Australia Prt 16, WA: Esperance and Cape Le Grand NP

I had some fantastic days in the Esperance / Cape Le Grand area. Sorry, an overflow of beach pictures in this post, but I hope it is a welcome change after all the red sand pictures 🙂

Day 199: 25 August 2019
Esperance
Weather: Sunny

Rod takes me out on a drive. We visit the Rotary Lookout and ride the loop along Ocean Road and Pink Lake. What fantastic scenery !
Tomorrow, I repeat this on my bicycle.

DSC01027

DSC01029

DSC01039
There are signs everywhere along the beach, asking you to stay below the water line and out of the dunes as not to disturb the nesting birds. Fifty meters further on, the dunes and beach is full of 4WD tracks. And it is allowed ! As the kangaroos must go to the kangaroo school where they should learn not to jump in front of the cars (yes, they are responsible for their own death), the birds must go to the bird school to learn not to put their nests / eggs on beaches where people like to drive 4WD’s.
DSC01048
Ron buying vegetables from a local farmer 🙂

Day 200: 26 August 2019
Esperance
Weather: Sunny

Esperance must be one of the neatest towns I’ve seen so far in Australia.
Melbourne and Renmark were nice as well, but they can’t compete with the setting of Esperance right at the coast of the Archipelago of the Recherche.
AND, Esperance has quite a bit of bike paths.
Today, I follow the bike path going west out of town, towards West Beach. From West Beach, I ride to Salmon Beach and on the Twilight Beach.
Yesterday, by car, we rode the whole loop, via Ten Mile Lagoon, …. but the pike path doesn’t go that far. It goes inland here, crossing the hill directly towards Pink Lake after which it loops back into Esperance.
Really nice ride !

DSC01053
The old pier in Esperance
DSC01055
Clock tower, Esperance
DSC01058
West Beach

DSC01061

DSC01062
Blue Haven Beach
DSC01070
Blue Haven Beach
DSC01088
The excellent bike path out of Esperance.
DSC01101
Riding down to Salmon Beach

DSC01102

DSC01108

DSC01112

DSC01121

DSC01132

 

DSC01142
11 mile Beach

DSC01163

DSC01164

DSC01174
National Park put the island on fire. “Managing nature”….
DSC01178
The whole bay was covered in smog by late afternoon.

Day 201: 27 August 2019
Esperance
61,48 km (Total so far: 9584,01 km) – Altitude climbed: 499 m
Weather: Sunny

I forgot to reset the gps and odo-meter yesterday, so above figures are from yesterdays and todays ride.
Today I rode out of town towards the east to Esperance Bay.
Kilometers long white beach, only for me.
Brilliant day again.

DSC01180

DSC01181
Bandy Creek Harbour
DSC01184
The beach at Esperance Bay

Day 202: 28 August 2019
From Esperance to near Dunns Beach
61,93 km (Total so far: 9.645,94 km) – Altitude climbed: 240 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

The first ten kilometer or so, I backtrack the road I rode when I came into town.
South of the Myrup Airstrip, I take a right turn. Nice scenery as I’m riding along the Mullet Lake Nature Reserve.
A few steep hills and a bit more traffic as expected.

DSC01188

Looking at maps the previous days, I was not sure how far east I wanted to ride. First I settled for Dukes of Orleans Bay, just south of Condingup, but as the weather looks bad for Friday and Saturday, I only have today and tomorrow with fine weather.
So, I take a right turn on Dunn Rock Road (mainly because that’s a gravel road to the coast, the others are paved haha).

DSC01192

A nice +/- 17 km ride brings me down the Dunns Rocks and Dunns Beach.
Wauw !!!
A kilometers long bay, paper white sand, water in various tints of blue, big white dunes a bit further on. And no one around.
I must be the happiest person on Earth for a while.
I climbed the rock for better views, then rode my bike on the hard packed sand of the beach towards the dunes.
Spectacular.
The sea water is way to cold to swim. It’s still winter here and there’s nothing between the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

DSC01193

DSC01197
The beach west of the Dunn Rocks

DSC01206

DSC01221

DSC01229

DSC01235

DSC01239

DSC01240

DSC01255

DSC01261

DSC01264

DSC01267

DSC01270

DSC01278

DSC01282

DSC01284

DSC01286

DSC01289

DSC01299

DSC01293

DSC01298

DSC01299

DSC01302

DSC01303

Day 203: 29 August 2019
From near Dunns Beach to near Merivale Rd & Cape Le Grand Rd
45,06 km (Total so far: 9.691,00 km) – Altitude climbed: 369
Weather: Sunny, strong head wind

I had to break my tent down before breakfast. The night was already very windy, but nothing to worry about. After sunset, the wind gusts just got stronger, so best not to take any risks with the tent.
There are two possibilities to go from Dunns Rock towards Luck Bay.
Back via the road I came and then take the asphalt road into the park, a total distance of about 50 kilometer.
Or straight over the beach, a distance of 10 kilometer.
The latter option required waiting for low tide for a few hours. I know worse ways to spend your time than waiting for low tide on this stunning beach.
So, lay down on the sand I did for a while.
Around 1 pm the moment was right to start the trip.
The first 1,5 km it was a bit of riding and a bit of pushing as the sand was sometimes too soft.
Then followed a five kilometer section which I could ride perfectly. The last three kilometer I had to push again.

DSC01312
Rossiter Bay, which I cycled east to west

DSC01315

DSC01318
The bike, waiting for low tide and hard sand.

DSC01333

Via a gravel road I passed Lucky Beach & Thistle Cove.
One of my goals in the park was to climb Frenchman Peak.
I started it, took the first steep part up, but as the track went up, it got more and more exposed to the north and the wind gusts almost threw me off my feet.
I didn’t continue all the way up, too dangerous. but the views I had from halfway up were already pretty nice.

DSC01352
Lucky Bay
DSC01367
Frenchman Peak
DSC01361
View from half way up Frenchman Peak

Unfortunately I could not go down to Cape Le Grand itself. The road was blocked off for ‘controlled burn-offs’. They do that all the time. These park rangers are a bunch of pyromaniacs. Nature was coping pretty good, even without our burn-offs, but the national parks here seem to think it is necessary to burn the place down regularly.
Woody island was completely on fire a few days ago, I read a lot of sections in the national parks along the Munda Biddi Trail are closed for burn-offs.
Yes, …. we people know how to do it.

DSC01370

Day 204: 30 August 2019
Near Merivale Rd & Cape Le Grand Rd
Weather: Rain

As predicted it rained. I stayed put in the tent.

Day 205: 31 August 2019
From near Merivale Rd & Cape Le Grand Rd to Esperance
35,55 km (Total so far: 9.726,55 km) – Altitude climbed: 142 m
Weather: Sunny, very strong head wind

I ride back to Esperance the same way I came out here, via the Merivale Road. Riding out, I was battling against an easterly wind, riding back, I am battling my way against an even harder westerly wind. At times, I can make 8 km/hr only on the flat.

I stay one more night in Esperance before starting the last stage of the trip, westward towards Perth.

Australia Prt 15, WA: Coolgardie to Esperance

Route: Coolgardie – Lake Johnston – Norseman – Esperance

Day 190: 16 August 2019
From 6 km passed Coolgardie to 45 km passed Coolgardie
52,26 km (Total so far: 9.069,12 km) – Altitude climbed: 247 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side wind

I rode back to Coolgardie to restock supplies, take water, visit the museum and have a shower in the community centre for the friendly price of 3 Aud.

DSC00642

DSC00644
What a bizar sign. You’d have to smash your head through the glass before you could put your head inside the helmet.

All the ground beside the road is this sticky red mud which sticks like mud to your shoes and tyres, but the road itself is in good condition.
This is salmon gum country. The road is slightly undulating and when at high points, when one stands on the pedals, one has a brilliant view over the forrest, hundreds of
kilometers nothing but salmon tree forrest. Only saw two other cars on the road today.

