A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 20: Ti-Tree – Alice Springs. Tuesday 18th May 2010

There was no rush to emerge this morning. There was a heavy dew on everything and it was very cold. I made for a hot shower and once I’d finished the sun was coming up and it was starting to warm up a little. Full layers worn this morning!
We were nearly ready to go when Suzie couldn’t find her bike key. A search ensued and it was eventually found. Then when I went to start my bike it gave a thud but didn’t turn over. I had charged my iPod overnight and had just plugged in my phone so I leapt off, turned everything off and unplugged my phone. After a few minutes, with my fingers crossed, I tried again and to my relief it started. I didn’t like my chances of successfully push starting it.

Our first stop was at Aileron and it ended up being quite a long one. It was a fascinating place with a lot of history about the railway construction, and an Aboriginal art gallery where there was an Aboriginal woman sitting on the floor painting, and lots of art works on display. The colours and patterns were beautiful. As you ride in to Aileron you are greeted by two enormous statues, one of a woman and child standing together, and the other of a man on a distant hill. The spear he is holding is 17 metres long.

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Giant statues at Aileron

Our destination was Alice Springs. We have had several run-ins with kamikaze birds. They dart in and out of our bikes as we ride as if playing a game. So far I’m the only rider not to have collected one... (Teena feels like she’s been tarred and feathered now!)
In Alice Springs we checked into the campground and set up. Our tents were still wet from this morning, but I had to get into shorts and t-shirt. What a difference 6 hours makes. Teena went to have her bike looked at and they can fix it as soon as the part arrives from her dealer in Perth.

After lunch we rode out to the East MacDonnell Ranges, visiting Emily Gap and Jessie Gap. We rode as far as Corroboree Rock. The formations are impressive, especially in the setting sun.

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Emily Gap

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Jessie Gap

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Corroboree Rock

We cooked dinner in the camp kitchen. I heard from Doug and Scott – they were in Tennant Creek having been totally rained out in Kununurra and having to cancel all their plans, and the Tanami track was closed putting an end to any dirt riding. They will be in Alice tomorrow.

Today’s distance: 301km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 21: Alice Springs. Wednesday 19th May 2010

The mornings are cold now :-(
We did a day trip today out to the West MacDonnell Ranges. We rode out to the furthest place we wanted to visit: Glen Helen gorge. There was a resort here, but we couldn’t walk into the gorge – you could do helicopter flights... This place had the most expensive fuel of my trip so far - $1.93 a litre for unleaded.

We rode 8km onto Ormiston gorge. This was a beautiful waterhole with spectacular rock features. There were several walks that could be done from here but with the recent rain they required wading or swimming!! through cold water to complete the circuits.

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Ormiston Gorge

We visited the Ochre Pits and saw the array of colours in the clay like rock. Very pretty.

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Ochre Pits

To get to Serpentine Gorge we had to ride down a dirt road, err... track. About halfway down we all got seriously cold feet but it was impossible to manoeuvre to turn around so we had no choice but to keep going. We were relieved to get to the car park!
We walked 1.3km to the waterhole. This was rather disappointing as there was not much water in it. Then, after talking to a lady on the track, we did the climb to the lookout. This turned out to be a steep rocky path which took about 15 minutes We were wearing our bike gear so we got very hot, but it was worth it for the view. Then we climbed back down, walked the 1.3km back to the car park and had to get the bikes back up the dirt track to the road. I think we did more dirt than the guys!!

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Serpentine Gorge from the lookout

It was getting late now so we did a quick ride into Standley Chasm but didn’t stop to look around.
It was easy to see why the Aborigines think the mountain range looks like a giant serpent. It snakes along the landscape with rock ridges undulating along its length.

When we returned to the camp Doug and Scott were there. We all cooked in the camp kitchen and looked at photos taken so far. Lots of stories were told.

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Dinner in the camp kitchen

It is trying to rain tonight and the forecast is not good. At least with the cloud cover it is warmer tonight.

