I-i-i-i-iii ha-a-a-a-a-te co-o-o-or-r-r-r-r-ugati … oaaah, sand!
We did about 280km today, from Lyndhurst to Williams Creek. That leaves only ca. 170 km of gravel, minor excursions not included, of course. The road was tough to do on a motorcycle. About 30-40 km were either deep gravel, deep corrugation or nasty boulders half buried. The absolute priority for me was to get through undamaged. There were still one or two situations that got the adrenalin rushing.
There were stretches of hard packed soil were we could comfortably travel at 80km/h and within 15 m it would turn into something that would make walking speed an issue. At least with our bike. A dirt bike with a day pack and knobblies would probably fly right over. Twice it was touch and go. When we hit loose gravel and the bike just stated rolling out of control. I caught it both times. Riding with that level of concentration for hours is exhausting, though.
And then there were the 1000s of hard hits and constant vibration. The check up in Darwin needs to be thorough, and I will do a minor check in Coober Pedy. For once, I admit that traveling in a tin would have its advantage. All the other tourists waddled out of their AC’ed Utes in jandals and shorts and did not seem to mind the road at all …
Nina’s comment: Today, I struggled. I struggled with the gravel which made for a more than bumpy ride. I struggled with the heat and the utter lack of shadow. I also struggled with my mood and Flo’s mood. 280km seem too long now. It is called a desert for a reason. This place is very inhospitable with the sun scorching down at 33 degrees in winter. I don’t think human beings are meant to be here.
Now it was not all pain and suffering. There were some cool things to see along the road and having made it so far is a bragable offence in its own right.
First stop was Marree, an old cattle and railroad town. We met a bunch of other bikers who have done our route in reverse on GSs, and their tales about the road were encouraging. The local shop was particularly well stocked as well, so we sailed past the warning sign for the Oodnadatta track well prepared.
Along the way we stopped at “plane henge”, a peculiar sculpture park whose main attraction is a pair of planes bolted upright into the soil. The landscape kept changing constantly but subtly. Stony desert, plant cover, sand dunes and then soon enough the salt plane of dry southern Lake Eyre. White as far as the eye can see.
Probably the nicest stop along the way was Coward Springs, a campground at the heart of a wetland created by a leaking borehole. It had shade, lovely little campsites and a “spa”, filled with the water from said borehole. We were tempted to stay, but it was too early to call it a day and we kept it to a lunch break.
After probably the worst bit of road during the day, we made camp in Williams Creek. It has it all, quirky bar in the hotel, with travel memorabilia from all over the world. We had a Callipo Ice there and reminisced about our childhoods. We also met the first bunch of “serious” travellers like us. A German couple on a tandem push bike and swapped some route planning anecdotes.
Oh, one last thing … a small mishap … I’ll leave it to the photo to tell the story.