A Short Interlude: The East McDonald Range and swinging a pick for Lorna - A treadling Hyohakusha - CycleBlaze

August 5, 2017

A Short Interlude: The East McDonald Range and swinging a pick for Lorna

Short Intelude: East McDonald Range
180 km

After a couple of days rest at Lorna's, I thought I'd make an effort to finally get into the E McDonald Range, but this time via the paved Ross Highway. GJ Coops wrote about it in his ZigZag journal and it read like it would be worth visiting. It is...

Ghostly river red gums - a stand out feature of the Alice Springs landscape.
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I got a later than usual start (1100) and pedalled into the park just before sunset. In hindsight it was the best time of day to enter the park as the Trephina Gorge and hills look spectacular in the late afternoon light. I spent three nights there.

Campsite Trephina Gorge - tents only, no caravans or camper vans allowed
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Cycling into the gorge in the late afternoon light.
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From there I did the short ride to Ross River Station and their campsite (with hot showers). I spent two nights there and went for a short ride to Ndala Gorge on day two. There are 10,000 year old petroglyphs in the canyon, if you know where to find them. I had to head back before dark set in, so didn't get to explore.... next time.

Highlights for me:
* Poppy and Emily and their son Tucker. Those girls could sing...
* Jim the ex Royal Marine
* The gorge walks and camping under the bluff
* The all night dust storm (I was spitting/snorting dust for days) on night three
* The grey nomads from Adelaide at Ross River. They didn't ask the mundane simple questions, but we dove straight into global/ personal questions that kept us entertained for hours. Tough questions were asked and honest answers were given...

Ndala Gorge road - killed my tyre
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Next day on the ride back, it was all strong headwinds, so it took me 1.5 hrs longer to do the 85 km return run. My Knobby Nic front tyre flatted, so I just swapped out the tube, promising to check both tyre and tube the next day. And so I did.... The tyre was riddled with thorns and the tube riddled with holes. My back tyre (Marathon Mondial) is fine; fairly new and plenty of tread - it will last the distance. But the Nobby Nic is not going to make it; it's about 3/4 worn and too easily punctured. Time for a new front tyre.

New tyre - a Crossmark II - certainly looks like it can cope.With a thorn proof tube and goo it should last the distance to Kalgoorlie.... maybe
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I've replaced the Nic with a Maxxis Crossmark II and will put a thornproof tube with goo inside. My front rim is a Sun Ringle RhynoLite. It's a bullet proof rim, but a real bitch to remove tyres. Due to the rim profile (wide and shallow) it is almost impossible to get some tyres on and off, the Crossmark II included. I snakebit the first tube and broke a tyre lever getting the tyre back on. But once successfully mounted it should last the duration of the trip. If you ever find yourself in Alice Springs needing a tyre, the Smith Street Velo bike shop seems to know their bikes and certainly had the best variety of tyres at reasonable (by Alice Springs) prices.

A few more nights here trying to repay Lorna's generosity by doing a couple of chores on her property, then off to Uluru...

Post Script (23/08/2017): I volunteered to dig ditches to hook up Lorna's caravan to power and waste water and that has kept me busy here for another week or so. It was good exercising a different set of muscles, but now that I've been about a month off the bike it will take some getting used to long distance grind...

Trencher, pick & shovel: working a different set of muscles...
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Permits for the Great Central Road

Technically, permits from the Aboriginal Land Councils are required to travel the Great Central Road: One for the NT (Uluru to the WA border) and another for WA (from Laverton to the NT border). In practice, if you stay out of the local communities, no one ever checks and most through travellers (cars and bikes) don't bother with them. Just out of curiosity, I've just now applied for both. The NT permit was done online and arrived immediately by email. The WA permit is also completed online and is currently being assessed by the land council. It probably would have also been approved instantly had I been travelling by car and promised to take less than 3 days to complete the journey.

Yeah, yeah, I know: had I just kept a low profile they never would have known... But, like all systems (indigenous included) if you don't push at the boundaries, they will never change. I seriously doubt they will post a guard at the state border with specific instructions to turn me around...

I'll keep you posted on the results.

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