The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Gladstone to Burra


 Gladstone to Burra = 87km
Cummulative Totals = 7613km and 27,614km
Burra caravan park = $20 unpowered

We woke this morning and there were quite a few clouds hanging around - the forecast is for a change to come through and it will be a cold one with winds swinging from a northerly to a southerly!  However despite the clouds this morning our little Kouta still found the sun rays to worship towards (like he has done for most mornings on the trip) - while we pack up he will quietly slip away (but stay relatively close) to find a spot that is sunny!
 An early start for us this morning as this is a small campground and the kitchen and toilets are quite close (unlike  most campgrounds we are usually the furtherest away from these!) so packing up was quick this morning ... on the road at 7.30am.  The wind was early too and it was a northerly and by the time we got to Gulnare to turn off to Spalding and Burra it had swung to a north westerly so it was behind us all the way to Burra.
From Gulnare you start to climb over a small series of hills and then you head south to Spalding.  This is a nice town where we had a cuppa and picked up tonights dinner (as by the time we get to Burra the supermarket will be closed).  We picked up some bargains - frozen Helgas bread for $2.50 a loaf, 12 pack of farm fresh free range eggs for $4.50 and sausages (500g) for $3.50 ... cheap!
Here I suggested to Neil that we might want to consider going to Morgan today as that road from Burra to Morgan runs in a south east direction and this wind will just blow us along!  That would mean a 170km day!  He was not very receptive to the idea, he thinks we will run out of time as we still have to get over the range to Burra.
so we left Spalding and absolutely flew through the next 20km to Booborowie.  It is a gentle climb to this point but with a tailwind you hardly noticed you were climbing.  I did have to stop and take a photo of this bride which Neil liked ... I think it may have been from the old railway line
 it is beautiful country side riding through here and all around Spalding are these water pipes pumping water here there and everywhere to the smaller towns.  Most of the roads follow some sort of pipe - here they are on our left ...
 At Boororowie turnoff we stopped for a cuppa and then embarked on the 9km climb.  It is a climb of about 3-4% so it was relatively easy to ride and the aim the whole way is to get to these windmills - you can sort of see them at the top of the hill to Neils right ...
 they are getting closer ...
 yep  nearly there at the top ...
At the top you go down gently and join the Barrier highway which takes you into Burra.  This is an old town with heaps of old stone buildings.  The caravan park is nice and clean with heaps of rules!
tomorrow we will make for Morgan or Cadell.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wilmington to Gladstone


 Wilmington to Gladstone = 80km
Cummulative totals = 7526km and 27,527km
Gladstone caravan park = $20 unpowered

Todays ride felt like we have done nothing! well at least half of it was either downhill or we had a strong tailwind - woohoo Janet is happy! LOL
It was a warmer night than we anticipated but unfortunately a sleepless one ... this caravan park is very bush orientated and what lives in the bush here ... damn possums!  I tell you they are cute little things but they are a pain in the butt when it comes to bags, tents and trees!
Out they come when it is dark and off course they climb everywhere so Neil had to bring his bags in to the vestibule as first they pooped on it and then we were worried they might try to rip into the bags (they tore my seat apart when we were at Horsham on one tour) so the vestibule was very crowded - sometime during the night I hear Neil get up and apparently he threw his sandle at a possum, then another shoe and then he picked up another shoe and went up to the possum and tapped the possum on the head with the shoe!  The possum was shocked and took off.
All night you could hear them and when they were close to the tent you always worried that they were eating the gel seats!
So we began our day rather bleary eyed and yesterday we decided to make a run for home and leave Broken Hill for another cycle tour - ideally when we do the Nullabor!  The winds today were suppose to be northerlies so we mapped a way home and this included going straight south today to Gladstone.
This road we are on is the B82 and it is a very quiet road, not in a great condition but the traffic is very light so we could ride out in the road a bit.
Early on we passed this tree which you could walk through the center!
 The scenery is lovely ...
 There are many small towns along this road - Melrose is a little boutique town and is the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges that is popular with cycle trails and walkers - they have a campground at the showgrounds, in town they have a unique looking statue.
 After Melrose we pass through numerous canola fields and can see the range that run parallel with this road and we will cross it tomorrow ...
 We stop for a cuppa at Murray Town, this also has a camp spot at the sports ground - $5 unpowered and a $1 shower!  we will remember it for next time we come through!  I had to take a photo of our new coffee and tea bag.  We had a great little square one that use to take the tea, coffee, milk powder, bowls, cups and cutlery but the zip went on that one and I said I would get one at Port Augusta but Neil got to it before I could and he came out with this pink girls backpack that is a little bigger but quite good once I got over the embarrassment of it ...
 the cupcake part is a seperate compartment for the cutlery and lighter.  We cut off the straps at the back but I am thinking I might look for something else when I get home!
Just after Murray Town you go up one last little climb - we have been gently climbing since half way between Wilmington and Melrose, and then you have a long down hill and at this time (about 10.30am) the wind begins to pick up and true to form it is a northerly so we scooted along around 21-23km per hour.
We did consider going further today but there were no campgrounds between Gladstone and Gulnare (where we turn tomorrow) and bushcamping is not really as good as what it is out in the outback!
We stopped at Laura, which is a lovely town, bigger than what we thought it would be and it too has a lovely campground.  Just on our way out there was this statue of
C J Dennis - and Australian author (years and years ago!)
From Laura it is just another 11km to Gladstone.  The campground is alongside the main road and it is a council park and has excellent facilities, a great camp kitchen and a spotless amenities block.  These parks alongside this road are great and this is the perfect cycling road, south of here goes to Clare.
Tomorrow we go to Burra - 86km away and over one or two hills!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Port Augusta to Wilmington