DSC00654

Day 191: 17 August 2019
From 45 km passed Coolgardie to somewhere along Victoria Rock Road
63,09 km (Total so far: 9.132,21 km) – Altitude climbed: 386 m
Weather: Sunny, very strong head wind

I had a really nice camp site last night. Beautiful scenery, good sheltered from the wind, quite a lot of bird life around again (a lot of Lorikeets among others) and well drained for the rain that fell again during the night.
But before the rain, I saw a splendid full moon rising.
Also, perfect quietness. Not a sound apart from the birds and the wind.

DSC00657

It’s that wind that made the day today as one of the hardest I had here in Australia. Most of the time, I managed a meagre 8 km/hr on the flat.

After a few kilometer, I arrived at Queen Victoria Rock. It is towering only about 50 meter above the surrounding landscape, but you have amazing views. The strong southerly wind almost blew me off the rock. I enjoyed this rock much more than Ayers Rock, although it has nothing of its grandeur. You are here on your own to enjoy it.

DSC00663

DSC00668
Endless views from the Queen Victoria Rock.

DSC00680

DSC00683

DSC00689

About five kilometer after Victoria Rock I started riding through an area which must have been on fire recently. It lasts for thirty kilometer. Thirty kilometer through a completely burned down area where nothing stops the wind.
I had a rain shower and rode through a sandstorm here as well.

DSC00694

DSC00695
As far as you can see, in all directions, everything is burned.

DSC00697

DSC00700

DSC00702

DSC00703

DSC00709

DSC00711

Then the sun came out and the only car I saw today stopped to offer me some chocolate and fill a water bottle.

The variety of greenery is enormous today. A lot of salmon gum trees but also so much other plants, bushes and trees. Also saw an emu.
I passed the junction with the Holland Track. I think that must be a beautiful track to cycle as well. I continued straight south on the Victoria Rock Road.
Very few times the road becomes too sandy and only a very few sections with corrugation. This is a much, much nicer ‘outback road’ again as the more famous GCR & Oodnadatta.

DSC00720

DSC00727
Junction with the Holland Track.

Again, I pitch the tent in a very scenic places and spend a night in all quietness.
My right knee hurts. It started half way during the day. Probably from working so hard against the wind with that heavy bike. It continuous to bother me all night.
Hopefully it will get better again.

Day 192: 18 August 2019
From somewhere along Victoria Rock Road to Disappointment Rock
61,97 km (Total so far: 9.194,18 km) – Altitude climbed: 187 m
Weather: Sunny, strong head wind

My knee hurts terrible. Kept me awake at night.
After more than 110.000 km bicycle touring, I think I have my first injury.
I wonder wether the rest days before the windy day of yesterday could have something to do with it. The first twelve kilometer, I stop three times to give my knee a rest.
What to do, what to do ??
I don’t want to stop. Too many nice things to look forward to in the remaining kilometers in Australia.

DSC00734

DSC00738

So I carry on and hope for the best.
The road I’m following, still free of traffic and the environment lift the spirits a bit.
For the first time since long, a kangaroo hops away over the road.

The road meanders between some lakes. Mostly dry, or muddy now after the recent rains. I walk through the mud to an island in the lake.

DSC00765

DSC00774

DSC00787

DSC00788

At the junction with the Hyden-Norseman Road I turn left. This road carries a bit of traffic, say a car every fifteen minutes.
The road winds its way around Lake Johnston. The western side of the lake is forested with salmon gums, the eastern side almost barren with some low bushes only.
I camp opposite Disappointment Rock. Too late in the day to hike to the top. Give that knee some well deserved rest. It doesn’t seem to get any better.
Well,…. maybe I’ve got to admit I reached the autumn of my life. It’s not going to get better from here.

DSC00798

DSC00805

Day 193: 19 August 2019
From Disappointment Rock to 16 km before Norseman
68,03 km (Total so far: 9.262,21 km) – Altitude climbed: 300 m
Weather: Sunny, light head and side wind

First cross the street and up to the rock. I thought this was going to be a quick run up the hill, but no… it’s much more interesting. There is an interpretive trail with little signs and interesting information. The views are fantastic. I stayed 1,5 hour on Disappointment Rock, but never found out why it’s called that.

DSC00817

DSC00823
You could find fresh water here.

DSC00829

DSC00841
Again, endless views, this time from disappointment Rock.

DSC00849

DSC00854

Rest of the day is relaxed cycling through the salmon gum forrest.
‘The knee’…. I was thinking.
The knee is much better !
Yes, I still feel something, but definitely not the pain from the previous days. Pedaling goes rather smooth.
Ah, let’s face it, after all, I am still in the high summer of my life.
Things look good, no reasons to worry, forward with the goat !

DSC00860

Day 194: 20 August 2019
From 16 km before Norseman to along Dundas Heritage Trail
28,53 km (Total so far: 9.290,74 km) – Altitude climbed: 256
Weather: Sunny, light side wind

Every day has its highlight.
Today, for some that might be the first phone connection in five days, or it may be that hot shower you can take next to the visitor info centre (2 Aud, but much, much less clean as the facilities in Coolgardie).
But I think the real highlight was Lake Cowan, the big salt lake I crossed before entering Norseman. And also the first part of the ‘Dundas Heritage Trail’, a 25 kilometer dirt road going south from Norseman. Excellent to avoid the highway. I camp at the highest point of the track, a hill top with great views to the forested flat lands to the east.
I wanted to take some rest days at Norseman, but next two days a light northern wind is forecasted, and I’m going to take advantage of that, riding south to the coast.
Rain is expected on day three though.

DSC00866
The track crossing Lake Cowan.

DSC00868

DSC00872
It is a pitty people here have to ride on everything with their 4WD. Also in the desert, tracks literally everywhere, on beautiful plains. They will be there for years. And in a country where so many things are forbidden, this isn’t.

DSC00879

DSC00890

DSC00892

DSC00894
It is wild flower season.

DSC00895

DSC00897

Day 195: 21 August 2019
From along Dundas Heritage Trail to Gilmore Lake Nature Park
67,38 km (Total so far: 9.358,12 km) – Altitude climbed: 252 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail and side wind

Continued along the Dundas Heritage Trail. Only one car passed me here. It’s a beautiful track and interesting trail.
Recommended.

DSC00910
A favorite ! 😛
DSC00917
Dundas Heritage Trail.

Eventually, I arrive back at the highway which I have to follow for about 40 kilometer. The original plan was to ride via Peak Charles (which would involve only a 30 kilometer ride over the highway) but with the recent problems with me knee, I decide to take it easier.

From the highway I have views to the beautiful Lake Gilmore.
At Beete Road, a dirt track running south of the lake, I leave the highway behind. Agricultural land and forest along the road.

DSC00930
As everywhere, an idiot has to drive his 4WD here.

DSC00931

DSC00936
I tried to cycle the dirt track along the railway as much as possible to avoid the asphalt.
DSC00938
Lake Gilmore
DSC00948
Suddenly…. back in farm land. Grass as far as the eye can see.

DSC00951

Day 196: 22 August 2019
From Gilmore Lake Nature Park to near junction Styles Road and Truslove Road
99,37 km (Total so far: 9.457,49 km) – Altitude climbed: 455 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

A beautiful cycling day on quiet country roads, all unpaved, less than a handful of cars. It is nothing spectacular, just relaxed cycling. Lot’s of grassland, fields with yellow flowers, vistas to Peak Charles in the distance and lots of small lakes. And the lakes have water now. Due to the salt and minerals, they can have all colours. Some are red, others green and another one blue.
The farmland is fenced off, but there are several ‘islands’ of forest where one can camp.
North of the junction with Styles Road and Truslove Road is a bigger forest of 15 km or so.

DSC00963
From now on the lakes have water (salt).

