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Archive for the ‘South Australia’ Category

March 27, 2010
Location: Mataranka, NT

We are now in Northern Territory! After a lengthy discussion, I convinced H that shipping his bike from Darwin would not be any cheaper or faster than just riding back by going straight down the center of the continent. It will take less than a week to get to South Australia, and we would probably waste almost that much time going to Darwin and getting the bike crated up anyway. Of course, gunning it down the highway for 3000 kms will not be a pleasant way to go, but shipping a bike home after coming all this way would just be… lame.

So, we rode 630 kms today. It was raining nearly the whole time and kept the long ride at a reasonable temperature. It’s still raining now, and we are staying at a homestead. It’s basically a bunch of cabin rooms the size of shoeboxes. I look forward to the humidity dropping as we continue south, but I’ll probably be complaining about the cold again soon.

There are a bunch of wallabies outside. Sorry this picture sucks, I took my contact lenses out as soon as we stopped riding because my eyes have been bothering me, so I couldn’t see what the heck I was taking pictures of. There are also hot springs in the area, but since it is already so hot and rainy, we had no interest in visiting them. I may be a little burned out.

March 28, 2010
Location: Tennant Creek, NT

We rode all day down the middle of the outback. It was… boring. We are now staying in a room at a pub. I think this might be the first motel room we have stayed in all trip. There is air conditioning and a bathroom and hot water in the shower and everything! Wow, this is nice. We only have a few more days of traveling together, so we thought that we could afford a little luxury. As much as I am enjoying this, I am sad that I will be leaving my travel buddy soon.

March 29, 2010
Location: Alice Springs, NT

Continued south through the middle of nowhere. Stopped by Devils Marbles, which are granite rock formations, and did a bit of scrambling. That was about the only remotely interesting thing we saw all day. We are now in Alice Springs, which is approximately the center of Australia.



Devils Marbles


Me on some marbles


I am Sysiphus

March 30, 2010
Location: Yulara, NT

We came out here to see Ayers Rock, which is supposed to be the heart of Australia, according to the aborigines or whoever. The outback is quite something to see, since the terrain is so flat and the visibility so fantastic. However, it’s not as glamorous as Outback Steakhouse makes it out to be, because there are just so many damn flies and mosquitos out here. The flies keep going into my eyes and up my nose, and the mosquitos bite any last inch of exposed skin. When we take our rest stops along the road, I don’t even remove my helmets or gloves anymore, because they serve as defense against the bugs. Gross, I know. Someone really ought to introduce some cane toads or venus flytraps into this stupid ecosystem to keep the insects in check.


Obligatory tourist shot


Aboriginal cave paintings. These are supposed to be 150 years old. Didn’t Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel a few hundred years before that? Why are these impressive?


Ayers rock at moonrise. You can find better pictures of the rock on the internet, so I won’t bother uploading more of my amateur photos.

March 31, 2010
Location: Middle of nowhere, SA


Ayers rock this morning

My bike is running on opal, which is a type of fumeless petrol that the aborigines cannot smell. Apparently, there is a rampant problem of aborigines stealing petrol so that they can sniff it, so many of the petrol stations near aboriginal land only sell opal fuel. I asked H why aborigines sniff petrol, and he said, “Why do white people sniff coke?”

We are now in a fly-filled trailer behind a petrol station somewhere in South Australia. We wanted to make it to Coober Pedy today because it is supposed to be a town (and the only one for hundreds of kms around), but we ran out of daylight and stopped 170 kms short.

We started off early in the morning and went to see Ayers Rock again from a different angle. Also did a short hike to a waterhole. It wasn’t too exciting, and cost us precious riding time.

I am sad to be back in South Australia, because it is one state closer to Sydney. In about two days, we will be in Port Augusta, and H will be going back to work. I think my journey will conclude shortly thereafter because I can’t think of anywhere else to go, as Queensland is almost completely flooded this season.



Here are a couple pictures I took while riding today. Basically this has been the unchanging view from my cockpit all week: long, straight, southbound interstate highway; scattered clouds and unlimited visibility. And H’s rear end.

April 1, 2010
Location: Port Augusta, SA

After 700 kms of riding today, we are back in Port Augusta. We have officially completed the long trek from the top to bottom of the continent. I am excited and relieved to be done with that long stretch, but also feeling a bit empty, because there is nothing else to look forward to.

It seems like so long ago that we were last here with F. And I do miss F. This time, we are not camped out by the beach, but staying at a cheap motel. It is a bit cold outside, but we have the air conditioning on at full blast, just because it makes the room feel that much more luxurious.

My stomach hurt today from drinking the artesian water that I filled my camelback with at the roadhouse in the middle of nowhere.

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February 27, 2010
Location: Elliston, SA

And so we begin our fourth week on (and off) the road.

I lost a bet with F yesterday regarding something stupid, and in accordance with the terms I had to cook bacon and eggs for everyone this morning. I’ve never eaten bacon before in my life so of course it came out all soggy and wrong. Fortunately, H was a chef in a former life and was able to salvage breakfast. Got in several squabbles with F. I think I have exceptionally little patience right now because I’ve become accustomed to traveling on my own, and the others are harshing my mellow.

