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Old 10-26-2012, 03:19 AM   #31
goroka
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Excellent effort on the RR. You have a great sense of humour - I guess that is an essential requirement if you are doing this trip on a Postie
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Old 10-27-2012, 04:14 PM   #32
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Great report - love the sense of humour but suspect that would be essential to do this trip on a Postie Did post this comment the other day but is seems to have vanished - sorry if it appears twice
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Old 10-28-2012, 03:40 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goroka View Post
Excellent effort on the RR. You have a great sense of humour - I guess that is an essential requirement if you are doing this trip on a Postie
Thanks, goroka.

I reckon if there was some way of making a sense of humour part of the driving licence test, there would be a lot fewer accidents on the road.


Cheers
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Old 10-28-2012, 08:07 PM   #34
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Birtles vs Australia



ACT 12 Alice Springs to Ross River Resort

In which we see ancient and modern art, ride on the Binns Track,
go 4WDing, and get a glimpse of paradise.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Jessie Gap.







Aboriginal stylised paintings of caterpillars.
Red ochre and lime.







The white man leaves art work behind, too







Who could resist a wee fire ?







Trephina Gorge, about eight kilometres off the road.
Difficult to capture its scale with a basic camera.







Ghost Gum - 33 metres.
58 years old when Cook landed at Botany Bay.







Just before the Ross River Resort is a memorial to Terry Gill, aka “Fish” who
died here on his HD. The “Fish Rally” had gone through a couple of days before.







Ross River Resort
The set up here is the best yet, huge shady camping ground, grass, great
facilities, welcoming staff, staggering scenery. The main buildings are a little
separated from the camp area, housing a restaurant, bar, and smaller
rooms just for sitting and thinking.







Shane books me in and answers questions about nearby N'Dhala Gorge.
The gorge road passes the entrance to the camp ground and forms part of
the meandering Binns Track that reaches from Mt Dare to Timber Creek.

There are shallow water crossings and dry riverbed crossings, deep sand
and corrugations. Sand is a challenge to Birtles’ razor blade tyres, but ruts
left by a pushbike, sometimes with footprints alongside where it had been
pushed, make him determined to continue.










Last hurdle is a grid with a deadly approach, over deep ruts filled with large
stones before bumping up onto a metal grid, not a place to need to put a foot down.
Feet up, clutch slipping, Birtles complaining in first gear … and we are over.
Coming back is easier.

The gorge walk passes a few of the more than 6000 petroglyphs in the area
and takes all of the 1.5 hours stated on the guide sign. Many years ago I
needed only half the time allowance shown on these signs, but now I use
all of the suggested time - it’s good to see that whoever writes them is finally
getting more accurate.







The visitor book shows three visitors for the day, and this was the weekend,
so the gorge is not visited often, something to remember while crossing the
tricky bits on the return trip - especially as I sign the visitor book
"Birtles, Honda CT110 Postiebike, who needs a 4WD?"










Back at camp I let Shane know that The N’Dhala Gorge is accessible by an
old NZer on a Postiebike. He asks if I would like to join a 4WD tour he is about
to start with two other campers - of course I do.

We branch off the main road and pass the resort’s bush camp - tent houses
for those that want to get even further away from it all. The trip is over rugged
4WD tracks from which we see the ranges from a different perspective.
Tomorrow there is a longer 4WD trip, and again I put up my hand.







Shane is manager of Ross River Resort, tour driver, mechanic, and also the chef.
If his cooking is as good as his driving, my bread and water diet can have
a rest tonight. It sure is: the meal is delicious and with mains and dessert
for $20 it is a great deal. For the rest of my stay, this is where I eat.


A rescued joey tucked up outside the door likes it here, too.
He joins in when the mood takes him.







The geology of the area is stunning.







One determined gum !







I stay for three days and would like to stay longer. It is not posh, despite
the “resort” in its name, but it is completely comfortable - physically, mentally
and socially. Nothing is too much bother. Whatever is needed you only have
to ask and there it is, as I found when I wondered about fossils in the area -
Shane remembers this and next day takes a diversion on the 4WD tour to
a likely site. The thing that really sells the place to me is the trust with which
guests are treated. Throughout my stay I eat, drink, take tours and use all
the facilities, yet am never asked to pay, just told to remember the items and
pay for them when I leave. When I call at the office on the last day and rattle
off the dinners, breakfasts, drinks and tours, my list is accepted without
question, except for the two 4WD tours … they are free, just part of the service !