DSC00966

DSC00969
I found this water reservoit. No idea why they once covered it.

Day 197: 23 August 2019
Near junction Styles Road and Truslove Road
Weather: Rain

a wet day, and as I don’t like cycling in the rain, I stay a day in the tent, give the knee some more rest, read a bit and make a short walk around a small lake.

DSC00988
The little lake where I camped.

DSC00983

DSC00989

DSC00997

DSC01000

Day 198: 24 August 2019
From near junction Styles Road and Truslove Road to Esperance
65,04 km (Total so far: 9.522,53 km) – Altitude climbed: 170 m
Weather: Cloudy, moderate head wind

I am surprised to hit the asphalt already 40 kilometer before Esperance.
But the road stays quiet until the junction with Dempster Road and Fisheries Road, at which point I’m almost in Esperance.
And back at the sea for the first time since leaving Melbourne.
I am lucky to have people hosting me. It is again arranged by Susie whom I met on the GCR and who had arranged already my stay in Kalgoorlie.
Now I stay with Diana and Rod, both originally from New-Zealand.

DSC01004

DSC01005
Everywhere along the road I see these empty jerry cans of poison. Are they just dumped, or does it have a certain meaning ?
DSC01006
Salt lakes in every colour along the route.
DSC01011
I notice very frequently people like to wear out there tyres asap.

DSC01012

DSC01020

Below a map of the route since leaving Alice Springs. The gpx-track can be downloaded from Wikiloc

ik

Australia Prt 14, WA: Leonora to Coolgardie

Route: Leonora – Menzies – Davyhurst – Ora Banda – Kalgoorlie – Coolgardie

Day 177: 3 August 2019
From few km before Leonora to 12 km before Menzies
105,54 km (Total so far: 8.733,10 km) – Altitude climbed: 287 m
Weather: Sunny, strong and moderate tail and side wind

After riding back into town, I first visited Gwalia, an old mining village a few kilometer outside Leonora. The rest of the day was spend on the Goldfields Highway.
Much less busy than f.e. the Stuart Highway, but still too much to make it a pleasant ride. Too much of your time is occupied with watching the rear view mirror and negotiating traffic. Can’t let the mind wander and enjoy.

DSC00385

DSC00386

DSC00388

DSC00398

DSC00402

DSC00408

DSC00409

DSC00413
The “mini-superpit” from Gwalia

I find a nice camping spot a bit before Menzies. The spot is nice and although I’m almost 500 meter from the road, the noise of the road trains is too much to call it peaceful.
Tomorrow, back on gravel.

DSC00418

Day 178: 4 August 2019
From 11 km before Menzies to 10 km before Davyhurst
67,44 km (Total so far: 8.800,54 km) – Altitude climbed: 225 m
Weather: Sunny, light & strong head and side winds

Menzies, an old mining town, is pretty neatly maintained. Lot’s of tourist signs and information about their past. A hotel, a tourist information, a campground, but no shop (the so called ‘general store’ in the hotel is nothing). I drink a coke at the hotel pub before leaving town, back on gravel. 250 kilometer / 3 days on asphalt since Laverton has been enough.

DSC00423

DSC00424

DSC00425
I take the Evanston-Menzies road going west out of town. A light wind from the northwest works against me. If I would have stayed on the highway, it would have been to my advantage. But this is so much better, even when the wind picks up soon after that.
A perfect gravel road, hardly any corrugation, no loose sand.
Pretty soon, I get taller trees again. Nice to see, as nothing grew much higher as the six meter mulga trees the last months.

DSC00430
On the 27 kilometer stretch to the junction with the Davyhurst Road, I saw two cars. On the 27 km after the junction, on the Davyhurst Road, still on excellent gravel, zero cars.
Cycling heaven, outback cycling as I had imagined it.
Lots of different plants and trees.
The fauna even feels a bit tropical.
Temperatures are more agreeable as in the tropics. 23 degrees in the shade, 33 degrees in the sun. 8 degrees just before sunrise.
A perfect day.

DSC00435

DSC00439
Sometimes it’s like I’m cycling in a garden, but is just nature creating this.

Day 179: 5 August 2019
From 10 km before Davyhurst to few km passed Ora Banda
80,20 km (Total so far: 8.880,74 km) – Altitude climbed: 321 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side and tail wind

Another brilliant day.
Well almost.
First I rode through Davyhurst. At the map and in the tourist information in Leonora and Menzies, they say it’s abandoned. Well, nothing is left. The hotel once standing there its heydays is just a pile of stones. There is apparently a mining office where you should present yourself when continuing on the road to Kalgoorlie, but I didn’t.
This is a national park, this is a road on the map not marked as private, so they have to leave me alone.

DSC00443
The total lack of wildlife both in Northern Territory and WA surely must have something to do with the poison they lay out everywhere in nature. Strichine and 1080 to kill (wild) dogs, foxes, … Of course other animals will eat from these carcasses and…

DSC00446

DSC00448

DSC00465

DSC00473
The rest of the day cycling towards Ora Banda, the road goes up and down a bit all the time. So much different trees again, it’s fantastic. The first 75 kilometer of the day I see one truck and two motorbike riders, that’s all.
I expected Ora Banda to be deserted as well.
The hotel next to the camp ground burned down recently.
The campground itself is a place for the miners, I think, because mining is what they do here.
A lot !
What I didn’t expect either, was a paved road from Ora Banda. I hoped to be on gravel till rejoining the Goldfields Highway at Broad Arrow.

DSC00491

DSC00499

DSC00502
I passed through abandoned Siberia.

DSC00503

DSC00506
Thoses causes of death 🙂

DSC00509

I pitched the tent a few kilometer southeast of Ora Banda. The night was loud with continuous road trains passing the road a few hundred meters away.
To make this a perfect loop, I think you better continue riding the dirt directly to Coolgardie. I wanted to have a real supermarket again, because I haven’t seen one since Alice Springs, 2.500 kilometer ago. Also want to buy a new bottle of shellite for the stove. Kalgoorlie has a Bunnings. The next one would be in Albany only (although I later found out Esperance has a Bunnings store as well).

Day 180: 6 August 2019
From few km passed Ora Banda to Kalgoorlie
62,76 km (Total so far: 8.943,50 km) – Altitude climbed: 173 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail and side wind

Rode the paved road towards Broad Arrow, where there’s an ancient pub. I asked the bar tender wether there’s a possibility to follow the dirt track along the railway towards Kalgoorlie (instead of the Goldfields Highway) but both he and the people in the kitchen didn’t have a clue. The pub is right beside the railway.

DSC00537

DSC00553
The pub in Broad Arrow. I parked my bike next to the Angels’ rides. The moment I also put my helmet on my mirror, like they do, I think they started to realize I was making fun of the situation.
DSC00550
All walls inside and outside are written full.

DSC00545
I took my chances and tried it. First halve, there are a couple of active mines and every time I thought there would be signs that it’s forbidden to enter, but that track along the railway is open all the way down to Kalgoorlie.
Fantastic !
No worries about traffic.

DSC00559

DSC00560
Second half, the scenery improves, but the track becomes a bit more sandy and deeper gravel the last 10 km before Kalgoorlie.
Overall, very recommended.
I can stay two night with Shirley and Eddy in Kalgoorlie. Susie, a teacher I met on the GCR arranged it for me.

DSC00563

DSC00569

DSC00571

DSC00578

Day 181: 7 August 2019
Kalgoorlie
Weather: Sunny

Eddy takes me out in his car to visit Bunnings and a few of the highlights. The main one of course the Super Pit.

DSC00584
The Super-pit in Kalgoorlie / Boulder, one of the largest gold mines in Australia.  It is about 600 meter deep.  The largest open pit is near Slat Lake City in the Usa.   Over here, they blow out about 15 million ton a year.  They find a gram of gold or so in every ton they blow out.  Huge environmental impact but good for someones economy.
DSC00588
Especially for me, they made a nice explosion which later filled the whole pit with dust.

