Journey to the Outback

My apologies for such a long time between posts… I’ve been having “Wi-Fi trouble”. It seems many of the places I’ve been staying at either don’t have Wi-Fi or it’s very limited.

Flinders Ranges and beyond

Here is Marree Man…Australia’s version of the “Nasca Lines” albeit it’s only 20 years old…. It’s a scratching in the sand of an Aboriginal man, 4.2 kms tall with a perimeter of 28 kms. It’s caused a heap of controversy…. more later..

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I’m now in Ceduna, about to tackle the Nullabor

In the last few days I’ve crossed the Coorong, navigated through the Adelaide Hills, crossed the Flinders Ranges and ventured into the Outback as far as Marree where I flew across Lake Eyre. I then rode south and crossed the Eyre Peninsula. 

The Coorong is a great place for bird watching and fishing, neither of which I did. It’s an interesting ride though, but the cold and miserable weather didn’t really help! After a few hours shivering I weakened and treated myself to a superb bacon and eggs in the Salt Lake café. Well worth a stop if you’re going that way!

I skirted Adelaide and rode through the Adelaide Hills. This is a stunningly beautiful area. It is very varied with a mixture of green, wooded hilly country, pretty vineyards and rugged gorges. It’s got the lot!

My next destination was the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Sound.

En route I passed through Orroroo… what a great name

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Orroroo’s only claim to fame is that it’s on the Godyer Line… just in case you’re unsure what that is…. the Goyder line is a rough line across South Australia… Above the line, rainfall is less than 10 inches per year making it suitable only for grazing. The line was created by George Goyder, Surveyor- General in 1865. It has proved correct and those who plant crops north of the line do so at their peril. The line is a “heritage icon” of the National Trust.

In the Flinders Ranges I stayed in an overpriced cabin at Rawsnsley Park Station but it was a lovely setting. It’s hard to beat the quiet still  evenings in the Aussie Countryside.

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The main activities in the Flinders Ranges are walking or four wheel driving so I thought I should do a walk. I even saw some locals

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DSC02476North of the Flinders Ranges National Park is a little town called Blinman. There’s nothing  much there but it’s typically Australian.

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My hope was to do a flight over Lake Eyre. Flights go from various places including Wilpena but my problem is that I’m a single. No luck at Wilpena so I thought I would ride the extra 200 k to Marree. I rang the General Store that handles everything at Marree and was assured I could get a flight, so off I go.

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Marree is a literally a one horse town! It was once on the Ghan railway line but no more. There is really nothing but tourism now at Marree. There is a pub and a general store. I expect there’s a church but I didn’t see it.

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I met Jenny the Manager of the “Oasis” ( General Store/ Post Office/ Petrol Station/Caravan Park/ Café/ bottle shop) She was a breath of fresh air. I thought she was a Pom as she has an English accent but she said she had been brought up in Whyalla which was “full of Poms” hence the accent.

She showed me to my “Luxury Cabin” which I must say was very comfortable.

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Dinner was at 6.30pm. It was “roast night”. Boy did I get a feed… three couses, lots of everything, beef, pork, lamb and to cap it off a bread and butter pudding, all for $15.00. The cracking on the pork was the best I’ve had in years ( even a match for yours, Doug!)

The next day I waited to get a flight. There isn’t much to do in Marree except chat to the locals and the few other visitors. Everybody is very friendly and a conversation that takes two minutes at home lasts for hours.

I met “Bill”, an 83 year old German from Brisbane. He had recently lost his wife and wanted to talk. He left me some “Minties” this morning as he left. I found them on Azulo. Isn’t that sweet. He came to Australia in the 50’s. He called himself a “10 Pound Krout” He had been in Bonegilla Refugee Camp in Victoria (Merry and I and our friends visited Bonegilla at Easter… It’s a fascinating place. Many non-UK  Migrants passed through Bonegilla when they first arrived in Australia)

Jenny and Lyle, the owner of the Oasis and Chef extraordinaire  became good friends! Lyle is a typical country Aussie… gruff, loud and friendly. He has lived his whole life in Marred.

The “Oasis team” also included Laurie the Caravan Park cleaner who sat chatting  with me over dinner and Avail, a 22 year old Queensland girl who answered an advert in Gumtree and drove all the way from Rockhampton to get the job.

She said she needs a job and this was going. There’s a lesson for other unemployed people isn’t there. A little effort and flexibility go along way.
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I made a video of Marree but can’t load it onto YouTube which should be easy but won’t work. Very frustrating. If you think you can help me… email me on gbransbury@gmail.com…maybe you can sort out my problem.