Rode from Port Augusta to Cowell along the coast, then cut across to Elliston, which is on the other side of the Eyre Peninsula.

February 28, 2010
Location: Streaky Bay, SA

Took some beautiful routes through the Eyre Peninsula today. Went along the coast on B100 with a few detours. We did do a run through Lake Newland Conservation Park, where we did some mudflat racing across the dry lake and took turns getting our bikes stuck in the mud.

Went to go see what was supposedly Australia’s largest sea lion colony at Point Lambatt, but there were not that many sea lions. Also, it was windy and dusty as hell, and my eyeballs felt like they were on fire.




I can’t remember where these shots were taken. I am getting too old…


Now for some mudflat racing!


I need to stop doing things like this.


Venus Bay


Sea lions at Point Lambatt


Another lake that has not quite dried yet

March 01, 2010
Location: Streaky Bay, SA

Did not go anywhere today, as I stayed up late last night watching bad movies on my laptop while F and H drank four liters of goon. Went for a long ocean swim with H in the afternoon. Tomorrow, I hit the Nullarbor.


A couple of boats anchored in the bay. Good targets for a swim.


Almost there…


I climbed aboard and pretended to hijack the boat

March 02, 2010
Location: Border Village, SA/WA

I’m camped out behind a roadhouse at the border of South Australia and Western Australia. I finally left Streaky Bay this morning. F remained behind, but H is still with me and it will be just the two of us heading west. I was a little sad to leave F. We couldn’t freaking stand each other, and I’d only known him for 10 days, but I’m still going to miss him.

Today involved about 600 km of straight highway riding through the Nullarbor Plains. Nullarbor = “no trees”. But lots of crosswinds and direct sun. Portions of this road double as airstrips since there is so little traffic, so there are runway markings along some stretches. Unfortunately, I did not encounter any air traffic on my ride.

Highway riding on my dirtbike involves curling up into a tight ball and hiding as much of myself as possible behind the headlight. It’s a really tiring ride on my XT600, and I had to stop every hour or so to rest. It will be even longer tomorrow, as we’ve gained 2 hours by crossing the border and will have an earlier start. My bike is fully loaded with spare fuel, 10L of water, and a lot of H’s crap. I sure am asking a lot of the poor thing.


Wild camels, wombats, and kangaroos are all problematic for drivers. There was freshly dead roadkill every few hundred meters,
and they made the entire ride smell horrible.


A very lonely petrol station

March 03, 2010
Location: Fraser Range, WA

Another 630 km of desert highway crossing today. We are camped out about 100 km from Norseman, which would mark the western end of the Nullarbor. Despite getting an early start, we fell short of Norseman because the XT600 was having electrical issues all day. ARRRRGH.

About 100 km into the day, the bike popped and died. I instinctively assumed the motor seized and began ripping the bike apart on the side of the road before H stopped me. It turned out to be a blown fuse, and thank goodness I had a spare. The fuse blew again a hundred km down the road, and I had to push it back to the nearest roadhouse. I got some car fuses and rigged one to my bike. The bike continued to periodically blow fuses throughout the day. The (somewhat) good thing about breaking down along the Nullarbor is that the few drivers who pass by almost always stop and offer help, because no one would leave a traveler stranded in the middle of the desert.

As the heat wore on, the ignition began to pull that crap where it periodically cuts out again. It got to the point where I could no longer save it with duct tape, and I was running out of daylight, so I stopped and set up camp. In the evening I pulled the ignition switch apart and set the bike up to start by hotwire. This will fix the ignition issues, but I’m still not sure about the blown fuses. I wonder if it’s the rectifier.


Broken down in the middle of the desert. The nearest town is over 600 km away.


Camped out in Fraser Range. My bike did not make it to the campsite.

March 04, 2010
Location: Esperance, WA

We are in the first decent-sized town on the other side of the Nullarbor plains, and it is cold and rainy here. Damn, we should turn around and go back!

I got up at 5:30 am and checked all the connections on the XT for shorts. All was well so it may have just been the ignition causing all the problems. The bike ran without a hitch today. I rigged up the hotwired ignition with a little flip switch. My body is still running in the SA time zone, so I’m going to go to bed at 8pm.


Debugging the electrical system. Here’s my electrical engineering degree hard at work.


My trick new ignition switch.

March 05, 2010
Location: Hopetoun, WA

Today could not have been more perfect. It was a cold, wet, windy morning, but we rode out to Cape Le Grand, which is supposed to have some of the best beaches in Australia. There, I got to rip my bike over the most beautiful white sand beaches I had ever seen.


The best thing was, these beaches were all deserted as well.




Kangaroo family hanging out at the beach. Yup, they do that.


About 30 seconds before my bike fell over.

After defiling Cape Le Grand’s pristine beaches, we headed west to Hopetoun and set up camp on the beach. I built a camp fire in an old wheel well, and H barbecued some vegetables using cheap produce we found at a ghetto grocery store (somehow he still managed to make them turn out amazing). And now I am going to sleep with the waves crashing 100 meters from my head.

