Alice Springs

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Alice Springs

Postby Meditator » Sat Aug 03, 2013 1:50 am

Last year i was thinking of going but this year i might have a chance to go in a couple of days with a free lift. So i think i should go. I"m not really organised but as i just got back from one trip, i'm more or less already organised.

This time i've got a touring giant bike. Its got schwalbe cruising tyres on. Will this be ok. Is there much dirt? What about thorns?

What other tips do i need. How much water do i need to be able to carry. Which are the bad stretches for water supply.

I remember someone here did this trip last year. Will four weeks be enough for going to uluru and doing the whatsit circuit - with kings canyon and all the other key sites?

I'm going to take my 3 season down sleeping bag but the zips in my tent have worn out. Will i be warm enough do you think? I'll have my clothes to pile on if its not enough.

How many days food do i need to buy.

What foodie items should i bring from the coast? coffee...?

Any other tips? Please

Thank you.
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by BNA » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:08 pm

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Re: Alice Springs

Postby il padrone » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:08 pm

Hi there, that was probably me you heard about last year.

What route are you planning to do? Out to Glen Helen through the Western MacDonnells then the Mereenie Loop to Kings Canyon? How far are you planning to ride back to Alice?

Your Schwalbe Land Cruiser tyres should be fine, they have puncture protection in them. There will be little chance of thorns (we did not find any) but do beware of rolling your bike (or tent) off in the 'grass'. That dry desert grass has stems on it like wire. Always place your tent on the bare sand and sweep it for any sharp grasses. We took closed-cell foam sleeping mats as well as our Exped matresses, to be placed under the tent floor to protect it from puncturing.

The Mereenie Loop has about 170kms of dirt. Not much of it is very sandy, but there are some patches of deep stuff around Gosse Bluff, and especially if you ride the road into Gosse Bluff. We had 2.3" tyres and I took a few bad falls early on when we hadn't let the tyre pressure down enough. Later in our trip on the sandy road riding out to Finke and beyond we were running the tyres at 20-30psi and just able to maintain control. You won't have to do this much on the Mereenie Loop. The road has some sections of really nasty corrugations, but the last section after the Mereenie mine turn-off is a grand surface, hard packed and virtually as fast as a tarmac road.

We carried a good amount of water - 23L each when we left Glen Helen and we were camped out for 3 nights without water, just our water bags. There is a good level of traffic along this road so should you really run out it may be possible to cadge some off a passing motorist. The last day was just a short hop of 26kms into Kings Canyon so we were right with minimal water. After Kings Canyon there are a number of roadhouses plus a few roadside water tanks at wayside stops. The signs on these warned of untreated water "do not drink" but we drank from them without boiling and found it to be quite OK - better tasting than the tap water in Alice.

Four weeks should be pletny of time to do the tour and see the sights without being rushed. We were there for 5 weeks but did extra, trying to get to Old Andado via Finke and had to turn back - an added 9+ days deviation. We did take the bus from Kulgera to Alice but still had a good 3 day rest in Alice before our flights home.

A 3 season bag will probably be OK, but it will still be pretty cold up there at night. We were there in September into October and had vey few really cold nights. Take a good selection of warm clothes for around camp, layering is best. We took no food and bought all our food at Alice Springs (good supermarkets just like home). We re-stocked a little at Glen Helen (actually really little there) and then a bit more at Kings Canyon which has a reasonable store. I think we rode out from Alice Springs with food for about 8-9 days. Uluru has a big supermarket and along the highway out of there the roadhouses are good for re-supply. Beware - the roadhouse at Mt Ebenezer has closed down.

Have a great tour.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Meditator » Sun Aug 04, 2013 1:57 am

Oh damn i had an important question oh yes. Is there much firewood lying about or do i need to rely solely on my gas supply.

I've got a camping gas cooktop and a primus cooktop. I would prefer to the take the primus but not sure about gas cannister supply. Do you remember what you could buy in Alice?

