Darwin to Adelaide on a push scooter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Forestry Tasmania we are on another fundraiser for CanTeen

www.forestrytas.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barren country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The first Flying Doctor

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Scene from Waltzing Matilda

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

One of first Qantas planes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Croc at Yellow River 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Karlstein at Batchelor

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wangi falls

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The way to manage forests - but not in Tassie!  Here it is called "vandalism"T

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

B 52 in Darwin. Could not take picture of the real thing inside the museum - too huge to fit in camera from so close
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last night in Darwin - sunset from the dinner cruise ship
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Start in Darwin with CanTeen members

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

Lovely cake for my 70th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Different looking fern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Watermelon in a bucket was very welcome in the heat of the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Jo pouring butter on bread! 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Well deserved little rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pub in Daily Waters, Jo enjoying nice cold beer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Anmatjere Man and women at Aileron 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UFO Centre at Wycliffe Wells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot springs at Mataranka 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barrow Creek 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Cat on the Bar at the outback - no problem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devils Marbels with a little devil in between

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Devils Marbles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Storm at Agnes Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Trying to reach the speed limit 130 k in NT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Crossing border to SA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Overlooking  Alice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Big hero!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Dinky" the Dingo

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 Close to Coober Pedy
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

9,600 km Dog Fence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Opal miner Viktor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Breakaways

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It says it all!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

At last a snake

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Another beautiful sunset 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 No comment
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Plenty of salt

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

Jo has to have a taste too. It is normal salt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Old mine at Kapunda

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

That's it! I am sorry that Jo is not in the picture. She avoided it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another fundraiser for CanTeen, this time somewhat different from the previous runs. It will be on a scooter. Supported again by Jo in our trusty 1984 Nissan Urvan Campervan with no airconditining a not even power steering , we will start from Darwin on the 28th August 2009, my 70th birthday, and will continue over next 40 days following the Stuart Highway to Adsalaide, finishing at Montefiore Hills in Adelaide on the 6th of October 2009 after completing 3,200 km on average  80 km per day.

Once again, the major sponsor is Forestry Tasmania, an organisation that not only manages our forest using the worlds best practices, but also supports people like ourselves, who are trying to do something for our community.

Another sponsor - Cadbury - donated the scooter and all necessary equipment for the ride, as well as their delicious chocolates as prizes for a raffle.  This is another company that cares and support our community.

Our thanks go to other sponsors as well, Asics for once again supplying their quality gear including Acics Nimbus, in my opinion the best running shoes money can buy, Spirit Of Tasmania for giving us huge discount and National Foods, manufactures of Tasmania Heritage and other quality cheese brands.

 

 

 
 

On the way to Darwin.

On the 7th of August we are on the move. “Spirit of Tasmania” is scheduled to depart from Devonport at 9 am. Due to rough sea there is a delay and we are leaving Devonport an hour behind schedule. Normally such a delay would be no problem because The Spirit would catch up. But this time because of 4 m waves we are going to lose more time and arrive in Melbourne at 7.30 pm instead of 6 pm. This is a bit of a nuisance since we have to drive out of the city to find a suitable camping spot.

It was nice to meet again a number of crew we met during previous charity runs on The Spirit. We were also allocated a comfortable cabin with the compliment of The Spirit though this is a day crossing since the second Spirit is in the docks for a bi-annual major overhaul. All was set for a comfortable trip. Unfortunately in spite of having taken some tablets to prevent sea sickness they did not do their job and I was very, very sick. Once we sailed into Port Phillip Bay the sea got very smooth and by the time we arrived at the dock I recovered enough to have no problem driving. Thanks to our GPS we found our way from Melbourne easily and once we left the Hume Highway there was very little traffic on the Goulburn Highway and we made it almost to Shepparton. Where we camped at a Rest Area. The night was very cold, in the morning we had 2 deg. bellow zero inside the van! The next day we made it to Forbes on the Newell Highway to another rest area, where we camped three years ago on our way from Cape York. The night was even colder - minus 4 degrees! But this time we zipped our sleeping bags together and it made a big difference. But we know that we are headed for a warmer country so expect the worst to be behind us. The night was not very peaceful, some hoons were revving their cars around till 2 am.

The third night we made it to Nyngan and settled in a Caravan Park with all the comforts of a power supply and a shower. And the night, as expected was warmer too - the whole 1 degree above zero!

The distances between towns are getting much longer. We saw first time during this trip emus and even a camel, which surprised us. Also some wild goats and even an echidna. The country is very flat and the roads are narrow but straight. At lunchtime we made a short stop at Bourke, population 3,500 which is a big place for this part of the country. A sign warns that the nearest fuel is 250 km away. We know, that we are in the outback. The soil is turning red, both sides of the road are poor quality pastures but some cattle and mostly sheep seem to be doing quite well. There is enough green pastures around.

As we are approaching Cunnamulla, it is getting very warm in the van. First we complain about cold, now about being too hot? Not really, we are taking it as it comes. Our first stop at Cunnamulla was at the Information Centre. To my surprise they still remembered us from the last year, when we stopped here during our Bay to Bay Run. The same happened in the IGA Supermarket and in the Caravan Park, where the lady let us stay free. I also visited the local Betta Electrical shop to say hello to owners Scott and Linda Thompson who last time generously donated to CanTeen $50. This time they doubled it though I did not really expect anything from them again.

The temperatures are rising as we driving through endless pastures with sheep and cattle. The traffic is almost exclusively tourists, only few road trains mainly carrying livestock.

We made a short lunch break at Charleville, a very attractive town with population around 3,500 and continue on the way north. The distances between small settlements are getting even bigger, the land becoming very dry. No more green grass at all. All morning we had a very strong wind and our fully loaded campervan could not do more than 80 km/hour. Afternoon it turned around and we were able to do comfortably between 90 - 100 km/hr which is what we like. There are hundreds and hundreds of emus around, we never saw so many before. There is also the sad part of traffic - a lot of road kill. The air is saturated with the smell of decaying bodies but for crows, it is a picnic. For every dead kangaroo there is at least half a dozen of them having a ball! Sometimes there is a different aroma when a livestock carrying cattle or sheep passes by. Telecom Towers transferring telephone call are another reminder, that this is the real outback. And we are enjoying it very much. Another reminder is the water which comes mainly from bores and smells like rotten eggs. But that is another part of the outback experience.

Another overnight stop is in a Caravan Park (enjoy them while we can!) at Barcaldine. It is a true historic outback town, first settled in 1886. I find it interesting, because it was the year when my granddad and grandma were born. In the morning we stopped at “The Tree Of Knowledge”, an important part of Australian political history. In 1991 the history was created with the Great Shearers Strike, which saw hundreds of workers camp out in protest poor pay and working conditions in the shearing sheds. They held their meetings in the shade of a ghost gum that became known as the Tree Of Knowledge. Their effort laid the foundation of the Australian Labor Party, which at present formes The Federal Government. This is an important part of our history for everyone, no matter what the political believes.

One of great benefits for us both is learning so much about Australian history and being able to visit places, where it all happened. I am sometimes amazed when talking to people how little they know about the history, we all should be proud of. What the hell (excuse me for that) are the school teaching the kids? Many cannot spell, count, and even no knowledge of our great history. Shame on our education system!

Another town full of history is waiting for us - Longreach. Here are many attractions waiting for visitors, including Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Longreach School of Distance Education, Powerhouse Museum, Cobb & Co. Coach Rides, but above all, Qantas Founders Museum (Queensland And Northern Territory Aviation Service for those, mainly outside Australia who do not know). The history of Qantas is on display and the museum incorporates the original Qantas hangar from 1922.I found fascinating to claim into an old plane Apollo, seating eight passengers in a space one would expect to accommodate maximum four people and for the first time ever included a toilet in front separated only by a curtain and without flushing of course!

A sign with a heading “SMELL OF ROSES” asks: “Can you imagine the effect on other passengers of using the toilet on a hot Queensland day?” I think we are too spoiled to even try to imagine it! And for the pilot, he was sitting in an open cockpit above the passengers!

As we continue on our way to the next famous place in our history in the heart of “Matilda Country“, Winton. The temperature has risen well above average for this time of the year - to 35 degrees! We were very happy to enter the Waltzing Matilda Centre which was air conditioned and absolutely amazing place. I hope I do not have to say more about “Waltzing Matilda”. If there is anyone who does not know about it I would be very surprised so I am not going to elaborate about it any more. Only to strongly recommend to everyone to visit it.

There are more things to do at Winton, I will only mention Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways 110 km from Winton. We could not spare the time to drive there but would love to do it one day to learn the story behind the world’s only recorded evidence of a dinosaur stampede which was used as the base for the movie Jurassic Park.

We have now travelled just over 2,500km and there are still over 2,000 km left to Darwin, so we have to keep moving.

Next 380 km is again mostly flat, endless pastures on both sides of the road with large numbers of cattle in spite of no sign of green, all very, very dry. Surprisingly the cattle looks to be in a very good condition.

Suddenly the countryside is changing and the flat pastures are being replaced by rugged rocky hills and it does not take much guessing to realize, that we are in a mining region. The first stop for the day is at Cloncurry, pop. around 4,000, a special place for more reasons than just mining. Our first visit was to Rev. John Flynn Place. Everyone knows what “Flying Doctors” are and that John Flynn was the founder of the service. But it is worth learning more about the almost impossible odds against getting it off the ground and the importance even today for those living in remote areas of our great country. I loved to read about what he once said when trying to get support for this idea: “Don’t worry… I have sufficient faith in human nature to believe, that when you set out to help people, they in turn will help you.”

