day: 116,89 km (on the Stuart Highway)
Highest maximum speed: 69,75 km/hr (on Cradle Mountain Development Road)

Most altimeter in one day: 1167 m (towards Cradle Mountain)
Highest point: 959 m (on Cradle Mountain Development Road)
Longest day in the saddle: 7 hrs 3 minutes (‘Outback Highway’ between Lyndhurst and Marree)
Total time in the saddle: 412 hours 52 minutes

Nights slept inside: 18
Nights on board ship: 2
Nights slept outside: 101 (of which 94 wild camping & 7 on official campgrounds)

Flat tires: 12

Below, the map from my route on from Melbourne to Alice Springs, visiting the states of Victoria, New South Wales, South-Australia and Northern Territory.
The gpx track can be downloaded from Wikiloc

Australia Prt 9, Laura to Marree

Route: Laura – Quorn – Hawker – Wilpena – Blinman – Parachilna – Leigh Creek – Marree

Below you’ll find part 2 of my experiences on the Mawson Trail, and the route further on from Blinman to Marree.

Day 87: 5 May 2019
From Laura to Melrose
59,10 km (Total so far: 3846,72 km) – Altitude climbed: 926 m
Weather: Sunny, Light side and tail wind

Upon leaving the supermarket in Laura, another cyclist arrives.
“Are you the Belgian guy ?”, she asks.
It is Kristina, a Lithuanian cyclist and will be hosted by Dylan in Melrose, just like me.
Kristina started her trip in Sydney and rode via Melbourne and Adelaide up here.
I just finished breakfast, but she needed a lunch before we could ride on, so with a small delay, we continued on the Mawson.
It’s a bit a hillier section through the Wirrabara Forest (plenty of good wild camping opportunities) and I realize soon we won’t make it during daylight hours.
We are further delayed when in some muddy section, this deep, red mud got caked up and stuck in between my wheels and fenders, blocking any possible progression. Nothing to do but to unload the bike, take the wheels off and clean it all out before I could continue.

Kristina, Lithuanian cyclist.

Rather than delaying our appointment with Dylan, we push on a bit and arrive at his place around 7 pm in a pitch dark Melrose but are still warmly welcomed by Dylan who had a pot full of food ready on his stove to please two hungry cyclists.

Day 88: 6 May 2019
Weather: Sunny

We stay an extra day in Melrose. Together with Kristina, I hike to the top of the 995 meter high Mount Remarkable, the highest bump in the landscape.
It’s a 14 kilometer return hike with good views from the surroundings, all the way to the coast of Fitzgerald Bay. On the way down we spot the remnants of a light airplane which crashed into the mountain in 1980.
No survivors.

View from Mount Remarkable to the surrounding lowlands.


Day 89: 7 May 2019
From Melrose to 15 km passed Wilmington
47,57 km (Total so far: 3894,29 km) – Altitude climbed: 348 m
Weather: Sunny, very strong head wind

There are two options to cycle from Melrose to Wilmington. The recently upgraded rail trail, or the Mawson Trail. We chose the Mawson.
Let’s say we ride right into the storm.
Half a sand storm. The dust is flying at high speed over the land.
We push along at speeds of 9 km/hr on the flats.
A bit before Wilmington we switch to the rail trail. Not faster, definitely not on that loose gravel surface, but a bit shorter.

The sandstorm, making life hard.
Mount Remarkable.

Mount Remarkable, with its limited altitude hardly a giant, is still making its own weather. Dark grey clouds are forming around it. Luckily, no rain falls.

We are still in quite barren country. A forested area shows up just in time, providing a nicely sheltered spot for the night.


Day 90: 8 May 2019
From 15 km passed Wilmington to near Mount Arden Mine
58,34 km (Total so far: 3952,63 km) – Altitude climbed: 578 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side wind

After an hours ride today we meet Paul, a cyclist from the north of England, now living in Melbourne. He’s riding the Mawson north to south. He was happy with the winds. “As a hand that was pushing him forward”, he said.
“Yeah, we have like five hands pushing us back”.
But today is not so bad, so no reasons to complain. And we have blue skies again.
The climb over Richmans Gap is a bit rougher and steeper and some pushing is involved.
No worries.

