South Australia (14.11. - 6.12.)
14.11.07 - 48th day – Red-granite rocks close to Minnipa
Yesterday, we made 161 km, which is our record so far. I feel tired today, the temperature is almost reaching 40 degrees today and I do not have enough power to cycle a 35 km long loop on dirt round red-granite rocks, which are situated in this area. It is time to recharge my batteries. So, while Martin cycled to nearby rock, I stayed at the Agricultural centre. It was at lunchtime and the ladies from the centre invited me in to cool down. I had a good chat with them sitting close to the air conditioner and drinking cold water. When Martin returned, we continued to the Pildappa rock, a unique pink granite inselberg with a large wave on the southern side. There was a lovely picnic area, so we decided to stay there till tomorrow.
15.11.07 - 49th day – Minnipa
We have finished the loop from yesterday stopping at the Tcharculda rock. There are large boulders on the rock of different shapes. While we were having a snack back in Minnipa, a passing by lady (Nicole) invited us to her place. Instead of the intended couple of hours, we stayed there the whole afternoon and overnight. We had a good time with Nicole and her visitor Andy, chatting the whole afternoon. I fully recovered there.
Nicole has got a pet kangaroo called Bad boy. It is a red kangaroo, he has got only one forepaw, he lost one when he was hit by a car.
The following morning we left very early and thanks to Nicole, we saw a beautiful sunrise. Normally, we get up when the sun is quite high.
17.11.07 - 51th day – Halfway from Perth to Sydney
We cycled through Kimba. It is a pretty little town, which located halfway between Perth and Sydney on the truck road. Our speed meter shows almost 4000 km.
19.-21.11.07 - 53rd – 55th day – Port Augusta
We camped about 18 km before Port Augusta. When we got up in the morning, our tyres were flat and full of little thorns and the next days again. We had about 20 holes during a couple of days. There is a prickly weed growing in this area, people call it Three Corner Jack. It is not a native plant. It was brought here long ago with the camels and it thrives in the arid lands around Port Augusta. Bikers here use special thick thorn resistant tubes and green sealant that is squeezed directly into the tubes, which automatically seals all little holes. It can also be applied after the tube has been punctured. We bought both, because we got fed up with patching the tubes all the time.
Here in Port Augusta, we made a major change of our plan. We decided not to travel to Ayers Rock and instead to add Flinders Ranges, Kangaroo Island and Tasmania to our trip. The main reasons for this change were the weather and time. But we didn’t want to give up seeing this famous monolith altogether and tried to hitch-hike there with bicycles. We soon realised that our chances were quite low. The season was over, there were very few suitable cars going that way. It was already too hot in Central Australia (46°C that day). I cannot imagine cycling in this heat. At least, we gave it try.
Now we know that even without Ayers Rock, we will far exceed the originally roughly counted 6000 km. We estimate that the total number of kilometres will reach 8000 – 8500.
We spent two nights in Port Augusta, the second one with Nicole’s friends Steve and Kerry, very nice people and keen hikers.
22.-27.11.07 - 56st – 61th day – Flinders Ranges and Mount Remarkable
On the way to the Flinders Ranges, we stooped at Kanyaka, an important Aboriginal place with a lake and the Death Rock. The Aborigines used to bring old people to spend the last days of their lives in this lovely spot.
We had the best ride ever from Quorn, with the tail wind we almost didn’t have to pedal at all, the temperature dropped pleasantly and also the scenery was very pretty – picturesque red hills, large creeks with big gum trees and flocks of corellas and the pink parrots screeching and flying above our heads as we were cycling by.
We climbed the highest mountain at Wilpena Pound, St. Mary's Peak (1170 m) and walked to Malloga falls. Martin explored the Edeowie gorge about 300 m down and said that it would be worth exploring it more, but we had to return, because we didn't have enough time. We lost our way twice from the Malloga falls, but always found it by walking left. It was a long walk, about 28 km and Martin had a lot of blisters, because he brought brand new trekking shoes to Australia, which he used only cycling.
When we returned to the visitor centre in the evening, we could see some people feeding kangaroos. I rushed there, I wanted to feed them as well. They were tamer that I expected. I put my backpack down to get one slice of bread, but the kangaroo didn't let me, he wanted the whole bag. We happened to stand face to face with his front paws open ready to grab the bag. He was only a bit shorter than me. I put it behind my back and then decided to run away. The kangaroo jumped after me and then - he won! I stumbled and fell and threw the bag away from me, I was afraid that the cheeky animal would jump on me. He got it and immediately the bag was in pieces. But we managed to save several slices. Good, it was our last bread :-).
On the way from Flinders Ranges, we visited Yourambulla caves, rock shelters with aboriginal paintings.
At Wilmington, we decided to cycle to the Alligator gorge in Mount Remarkable. The road was closed, they were laying bitumen, but we managed to sneak in. Had we known how difficult it would be to ride up there, we wouldn't have gone there. It was 12 km from the main road, very hilly and a half on gravel. It was a very good exercise for my asthmatic lungs. Martin put extra 12 litres on my bike to have a wash up there, thank you :-). He managed to cycle all the way up, but I got stuck on the first steep ascent on gravel, it was simply too much for me. If I cannot cycle uphill, it means it is just too steep for me to push the bike either. It took me ages to get on top of the hill, pushing 2m and break and another 2m and break and so on. Martin came to down to help me to push the bike up. It took us quite a long time, but we got there. The following morning, we saw a large goanna there, about 1.5m, it almost looked like a small alligator. Then, the ranger came. We were not supposed to be there and camp there, but he was OK. We make a 4 hour hike in the gorge. We had it all only for ourselves. Afterwards, we had a great ride whizzing down really fast. Mount Remarkable is a spectacular mountain range.
29.11.-06.12.07 - 63rd – 70th day – Adelaide
Our plan was to stay in Adelaide only 3 days, but finally our stay prolonged for the whole week. We stayed with Martin’s remote relatives Zdenek/Denny and Brigitte Nic. Denny was born in Czech and lived there the first five years. He can still speak some Czech with very good pronunciation. While we were there, he found his Czech Birth Certificate and the school results almost 60 years old. We spent a lot of time washing and cleaning our equipment at their place. Denny glued my trainers together. I tried to fix my sleeping mattress. Brigitte is an excellent cook and prepared delicious meals and cakes for us. What a great change to the can and packet food we had eaten for two months.
We visited the Adelaide Czechoslovakian club, which was the first ethnic club established in Adelaide. They serve typical Czech dishes. We met the Czech consul Vít Kolář at one function in the club. He invited us for dinner in the city. He had followed our trip from the beginning and offered his support to us.
The last two days in Adelaide, we stayed with our new friend Pavel, whom we also met at the club. He is here for 1,5 years on internship. We cycled with him to the beach and through the parks in the city.
Adelaide is a nice city, the centre is surrounded by beautiful parks. We visited its botanic garden and the museum with a large aboriginal exposition, beautiful expositions of minerals, fossils, animals etc. We couldn’t miss Cleland Park situated 20 km from the city in Adelaide Hills. There are many Australian animals including koalas, my favourites. You can hold a koala and they take a picture for you. Holding a koala is like holding a live Teddy bear, a baby...so cute. My koala was a big boy koala, his fur was so fine. Shame I couldn’t take him with me.
We had a good time in Adelaide and were quite reluctant to leave. But we had to move on to our next destination – Kangaroo Island.