I do not have sufficient time nor space to mention all attractions of all towns we go through. After all it is not difficult to get all the information on the internet. I only mention those which captivated us and made us think. Like the Chinese cemetery in Cloncurry. As soon as the gold and copper mining started as always, the Chinese come. They worked hard and many died searching for some fortune. How the times change! Nowadays the Chinese come with bags of money to buy our mines rather than breaking their backs there themselves!

Another interesting thing about Cloncurry is the fact, that the highest temperature in Australia EVER was recorded here in 1889 -53.9 deg.C. How come that we have not beat it yet after 120 years in spite of all the Global Warming? Just that it makes me think!

We still continued travelling through Mount Isa where we replenished our supplies, drove past Mary Kathleen till we reached Camooweal where we settled down for the night after having travelled almost 700 km.

This is the end of the mining region and we are again travelling through hundreds of kilometres of pastures and flat, dry country. The first termite mounds appear on both sides of the road. They are only small, maximum about 1 meter high but so many of them, that it looks like an old cemetery with hundreds of head stones bearing the signs of passing years.

All of the sudden the van is being pelted by hundreds of missiles. It did not take long to realize that they were about 6 cm large locusts. I do not like killing anything but in this case I did not lose any sleep over it.

After another 700 km we ended the day at Elliott. The temperatures during days are all the time around 35 deg.C and the nights are very warm. We are still not fully acclimatised to it.

The next day we finally reach Stuart Highway. It does interests us a lot, since this is already the route I will be travelling on the scooter. It is rather surprising that after so much of a flat country, this road is very hilly. Not huge hills, but almost nothing flat. Trees all around so there will be very little seen for many days apart from the road and the trees around . Probably the worst part for Jo is that there are no shoulders on the road and finding a spot to stop and wait for me will not be easy. But we will manage somehow!

After 525 km we spent the night at Pine Creek from where we turn off on Kakadu Highway . We are now starting to take it easy and make it into a real holiday, as I promised to Jo. She deserves it. We are taking a cruise from Cooinda on the Yellow River, enjoying the scenery of the wetland and the abundance of life, especially birds and the odd crocodiles, lazing on the banks, swimming in the billabong and one of them even having a lunch on a large barramundi he must have just caught. We stopped at the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Apart from many other interesting things I was very interested in the way they managed the forests for thousands of years by using fires. The pictures of burnt land are being shown in a very positive way with explanation how beneficial it is for the environment. How could not help but to wonder why, when the same thing is being done by our Forestry in Tasmania, the same pictures of the burnt land are being presented to the population in the cities as a proof, that we in Tasmania are some sort of vandals. Double standards and exaggerations these days are nothing rare.

We are meeting many military vehicles, something we are not used to in Tasmania. It is obvious that the Australian defence is concentrated in the north. It is very unlikely that we would ever be attacked from Antarctica!

We stopped overnight at Alligator River Camping Ground and the next day drove to Litchfield National Park. It was a big surprise to us to find at Batchelor a replica of miniature of Karlstein Castle from Czech Republic, the original castle still standing. It was built by the King of Bohemia and the Emperor of Germany and Roman Holy Empire Charles IV during 1348 - 1355. This replica was built by Czech migrant Bernard Havlik as a gift to local community.

The first stop in the park was at Florence waterfall where we enjoyed a swim before we settled down in the Litchfield Safari Tourist Park. The next day we drove only a few kilometres to Wangi Falls Camping Ground. Without wasting too much time we went for a swim. It was an absolute delight. This is a lovely, well kept spot, no power points but everything else is first class and since we have three way fridge which runs on gas as well, we have no problem. The falls and the water for swimming are wonderful and we both agree, that this is a real first class holiday for us. I went for a walk around the falls. The trees are covered by fruit bats hanging upside down. It is unbelievable sight, I have never seen anything in such numbers before. Around the corner of the track to the tree top viewing platform I found a cobweb with a huge spider. It was a female golden orb about the size of 5 cm while the males are only about 5 mm small. Even worse for them some golden orbs females will eat the males after mating! I feel very lucky that I was not born a golden orb!

Late in the evening I was waiting patiently for the bats to start flying, hoping to take some spectacular pictures. It was a spectacular show when they filled the sky flying around, unfortunately my cameras both still and movie are not sensitive enough to take pictures of fast flying bats in such dark condition.

In the morning we went for another swim before departing for Batchelor for a night at a caravan park this time with power supply so we can recharge all our batteries before driving tomorrow to Darwin, less than100 km from here.

The temperature is most of the time close to 35 deg.C but as we arriving in Darwin it feels higher due to higher humidity. We better get used to it. It was good planning that we booked the caravan park at Hidden Valley well in advance. It was all fully booked. We are only about 10 km from the city. The very first evening we went to the Mindil Beach Sunset Market to confirm what we have been told by many people. The variety of foods on offer are very tempting. We always bought only one small serve of each to share to enable us to taste as many different foods as possible. But we had to give up soon anyway. It was all too much and I have already put some weight on. I cannot afford that!

The caravan park we are staying in is well kept with nice shady spots. Even though we still find it too warm to sit inside the campervan so we went to buy a couple of folding chairs from Big W (only $9.90 each!) so we can sit outside. It is so much better.

The next morning we went to the Military Museum to learn more about the time when war came to Australia. It was on the 19th of February1942 when the town was attacked by 188 Japanese aircrafts. Officially 243 were killed; Mayor J Burton estimated 900 killed, other army sources approx. 1,100 killed. The attacks lasted for more than two years and I will not go into more details since all the information can be easily obtained. Most people would find it hard to imagine what it is like when the bombs start dropping around but I can reflect on my own experience. As kids living in Czechoslovakia during the WW2 we were used to large numbers of plane flying over without causing any problems. One day in 1944 when I was 5 years old, with my cousin as always, we were waving to the planes, convinced that they could see us. But this day it suddenly all changed. The planes, instead of continuing in their straight flight suddenly started to turn around and we heard the whistling sounds followed by deafening explosions. The ground was shaking and before long the main street was full of people running to the paddocks outside the town to save their lives. We promptly joined them too and due to the more compact sizes of the towns in Europe we reached the paddocks very quickly ( maybe that’s when I learnt to run!). We could from some distance see and hear the huge explosions with dirt and bricks were flying from the homes hit by the bombs. It was very scary. It was cold, windy and wet day and since we did not have time to dress for it so after a while, though the bombs were still dropping, my mum decided to go back home. I remember her saying: “If we stay here, we will probably get pneumonia and die anyway. It is better to take a chance and hope for the best.” The bombing continued and since there were no bomb shelters, we could not hide anywhere and had to hope, that our numbers have not come up yet. I remember being very frightened and since mums always seemed to us kids to be able of producing miracles, I was calling to her “Mummy, please tell them to stop it!” We still laugh about that! One thing is for sure, that in spite of 450 people killed and dozens of houses destroyed, none of the survivors received any counselling and as far as I know they all continued their lives without any effects on their lives. I think that too many people these days are too soft and use any excuse for breaking the rules and committing crimes blaming it on some past questionable trauma and mostly get away with it.

But back to Darwin. As we know there was another disaster in store for the city, when Cyclone Tracy hit on Christmas Day in 1974 with devastating force. The whole city had to be evacuated resulting in the greatest airlift of people in the history. But Darwin was since rebuilt into a modern cosmopolitan city with many attractions for both its citizens and the tourists.

I will not elaborate on everything we had been doing during the week we spent holidaying in Darwin prior to the start of the fundraiser. I can only say that we have enjoyed it very much. There was however a visit to the Aviation Heritage Centre I have to mention since it left a big impression with us. As you walk in you get hit with an incredible sight of massive B-2 bomber. It has to be seen to get the right impression, it cannot be explained by words. There are only three of them on display in the world outside America. One in England, one in South Korea and this one. There are many more planes a lot of displays about the aviation history but the B-2 dominates the purpose built display hangar.

One of the displays caught my attention. There were poems and letters written by returned soldiers who fought and many died for the freedom we enjoy and I for one take a lot of notice of what they have to say.

Without any comments I will quote one of them.

Homecoming

I returned from Vietnam

My head held high

Only to be greeted by spit in the eye

I wondered what had happened

What went wrong?

My country presented me with two hard won gongs.

Initially I reacted to deal with this Shit

But they made me defenceless to handle this bit.

An immediate appraisal made we withdraw and submit

But by Christ if I had the facilities available

I would have dealt with that Shit.

Now they are all revered people

That the ignorant admire

I noticed that the were never in any firing line

It all now has come to pass

Because those revered people have torn this country

apart.

Social engineering it used to be called

Now it’s disguise under many a cause

The nation that was one

Now it is no longer

Divided by minorities

Instead of one down under

The minorities will dictate

And they will intrude

Because our politicians for some time now

Have lacked intestinal fortitude.

I wonder and I worry

What will become of us now

But why in hell should I?

Nobody else gives a stuff.

Tango Two Charlie

 
 
We are on the way!

The first day is behind us. It has been both very exiting and tough. The start was in a park on the corner of the Esplanade and Daly street. We met there with a number of members of the Canteen, local MLC Peter Chandler turned up to cheer us on and promptly donated $50, our neighbors from the Caravan Park came to cheer us on and made more donations though they had alredy given enough. Nick Duigan and Andrew Hart with their cameramen turned up to make documentary for the next series of “Going Bush” and Tasmanian Forestry CEO Bob Gordon was present with several executives from the Forestry as well.. It was all so emotional, they even did not forget to bring a cake for my birthday. It was the most beautiful cake I have ever seen (no insult to Jo who makes beautiful cakes too!. ) After a quick radio interview on ABC radio we were ready to go. Bob Gordon fired the starting gun and off we went. I have been looking forward to this moment for a long time but must admit that I had mixed feelings. I knew it was going to be much harder than our test run in Tasmania. Mainly due to the heat and high humidity, but also due to a lack of traing the last month. But the adrenalin was flowing and we started moving very well. It was also a great pleasure for us to have Nick and Andrew with their cameraman following us most of the day. We enjoyed their company very much.

