Some photos of highlights from our 8 days of visits to Lorne, Cape Otway and Timboon areas (March 2021). The river view of the campsite at Lorne Riverbank Caravan Park. See our previous post for a different view of this site. Erskine Falls Liverwort along the Lemonade Creek Track between Erskine Falls and Blanket Leaf […]Lorne, more Otways and Great Ocean Road
The Bunya Mountains are west of Brisbane in Australia’s Great Dividing Range and house the world’s largest Bunya Pine forest.
The Bunya Pine is one of the few plants surviving from the Jurassic period -200 million years ago these magnificent trees developed and the Bunya Mountains is the place on the planet where they are still prolific.
What a place to camp for my last nights before reaching my destination.
I love the Bunya’s droopy branches and leaves.
To me they resemble giant rastas with their shaggy dreadlocks towering above the forest.
Walking in this beautiful cool rainforest wa such a contrast to the hot dry heat of the central Australia.
Walking amongst the trees
Walking through the trees.
Gardens on the ground
And in the trees in the shape of ferns and moss on the trees.
The gentle wallabies are in the camp grounds and on the trails.
At the northern end of the range at Mt Kiangarow, the forest is drier and grass trees prolific.
The view from Mt Kiangarow magnificent
And at sunset.
That is just over 10,000km completed since I left Melbourne on 1 March 2021
What a ride:
Along the Great Ocean Road
Through the Coorong
Into the Flinders Ranges
Up the Oodnadatta Track
Immersed in the Red Centre
Across outback the Northern Territory and Queensland
Climb into the Bunya Mountains.
And now it’s the wedding on Saturday and I made it on time.
Did I mention that this wild adventure is taking a 10,000km detour to the wedding of a very close friends daughters!
No missed that point
The nearly 1200 km of rough dirt roads had destroyed the bikes rear tyre and drive chain.
So new tyre and chain and time to make miles to the east coast of Australia
Past the Devils Marbles
Over the Queensland border.
And along hot straight outback roads
Some call Longreach the capital of the Outback
The home of QANTAS now Australia’s national airline.
It’s also the centre of the Chanel Country that funnels the water of the tropical monsoons into Lake Eyre in the centre of Australia.
Which I has passed only a few weeks past
So I took a friend for a ride
To see the water lillies on the flooded Thompson River as the precious water makes its way to the desert
I was going to take a swim but the river was full of mud from recent floods and not inviting.
Tomorrow I will start to make miles again. Four days of riding in temperatures of 37c ( nearly 100F) had zapped my energy.
An air-conditioned hotel a respite. My blogs up to date, I’m refreshed and tomorrow offers cooler weather as I head south east toward the Pacific Ocean.
The Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park in many ways the centre of Australia
Uluru the largest monolith in the world.
Constantly changing colour and tone as the light hits it.
To see it shine red during sunset it amazing
To see it at sunset with the March full moon rising on the equinox truly spiritual.
The walk around the base of Uluru is approximately 10.5 km.
Uluru is a sacred place for Aboriginal Australians and being close to it one feels the sacred power of the rock that is ever changing in colour and mood.
Each crevice, crack, cave and stain tell part of an Aboriginal dreamtime story.
Stories often told in drawing in the rock caves.
Kata Tjuta is approximately 40 km from Uluru. A series of sandstone rocks through which valleys wind.
The Valley of the Winds walk is an approximately 7km walk through the rock outcrops
As I sit in a hotel room in Longreach, Queensland, reflecting on the two weeks spent immersed in the Red Centre a shiver still goes down my spine.
It took me almost a lifetime to get here but I may yet be back.
There are two ways to travel between Alice Springs and Kings Canyon. The long way down the Stuart Highway or the short rough way on the dirt Mereenie loop road.
Road both but only the loop road was worth a picture!
Mereenie Sandstone formed in Central Australia about 400 million years ago.
By the size of the corrugations on the loop road that was the last time the road was graded!
The loop road leads directly to Watarrka National Park which includes Kings Canyon
The Rim Walk is a spectacular walk of around 8 km around the rim and into Kings Canyon
The views looking out from and across the top of the Canyon rim are amazing
Looking into the Canyon one can only marvel at the power of nature to cut so precisely the ancient sandstone with only water and wind as tools.
And when walking down into the Canyon floor
Where water flows and plants flourish there is a beautiful cool calmness silent away from the heat of the Rim.
Kings Canyon is one of the major destinations in Central Australia. I think you can see why.
To ride through the West MacDonnell Ranges is to travel in a landscape created before time began
Mountains and rivers formed over 300 million years ago.
What an experience to camp beside and swim in the oldest river in the world.
