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Old 08-10-2013, 07:00 AM   #106
Hoonatic Ty OP
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Location: Exmouth, Western Australia
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Farina

The road north loosely follows the old Ghan Railway route. It is dotted along the way with sidings and settlements that previously provided the steam trains water and in return, was used to transport people, goods and livestock in the area. Many of these have slipped away into the dirt, dust and rocks with footings of buildings hinting of previous signs of life. I have never seen so many ruins of buildings before. Every so many kilometres, another ruin could be found. Not only that they always had me wondering what on earth could they think of producing from the desolate land out here!?

When they moved the railway to its current position, these sidings and settlements soon died, thats if the local harsh conditions hadn't killed it already.

Volunteers have done a great job restoring a few of the buildings preserving what was a some what optimistic town to begin with. They have got the old underground bakery going again selling bread and basic bakery delights during the tourist season to help raise funds for further restoration works. If I remember correctly from the great information signs, the word "Farina" means flour in Spanish, they believed that the area would support wheat and barley crops. I'm guessing that they made this expectant decision during some wetter seasons. The prevailing local conditions along with the new rail alignment far to the west put a end to this remote town.

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The now working, underground bakery.
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Window to the world...
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Restored livestock rail cars.
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Old machinery
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Building ruins like this and the shadowing steam train, water tanks are found all the way along the Old Ghan Railway.
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:30 AM   #107
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Great photos and story Ty. Keep it coming!
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:15 AM   #108
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Oodnadatta Track

Riding through this part of the country makes you realise how vast and remote Australia is. The miles and miles of dirt road and distance between the small outback towns are impressive.

From Copley, it was my last contact with the outside world for some time. If I had known I probably would have let a few people know where I was heading and my general intentions. Not really knowing the answers myself was a contributing factor to my lack of comms. I was surprised of the total absence of mobile phone reception at towns, maybe I assumed too much? Maree, William Creek, Oodnadatta nothing. Internet, ha! yeah right. For some people I guess, this would terrify them. Me, I just rode on into the unknown with other things on my mind, adventure, escape and motorbiking experiences.

Mmm, whats down this road...?
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Recognition to the explorers of the area, way before my time.
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More big signs, this iconic track I'll leave for another time.
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Maree


The Maree Hotel, unfortunately I had just missed the annual "Camel Cup" run over the previous two days. Whilst I sipped my cold Coopers beer I watch all the hung over patrons and staff gingerly going their ways.


You come across some strange things in the desert...
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This 'dog' in the distance is one of the giant steam train water towers, its head is actually a whole large car! To take a photo up close it would lose its effect, I'm a little far away here but regardless, the sculpture is impressive, especially when you come down the track and see a giant dog on the horizon...!


Everything is far away, even the closest towns, these are dirt track kilometres too!
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Well I can't really see it from here, I'm going to have to go look.
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Looking out to the lake


I stayed the night at William Creek to get a small plane flight out over the expansive Lake Eyre. My photos and footage don't do the experience any justice.

Looks like he is running the Garmin Zumo 660 like me!
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There was still a little water left in the lake.




My "Bucket List" is getting shorter by the day, I better think of a few more things to put on it...


One of the many bridges of the old Ghan Railway. This one I called Dead Eagle Bridge. Whilst taking a break and a few photos here I found a fresh, massive Wedgetail Eagle dead in the scrub next to the bridge. Sadly the magnificent creature had been shot in the chest and its talons and head has been removed for I presume, trophies. I didn't hang round much longer, leaving the scene wondering in my helmet, What the fuck? Why the fuck?
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The dirt highway went on and on. The focus required for such long stretches of dirt at high speeds is crazy. It seems that everything just wants you to meet your doom, random rocks, potholes, gravel track ridges, large lipped cattle grids, giant goannas, you name it! Lose focus out here and you can pay a costly price. Mind you, I don't think that four wheel drivers feel nearly as exhilarated when they pull in for fuel or at their next stop, happy to be alive and in one piece!!!