The descent from Richmans Gap
This must be either the ‘Dutmans Stern’ or the ‘Devils Peak’, I’m not sure.

Quorn has the last Iga supermarket for quite some time, so we both stock up pretty well.
Kristina decides to follow the railway line towards Hawker, or the asphalt if that railway line wouldn’t be possible. I’m in doubt.
The forecast for the next days is bad. A lot of rain, a lot of wind.
Still, I would regret it later not to have ridden these sections through the Flinders Ranges, so here we split. I just hope the rain will not make the tracks unrideable.





There’s a short steep section over Yarrah Vale Gorge before cruising down towards Warren Gorge, which I don’t visit.
Sunset is in less than an hour. There are camping possibilities at the gorge, but I don’t want to take the risk being stuck there for maybe two nights with all the sound and light show from other campers, slamming their doors and trunks hundreds of times, switching on and off those huge head lights they have here.
Instead, I find a nice spot, a bit further on alongside a dry Mount Arden Creek, shelter by a rock face on one side, some trees on the other sides.



Day 91: 9 May 2019
Near Mount Arden Mine
Weather: Rain, strong winds

I woke up rather early, at 7 am.
Still dry. But very cloudy.
Even after breakfast at 8 am, it was still dry.
What to do ?
Pack up a dry tent and go ?
But then surely ride all day in the rain.
Or sit it out in the tent ?
Option 2 🙂
There’s enough work to be done.
I hadn’t written down anything the last days and badly needed to make a back up from my pictures as well, put new podcasts on the music player, and also wanted to prepare a bit an alternative route for when this Birdsville Track would remain closed.
It never rains here, but I seem (again) to attract this non-existing situation wherever I go.

Campsite for two nights, well sheltered from the wind, well drained.
Spending the time in luxury. Apart from chocolate milk and coffee a divers selection of tea at hand 😛

Day 92: 10 May 2019
From near Mount Arden Mine to Kanyaka Creek
48,06 km (Total so far: 4000,69 km) – Altitude climbed: 220 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail, side and head winds

7:30 am, unzip the tent. Some clouds, but also some patches of blue sky.
8:00 am, totally grey sky
8:15 am, rain

Well, the forecast was like that. Rain in the morning, dry in the afternoon.
But it all improves rather quickly.
After breakfast, a bit after 9 am, I repair my front tyre. Got a puncture from pushing the bike into this place the day before yesterday.
I was all packed up (including a wet tent) and got going by 11:00 am.

At first the gravel track is surprisingly good. Nice views to the Ragles Range to my right, other hills to the left.
After passing the Wilochra Creek and Simmonston Ruins, it gets muddier again. The tires pick up quite a bit of mud, but never so much it stops progression.
The way this Mawson Trail is established, I have to ride south sometimes to get north. So I get winds from all directions today.
Two 4WD’s, stopping for a chat, give me some extra water. A man and, I guess, mother and daughter in the other car. Enquiring about my route they are very impressed. “All on those skinny legs he…” haha.






Reaching the paved Flinders Ranges Way, I chose to follow it towards Hawker i.o. the Mawson Trail that goes on dirt via the other side of the hills. There are more creeks to pass there, and I see it has rained here severely as well.
The forecast back in Quorn was for dryer weather north of Hawker, so I have good hopes I can rejoin the trail from there.
I pitch the tent in the Kanyaka Creek.

Kanyaka Creek


Day 93: 11 May 2019
From Kanyaka Creek to down Mernmerna Hill
39,34 km (Total so far: 4040,03 km) – Altitude climbed: 185 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind

An easy roll into Hawker.
The gas station might have a bigger selection of groceries than the convenience store.
Despite the sun and despite the tail wind I would have, I force myself to take the time for some urgent tasks. Apart from groceries, I wash my clothes and spend a couple of hours in the post office / coffee shop / bottle shop / grocery store (annex) to reply to mails that have been sitting there far too long, download some podcasts and update the website.
There’s also an ATM to stock up on more cash.
I see the Birdsville Track is still closed.
I get nervous now.