Thanks for all the tips. Gee 23kg of water sounds unbelievable. I wonder i am going to manage that plus 10 days of food. I guess others have done it, so i will find some way to cope. I haven't even got bags that big at this stage. Just one litre bag.

Yes temperatures are low at hte moment. only a max of 21 in the day suggesting cool evenings and mornings so on seeing that i realised i would need more warm clothes. There was a nice write up about Ularu in the good weekend magazine by Nikki Gemmel. That made me feel good to read it.

Thanks for your tips.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby il padrone » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:45 am

We carried a Trangia each, and did not have any troubles buying metho for them. Two stoves gave us two burners and greater flexibility in meal preparation. I'm not sure about the availability of gas canisters but would expect that in Alice Springs you'd find them fairly easily. I took a brand new (empty) fuel bottle for the meths to avoid any issues with luggage on the plane. We hardly ever had a campfire going as we did not need it with our stoves and most nights were not cold. The other thing is that it was really dry up there and just after we left Alice, out at Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen, there was a fairly major wildfire. Fire restrictions were in force and it was obviously bad form to go lighting campfires. In addition it is a desert land and there was really not a lot of good firewood timber about.

The easiest and cheapest way to score a waterbag is to empty a wine cask or two and re-use the bladders :wink: They do tend to flavour your water though, and never really lose that wine taste. 20L = 20kgs so be prepared for carrying a lot of weight. On the positive side, for most of the ride to Uluru we never saw grades much more than 2-3%. It does get surprisingly tough on such a climb carrying 45-60kgs however. The only steep grades of about 10% were the short punt out of the Finke at Glen Helen, and later on the sandridges on the road to Andado Station (but you're not going there I'd guess). We were also really lucky that we managed to get tailwinds for almost all of our ride to Uluru. When we turned the wind turned as well. We had a tailwind from the Kings Canyon junction in to Uluru, and a tailwaind out of Uluru all the way to Erldunda :D
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby find_bruce » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:44 am

il padrone wrote:We carried a Trangia each, and did not have any troubles buying metho for them. ... I took a brand new (empty) fuel bottle for the meths to avoid any issues with luggage on the plane. We hardly ever had a campfire going as we did not need it with our stoves and most nights were not cold.

Excellent advice- anyone would think you had some experience touring :D

Only issue we had is that some supermarkets keep metho at the front counter with the smokes.

Also choice of campsite affects how cold it gets overnight. Sandy desert country can get surprisingly cold even in summer - eg "new" campsite at Uluru.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Meditator » Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:29 pm

I don't have a trangia and i'm not buying one. I have two gas tops. I will buy either primus or camping gaz before i leave home. I"m not going on a plane either.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby il padrone » Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:15 pm

Mereenie Loop road surface qualities :wink: It's not ALL like this, but be prepared.

Image

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We were there in September but certainly did not have a problem with cold nights. The coldest night as I recall was one night on the road to Finke in late September. We had slept out, without our tents, and I woke up to go to the loo, and had to put some thermals on and zip up the sleeping bag. August will be colder but should not be realy below zero.
Last edited by il padrone on Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Meditator » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:13 pm

There's road surfaces like that on the Gibb River Road.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Tandem » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:23 am

I'm flying on the 17th Aug from Perth to Alice Springs, where I will stay for a couple of days to organize a few things. Below is the map of the route I will take.


Image

We have bought all the food etc. over the last 2 months, part of it I will send in a parcel to the Warburton Roadhouse and the rest I take with me on the flight, as I have to buy extra luggage allowance anyway, this will not be an issue.
For cooking I'm taking the Trangia I have used 2 years ago on my trip in Europe. The food I'm taking is different flavors of Pasta, tins of ham, tried bread, 2min noodle soup, energy bars, sachets of cappuccino coffee. I also will be buying some cooked meals ( or whatever I fancy at the time ) along the way in Roadhouses.

