I rode north towards the South Australian outback. I had missed this area when I came down from Darwin with Hydro months earlier. I had torn through a back tyre that wasn't suited to high speed, high temperatures and the bitumen terrain we mainly stuck too. I had to keep to the Stuart Highway to preserve the rapidly diminishing canvas of my rear wheel down to Port Augusta.
I could not imagine what I had misses out on further to the east. I had heard favourable reports through "Trailzone Magazine" and had seen a few 'magazine' DVDs and the lads from "Motorbikin" did a trip out here as well. Still it couldn't prepare me for what I found... I guess thats the thing, you can read all the mags' watch all the footage, but until you get out there amongst it, thats when you get the real taste of what is is all about...
Riding into the National Park the clearing clouds and afternoon sun presented me a geological wonderland.
Again I saw no one around, the amazing rock formations thrusted up from the ground had me in awe.
Emus sauntered by, nonplussed by my arrival, kangaroos watched but casually went back to feeding on the new grass. Even though the green tinge gave the whole area a lush, fresh green appearance, looking closely I could see identifying features that gave it away. This place could get bloody hot and dry...
I am trying to think of words to best describe what I rode through... to assist in conveying the experience the awe inspiring country provides. I'm coming up short with the best definitions, I'll let you make up your own mind...
More empty roads, I rode through here making a dust trail for no one to see...
The camp sites were empty, just like the roads. I didn't care, I had to deal with awesome sensory over load. Maybe sharing it with others would of eased my condition? The National Park had a honesty envelope system at entry points to pay for your camping fees. I considered it truly priceless as I filled out my details and posted my envelope containing loose change...
The next morning I road a few kilometres further up the trail from my camp site to the Aroona Ruins. Throughout the park they have placed small rainwater tanks with a roof for catchment. The park has a multitude of walking trails of all degrees of difficulty. These strategically placed lifesavers for everyone to top up water bottles and camel baks are a great idea.
Sitting up on this hill by myself in the morning sun and looking down the valley had me wondering how can an adventure ride get much better. Things were looking good and promised more
The parks "Great Wall Of China"
I pulled into this place, Angorichina, built for the injured soldiers from the world wars as a place for recuperating and recovery. It is now a small scale caravan park and the old buildings used to house campers as well.
Not to much has changed with the old fuel bowser ticking over the old school figures and faded colour balls swimming around in the glass bulb on the side of the pump. No flash digital outfits around here! A "driveway service" was provided matching the pumps vintage. This was the first time since riding my bike off the showroom floor that someone other than myself filled my bike with fuel!
The happy conversation started with the usual, "Where ya come from mate?" the old bloke asked. "I've ridden from near Aroona Ruins fella" my reply. "Ah yeah, where ya headed?" Too which I answered honestly "I don't know mate!" This was met with a hearty leg slapping laugh coupled with a brief stop of pumping the fuel whilst he explained "Now thats a real proper holiday fella!, great answer! I get too many people roaring through here on a tight regimented schedule, panicking about being late, missing a night, staying a night too long, bookings that they have to get too or else...! They bloody don't stop long enough to soak it all in, appreciate it proper, to actually have a rest and enjoy their holiday."
I smiled, it turning into a concurring laugh. I understood and couldn't agree more. This also made me appreciate the way I was travelling this amazing country Australia and the attitude I was doing it with.
My new friend gave me some directions to a few lesser travelled tracks in the area. His realisation I wasn't in a hurry and that they requiring a little more time to negotiate. I road on without considering a destination...
I found this little pub in the old settlement of "Blinman" near lunch time, perfect. I was mystified by the wrought 1.5 metre in diameter, iron rings neatly arranged along the terraced block next door to the pub. The young backpacking barmaid stunned me with the explanation that during the year they come from far and wide for the Blinman Camp Oven Cook Off! She recalled of how some folk prepare not just your roast dinners but amazing cakes and other exquisite culinary delights!
I was just happy to sit with an old Tasmanian dairy farmer at the bar on a few weeks break from his milkers. It was cool sitting, sharing yarns with this happy stranger at the "Highest Pub In South Australia" and enjoying life. The coldies giving an even more euphoric effect.
Twisting, turning empty dirt roads...
This is what happens when you confuse your intensions with your actual abilities. Honestly the track looked make-able from a distance, the peak of the steep hill promising amazing 360 degree views of the are for miles, halfway up bouncing from rock to rut at full noise I realised I was certainly out of my league. With my tail between my legs and luckily only pride dented, I slid back down the hill and more sedately along the parks other trails.
Riding around the area. Click to watch.
Large signs providing road conditions.
Lookout for locals! Coming round some corners can provide surprises!
Mount Chambers Gorge
Slate rock formations in the Gorge
Long shadows tell me to start looking for a camp... and keep an eye out for the roos!