Back on the road: Heading to Uluru - A treadling Hyohakusha - CycleBlaze

August 26, 2017

Back on the road: Heading to Uluru

Alice Springs to Ellery Creek Big Hole
85 km

Said my goodbyes to everyone the night before. I would have preferred a quiet night with Lorna, but we had a bit of a party when some new visitors rolled up in their Toyota Coaster motorhome. Carrie and her sister Sue were heading to a gathering of over 450 single women road travellers at Ross River. If they were all like Carrie that would be something to see.

Fairy Wrens kept me company at Lorna's, sometimes hopping up on to my lap looking for scraps.
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Oh well... For me, I got a very early start to the day: packed up the bike the night before and took advantage of the fact that I've been waking up in the wee hours over the past few days and not able to fall back to sleep. I was up and getting my breakfast at 0500 and on the road by 0700 in the morning. That doesn't happen very often with me.

The weather is warming up and the night wasn't too cold; 0700 felt much colder than the middle of the night piss call. The roads out here are busy though, even this early in the morning. There's a lot of tourist traffic in the W McDonald Ranges at this time of year. The Larapinta walking track runs down the spine of the range and it's become a popular track in the last couple of years, so add that to the general tourist traffic heading to Kings Canyon and Uluru and it equals a day's riding on a very busy narrow two lane road. I wore the orange safety vest all day. And everyone behaved themselves, so all was good.

Early morning view riding to Ellery Creek, tailwinds not shown.
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Everyone camping here at Ellery Creek is telling me I have to go to Ormiston Gorge beause they have a great cafe and the vanilla slice is not to be missed... might do it. Lotta Dingos howling tonight and they apparently go over the campsite in the middle of the night. All bags and stinky shoes are in the tent.

Got to the campsite around 1430, and settled in. It has a lot of day traffic, but the campsite was only half full and at $5.00 a person, it's pretty good value for the solo cyclist. I had a quick wash in the swimming hole, the water was surprisingly cold for the middle of a desert.

The Big Hole, appropriately named. Oh my, that water was cold.
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Big Hole, different view - water is still cold...
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Ellery Creek Big Hole to Ormiston Gorge
50 km

Last night one of the mountain bike cyclists showed surprise when I mentioned a wife. She didn't think that you could cycle for months on end and be married at the same time. My reply was that there are as many definitions of marriage as there are couples married. Not the first woman on this trip to look me straight in the eye and ask me that one. I think the next one that asks me that question will get a straight answer or better still, my wife's mobile number.

Ormiston Gorge is the target for today. It's about 50 km from Ellery Creek, so it should only take a few hours - about three at the speed that I ride.

And so it did, more or less exactly. It's now paved all of the 8 km to the campsite, which is very busy with day trippers from Alice Springs, grey nomads in their caravans/motor homes/campervans. Add the Larapinta Trail walkers and the backpackers to that and the cafe gets pretty busy. The cafe does make great coffee, cakes and food though. And Ormiston Gorge itself is rather spectacular. The hikers and cyclists camp separately, up past the kiosk and car campers: it's much quieter. And they have hot showers. Your $10.00 a night gets you quite a bit. I like it here - good call... even if I did miss out on the vanilla slice.

Some of the neighbours do camp a bit too close for comfort - but they are so damn cute I can't complain...

Spinifex Quail. No respect for my personal space, these guys were running around my feet before I set up camp.
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Last night was unusually warm and one of the campers told me there was a brown snake (very venomous) crawling around their campsite today.

Tomorrow I may be heading no further than Glen Helen Resort, only 4 km beyond the Ormiston Gorge turnoff. They have a real restaurant and beer. Further progress at this rate is not recommended.

Water to this point hasn't been an issue. Each campsite and the two roadside rest stops/lookouts have had tank water. I have to "water up" at Glen Helen because it is about another 230 km to Kings Canyon, the next water point. That's three consecutive 80 km days: very doable, but not much fun carting that much water. 3 days x 4 litres a day = 12 litres of water minimum, 15 to be safe - or rely on the kindness of the grey nomads....

(For you N Americans, a litre of water weighs one kilo and one kilo = 2.2 lbs. So that is one ******** of water to be pulling down the road.)

Tailwinds are forecast, hills are a certainty.

Hopefully there will be more dingos to sing us to sleep tonight.

Post Script (26/08/2017) - this update sent from Glen Helen Gorge resort, $12 a night and free wifi. The patio overlooking the gorge is a great spot to update the blog and sip a beer.

Finke River: claimed to be the oldest river in the world...Oldest river, oldest continent.
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