They sell Shellite in the gas station. I buy a liter. Fuel is lighter than water, right ?
I still had 3/4 liter, so now I think I can burn happily away for about six weeks.

Late afternoon, loaded up with 13 liter of water I ride out of town.
As it is that late, I cheat a bit and take the ‘Outback Highway’ the first kilometer i.o. the Mawson Trail which makes a little loop east of that.

Passed Wonoka Hill I rejoin the trail.
It is quite muddy, this spongy stuff, just dry enough not to stick to the tires, but slowing down progress a lot.
No worries. I’m good. Away from traffic and camping opportunities will arise.
The Mawson Trail suddenly takes a side track of this already unused dirt track.
A short, steep push up.




I can see other cyclists must have struggled here the previous days. Deep tracks in the mud from their tires and shoes. It must have been terrible.
I can’t ride either. The bike would pick up too much mud and get jammed after just a few meters. But pushing it, so lighter weight, I can just continue.





The scenery is really beautiful in this late afternoon sun.
A very steep downhill over a rocky section, where, just before sun set, I see a good place to camp. I clear the sones and all the sharp twigs. Perfectly sheltered in this U-shape of mountains, I hear the wind howling around the hill tops, but I am remarkably wind free in the tent.
Excellent spot.

The ‘Elder Range’ in the distance.
This rocky downhill would be very hard work if riding the trail N to S.
You can spot the tent.

Day 94: 12 May 2019
From down Mernmerna Hill to Moralana Scenic Drive
56,90 km (Total so far: 4096,93 km) – Altitude climbed: 536 m
Weather: Sunny, Light tail, side and head wind

A flat front tyre again. I had unloaded the bike and carried all in yesterday. I guess I must have punctured it whilst riding or pushing the bike late afternoon yesterday. The hard winds had blown a lot of branches and sharp stuff unto the trail.

Where I’m going to today.
And where I came from yesterday.

Down at Mount Little Station, I consider returning to the main road again, as it is still all a bit muddy. But I just can’t.  I don’t want to miss out on too much of the Mawson, so I ride down towards Mayo Gorge, cross Hookina Creek and ride in some kind of desert like landscape along the impressive Elder Range. A light wind from the north west doesn’t cause too much trouble, but with strong winds, this would be a hard stretch.


Lunch time. Admiring the view toward the ‘Elder Range’.
Riding away from the ‘Elder Range’.
Emu’s running for cover after something (me) scared them.

After a short stretch on the Outback Highway, I take a right turn to the Moralana Scenic Drive. Moralana Creek has cut her way here between the Elder Range and the Bunbinyunna Range and the Wilpena Pound Range behind that. With the sun slowly setting towards the west, I have excellent views of this red rocks. All very nice.
As mentioned on the maps of the Mawson Trail, this Moralana Road is regularly used by ‘adventure 4WD’-ers and as a result there are a lot of continuous corrugations.

The ‘Bunbinyunna Range’.

They should make this track accessible in one way only for cars and divide the current track in 2/3 for the cars and 1/3 for the cyclists (separated from the cars so they can’t mess it up). That would be fantastic for everybody, but I guess that won’t happen in 4WD-crazy Australia.

As the Mawson Trail goes, I am now riding south again, admiring the other side of the Elder Range to the west and Wilpena Pound Range to the east.

I find again an excellent wild camping place after pushing the bike over a hill, into a dry creek, lined with red gum trees, kangaroos hopping around, Cockatoo’s, Galahs and parrots flying around.



Day 95: 13 May 2019
From Morlana Scenic Drive to few km before Wilpena Pound
40,88 km (Total so far: 4137,81 km) – Altitude climbed: 373 m
Weather: Sunny, light head and side wind

I wake up early (7:30 am).
Man, it’s cold outside. I brew a cup of tea and remain in my tent, merino shirt, a fleece, my down jacket and my down sleeping bag over me. Nice and snug.
After the sun has warmed it up a bit, I climb to the nearest hill top to get good views of the Wilpena Pound Range on one side and the Elder Range on the other.
How nice, to stand on this non-official, non-touristic view point.
On my way back to the tent, I walk a bit through the dry creek. How magnificent are these red gum trees.






