Clem and I split roads in Port Augusta in a grey and rainy day. That’s not quite what I expected for the outback! It took me the rest of the afternoon and the morning after to cover the 172km that separated me from Pimba.
At this point I decided to veer off my planned road. I could carry on the Highway to Coober Pedy across the Woomera Prohibited Area, 100s of kms of nothing where you’re not supposed to exit the road because its a rocket and weapons test range, although I don’t know if it is still in much use. Instead I could head North, through the actual town of Woomera and the mining town of Roxby Downs, and my plan is to hit the Oodnadatta track (yeah you can pronounce it! Ood – Na – Da – Tta) which goes by lake Eyre, the old railway line and some very remote outback towns!
But I had a good April’s Fools joke. As I arrived in Roxby Downs on Easter Monday, everything was closed so I couldn’t access the internet. I decided to wait one day and went to the neighbouring town of Andamooka, an opal mining community. That was worth the trip, but on my way back, I met local guys cycling around, and they advised me to camp on the local football field. As I did it, it didn’t occur to me that I would be woken up by the automatic sprinklers popping out of the ground and drenching me under a cold shower.
I would laugh about it all, but my phone and camera did not survive the bath. . . only one option, go to Adelaide, the closest place where I could hope for a repair/second hand camera/new camera. I left my bike in Roxby Downs at a helpful person’s place, and started hitching my way back south to Adelaide. I felt pretty funny travelling the road at 100 in a car when I rode it up at 20 on a bike…
Anyway I could only make it to Port Augusta the first day, then to Adelaide the next day but too late for shop opening hours. So I had to stay overnight, in the morning I figured out there was not many other options than buying a new camera, a big unexpected expense. . . and it took me another two days to get back to Roxby Downs, and here I am typing these lines. . .
So much went through my mind the las few days. I don’t want to just sum up what I did, I’d like to share all it teaches me. First I really like the outback and riding it on a bicycle is definitely the right way to enjoy it. Then I should trust my own judgment and not ask people where to camp, I had done all right so far I didn’t need advice. I don’t know why I followed the tip of the football field when there is so much open space everywhere in the area. . . But the hitch hiking return trip to Adelaide got me ot meet awesome friendly people. I could also see the statue of John McDougall Stuart on Victoria Square, which I hadn’t the first time. The only “bad thing”really is that I sort of lost 4 days doing that. Maybe 4 days is not such a bad time to hitch-hike 1200km and get a new camera. . . and anyway it’s done now so it’s too late to cry over spilt milk. Beside I try to always remember that a problem is just a solution that hasn’t been found yet. Real trouble is something different, and it’s not what I’m having. It’s just a delay and if annoying, I’m getting experience for the rest of my trip from it (and a new camera).
So the ride goes on as I am about to see some of the most beautiful places of the outback now, a taste of real Australia.