This is the setup I'm using. The Extra Wheel with the panniers is mainly for water, tools, spare parts, tent and spare tires. In the front panniers is all the food and the Trangia. Back panniers is for clothes and some food. The sleeping bag fits nicely on top of it

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When do you start your trip from Alice Springs and are you heading out along the Mac Donnell Ranges first.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby GJ_Coop » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:13 pm

Tan

What's with this sudden interest in the Great Central Road? Seems a few are currently talking about it.

I saw that I didn't have any images of the GCR so I've finally bunged them up on my site. Look down the bottom. There has to be a better way of looking at these, I guess, I'm working on it.

GJ
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Aushiker » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:24 pm

Tandem wrote:I'm flying on the 17th Aug from Perth to Alice Springs, where I will stay for a couple of days to organize a few things. Below is the map of the route I will take.


Hope you have a great ride. That is ride I must do sometime in the future. How long do you reckon it will take you?

Andrew
"Pedal-pounding pounce" - D. Fluellen - West Australian 13/1/14
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Tandem » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:24 pm

GJ,

After I got back from my Europe trip in 2011, where I climbed 54 cols, people asked me whats next? It was about the same time I came across your blog and the idea of cycling one day the GCR got stuck. So end of last year I decided 2013 sounded like a good year for doing it'

I also have read Antony's and Mike's blog which gave me even more info on the ride. I cant wait to get started and and get on the road.

PS. How is life going in old NZ
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Tandem » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:49 pm

Aushiker wrote:
Tandem wrote:I'm flying on the 17th Aug from Perth to Alice Springs, where I will stay for a couple of days to organize a few things. Below is the map of the route I will take.


Hope you have a great ride. That is ride I must do sometime in the future. How long do you reckon it will take you?

Andrew


I'm planing riding about 5-6 weeks. Jenny, my wife will come with the van and meet me in Leonora or Laverton, not sure yet exactly where. If time permitted we do the same as when I rode around AU, Jenny will drive the van back to Kalgoorlie and I will cycle all the way there. This would give us a chance to do some sightseeing along the way.

After I'm back in Perth I will do a journal on CGOAB. I decided to do one afterwards as I found when I was over in Europe you spend some time every day just to update it, when you could better spend it taking photos and exploring.

I will have a Spot with me so if anyone is interested, I could send them the link.
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby GJ_Coop » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:23 am

W

This will be somewhat different from your circuit of Oz ride: the area out there is fairly remote. Kinda like from Broome to Sandfire for a few weeks, but on dirt. The scenic highlights are at the beginning, Ellery Big Hole, Grosse Bluff, Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta—the Valley of the Winds walk is a major highlight of the tour—and then the overt scenery dissipates. From Warburton it's day after day of as desolate country as Oz offers, that's not to say it isn't interesting in its own way, but you do get the feeling of isolation, no one else within 100km or more, almost like I imagine being on a round the world yacht, solo, except without the water, any water. At least you'll have the best of company.

Should be a lot of fun.

GJ
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby GJ_Coop » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:36 am

PS. How is life going in old NZ

Ha, I'm currently on my way south to spend a couple of weeks on Stewart Island, not much biking potential there, only 12km of roads. A 16 day, 181km, walk around the coast, pretty good, hunh, down at 47ºS in the middle of winter.

Have a new little project I'm working on, rather than working, long distance tramping in NZ's South Island. The site has about 130+ pages to date including some blogs of three trips I've already taken, the longest lugging two weeks food on my back over the hills and dales of the remote backcountry.

I guess I'll be back on the bike here once the weather perks up, last summer was the best in 30 years for biking so it might not be so great this year.

GJ
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Re: Alice Springs

Postby Meditator » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:24 pm

I"m back from my tour. In the end, i only did the section from Alice via Macdonnel ranges to Uluru and The Olgas. Because of the headwinds and me being fatigured (after my french trip)and wanting to be at home, i took the bus back to Alice.

Here's what i did that worked well for me and what i learnt.
1. The dirt stretch is much better than the Gibb River Road and other dirt stretches in the north. However there are thorns on the side of the road and my schwalbe cruisers were not good enough to prevent me getting four punctures. EAch time i think it was because i'd rolled off the side but i had some gashes in my tyres from sharp stones.