Ormiston Gorge at sunrise is a spectacular site from the Ghost Gum Lookout
The colours changing on the red rocks as the sun rose
The recent rains had filled the gorge with flowing water
So much water that on the Ormiston Gorge Pound Walk at one crossing it was strip off and carry packs high across the creek
But from this small inconvenience was worth it as the views from the walk were just beautiful
Ocre is prized by Aboriginal Australians for a range of purposes but primarily rock and body painting.
The Ocre pits here have provided this precious colouring for millennia
Gaps and chasms fill the length of the ranges.
Some of the creeks that run through then provide big swimming holes.
Like the Ellery Creek Big Hole
Or are a trickle that over the millennia have carved a chasm.
Tjoritja is vast and I visited only half of its amazing gorges. Maybe another visit is required
For the last couple of weeks I have been immersed in the Red Centre of Australia.
Literally immersed as the rivers, creeks and waterholes in the MacDonnell Ranges are brimming after recent rains
The MacDonnell Ranges flank Alice Springs to the east and the west.
A line of rolling mountains, as old as time itself,
Punctuated by, gorges, gaps, passes and chasms
Red and ocre rock forged into mountains by rain wind and salt over the millennia.
This journey of discovery of the Red Centre starts and finishes in these ranges so let’s start the story in the east MacDonnell Ranges.
To the east the ranges run out to the Trephina Gorge Nature Reserve.
Emily and Jessie Gaps/ Yeperenye are only a short 22km ride east of Alice Springs.
These sites have important cultural rock paintings that tell the dreamtime stories of the local Central Arrernte people.
Their dreamtime stories are represented in rock paintings at these sites. People are requested not to photograph them. So you will have to go and see them yourselves.
Corrobaree Rock was formed hundreds of millions of years ago
When central Australia was covered by sea and sand and salt formed a motar to bind these rocks into a new form.
The ghost gum is such a symbol of central Australia and this one at the entrance to Trephina Gorge is over 300 years old.
Trephina Gorge really was a perfect first taste of the magnificent canyons and gorges that were to come.
As an addendum for those following my actual where about. I left Alice Springs yesterday and now on the way to Queensland. The next few posts will be reflections on the Red Centre.
The northern section of the Oodnadatta Track are in the traditional lands of the Arabana people.
It also contains some relics of the Old Ghan line.
Such as the Algebuchiner Bridge and the old station area at Oodnadatta
An attempt to ride north to Dalhousie Springs ended in a bog and inglorious retreat
So it was another night at Oodnadatta the as the desert dawn sun lit the road in front in front of me it was time to complete the final 200kn of the Oodnadatta track
And onto the Northern Territory
And head to a very lush and green red centre.
The road from William Creek to Coober Pedy was rough with lots of sand drifts – my biggest weak spot – SAND.
A large part of the track transverses the Woomera Military Base. I’m sure the leave the road rough so no one dare look left or right for fear of hitting a big sand drift.
But due to rare summer rain the desert was green and I arrived in Coober Pedy, where the populace live underground to escape the heat on a mild afternoon.
The climatologists said it was going to be a mild summer – go climatologists.
Not a day over 30 in 4 days in the hottest part or Australia in late summer
The underground nature of Coober Pedy creates a different street scape.
The road from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta crosses the Painted Desert. I can’t describe how beautiful it is and my photos can’t capture it.
The changes of colour from pink to yellow to green with glimpses of quartz glimmering in the sun.
Then there is the water holes.
And as the day warms up they siren call the traveller into the cool water.
Now I sit in the Pink Road House in Oodnadatta enjoying a cold beer.
Its 40 years since I last really road in the desert.
The desert and the sky in its vastness makes me feel small.
A speck on a motorbike in this huge space. How can one not be in awe of nature.
It was a beautiful dawn in the Northern Flinders Ranges.
There was a mixture of excitement and nerves as I headed north to Marree and the start of the Oodnadatta Track
Marree is an historic town and a major Old Ghan Railway.
The name The Ghan was derived from the Afghan camel handlers who were instrumental in opening up the centre of Australia to European settlement and in building the railway.
This historic mosque is a remnant of the Afghan presence.
The southern part of the Track is straight and fairly well sealed with quirky sideshows along the way.
It also skirts Southern Lake Eyre.
Coward Springs sits amongst provides a sheltered camping space amongst date palms originally introduced by the Afghan camel herders.
The owners have planted a new date plantation.
It provides a sheltered place to campin the arid country.
Coward Springs sits amongst a ground of mound springs.
And has a natural spa on site feed from such a spring
What a relief after a long ride!
Mound Springs are a unique part of outback Australia where water bubbles out of the ground from Australia’s Great Artesian Basin.
These springs provide green oasis in this otherwise arid land
The Southern section of the Track ends at William Creek an old railway siding with a welcoming hotel.
It was time for a break, adjust the drive, have a cold drink and choose my route to Oodnadatta.
The choice is direct or via Coober Pedy. Time is on my side so I have taken the long way via the underground town of Coober Pedy.
That tale is for the next blog.