bicycle travelling
preparing for 3onTour!
AUSTRALIA II: darwin-adelaide-melbourne

10. March 2004

AUSTRALIA II: darwin-adelaide-melbourne

18055 km, melbourne (AUS)

route: darwin -humpty doo-jabiru-coinda-pine creek-edith falls-katherine-(by bus back to) tennant creek-ti tree-alice springs-west mac donnels range-glen helen-alice springs-yulara-erldunda-kulgera-marla-coober pedy-glendambo-pimba-port augusta-gladstone-clare-adelaide-strathalbyn -menengie-kingston-robe-beachport-millicent-mt. gambier-warrambool-port campbell-apollo bay-lorne-torquay-geelong-melbourne

before starting cycling again, i make a present to bine for her oncoming birthday: the litchfield national park by rented car! a kind of holiday for both of us during our cycling trip.

no sweating, nearly no effort, just relaxing with aircondition. driving a car - even on the right side in the car and on the left side of the road for the first time - is so easy. on this 2-day-trip we first visit the magnetic termite mounds - giant 'gravestones' made by millions of insects. all mounds ordered in the same way because of ideal temperature inside. this kind of termite can sense the magnetic fields of the earth and therefore are able to build their homes to best orientation. we see a lot of woodfires, some directly beside the road. one frilled lizard is running out of the wood - displaying its large, thin frill around the head! litchfield NP is famous for some beautiful waterfalls and the swimming facilities there. we enjoy the florence falls, the buckley rockholes and the wonderful wangi falls! great arenas just made by mother earth. it is very hot and dry, and taking a swim there - even when sometimes salt water crocodiles have been spotted here - is a great pleasure for both of us.

back in darwin we are awful suffering from heat and humidity. also hopping into the pool at one o clock in the morning doesnt help much. sometimes heavy rain, storm and lightings are occuring. and sleeping is almost very difficult.

raining season is about to begin. so bine and me are packing our bikes again and head to kakadu national park. on the way to jabiru, starting point for most of the attractions of kakadu, we pass humpty doo (a roadhouse with a huge statue of a boxing crocodile(??!!)), the mary river wetlands (a big river in a totally flat and damply plain) and the adelaide river (famous for jumping crocodiles when get feeded).

the world heritage listed kakadu national park is one of the nation?s most prized cultural and ecological treasures. most of the attractions are off the road. so we have to take some 'one-way-roads' to get there. the rockpaintings at ubirr and nourlangie are fascinating. and very different to those i saw in india and sweden. often painted in x-ray-style, which means that the bones of people and animals are visible. on the top of ubirr-rock we see hills on one and the beautiful nadab plain on the other side. sunsetting is a big touristattraction here. and i can imagine why. but unfortunately it is cloudy and rainy. at east alligator river we observe crocodiles when hunting for barramundis. and bine and i of course explore the famous yellow water billabong by boat - seeing hundreds of fascinating animals. great!! we are also taking a 30-minutes-flight for seeing the arnhem land, the escarpment, the east alligator river and billabongs fom bird's eye view. the last place we are visiting in kakadu is maguk. a beautiful offroad track leads to a small but very nice waterfall. camping there is wonderful.

in pine creek we reach stuart highway again. a place we have been several weeks ago, when heading up north to darwin. now we are celebrating bines birthday! and meet funny kristine from holland. with her 3-trailer-roadtrain-bicyle!total weight of 800 kg! maximum kilometer per day: 25. compared to kristine we are light-weight cyclists going on high speed. she is planning to build a fourth trailer, completing then 1 tonne total weight. she needs the additional space for TV-set, satellite-reciever and DVD-player...

on the next day we watch the rugby-worldchampionchip-final between australia and england. the australian people are very fair and sportive. but i observed a lack of enthusiasm. so it is just half of fun when england wins...