These roads just keep going and going...
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Algebuckina Bridge, South Australias largest ever bridge constructed. Still very impressive even though it was built all those years ago.
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Oodnadatta, the sign says it all...
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The Pink Roadhouse Oodnadatta. A rare clear moment between the dust storm "Whilly Whillys" that prevailed down the main street whilst I was there. I didn't mind sitting inside, eating a couple of punnets of massive strawberries just delivered. My first fresh fruit in weeks! Simple pleasures, maximum joy.


Throughout this area, for hundreds of km's I had been reading and following pink, signs, usually "44 gallon" drum ends welded to a star picket or metal stake. These gave welcome reference points to where I was, or where I was going next. They were hand made by a bloke Adam Plate from the Pink Roadhouse. Apparently he is responsible for the naming of the "Oodnadatta Track" to work in with the other "Birdsville and Strzelecki Tracks in the area. Unfortunately Adam died in a tragic accident in the Adelaide Targa Rally. These signs survive him helping out travellers like me to the area. A great legacy that is appreciated by many.

I had a few more hours of sunlight so I kept going, Australias Geographical Centre was calling me...
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:25 AM   #109
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Cheers Baz

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Originally Posted by Baz131 View Post
Great photos and story Ty. Keep it coming!
Thanks Baz,

I'm grateful your enjoying the adventure! We'll have to get that Trumphy of yours out for a part of it. Hopefully my next story won't deter you....

Cheers
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:23 AM   #110
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Blood, Sweat and Nearly Tears!

Not far out from Oodnadatta I left the track, riding north through several cattle stations. Although the dirt tracks were in reasonable condition it gave me a better appreciation for my mate Hydro and his fellow road train truck drivers. To get big cattle trucks through here, taking stock too or from markets, other stations for better feed etc must require a great faith in ability and machinery.

Drifting out of soft sandy corners, bouncing over rocky rubble, across far reaching clay pans and everything in between had me in concentration overdrive. My solo situation not preferable but unavoidable with my biking quest.

Another strange solo moment in adventure motorbiking time. This big brute I spotted from miles away, he too solo, standing out against a vast red rocky backdrop.
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The day had been long but my ice coffee drunk in the afternoon at Oodnadatta still had me pinging. I don't drink coffee normally, always considering it since a child, for "grown ups". I guess I still don't consider myself 'old enough' for it yet. I road on after dark with my spotties helping out, the slow speed the tracks demanded let me idle along wondering what was outside my beam spread. Finally I stopped up past Eringa, fearful of missing out on sights unseen after crossing some dry creek beds and passing some rare large trees.

I laid in my swag that night thinking of the amazing scenes and places I had been for the day. My last thought I clearly remember, after the dusty roads I had ridden that day I needed to check my air filter in the morning!

At about 2am I was roused from my sleep by the light pitter patter of rain on the canvas of my swag. My only reaction was a smug thought that this will settle some of the dust I was previously worried about.

A couple of hours later I had to get out of my comfortable cocoon for a piss. Slipping over in the dark my head lamp revealed a totally different, confusing scenario. Mud? Hang on, was this in some fine print I missed for desert travel? Am I still dreaming? No, this is rain, and thats water up to the first buckle inside my riding boots... Whilst standing there relieving myself adding to the quagmire around me I pondered my fate. My decision didn't take long too come, change my course and destination from The Lamberts Geographical Centre of Australia to Mount Dare. This rain was set in, possibly for days and I had to get out of it.

