First of all, I would like to write about my 6 days stay in Alice Springs. I arrived in this town after 8 days in the desert. My body was sore and tired, i was feeling very weak and hungry. I’ve been visiting the warmshower website and found Simona and Daniele from BeCycling. They hosted me in the backpacker they are running. It felt so good to have a shower and it was the first time since New Zealand that I slept in a real bed. My bike suffered as much as me on the plenty highway and I need to find a new tyre. Ironically, I chosen to have 26″ wheels on my bike to find spare tyres easily everywhere but it looks like it’s almost impossible to find any of this size here. They only have 700C or 27.5 or 29 but no 26.
It felt good to just rest for almost a week even if it wasn’t my original plan. I’ve been very lucky to have those amazing hosts and they make me realise that bike touring is a big world wide spread family.
Alice Springs is a really nice town literally in the middle of Australia.
It’s pretty much 1500km from every other city. And it’s good to have the choice of what you can buy, at national prices. A lot of people in needs of parts or work done on their car are stuck here. At the hostel I met Stephane and Morgane, a french couple, they are travelling around Australia with their own 4×4 shipped from France. They need to replace their rear bumper and do some work on their car but there is a month delay.
Luckily for bike parts it’s quicker.
I’m leaving today and I know when I’ll be back we will organise a potluck diner with a few bike tourers currently in the area.
10/08/2016 – Time for a week holiday!
Trip dist: 21.43km
Today is the day. I’m leaving Alice Springs to cycle the Mereenie loop. I have to find a tyre as the one ordered is still not arrived. On my way I stopped at the lone dingo to change my mattress under warranty as it is leaking from the valve and I have to blow it up again a few times a night. Kathy organised the warranty and we started to chat about bike touring. I explain her my plans and she invited me to stay at hers when I’m back from the loop. That sounds good!
I pack everything, clean all my panniers and the bike. Ready to get dusty again. Just before I was going to head off, Stephane, offered me his automatic pedals. It’s Mallet DH. A totally different system than Shimano. They are brand new, I’m pleased. He is staying at the hostel as well with his girlfriend Morgane. They came here with their 4×4 from France and must wait in Alice for a month to receive a new rear bumper.
It was hard to say goodbye to everyone but in the meantime I was so excited to be on the road again!
This time, it’s the first time since I started this journey from Wanaka that I will cycle without any goal other than enjoying the outdoor, going for hikes without a timing goal. I gave myself 1 to 2 weeks for the whole loop. I won’t rush, take the time to visit the canyons, make pictures.
I already can see some canyons tonight and I’m feeling really excited with this view. Mountains style photographs again. I so much want to rock climb!!
The pedals are just impressively comfortable. No problem to unclip quickly and a freedom to move your feet of 20° each side.
I’m now just at the beginning of the west Mcdonnell range and it already looks beautiful.
11/08/2016 – Stunning red center
Trip dist: 97.66km
After a night by the road under a cloudy sky, it even rained a bit during the night, I cycled quite fast with tail wind. First, direction to Ellery creek big hole. A stunning water hole in between two huge cliffs. I climbed it on one side and it felt so good to feel the rocks under my bare feets and my fingers. Trying to find the best crack and best way to reach the highest point. I missed climbing so much and I’m realising it right now. Already last night I was smiling a lot when I saw those “mountains” far away. I don’t know if I could leave far away from mountains.
After that water hole, I’ve been cycling to Serpentine gorge. Left the bike on the carpark and wasn’t really comfortable about this but no choice. The hike is just 2km away it should be all right. The view from up there is breath taking. I met three guys on top Chris, James and Nick. They are walking the Larapinta trail. We exchanged about our different experiences and they tell me to sleep at the hut. It’s usually just for hikers but i managed to reach it with my bike. Tonight I will take some pics from the top of the rocks. I’m sure it will look so stunning!
Back from the canyon. Really productive night! I spent 3 hours up there. The moonlight is still the best to light up the landscapes. It felt so good to be on top all by myself with my camera and to hear some night birds around. I missed this times alone in the mountains and here in the shelter, everyone is sleeping.
12/08/2016 – Why did I never came here before?