2. As a woman 165cm, i carried 16litres in August so made do quite easily on 4 litres a day. Yes i was probably somehwat dehydrated but i was drinking as much as i wanted to and did not suffer at all. I even had enough to have a flannel wash each night. I would think a guy would need at least 5 or 6litres per day in the same conditions.

3. This was a warm august so i was not cold at all. My 3 season sleeping bag was great.

4. Best places to buy food - Alice Springs and IGA at Yulara resort. Everywhere else is very expensive. I am glad that i didn't have to shop anywhere else. I carried all that i need for a month from alice and had done some shopping in Charters towers because i was driving over and knew that alice would be more exy. I lived on pasta, rice, oats and got variety with sirena tuna, garlic, tomato paste in a sachet, dried peas, sultanas, brazil nuts. I was happy with this mix for two weeks. I could vary it all quite a bit. I had flour to making bread but didn't do it as i was using on my gas burner and didn't feel motivated to make a fire. Drinks were coffee, tea and cream of chicken cup a soup which is great to adding salt back.

5. Camping at yulara is not so great because of noisy generators. You can camp out out at the turnoff to docker river when in the national park. Free camping and showers at Curtain springs before yulara but avoid their shops, cafe bar as expensive. Kings Canyon resort campground will let you shower and wash clothes for $7 for the day. Probably other campgrounds will let you do the same thing out there too. Dining out at Yulara resort has some reasonable options. I went for the Bough House restaurant which had a complimentary dessert buffet if you order a pricey main meal. Its worth exploring the resorts options if you are in the mood for some type of treat.

6. The last water going towards the mereenie loup is Redbank Gorge. Its down the track near where the larapinta campers pitche their tents in the river. The water at glen helen is only bore water but perhaps if you are camping there they will let you have better water. There is a free bush camping very close to Glen Helen called The Two Mile. Its quite nice and water same as Glen Helen. I just camped in a little from the road rather than go all the way up. There's other bush camping spots along the road of hte macdonnel ranges but you always need to know in advance and have your own water. Ormiston Gorge is a good last campsite. WAter there is good quality.

7. Uluru is beautiful and riding/walking around the rock itself is a more rewarding experience than climbing it.

8. In Alice Heavitree is the cheapest campground for one person. But perhaps if you are two others may be better though the showers are good at H. My friend likes Temple bar camping ground though i'm not sure where it is. You can get a comparison of costs from a slip at the tourist info office in town which is open 7 days.

9. In Alice do'nt miss the arulen art centre. I didn't get to the museum alas. Best ARt galleries are the Papunya Tula gallery which is owned by the artist who employ the white professional staff. Same deal out at Uluru cultural centre. These sorts of galleries do the best thing by the artists and tend to have the best art.

10. if you go to hermannsberg try to check out the pottery there. YOu may need to check first if its open. The pottery from here is quite special and is sold for much money on the coast. They don't advertise themselves well. They might not manage the centre that well either but their pottery is wonderful to see. Check it out online first to see what i mean and then keep you eye out for it when you are there. I'n not sure where the hermannsberg painters operate from these days (namatjiras descendants) but also worth checking out as i've noticed some good work of theirs around the ridges too.

11 The todd mall market is on every second sunday. And i liked it.

12. I got my bike dot painted by some aboriginal women and i love it (though i did do a fair bit and took control of the design somewhat myself). If anyone wants to do the same, send me a message and i can tell you what to do how to go about it. My bike is now more valuable to me than before and i spent a lot of time cleaning my chain yesterday because of that. (often it tends to get a bit rusty between trips as its sits unused in my shed and we live near the sea).

13. If you are travelling in August or September make sure you buy a fly net to keep them out of your eyes nose and mouth. $4 from kmart or $6 from a tourist shop on todd mall or $10 from BBQ Galore.

I probably have some other tips but this is enough for now.
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