All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
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In September my mate Rob and I set off on an expedition by bike through Central Australia. We managed to seee pretty well all of the sights and explored some remote roads camping out in the bush and visiting some of the smaller settlements along the way. We travelled about 85% of our intended route, but were beaten back at one stage by deep sand roads.
Here are some of the photos from the journey. There are a lot here, sorry for the long post, but they are a small selection of what I took. Aren't digital cameras marvelous?
Typical West MacDonnell Ranges scenery
The road - mostly only 1-2% grades and looong aspects, but with 50kgs on board and a headwind, this still had us working hard.
Rob at Glen Helen
Fires at Glen Helen
Tree on the ramparts
Fires at Mt Sonder. This stopped us climbing this scenic peak
Rough road surface on the Mereenie Loop
Views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Desert oak landscape after burning off
We spent two days at Yulara, exploring Uluru and Kata Tjuta by bus tours, walking around the rock and through the Valley of the Kings, and resupplying for the net leg of the journey. Staying in the Desert Sands Hotel was a bit of a luxury after many nights bush camping by the roadside.
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
In the Valley of the Winds
Desert Oaks in the mid-day heat (39 degrees)
Friends we met from the Chrysler Car Club caught up with us on the road - Stuart Hwy.
Kulgera Pub has character. We ended up staying here twice and got to know some of the staff quite well. Limited goods (next to nothing but takeaways) for resupply, but the beer was good and the conversation was wonderful. Kulgera is a great place to stop at.
Wide open roads on the way to Finke
Sunset along the Goyder Creek, many miles from any station property
Ducking and weaving on the sandy road
Mighty dusty chain, but she was still running silently. The bike had no mechanical problems, punctures or breakages, apart from the breaking of my kickstand after two and a half weeks, severely overloaded by the weight of gear it was being asked to support.
Finke township entry
10 kms of horror road - deep sand over big corrugations
Goyder Creek crossing
Stand-off at New Crown station!
Crossing desert sand ridges. They were up to 14% grade, damned hard work with 60kgs of gear.
Bearded Dragon on the road "If I don't move they can't see me"
Simpson Desert sun-rise
2000 head of cattle all yarded up at Andado station to be trucked south to market
The sort of road that defeated us at Andado Station.
After pushing our bikes through such sand for over 1 km without let-up, and with nothing but more sand ahead, at 5pm we decided discretion was the better part of valour and turned back to camp near Andado Station. We had some confusion about whether the road was the correct one due to what turned out to be a road error on Garmin's GPS map. Food and water capacity, with our slow progress in the sand, was the major concern. We didn't want to get caught out with no water in this country (the edge of the Simpson Desert). So we turned back to ride to Finke and Kulgera. The Old Andado Track and Santa Teresa will have to wait for another expedition.
Bearded Dragon near our accommodation at Finke
About all that is left of the old Ghan rail-bridge over the Finke River
Wedge-tail Eagle by the roadside near Kulgera
Distant travellers on the road
From Kulgera we loaded onto a Greyhound bus to Alice Springs. There we had three days to relax, see the sights and embark on an eating campaign before our flights home. The Transport Museum south of town is a very worthwhile place to visit, and we discovered Monty's Bar in town, where desert sands meets urban hipster. For Melburnians, it has the feel of the Mountain Goat Brewery, but with a much nicer decor and entertainment
Dinner at Monty's Bar in Alice Springs, last night of our trip
We had a great time in what were at times trying conditions and gained a great experience in remote touring.
Last edited by il padrone on Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
Wow just wow amazing photos
I could only dream of doing something like that looks like you had a fantastic time
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Thanks for sharing. The photos of the West McDonald Ranges brought back memories of walking the Larapinta Trail.
Looks like a bloody awesome trip.
2012 Avanti Giro 3
2003 GT Palomar
Full set of the best photos from the tour are posted here. 201 pictures there, enjoy
And also this is the route we traveled for the tour. As I mentioned earlier, we had to backtrack from the Simpson Desert at Andado, to Kulgera on the Stuart Hwy due to the deep sand road surface. We were limited in the supplies we could carry and did not know how much more sand like that we would face. After pushing through deep sand for over a kilometre (at 5pm) with nothing but more track like that ahead, we realised it was no longer fun, and discretion was the better part of valour. It still took us 4 days of pretty challenging riding to get back to Kulgera.
The Extrawheel trailer was an excellent way to carry extra gear. I actually carried my normal rear pannier load on the trailer and put the heavier water bags (up to 20 litres) and much of the food int the rear panniers on the bike. The trailer just towed along behind the bike. Generally I never noticed it was there, apart from the added weight of the overall pay-load. The trailer itself only weighs 3 kgs and is very tough in design
Last edited by il padrone on Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Fantastic photos, the more threads like this i see the more i wonder about doing some touring.
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
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