Tuesday, 21 January 2014

All very pretty, hard to live with though!

A while between posts, but it adds perspective! Uluru to Tasmania, 3650km.

I last left you with my awe of Uluru. Further into the trip, I still say it's the highlight.

14th of  January: Just for fun, here's some more oohs and aahs.

Uluru at sunrise.

Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) surprisingly close to Uluru

Kata Tjuta a little closer
Getting to Uluru before sunrise was my first real experience of terrorist tourists. To get into the park, there's a ticket office. The car in front took AGES to buy their ticket. I had my ticket ready in my tank bag, which I had bought the afternoon before. When the car in front moved on, I moved forward to the ticket office. As I began to open my tank bag, a terrorist tourist behind me thought I was about to take ages as well, so by the time I had shown my ticket and was about to move off, the fool behind me decided he'd try to squeeze past me waving his ticket out the window. Lucky I looked, or I'd have kicked his door in.

The terrorist tourist then proceeded to drive 30km/h over the limit, overtake on double white lines, realise too late when to brake so he was braking during the turn rather than before the turn, and to top it off when parked, he ignored the marked lines and took up 2 parking spaces. When he walked past me when I was taking my helmet off, I politely told him that what he did squeezing past a bike like that was dangerous. This is my first example.

Uluru however is quite pretty at sunrise. I also went had a closer look at Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), but was reluctant to walk in through them, as I'd have to leave my luggage on the bike unattended. Not so keen on that idea. I would have been worried about someone having a look through my stuff, I wouldn't have been able to appreciate the walk. Comes with the territory of riding a bike.

On the way to Coober Pedy, there was another hot day in excess of 40C. Just for the novelty factor, I stayed in an underground hotel. Coober Pedy has houses, churches, and hotels underground to escape the heat of the day. Even very early the next morning, it was still 32C. Coober Pedy is also known for its opal mines. There are warning signs not to leave the road, as the region is pock marked with mining holes. Bad for your health falling into one of those, but whoever finds you may get rich when they see that opal you clawed loose on the way down the hole!

Those walls are bare rock. Was perhaps 25C, so no air conditioning needed.
15th of January. The heat was a real cracker. 46C in Adelaide, which is near where I was headed. I left Coober Pedy before sunrise to try and make the most of what cooler temperatures I could find. Given it was still dark, I didn't make up that much extra ground, as I had to go slower thanks to the risk of a kangaroo coming up to be sociable.

Lake Hart. A salt lake! Last time I saw one was in Bolivia in 2012.

The heat was getting so bad, I could feel the bike's tank was hot against my legs. As I got closer to Adelaide, my bike began to struggle with vapour lock, resulting in it starving for fuel. The solution was to put some of the cooler fuel from the jerry cans that had been sitting in the wind away from the hot engine into the tank. That got me another 50km before I'd have to do it again. I also found the bike squirming over patches of tar that had melted on the road.

The heat also brought strong eddies of wind. Including dust devils, also known as willy willies.

I had a moment where I was going around a bend, and a truck was coming towards me. I noticed the grass to my left not far ahead, begin to lie flat, pointing from my left to right across the road. So I'm waiting for this gust from the left, only to be hit with a strong gust from the right which was unexpected. I was in a dust devil, but no dust. So I'm now leaning hard to the right, towards the oncoming truck until I reached the other side of the dust devil and had to quickly flick the bike to leaning to the left. If I'd been a learner fresh off the rider course, and not knowing how to counter steer, I would have been pushed into the truck. A scary thought.

4 nights rest in Gawler, seeing friends and family was a welcome break after all the heat. A couple of days into the rest, the weather brought a welcome cool change. A kick in the teeth for some areas near Adelaide, as it brought storms and lightning, which started bush fires.

19th of January. Onwards towards the Great Ocean Road. First, a stop in a little town called Port Fairy in Victoria. Nice little place. Very tourist oriented, and it was very obvious tourist season was in full swing, unlike further north in the tropics, which has their tourist season during the winter.

20th of January. Great Ocean Road. I'll start with saying a great road. Great scenery. I was warned in the morning by a local in Port Fairy about the tourists driving along the Great Ocean Road. They fly in from overseas, hire a motorhome, and before they have a feel of how to drive here, off they go to see the Great Ocean Road and are so distracted by the scenery, they forget to drive and to keep to the left.

At first I saw motorhomes, caravans, pretend oversized 4WD complete with kids, push bikes and pillows swarming all along the road. First impressions was things were ok. Until one particular motorhome that I approached. At first he tried to indicate for me to pass him in places that were silly, dangerous, and illegal to pass. Then I watched him wobble his way down the road, frequently on the wrong side. So here's my next example of a terrorist tourist. He was the first of many. So many once per year nervous drivers. So slow in the corners, and still unable to keep to their side of the road. The experience was further lessened by a stop at the 12 Apostles. A famous stop. There's a cafe there. The person who served me coffee clearly doesn't drink what she makes. Scorching hot, and so weak I could see the bottom of the cup.

Now for the scenery which still made me glad I went and had a look. I'm also glad I survived. I should point out last time one of my friends rode a motorbike on the Great Ocean Road a few years ago, he was hit by a car when it crossed over to the wrong side of the road. He was a diesel mechanic, and even though he survived, with the permanent injuries, he had to give away his career.

The Great Ocean Road is also a fantastic driver's/rider's road. With a good surface and visibility, with well formed corners. In most of the corners, they can be taken at the speed limit without slowing down. Very rare though as most drivers will do 1/3 of that or less.

That night I boarded the Spirit of Tasmania, bound for Devonport.

21st of January. Now in Tasmania, eager to see some old stomping grounds. I used to live in Tasmania in a past era.

Tasmania offers a cooler climate, and beautiful scenery. For a motorbike rider however, it is a dangerous place. Locals cross over to the other side of the road to cut corners. Quite often there's gravel on the road, dragged on from side roads and driveways. I even encountered a section of sealed road, where the surface was sealed so badly it was only only loosely holding its gravel. So it was like riding on marbles. Not to mention the sand on the corners from when drivers use ALL of the road including the shoulder. A tough day.

I'm in Tasmania for 10 days. So it's a different approach compared to the trip so far which had a destination. Now I have a boundary, being the island's coast, and what I'll be doing is bouncing back and forth from those boundaries like a ball in a pin ball machine. A small place, much to see.

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