On the last evening at Ross River Resort I walk part of the gorge road.
Returning to the tent as the sun is setting, I understand why Shane says
that even if he won the lottery, he couldn't find a better place to work.
He loves all his roles at the resort and is happiest when he is helping
guests enjoy their stay - that really is paradise ….

…. but I have to leave.





To be continued ……….


Bernard
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Old 10-28-2012, 09:43 PM   #35
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Great read, thanks for sharing birtles adventures
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Old 10-31-2012, 01:22 PM   #36
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Birtles vs Australia



ACT 13
Ross River to Glen Helen


In which we see gaps, moan about changes, find a life-saving ring, pass
through fires and under cliffs.




----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



A quick back-track to Alice starts the day. Fuel up, through the town, and
onto Namatjira Drive, heading west.



Simpson’s Gap …






… with its hard-to-spot rock wallabies.






A walkway has sprouted, there for visitors to follow. And follow they do,
taking the same path to, the same path back, and in between taking the
same photographs from the same positions.

The Gap has stood for hundreds of thousands of years through heat, cold,
drought and flood; people have passed through it for tens of thousands of
years: I am sure my footprints do not pose an environmental risk.

In defiance of forces that want to channel our every move along officially
approved paths, I walk down the middle of the riverbed. Oh, I’m such a rebel !




Standley Chasm, where the walls glow bright red at mid-day.







The Chasm is even more developed, now it's a business. It was once a
wild clamber up the creek bed, over fallen trees and rocks to the chasm.
Now there are tracks, not quite wheelchair friendly yet, that let you know
this is no longer Outback, it is “an attraction".

Pay to get in / follow the path / buy an ice cream at the kiosk. I can’t find
the man giving donkey rides or the one running the merry-go-round -
they must be away at an administration meeting, deciding where to
put the candy-floss machine.




Splashes of colours, other than red, in pools at the foot of the chasm.










As I leave Standley Chasm a pall of smoke is spreading over the western
horizon. A controlled burn-off extends for about sixty kilometres - looks like
this one has made a bid for freedom.







Serpentine Gorge and Ormiston Gorge are passed by - I am all gorged-out.
The ochre pits also get a miss. It is not a long ride today, though the heat has
been tiring. My face tingles as sun over-powers sunscreen, and smoke
makes my eyes itch.



Even so, I can’t resist an interesting place name, and Ellery Creek Big Hole
intrigues me - I want to know how big is “big”.






The fun police have beaten me here.

No diving ! No swinging from trees !
No fun please, keep to the path, no laughing !



Just a few meters from the no swinging sign … a swing!
I’m relieved to see it. So long as authority is told where it can stick its signs
and its granny-state instructions, there is still hope.





The tenacity with which plants cling to life out here is astonishing.
Gnarled roots and trunk seem to be hundreds of years old: fresh leaves
sprout from the branches. What caused such twisted growth, what will
it look in a hundred years?







Closing in on Glen Helen and the burn-off continues.







Glen Helen is impressive, set against a backdrop of sheer cliffs that are
pierced by a gorge just a few hundred metres from the resort.













There are three ways out of Glen Helen.

1. Back track to Alice on the sealed Namatjira Drive.

2. Continue west on dirt roads, then loop back to Alice via Hermannsburg
where the seal starts again on the Larapinta Drive.

3. The Mereenie Loop Road to Kings Canyon - 225 km, unsealed, sign-posted
4WD, and my maps show it as “Permit required”.


Should be an easy choice.





To be continued ……..



Bernard
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Old 11-01-2012, 01:39 AM   #37
mustardfj40
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Enjoy reading your report, hope to explore Australia some day.