 Port Augusta to Wilmington = 47km
Cummulative totals = 7446km and 27,447km
Wilmington Beautiful Valley Caravan Park = $20 unpowered

A lovely rest day at Port Augusta - when I went there 20 odd years ago I arrived on such a cold, wet miserable day that I didn't really get to see the town at all, so I was amazed that there was the Southern Flinders Ranges to the east of the town ... maybe that occured there over the past 20 years as I don't remember that mountain range at all!
At the campground we had a garden visitor next to the tent ... a bearded dragon
 unfortunately he didn't get angry and flare his beard!
At sunset the ranges are beautiful ... ode to be a train driver!!!
 Behind the supermarket they have done up the boardwalk and park lands ...

 and it has a small bike path.  It was lovely just to sit there and admire the view while Neil is shopping and he admired the view while I shopped!
Onto todays ride ... this morning we crossed over the harbour  and this is the view from the bridge ...
 we have to stay on the highway 1 - this is the road down to Adelaide and it is awful!  The shoulder is bumpy but due to such heavy traffic we had to stay in the shoulder - fortunately only for 22km and then we took the Peterborough B56 turnoff which means we have to go over the mountain!
 South Australia is quite smart when building roads that cross over mountains ... they choose the lowest mountain! Basically once you turn of the highway you begin a long gradual climb and then once at the base of the mountain the gradient gets worse!
 Now bear this in mind we haven't done a climb since going to Ravenshoe - in the Atherton Tablelands way back near Cairns - 3,500km ago!!!
The true climb is at about 5-6% so not bad and the legs were okay - the muscles just had to get use to it so we had no problems getting to the top at 14km from the highway turnoff (which 7km is with the 5-6%)
At the top is a memorial to John Horrocks who found this pass over this mountain range to some very nice pastoral land!

 here is the view looking back down the range ...
 the road we are on is a B road so there is less traffic and the bulk of the road winds its way up the hill so the speed of the traffic is very slow, there is a shoulder of which we went into when a car was overtaking.  Light traffic and they were sympathetic to us!  The day is warm so by the time we got to the top we were sweating.
Now Neil has Kouta for a while in the trailer and I have the lugguage trailer which is about 10km heavier than the Kouta trailer - but when I have Kouta I also have the food and junk panniers which is where the bulk of the weight that I carry is so by 1km from the top of the hill I could really feel the lugguage trailer and its heaviness!  And can you believe this - I was watching Kouta in the trailer and he hardly moves not like when I have him - he is constantly thrashing about wrestling with something!
Anyhow there is a little down hill to Wilmington and on our way down we got to see our first canola field .. and it has emus in it!
It is strange coming up and over this hill as we have gone from any arid outback view to a lush pastoral view just like that (snapping my fingers).  It happens in about a 20km range.
On the road again tomorrow ... with tailwinds!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bushcamp to Port Augusta


 Bushcamp to Port Augusta = 35km
Cummulative totals = 7399km and 27,400km
Shoreline caravan park = $27 unpowered (with TT discount)

It was such a good decision to not cycle the full way to Port Augusta yesterday afternoon with the traffic building up ... as this morning there was hardly any traffic for us going into Port Augusta!
Can you spot something different in this photo?
 yes that is Neil carrying Koutas trailer in front!  We decided to make a change for a while - I am over Koutas movement at the back of the bike!
So it was a very picturesque ride into Port Augusta with the Southern Flinders Ranges to our left - very spectacular ...
 We got to the edge of town at 10am and I felt it was a little too early for the caravan park so we had a cuppa at the Arid Botanical Gardens ... Neil was not impressed with these gardens as he mumbled something along the lines that he just spent the last 2000km looking at this sort of stuff ... it is nothing special!  Whereas I thought it was nice as it had a view of the Ranges as the backdrop.
The park is nice and there is a small area of natural grass for the tents (also an artificial turf area but dogs aren't allowed on there) I do have a view albeit only a small glimpse of the ranges ...
I have to sit up straight in my chair, look between my seat and handle bars and peer over a small fence to get this glimpse ... even if it is through barbed wire fencing ... it is better than nothing!!!
Neil has pointed out to me that we just completed a Trans Continental Crossing - similar to that of Burke and Wills - but I point out that we didn't quite leave from Karumba, we left from Normanton further down the road ... nevertheless he is adamant that it is close enough to be called a Continental Crossing from North to South!
we will stay here tomorrow and restock on food an then catch the northerlies down to Peterborough - we have to climb over some part of these ranges on our first day out of Port Augusta! It is looking like we won't be having our south westerlies to Broken Hill!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mona Lena rest area to bushcamp


 Mona Lena rest area to Bushcamp = 70km
Cummulative totals = 7364km and 27,365km
Bushcamp - free!