I must mention here that after sending us off the whole Tasmania “delegation” was heading to Arnhem Land, from where Forestry Tasmania was asked to help the local aboriginees to establish a timber mill and train locals to operate it. They are in process of doing it and with the involvement of another Tasmanian company Fairbrothers Construction are training the locals to use the timber they can now cut and mill to build houses for themselves. They have already built one house and are in process of building another one. This is something that can make us all Tasmanians proud of our companies and what they are doing to teach the aboriginees to be able to help themselves unlike what the governments do by giving handouts which only lead to more dependance on others.

It was another hot, humid day, temperature around 35 deg., but on the road it must have been over 40. I was drinking so much water, but ther was no way I could quench my thirst. Later in the afternoon after being tempted all day by advrtising for Iced Coffee on roadhouses we were passing, I could not resist any more and asked Jo to buy one for me at Noonamah. I expected her to buy 600 ml carton but to my shock saw her walking out with a 2 lt bottle! She was not interested in any of it so it was all mine. When I started drinking it it was so irrestable, that I could not stop. The first litre did not take long to disappear in my stomach and within half an hour I had drunk the lot! I really expected that it would make me sick, but it did not. I would never believe that I could drink so much so quickly without any side effects..

Since we started late - it was around 10.45 am - we decided to make it a shorter day and stopped at Acacia Store Caravan Park after having scootered only 64 km. I do not like rubbishing anyone, but this was one of the most run down caravan parks we have experienced. There were mostly permanent residents, not very many, but all in very run down caravans. A drunk “lady” came around a tried to be very social. We were very relieved when she finally realized that we were too busy and left. The night was very warm as always and a group of people nearby was having a drinking sesion with a very loud conversation as one would expect, which lasted well beyond midnight. When they finally finished we could not go to sleep any more so it was a very unpleasant night. We left in a hurry with the first daylight. We had a long day ahead, had to catch up with what we missed the first day. Early morning start was very helpfull, we covered a good distance before the sun started to get very hot again. And the road seemed to be going almost all the time uphill. A gentle uphill, but still taking a lot of energy to keep going. And when I was hit with gusts of headwind, I had the feeling that I was claiming Mount Everest. I saw a dingo crossing the road ahead of me, but that seemed to be the only thing I found interesting. It was all about surviving the day, especially after such a miserable night. Late in ther afternoon when arriving close to Hayes Springs, I experienced the first downhilol in two days, steep enough that I could just stand on the scooter and let it roll down. Two days waiting for this!

But this time it was worth our effort. Hayes Creek Caravan Park, in a gully bellow the Roadhouse, was a piece of Paradise. And the first thing I did was to take a cold shower and sank into the swimming pool.

I always say, if you want to experience a real pleasure, you have to work hard for it. You have to feel absolutely exhausted to treasure the moment you can stop and relieve the pain. It is worth of it.

Regarding donations, it seems to be much better riding the scooter than running. Firstly, it is not unusual sight to see someone running. But it is unusual to see an old granddad on a scooter and so people take more notice. Also, in the basket I can carry all the promotional material and the money box and that seems to be makind a big difference.

In spite of the night being still warm, we had a very peacefull sleep and woke up in the morning full of enthusiasm again. Soon it was confirmed, that my feeling that it was almost all the way uphill the previous day. Today there were many more hills, but the majority was downhill. We arrived at Pine Creek in a much better shape and spirit than yesterday. We stopped on the way to Darwin in here and met Gary Brown, the manager of the Caravan Park Lazy Lizard. He offered to help with our fundraising, we left with him one money box for donations. When we arrived today, he did not accept any payment for the night and let everyone know about what we are doing and what for.

Because of the heat we did not feel like eating much so apart from couple of slices of bread in the morning we did not eat much during a day and not even in the evening. But tonight we we had a first solid meal. I had a lamb roast with vegies and Jo had roast pork with vegies. It was lovely, huge portions too. I could not even eat all the meat and took the leftover to a dog tied to the caravan next to us. Didn’t he enjoyed it!

Before going to sleep we picked up the money box from the counter at the hotel - seems to be quite a bit in it. Thank you Gary for your help.

The forth day started very early again. This was the first morning when the temperature droped below 20 deg.C. I am getting used to it and making much better progress than previous days. The hills are up and down which is not bad. But the temperature quickly reached 36 deg. And I am again drinking twice as much as I did last year through the heat of the deserts. I think it is the high humidity, the moisture from the body surface does not evaporate so quickly and so the cooling effect is limited. I still aseat a lot but it does not work as it should. And there is not a cloud around and I am exposed to the heat of the sun all day.

But about half way to Katherine I started to feel a difference. The air is getting drier and though it is still very hot, I feel much better and drink a little less. The countryside is changing too, lots of rock formations and it starts to look more interesting. Also the colour of the soil is changing to red. There is more road kill than what we saw so far. An interesting thing is, that we have not seen a single crow so far. It is strange, because wherever we travelled across the country, wher there was a dead animal on the road, there were crows. There were also extensive area of the bush being back burned - it is so important and beneficial for the forrests. Pity that some people still don’t get it.

It was a very long day so when I saw a sign 10 km to Katherine I was exited.But then a reasonably strong headwind strated to slow me down and I was praying for some downhill. Of course there would be none! It seemed to take for ever before the next sign 5 km appeared and then 2 km. I was really happy to be here. We stopped in the Supermarket, bought another 40 litres of water plus few other luxuries like bacon for tomorrow and for tonight McCain’s dinners to heat in the microwave, since we are stayin in a Caravan Park with power on again.

We have already reached 10% of the journey, in total 331 km. How the time flies!

Due to the time and opportunities limits I will be posting these reports on the same page of the blog, the newest always on the top, rather than as separate chapters.. I also ask to be excused for not being able to include as many photos as last time, but will include any which I think are really interesting.

From Katherine to Tennant Creek.

All Seasons at Katherine offered a very comfortable overnight stay. It had all quality facilities including swimming pool which I visited without any hesitation. The caravan sites were so well lit, that when I woke up several times during the night, as I always do in this warm weather, I was not sure whether it was still night or daylight. But when the birds starting singing, I knew it was time to get up. It was very interesting to listen to them. One was non stop repeating something like “to do, to do” while another one was crying out “Brie, brie”. I wondered why it could not be “camembert, camembert” or “chedar, chedar.” But then another bird starting singing and I must say, that I have never heard anything so beautiful. Such variety of tones, from high to low, so well structured, one would expect something like that from a well trained professional tenor like Pavaroti. Even he would not have to be ashamed of such a performance. I regretted that I could not even see what the bird looked like.

Soon after we left Katherine the sun starting to rise surprisingly straight in front of us. Then I realized, that we are not heading south yet, more like south easterly direction but as the road was winding we were sometimes heading to the east. I was happy to discover that there were several kilometres of cycling track which I preferred. I did not feel safe on the road, the drivers against the rising sun could easily overlooked me. By the time the track ended, the sun was high enough for me to feel much safer again.

The day turned out to be very hot again, 36 degrees. The sky was blue, no clouds to get occasional relief. It only came when a huge road trains passed stirring the air. The wind created by them was very much welcome though it brought only a very short relief. Afternoon, as every day, wind started to blow. It seems to be always south easterly, for me it meant it was a headwind. Wind from any other direction would have been most welcome but this one made the going very tough. And as it seems to be the pattern last few days, the last 20 kilometres or so, when one starts looking forward to finish the day’s journey, it is always uphill. I always pray for at least some downhill, but to no avail. When we finally made it to Mataranka township, I placed my scooter inside the campervan and drove with Jo to the thermal pools, so much recommended by everyone we talked to. It was lovely, but I must admit, that I would have preferred the water temperature to be around 14degrees instead of the 34! But I made up for it as soon as we settled in the Caravan Park by having a nice cold shower. We were lucky to be offered free stay for the night. The whole day was good for donations, soon after start a man from Alice stopped and donated $50 plus there were few more donations of $20 and $10 notes.

Mataranka is of course known not only for the thermal pools, but also the area was made famous by the Jeannie Gunn novel “We of the Never Never” - written in 1908 about nearby Elsie Station. It is all a very interesting part of an Australian history.

We are now travelling on “Savannah Way” as this part of Stuart Highway is called. It does look like savannah with the high dry grass all around. It also explains, why there are so many Termite Mounds. I have seen many by now but even I was surprise by the number and variety of shapes and sizes. I though it would be interesting to take on a project of going around the country and taking photos of just those mounds. That would make a beautiful viewing.

We spent the evening watching and enjoying on my laptop “Those Magnificent man in their flying machine” and that was it for the day.

I was very surprised, when I did not wake up all night until 5 am only to realize, that was tucked under my sleeping bag up to my ears. It was lovely cool - the temperature dropped down to 12 degrees! What a relief from all the previous nights. I also realized, that I was more hungry than thirsty, which was a very different experience as well.

The day started so well and continued as well in spite of the temperature soon rising to 35 degrees. But we are heading true south now, when the easterly wind picked up afternoon it brought a bit of a relief instead of being a nuisance. We made it to a caravan park at Larrimah mid afternoon. I received another bonus. The last 20 kilometres were not uphill so the going was less tough then previous days.