back to katherine we cycle the same section as we cycled north one month ago. but this time with two small 'excursions'. the edith falls and the famous katherine gorge, both protected by the nitmiluk national park. katherine gorge consists of 13 natural gorges carved through sandstone by the katherine river. rocks and boulders separate each gorge. exploring these gorges by rented canoes is hard work. it is too exhausting and time-consuming to reach the next gorge. so we stay in the first gorge and have some swims. even when there are some crocodiles in the katherine rivers. just the freshwater crocodiles. we survive...

in order not to cycle the 600 km down to tennant creek twice, bine and i are taking a mc cafferty bus. on the first day of cycling - about 100 km south of tennant creek - i am getting some health problems. cramps, bad circulation, nausea and vomiting the whole night. leaving nearly all luggage out in the bush where we camped, a lift takes us back to tennant creek. 2 injections, 3 day rest and things are fine again. back in the bush we are lucky to find our stuff unharmed. also by nocturnal wildlife.

devils marbles are a wonderful compensation for the last hard days. we are staying there the whole afternoon. and enjoying the changing colours of the red granite blocks during sunsetting. amazing.

on the way to alice springs we sometimes cycle through green outback. because it is often cloudy also the temperature is quite bearable. wycliff-well roadhouse registers the most UFO-sightings of the world. barrow creek roadhouse is a small asian world right in the outback of australia. a dirty, stinky place where nothing is working. no power, no water. a rubbish dump, buildings totally rugged down. and a few days ago the pub lost its roof. in the morning the manager, with a beer in one and a cigaratte in the other hand, always says - more to himself than to us: 'no roof, no power, no water....nothing...'

alice spring is right in the red center. we do some sightseeing there, including the royal-flying-doctor-service-entity and the school-of-the-air. both unique and typical instititions of australia. the RFDS is providing aeromedical emergency and primary health care services to people who live, work and travel in regional and remote australia. the school of the air claims to have the 'biggest classroom' of the world. covering an area of central europe. it provides an educational service for about 140 children living on properties or settlements covering over 1 million square kilometers of central australia. there is a teacher assigned to each grade and the same teacher who prepares and assesses the correspondence lessons conducts the daily radio lessons and communicates when necessary by phone, fax and electronic mail. video is also used to develop and provide support teaching materials for the students and home tutor. these teachers also go out to visit each student in their home at least once a year.

in alice we see warren again. an australian long-distance-cyclist we met in mount isa. a funny guy who is planning his next trip. this time to new zealand. by bike of course.

in general bine and i relax in alice. we enjoy eating other stuff than noodles and drinking other stuff than the fucking borewater with fruitcordial.

from alice we make a 1-week-tour trough the west mc donnels ranges. it supposed to be a nice cycling tour mainly to relax at different places, but in the end it turned out to be an strenous and hard tour. unbereable heat with maximum temperatures of 45 degrees C (in the shadow which we had not), a hilly road and headwind make it hard for us to relax.

but anyway, the landscape is fascinating. mountains, dry landscape and blue sky above. great!! we are visiting simpsons gap, and enjoy the atmosphere there for a couple of hours. stanley chasm is a just 4 meter wide, but very narrow gorge. on the way there we observe the cute little black-footed-rockwallabies while searching for food during the cool morningtime. ellery creek big hole is a nice waterhole and a great place to stay one day. we observe a eastern brown there and later on a dead adder on the road...

the serpentine gorge is gleaming red when the sun sets. and after 1 week of no shower i take a bath in ormiston gorge not only for refreshing.

more or less without intention, we camped nearly every night illegally. two times on aboriginal land, one time on a restarea with a 'no camping'-sign on it and one time right in the nationalpark. but anyway - the clear sky at night with thousands of stars are a great experience. sitting in the dark, looking up to the sky, holding bine in my arms and looking at the 'orion' will be unforgetable. the same orion which is leading bine and me now for nearly 17 months on planet earth...

back in alice we 'wait' there for 2 days, in order to celebrate christmas here. we put some christmas decoration on our tent and try to create a little bit of christmas-atmosphere. a little bit of a problem in the middle of australia. but the weather helps a little. just 20 degrees and rain.

