Monday, 13 January 2014

Karumba to Uluru. Preconceptions thrown out the window.

Karumba at the top end, to Uluru at Australia's heart. 2200km.

11th of January. Time to leave the humid tropical coast, and head in the heart of Australia.

The view from the pub at Karumba. Nice place, not crowded and food was good.
Those previously mentioned mosquitoes kept up their appetite through the night. The humidity was high, and so was the temperature. I had a terrible sleep that night at Karumba. The caravan/camping site in Karumba however was very good. Nice pool, very important.

Heading south, the abundance of wildlife was astounding. The whole area was jumping with life. Not so good for a wide eyed vulnerable motorbike rider. Fascinating though!

The roadkill isn't cleaned up, so there's carcasses in various states of decomposition littered on, and beside the road. The worst one I saw was a cow still alive sitting beside the road. A huge hideous, skinless, inflamed bubble off the top of its back, the skin beside its ribs split wide open. To see an animal in such a condition really bothered me. I had nothing with me to put it out of its misery, and no properties seen for more than 50km to try and let them know.

I reached a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. The Burke and Wills Roadhouse. Captive audience as it's so remote. Good place though! It's at a crossroads between the Burke Developmental Road and Wills Developmental Road. I was told to take the longer road to Cloncurry as it's all bitumen, whereas the shorter route on the Wills Developmental Road is sometimes gravel and there's been some rain recently. The decision was easy for me. Longer way it is!

Arriving in Mt Isa, it's the beginning of the Outback. So there's a sign saying I'm now a real Aussie now that I've visited the place. Thanks mate! Mt Isa is a mining town. Lead, silver, copper and zinc. I've always had in the back of my mind for this region that it's flat with red dirt. I got the red dirt bit right! It actually had hills! My days studying geology kicked in, so I went looking around to see what made the place tick. Back in NSW where I live, it's all sedimentary rock. Sandstone, limestone, some coal, and maybe some more sandstone. This area around North East Australia however has a volcanic past. There's lava tubes and shales and hot springs. Australia rocks! Ok, I'll stop geeking out for now.

After the last couple of night barely getting any sleep due to the heat and humidity, the 40C temperature convinced me to take the cosy option and stay in a hotel. Good move.

Mt Isa. A mining town that has a good range of shops, and I could have spent more time there doing the geology thing as they have various activities open to the public around mining.
12th of January. Feeling immensely refreshed after having a nice cool night sleeping, I was eager to be off. I left Mt Isa just before 6am, destination Tennant Creek.

At the last town that I'll see in Queensland, I stopped in Camooweal for breakfast. It's a spot on the map with a roadhouse. Not much more. Did get my first opportunity to take a photo of a road train though!

The scenery became flatter, more open, and the wildlife almost entirely disappeared. The highway speed limit in Northern Territory is 130km/h (used to be no limit in the remote areas).

A moment where I had to pull over. It was so hot my handlebar had expanded making the weights at the ends become loose. The clouds of little flies was so bad, I left my helmet on with the visor closed while looking for the right screwdriver.

All the way between Mt Isa and Tennant Creek, there were termite mounds with various shirts on them. Keeps drivers alert looking for what's next!
On arrival in Tennant Creek, I saw people walking aimlessly around town. Or sitting anywhere that had a spot to sit in front of buildings, or on the side of the street. I have to say I was feeling incredibly refreshed and eager to see how much more distance I can put in for a day.

So I ended up putting in 1200km for the day, with daylight to spare and arrived in Alice Springs. Alice Springs looked only marginally better, as there were more people wobbling around, or lying on a grassy spot somewhere. It just didn't feel right, but not as bad as Tennant Creek. It was time to wrap up the day however, so found a hotel where I could park my bike out of sight in a closed compound. Nice hotel. Just as I'd arrived, had a shower and jumped into the pool, a storm thumped its way through. Good timing. A useless bit of trivia...even though it's still hot during the day, the far lower humidity and 20C nights mean the pool is quite cool. Back in the humid tropics, it's like jumping in to a warm bath.

Alice Springs was also surrounded by hills. Just not what I expected. It adds character to the place.

13th of January. A short hop from Alice Springs to Uluru. Ayers Rock. Another hot day, but without the humidity I'd go as far as saying almost comfortable. I could feel my jacket and jeans were hot, but I wasn't getting flustered at all. I was drinking a lot of water though. 3L every 2 hours. Some of the roadhouses get quite precious about their water which is pulled up from a bore, so sometimes I was sneaky filling the Camelbak up. Plenty of minerals in that stuff!

On arrival at Uluru though. I could compare it to seeing Machu Picchu at that first glimpse. It was quite exciting. Since being a little kid, there's always been pictures, movies, whatever showing this famous rock. So to finally see it was quite a thrill. It's a fascinating place. The rock looks so different from different angles. It has streaks of colour through it, and in some places there's holes in its side in a pattern that gives away some routine process has been working away at it.

This is the angle of the rock that almost everyone sees

But who shows photos like this? Like a big pimple that has been scratched and is oozing hot pus down the side no?


  1. Yet another intriguing post. Thanks for putting in the alternative view of The Rock. Fascinating pattern. I noted that your destination at one point was Tennant Creek, but you said nothing about it? I don't think I could have handled the sight of that cow too well. I wonder why it was so far away from a property.
    Note re your blog - suggestions.
    1. Widen your blog - go to template to adjust. Hard to read at times with overlap.
    2. Put a page view widget in your sidebar, so you can see how many visit.

  2. Tennant Creek felt wrong so I kept going. I was later told that was a very good move if I had any hopes of finding my bike the next morning.

    The properties in that area are huge. As in 100km between roads to each station. So the cow probably was still on its property.