Larrimah is a very small place, practically nothing apart from the hotel and caravan park. There is a bakery, advertising delicious home made meat pies but when I got all worked up to have one, I found it was closed with the sign on “Gone shopping.” There was also a swimming pool, one of those round ones above ground and I saw myself dipping in only to discover, that it was empty. No mobile reception here either and no petrol in spite of petrol station being shown on the map. We found out in the morning why when going past the burnt out structure of the petrol station. Luckily we refilled at Mataranka as Jo insisted on. We have to accept, that this is a very remote area and there the services are very limited. Water is now available only from bores so it is very hard. No good to drink for sure.

How are we going so far? I have to say very well. Yes, a couple of days ago I looked like a cooked lobster, but by now I look more like one of the natives. My lips are badly cracked and blistered in spite of trying to look after them using a lot of Zink cream. Jo sometimes laughed that I looked like Andrew Symonds but even that did not help. But now the sun is behind since we are going south and I hope, that they heal soon, not being exposed directly to the sun any more. Jo never complaints about anything, so she seems to be OK too. But brown she is too. The campervan is going well (knock on the wood) and the scooter is still as good as new. The only think we wish for is for the temperatures to drop, but that should happen eventually too.

For the second time in a row I slept all night without waking up - amazing. The temperature was slightly higher than previous night, but still comfortable 16 degrees. It has been a very good day, it seemed to me that there were more downhills than uphills and the wind from behind. The temperature still got up to 35 degrees during the day but I was still able to make a very good progress finishing at Dunmarra. It is only a roadhouse with a camping ground. It has a swimming pool, looks full, but the sign advises that it is closed due to broken filter and some leakage. Second useless swimming pool in two days, just when you need one. But we know, that life wasn't meant to be easy. But on the positive I was able to buy a nice meat pie. The pleasure was partly spiled by my cracked lips which really hurt while I was trying to enjoy the pie. Such is life. Evening sky was once more filled up with flying foxes, another spectacular sight.

On the way to Dunmarra we stopped at Daly Waters historic pub and enjoyed barra bites with chips. After turning off to Daly Waters it was supposed to be only 3 km to the pub, but that would be true if the road wasn’t closed and a detour added another few km. But we still keep smiling.

We are still passing a lot of WW2 sites like airfields, hospitals and ammunition storages, but not much of it is still left, apart from signs. It is a good think, we must not be let to forget that freedom is not cheap.

We are also meeting some other travellers on pushbikes. The first one was a Japanese tourist, the second one was young man Steve, who was riding for indigenes health and the third one was Margie Raynor on a Renal Ride. If anyone is interested, information about her rides it is on

www.renalride09.com

Few passing motorists stop to make donations. Some heard about us on a radio, some read about it in a newspaper and some, like the last one, stopped because “I thought I had seen it all, walking running, cycling, but I haven’t seen one on a scooter yet!” And that was the whole idea of choosing this kind of transport to draw attention. It seems to be working. Too many people are now running, walking and cycling for various causes and it is loosing its effectiveness.

The overnight temperatures are slowly increasing again. It was 16 degrees and again in no time it reached now familiar 36 degrees. I am making it more bearable by soaking my shirt in water several times during the day..

Elliott is a first town since Mataranka and with population about 600 is relatively large. The caravan park is not particularly inviting place to stop. At $27 per night one would expect a high class facilities but this one has been run down and many people we met were advising against staying there. And as almost expected the swimming pool advertised in brochures is out of order.

We are progressing well through an open country with large numbers of mainly tropical beef cattle though there are now more of the brown ones we are used to. Again there are large area of countryside recovering after burn offs and starting to green up. The number of termite mounds is still amazing.

We are still making a better progress than expected. The wind is favourable, from the north and we are getting ahead of schedule. Might as well, never know what is waiting for us around the corner.

Renner Springs is another roadhouse we will spend the night at the camping ground. This one is well looked after, water from springs filling ponds around and there was even a lonely pelican swimming on. But for the forth time in a row, they advertised 17 m swimming pool is now under repair. So once again, nice cold shower has to do the trick.

A very strong wind picked up over night, it was very noisy, the temperature was dropping ever so slowly and never got bellow 19 degrees. That did not make up for a good night sleep. The wind continued in the morning from south east direction and as the road started heading south east as well, I could see a horror day ahead. In the first hour I covered only 8 kilometres and felt very tired doing even that. But how thing can suddenly change. I noticed a car from behind slowing down and the first thing I noticed on it was a sticker advertising Vanders Ute Trays and Metal Works. I have actually the same on our campervan. It was our good friends from Burnie Harry and Fay Vanderwerf and their friends Rodney and Maree Dick. Harry, Fay and I worked together for many years at Lactos and when I needed recently a new water tank for our campervan Harry with his son Dean who established this company made it for us free of charge in support of our fundraising activities. It was really lovely to see our good friends, we had no idea that they were on this trip. And so the day from promising to be a horror story turned into a most enjoyable day. Even the wind turned around and instead of slowing me down started to help me to move faster. No wonder we arrived at Banka Banka in a great mood. This is a lovely spot for camping, nice shady spot under a huge tree. The only disadvantage is that there is no power but with our fridge running on gas as well we have no $real problem. The real bonus is lovely cool drinking water from taps. We refilled our containers we had emptied over last few days. It was most welcome.

We have been now for several days without communication since we have no reception. With a bit of luck we should get signal tomorrow. At least that is what we are hoping for.

The hills are getting bigger and I like it. Walking up the hills enables me to use different muscles which is in a sense relaxation. And than downhill, speeds up to around 40 kilometres, make it very exciting.

As we are getting closer to the central Australia, the countryside is changing, trees are much smaller and some beautiful rock formations appearing. I would have loved to take some pictures of them, but many of them are defaced by stupid graffiti. The beauty that the nature created over millions of year is destroyed by idiots who come here to see it and then do this to it. They should have their hands chopped off if caught. But of course we are too "civilized' to come hard on those vandals.

With strong wind continuing from behind we are making better than expected progress. At this stage I am not interested in slowing down to keep to schedule, nobody knows what is waiting for us. It is better to get ahead a bit, while the wind is so favourable.

After a 20 degrees warm but peaceful night we started under heavy clouds which made the ride more pleasant and with even stronger wind in the back than previous day I was making incredible progress. One of the downhills was over 3 kilometres. It was so enjoyable to keep going so far without moving a finger - or should I say without moving a leg! It is not entirely free ride, I have to earn it by making it to the top of the hills, but while pushing uphills I enjoy it knowing that once I get up it will be easy and while coming down I enjoy the easy ride. So it is win-win situation.

Today is the 10th day on the road, one quarter already. Tomorrow we will be at Tennant Creek and I hope to be able to get on internet and to add this part of the journey to my blog.

All four of us are still OK ( that includes two vehicles). I must admit to few sore muscles and a little problem with my right Achilles last few days but at least it is not getting any worse. Tolerating some pain is a must for anyone who undertakes any endurance sports and from my past experience little injuries occur but with some patience they will eventually go away.

 

Tennant Creek to Alice

From Three Ways to Tennant Creek is only about 30 kilometres and since we had few long days and got ahead of time we decided to stay at Tennant Creek till the next day. Three Ways Caravan Park was very tidy with a functioning swimming pool that I could not resist. For the first time the water was really cold and very refreshing. I really enjoyed it. While getting petrol we found out, that due to too many people filling tanks with fuel and driving away without paying, they introduced a system, where one has to give the attendant drivers licence before they switch the particular pump on an d the licence is returned after paying for the fuel. It is one of the problems in this part of the country. It makes me sad.

After passing Memorial for John Flynn, the founder of the Flying Doctors, it did not take more than about two and half hours before arriving at Tennant Creek. The first stop was at the office of the local newspaper Tennant &District News, next was a visit to the primary School followed by shopping at the well stocked supermarket. The next was stop at Red Rooster. Jo has been dying for a chicken for long time so finally she got it. After all this we settled down in the caravan park for a well earned rest. It was another hot day and we were lucky to find a nice shady spot. I went for another dip in the swimming pool with lovely cold water again.

Tennant Creek has a short history. It began during the last great gold rush in Australia in 1930'. It all began with Charley Windley, the linesman of the Overland Telegraph Line who uncovered gold in the ironstone hills near where the town now stands. The population now is about 3,000, from our observation it seemed to be majority of indigenous people.

There are many interesting attractions for tourists but we did not have time to see them all.

Having a good rest and very favourable conditions, we left early to make to the Devils Marbles, distance just over 100 kilometres. The temperature in the morning was lovely 13 degrees, wind was easterly and it all depended on which way the road turned whether I had an relatively easy ride or hard one. The first hour the road was heading slightly south westerly so the wind was a good friend. I did during the first hour 14 kilometres which was very satisfying. Then the road turned sharply left and I had a battle on my hands, or rather legs. Then it turned right again and I was laughing. Then left again and the battle was on again. And that was the way all day. It took me 10 hours to make it to the Devils Marbels. It was all hard yakka, there was no easy ride without having to push off hard, even during the times when the wind was favourable. There were no downhills at all. There was one pleasant surprise when we met a couple from Tasmania and discovered, that the lady was a daughter of a good friend from our running club, Ben Ketelaar. A very happy moment.