It was a good days ride today and again the wind was very light, almost not there!  We were on the road at 8am along with the trucks ... the cars don't start until later.  As we are getting closer and closer to Port August (civilisation) the traffic is getting heavier ... I forgot to mention in the last post that since Woomera we have had a shoulder ... that is so poorly made that you can't cycle in it ... lets just say that it is smoother to ride on the rumble strips that are painted on the white line to keep drowsy drivers from veering of the road!  The trucks don't mind us cycling on the road (as we tend to go into the shoulder when they have oncoming traffic when they overtake us) but I think some of the other traffic don't like it and they tend to pass very close to us ... in fact South Australians are terrible drivers - they really love to squeeze alongside of us even when an oncoming car is level with us ... this happens quite alot since being in South Australia ... in fact it happens every time we are in this state!
Here is what we got to look at for most of the day ...
 At the Range View rest area (at 41km) you begin to see the Southern Flinders Ranges

 At the rest area we had a cuppa and then we decided to wash Kouta ... as the rest area has a water tank.  Kouta did not like this wash as the water was straight out of the tank and very cold ... he kept wanting to run away!  Now before all of you start going "oh poor kouta fancy washing him in cold water" we also have our own bushcamp washes with cold water - the only time we have boiled the water was when we had the cold weather before Coober Pedy!
At lunchtime we decided to bushcamp at 70km leaving us 32km to Port Augusta tomorrow ... we could have made Port Augusta tonight but what is the point of getting there today and having to pay $27 dollars - best to get there early tomorrow and make the most of the day!  Besides we are in no hurry!  Our bushcamp tonight is about 40m from the road ...
and Neil has been thinking about what we are going to have for dinner tomorrow already ... he is dreaming of Sausage rolls or pastry ... yeah right Jonesy ya dreaming!  Not sure if the campground has an oven ... if it does then he may just get his sausages rolls!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Woomera to bushcamp (@ opposite Mona Lena Lagoon RA)


 Woomera to Mona Lena Lagoon RA = 77km
Cummulative totals = 7294km and 27,295km
Rest Area - free!

Sorry these are a bit late Ray but here are a few photos from the outside displays at Woomera ... everything from planes, torpedos, rockets and radar/satellite things!









 there is a mural alongside the wall of the museum but this one is more impressive and it is on the wall of the local supermarket
 It was a good rest day yesterday and this morning Neil had issues with his rear wheel tube (namely the valve) so he had to change that so that left us leaving a little later than expected - 8am.
The wind is blowing from the East south east and is light so not too bad.  Sitting on around 14km per hour for the first 30km as it is out in the open with no protection from shrubs.  If you look at the profile you can see we did some down and up hills - not hard but appreciated as that allowed for free wheeling and to get out of the saddle.
The first 30km was probably the hardest section of the day.  Not alot of traffic going our way but heaps going north - both travellers and trucks.  Our traffic going in our direction started around 11am with a few trucks - probably coming from Roxby Mines.
After 38km you come to an area where there is alot of shrubs and makes for good bushcamping and this continues until 50km and then you are back out on the salt bush plains with no where to camp until here at Mona Lena Lagoon Rest Area - we are opposite this rest area as there is a track going to one of the massive power poles.  We think there is a water tank at this rest area as we can see one, but we were unsure of the water between Woomera and Port Augusta so we took a full load of water with us so we don't need any until tomorrow at the next rest area.
Just before we selected this site we came across a salt lake that is very close to the road so we leaned the bikes agains the railing and took a walk down to the edge ...
 looking at it it looks like snow or ice, we had a taste of the salt ...
 and off course the "iriot" Neil decides to shove the whole thing in his mouth (slight exaggeration there!) and then complains that it is too salty!  Whereas I just selected a few clean granules and tasted it and it is a bit like rock salt so not as salty as the salt you buy in the supermarket.
Someone had made a shark fin and put it in the water (the black thing in the photo)
 it really does look like snow close up
 and the bikes agains the railing ...
 so our bushcamp is just up the road and it was just as well we decided to call it a day as the traffic both ways became heavier!
It is a nice bushcamp, on sand but not soft although it is a killer to wheel your bike on this stuff!
Tomorrow we hope to do another 70-75km and then a short day into Port Augusta on Wednesday.