Darwin to the Alice

g’day

what a long time its been since the last post, mostly due to lack of cycling a laziness… but no more.

right now im sitting in Emrys’ house in Alice springs, the cyclist we all met in Georgia and periodically  through the trip, and Darwin is about 1500km north of me and Adelaide about the same to the south, so really im half way through.

because its been so long ill just give you a catch up of the last few months events

Mr Green my cycling brother is, from what I understand happy and living in the big smoke back home, got a job working in a rehabilitation ward for mental and physical disabilities and found himself a nice girl too. miss you Matt! ive been working for the last few months as a porter in hotel in Darwin and enjoying the benefits of the australian economy, which is incredible.

i think Australia has the highest standard of living of any country ive been to. there doesn’t really seem to be a working class here, an unskilled labour job pays enough to be able to live a very comfortable life. for example my old job was paying me almost the equivalent of 3 times the minimum wage back home. obviously the cost of living is higher here but it still worked out for me that i was able to save over 50 % of my wage which back home wouldnt have been possible.

its an interesting country, very developed in certain respects but a little behind the times in others. even though it has such a cultural connection with the outdoors it has the most of one of the most urbanised population in the world, mostly because the centres of population are centred around the coast, leaving a whole load of unpopulated space in the middle (the exception being Alice which is here because of the old telegraph station and the hub of transport of over land routes north and south. because the economy is based on minerals of agriculture and less on financial trading and i guess because of the vastness and population density, things like internet are pretty undeveloped compared to europe. but its here, and when the economy is so strong who cares about free wi fi especially when you dont have a computer.

culturally its like a the love child of the UK and the US, more like each in different ways. more connected to the crown and culturally british but its architecture more similar to the US. but so far i have only seen the Northern territory and from what i understand each state is very different so who knows what i will find when i leave the NT in a few days. anyway enough of my layman perceptions on culture… to the cycling story.

i left Darwin later in the day than planned, but i was still on the road fairly early with the plan of getting back into the swing of things with a 100km day, ha. for the first 20km i was on a bike path but then it was on to the highway which for the next 50km was neither enjoyable of interesting. i was 50km south of Darwin lying in the shade of a tree when i noticed my front rim had a large bend pushing it in to the tyre. i felt pretty stupid because i had checked everything, bought a new back wheel but somehow missed the front. it was a small dilemma, should i turn around (knowing there are no more bike shops for 1500km) or risk it and push on. i had already said goodbye to all my friends in Darwin twice as i felt lazy the day i was ment to leave so postponed for another day and had to see everyone again slightly embarrassed that i was still around, and i though a third time would be too much, plus i didnt fancy turning 50km into 150km. so i called Emrys to see if he had any suggestions . which he did, he would sent me his front wheel on the greyhound bus and i could pick it up in a few days…. perfect. His holiness the Dali Lama said there are two kinds of problems in the world, the first are the kind that can be fixed, so dont worry about them, the second are problems that can’t be fixed, so dont worry about them. and that has become my mantra. also on more on a personal note ive recently understood the art of non attachment thanks to a very important friend. she told me to think about the difference between nonattachment compared to detachment, a distinction that i never really understood. at its root its basically not allowing the self or the ego to become involved in feelings or emotions, for example i may feel happy but I am not happy, I am and that’s it. its something that has helped me alot and allowed to understand myself much more. this is why i love this life style, so much time to think and with no one else to talk with and no modern distractions, i have all the time in the world to understand myself much more.

so after solving the problem of the wheel i cycled on. i had made a load of lentils to take with me in the hope of supplementing my diet with as much protein as possible. unfortunately they kind of fermented in the heat of my panniers, but i ate some anyway which gave me all sort of problems. so for the first and second day i found it very hard to eat anything. i managed to get few more km under my belt before i was spent and had to camp by the side of road (i had hoped to get to a camp ground to slowly introduce my self back into the swing of camping but no luck). it was ok anyway i was so tired that i passed out straight away and wasnt conscious  again untill the sun came up. that day i cycled 30 km to a water fall that i had been out to on a day trip with my friend Nerida, and i spent the rest of the day swimming and relaxing and then had the place to myself for the  nights camping.

the next few days were tough cycling, i was really struggling with the heat and humidity and the lack of shade. but by the time i got to Kathrine, a town 300km south of Darwin, the climate had become less humid and my body was slightly more adjusted to being back on the bike. Kathrine was a funny town, a really cowboy town where if you werent wearing a cowboy hat, jeans and boots you kind of felt slightly out of place. they also played music in the street, mostly country, but from poor quality megaphone speakers so it was distorted. i wasnt sure if it was meant to stop loitering or encourage it.

i left Kathrine with Emrys’ wheel and a load of supplies (not really enough) and headed on, the next spot to aim for where some thermal springs a few hundred km away. it was a thermal river, really an artesian groundwater river that isnt thermal in the volcanic sense but just kept warm from the temperature of the ground, around 30 degrees. it was in a swamp kind of area but was a crystal blue colour and stunning. i spent the day swimming up and down the river and with my goggles i could explore the underwater environment. i was assured there are no crocks and there were other people there swimming and seemingly unconcerned about crocks so i wasnt to worried, but im sure ive seen nature programs of crocks swimming in areas exactly like this one. it deffinantly felt like there should be crocks in there, it would be perfect for them, so even though i was assured there are no crocks and figuring that everyone else in the river would make a much more intising meal for a crock than me (mostly bone and sinue) i was still waiting to swim round the corner and see a prehistoric killing machine, but i didnt thankfully. although a few weeks later i was talking to a tour guide and he asked if the river was open, i said of course why would it be closed, he replied that there had been a crock there a month ago. im assuming it would have been a fresh water crock which arent meant to attack people, unlike the salt water crock which will eat anything, but im not sure and i dont think i would want to know. anyway the river was stunning.