I am not good enough to describe by words the feeling when I saw the Devils Marbels for the first time. After riding through mainly flat country with open spaces partly filled with small trees and shrubs and of course termite mounds, it was breathtaking to see the endless collection of huge rounded boulders impossibly balanced. They have been eroded over 1,500 million years to form what we see today. I do not believe that any architect could design anything so spectacular. There is a good camping ground with toilets, costs only $3.30 per person. We were happy to camp there to walk amongst the boulders and to take pictures at sunset and then again in the morning at sunrise. I haven't seen anything so spectacular since bushwalking through Tasmanian mountains. Unfortunately I found out that my googlepages limit me to 500 pictures. Since I had already reached the limit in previous stories I have to remove one for every picture I want to publish which makes it very difficult to decide. That's why I am not including as many photos as previously.

The night was again cool at 13 degrees and when we left the wind was north easterly and therefore most of the day favourable which assisted in making it all the way to Barrow Creek. On the way we stopped at Wycliffe Well which claims the title of the Capital of Australian UFO sightings. The theme is well presented by sculptures and painting all over the roadhouse and inside are many reports from newspapers regarding sightings within this area.

One disturbing sighting was the ground around the pub being littered with empty beer cans for a couple of kilometres. And I do not mean a can here and there, there would have been easily a dozen per square meter.

We have by now crossed the country in all directions and since I keep my eyes open and have plenty of time to think about everything I feel compelled to put some of my thought on this blog, even if some of the subjects of my thoughts are taboo in today’s politically correct word. For example, while at Tennant Creek we saw all the shady spots filled with the indigenous people, we have not seen one working in the establishments we visited. Isn't this a concern for anyone? Have these people anything to aim for? Is this a recipe for a happy lives? I know, that I must have a goal to stay happy. When I finish one project I have to come up with something next to avoid being miserable and depressed. I think that it applies to everyone. Then when we saw the carpet of empty beer cans around the pub at Wyncliffe Wells, I felt sorry for those, who have nothing better to do than sit around and drink. Meanwhile a couple of days ago there was a debate on Sunraise about whether we should be banned from claiming Ayers Rock - Uluru. What contribution that makes to the betterment of the lives of the indigenous population? Absolute zero! It reminds me the story of Nero playing fiddles while Rome burnt. The media should get their priority right.

There is much to be done to help the indigenous population to catch up with today’s world. There is no way back for them, they are in limbo and I am afraid that thanks to all the good doers, human rights activists and politicians who are only after popularity contest, gimmicks and empty words these problems will never be solved. There is not a simple solution but it requires hard, often unpopular decisions which are being avoided. We have talked to a number of indigenous people who were expressing the same sentiments. Many tourists we met had the same feelings too but most preferred not to talk about it for fear of being called racists. But this subject needs a healthy, open debate, not sweeping the problem under a carpet. We saw one small community last year, which looked very much well organised and full of purpose. This community was created by missionaries and obviously they did something right. I think that it is time to revisit the success stories and use them as model for future actions. Or something like what Forestry Tasmania and Fairbrothers from Devonport doing in Arnhem land - helping the locals to become self sufficient and not to relay on handouts. I had mentioned this previously, if someone is interested to learn more about it visit www.forestrytas.com.au

Barrow Creek has few interesting hills around and a place in history being an important part of the Overland Telegraph Line with 1872 stone telegraph station still standing and nicely restored. It was one of the fifteen telegraph stations connecting Port Augusta with the Port of Darwin. The old pub is typical of the outback pubs with the walls decorated with all sorts of things and writings, as well as many signed bank notes from all over the world including many $5 and $10 notes. And one unique thing was a cat on the bar enjoying a drink of milk. Good to see a place where life is free from health inspectors and other officials imposing more and more regulations often without any real need. We bought nice cold beer in the bar, enjoyed free overnight stay and even received donation from the pub of $50. Lovely people.

The temperature dropped overnight to 6 degrees which was very much welcome and with the wind from behind it was a relatively easy day with the maximum only 28 degrees. We made it to Ti Tree and the first visit was to the school, which was just celebrating 40th anniversary since it was founded. Apart from local aboriginal community it offers education to surrounding communities as well.

After settling in the caravan park I noticed three young ladies pitching a tent nearby and I heard what sounded like a Czech language. I was happy to find out that they were indeed tourists from Czech. I always feel happy for those young Czechs who are free and can afford to travel the world, unlike us who spent our young years being locked behind the Iron Curtain by the Communist regime. We were already married, when for the first time we could get permit to travel to the neighbouring communist country - Hungary. Jo and I packed our tent and few other things we could fit on our motorbike and with great anticipations crossed the border to the "outside world." It did not take more than about 5 kilometres before we had a puncture! But we were always equipped and capable of dealing with all sorts of breakdowns so it did not take long to have the tube patched and to continue on our journey of discovery of a foreign country, the excitement of using foreign currency and hearing foreign language. The communication wasn't too difficult after all. In all communist countries we had to learn Russian and as much as we hated it, it proved to be useful. We saw ourselves as globetrotters, in fact we were more like budgies released from a cage to an aviary.

Our next stop was at Aileron. It was again a very quick trip, wind blowing from behind and I was really amazed, when the last 15 kilometres took only an hour. It was also very unusual to see some green grass alongside the road. But by the time we got to Aileron everything is absolutely dry, only sand in the caravan park. The water is very hard, soap does not work, showers is good only to wash off the dust and sweat from the body. It is still refreshing and better than nothing. The caravan park is well fenced off, outside there are dozens of locals sitting in the shade of trees after walking out from the roadhouse with their sixpacks. One very interesting thing about Aileron is a giant statue of Anmtjere Man on the hill and down from the hill the same size statue of a women with a child. A very impressive sight. My guess is that the statues are well over 10 meters high.

Night was cool again, the temperature is rising again to over 30 degrees and the forecast for Alice is 35 degrees. The hot weather is not over yet. The altitude at Aileron is 660 meters above sea level. It again proves, that my feeling that there are more uphills than downhills is correct, though most of the uphills are very gentle and with the wind behind are not such a great punishment. And the good news is that what goes up, must come down, so I can look forward to some downhills to come, sooner or later.

 

 

Alice to Coober Pedy.

One of the highlights of the day was crossing the Tropic of Capricorn. We are now in the Central Australia with its dry conditions. There are many more flies, but what I see as a good thing is that they are a bit of a nuisance during the day but at night they go to sleep and present no problem any more. They replaced the mosquitoes which do not exist where there is no water. They are much worse enemies than the flies.

Another sign of a different environment is appearance of Desert Oaks. I like the look of these trees with their black trunks and branches and tiny light green colour leaves designed to minimize moisture loss during hot dry weather.

As we were getting closer to Alice with the wind behind, I did not even realize, that it was still slightly uphill, until about 24 kilometres from Alice when we came across a marker indicating the highest point on the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Adelaide. It was a good news, from now on it should get only easier. WRONG! Yes, it was more downhill than uphill, but Mr Murphy never sleeps and his Law took effect almost immediately. Unexpectedly the wind picked up and turned around and in no time I was struggling against at least 20 km/ hour headwind. The last 20 or so kilometres took good two hours and in spite of the downhills I had to push hard until the last hill was steep enough that even the scooter had to accept that it should roll down on its own without my contribution.

Since we arrived early in the afternoon, the first thing we did was to stop at Hungry Jack for a Stunner deal, then got up on the top of Anzac Hill for a wonderful view of Alice. We liked what we saw. Nestled between East and West McDonnel Ranges Alice looks very impressive with its natural beauty and with the buildings and parks and sports grounds and open places all well balanced and well spread to fill the space between the Ranges. Alice played an important part in opening up inland Australia. Weather was very hot, 35 degrees, but in spite of that we decided to visit the Desert Park first. It was a very interesting place to visit. Every visitor gets own audio, each point of interest in the park is numbered and by pressing that number on the audio box there is a commentary explaining the unique features and the inhabitants of the deserts. One thing I did learn was the reason for the red colour of the central Australia. Apparently the rocks contain a lot of iron and when they disintegrate into fine particles it is rust which gives it the colour.

After the visit to the Park we settled down in the Stuart Caravan Park. We were ahead of time so we decided to stay in Alice two night but booked only for one night. We did not like this Park very much. The campsites were very small and we felt like joining the other sardines in a tin. But one good thing was, that it was close to where our good friend Paul Birch lives. He was over in no time with his little grandson and we spent a very enjoyable time with him. Paul with his wife Nicky are fellow runners from our running club in Tasmania. Their daughter lives in Alice so Paul requested a transfer for twelve months from the Woolworths store in Devonport to Alice. They both enjoying their stay with their daughter and also will have a good opportunity to look around Central Australia. Good employees are always sought after in Alice and are well looked after.

In the morning we departed the caravan park and went to the town to replenish our supplies, visited Central Communication in an attempt to have fixed our TV receiver for my laptop. We would not find nicer and more helpful people. Similar thing though happened again when we consulted a radiator workshop on a minor problem. Many people, after learning what we are up to, are more than happy to help. Just like John Flynn said when starting Flying Doctors. (I mentioned it previously).

In the afternoon we had to go back to the town to buy some beer. Liquor stores do not open in Northern Territory till 2 pm. We met four people from Burnie we know well, but it is not a surprise any more. We also topped our tank with petrol while it is reasonably cheap. We know that we will be paying much more further down the road. It is all Opal from now on. Then we visited the Reptile Park, with interesting collection of snakes, lizards a crocodile. The highlight was the opportunity to handle the reptiles and I was very excited to be able to wrap one of the snakes around my neck. Jo thinks that I am crazy! But I have to see, touch , smell, taste and hear everything around to feel satisfied. Some would call me 'a sticky beak".

After all this we chose the "G'Day Mate Caravan Park." I have only praise for it, not because the owners let us kindly stay for free. The camping sites we well grassed, spacious and shady. The facilities all immaculate. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Alice.