Thanks.
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Old 11-01-2012, 03:09 PM   #38
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Birtles vs Australia



ACT 14
Glen Helen to Kings Canyon


In which we lift-um-foot, see tennis balls the size of tennis balls (and a dingo
the size of a dingo), then make to the top the easy way.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Unilaterally, without discussing the options with Grimpeur, Ringie or
Peggie, a decision is made ..... The Mereenie Loop Road

How bad can it be? It’s twenty kilometers shorter than the Dawson Development
Road - that has to be a plus.

I’m up early to walk down the river to the gorge mouth for shots of the sunrise.
Charlie and John come by when I am back and packing up. They are NZers on
a longer trip than mine, planning to visit Hermansburg then take the Mereenie
Loop Road to Kings Canyon. This is the clincher to my decision. If I get away a
bit before them and skip Hermansburg, they will catch up with me about halfway
through the MLR and will be backup if I have trouble or fail to appear at camp
later in the day.

They do not have permits for the MLR, and know nothing about needing them.
Maybe my maps are out of date, maybe the requirement has changed - either way,
I’m not going to check. Ignorance is bliss … and easier. The last thing I want is a
concerned official listing reasons not to use the MLR.





Mount Sonder, just past Glen Helen







It wouldn’t be the MLR without a “Lift-um-foot” photograph.
Birtles needs it translated : “Un-twist-um-wrist”.







The riding today is a challenge, more trying than the Dawson Development Road,
which I thought was tough going at the time. For most of the way there is a choice
between corrugations which shake Birtles almost to bits, or sand that threatens
to upturn us at every second. For short stretches there are sections of grooved
rock, rough but preferable to the other two surfaces. We stop only at the observation
point for Gosse's Bluff and when the sand forces us to a standstill. I’m trying to
get as far along as possible before Charlie and John catch up.



Ever wonder where all the old tennis balls go ?







Birtles gets his end of day check at the Kings Canyon camp ground. He has done
well, no damage, just a couple of loose nuts - exactly how I feel after all the hammering.

John and Charlie have not appeared, but a bouncy lady does. She invites me,
and everyone else she passes, to the cafe later where she and her partner
are performing rock music. "It will be the only free thing you will get around here,"
she tells me. I hear them later in the evening, too far away to tell whether they
are in tune or not. Like bagpipes on a distant hill, it’s probably best that way.


Towards twilight, a dingo wanders into camp. A Large Man, looking pink
around the edges, emerges from the showers, sees it and yells
"There's a dingo in the camp! There's a dingo in the camp!"

So excited is Large Man that his voice breaks into a falsetto for the second
sentence; so excited are near-by children that they squeal and run in random
directions. Anxious parents chase after their children, catching them up into the
air out of harms way while Large Man struts, proud to have saved so many
from certain death, or worse. The dingo looks puzzled and walks into the bushes.

Later that night Mr Dingo returns to nose the area. He walks by my tent, looks
at me and passes within a couple of meters, not frightened or aggressive,
just cautious. Then, there is a call in the distance, he stops and listens, lifts
his head and returns the call with three long howls. It is a magnificent sound,
spine chilling in a wonderful way. I want hear it again, but he has orders from
mum - come home now - and he trots purposefully away.

Too late for a second dose of glory, Large Man reappears brandishing a torch,
sweeping it around the camp and, for some reason, into the lower branches
of trees. He moves in circles, flashing this way, that way, and up, eager to
save even more campers from the lurking terror. Eventually he returns to
his tent, resigning himself to a single act of heroism for the day… and what
an act - it will be recounted to children, grandchildren and any who will listen:

“Did I tell you how I saved a whole camp full of people from a savage dingo?”
“Yes, Grampa, lots of times.”
“Well, it was like this…”




Two-legged dingo? Slow shutter speed has blurred his right legs.







Dawn is starting to lighten the sky and the canyon is free of busses when
I arrive, though there are a few other individual early birds. The short and easy
River Walk is too short and easy, but gives views of sunrise from the
bottom of the canyon.











The longer Rim Walk starts with a very steep climb, almost a staircase up the
left hand canyon wall. I have come across several park tracks that start with a
difficult section, maybe deliberately to weed out any who may have problems
should the difficult section occur later on the trail.