Next: Week 5 in Western Australia

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February 20, 2010
Location: Lorne, VIC

I am feeling completely wiped out. Motivation is at an all-time low. I hope this is just some hump that I will get over with a little more sleep. My stomach felt awful all day. Yesterday, I ate half a can of salmon that had been sitting open in my tent overnight. Maybe that was it.

I arrived in Melbourne this morning in good spirits because the weather was grand. I changed my oil and filter in an auto shop parking lot in the city and made a huge mess, in typical eraine fashion.


Good morning Melbourne!


We were on this boat

I made friends with two German travelers (F and H) who are headed towards Adelaide. One has a similar bike to mine, an XTZ660. This is good because if my bike breaks, I can kill him and strip his bike for parts.

We took M1 to Geelong, then Torquay. Went to Bells Beach and then took trails through Anglesea, and then the Great Ocean Road to Lorne.

February 21, 2010
Location: Portland, VIC


Three cool cats at Lorne

Left Lorne in the morning and followed the Great Ocean Road to Cape Otway. There was a bit of traffic on the road, but it wasn’t so bad to go slowly because the views were nice. Tried to take some trails through Otway National Park, but most of them were closed off.


Yamaha XTs checking out the Great Ocean


View from Otway

There were a lot of koalas hanging out in the trees on the side of the road through Otway. The koalas were really ugly for some reason.




Koala Yummies!

Stopped by the 12 Apostles rock formation. Continued along A1 to Portland, and am camped out here for the night.

I took a pretty good dump on the bike today. The bolts holding the ignition lock have been broken for some time, and today it was loose to the point where the ignition was cutting out while riding. It needed attention, but I didn’t want to hold up the group, so I tried to ride around it until it killed the ignition mid-corner and locked up the rear, tossing me to the ground. I’m fine, the bike isn’t any worse off, and I was able to bandage the ignition together with duct tape. I don’t know that there is any better solution beyond drilling out and replacing the bolts, which I don’t have the facilities for right now. I generally don’t like duct tape fixes, so if the ignition continues to have issues, I’m just gonna hotwire it.


Only 2 apostles?

February 22, 2010
Location: Salty Creek, SA

We are now in South Australia, about 200 km from Adelaide. We were supposed to make Adelaide today, but had a bit too much fun screwing off.

The Germans played a mean trick on me this morning. We needed to siphon petrol from one of the fuel tanks so that we could light our little cooking stove to make coffee. I was assigned the task of sucking fuel out of my tank with a hose, which I accepted because I am kind, but did not realize that F held the other end of the hose just above the fuel line, causing me to inhale petrol fumes until my stomach turned over. It’s a good thing I don’t need my brain cells anymore.

To make a queasy day worse, we filled our camelbacks from a bad tap this morning. As the day went on, both F and I suffered from intestinal issues and required frequent stops. H had no such problems because he does not drink water, only coffee and beer.

At some point, someone came up with the brilliant idea of riding some trails that crossed over sand dunes. My bike was perhaps the only one even remotely suitable for sand, and even then it was asking a lot of the bike and rider. There was a lot of falling over involved today, but it was a great time and now I’m bruised and sore as hell.


Woops.


Teamwork

February 23, 2010
Location: Adelaide, SA

And here we are in Adelaide! Took Princes Hwy almost directly here from Coorong. Took the Wellington Ferry. Didn’t take any pictures worth uploading today, as I was exhausted from a sleepless night of being attacked by insects.

We are camped out by the beach. This afternoon H dared me to swim out to a buoy about a kilometer from the shore, so I dragged him out to sea. He nearly drowned and I had to rescue him.

February 24, 2010
Location: Adelaide, SA

Got new tires and brake pads for the bike today. I changed the tires the day before I left, but those knobbies burned up quick in the last 5,500 km. I switched to a much harder hybrid compound this time, because there will be hundreds of kilometers of hot desert tarmac ahead.

I also finally bought a proper riding jacket today, something I wish I had done months ago. My lovely white rain jacket has just about reached the end of its useful life, unfortunately.

No pictures from today because I spent the day working on the bike, and it was not very interesting. Also reloaded on fluids and spares (for both me and the bike). All of a sudden my luggage is really heavy again. Damn.

February 25, 2010
Location: Rawnsley/Flinders Ranges, SA

Took about 400 km of highway from Adelaide to Orroroo to Hawker and am now camped out in the wilderness that is the Flinders Ranges. H & F were annoying the hell out of me so I ditched them and found my own campsite.




Flinders Ranges

There were lots of wild emus and kangaroos along the way, but they disappeared in the bush before I could take out my camera.

February 26, 2010
Location: Port Augusta, SA

H found my campsite this morning and woke me up. Departed early because it gets really hot out during the day. We rode a few hundred km around the Flinders Ranges, and did some pretty awesome tracks. F kept trying to race me, and it made me really angry. I miss doing my own thing. This evening, I told H that I did not want to ride with them anymore. He offered to ditch F and continue with me, but I declined that offer.




This was illegal

After riding around the Flinders Ranges, headed back down to Port Augusta. We’re nearing the desert now, and it is getting really hot!

Next: Week 4 Crossing the desert

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