In the morning we left Alice in perfect conditions. Temperature 13 degrees, strong north easterly wind and since the road has turned to south west, it was blowing straight into my back. And on the top of it there were many downhills, several times I was rolling down at over 30 km per hour. There was again green grass beside the road and I was amazed and pleased, that there was almost no road kill. It was interesting to notice that the grass went very quickly into seeds. Obviously self preservation developed over many years to survive and be ready for the next favourable conditions to start growing again. And I saw the first crow flying across the road since Darwin! When we left Darwin we heard several time weather forecasts for Alice reporting showers. My uneducated guess is that it is due to the ranges around, but it was obviously not enough to get the rivers and creeks flowing. Their beds are still empty and dry.

About 25 kilometres after leaving Alice we had an interesting episode. I just caught up with Jo waiting for me on a roadside when a car pulled behind us and a seriously looking man in a uniform stepped out and started asking questions about what we were up to. As it turned out, just across the road, hidden behind bushes, was a high security prison. As soon as someone noticed a van parked for a while on the roadside, they sent the security guard to investigate. Of course he was very friendly when found out about what we were up to. It is good to know, that they take their jobs seriously. Nobody wants some dangerous criminals to get out.

As we are getting further from Alice, it starting to look more and more like deserts of Central Australia. Everything is dry again and yet we see around several beef cattle behind fenced off spaces. We saw it last year - huge stations with cattle - some having one beast per 450 acres! I still do not know what they eat, all looks so dry, but all the cattle seems to be in a good condition.

The temperature reached 32 degrees today, still hot, but some improvement on previous days.

As we are approaching Stuart's Well, we are being greeted by hills and beautiful rock formations on both sides of the road. The wind suddenly turned against me, but only temporarily. It was the road which turned, not the wind so when it turned again the other way, the wind was still my good mate. We settled down in the Caravan Park behind the Roadhouse in nice shady spot. Jim's Place is only 6 kilometres from Stuarts Well on the Hugh River in the James Range. That's where explorer John Mac Douall Stuart dug out an aboriginal soak to obtain sufficient water for his horses during his epic crossings of this continent during 1858 till 1862. Jim's Place was established in 1990 by the Cotterill family who pioneered the world famous Kings Canyon in 1960. This is also the home of "Dinky, the Singing Dingo" who was rescued as a pup and now enjoys performing for visitors to Jim's Place.

Dinky became interested in piano and singing when Jim's daughter started to learn playing piano. He would jump on the keyboard, walking on it and singing. The local newspaper soon picked up the story and before long the story spread around the world. In the Jim' Place you can read many articles from newspapers and magazines all over the world and there were many documentaries about him on televisions worldwide as well. It was a very enjoyable experience to watch Dinky perform and to listen to many interesting stories told by Jim. We learnt, that dingoes separated from wolves about 10,000 years ago and made it to Australia about 5-6,000 years ago, most likely with some Indonesians fisherman. Most likely it was a single pregnant bitch since all pure blood dingoes have the same DNA.

Jim also told us how his parents developed tourism around King's Canyon in early sixties. It started the first year with only about 300 tourists in all year, then it gradually grew up to thousands. When Jim's parents died and Jim wanted to extend the lease on the land his resort was built on, the daughter of the owner, who took over the property refused to extend the lease. She would not sell it either nor she would be interested in partnership. Jim had no choice but to bulldoze it all down, bought five acres freehold a built what is now known as Jim's place. I would highly recommend to anyone to stay there over night. Lovely shady camping spots, some without power even for free, good food and very friendly people. And not to miss Dinky's performance. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

I could see in the evening that we are going to have a warm night. At 7 pm it was still 30 degrees and by morning the temperature dropped down to only 23 degrees. Fortunately morning was overcast and hardly any wind so I was making a good progress in spite of the road winding up and down over the James Range. About 9 am the wind started to blow from north west and since the road was heading south west it was a cross wind, which was not doing any harm nor it was helping. Later on, when the road turned to the south, the wind started to pick up and turned almost directly from north. It was a very quick trip, sometimes even on level ground I did not have to work much as the wind was pushing me on. Down the hills I was doing up to 35 kilometres per hour. I was enjoying the ride, the beautiful rocks and hills of the James Range and when the red dunes started to appear, it was great. But when we arrived at Erlunda we wished that the wind would calm down a bit. It is so bad, all around looks brown from the dust and sand blown around. The temperature is sitting on 35 degrees and yet we had to close the door on our campervan to stop the sand and dust from getting inside. It was not very comfortable, but that's what you expect in the outback. Just after arriving I was tempted into dipping into the swimming pool to cool down, but when I got in up to my waist, I decided that I wanted to cool down, but not that much! The water was so cold, I just cannot understand how it can get so cold in such warm weather.

Erlunda is the first place on Stuart Highway we have already visited during our Bay to Bay fundraiser. It will be a familiar territory from now on until Coober Pedy. Erlunda is basically a cattle station, offering accommodation, camping, restaurant, shop and fuel. A good place to stop whether travelling on the Stuart or Lesseter Highways heading to Kings Canyon or Ayers Rock and Helgas.

Just after dark there was a sudden calm, the stars appeared in the sky and people got outside their caravans to enjoy lovely evening. But it was only calm before the storm. Suddenly the wind picked up again and severe thunderstorm with heavy rain was passing over. Our roof was down already, all I had to do was to put my scooter inside the van. I normally leave it outside locked to the campervan but this time it seemed to be too risky. There was a short break between the rain pouring down so I got quickly out and tried to unlock the scooter. It was not easy nor quick, since the lock has a combinations of numbers to be unlock and with a torch and a trying to rush to have it done before the rain gets heavy again, it took me twice as long as it should have. I think that most of you would know how it works when you try to do something in a hurry. But luckily I still managed to get it in before the next lot of heavy rain arrived. The sky was lit by the lightening, wind blowing like hurricane and rain coming down by buckets. But we were safe and comfortable inside so for me it was a storm in the tea cup and we had a relatively good sleep.

By morning the show was over and the temperature was sitting on a very comfortable 15 degrees. The cold change finally arrived. I knew it would come one day and expected both the benefits of it and well as the disadvantages. The benefit of lower temperatures is obvious. The disadvantage is that cooler winds from the south mean that I have to work twice as hard to make a reasonable progress. That does not hurt, I can only get fitter! But the main disadvantage is in the wind whistling in my ears and I cannot hear cars and road train approaching from behind, until they are right behind me or even beside me. I have to be more careful and keep my eyes on the rear mirror on my helmet to avoid being hit from behind, especially if there is oncoming traffic and the vehicle behind me would not have much room left to pass me. A campervan approached from the front and when they saw me, they turned around to talk to me. It was a couple from Germany. It is their sixth visit to Australia and when we talked about our runs across Australia, there was not a place they had not visited. They love Australia and keep coming back. And they were very generous with their donation. I sometimes wonder why it is, that more overseas tourists, especially Germans and Swiss are the most likely to stop and show some interest in what we are doing.

But everything else is good. At midday it was unbelievably only 19 degrees and maximum for today reached only 27 degrees, a big drop from yesterday's 35 degrees.

We called it a day at Kulgera, another roadhouse and caravan park. It is famous for being the first and the last pub in Northern Territory. It is worth stopping here. Tomorrow morning we will pass the border between Northern Territory and South Australia.

After a restful night we left with the wind in the back and very comfortable 10 degrees. It was a very quick 22 km to the border between NT and SA. Eric Smart from Scotland was about ready to depart after spending the night there. He is another person we met who is cycling around Australia, his cause is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For those interested his blog is abardeen2adelaide.blogspot.com Another couple we met there had an unhappy story about their abrupt end to their dream holiday. The previous day they camped somewhere in the desert and went for a walk, when the storm, we experienced at Erlunda, hit hard and by the time they could get back to their campsite, their tent and all other camping gear was blown away never to be found. They were now on the way home.

A police car pulled up behind me very interested in what I was doing and after donating $20 wished me good luck and went. We have not seen many police cars in this part of the world so it surprised me to see another one on the roadside, just past the border. First I thought they might me checking speed since the 130 km limit in NT ended and it was back to more familiar 110 km. I joked with them that I hoped that I had not exceeded the limit but then I noticed a car with a load of camping gear neatly stacked but the cabin and the whole front were smashed. It was a result of a roll over, looked like if someone fell asleep since the road was perfectly straight. I was glad to hear that the sole occupant suffered "only" broken arm and no, the gear did not remain on the tray during the roll over as I commented on with surprise. The police had to stack it back on to make it ready to be towed away. And I did not leave the scene without another donation from the officers. I do have a lot of respect for the police. They do a lot of good things without being thanked for.

Our lunch stop was at rest area Marryat Creek, 58 km fro Kulgera. We caught up again with Eric and spend there longer than we normally do. When we left we had still about 30 km left to Agnes Creek Rest Area. Fortunately with the strong wind in my back, I made it there in less than two hours - a record!

Apart from favourable wind I had another reason to push hard. Black clouds with a visible downpour were approaching from the west and I could see that another storm was not too far. When I arrived I was surprised to see Eric again, as he intended to be going further than that. He was just about ready to leave but realizing that the storm was coming, he wisely decided to stay. There is a shelter which was a lifesaver. Jo parked next to it and lifted up the roof to cook something for dinner but the storm just hit and both Jo and I had to make a lot of effort to be able to pull the roof down against the force of the wind. Meanwhile my scooter under the shelter started moving by the winds so I jumped out to secure it. There was another couple parked there and everyone rushed inside but I got caught in the shelter with open sides, but sheltered by our campervan. There was now no way I could get inside anymore, the rain was bucketing and the wind was enormous. Fortunately it did not last very long. I was happy to be able to take few interesting photos during the storm and of the beautiful sunset after the storm.