Grimpeur would love it, though you don’t always have to punish yourself to
enjoy the scenery. There is a third track, the 22km Giles, going to Kathleen
Springs and starting on the right hand side of the canyon mouth. It is heavily
signposted as being for “Giles Track Walkers Only” which seems a bit redundant
since being able to read the sign means you are on the Giles track and therefore
you are a Giles Track walker. Anyway, it is nice to have confirmation of who and
what you are, and this now confirmed Giles Track walker does the first couple of
kilometers. They also happen to be last section of the rim walk - an easier way
of seeing the canyon from the top without having to climb a gut-buster staircase.

The scale is deceptive. To get a perspective, there are two people on the rim,
top right to the left of the tree.











Sandstone domes along the top of the rim. Look a bit like small versions
of the Bungle Bungle formations.






















Mr Lizard’s living is easy, warming in the sun and picking off a trail of ants
that passes under his nose. No matter how many he licks up, they keep
climbing out of the trenches and marching forward.

They have their orders - “Take and hold rock 217”
No big wet sticky thing coming out of the sky will stop them.







To be continued ……………………


Bernard
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:28 AM   #39
nathanthepostman
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I never realised you were such a mentalist....

Awesome report Bernard. Love the way you interact with stuff. Makes me want to come ride with you.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:59 PM   #40
platypus121 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanthepostman View Post
I never realised you were such a mentalist....

Awesome report Bernard. Love the way you interact with stuff. Makes me want to come ride with you.


Thanks Nathan, I really appreciate your feedback.
When I tell Birtles that Dot's partner has emailed, he will have an oil leak - he's so very much in love with Dot.

"Interact"
Yes, at CT-speed you're almost a permanent feature of the environment so it's possible to get on personal
terms with what's out there (and usually missed at +100kph). It was easy to stop quickly to rescue
sunbathing lizards and other creatures from off the road - I love the CT for that.

The offer of a CT in NZ is still open if you're down this way.
Also, Birtles hates retirement and longs to feel once more the gentle impact of flies on his headlamp and to
hear the whistle of his spokes as he speeds downhill. He has offered to take me around Tasmania
(either Feb or Apr, not finalised yet) so that's another ride you are welcome to join.


Cheers,
Bernard

PS Grimpeur, Ringie and Peggie all send their regards. (Peggie #096 is the only one who
knows you personally but he has told the others about Dot's adventures).
.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:53 AM   #41
Owlseye
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Birtles... Have you forsaken us? 35 cm of fresh white snow makes me long for more epic tales of bull koalas and stealthy dingos, and brave flashlight waving large men. Please come back
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:06 AM   #42
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Ditto Owlseye,

Come on Bernard, tell us what happened next...
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Old 11-09-2012, 01:27 AM   #43
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Quote:
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Ditto Owlseye,

Come on Bernard, tell us what happened next...


My apologies for the delay. I've been on a tour around the lesser known roads and tracks of the North Island
of NZ with a great group of AusTouring members. Just got in and too shagged to post now so tomorrow it will be.

Birtles is furious at my tardiness and at being jilted for a larger bike.


Cheers
Bernard
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Old 11-09-2012, 08:39 PM   #44
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Birtles vs Australia



ACT 15
Kings Canyon to Kata Tjuta


In which Trees are unerringly identified, I give up the Fluglehorn, there
is a Lot of Red and Many Heads, Grimpeur climbs, there are Dancing Lessons.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




On the road from Kings Canyon, a Eucalypt makes a welcome oasis for Birtles and me,






and bees find their oasis in a leaking pressure valve on a water pipeline.







Eucalypts - living art galleries, and havens for many of the smaller residents of Earth.







Curtin Springs has free camping, but we push on to Yulara where the tent
area is excellent and reasonably priced considering its location and monopoly
over the Ayers Rock area.


I stop to practise identifying trees, something I have become quite expert at -
From left to right: Large Desert Oak, medium Desert Oak, Desert Oak, another
Desert Oak, group of young Desert Oaks, three Desert Oaks, Desert Oak,
big Desert Oak.







“Little Red”







Kota is at Yulara, having cycled the Stuart and Lasseter Highways, 443 kilometres,
since leaving Alice five days ago. I chide him for his laxness - he has averaged
a mere 88.6 kilometers a day, 1.4 km short of his daily target of 90 km.
Irony has never had a passport to cross the language barrier so he takes me
seriously and earnestly promises to get back on target.