With all this walking around, it’s of course almost 11:00 am before I roll out of my camping spot.
No Problem.
Soon I join the paved Flinders Ranges Way. Time between cars is never too long. Not nice
Life is a big joy again when I get off that main road and take the Telegraph Track, which runs close to the Wilpena Pound Range. Beautiful, beautiful hills, blue skies, wallabies and kangaroos hopping in front of my wheels, oops, avoiding that blue tongue lizard bathing in the sun on the trail, look some lorikeets there, and there, an echidna ….. life is sooooo much better without traffic.

Wilpena Pound Range.


Blue Tongue Lizard warming up on the trail.


Mount Ohlssen-Bagge to the right.


I ride into Wilpena Pound, recharge my devices at the tourist information, take a 4 AUD shower at the camp ground, wash my clothes, do some shopping (package of pasta now three times as expensive as further south, and only frozen bread on offer), then ride back to the Telegraph Track to pitch the tent between the trees.
Tomorrow, I want to hike Mount Ohlssen-Bagge.

Excellent camping spot in the forest along the Telegraph Track where I would pitch the tent two nights.  Wide open space, but well sheltered from the wind.

Day 96: 14 May 2019
Wilpena Pound
24,89 km (Total so far: 4162,70 km) – Altitude climbed: 789 m
Weather: Sunny

I had a brilliant day again.
Woke up early with a layer of ice on the tent and the branches on the ground frozen white.
I went out of my little forest to watch the sun illuminate the hills of Willpena Pound. Lluka Peak, Tumburru Peak, Binya Peak and Mount Ohlssen-Bagge, all in an orange glow.
The latter one is my goal for the day.

The morning sun illuminating Wilpena Pound Range.


‘Outback Bread’ from the ‘Bush Oven’…..

The dingo’s have been howling all night and the place is teeming with kangaroos, so one would be stupid not to break down the tent and pack up everything. You must pay 10 AUD in the visitor centre for a day pass. A visitor centre which is far from very efficient, I must say.

The hike to Mount Ohlssen-Bagge is a 6,4 km return trip and qualified as ‘difficult’.
There are indeed some steeper parts where you have to clamber over rocky inclines, but I would say, in a normal world, moderate difficulty would be more accurate.
In the shape of the current world, maybe ‘difficult’, yes.





I see people struggling with their nordic walking sticks, trying to use them to climb over rocks. This is of course not the place to use stuff like that, but they bought it, so I guess they want to use it.

The views up there are spec-ta-cu-lar !
Into the Wilpena Pound, the Wilpena Pound Range all around it, the Elder Range behind that, the lowlands on the other side.
Really worth the effort.
The inside of the pound is now forested but at the end of the 19th century, it was a completely barren place.
People drove 120.000 sheep into the pound and destroyed the place in a decade.
Like they brought the whales around Tasmania to extinction in a couple of years.
Like we’re still doing now, ruining places in record tempo.

The circle of hills of the ‘Wilpena Pund Range’.
A view into the pound. Full with trees again nowadays.

Anyways, I enjoyed the views for a while, hiked down and hiked towards the ‘Hill’s Homestead’ (ranked as ‘easy’). I am now inside the Wilpena Pound and this is the house of the family that leased the place end of the 19th century and brought all those sheep inside.

From Hill’s Homestead, I hike a short way up to the ‘Wangarra Lookouts’ (ranked moderate).
More views into the Wilpena Pound.



A very productive day off the bike.
Do these hikes when you’re here. It would be a shame to just drive by the hills and not see more of it.

Day 97: 15 May 2019
From few km before Wilpena Pound to a bit before Middlesight Water Hut
37,52 km (Total so far: 4200,22 km) – Altitude climbed: 500
Weather: Sunny, light head wind

This can’t go on forever, can it ?
Another splendid day.
The Mawson Trail is working its way further north along Wilcolo Creek. To my west are the colorful peaks of the Wilpena Pound Range, with the highest one, St. Mary Peak, always in sight. To the east is the lower ‘ABC Range’.
At first I’m on pure single track, later the track becomes wider, but is forbidden for motorized traffic.
I see only three other cyclist out for a day trip from the campground.
Cycling heaven !