The morning confirmed my fears, the rain had soaked everything and changed the state of play. Rolling up my swag I had no idea what I was about to face. Putting the bike in gear and riding past the welcoming sign I had camped near, it told me it was only 65km to the Mount Dare Hotel. I naively though I would be there for breakfast. I was deceived with the easy first 500metres of coarse river sand type track. Then it turned to red clay mush...
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I found that the soft track edges I had favoured the days before from the corrugations was slippery and deadly. Inviting as it looked, the water filled ruts were far safer and the only option.
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Sections like these were rare but welcomed, the mud washed from my tyre treads and the stable hard clay underneath gave me a chance to rest my legs and hips with my feet up on the pegs.
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This video gives you a basic idea of my day before it got even worse... Click to watch.
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My feet turned into stabilising outriggers as I "walked" the bike through kilometres of sticky mud. Step by step, metre by metre. I got the bike into 2nd gear about 3 times in the whole 65kms, the second gear idle speed was just too fast for the tread clogging conditions. How I didn't burn out first gear riding the clutch to reduce the speed I don't know. The bike amazed me constantly, firing back into life each time after sliding down and out in the mud. In fear of sounding crazy, it was like she knew of our dire situation and was matching my efforts to continue on. I think she wanted to get out of the mess as much as me! Each time she started from a stall or a fall it did wonders for my confidence to battle on. If she didn't start on few real trying moments I might of just sat down in the mud and wept. She didn't let me, never a protest, staunch with her resilience. My god she earnt a few pats on the tank and "Good Girl's" !!!
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My front tyre kept jamming in the forks with the clay build up, turning it into a 'ski' to steer with. "Get a high front mud guard for the Tenere" they said, "It will stop the mud jamming up the wheel" they said. Yeah well...


The bike "seized" a couple of times throughout the day, unsettling the nerves with thoughts that it had given up with its ever faithful service. It was just the build up of mud jamming the chain, sprockets, brake and tyre in the wheel arch of the rear guard! I had to dig the mud out to get the rear wheel turning again. The wonderful feeling of the back wheel turning again after releasing the clutch lever was unbelievable! I didn't care that it was trying its best to overtake my front wheel at every chance, it was moving!


Stacking the bike in the slippery goo was soul destroying but character building. I found myself not even getting angry. I think it was some survival instinct I never knew I had that took over. Venting frustration would have used valuable energy required for the battle I was fighting. Adversity was accepted, there was no one else out here to help me. I just had to get on with it...


Picking the bike back up required unpacking it totally. Even then it was a struggle. The mud stuck to the bottom of my boots didn't allow any traction, sliding away from underneath me in a strange moonwalk (mudwalk?) as I tried lifting the handlebars and rear grab rail.


Rocks had previously been my enemy, now they were my best friends. Sections of the muddy track were totally unrideable and I went bush (rock?) following the track as parallel as possible according to the GPS. When you are riding over boulders the size of tennis balls to basket balls and it was far easier than the what the track offered you know your in the shit! These rocks were even sinking into the mud from the weight of the bike and myself going over them! Momentum was the key, hesitation rarely was rewarded. I lost my side stand spring after a crash in the rocks. This took away any easy rest or dismount from the bike. I learnt somethings about myself dealing with the hardship. A lot more is achievable than possibly believed. The unique isolation and difficulty brought out something else from within.

Here is a video I took at a trying time. Sorry about the audio, the waterproof GoPro housing muffling my ponderings and report. Basically the bikes temp light had come on and she was over heating (yes, in the rain) from the relentless work I was making her do. The track was too slippery to ride on but I had found a rocky survey 'shot' line carved into the low spinifex about 300 metres away. This proved a savour bypassing the impassable. Click to watch.
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Whilst waiting for the bike to cool down and dig for some reserves from within a decked out Landcruiser with a camper trailer in tow came along. The trailer drifting out the back end of the four wheel drive until it hit the side of the tracks embankment where it would bounce and send the whole outfit drifting to the other side of the track, the pinball motion would then repeat! What a sight! They pulled up to check that I was ok. By the looks on their faces I think that they just needed a break from their own terrifying situation... After assuring them I was ok, the good folks set off on their wild ride to Mount Dare, escaping the muddy mess at Dalhousie Springs. I watched amazed as they got the 100 series Landcuiser up into 3rd gear before the vehicle and trailer gained any forward momentum, where he backed off and found a happy medium for the speed and power required for a safe slide down the track.

Believe it or not the conditions got worse! I didn't get the camera out for the rest of the day as my priority was survival! The loss of my side stand spring didn't make things any easier. Try and get off a loaded adventure bike in the mud with no side stand and see how you go...