DSC00594

DSC00595
Theatre inside the town hall.

DSC00596

DSC00598

Day 182: 8 August 2019
From Kalgoorlie to the forest a few km outside Kalgoorlie
13,39 km (Total so far: 8.956,89 km) – Altitude climbed: 150 m
Weather: Sunny

Shirley and Eddy left town for a couple of days. As I don’t want to go too far south too soon (it’s still winter), I chose to take a few rest days in that forest outside of town. Just load up some good food and enjoy the quietness.

Day 183-185: 9-11 August 2019
Forest, 8 km outside Kalgoorlie

Rest days

Day 186: 12 August 2019
From forest, 8 km outside Kalgoorlie to 6 km passed Coolgardie
59,97 km (Total so far: 9.016,86 km) – Altitude climbed: 347 m
Weather: Sunny

Rode back into Kalgoorlie.
Lunch at MacDonalds and shopping at Coles.

As I found a good road to ride into Kalgoorlie along the railway line, there is also a good option to avoid the highway between Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie.
Studying the map, I saw there was a (water)pipeline running between the two towns, and a maintenance track alongside it.
It is good riding almost all the time.
Most of the time, I stayed south of the pipeline. There is a track north of the pipeline as well, but less scenic.

DSC00614
Once the track south of the pipeline joins the main highway, it is only a few hundred meters before the pipeline goes underground for a bit and you can cross to ride along the track north of the pipeline, away from the highway.
If riding the opposite direction, towards Kalgoorlie, there’s a small hill to tackle just outside Coolgardie. Don’t be discouraged by it, the rest of the road is only slightly undulating and in much better shape.

DSC00615

DSC00624

DSC00632

Coolgardie is a historical mining town. The highway runs through it.
Hope to visit the museum when I come back in a few days to buy provisions.
Rain is forecasted for the day after tomorrow, and I don’t want to be in the middle of the dirt track between Coolgardie and Norseman, so I will pitch the tent outside town and wait it out.
There is a campground in Coolgardie, but it is right next to the main road. That will be awfully loud.

DSC00635

DSC00636

Day 187-189: 13 – 15 August 2019
6 km passed Coolgardie

Quite a lot of rain was predicted for Wednesday 14th August. The 13th was still a nice sunny day with blue skies, and what’s more, a pretty strong wind from the north. That would be a tail wind, if I were to ride today. But I didn’t want to be caught up in the bad weather somewhere in the middle between Coolgardie and Norseman on these dirt roads, so I decided to take some more rest days.
14th of August brought indeed a lot of rain.
Around sunset, I heard a thunderstorm coming from my left and another one from my right. Of course, they met each other right above my head.
Hundreds of lightnings, immediately followed by loud thunders, strong wind gusts, rain and hail.
The whole area flooded, my tent standing in two centimeters of water.
Too much to worry about, especially those lightnings above my head, so I decided to distract myself and prepare a nice meal. Cutting broccoli, peppers, carrots, onion to prepare a delicious vegetable curry with couscous.
I heard the water flooding under my tent but I stayed perfectly dry inside.
By the time I started eating, there was some time already between the lightnings and the thunder and by the time I finished my meal the worst was over.

DSC00640
Impressive sky. Looks like lungs.
DSC00641
Feeding the local wildlife.

Contrary to the predictions, the 15th was also a rainy day, so I stayed put another day.

Australia Prt 13, WA: Docker River to Leonora

Route: Great Central Road: Docker River – Warburton – Leonora

Day 160: 17 July 2019
From 25 km before Docker River to junction GCR & Tjukuria Road
57,44 km (Total so far: 7600,24 km) – Altitude climbed: 88 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind

Started of today with a section of 3,5 km which was pretty good before getting stuck in the sand again. More bike pushing.
The road is paved a few kilometer before and after Docker River.
I rode into the aboriginal community of which I was warned it was a rough place. “Rough” meaning potentially dangerous, as it was brought.
I didn’t think it was rough at all.
But it is a sad, depressing place where I wouldn’t want to live.
Poverty and a lot of rubbish and garbage everywhere, as in most aboriginal places I’ve seen so far, despite plenty of garbage bins provided.
Apart from the small garbage, also the smashed-up, often burned-out car wrecks are everywhere. It is not allowed to make pictures in the Aboriginal Communities.

All people will tell you “The Great Central Road (GCR) will get better from the border with Western-Australia”. It is something they hear, and what is just being repeated.
It does not get better.
The first 27 km I have done now on Australia’s biggest state, Western-Australia, are aweful.
By the way, as I wrote in my first post about Australia, it is the worlds sixth biggest country. If Western Australia would be a country in itself, it would still be among the ten biggest countries on earth.

DSC00097

DSC00104
Leaving the Northern Territory and entering Western-Australia.

Day 161: 18 July 2019
From junction GCR & Tjukuria Road to 25 km before Warakurna
55,43 km (Total so far: 7655,67 km) – Altitude climbed: 134 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail, side and head wind

Started the day with pushing the bike through several kilometer of deep, corrugated sand. After 33 km, a better section follows, but not for too long. During the better section, I ride through an area with the Australian pine trees. Very picturesque. The needles these trees drop prevent the spinifex from growing and would be nice places to pitch the tent.
More car wrecks along the road, all upside down and burned out.
Maybe it’s a traditional thing ?
I stop early. Could have pushed on till sunset and reach Warakurna, but I was tired, had enough water for an extra night out and this way I can make another short day tomorrow and have time to do laundry at the roadhouse in Warakurna and camp there.
Average speed today: 9,88 km/hr.
And even more telling; maximum speed I had today: 17,15 km/hr.
Yes, it’s a hard road, the Great Central Road.

DSC00116

Oh, and as I entered Western-Australia, the clock is turned back 1,5 hour.
So I am now only 6 hrs away from C.E.T. (Central European Time) at home. When I started in Tasmania, the difference was 11 hrs (opposite winter/summer times also made 2 hr difference by now).
I didn’t turn my clock back 1,5 hour. That would mean I wake up at 6:30 am and be on the road at 8:30 am.
Way too early. That WA time might be convenient for Perth, but that’s a few thousand kilometer away. For the time being, I remain on the same time as the Northern Territory.
All this messing with clocks is good for nothing. From now on, I will live on M.C.T.: Most Convenient Time.
With M.C.T., the sun will rise around 7:30 am.
In Warburton, a few hundred kilometer further west, I will turn back the clock 30 minutes, and then I will review again in Leonora whether I change it another 30 or 60 minutes as I head further west and as spring days get longer.

DSC00131
Not too much wildlife around here, but still roadkill.

Day 162: 19 July 2019
From 25 km before Warakurna to Warakurna
22,67 km (Total so far: 7.678,34 km) – Altitude climbed: 63 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

Another hard remaining 25 kilometer into Warakurna with a few short push-a-bike sections. The rest was deep gravel or sand, hard to make progress.
I will stay the night at the camp grounds behind Warakurna Roadhouse.
Clean facilities and a washing machine.
But the night is as expected to be bad, with cars driving around till midnight (must be from the community a bit further down the road), humming generators and dogs and dingo’s and smashing doors,…
But, me and the clothes are clean and the devices are recharged.

DSC00145
Warakaurna Roadhouse. Look at the cages around the fuel pumps.

Day 163: 20 July 2019
From Warakurna to 70 km passed Warakurna
71,34 km (Total so far: 7.750,00 km) – Altitude climbed: 190 m
Weather: Sunny, cloudy, very strong head wind

Leaving Warakurna, it is 230 kilometer to Warburton, the next settlement along the GCR.
Riding the 1,6 km from the Roadhouse back to the actual road, I saw the grader must have passed.
For 3,5 kilometer, I had a smooth, hard packed gravel road.
Sweet.
Then followed a section with deep, loose gravel.
The corrugations where graded away, but what remained was unrideable.
After about 20 kilometer, I passed the grader. The guy told me they are on a 4 week on, 2 week off schedule. Working 7 days a week. They are a team of two man, and have two twenty foot containers on a truck in which they live.