St. Mary Peak


There is a short stretch along a dirt road open for cars, Bunyeroo Road.
It is brutal. I have to push the bike up inclines of 18 to 20% over the Razorback Ridge. Brilliant last views towards the Wilpena Pound and in the Bunyeroo Valley.
Soon, I’m gonna have to miss all this things when I’m further north in the desert.



Too steep to ride a loaded bike. Pushing required.


The Mawson Trail veers off the Bunyeroo Road. This Yayanna Track is an excellent dirt road, closed to all traffic. Sometimes a dry creek to cross, but otherwise excellent. It flattens out a bit.
Magnificent big, fat red river gum trees in the creek beds, deep red sand, hills in the distant, a few bush flies…. I’m in Australia ! 🙂



When I arrive at the Middlesight Water Hut, there is already a girl who’s walking the Heysen Trail. I’ll leave her on her own and ride back a few hundred meter to camp under the trees.
The tent had to dry out anyway from all the condens it has every morning now, with this huge temperature differences between day & night and the somewhat humid soil from the recent rains.


Day 98: 16 May 2019
From a bit before Middlesight Water Hut to Parachilan Gorge, near Heysen Trail trailhead
60,40 km (Total so far: 4260,60 km) – Altitude climbed: 849
Weather: Sunny, light head wind

I’ve made it into a habit to climb the nearest hill to my campsite in the morning, to have an overview of the area. Today’s hill especially gave me some spectacular views. To my west lay the ABC Range (the range I crossed yesterday via the Bunyeroo Creek and the steep Razorback Ridge). Behind the ABC the higher Heysen Range. Hans Heysen, an Australian born in Germany, was an artist who became famous for his images of the typical gum trees and the landscapes of the Flinders Ranges..
The 1.200 km long hiking trail between Cape Jervis and Parachilna is named after him, and also this mountain range.

View from a hill. What better way to start your day ?
ABC-Range (left) and Heysen Range (right).

Heading north over the Trezona Track is hard work. Always steep up, a bit down, more up, a bit down. No worries, the views around are great. The steepest part is through Bulls Gap, crossing the Trezona Range. Here I leave the dirt and it’s another 22 kilometer or so via the bitumen of the Flinders Range Way towards Blinman.


River Red Gums.
The harder part through Bulls Gap.
Near the end of the gravel, looking back to an awesome ride on the Mawson Trail.

One great highlight along that way: The Great Wall Of China (another one, after I visited another ‘Great Wall of China’ in Mungo National Park). It’s worth the effort to ride the dirt road up towards the viewpoint.

‘ The Great Wall Of China’
‘ The Great Wall Of China’
Would this guy be dangerous ?

Blinman is the end of the asphalt road, the end of the Mawson Trail and it’s also the highest village in the State of South-Australia (we’re about 620 m asl).
According to the girl in the bakery, there are 18 people living here. She’s one of them.
The bakery has some of the best bread I’ve found so far in Australia. The home made bread of Hans and Claudia remains by far the best I’ve had here though.
The bakery doubles as convenience store as well, but it’s quite limited. Some tinned fish & pasta, etc… Do your shopping in Wilpena or Leigh Creek.




From Blinman I take the Parachilna Gorge Road, unpaved, washboard, into the gorge of the same name. I pitch the tent near the end of the gorge, near the trailhead of the Heysen Trail.


Day 99: 17 May 2019
From Parachilna Gorge, near Heysen Trail trailhead to 25 km before Leigh Creek
58,27 km (Total so far: 4318,89 km) – Altitude climbed: 158 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail and head wind

I am leaving the Flinders Ranges behind and descent the last altimeters towards Parachilna at the Outback Highway. For a brief moment, winds do what winds have to do, ‘fall off the mountain’ and push me in the back.

Heysen Range
Heysen Range
On the gravel towards Parachilna. Heysen Range in the background.