Trip dist: 97.66km
I slept like a log. Heard freshly made friends leaving around 5am and opened my eyes around 7.30am, it’s already hot.
The wind is blowing the warm air from the north. I stop at every rest area. It’s hard to handle this sun. When I finally reach Ormiston gorge, I eat then lay down for a second to finally wake up maybe one hour later. Between cycling/hiking and climbing, my body is getting really tired. After this long nap I’m feeling still a bit asleep but decide to go to the gorge. It was so close… i should have stopped here instead of at the picnic table. It is so beautiful! And impressively gigantic. The water is really cold which is a big relief with this temperature. I take the time to visit all the gorge and come back via the ghost gumtree track which brings me to the top.
The view is great but i prefer to be in the gorge. After that, my plan is to go to check the price of camping. I didn’t really feel the need to go there but I definitely needed a shower. When I arrived, The receptionist said “your are the cyclist!!!” Yes I do. She told me a couple of other cyclists I’ve met at alice spring told her I was coming.
She is Julie and she cycled all the way from France to here with the bicycle she borrowed to her mother two years ago.
I needed to interview her for my podcast. She got so much amazing stories. The interview lasted for 25 min. Not long but I didn’t have time to prepare it. It was totally unexpected.
She told me so much stories. She is travelling the world alone as a girl. Check it all on her website Happiness Sample it’s in french.
Tonight I won’t take pics and I’m falling asleep as I’m writing this… a demain.
13/08/2016 – an invitation to stay
Trip dist: 70km
This morning I woke up after a great night. I was really tired since the last few days. Cycling during the day and hiking during the night. I got a big breakfast. Thank you to Julie!
Started cycling at 9ish, I didn’t really stop on the way. One place I really wanted to see was gosses bluff. To reach it I had to cycle 6km through dirt road with deep sand. At the end, I met Mavis and her family. They are aboriginal people. Mavis Malbunka is the kurturngula of the story of this place. We start to speak about the place. It’s an amazing crater made by a meteorite but the aboriginal legend is a bit different. It says in the dreamtime, a large group of women danced accross the sky, as the milky way. They were stars taking the form of women during the ceremonial dance of the milky way women, a mother put her baby aside, resting in his turna, a wooden baby carrier . The turna toppled over the edge of the dancing area and fell to the earth. The baby fell down into the ground and his turna fell hard on top of him. At the place where it crashed into the ground, rocks were forced up from underneath, forming the circular walls of Tnorala. The milky way baby was covered with sand and hidden from view. The mother, as the evening Star, and the father as the morning star are still looking for their missing baby.
They joked, saying that when they followed my track on the road they thought I was a big kangaroo. Mavis is the caretaker of this area and she told me I am welcome to stay here for the night. If the rangers comes there will not be any issues. She also invited me to join them for the night at their community. They asked me if i can cycle by night to ipolera outstation but It’s unfortunately a bit too far for today. It is almost impossible to come in aboriginal communities so I’m feeling very lucky to have been invited especially by this woman.
I asked them if they know Klauss, they didn’t. So I asked them if they now Camel man and this time everyone was saying yes he is staying at Hermansburg since a few days. I ask them to say hi for me.
I stayed a bit in this crater as it feels really relaxing and peaceful. Set up the tent cooked some melted leaks and kumara fries and slept early.
14/08/2016 – wilderness
Trip dist: 112.93km
Even if I was feeling observed last night, i went to sleep at 7.30 and slept deeply for almost 12 hours. Outside it’s super windy and raining. The tent is moving a lot.
I started cycling and the bitumen ended after 12km. It’s time to cycle for 150km on the dirt road. There is a lot of traffic. The road is sometime good sometime really bad. But after the plenty highway I’m feeling almost comfortable here.
I set up the camp 70km away to Kings Canyon. I made a good progress but I lost a 2.4Liters bottle of water on the way. I was already short on water, now it’s critic… It’s gonna be challenging as I just have 1.5 liter left for a whole day. If it stays cloudy like it was today then no problems. If it’s sunny it will be hard.