DSC00151

DSC00152
The graders

The track improves a lot now.
But alas, an easy day is never to be had, it seems.
Where I had nice tail winds the last days but still could hardly get my average speed above 10 km/hr due to the devastating quality of the track, now I have Patagonian style head and cross winds with some harder wind gusts from time to time almost knocking you off the bike.
It was again very, very hard going.
But I had to make 70 km in order to reach Warburton in three days.
I made that, fifteen minutes before sunset and was totally exhausted and sore everywhere. The knees, my pulses, my back. Everything hurt.
Average speed on a smooth Great Central Road: 10,1 km/hr.

I am now 50 km past the grader, so he must have been here a few days ago and the track is already getting destroyed again by the people who feel they have to race over it at 130 km/hr, so I have no illusions it will be good for much longer.

DSC00161

A note about wild life. In my seven weeks in the Northern Territory, I saw two kangaroos, hardly any birds or other wild life.
On the Mereenie loop some horses and here on the Great Central Road (GCR) a few camels.
When I read other reports like that of G.J. Coop who seemed to have been surrounded by Cockatoo’s at so many of his campsites, I have hardly none of that.
This is one gigantic dead region. No emu’s, no kangaroos, no wallaby’s, hardly any birds.
His tour was ten years ago, so I wonder whether the wildlife is dying out that rapidly….

Traffic on the GCR: at least 50 cars a day.
Today was quieter for the first time, about 25 cars.

Day 164: 21 July 2019
From 70 km passed Warakurna to abt 75 km before Warburton
84,18 km (Total so far: 7.834,18 km) – Altitude climbed: 201 m
Weather: Moderate side, tail and head wind

Today is our National holiday and it was the best day so far on the Great Central Road. I still had the advantage in many places of a recently graded road (although less and less, the further I ride west). The area is mostly flat. Few low inclines, but it’s rather tough going up with the winds, the sand and the weight off the bike.
This must still be the Gibson Desert. The map doesn’t show an exact line, but I guess after Warburton it will be the Great Victoria Desert.
Traffic was ok today. A bit in the morning, none for about three hours early afternoon, then quite a bit late afternoon. All in all about 25 / 30 vehicles.
Average speed for the day: a very satisfying 13,47 km/hr.

Day 165: 22 July 2019
From abt 75 km before Warburton to abt 10 km before Warburton
69,28 km (Total so far: 7.903,46 km) – Altitude climbed: 143 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

State of the road today: 70% good, 30% bad.
I’m happy with that and would sign for it to be all the way like that to Laverton.
Wind was again working against me today. Saw quite a few camels.
Abt. 30 kilometer before Warburton is a bore with a windmill. Plenty of water and I took the opportunity to wash myself and the clothes of the last days.
I camped about 10 km before Warburton to stay out of the nightly sound and light show that comes with a settlement like that.

DSC00182

DSC00187

Day 166: 23 July 2019
From abt 10 km before Warburton to abt 50 km after Warburton
64,51 km (Total so far: 7967,97 km) – Altitude climbed: 255 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head and side wind

A rough ten kilometer into Warburton. The place itself is like other communities full of garbage. The general store is pretty good. Big iron gates to secure the store, just like they do at the gas station. Crime must be something here.
I heard from a local the army was brought in during the Christmas Holidays. houses tend to be broken in almost guaranteed if people are away.

DSC00198

So, Warburton is a good opportunity to resupply, although a bit expensive.
From here, it’s 245 kilometer to the next resupply point, Tjukayirla Roadhouse.
I had heard a lot of stories about paved sections of road after Warburton, but as ever, the stories varied immensely.
The first people to tell me about it were a couple of grey nomads at Warakurna. When I asked them how long these stretches were, after debating among each other, they agreed that it was one section of about 30 kilometer.

I asked the graders outside Warakurna about it. A section of 20 kilometer and a section of 50 kilometer, they said.
Some other grey nomads said it were only a few short sections.
The man behind the counter at Warburton Roadhouse said it was one longer section just outside town and then a few short stretches.
A couple in the general store told me “You’re gonna fly to the the next roadhouse over the asphalt”.

I met my first other cyclists on the GCR, a couple from Queensland. They confirmed I was on the 20 kilometer section of asphalt, and there’s a longer one at the next roadhouse.

So far, I can tell the asphalt starts about 10 kilometer outside of Warburton, and the stretch is 27 kilometer long.
Good camping tonight between the mulga trees.

DSC00200
The only other cyclists I met on the GCR, a couple from Queensland.
DSC00201
Typical scenery along the GCR.

DSC00208

Day 167: 24 July 2019
From abt. 50 km passed Warburton to abt. 80 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse
123,11 km (Total so far: 8.091,08 km) – Altitude climbed: 355 m
Weather: Sunny, cloudy, strong and moderate tail wind

So just like a couple of months ago, it seems I ‘ve just got to moan about never having favorable road and wind conditions and hupsakee, within 48 hrs they are delivered. Today I got what I wanted.
Left the camping spot at 10:00 hrs (MCT). The wind was blowing pretty hard from the south-west, so working against, but it turned and turned all day. From south-west to south, to east to north and ending north-west. So most of the time pretty much in the back and by the time it came from the north, it blew much less strong.
The road surface: smooth gravel for the first 65 kilometer.
Then the second asphalt section started. From what I understood that was only to come tomorrow.
It last for exactly 51 kilometer.
So it starts about 110 kilometer after Warburton, or about 85 kilometer after Tjukayirla if coming from the other side.

DSC00210

Never expected to ride 100 kilometers in a day on the GCR, let alone 123 !
It is my biggest distance in a day so far in Australia.
Average speed of the day: 17,40 km/hr.

Late afternoon it got very cloudy. Seemed like rain but it remained dry.
Temperatures rose to 38 degrees in the sun. Nights are getting warmer us well, around 12 degrees.
Coldest night so far on the GCR was 0 degrees, and that’s mid winter.

Still not much wild life. No camels today, kangaroos are a thing from a distant past, no cockatoos, no parrots, no birds of prey, not even those damned crows anymore.
Three swallows, that’s all I saw.

DSC00221

Day 168: 25 July 2019
From abt. 80 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse to abt. 6 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse
73,21 km (Total so far: 8.164,29 km) – Altitude climbed: 220 m
Weather: Cloudy (few rain drops !), strong head and side wind

Amai, even though I rode 50 kilometer less than yesterday, it felt much, much harder. Excellent conditions can last for maximum one day only of course.
The track was still smoothly graded, best so far apart from the asphalt.
As so often, the problem was that strong head wind. If it is right in front of you, it doesn’t tend to turn around, like yesterdays tail wind.
Nothing to do than to push forward, slowly, and listen to some podcasts. I run out of Tour de France episodes today, and there’s no Telstra coverage in Tjukayirla. I’ll have to download the episodes of the last week in Laverton.
Spoke with the grader driver about 15 kilometer before the road house. A very friendly guy, French origin. He wondered whether those cars were slowing down for me.
Negative, I said.
They won’t for him either, but he refuses to make space for them in his grader. “20 tons of steel, not much they can do to me”.
I pitch the tent a few kilometer before the roadhouse.
Wildlife sightings today: flies.