I eventually made it into Mount Dare, the 65kms taking me from 6am until I slid in a 5pm in the afternoon. No breakfast, no lunch, I had drank my 3 litre Camel bak and most of my 6 litre MSR water bladder.

The standing ovation from the four wheel drivers taking refuge in the hotel and on the veranda was humbling. They just couldn't believe some was out here on a motorbike! Talking to many later that night, they commented on feeling embarrassed telling others of their trying plights getting too Mount Dare and then seeing me ride/slide in covered in mud.

The night I got in I was invited over to a camp by a group of blokes doing a "boys only trip" through the Australian outback visiting a few select, remote destinations. Man were they set up! Lenny the groups extraordinary cook had us dining on scotch fillet roast with peppercorn sauce accompanied with select fine vegetables. I could not believe the reversal of my fortunes! When I thought it couldn't get any better, sweets came out, sautéed fresh pears and dates with a caramelised sauce and cream! Thank you Lenny!!!

I made many friends there for the next three days until the closed roads were opened again for travel. A few were intrigued to find out if I was either clinically insane or super human? "A bit of both" I confidently informed them. They would have been forgiven for thinking I was part cowboy too. Try as I might to hide my pain, I had developed a particular swagger. I had chaffed out the soft inner thigh area between my legs, chaffed doesn't really explain it properly, I would say destroyed! If I could of brought myself to look at what I had done to myself, I'm sure it would have resembled something like a train wreck! The things you do in the name of adventure...
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:52 PM   #111
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Looks like a great adventure !

Thanks for taking the time to write it up
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:38 PM   #112
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Awesome, another Yamaha 660 RR, that probably won't end due to a breakdown. The others know who you are.

Tell us about all the problems you aren't having.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:32 AM   #113
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Outstanding RR Ty. You tell a great story and your photos are amazing.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:38 PM   #114
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Hoontatic... or is it loonatic!!! after that effort of mud bathing
well done mate, i bet while you were trying to get through all that mud you were wishing you were back in the high country

top effort mate and this awesome RR keeeeeps going!
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:50 AM   #115
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The Bill is in the mail!

Hi Mate!

Generous yes, silly no.

Lenny, Anthony (Daniher... Yes that one), Dr Eddy and Dr Lightfoot have drawn up the bill.

Your address?
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Old 08-18-2013, 02:19 AM   #116
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Bill? Your hospitality is priceless!!!

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Hi Mate!

Generous yes, silly no.

Lenny, Anthony (Daniher... Yes that one), Dr Eddy and Dr Lightfoot have drawn up the bill.

Your address?
Hey braaap!

Please pass on to the rest of the lads my sincere appreciation for your hospitality.

Thank you for the amazing feed and also letting me roll out my swag on your cabin decking instead of the mud!

Your agreeable company and generosity is priceless. Remembering the joy of the exquisite dinner and sweets makes me smile every time!

Mmmm, address? well that maybe difficult. #1 Swag Site, somewhere in Australia...

Thanks again!

Ty
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Hoonatic Ty screwed with this post 10-16-2013 at 12:16 AM
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Old 08-18-2013, 06:05 AM   #117
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Geographical Centre of Australia

The sunshine that I was expecting to see in the desert finally came out and the tracks became usable again. There was a mass exodus of four wheel drive campers keen to get going as the small natural phenomena had put them all behind in their schedules. Some had to change plans totally and take detours to make up the lost time. Brad, one of the Mount Dare workers scored a couple of large, brand new, swags that some Japanese tourists had just left floating around in a muddy puddle in the camp grounds. They obviously had, had enough of the wet and drove out leaving everything covered in mud, wet and soggy behind.
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I actually stayed another day and helped out around the hotel and camp grounds. Apart of it was due to the "healing" required and also because I had gone out with the Mount Dare Hotel owner Dave to rescue some bogged Four Wheel Drivers on the first day of the road reopening and saw that there was still a bit of drying out to go. I was in no rush and still relatively mud shy...
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I eventually took off north for the "Lamberts Geographical Centre of Australia".
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In my ships mess onboard the OMS Endurance we have 2 large National Geographic posters up on the walls. One is of the World and the other, my favourite, of Australia. As I sit and eat each day during my 5 week swing at sea, I look and read about all the interesting places to see. This was one of them. Furtherest away from my beloved ocean but the closest I can be to every beach in Australia! It was bloody tough getting here on the bike at times but worth all the blood, sweat and gears! I reckon I'll smile when I look at that poster next...