I stop at the famous Prairie Hotel in Parachilna to eat one of their outback burgers, i.e. kangaroo, emu, goat or camel burger. As I’ve seen the three first ones for myself since I’m here and I don’t want to eat them, I choose the camel burger.
I would suggest all cyclists to boycot these premises though. If you eat a full meal for 31 AUD, I think you can fill a couple of bottles with tap water for a cyclist.
They wouldn’t and send me off to the toilet building next to the road.
When I ask if that’s drinkable water, I get a plain answer ‘it’s from the government and their responsability.’

Making a 90 degree right turn northwards, I expected a side wind, but during my early lunch break, the wind gods must have noticed, to their horror, I’ve had a bit of a tail wind, so they shifted their machine and it blows full in the face again.
I put the head down, listen to some podcasts ‘The Move’ and ‘Cycling Podcast’ reg. the Giro d’Italia.
To my east, I stil have the hills of the Northern Flinders Range.
I camp at a reasonably good spot, next to a dry creek. Very, very windy night.

My route, close to the ‘Old Ghan Railway’.

Day 100: 18 May 2019
From 25 km before Leigh Creek to 1 km passed Lyndhurst
67,77 km (Total so far: 4386,66 km) – Altitude climbed: 245 m
Weather: Cloudy, strong head wind

Day hundred in Australia.
You would think the gods would have a little mercy on me this day.
They had not.
Not at all.
At times, I struggled to get the speed up in the double digits on the flat.
It’s been a very, very hard day. One of the least enjoyable.
The bush flies are around in masses. They swarmed me whilst packing up this morning, they did likewise when pitching the tent and stayed around till after the mosquitos came out.

I’m back in civilization.

I stopped in Leigh Creek to shop. This will probably be my last supermarket until Alice Springs, more than a thousand kilometer away.
If you cycle this way, note that the shop closes at 12:30 on Saturdays and won’t open again till Monday.

Just try to imagine the head wind.
I start to see the real road trains, upto 53 meters long, 65 ton, 62 wheels on the ground.

Today was election day in Australia.
I saw eight wedge-tailed eagles today. Also, I passed the juction with the famous Strzelecki Track.

Did I mention I get some nice sunsets from time to time ?

Day 101: 19 May 2019
From 1 km passed Lyndhurst to Marree
84,23 km (Total so far: 4470,89 km) – Altitude climbed: 127 m
Weather: Cloudy, strong head wind

I got up real early. The wind is still blowing against me, but I’d like to make it to Marree today.
Almost pancake flat, but still this was one of the toughest days here in Australia. A hard battle against that wind, the Outback Highway which turned in a gravel road, minor undulations.



Suddenly…. a tennis ball. How did that end up here ?





On the entrance of Marree, which is the terminus of the ‘Outback Highway’, and the start of the Birdsville Track. A sign says it’s closed.



Day 102: 20 May 2019
Marree, rest day

A rest day during which I had a lot of work. For a start I went to the police, to enquire about the situation on the Birdsville Track. They only open their shop at 9 am, so I have a chat with the Flying Doctors next door first. They reckon I won’t get through on the Birdsville.
They also say their fellow Australians are crazy. They are all here because Lake Eyre is filling up, which happens only once every few years, but at both lookout points, the lake is still dry according to them.
Me, I don’t understand the fuzz about a lake with water. Isn’t that just a lake ?
I would say it’s much more special when it’s a dry salt lake, more colorful. But, they reply, it’s because it doesn’t happen often it has water. Still, they don’t come over to see it when it’s dry.


The police is super friendly and helpful. I was afraid I would be dismissed immediately, because it would be ‘dangerous’ and ‘officially this and that’ and blablabla.
But no, she phoned around, to a station that sits in the middle. They weren’t sure. She phoned to her colleague in Birdsville, but he didn’t answer the phone, she phoned someone else, …
I came back in the afternoon while she kept trying to reach her colleague, but also then no reply. Maybe he had a day off.

Old Ghan Railway locomotive.
Inside the bar of the Marree Hotel.

Cleaned my bike thoroughly, oiled and tightened the chain, checked whether all bolts were still tight, ….
Late afternoon, Ruth arrives, a 70 year old German lady I saw already on the top of Mount Ohlssen Bagge. She is traveling around Australia in a Toyota Jeep since four years and is incredibly fit and full of good tips about the country.

Next up: The Oodnadatta Track !