DSC00230

DSC00231
The bottle of Jim Bean at the dashboard 🙂

DSC00232

DSC00238

DSC00239

Day 169: 26 July 2019
From abt. 6 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse to abt. 70 km after Tjukayirla Roadhouse
76,12 km (Total so far: 8.240,41 km) – Altitude climbed: 124 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head and side wind

It’s been a very windy night. Wind from the south-southwest and it increases in force early morning. I consider taking a rest day but I’m not too pleased with my camping spot to stay a full day, so pack up anyway and ride towards the roadhouse.
It’s the usual setup, a gas station, with the pumps completely locked in iron cages to prevent theft, some greasy, unhealthy breakfast, sausages and burgers on offer and a small, very expensive store. Only frozen, white, spongy factory bread.
There’s tap water so a good opportunity to do some laundry.

Also, there’s a small paved section of road, 7 kilometer, at the roadhouse.
Stocked up with Three breads, enough cheese, Nutella, pasta, some vegetables and fruit all the way to the next roadhouse, Cosmo Newberry, 220 kilometer from here.
I have 21 liter of water on board.

DSC00240

DSC00241
Royal Flyoing Doctor Emergency Service Airstrip ahead.
DSC00243
You actually ride on the airstrip, the darker asphalt.
DSC00245
Fantastic Road Train. 140 mt, 78 wheels on the ground, according to the driver.

The GCR is not as smooth as on the other side of Tjukayirla, much more corrugated, sandy sections, sections with big stones, but stil far, far better than anything east of Warakurna. All is rideable.
The wind has eased off considerably as well.
Twenty kilometer on the road, a friendly couple from Melbourne stops for a chat and offers me some small, frozen water bottles. They had recently done an organized bicycle trip from Geelong to Canberra and ask how the traffic behaves towards me, whether they give me some space and slow down a bit.
I tell them the truth.
They had similar experiences, even riding in a group with a support car, other traffic zipped passed them at 40 or 50 cm at high speeds. They were going for a next bike trip in Europe.

Only minutes after we said our goodbyes, a fool passed me at half a meter a full speed.
The road is 14 meter wide here.
You don’t do this by accident.
You even don’t do this by stupidity.
A monkey could do it better.
You do this on purpose, catapulting gravel on me and having me eating dust.
These brain deaths never take my invitation to stop, don’t have the guts for it I guess.
I always call upon all the known gods they will have a breakdown in the next few minutes.
Six months on the road in Australia, I must have had many hundreds of these XXXXXX, in all my cycling career surely more than ten thousand and one day, one day the gods will give me what I want and I will catch that vehicle. I can assure that no flying doctor, nor any other doctor will have to be called upon for him anymore. Or her.

DSC00253

I need to ride 70 kilometer a day in order to reach Cosmo Newberry in three days. In theory, every day gets easier as the bike gets lighter going through the water and food.
But there are of course other factors, like wind and road quality as well.
All looks good and it starts to feel I’m nearing the end of this little off-road adventure. Only 235 kilometer to go to Laverton and the asphalt, 355 kilometer and I’m in Leonora at the junction of the GCR and the Goldfields Highway.

DSC00255

Day 170: 27 July 2019
From abt. 70 km after Tjukayirla Roadhouse to abt. 75 km bf Cosmo Newberry
76,34 km (Total so far: 8.316,75 km) – Altitude climbed: 104 m
Weather: Cloudy, very light head wind

Continuing my long, long way through Australias centre. After 5 pm, just as I am ready to leave the road, a car stops for a chat. They have just gone, and another car approaches. I wait a bit to leave the road, as I prefer nobody sees where I go to sleep. It’s the same driver from a pilot car for heavy transport who stopped already a couple of days ago.
He tells me how he has just returned from an organized trip to Italy to follow the Giro. It’s all very pleasant, but with all this talking the sun is almost behind the horizon and I am still standing on the road..
Luckily, almost anywhere is a good place to camp (as long as you have some wind protection), so just before it’s pitch dark the tent is erected and I can start preparing my evening meal. Still cooking in the tent. The number of flies is much, much less as a few weeks ago, but they are still around.
And it rains.
A steady rain for several hours.Doesn’t happen to often over here, I reckon.
I worry a bit what that will do to the track tomorrow. This red dust can surely be turned into sticky mud that stops all progress.

DSC00296

DSC00302

DSC00304

Day 171: 28 July 2019
From abt. 75 km bf Cosmo Newberry to abt. 8 km bf Cosmo Newberry
70,34 km (Total so far: 8.387,09 km) – Altitude climbed: 140 m
Weather: Sunny, light head & tail wind

The rain doesn’t seem to have affected the road too much. It’s still mostly dust. The quality is again a bit worse than yesterday, some bike pushing. Although the days are still warm, and the nights are getting warmer as well, I can feel in the air I am slowly entering a different climate zone. Not that dryness anymore. Feels like spring is in the air.
Also, for the first time since long, condensation on the inside of the tent in the morning (wetter ground).

DSC00308

DSC00313

Day 172: 29 July 2019
From abt. 8 km bf Cosmo Newberry to abt. 18 km bf Laverton
84,09 km (Total so far: 8.471,18 km) – Altitude climbed: 256 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

The shop in Cosmo Newberry settlement only opens at 11:00 am. I just needed water, which was available at a tap.
The first 28 kilometer, the track is still not in the a very god condition. Then, the grader is there. I give the man the thumbs up and thanks to a tail wind, I’m flying towards Laverton.

DSC00319

DSC00320
Cosmo Newberry Airport. At the left in the picture is the airport terminal building.

A bit later, the grader overtakes me and stops. The driver hands me a welcome ice cold coke.
His frist question is how the car driver behave towards me. I tell him the truth, about how they can’t slow down when traffic comes from the opposite direction as well, how some come on purpose ridiculously close to me.
He has the same complaints. He tells me how he then asks them via vhf why on earth they can’t slow down a bit when they pass the grader. Then they answer “why ?”, or “Well, I passed you already now”.
All selfish, stupid idiots.
The other cyclists told me this stretch was still pretty bad when they were here, but I am lucky.
Could have made it to Laverton today if I wanted, but I prefer another night out in the bush.

Day 173: 30 July 2019
From abt. 18 km bf Laverton to Laverton
18,15 km (Total so far: 8.489,33 km) – Altitude climbed: 22 m
Weather: Sunny, strong side wind

Rolled into Laverton. With this side wind, it would have been a good idea to continue towards Leonora. that would have become a fine tail wind, but I feel the body and the mind need a rest.
The mind probably more than the body.
Again, thanks to Libby from Outback Parks & Lodges (http://opl.net.au), I get a nice room for free.

DSC00355
Doctor Charles Laver, a man who rode his bicycle from Coolgardie to Laverton in 1886.

Day 174: 31 July 2019
Laverton

Rest day.
Since a few days there are a lot more flies again. Cattle stations have re-appeared.

Day 175: 1 August 2019
From Laverton to Minera Road
86,48 km (Total so far: 8.575,81 km) – Altitude climbed: 230 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

As it goes on days after a rest day, I have a very late start, and the legs seem very poor the first part of the ride. Luckily, I have a strong tail wind, and it’s all asphalt now for a while.
First part of the ride is still nice, but soon the mining traffic picks up.
All land is fenced off as well, both sides of the road.
Fifty km or so after Laverton, I ride through a completely destroyed area. Open mines. There is a stinky cobalt and zinc plant polluting the air. Haven’t seen these dirty chimneys spewing out their poison in a long while.
At the junction with the road to Minera, a gravel road, I take a left turn. No fences anymore and a good place to pitch the tent for the night.
Month of July was a good cycling month with 2.009 km.
That number has to come down next months, it’s way too much.

DSC00356

Day 176: 2 August 2019
From Minera Road to few km before Leonora
51,75 km (Total so far: 8.627,56 km) – Altitude climbed: 118 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail & side wind

Uneventful day. There was a lookout from a hill about 15 km before Leonora with good views over the flat lands.
I rode into Leonora to do some shopping and pick up water, then rode back out of town to camp.