Night was a bit warmer, 15 degrees, and with the wind behind again, We had no problem making it to Marla. The temperature reached 30 degrees but it was not too bad.

As I was scootering along the road a car passed me and then turned around. and pulled up behind me. They asked me what I was doing and whether they could take some shots with me for their documentary. They are working on another series of the ABC program "That's Australia - people place, story". They seemed to be very interested in our fundraisers and spent with us filming for at least an hour.

When I was running through this parts it was all so dry, but now, after the many storms we are experiencing, there are huge pools of water everywhere. I am sure that the animals love it.

After arriving at Marla we were surprised by the generosity of the manager, who told Jo, that another storm was coming and to make it more comfortable for us, he handed her a key from a motel unit free of charge. It was marvellous. The storm hit shortly but we were in paradise. We could even watch the Preliminary Final between Geelong and Collingwood. I love watching footy but missed almost all the finals.

While in Marla, we heard a lot of horror stories from people returning from Oodnadatta Track, who got caught in the storm. Some of them did not make it to Marla till midnight. One family from Tasmania travelling with kids, hit a water hole on the Track, crashed the vehicle with a camper trailer, the vehicle as a result is a write off. Now they are waiting for insurance to send someone to assess the damage and decide what to do. Not the best ending to a holiday, but very lucky that none of them was injured. In a few years time they will be laughing about it.

The most comfortable rest proved to be very much needed. I was told, that most of the road to Cadney Homestead - our next destination - is uphill. That would be OK, but the strong wind from the south made it clear, that today it was not going to be a picnic. And it wasn't. This was going to be the hardest day so far. It was not until late afternoon when the wind eased a bit. It took me 10 hours to cover 84 km! But there was one happy moment for me. Just few hundred meters from Cadney a goanna ran quickly from the roadside and stopped at a small shrub. I started to approach her very slowly and to ma delight she stayed put, looking at me and waiting for what next. Moving ever so slowly, she obviously did not feel threatened and let me get to her within a meter. I got some beautiful pictures of her. This changed my day from being miserable to be very exciting. I do not need much to be happy!

Cadney Homestead is another very comfortable place and by evening the caravan park was full. I did my round on the scooter around the park and got few donations again. By now many tourists are telling us, that they had already seen us somewhere on the road from Darwin. The manager again let us stay free after seeing what we are doing. The words of John Flynn are ringing again in my ears: "I have sufficient faith in human nature to believe, that when you set out to help people, they in turn will help you" How true!

Another day of a strong wind was waiting for us after leaving Cadney Homestead, but this time it was north westerly which made it much easier though not too comfortable and I did not feel very safe when hit by the gusts of wind. The sky around is brownish with sand and dust, our vehicle is full of red dust too, almost as bad as when we travelled last year the unsealed roads. There was another accident today. A vehicle, towing a caravan was hit by a gust of wind, the caravan turned over, taking the vehicle with it. The police managed to help with turning the car over and though mangled, it could drive to Cadney. The caravan was left smashed on the side of the road. We did not get too far before the sandstorm became so severe that we had no choice but to stop and return to Cadney . It was impossible to continue.

Late in the evening Eric caught up with us again in the caravan park. As the weather improved, he was going ahead even in darkness to the next rest area. We had no such plans but got inspired by his determination and decided to do the same after he left and put in about 40 kilometres before stopping and spending the night at a rest area. It will be easier to make it to Coober Pedy tomorrow.

In the morning we got up very early and with the first light at six we were on the road again. With a tail wind we were moving very fast, but after about 20 kilometres the sandstorm returned with full force, perhaps even worse than yesterday, and we once again had to stop and wait till the worst was over. It took about an hour and half before I could re start my ride again. The wind was still very strong, but west north west so although pushing me off the road I was still able to make reasonably good progress. It was very unusual, that I had to put on my thermal top since the wind is cold. After many weeks of hot weather it is a bit of a shock. I was looking forward to cooler climate, but not to something like this.

We caught up with Eric again at Pootnoura Rest where he spent last night after arriving there at 11 pm! He was very pleased when Jo arrived. Our campervan provided a shelter from the gale force winds and he could get up and packed his gear. If he got up without the shelter from the campervan, he would not be able to hang on to all his gear and most likely the wind would blow it away. It was so bad.

I was wondering how he will manage to ride his bike with all the bags in this wind, but he took off OK and we have not him since so he must have arrived safely at Coober Pedy. I had a hell of the day but I am a strange person and actually enjoyed the challenge. I think this is a real character building. There was enough element of the wind to push me forward, but most of it was from the right side. It was very gusty gale force wind and it tried to push me off the road as well. I could not afford the full benefit of forward speed, when it got faster, I could not handle it many more and was in a real danger of ending up in the rocks on the side of the road. I had to keep the breaks on all the time and had to laugh at the end of the day that instead of sore legs I had sore arms! It was scary at times, many times I had to jump of the scooter unable to handle the strong gusts. Sometimes the road cut through hills and being sheltered from the banks on the side I could let it go faster. But when to road was elevated the full force of crosswinds was very hard to manage. But I always kept myself positive and told myself, that I was lucky to have the wind blowing from the right side. At least I was in no danger to be blown under the wheels of passing cars. As it was, few scratches from the rocks on the side would be the worst result. But I was lucky to be able to avoid even that. The wind was also very cold and since I did very little pushing with my legs I could not warm up even with the thermal top on. The angora jumper came next but the wind was still getting through. Eventually a spray jacket produced desired results and after I replaced the shorts with long running pants I finally felt reasonably comfortable. But after all this we made it to Coober Pedy, well over 100 kilometres for the day. Five kilometres from CP the road turned sharply to the left and the full force of the wind was coming from behind. I felt confident enough to forget about the brakes and let the wind do its job. It was so fast, I thought that if I could travel like this all the way, I could reach Adelaide in half the time. Dreams, dreams...

In Coober Pedy we stoped at petrol station to refuel and called a friend who arrived to show us way to his home, where we camped in his backyard. It was an enjoyable evening exchanging stories with him and his good friend and neighbour. They both came from then Czechoslovakia about the same as we did so we had a lot to talk about.

In the morning we enjoyed the luxury of egg and bacon he cooked for us before I went to the school to talk to the principal and show of on my scooter in front of the students who had a sports day. All I could do was to leave a lot of information with the principal who promised to distribute it to all the teachers. The next thing was shopping in the supermarket and I made an appointment with local journalist. We were going to meet at the Pizza shop at midday. I always expect to wait for someone, because as I learnt, a punctual man is a lonely man. After waiting 15 minutes I rang her up only to be told that she cannot come now but if I could wait perhaps another 15 minutes she would come. It could have been 15 minutes, it could have been 30 minutes, I decided that it was not worth waiting as I have other things to do so I gave up and went about my other business.

The weather today was cool, in the morning 7 degrees. We heard that the clouds of dust from here hit Sydney.

I thought that better there than here! Not very nice, is it?

 

 

Coober Pedy to Port Augusta.

We had all day in Coober Pedy and our friend Viktor was happy to show us few places we had not visited before. One place we will never forget was Breakaways with the beautiful hills looking as if they were painted with a variety of colours. The most impressive were two adjoining hills called salt and pepper. One was predominantly white and the other more grey colour - it was easy to imagine that they were salt and pepper shakers. There are so many other hills on the show displaying great variety of different shades. We had another look at the Dog Fence, stretching unbelievable 5,600 kilometres from Surfers Paradise to Bight near Western Australia to protect from dingos sheep country to the south of the fence.

A very interesting was a visit to the opal mine, Viktor has been mining with Henry for some years. There is nothing like seeing how it is done. From the drilling 9 inch hole for exploration, to identifying possible layers of opal, dig down under the layer and using explosives to loosen the rock under the layer and then patiently digging the layers with the hope of finding a fortune. Many of them know, that they would have to be lucky to get rich, but they can make living from it. It requires a special kind of person to survive there. There are many, who came here for few weeks for the experience and many years later they are still here. There is something special about this lifestyle which makes them to stay 20, 30 years. But it is not for everyone. Only for those of whom can be said, that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. I admire these characters. But of course you can also find few, who come here to cheat or rob someone else and the miners have to be aware of it and take every precautions. For example if they find opal in larger quantity, they will not sell any till all the opal is dug out. If the crooks would find out about it, they would visit their mine at night to dig it all out. They are called "the night shifters".

When we left in the morning the weather was almost perfect. Temperature 7 degrees, wind from the North West pushing me ahead and it did not take long before it started to warm up and eventually I could take off my shirt and expose myself to the full force of the sun. I know, I am not supposed to do it! The maximum temperature for the day was a very comfortable 25 degrees.

For fifty kilometres there were still some signs of opal mining but after that flat, stony deserts with only few, very small shrubs. Very similar to Nullarbor. We ended the day at the Ingomar Rest Area. To our surprise at the end of the day there were six other campers to great joy for Jo. She does not like us being alone during a night.

For the night we pulled the roof down, expecting strong winds as forecasted. Unfortunately they were correct. During the night it was blowing from the south, but by morning it turned from the west and although very strong and cold, I could manage somehow and when the road turned slightly to the south west I could still cover about 10 kilometres per hour. Once again, since the wind was from the west, when the road turned to the right, the going was hard, when it turned left, it was much better. I sometimes wonder, why the road is turning at all in spite of such a flat country, but there must be a reason and I will not criticize it.