with the rain jackets on, which we did not use for months, bine and i are leaving alice on a cloudy and rainy day. for compensation we experience a greener outback than i ever expected to see. in erldunda is the turn-off to the lasseter highway to uluru - propably better known as ayers rock. we take a bus to yulara, on the way back we want to cycle this section. in the very early morning of the next day we cycle the last 25 km to uluru for seeing the famous rock in the beautiful morning light! at 05:57 AM the sun rises and changes the colours of the rock in red. we do the mala walk at the base of the rock and stay during the hot day in the visitor center. at sunset we go to the 'sunset-area' where lready about 100 (!) vehicles are standing. unfortunately the sun disappears behind clouds. after celebrating new year in a quiet and short way, bine and i are heading to the kata tutja on the next day by rented car. in doing two walks i experience the unique atmosphere of those soft-rounded, red rocks.

as we are leaving yulara after 3 days we luckily dont know that some of the hottest day of this tour are ahead of us. 46 degrees C! from an irish tourist we learn that it is 72 degrees in the sun - where we have to cycle all the time. H-E-A-T !!!! we are suffering for 3 days until we reach erldunda again.

from there it is a long ride down to adelaide. 1200 km. also at this time we luckily dont know that the cool headwind from the south will last the next whole month. so we are fighting and fighting and fighting against the wind. til adelaide! normally it is unbearable hot, but because of the wind from the southern ocean it is - especially during the night - chilly! but in the end, bine and i are not sure what is better. heat or headwind.

at a speed of 12 or 13 km\/h we are haeding to the ocean. just counting the kilometers sometimes. and hearing some music in order not to get mad. so it is difficult to enjoy the bizarr landscape of southern australia. sometimes the surrounding looks like the surface of the moon.

coober pedy lies right in the middle of nothing. it is one of the OPAL-capitals of the world. 250.000 old shafts are in the whole area. the lunar like landscape has been the set for many movies including 'mad max beyond the thunderdome', 'priscilla queen of the desert', and 'the red planet' among others. the one and only thing that counts in coober pedy: OPAL! there are underground churches, underground hotels, underground campsites, underground books shops, underground opal-shops. i am making a one-day trip in the surrpunding. cycling the first 20 km of the odnadatta track, crossing the 'dog fence' (the longest continual construction in the world. stretching some 5,300km, it begins east of surfer?s paradise in queensland and ends up north of ceduna in the great australian bite. originally built to protect the sheep country in the south from the dingo in the north) and the moonplains and visiting the breakaways. a striking and unique example of arid scenery.

one day before leaving we change the campsite, cycling 5 km out of town and experience a unique place. the one and only underground campsite of the world. 'its nice n cool. and there are no flies', the manager says. it is correct. a wonderful and relaxing place to stay. and also - no wind!

headwind also after coober pedy. but in compensation we see large saltlakes where overland-high-speed-attempts were taking place. but also some nuclear test in the 60ies.

now we are camping always without a tent. enjoying the sky full of stars after a long and hard day of cycling. the area is quite remote. sections of 200-300 km without nothing are common. a sign before glendambo says that it inhabitats 3000 sheep, 300.000 flies and 30 people. sometimes the famous, long trains are passing by. pulled by up to five engines.

30 km before port augusta we feel humbled again. at 10 km\/h we slowly approaching the ocean. at least it is done!

the wind does not change when leaving port augusta. but the landscape does. dramatically. after leaving the main road A1 and crossing the horrocks pass, bine and i are entering a new world.

fields! little villages! old english cottages! after cycling outback for a very long time, i feel a little bit like in europe.

therefore we take some time to get to adelaide. we hike up to mount remarkable. we cycle the clare valley, famous for its excellent wine. we taste some bottles of wine from this area.

the last 40 km to adelaide are hell for cyclists. 4-lane highway, a lot of trafic, a lot of trucks, all speeding at 110 km\/h, narrow lanes, no paved shoulder, deep gravel instead. sometimes we are forced to leave the road as soon as possible. horror.