I saw three wild horses I stopped and started to whistle. They came to me and stopped 35 meters away. I waited. One of them came closer. I started to walk to him. He walked back. After a while we started to be a bit closer to each other then a car passed and stopped to take photographs. I came back on my bike and left. As I started to pedal the 3 horses started to gallop beside me on few hundreds meters. It was pretty cool.
At the end of the day I spotted bike tracks in the sand. It might be my Bob and Claire, the two American bike tourers from Alice Springs. They might be close now as their tracks haven’t been erased by any car or trucks tracks. I’m stopping in the bush for camping. I might see them tomorrow at Kings Canyon.
For now, i will listen to the dingos and fall asleep really soon.
15/08/2016 – A new podcast!
Trip dist: 66.26km
Waking up in the middle of the desert was great. That’s funny how my body can be influenced by my mind. If in the morning I get a target 130km away I’ll go through with a bit of difficulties at the end which is normal. But today my goal is Kings Canyon 66km away. Half of a normal day and my body will start to struggle at 50km and the last km will be so hard. Everything is just in my mind. A good example that our mind impacts our body.
On the way there was a rally bash it was crazy from a Bentley to a VW combi via all the kind of mad max types cars they were driving crazy on the track. It was fun to watch. I stopped to take some pics. I was the only supporter.
I arrived in Kings Canyon and I was right I met Claire at the general store. We already met at the backpackers in Alice Springs. They are travelling on bikes as well.
I asked them for a podcast, they accepted and it went really good! Great content.
Tonight i need to sleep again and tomorrow my plan is to go walk Kings Canyon, check out how strong is the security and if I feel able to sneak in at night then I will come back at night to take night photographs of it.
16/08/2016 – Kings Canyon
Trip dist: 46.53km
I usually I sleep way better in the bush rather than in a campground. It has been the case one more time. In campground you have artificial lights, human noise…. in nature I wake up with the sun and the song of the birds. But the good point with this really expensive camping is the shower and the camp kitchen.
Being clean is the best secret to feel good on the bike and have good rest at night. As well, unlimited water. It will be my last water point for the next 3 days. As I’ve lost a 2.4L bottle previously and here any small bottle is 4 to 5 dollars I will just have to be carefull on water. I won’t use any water for cooking. So I used the camp kitchen to cook 750g of rice. It’s ready to heat and eat. Even cold it’s good with some olive oil and garlic.
Then I cycled to Kings Canyon. 10km away. And as it was really hot and crowded I preferred to wait until 4.30pm to be alone, have a nice sunset and take photographs at night. The wait was good. I met a lot of french families in holidays and there is a free wifi. I don’t really know how it works as there is absolutely nothing around. The best, no security at all.
This place is amazing!! Seriously I understand why everyone told me to go to Kings Canyon rather than going to Uluru. It’s rated as the best walk in Australia and I think it’s right! Well I haven’t been to Tasmania neither West coast yet…
I got back on the car park at 9.30pm it was night. First mission finding my bike that I hidden in the bush. After a few attempts, I found it. Everything is here. I was a bit worried about dingos and my food. No one saw me put it here and impossible to find it except if someone would have seen me.
Back to the wifi I’m checking a few things then start to cycle. The moon is full and don’t even need any headlight to cycle on the road. I crossed three cars on 20km. Near the end of the National Park, I saw a big shadow on the road floating over me. Something is flying over my head. Just a big bat I was thinking but it was following me very close. A bat doesn’t do that. I turned on my light when it was flying by my side 2 meters from my head and it was a white owl! She followed me for 5 minutes. It was magic. I didn’t knew if she was hunting me or just curious…
A bit later, around midnight I found a spot in the bush where to camp. I ate a bit of rice, some muesli and will sleep well under the full moon.
17/08/2016 – A hot day
Trip dist: 79.17km
After the last day, hiking then cycling until midnight, the start today was a bit hard. In addition the temperature reached 40°C.
In the morning while climbing a hill I saw a bird in the middle of the road. He was alive but looked like shocked. I stop and heard a car coming so I ran to take him before the car reached him. He had a broken wing. As soon as he was in my hands he started to close his eyes. I thought he was going to die in my hands. I gave him water and stayed a bit with him, he was already looking better after drinking. I found in my stuffs the lead of a box to hold water and left him with a bit of water. I hope he will survive but I’m not sure without the ability to fly.