Kota is another who wants to climb, leaving camp at 5:30am the next morning,
time enough to reach the sunrise observation area before Big Yellow comes
up, and the Rock itself before the crowds arrive. I figure leaving at 6:00am
will get us there for sunrise, but miscalculate what speed and distance is
possible in the desert’s pre-dawn, sub-zero temperatures. It is breaking my
own rule of avoiding riding when the creatures of the night are partying,
but at least the danger is lessened by our speed which is reduced to suit
the candle glimmer of Birtles’ headlight. The tinted visor is no help, either.
In the gloom we miss the observation area turn off and end up at the Rock,
hands frozen around the grips.


By the time the sun comes up I can move several fingers,
but it is doubtful I will ever play the flugelhorn again.







Mr Moloch comes out with the sun, trying to get a bit of heat into his body.
He’s a thorny devil, but very passive and doesn’t seem to mind being picked up.






A ride around the perimeter road to see the Rock’s changing faces.













Back at the car park we see a string of ants already on the march to the
summit. Kota is limbering up, ready to climb.







So is Grimpeur. This is what he has been waiting for.
He already has his boots off and will climb bare-foot.







Kota is going to the top and beyond, I plan to go to the end of the chain hand-hold.
After that, the path flattens out (good), the track narrows (bad) and vertigo soars (terrible).
I know this from previous climbs and am not ambitious. I know my limits - when my head spins, down I go.



From partway up Uluru (the monolith formerly known as “Ayers Rock”)
we get a good view of Kata Tjuta (the formations formerly known as “Mount Olga”)
in the distance (the far away place formerly known as “way over there”).







As the chain ends, vertigo starts. I flatten and cling like a limpet to the rock surface,
pass Grimpeur up to Kota, and gasp out

”Leave me, I’m done for. It’s up to you now… finish mission.
Take Grimpeur… get him… get him to… the top good luck good ….”








Using the Braille Method I make my way ground level - lovely, safe, ground level.
The Rock looms above me, gloating in victory, but I am content knowing that
somewhere up there a very small bear with a very big heart is fulfilling his dream.







Birtles’ front carrier has a note attached. Lyall and Kaye have recognised him
and have left directions so I can find them and have a cuppa back at camp.

Which is really rather fortunate, because the chances of getting a drink here
have been severely compromised. Bob Dylan (the artist formerly known as
Robert Zimmerman)
foresaw this sorry state of affairs -
“The pump don’t work ‘cause the vandals took the handles.”







Birtles, glowing in the sunset.






-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



The layout of Yulara is exceptional. Accommodation ranges from $1026 to
$15 a night with each style of lodging having its own area and facilities to
protect those arriving via Bentley from the sight of a CT rider …. and vise-versa.
Everything blends into the desert and is arranged to have the smallest impact
on the environment. All very commendable.

Which makes it just a tiny wee bit disappointing to find Ayers Rock and
Mount Olga have been positioned so far apart. Closer placement would
have meant a huge reduction in travel costs and CO2 emissions.
Maybe climate change was not a reality back then.

The road to Kata Tjuta, like that to Uluru, curls and twists through the desert
so that we view our target from several angles. Just before arriving, the
Great Central Road swings off to the west and tempts us for a few kilometers.

Just a few.







Warning ! Cliché photograph follows ….
Karingana Lookout on the Valley of the Winds circuit walk.







One of the “Many Heads” which is what Kata Tjuta translates to.







Only two of the previous twelve walks around Kata Tjuta are still open to
the public, which is a shame as these cover only a small fraction of what there
is to see here. It’s a cultural thing, so there would be no point in complaining.



Ignoring the warning sign and displaying an appalling lack of cultural sensitivity,
I peek into the area reserved for Sacred Break-Dancing Ceremonies and pick
up a few moves to impress the folks back at home.







To be continued ……………



Bernard
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Old 11-10-2012, 03:39 AM   #45
nathanthepostman
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'By the time the sun comes up I can move several fingers,
but it is doubtful I will ever play the flugelhorn again.'

Awesomeness. Looking forward to next installment...
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