Today’s distance: 305km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 22: Alice Springs – Curtin Springs. Thursday 20th May 20

I woke to rain. The steady, soaking type. There was no incentive to emerge from my sleeping bag. I was warm and dry. I’ve been lucky not to have encountered rain until now I suppose. Packing up was not much fun, trying to keep everything dry. It becomes a juggling act to get stuff out of the tent and onto the bike in waterproof covers before it gets wet. And then you can’t pack one thing until you’ve packed another, and meanwhile the first thing is getting soaked...
Teena’s bike was being repaired this morning so, with no rush to leave, I headed into town and found an undercover car park where I topped up my oil, and then found good coffee :-)

We left Alice about midday and for the next 200km it poured. Riding in the rain is ok if you can keep the right mindset. If you are warm enough and can stay mostly dry it’s ok. There will be that inevitable trickle of water getting in somewhere – down my neck, or into a boot. I was thankful for having invested in good wet weather gear as I was ok. I hunkered down behind my tank bag and soaked up the warmth from my heated grips, trying not to move as that tends to let the water in. I was amazed to see a couple of cyclists on the road, pedalling toward Alice Springs.

After a long stop at Erldunda, Curtin Springs was chosen as the final destination. It was to have been Kings Canyon but given the weather Curtin Springs was chosen as it could act as a base to visit either there or Uluru. The clouds lifted a little and the sun even made a weak attempt to break through, but mostly it just drizzled.

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Erldunda – this weather is becoming typical

Curtin Springs is an interesting place, a working cattle station that has developed into a facility that offers fuel, food and accommodation, and caters for the workers in the area.
When the current owner took it over in 1956 they only saw 6 people in the first year. Now they see 30-40 buses a day.

As I used the payphone to call home (no mobile reception here) an emu casually strolled past!

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The emu checking out my bike

Today’s distance: 368km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:46 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 23: Uluru. Friday 21st May 2010

Today was still cloudy, but lighter. The sun was just starting to come through as I left Curtin Springs for the 100km ride into Uluru.
My first glimpse of Uluru was grey/blue in colour. I was surprised it wasn’t redder – probably because the sky was overcast. I read later that this was rare and I was lucky to have seen it like that. I looked around the visitor centre at Yulara before going into the National Park. Then the Cultural Centre near the rock explained a lot of the Aboriginal culture and their beliefs about the area.

The rock was magnificent. So much better than I’d expected. The climb was closed because of the high chance of rain I was disappointed as I would have liked to climb it. I did some sections of the base walk. It was beautiful and quite awe inspiring. It was easy to feel insignificant standing below the huge walls and formations of the rock. I could easily have spent more time there and I definitely want to go back. It was absolutely stunning.

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Just a few of the incredible images of Uluru

I rode out to the Olgas and had a brief look. Again, I needed more time to have a good look around and do some of the walks. The sun was setting as I rode back towards Uluru. I had planned to stay and photograph the sunset, but the sky was very grey and cloudy with no hint of colour. It was dark for the last part of the ride back to Curtin Springs.
I would recommend 2-3 days to see it all properly. Definitely a place I want to come back to on another trip. (Rumour has it the Long Ride may be to the Rock next year...)

Today’s distance: 309km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 24: Curtin Springs – Kings Canyon. Saturday 22nd May 201

Rain! Or rather that damn soaking drizzle. We procrastinated long enough that it started to clear though, so we set off for Kings Canyon. We were riding into a head wind that had my helmet pressed hard against my face. I felt like it was being squashed flat!

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On the way to Kings Canyon

The last 50kms or so we were riding along the southern side of the West MacDonnell Ranges. It was just as impressive from that view.

For a while we followed a car with Aboriginal kids hanging out the windows waving to us with huge grins on their faces.

We set up our tents in the Kings Canyon resort campground, with the signs warning to watch out for dingos, then we went into Kings Canyon itself and did the rim walk.

This is a 6 km loop that begins with a fairly strenuous steep climb. Once we got to the top it was like being on another planet with unique, peculiar formations – sort of brick like.

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The rim walk

There were big crevices in the rocks and plenty of sheer drops. It was cloudy and it was a good temperature for walking. There was lots of climbing and scrambling over rocks and steps down into a waterhole and back up the other side of a chasm.

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We took 2 hours and 20 minutes rather than the suggested 3.5 hours.
It started to rain as we rode back to camp. The weather we’ve had since Alice Springs is quite unusual for this area.

Today’s distance: 241km

Posted by Jo vanEmmerik 22:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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