After lunch as I was cycling under the heat, a big 4wd overtook me and stopped. They offered me some water that I accepted with pleasure. They were Anne and Bertold, both french. Their car was really Australian looking car not a tourist 4wd so I asked them what is their story. They are living in Sydney since 20 years. Make sense then.
I had to stop a bit later to put the hammock and have a rest under the shade of a tree. It’s too warm and I’m feeling weak and tired. The reason is I’ve been cycling and hiking without really eating neither sleeping the last couple of days.
After 1 hour sleep I keep going to the shortcut to join the stuart highway. 100km of gravel road, corrugations and deep sand. After 10km on it I physically can’t keep going. The sunset is in 1 hour. I could keep going but I need to eat and rest. Tomorrow will be a long day.
18/08/2016 – last track in Australia
Trip dist: 131.45km
I’m on my last track of Australia. In a way I’m a bit sad but it’s been so rough that I’m happy to cycle bitumen roads as well.
While cycling under 43°C, it’s still winter here, I heard a noise coming closer very slowly. It was a car full of people, with an exploded tyre. They seems to not have a spare one as they just keep going on the naked wheel. They have a baby with them. They overtake me. In a slope, I can overtake them we say hi to each other. They are smiling even if the situation seems to be bad. There is more than 40km on gravels and I don’t think they will be able to reach the end of the road.
I must rest for a while with this heat. Every tall tree providing enough shade is a rest area for my bicycle and myself. There is just a handful of them on the last stretch.
After a while, I see the car in the middle of the track all doors and the bonnet open. I reach them. Stop. The baby and someone else are missing. I ask them what happened. The engine overheat. I offer them the last bit of water I have. They look at me like crazy and declined my offer saying they still have some. One person and the baby got a lift to find some help. They should be all right a bit later. I wish them good luck and keep going.
A bit later another noise is coming slowly in my back, a 2Cv! Funny, i wish they would have stop so we could have take a picture together. There was a Citroën 2Cv meeting in Alice Springs a week or two ago.
I reached the end of the track and joined the Stuart highway. I cycled already 90km today on this track. I checked on wikicamps app and see there is a roadhouse and a comment says they have a huge chicken parma, showers and a free campsite. It’s 40km away… the sun is setting but hey I’m imagining myself eating this chicken parma and I decide to give it a try.
An Italian family stopped to ask me what was my plan. The dad dreams of cycling from Italy to north cap of Finland. He is explaining me in Italian and his daughter is translating. I told him to do it. But he has a company and a family. I wish he will find the time to do it one day. Everything is possible even when you have a company and a family. If it’s your dream, do it! I loved there singing accent. I really want to visit Italy when I’ll be back in Europe because everyone seems happy with their accent. Like in the movie eat pray love with Julia Roberts.
The sun is gone, the full moon is rising that’s so nice! Huge and red. A few cars with aboriginal people overtake me and horned and waved at me. It must be the people from the dead car on the track. Happy they are now well. It seems that everyone knows about me because any car with aboriginal people on both ways are waving at me.
It’s night, I’m cycling with no lights because the moon light is enough. When I can see a car i turn my lights on. A truck stopped and offered me a lift to Alice Springs. I thanks them but declined their offer. The last 10km was hard. I almost even gave up 5km before to reach the roadhouse. I was feeling so tired and so weak. I finally made it and the chicken parma was huuuuge! Maybe the biggest I ever had. The shower after that was a relief. The water was red of the sand I was covered by.
Such a good feeling to be full and clean.
Tomorrow I will cycle to Alice Springs there is just 95km on bitumen with tail wind. I should fly over it.
19/08/2016 – Back to Alice, next, Darwin.
Trip dist: 100.53km
I finally made it back to Alice Springs! Arrived at 2pm. Went for some shopping to cook crepes for tonight for my host Kathy that I met at the Lone Dingo, the outdoor shop in Alice Springs 10 days ago.
I appreciate so much more the little pleasure of life. Having a shower, a real bed, an oven… Bike touring makes me realise that we are lucky to have this kind of comfort.