it takes some time till we noticed it. something else happens on this day. the wind has gone! and it is quite warm. the unbelievable is turning to reality: excactly on that day we are finishing our route in the southern direction, the weather changes. WHAT A MESS!!!

anyway - we pitch up our tent on a caravanpark close to the city and i shave off my bloody beard. we finally reached adelaide and the end of the famous stuart highway. the long, transcontinental N-S route through the red heart of australia.

adelaide is nothing special. another big city with good opportunieties to make some shopping (especially some pushbike-spareparts), doing some internet (which is excellent in southern australia because all libraries offer free internetaccess for all visitors!) and relaxing in some cafes. one big advantage of adelaide is the campground which is quite close to the center. to cover this distance, bine and i use the cycling track along the torrnes river which is very, very nice. we take time for a good breakfast and BBQ-dinner. and we meet some nice travellers.

but to be honest. after 3 or 4 days i am quite fed up, and i want to go on. unfortunately bine is different. she enjoys being at rundle mall for days, which is the famous shoppingarea of adelaide. therefore it is a kind of battle between us, when we are leaving.

but one the day, it is this day. we are leaving. along the freeway 1. but dont be scared, on a separate cycling track up the adelaide hills, which is very nice. when bine and i are enjoying a great view from 'eagle on the hill' on a sunny day, all things between us is fine again.

the first destination on the way to melbourne is the corrong nationalpark. a great 150 km stretch along the coast of the southern ocean. a complex system of dunes, lakes, lagoons and the ocean. place of many plants and animals. especially a lot of birds which find an ideal place for living in this habitat. we camp at 'penka point' and '42 mile crossing' inside the park, which is very lovely. a great way of experience a little bit of nature. most australians do this with boats and 4WD-cars which is a shame that this is even allowed to do.

the roads are unluckily very narrow and have no concrete shoulder. because of all those mad truck- and caravandrivers we have to flee into gravel for several times. the weather is surprisingly cold, in spite of the summer.

after 'the corrong' we cycle the socalled 'limestone coast'. also a very nice area for cycling. not much traffic, and some very nice towns along the coast. in kingston we meet 2 swiss cyclists without any social spirit. in robe we meet a australian couple on a caravan, which gave bine a lift a few days before. they invite us for coffee and we are talking about travelling and rugby. beachport is a little and quite village at the ocean.

before we arrive mt. gambier we have to survive the A1 highway, which is an awful part of road. we are relieved and happy to pitch up our tent near the beautiful blue crate lake of mt. gambier. after passing the third border and the fourth state of australia - victoria - we are cycling in between the northern 'lower glenelg national park' and the southern 'discovery bay coastal park'. at port fairy we have for the first time rain, fog, strong wind and chilly temperatures.

as we are entering the B100, the great ocean road, we are about to begin travelling another highlight of our downunder-trip. i see an unique rock-coast with great sceneries. for instance at 'childish cove' or the stretch before peterborough. the weather is perfect again. the setting sund creates a great atmosphere. and the strong wind causes big waves crushing against the rocks. fascinating! of course, later on i also enjoy 'loch ard gorge' and the famous '12 apostels'. but on this places, a lot of tourists are around.

before lavers hill, the road goes a little bit inland. a 18 km uphillsection takes bine and me up to lavers hill. at the small campground we meet kerstin and stephan from germany, who are -after getting married in adelaide- travelling for 3 months along the southern and eastern coast of australia. on their tandem!

back on the ocean again we observe a lot of surfers. riding on the waves. in the rainforest of 'obey nationalpark' i see the biggest trees i ever saw.

the stretch of the B100 between apollo bay and anglesea is really a coastal drive. on the left-hand side are steep and green mountains. on the rigth-hand side steep rocks and the turquois ocean. nevertheless i always have an eye on my mirror. the road is windy and narrow. and mad drivers can be everywhere. but it is not that bad than exspected. the up and down road gives some great outlooks and some great experience of the wild coast along the southern ocean.

then, after cycling more than 9.000 km in down under, we are there. in melbourne. finishing point of part II of the the tourBine. the third and last part is just about to begin...
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