Riding into the Centre of Australia. Click to Watch.
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Made it!
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My good little girl.
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The flag pole as you may recognise is a small replica of the Australian Parliament House I had stood in front of weeks before in Canberra. There was a certainly a lack of bullshit in the air at this one, even the bull dust had been settled with the muddy surrounds.

Stoked with a personal milestone achieved I set my course back to Mount Dare to refuel in preparation to cross the Simpson Desert from West to East. With satisfaction buoying me I took on the anxiety of another large challenge of my abilities. I had read so much of this desert in preparation, all of the information promised testing conditions. I wasn't about to take its demanding circumstances lightly. I admit I was scared, I didn't want to die trying, even more so, I didn't want to die wondering...

Halfway back to Mount Dare I had to stop and take a photo of this sign. I thought it was humorous with it and the previous one claiming that the government was spending millions and fixing the roads. Maybe the road was actually worse than its current muddy, almost near impassable state?
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My humour was short lived. As I swung my leg to get it over the seat the left knee of my grounded leg made an audible "Pop!" and in an instant, I found myself lying in the dirt on my back with the bike falling away from me. I didn't even have time to put my hand out to break my fall.
I knew straight away I had blown my knee out... WTF? Between memory flashes of previous cruciate ligament injuries playing football and surfing I laid there in pain and total disbelief! Nooooo!

Now please don't think I'm some walking (riding) disaster zone! I am pretty cautious and have to be in the isolated environments I find myself in. Appreciate the fact I am riding up to 8-10 hours every day for weeks and weeks at a time. This, without doubt puts me in a higher probability of coming to grief in some way or another. I know and understand it isn't the best to be doing this sort of stuff alone. It just goes to show I suppose, that even hopping back on your bike has its dangers! Uncool as it was, I would rather this than stepping off the bike in a high speed miscalculation. Keep positive Ty!

As with my recent trials of adversity I didn't waste time with self pity. I also knew from previous experience I had to get going before the knee inflated to abnormal proportions and the pain let itself be known. With my well rehearsed bike salvage routine I had her up on two wheels again and was heading down the road focusing on the track instead of myself.

Just before crossing over the border from the Northern Territory into South Australia, insult was added to my injury when the bike suddenly seized and stalled without warning. I sat there gutted on my bike with my bung knee, wondering had I "Killed a Chinaman"? The slow awkward dismount revealed my problem. Initially I thought the dismount was easier than usual then I realised I had lost my swag. Bloody great! Then I found it! jammed up under my back mud guard! Bloody great! Pulling out the swag I was perplexed with the amount of small bird feathers stuck to my chain, swing arm and tyre. I knew I certainly hadn't hit a Chinaman with the bike and I am sure I would have seen this bird! Then it dawned on me. It was the down from inside my brand new, $250, you beauty, Exped inflatable mattress! Bloody great!
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With my remaining hours of daylight I continued to the Hotel for a refuel and then kept going to Dalhousie Springs via the 'rough track'. I met Dave the owner of Mount Dare halfway along, welding up the suspension on one of those super dooper camper trailers. The service he provides out there is sometime nothing short of miracle working. During my stay out there, I heard a few crew pass comment on the prices charged for vehicle repair or recovery. I had to bite my tongue with a better explanation than that "Super Cheap" or "Bunnings" isn't just down the road here! Coming from an isolated community myself, I understand the cost of living in such remote places.

In my experience, I rang up Dave a week or so out from getting to his place and explained my rear tyre would be well worn by the time I got there. I gave him my brand and size and he picked up one from Alice Springs and had it waiting for me once I arrived. The price, not much more than what I've paid in a city bike shop!

