A couple of photos from my packing before the trip. Safe to say the gear side of things is still an evolution for me. This is only my second multi-night trip, and whilst I did learn some things from the first trip, it is most definitely still a work in progress.
No/low carb food.
Rucksack kit, which stays with me all the time.
BOB trailer kit.
I make various notes before during and after these trips. this is what I wrote whilst I was packing.
‘The trick of course, is to be comfortable in all ‘possible’ conditions. Whilst taking as little as possible. A nice jumper or cotton shirt would be great for the evenings, but until I get to the stage I’ve got ‘spare’ room, such luxuries just have to wait till the next 4×4 trip.’
[‘possible’ being for that part of the world at that time of year, I didn’t pack for minus twenty and half a metre of snow. However frost on the ground, 35 deg C during the day, torrential rain and galeforce winds are all possible, if not probable – now I think I’m just trying to justify taking too much!]
Anyway, where were we?
That’s right, camping in a spooky cemetery.
I’m not sure this is approved Brooks saddle conditioning.
During the night I had drunk a litre out of the water bottle I took to bed, so I was probably a bit dehydrated. Note to self, drink a bit more today.
It was cold, Buffalo jacket weather. Everything that wasn’t inside the tent had a good layer of moisture on it. As did the tent flysheet.
The fence came in very handy to get things up and out of the dirt, use what you’ve got. You can see the good old South Aussie sunshine getting straight to work burning off that mist.
I decided some hot breakfast was worth having. So sardines, spicy sausage and a tin of tomatoes. An unconventional breakfast for sure, luckily everything tastes better when camping.
I went to check on the neighbours.
Lots of German names, I had noticed that with a lot of the road names yesterday. My parents have some South Australian friends named Schuppan. I knew the nearby Barossa Valley was heavily German settled, I didn’t realise it was so prevalent up here too
I got everything as dry as possible and packed away. Had a good look at the paper map, to make a plan for today. Time to hit the road.
The sun was picking out the cobwebs covered in the morning’s mist. Pretty.
I had decided that the only reliable way though the range was to follow the Heysen Trail. So once the road intersected it, I picked it back up again.
The rig. Note the drying microfibre cloth that I had used to dry the tent and the bike this morning.
Not a bad day for it.
The air temp was still cool, with the mist hanging around in low lying areas.
Plenty of pedalling meant I was ready to shed some layers, and put some sunscreen on.
I was bracing myself for the expected effort that was going to be required to get through the range this morning.
I hauled the kit up a steep incline to head back into the hills. More pretty cobwebs.
Just over the brow of the hill was the first of many stiles to climb over – which mean splitting the bike and trailer. The loaded trailer is about 35kg, so it is more of man-handling over these obstacles. Photos never show the steepness of the terrain, but you get the idea here, as the BOB trailer literally rolled down the hill after I lowered over the fence – luckily those things can take a beating, no worries.
Back into the range.
I had a considerable pause before crossing this wash. I found yesterday that on the steepest slopes there is a limit to what you can push up. Despite the fact I ride in proper Scarpa hiking shoes, the loose stones often meant I was pushing myself backwards as much as the bike forwards. It doesn’t look it in the photos but this was super steep. Now I’ve never been a particularly talented or natural skills rider, but I rode this, literally saying “confidence, confidence, confidence!” out loud to myself going into it. Had enough momentum to pedal out the other side, phew!
The scenery was just spectacular. I lost the trail and just followed the dry river bed (which I think was actually the trail).
Then, just like that, I was through. The Heysen Trail just follows the watercourse so just stays low the whole time. Nothing gives you quite a boost as something being much easier than you thought it was going to be. Mind you, no regrets about yesterday’s efforts. I had certainly experienced the range to its fullest. I wonder how many people get in there, not many I guess.
So, and easy ride out to the bitumen road, and in good spirits (important when riding solo). A short detour north up the bitumen, past Worlds End campground I thought I’d be staying at last night. Then turning off east, heading out on more farm tracks.
I wonder how old that gatepost is?
A nice steady climb. Looking back, with the extra distance you can start to see some of the dramatic slopes of the North Mt Lofty Ranges, which I tried to cross yesterday, when you’re closer you can only see the gentler slopes on the edges of the range.
More steady uphill I got to a good lookout. Looking east towards the Riverland.
It was starting to feel pretty remote again. Even though I wasn’t that far from relatively busy regional areas. On a bike it’s just different.