I eventually managed to get a flight over Lake Eyre. There isn’t much water in it now so there were no birds, but it is very special.

I’m sorry , the photos don’t do it justice.

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Now, back to Marree Man.

He was discovered 20 years ago. Nobody has owned up to doing it. It is controversial because it was done on Aboriginal land without any permission or permits.

Recently, a group of Publicans keen to encourage tourism in the area set about restoring Marree Man and took their tractors and graders onto the site to renovate it.

The Aboriginals are furious and the State Government has imposed bans and Law suits are pending.

Whatever the rights or wrongs, Marree man is an impressive sight and rivals, visually, anything I saw in Peru at the Nazca Lines. (Mind you, the Nazca Lines are a little older …they were created between 500 BC and 500 AD)

 

 

 

 

Around Australia trip begins – 24/25th April

Azulo is rearing to go!

He should be rearing to go as his service cost me $1000! …By the way…Azulo, if you haven’t followed my adventures before, is my trusty Kawasaki KLR 650.

Azulo and I are now doing our fourth trip together. Azulo is showing signs of old age. Fingers crossed he makes it around what I expect will be some 20,000 kilometres.

Actually I’m getting a bit long it the tooth also. Merry even bought me some Pilates vouchers for Christmas as she jokingly thought I might have trouble getting on the bike! You’ll be pleased to know I proved her wrong.

Here is roughly my route. I’m heading clockwise around. Merry meets me in Perth and again in Darwin which will be great.

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It was a lovely day but rain is forecast for Western Victoria.  After a coffee and croissant with Merry, we head out.

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Normally I don’t book anywhere to stay in advance but since this is the first day I had booked a motel in Portland, Western Victoria.

Big mistake! Not because of the motel but because of the rain. The first 200k are lovely but then it rains cats and dogs.

I arrive in Portland absolutely soaked. My feet are sloshing around in my boots and my wet weather gear is totally useless as I’m soaked. In all my travels I haven’t got so drenched.

Luckily the motel has a drier and I have a cask of red wine so I’m soon feeling better. There is a Kentucky Chicken place next door so that is tea fixed.

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Things get better still when my footy team, Richmond Tigers win their fifth game of the season

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My Portland Motel

This is all I saw of Portland. It looks quite a nice place but the rain doesn’t help14

The forecast for 25th wasn’t great. Actually it was terrible. Hail and rain were forecast.

I stopped for petrol and thought it might be a good idea to anticipate the worst and put my useless wet weather gear on. Now, if you’re an aging biker like me you’ll understand that getting the wet weather trousers on is quite a struggle. It’s a lot easier if you have a chair otherwise its nearly impossible!

So, I asked the girl at the counter if I could borrow  a chair…” No we don’t have any chairs” she said emphatically and extremely helpfully.

I was therefore left with no option but to balance on the ice cream fridge and struggle to get the wretched wet weather trousers on.

I crossed the border near Mount Gambier. As you see this farmer proudly supports his footy team the “Crows”

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Mount Gambier is famous for it’s “Blue Lake” This is a volcanic crater filled with water. The water is meant to be a deep blue.

It wasn’t very blue today but it is still impressive and the big crater is virtually in the town itself!

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This is my arty shot!

April 25th is Anzac Day. For your information, if you’re not an Aussie or Kiwi, Anzac Day is our remembrance day for those killed in all the wars. The significance of April 25th is because on 25th April 1915 the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the beaches of Gallipoli

Every town in Australia and New Zealand commemorate this day with dawn services and marches.

I attended the Mt Gambier march. The proud old soldier in the photo below was the only one left to march in his section. It brought a tear to my eyes and everybody was clapping him. Good on him.

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This old soldier was the only one left in his section. It doesn’t look like it in the photo but he is in the march

Mt Gambia is a pretty town with some lovely colonial buildings

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The rest of the day was spent dodging the rain showers and meandering along the pretty South Australian Coast through some nice little towns such as Beachport and Robe

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The Pier, Beachport

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Robe

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The Customs House Robe

Tomorrow I head towards the Flinders Ranges and the outback. I hope to do a flight to Lake Eyre.

 

 

 

 

just for kicks

The next big trip starts on April 24th 2017, This year Azulo and I are riding around Australia ..heading West

Merry is meeting me in Perth and again in Darwin.

I hope you’ll all come with me again and send me messages!

Take a look at this video…it will bring back memories for all old bikers!

You’ll need to turn the sound up LOUD!…The song was recorded by Mike Sane back about 1963