I got into Dalhousie Springs well after dark. The Aboriginals called these springs "Healing Waters" I held not much hope for the gaping holes in my swag to be healed but maybe I could get this weary body treated and feeling better...
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Hoonatic Ty screwed with this post 10-16-2013 at 12:21 AM
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:09 AM   #118
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Dalhousie Springs

On the bike I don't exactly have much room to carry a wardrobe of clothes. Each piece is chosen and utilised for its particular merits. Being continually on the move doesn't really allow for regular washing of these clothes! The underwear gets a rinse out every other day when bathing, but thats about it. I at times, am shocked, sometimes impressed, with my clothes aroma. This usually becomes quite evident when I sit down on my seat and the rush of air comes up and out through my jacket collar and into my helmet!

I was woken from my sleep before day break by movement out side the canvas of my swag. Laying there uneasily as I "felt" something close by pacing around. I initially tried the 'be really quiet and still approach' but my heightened awareness peaked when this wild animal came sniffing way too close to my head! I put on my growliest voice and told what ever it was to bugger off! Undeterred it came back for more time and again. I had to face my unseen foe, I just didn't feel safe in my swag any more with my new large access points I had put in the protective outer shell the previous day.

Without any finesse I crawled out with my one good leg and came face to face with a mangy Dingo. I can't really blame him with his persistence, if I was as hungry as he looked and smelling something that smelt half decomposed as what I did. I too would be keen for an easy feed. Realising I wasn't quite as dead as I smelt, he kept his distance and left me to my strange hopping dance as I got prepared to bathe in the healing waters.

Hobbling slowly down the path to the springs I witnessed a cool moment. The point where everything is silent in the semi darkness then the first bird makes its call, this followed by anothers individuals particular tune. Then gradually it progresses to an amazing crescendo of every bird in the area. Nature can be terifiying one moment then amazingly beautiful the next.

Sunrise strip off.
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Beautiful serenity
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Slipping into these warm 36 degree celsius artesian waters is awesome.
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The waters here come from considerable depths and are millions of years old.
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This place should not be missed, for the travel weary body it is bliss. It is a great place to soak and wash away the dirt and dust. It felt like I could poach myself all day in there. The small guppies endemic to the springs, tickling as they compete with each other nibbling on any of your dead skin.

My Dalhousie Digs
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The two extremes of camping. Before this guy packed up his generator, solar panels, satellite dish and other various 'necessities' we had a good laugh together at our vastly different ideas of getting out there and amongst it in the great outdoors.
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My hungry Dingo
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Unfortunately the size of my knee had grown considerably over night and the lack of its strength spelt out to me in no uncertain terms that I could not take on the Simpson Desert and it's 1200 odd sand dunes. I changed my plan and plotted my exit from the desert country...
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:56 AM   #119
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Dalhousie Ruins

Riding through this amazing landscape can't be fully described properly, nor the photos show the expansive vista to be witnessed. It can change in an instant, "shape shifting" almost with clouds covering the sun or letting it in on the breath taking scene before you.
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Heading back south I came across the Dalhousie Ruins. The land was never ideal for pastoralism, various leases for sheep then cattle were abandoned over the years. In 1985 the area was declared Witjira National Park.

Evidence of concerted attempts to make a living from this harsh environment.
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Stockyards
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It is tough enough riding through this country in the cooler months. To live and work year round in such isolated, harsh conditions amazes me...
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:37 AM   #120
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Pedirka Siding

Riding out of the National Park and back into outback station country I came across more ruins. I told you there are heaps out here!

Pedirka is another example of the result of the Old Ghan Railway being moved leaving what ever is there to slowly weather away largely unnoticed except by the local cattle stock and intrepid travellers.



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Room with a view.
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Posturepedic bedding.




Toilets are out the back...




Dead but not quite buried.


Trains of another type now frequent this area, beware.


Keeping a good lookout for not only road trains I rode on...
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