DSC00364
Imagine living in this street 🙂
DSC00370
Leonora
DSC00372
Leonora

Australia Prt 12, NT: Alice Springs to Docker River

Route: Alice Springs – West MacDonnell Range – Mereenie Loop – Kings Canyon – Yulara – Kata Tjuta – Docker River

I wanted to take a little brake from writing every day, so this post mainly has a few pictures with a comment here and there. Still the headers with the daily info is there.

Day 139 – 141: 26-28 June 2019
From Alice Springs to passed Emily Gap
22,58 km (Total so far: 6.452,06 lm) – Altitude climbed: 43 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

Rest days in the tent, away from town.

Day 142 – 143: 29-30 June
From passed Emily Gap to Alice Springs
28,24 km (Total so far: 6.480,30 km) – Altitude climbed: 219 m

I rode back into Alice Springs. Cycling on the bike path along the dry Todd River I was stopped by Libby. She was very interested in my trip and found it so fantastic I was offered a place to sleep in the brand new ‘Alice Village’, a branch of Outback Parks & Lodges,  a ten minute bike ride out of the centre. I enjoyed another two rest days.

Day 144: 1 July 2019
From Alice Springs to road towards Standley Chasm
69,32 km (Total so far: 6.549,62 km) – Altitude climbed: 326 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

DSC09535
Simpsons Gap Bicycle Path runs from the outskirts of Alice Springs to Simpsons Gap. Loaded touring bikes cannot access the path. Gates are locked, the rest of the land sealed of by iron wires, so one must off-load the luggage. Same situation at the end of the path.

DSC09544

DSC09550
Simpsons Gap, West MacDonnell Ranges.
DSC09561
In order to be away from the busy Larapinta Drive, I took parallel tracks where possible. ‘Respect for the land’ , as is so often heard here, seems not to be universal.

Day 145: 2 July 2019
From road towards Standley Chasm to passed Ellery Creek
72,60 km (Total so far: 6.622,22 km) – Altitude climbed: 584 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind

DSC09567
This day, I first visited Standley Chasm. Entry fee of 12 AUD if I remember well, and not really worth it. Busy (because a kiosk where you can eat bacon, eggs, hamburgers,…) and most of the area is burned down.
DSC09585
Ellery Creek. Again, a completely full busy camp ground. I rode out and went wild camping, quietly on my lonesome 🙂

Day 146: 3 July 2019
From passed Ellery Creek to Pioneer Creek
58,62 km (Total so far: 6.680,84 km) – Altitude climbed: 564 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind & side wind

DSC09591
Today, I first visited Serpentine Gorge. Really worth it. Don’t just stay down in the gorge, but do the effort to hike op to the look-out. Terrific views of the area and the gorge from above.
DSC09594
From the look out at Serpentine Gorge.
DSC09595
Serpentine gorge.

DSC09596

DSC09603

DSC09618
Huge parts of the West MacDonnell ranges are burned down.

DSC09621

DSC09641
After Serpentine Gorge, I cycled to Ormiston Gorge. Again there’s a short walk to the look-out, then you can continue down into the gorge. Lots of fire damage. busy camping area.
DSC09678
But this bicycle tourist was again in a quiet spot (Pioneer Creek), away from the crowds 🙂

Day 147: 4 July 2019
From Pioneer Creek to Redbank Gorge
33,79 km (Total so far: 6.714,63 km) – Altitude climbed: 319 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

DSC09700
Mount Sonder, the fourth highest mountain in the Northern Territory (1.380 m) and the end of the famous Larapinta Trail. I was thinking of hiking it, but riding on to Glen Helen, I decided not to do it, because it would mean an extra day delay, and I wasn’t sure wether I had enough food supplies. (There are no shops between Alice Springs and Yulara, 800 kilometer away if you count all the kilometers in and out to the gorges and canyons.)
DSC09713
Glen Helen Gorge, the only one of the gorges faced to the south, so nicer pictures (we are in the southern hemisphere, so the sun goes over the north).
DSC09727
Glen Helen Resort. Bread and water available.

Day 148 – 149: 5-6 July 2019
From passed Redbank Gorge to along Mereenie Loop
107,99 km (Total so far: 6.822,62 km) – Altitude climbed: 610 m
Weather: Sunny, light tail, side & head wind

DSC09745
Of course, arriving at the junction towards Redbank Gorge, I couldn’t resist the call of the mountain, so I turned the handle bars and rode the very bad track down towards the gorge and the beginning of the hike. Next day I hiked the 16 kilometer return trip to the top of Mount Sonders. Glad I did, wonderful view over the West MacDonnell Ranges.
DSC09749
On the way to the top of Mount Sonders.
DSC09768
View from the top of Mount Sonders. I think that is Mount Giles in the distance.
DSC09806
Gosse Bluff

Day 150: 7 July 2019
From along Mereenie Loop to passed Morris Pass lookout
83,60 km (Total so far: 6.906,22 km) – Altitude climbed: 321 m
Weather: Sunny, all winds

DSC09821
Still, it’s not clear for 99% of the car drivers. Not clear at all.
DSC09835
Mereenie Loop

Day 151: 8 July 2019
From passed Morris Pass lookout to between Kings Canyon & Kathleen Creek
53,60 km (Total so far: 6.959,91 km) – Altitude climbed: 128 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side & head wind

DSC09841
Back on asphalt, just before Kings Canyon Resort and the canyon itself.  The big car park at Kings Canyon was full.  So was the overflow car park, and the road leading to those car parks.
DSC09894
Kings Canyon

DSC09896

DSC09925

DSC09934

Day 152: 9 July 2019
From between Kings Canyon & Kathleen Creek to 3 km passed Luritja/Ernest Giles Hwy
88,82 km (Total so far: 7/048,73 km) – Altitude climbed: 205 m
Weather: Sunny, strong & moderate head wind

This whole part of the trip was during the three week July school holiday.  The roads were EXTREMELY busy, impatient drivers.  So far, my trip in Australia has been very good, but these first three weeks of July, the riding was just terrible.  Avoid this period (and also Easter holiday).  If you happen to be here, hibernate under a stone, because the Australians ALL go out.  While they are kind enough to give you space on the road as long as it is suitable to them, you are fine.  From the moment traffic comes from the opposite side, they will NOT, I repeat NOT slow down.  No one.

As climbing Uluru will be forbidden as from October 2019, it seems every Australian came down here to climb it now.  Out of pure frustration, and self-preservation, I put branches under the bungees of my bike, sticking out a meter to the road, forcing the cars to give me some space.  It worked often, but regularly, they just went straight ahead and drove the branches to pieces, flying inches from my legs.

Day 153: 10 July 2019
From 3 km passed Luritja/Ernest Giles Hwy to Along Lasseter Hwy
87,71 km (Total so far: 7.136,44 km) – Altitude climbed: 241 m
Weather: Sunny, strong head wind

No pictures, trying to survive.

Day 154: 11 July 2019
From Along Lasseter Hwy to 22 km bf Yulara
96,20 km (Total so far: 7.232,64 km) – Altitude climbed: 167 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail & side wind

DSC09983
Mount Conner
DSC09984
Enjoying the loneliness of the outback. In group.
DSC09985
Along Lasseter Highway, a suicide road for cyclists. We knew already there’s no mercy for kangaroos, emu’s and cyclists, but also not for horses and camels, the Australian won’t slow down. For nothing.  There is something under that skull which prevents it.  When you complain to them, they will say “yes the road trains, it is dangerous”.  “No”, I reply, “it is YOU, in your cars.  The trucks are fine enough.”

Day 155: 12 July 2019
From 22 km bf Yulara to Uluru NP
39,11 km (Total so far: 7.271,75 km) – Altitude climbed: 77 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side wind

DSC09989

DSC09995
First view of Ayers Rock (Uluru).

Day 156: 13 July 2019
From Uluru NP to passed the Olga’s
100,15 km (Total so far: 7.371,90 km) – Altitude climbed: 200 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side, head & tail wind

DSC00002
Ayers Rock / Uluru, in the sun now.
DSC00003
More close up views from “The Rock”, as they call it here.