from there the temperature started to drop so swimming and washing were off the agenda anyway.  the cycling and days since then has seemed to all merge into each other. the environment changes so slowly that there arent many reference points to use to be aware of actually moving. also the roads are so long and straight that it has kind of felt like i was standing still. im not sure what the longest road without a bend has been but i recon around 20km, which makes motivation quite hard, i look up at the road, get distracted by watching my knees move up and down or watching the front wheel go around and then look up and i havent moved. i also find the flat hard to cycle on, i like hills, at least with hills theres an end point to aim for (the top) and you have to fight to get there, with the flat it just goes on and on but im learning to find a rhythm and stick with it, and im here so i have been covering distance. ive also had the worst head wind that ive ever cycled into, which slowed progress and was starting to dent my moral. theres something about the wind, even though it makes riding a lot more physically tiring, i never finished my day feeling that tired, my legs still had plenty to give, its more the mental draining, having the wind in your ears and working against you so most days i would just give up when i couldnt handle it any more not when i was tired. one day i did push through, i met some cyclists coming the other way and they told me about a rest area where you can camp, which would have put the day at 130km, which i did but i was destroyed when i got there. for the last 30km i had a plan of getting there and passing out on the floor for ten minutes before i did anything, which is exactly what i did until a sweet lady came over to see if i was alright. she had been watching me and said i hadn’t moved for a while so she wanted to check if i was alright. then she offered to cook me so food but i was too tired to sit and have a chat, so i said thanks but i was alright. in the morning some campers made me some tea and toast with honey and then gave me there honey when they left which was the perfect start to my day.

on the highway they have rest areas for people to camp or set up there caravans, because night time traveling is to dangerous because of the wallabies or kangaroos, they normally have toilets and water tanks and they are around 100km apart so they would make great camping areas but now i cant stand them. there so noisy, people using generators so they cant watch TV in there houses on wheels or doors slamming so now i camp near them so i have access to water but far enough away that i feel like im alone, or else if im in the middle of nowhere just by the side of the road in the bush. when you get into the rest areas you have to talk with people to, which if it was just talking would be fine, but a lot of the time before people even say hello they ask how may ‘clicks’ i do a day (like they’re bear gryils) or where did i start or where am i going, so i become the bike and cycling, there is no person behind the bike or the trip which frustrates me. i know its only people being interested and friendly in there own way so i try not to judge, but just reduce the chances of it happening by not spending too much time in the rest areas. the camping has been amazing, at some points ive been camping in place where i know im the only person for at least 100km and i can howl at the moon or sing as loudly as like because theres no one to hear it, no Matt to tell me to shut up after my 10th rendition of  ‘hotel california’ (i know he misses it really)

by the next few days i was down to basic rations and hungry the whole time, so when i got to tenant creek the next town i went crazy in the supper market and spend 80 dollars on food, and ate so well that night, and the following few nights on the road.

the next place of interest where the Devils marbles, basically the aussy equivalent to british tors. there was a rest are there, but the beauty of the bike is that i can wheel it into the bushes and camp alone away from the grey nomads. i got there early and spent half the day climbing and exploring and almost got stuck at the top of two tors twice, its so frustrating that its so much easier to get up than it is get down.

after the marbles i met a few interesting people, a Canadian guy on a recumbent bike going for the world record, and averaging 200km a day (good luck to him) and 2 Argentinian guys cycling around Aus. one had been cycling for almost 5 years, he had an awesome yogi esq beard to show for it. i stopped with them and i made tea while they sliced up the bread they had baked on the fire the previous day which tasted amazing. we chatted for a few hours neither of us particularly keen to get back into the wind. they made cycling in South America sound awfully tempting… something about Argentinian woman loving me.  so maybe that’s next.

after that nice encounter it was a straight push to Alice . on what should have been my last night camping i coordinated with Emrys to come out and camp with me for the night. i was 130km out of Alice so only an hours drive. i tied my orange poncho to a sign so he would know where i was camped. he didnt show up for a long time so i though he had changed his mind or missed my signal. but i was lying in bed when i heard him tooting his horn. apparently he missed it on the way up but found it on the way back, and had been tooting his horn for the last 20km, not like there is anyone to disturb. it was great to see him again especially because he bought pumpkin pie that he had made, which was a treat like no other. he also left me the rest for breakfast in the morning which was a welcome change from porridge. but that day i had no motivation to cycle, the wind picked up again and i was slightly nervous about going back into civilization so i did 60km and then camped. the next morning i was feeling slightly more ready for the city and a wash and coffee, and food. so the finally 60km into the city flew by. the last 30km where amazing, the roads where full of twist and turns and small ups and the scenery was more interesting too, with the Mcdonnel mountain range in the back ground.

i got into town had a coffee and waited for Emrys to finnish work then went to his place showered and started’ operation weight gain’, hopefully when i leave i wont be able to count my ribs. Emrys and his partner have been amazing, they just feed me the hole time, im like the camp dog. last night i had two portions of food waited half an hour and then had two more. i almost feel slightly embarrised but luckily Emrys is a cyclist so he knows what its like.

so im going to stay here for the next few days, waiting for a new front wheel to arrive, and enjoying the company and then head south via a week detour to Uluru.

so untill the next computer stop

love to you all

2 Comments »

  1. mum and marg said,

    and so your adventure continues
    whilst having all this time to contemplate and philosophise any chance you have decided on a career yet and a return to cornwall?
    love mumxx

  2. sara said,

    ¡¡¡¡ estas muy guapo!!! y barbudo!!
    Te quiero melon…. mucho..


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