I disturbed a large group of Emu’s, maybe 20 adults. You don’t normally see them in such large groups. The private conservation efforts must be paying off, as they clearly weren’t used to seeing many humans. One fell over in its own feet such was its haste to get away, no harm done though it would seem.
The scenery was starting to look properly ‘outback’.
Another mini, little known park to check out. This also marked the point I turned the bike south, time to start riding towards home.
Good riding today. One of the benefits of picking these little known places and roads, is the roads are generally much less corrugated than the more populated tourist areas.
It was about time for a break, elevenses as we call them in the old country.. This low carb food was working out great, good sustained energy, none of the high/low energy crashing I had on the last big trip.
South Australia is clearly mostly a dry environment. however, as you can see from the dry river beds, when the rain comes, it really comes.
I passed many ruins. As one farm gobbles up another throughout history. Some of them look like you could do a bit of DIY and basically move in.
Others, not so much.
What always strikes me is the amount of workmanship and material that goes into these structures. That’s a lot of work. How many generations did it take before it could be left to ruin because there were other options?
Eventually I ran out of dirt road and an easy ride down the tarmac to the small town of Robertstown. I was hoping there was an accessible water supply here. I was down to my last bottle.
Almost all of the buildings that would once have been a ‘facility’ are now private residences.
However there was this nice park for a spot of lunch, toilets, phone reception.
Country humour I guess..?
Late lunch, rehydrating and txt messaging done. It was time to get back on the road. I had seen a ‘Scenic Road’ back over the range I had crossed yesterday, with another road leading to it. That should be a nice afternoon’s ride.
This sign on the way out there planted a seed of doubt.
5km down the road I could see what was coming.
When the road ‘looks’ that steep you know it’s going to be no joke. I paused here for a while, it was about 2.00pm from memory. The options were to bust myself up over that climb and take whatever the scenic road had for me on the other side, and get into the town I was heading for well into the evening tonight. Or, take the boring dirt road this side of the range, and be in early enough for a beer and set up camp in the light…
Boring road won.
Boring it was too, only the odd old car wreck to divert the attention. However it was the right choice. Still with two days to go after this at least, you can only push yourself so hard. The cumulative effect of too many big days adds up. You only get so much recovery out of a mini trangia meal and a night slept in a tent on a 3/4 sleeping pad.
The dirt ended at the small hamlet of Point Pass.
A few km down the bitumen I came across this familiar striking Lutheran church. I’ve been this way many times before, on my way to or from some northern adventure.
The beauty of being on the bike is you notice and stop at things that otherwise might pass you by. So a few km later I had a wander round this cemetery set back slightly from the road.
These gothic masterpieces caught my eye.
Not just German names here, these were inscribed in German.
One of the good things about writing these reports, is you can educate yourself when you get home, on the things you discover but don’t know much about. Like Lutheranism:
Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity. During the Reformation, Lutheranism became the state religion of numerous states of Northern Europe, especially in northern Germany and the Nordic countries. Lutheran clergy became civil servants and the Lutheran churches became part of the state.
Or, the German settlement of South Australia:
Organised immigration to South Australia from Germany began from 1838, with the sponsorship by George Fife Angas, chairman of the South Australian Company, of a group of religious refugees from Silesia led by Pastor August Kavel. The first group settled on the River Torrens north of Adelaide at a place they named Klemzig after the town from which most originated.
Other groups followed, settling at Hahndorf and in the Barossa Valley. Between the 1850s and 1870s large numbers of German immigrants were arriving weekly at Port Adelaide. By the First World War 10% of South Australians were of German descent.
As farm workers in particular, the German immigrants were valued for their steady industriousness, and the origins of South Australia’s wine industry are credited with individual German families.
I rolled on. Into the charming country town of Eudunda.
Coopers Dark Ale. The publican came out for a chat/to smoke a rolly… He has owned/run pubs all over outback South Oz, including Melrose, Maree, Oodnadatta and then retired to Morgan on the Riverland. This pub came up needing restoration and here we are, obviously in his blood! (I’m not sure his wife shares his enthusiasm, but there we go).
Made even more charming by offering free camping behind the footy oval. I might have been stretching the friendship by camping on the grass, but no one seemed to mind. Between lush grass, a table, water, even power to charge my phone. I was not complaining (although I didn’t think it through about the lush grass, until the sprinkler system hit the tent in the middle of the night, with full force! My 15 odd year old tent held up, luckily…)
I make a point of spending money in the towns I pass through. So I walked back into town for dinner at the pub.
Another good day. More to come. Thanks for reading.