DSC00007

DSC00016

DSC00019
Uluru, seen from the side.
DSC00026
When I arrived that day, people were prevented from climbing due to strong winds. After my trip around the mountain, the wind settled a bit and it was opened. By then, a lot of them had driven back to Yulara. You can imagine how busy it must be on other days.
DSC00028
You can see from the sign in the right below in the picture, it’s asked not to climb it, but not yet forbidden, so up they go. Like little ants. It’s a sorrow sight. Overweight people wearing flip flops, sweating and panting, dragging themselves up via the rope.

As you could read from the above, I did not have the best experience coming down to Ayers Rock / Uluru. Due to the insane traffic, there was zero fun and as explained, people have no empathy at all for cyclists.
They will be friendly towards you when they stop, but once in their car…
They will just mow you off the road, but I have to give it to them, they will do it with a smile whilst waving at you.
Between the park entrance (25 AUD) and the rock, I again stopped at a lookout and took some branches to force the drivers to give me some space (by law in Australia they must give you 1,5 meter, but even the police won’t do it, let alone they would enforce that law). I had a brain death going into discussion with me along the Lasseter Highway who claimed they had to give me 50 centimeter if they drove 60 km/hr. first of all, nobody drives that slow there, and second of all, it shows their mentality, just making up stories.
I wonder if I drive at those speeds next to their kids, what they would say (of course, cycling is something for children, and only on the way between their house and the kids’ school.  All other roads must be free from cyclists).

I had people saying they don’t slow down because they are on cruise control !   Yeah, setting the cruise-control again is worse then killing a cyclist.

Inside the park, a park ranger forced me of the road into the ditch and in a very arrogant way, almost pushing his ranger pass into my face, behaving ridiculously authorative, he made “a report”. I explained to him it was the only way to survive this madness, as nobody seemed to enforce the 1,5 meter (I would already be more then happy if a meter was given) rule. Then he started to argue I couldn’t bring wood in the park. I told him I just picked it up when I was already in the park. Then he said I couldn’t pick up any wood from the park.
I said “one in three cars passing us here has wood on his trailer for camp fires. You say nothing of that, and you make a problem of my few branches ??”.
It was his business to deal with that, he said.
I had to remove the branches. He took pictures of me for his “report”.
(Speeding cars, people bringing fire wood in the park, people parking cars where there are signs it is forbidden, they are all left alone).

Next day, again past the park entrance and after again a few very close calls with drivers who don’t have a second to lose, I take a branche from the side of the road and put it under my bungee.
Not two kilometer I could ride before another park ranger literally drives me off the road, jumps out of his car and yells at me aggressively how his colleague yesterday had said I could not put a branch on my bike (did they arrange a meeting about this very important point ??).
Then some ‘very impressive’ talking into a walky talky, and like yesterday I was threatened to be thrown out of the park.
“Fine by me, I am on my way out anyway”, I said.
Then he started to warn me I had to be out before 7:30 pm. Nobody allowed in the park later than that.
I rode that night till passed The Olgas, a few meter west of the sign of the park entrance (and made that easily in time, Mr. Park Ranger). I think they came and check whether I really made it, because there were some cars between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm.  (dear park rangers, I heard quite a lot of cars riding in and out your park at night…. but hey, they ain’t cyclists… you got to have your priorities, right ?)
Clearly, a cyclist fending for his life is the biggest worry of the Uluru Park Rangers.
When the ladies at the entrance of the national park asked how my trip was going, I told them about my frustrations and suggested they could make a bicycle path from Yulara (the village about 25 kilometer from the rock where everybody stays) to the rock.  They were ready with all sorts of excuses. “We can’t take land from the national park”. “Well, you could take land to make a road, you could take land to make a car park, you could take land to make an overflow car park, you could take land to make a view point for car drivers, you could take land to make a view point for people visiting by bus, for sunrise and sunset areas, for a visitor centre, …. but not for a 1,5 meter bike path ?”.
You would think a national park would encourage its visitors to visit the park in an ecological way, instead of driving in and out three times (a sunrise, a climb later in the morning and a sunset visit) with their heavy 4WD.
Well, not over here.
I have cycled through some national parks in my life, and some had their oddities, but I can, with my hand on my heart, declare that Ulura-Kata Tjuta National Park is the most bicycle unfriendly national park in the world.

Big thumbs down.

Day 157: 14 July 2019
From just passed Olgas to along Tjukaruru Road
55,71 km (Total so far: 7427,61 km) – Altitude climbed: 235 m
Weather: Sunny, strong head and tail wind

Against a very strong head wind I ride back from my camping spot towards the Olgas where I meet Brandon, a cyclist from New Zealand. He is riding a fat bike from west to east in Australia, but mostly just through the desert, away from traffic. Very good idea !
He has a trailer, but it broke on the way in. He gave it to a car that transported it to Yulara for repairs. That promises for the road awaiting me, because his material seems pretty sturdy.

DSC00043

As all other ‘attractions’, the car park at Kata Tjuta is over full. Cars are left behind on the way in already.  I walk to the first look-out point and just can’t find the courage to continue in this circus. I turn back to my bike.
I want to get away from these people, these crowds.

DSC00044
That strong head wind is now my companion and blows me west. Fantastic.
Soon the asphalt stops and I’m back on an unpaved road. Sometimes smooth gravel, but mostly very stony, or bull dust sandy with deep corrugations.
Next asphalt will appear again in about 1.000 kilometer in Laverton ! First 160 km of this dirt on Tjukaruru Road to docker River, where the Great Central Road starts.
Just when I push my bike of the road towards a camping spot, I hear what I think is a small branch stuck in my rear wheel.
But no, it is a broke spoke !
I never had a broken spoke on my rear wheel.
And it is a complete new wheel for this trip.
Yes, there is a lot of weight on it, and the road is awfull, but I ride very carefully and slow. (Later I see damage to the rim as well, so I guess the spoke was hit by a big stone).
It could not have happened at a worse place.
Back to Alice Springs is maybe 700 km, and absolutely unthinkable of going back there.
Foreward the next bike shop is…. I don’t know, maybe in Kalgoorlie, 1.500 km away from here.
I do have spare spokes, but I never touched a spoke myself in my life, let alone replaced one.
Sigh, …. will try in the morning.

Day 158: 15 July 2019
From along Tjukaruru Road to along Tjukaruru Road
45,67 km (Total so far: 7473,28 km) – Altitude climbed: 110 m
Weather: Strong tail wind

Forty five kilometer today. And I am exhausted.
First replacing that broken spoke.
Taking the tire of, replacing it, pumping the tire again.
Let’s wait and see whether I did a good job.
By 11:00 am I was on the road.
Average speed of the day: 8,49 km/hr.
I must have pushed the bike half of the distance through deep bull dust. The other half I managed to ride, through less deep bull dust and heavy corrugations.
Very demanding for both the rider and the equipment.
Hope it will improve.
A pity that strong tail wind I finally have is not able to blow me forward as it could on a better track.

DSC00061
Bike repair in the desert.
DSC00065
One of the hundreds of car wrecks along the Great Central Road (well, this is actually still Tjukaruru Road)

DSC00066

Day 159: 16 July 2019
From along Tjukaruru Road to 25 km before Docker River
69,52 km (Total so far: 7542,80 km) – Altitude climbed: 111 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

A more decent distance after a hard days work. Just under 70 km with an average of 10,50 km/hr. And that’s with a continuous strong tail wind. Still sections where I had to push the bike through the sand, but less then yesterday. The landscape is more interesting as expected with hills both north and south of the road. I think these are the Petermann Ranges.
Tomorrow, I ride into Australia’s biggest state, and I can tell already things will clear up again. The holiday period is over in a few days and cycling will became much finer again in the next post 🙂