Days 7 to 10

Day 7: Sunday July 17th
I packed the trailer last night and just put the tent and blanket on top this morning. A good move; I was on the road at 8:30. It was a hard day’s ride with north to northeast winds to 25 kph. This wind direction made for some bad wake from the road trains. The road seemed to mostly be slightly climbing at around half a percent. So I am very tired, and did just 100 kilometres.

I talked with a bloke at a road side stop who had big rough haired Jack Russell who loved me. I probably smell like a dead kangaroo. Also had a couple slow down to say hi as they drove past me. And a motorbike with speakers I could hear 500 metres down the road!

 I am about 135 kilometres out from Coober Pedy, so a long day tomorrow to get to my room. I am well hidden but very close to the road, so it'll be noisy tonight. Another 7 or 8 convoys of army vehicles went by today.

I had the idea to lash the spare tyres to the side of the trailer, and did this at lunch time. It is now much quicker to open and close the trailer. I have almost emptied the first 5 litre container and the two litre container since Glendambo, so I have four bidons and the other 5 litre container to get to Coober Pedy, which is plenty. It’s been cold today.

Spare Tyres


Day 8:  Monday 18 July
On the road at 8. No frost! Arrived at Coober Pedy by 6:15 p.m.

Folk of the day: The lady who ran out from a parking bay to offer me an apple turnover! The bikie who said I made him feel soft. The bloke jogging 10 kilometres south of Coober Pedy: so who's the crazy one now, hey?

MirageThe mirage of the Inland Sea.

I wrote on Facebook:

I have arrived in Coober Pedy after a couple of days of head winds, but otherwise good conditions. The bike has been repacked to make the camp setup a lot more streamlined, especially in light of the frosts. I have the trailer all shut down ready to go in the morning and just drop the tent and over-blanket on top, and add the solar panel. No fighting with a frozen dry bag. Spare tyres are mounted on the side a la 30's Tourer with the spare on the running board, but not as fancy looking. I met a bloke jogging south 10km south of Coober Pedy. There sure are some crazy people around here! Apparently there are two recumbents and a mountain bike about 60km ahead of me.
New since my time up here are the mining companies with their private roads running under the highway! There is also a neat shot of the inland sea, aka mirage. And for my friend Cress, who I keep warning about the dangers of Australia, look out for Funnel Web Spiders. They are so big up here they have warning signs about the holes they leave in the ground.

Mining PitsBeware the Funnel Webs

Also from Facebook:

35 years ago Wendy and I arrived with Bob Lines and a bus load of school kids in Coober Pedy after stifling night with no alternator on the bus, so everything was turned off. There was a woman on the bus who said she'd waited all her life to visit Coober Pedy and now, after half an hour, while the bus was being repaired, she couldn't wait to leave. It's a bit more salubrious, but you can still see the hard edges. It's the sort of town were Aboriginal people keep their eyes to the ground and try and step around you and hope you won't notice them. Completely different to Port Augusta were Aboriginal people will come up and chat to you because they actually feel like they belong to the place and it's their country.

Pittosporum Pittosporum


Coober Pedy The surreal landscapes of Coober Pedy

Day 9: Tuesday 19 July
A bit of a rest day with a slow start in Coober Pedy after a good night in a palatial cabin. Rode 60 kilometres north and am in a kilometre off the road on a station track. It's a gravel plain, but teeming with life; not the least of this is the mosquito population, which is large and fierce. They have driven me into the tent well before dark. I'm hoping they settle down when it gets cold, because I left the solar panel hanging on the bike.

Scalds The Gravel Scalds

I can count at least 12 species of plants not counting grasses within 20 metres of the tent. There are at least two species of fly about, four bird songs, including a Rufus Whistler, two spider species, and a couple of species of ants. They were bull ant highways where I first stopped, so I've moved on a couple of hundred yards.

This little track sees a lot of traffic. Camp well away.

This close up shows the path roughly where the ink marks are. The white spread is a nest. There are quite a few of these highway-ed together over 50 or 60 metres.

I'm under a little rotting granite ridge which feeds the gravel down here. It's all quite beautiful, but for now, the world belongs to the Mosquito.


The Ridge The top of the ridge

 It is striking how much regrowth there it is even on the scalded gravel pans that I take to be the result of overgrazing. It would be fascinating to see what would happen if government took over  2 or 3 leases  up here, and paid the lessee's to de-stock, fence out the neighbours, skip-jump plough the scalds, and rehabilitate the land.

Tomorrow I will go just past Cadney Park, and pick up some fruit at Marla at the next day.

The bike from the ridge

I was startled by the attitude of Aboriginal folk in Coober Pedy. It was like the American south of the sixties. Eyes to the ground, step around you, not sure how to relate when I spoke to them. It said something depressing about the spirit of the town.

When I stopped for lunch a big eagle flew overhead about 50 feet up. Not a wedgie but still big. I could see his shape against the sky for a kilometre or so as he lolloped along the bitumen on the lookout for roadkill. Gives new meaning to the phrase Highway Patrol.


Day Ten: Wednesday July 20
Pulled into Pootnourie rest stop 20 km after camp for second breakfast. Left at 7:30, with the mosquitoes still awful even then. Amazing graffiti here:

Feel absolutely scungey tonight. It is hot and sweaty in the tent at only 6:10, so I can still just read this without the torch, but the flies and mosquitoes are horrible outside. No Aerogard at Cadney. There are usually no flies or mozzies this time of year!

Riding was much more comfortable later in the day. My butt  seems like it is toughening up. I had lunch with a bloke going up to drive buses in Arnhem Land for the tourist season. He is reading up on McDouall Stuart, who was much under appreciated in his day.  I was disappointed not to be able to ring Wendy at Cadney, and might just use the reverse charge option next time.

It was quite warm last night and I spent half the night just using the blanket. Didn't feel I slept all that well, but I can't have been awake too much. I dressed in the tent this morning to avoid the mosquitoes. Rode a bit of the way out to the highway, but walked the softer and rocky bits. Marla tomorrow. I think I'm around 90 kilometres out. I may see friends Bruce and Madeline. Luke and Cailan are coming back up for school, but not sure when. (In the event, I was past the Amata turn off before they got there.)

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