Distance today 73km 17km/hr.
Total distance 2261km. Deserts 3/10 Donations $3504.80. Days remaining 109.
Note to new readers: I am travelling with my bike who’s name is Banjo. I often refer to ‘we’ meaning Banjo and I. ‘We’ have an amazing support team of family, friends, sponsors and folk we meet each day. But it’s still up to ‘us’ to face the challenge and tackle each day one peddle at a time.
It’s 716pm on Monday the 31 May 2021.
We have started on the Oodnadatta Track, 613km. According to our Hema guide, the Oodnadatta Track gently undulates from Marree to Marla on the Stuart Highway. That’s us for the next 9 days all going well. Apparently it’s known as one of the most scenic and interesting rides in Australia.
Day one has been all of that and more. The scenery is notably different from the Birdsville Track. We’re not far from Lake Eyre to the north and there are many smaller lakes and salt pans dotted through this part of the track. The track follows the route of the Old Ghan railway line and several ruin sites along the way. Today the old railway line travelled parallel to the track and tonight were camped right next to a bridge. Its cool to appreciate that heritage and the red rusted remains add a stark contrast to the scenery.
It was later o’clock when we got started after meeting some truly amazing people who were also packing up camp at the Marree hotel. Claudia and Lotharder are from Saarbruecken in Germany and celebrating a change of lifestyle by travelling around Australia. I immediately felt a deep connection with them and we shared beautiful conversation in our brief meeting. They both appreciate a lifestyle that nurtures mental health and know the value of making this conscious choice and commitment. They also set off on the track today and we may even cross paths again in WA. I also met Tristan and Andrew from Melbourne who are travelling towards Darwin. The 5 of us clicked and the quality conversation continued up at the roadhouse over breakfast before we got into our respective days. It’s rare to meet such different people who share a similar outlook of positivity and appreciation for human growth through new experiences hat challenge the comfort zone. What a great way to start the day and I truly hope to cross paths with these folk again.
We said goodbye to Marree after 10am. The sign on the way out of town warned ‘remote areas ahead.’ Oooo adventure!!!!
And we were underway!!!! Banjo was looking particularly handsome with his Mongolian scarf tied to his flag. The blue scarf represents safe travels. I got it when I did a cycle tour through Mongolia back in 2012. I asked mum to pack it in the Marree postal pack and it’s exactly where it needs to be back on the track and helping to keep us safe.
The countryside is immediately beautiful with areas of salt pans and wide expanse. We stopped to check out the salty clumps by the roadside. What I thought would be hard and crusty was actually soft deep clay just under the salt. Banjo’s front tyre had a nose dive when I tried to push him through a thicker section. He was a dirty boy until he flicked the mud off and up the back of my pants when we got going again. Thanks mate!!!I’m glad we didn’t hit it while riding. When he falls, it’s like picking up a motorcycle. He’s heavy and awkward with the panniers and water and much more graceful when he’s cruising.
The sand hills have been replaced with rolling hills that offer a taste of the flinders rangers to the south. The low lying shrubs are much like what we’ve seen so we have to still keep a keen eye out for the dreaded burr bush. It’s quite prolific at Gregory Creek where we’re camped for the night so we didn’t venture too far from the track. We found a spot tucked behind some bushes for protection from the wind. The grounds quite sandy so should make a cosy bed later.
Soon after we arrived a couple pulled up to also camp here for the night. They’re fun and super interesting. We talked until twilight about each other’s travels and stories long the way. Julie and Arthur are from France and on working visas. They arrived before COVID and what was a 6monrh trip is now over 2 years and continuing. They have worked up on cattle stations in the Kimberly’s and had some great stories to share. They drive a decked out 1995 Mitsubishi 4WD and its a beast of a car, so cool.
It’s clear they love it as much as they love Australia and particularly the outback life. What a great way to finish the day and share sunset checking out the bridge over the creek. A few kms out they noticed our tyre tracks weaving across the roadway and thought ‘surely that can’t be a bicycle.’ The road is quite corrugated in parts and banjo and I spent most of the day darting across to the smoother part of the track. Anyone following our tracks would be a bit confused. They were just impressed by our creative manoeuvring. Whatever it takes!!!!
Time for dinner and beddy byes. A chill has crept up and it’ll be nice to tuck myself into bed soon. Great day!! Talk soon xxxxx