After about 150 kilometres from Coober Pedy the countryside is changing. There are more trees, though still small, I could see some sheep grazing around, few emus and to make great joy I finally saw a snake near the road and was able to take some pictures of him. That makes for another happy day for me. The temperature during the day reached only 17 degrees, a very different from the previous day. The wind was getting stronger as the day went on. Jo is finding it hard too, as the wind pushes her off the road to the left and she has to pull constantly on the steering wheel, her arm is pretty sore by the end of the day.

When we arrived at Bon Bon rest Area, there were several other campers, but since the wind was so strong and cold, they were all hiding inside their campers. I am finding that when the weather gets bad, the fundraising suffers a lot. The passing vehicles do not stop and the campers are nowhere to be seen. I can only hope, that the donations to our website will make up for it. www.everydayhero.com.au/scooterman

Back to the sand storm a couple of day ago, Jo heard on the news that it was the worst one for 70 years. So I probably have another first - riding the worst sandstorm on a scooter.

The roof on our campervan remained closed since our arrival at Bon Bon, we did not dare to lift it up. The campervan was rocking like if it was a cradle with a baby in it or more like a boat in rough sea. I was almost worried that I could end up with another first - getting sea sick surrounded by deserts! The temperature in the morning was 2 degrees but with the strong wind it felt like minus ten. I had to put on five layers of clothes before feeling reasonably warm. And no shorts of course. Jo heard on radio that Adelaide had 9.4 degrees at 2 pm and a hailstorm with the ice on the ground 5 cm thick. We got up to 15 degrees.

It must be the global warming!

The strong wind continued all day, most of the time making it very hard for me. It was so bad, that when I saw a road train approaching I had to get off, otherwise the turbulence created by them would knock me off.

Nevertheless, since we started very early, we made it to Glendambo. To our surprise there was a reception on our mobile and we could even watch some of the Grand Final on TV.

A sign at the approach to Glendambo advises that the elevation is 150 metres, the population is 22,500 sheep, approximately 20,000,000 flies and 30 human. When in 1982 the road from Adelaide to Alice was relined, bypassing the Town Kingoonya, all the businesses were relocated to this location and Glendambo was born.

The wind is still blowing hard and cold, but we are for once very comfortable in the caravan park with the power on and the heater going.

The temperature in the morning was again 2 degrees but there was almost no wind. I needed "only" four layers of clothes to keep me warm. As always, wind started to pick up again, but the road turned sharply left almost in easterly direction. With the wind blowing from south west I was making a very good progress.

I saw few more emus, unfortunately some of them victims of a road kill. A dead fox and few beef cattle as well, but to my surprise no dead kangaroos, which normally outnumber all the other road kill.

Desert Oaks are growing all around. With their twisted branches they look magnificent. Everyone is different, I could take a thousands of pictures and there would not be two the same. I do not think than any artist could produce more fascinating scenery.

Early in the afternoon we are arriving at Lake Hart. It is a salt lake, very large and I would swear that there is some water on the other side of it. But it could be a mirage too. Originally we planned to stop there at the rest area overnight, but since we had still plenty of time, we decided to continue Pimba.

Since the weather warmed up and wind moderated, flies had a field day after several days of impossible conditions for them to fly. Guess what happened to us. Jo had been spraying the flies inside the campervan and left the spray can on the seat. at the back. As she was driving it appears that the can rolled to the sliding door and when I opened it to make few notes in my diary. it must have fallen out without me noticing it. But what I did notice when Jo drove off, was a green can flying away from the rear wheel. Yes, it was the fly spray, well squashed with the liquid leaking out. Yes, Murphy’s Law. It could not happened at the worst time.

Short distance after the lake the road went steeply uphill and the last 40 kilometres it looked again like the Nullarbor. Small shrubs scattered on flat, stony plains. There were few more gentle uphills but I was still progressing well. I knew that what goes up must come down so I was still happy. We even could find some spare time to drive to Woomera, only six kilometres away. It is famous for its rocket base so we wanted to see it. A typical outback town, nice Visitors Information Centre, many rockets and planes on display in the town, but apart from visitors it looked dead. Even the shop closed at 2 pm so we could not buy anything.

After driving back to Pimba Roadhouse we settled in a free camping ground without power but with toilets, restaurant and fuel station.

Last couple of days we saw many three wheel motorcycles heading north. I had never seen so many in my whole life before. From one who stopped at Pimba I learnt that they were on the way to Alice from all over Australia and even from overseas trying to break Guinness Book of Records for most three wheelers meeting in one place. These bikes are called OZ TRIKES, the company makes six of them a month and the basic model costs $30,000. The engines are either 1,600 or 2,000 cc. A very impressive machines.

We got up early, the temperature is rising! It was already 3 degrees as against 2 degrees the previous two mornings! Wind started gentle from east and since the road was heading almost east, I could not wait for the moment for the road to turn south as indicated on the map. It eventually happened and we had a very good day. The temperature rose to 20 degrees and finally I could ride in t-shirt and shorts. For almost 20 kilometres it was still looking like Nullarbor until we reached a lookout with a huge salt lake on display. After that, suddenly a steep downhill! Oh, what a feeling! I always knew that what goes up must come down. There were few more to follow, but then uphill and back to Nullarbor! This time it did not last too long and another downhill made me even happier. The countryside changed so dramatically. Hills around, few more salt lakes and beautiful desert oaks. With the lovely weather we arrived at a rest area about 60 kilometres from Port Augusta. With an early start we should be there before lunch.

With the northerly wind the temperature becoming more sensible, 7 degrees in the morning, maximum for the day 23 degrees. When we arrived at Port Augusta, the sky was full of birds and I suddenly realized that they were seagulls. We haven't seen one for a while. Being close to water, there are also mosquitoes which is not a good news, but we could buy another can of insect spray so we are saved. We stopped at Big4 caravan park, the manager again showed a lot of goodwill and let us stay free of charge. A lovely caravan park with high standards as you expect from the Big4 parks. And the shower with soothing soft water was a real bonus after a few days without a shower. But now we are definitely in a civilization. I am not sure, whether I should be happy about it or sad. There is a lot of hassle not experienced in the outback, but we are taking it as it comes.

We agreed to plan our arrival in Adelaide on the 6th of October at 10 am at Lights Vision on the Montefiores Hills so our plan is to arrive in Adelaide on the 5th and stay at Big4 Levi Park Caravan Park on Harris Road. We feel confident, that everything will be OK as it has been so far.

 
Mission accomplished.

A very strong northerly wind was blowing all night and I was happy to see it continuing in the morning. With the northerly wind came an increase in temperature. In the morning we had 16 degrees. We decided to change our plan and instead of turning off the highway towards Wilmington we continued down to Port Pirie. I was hoping to have much better chance for promotion and fundraising following the coastline. I could not believe, how fast I was travelling with the wind directly from behind. On the left side were the Flinders Ranges and when I saw the turn off towards the ranges we would have to claim, I was happy to keep going south. Since we left at 6 am in the morning and the speed I was travelling without much effort, we arrived at Port Pirie around midday. As we found the next day on the radio news the wind reached 80 kilometres per hour. No wonder I was flying like a bullet and was sometimes tempted to put the brakes on. But of course I didn't. The forecasted cold front for the afternoon was coming, generating huge clouds of dust. The sky turned orange and the visibility was very much reduced, my mouth and nose were full of dust and the wind started to turn around from north west. It was still OK until we turned off to the right for the last 6 kilometres to Port Pirie. Suddenly, from an easy ride it became a struggle against the strong wind. When we arrived at Port Pirie we were very disappointed to find the streets completely deserted and shops closed. There was nobody in the streets. We thought it was due to the weather and since there is a forecast for rain tomorrow, we assessed the situation and decided to keep going to Gladstone while the condition was still favourable. The road to Gladstone after few kilometres turns in easterly direction which made it again easy with the north westerly wind. There are few hills but not really huge. Everything around is green. Beautiful pastures and lots of grain fields. Gladstone, situated in Southern Flinders Ranges was founded 1876 and with the population of 680, is claiming to have the Australia’s largest inland grain storage facility. It looks to us, that they are very proud people living here. Everything is tidy and when we arrived in the caravan park, we were both more than impressed. The caretakers John and Bernice after consulting their committee decided to let us stay free as a contribution to our charity efforts. I hope that this fact is not going to make it sound as if I am heaping prize on the facilities because of that. I can honestly say that we have seen some well looked after caravan parks, but this one is something very special. Every building is painted as if it was new, the camp kitchen, the pride of Bernice, is absolutely spotless and well equipped with everything one can think of and the toilets and shower are like new, even including pot plants. I cannot remember seeing anything so perfect before. And I must not forget to mention the beautiful thick lawn for tents. This is John's pride. I thought that if I had a tent with me, I would be tempted to put it up instead of sleeping in our campervan.

The temperature today reached 29 degrees, I could again ride in shorts and even without my shirt, but tomorrow have to be ready for a shock.

To our relieve the forecast was wrong. We had some rain over night, temperature in the morning was 9 degrees and the sky covered with heavy clouds. It started with a several kilometres uphill and we found ourselves in a country looking much like Tasmania. Lush green pastures, rolling hills and even after Gladstone the first town was Georgetown, both names are towns in Tasmania too! One disappointing aspect was the lack of people we saw. The pretty small towns were completely deserted. The wind from south was very cold and the temperature did not get over 12 degrees all day. I still enjoy being out in the fresh air with lovely countryside, but the fundraising was again badly affected, until we got to Clare Information Centre where we managed some promotions and collected about $50. I gave a call to local newspaper, had a good chat with the journalist and she promised a story in the next edition with the address for donations. I was also pleased to receive an email that a $50 donation to my www.everydayhero.com.au/scooterman was received from my friend Franz Tockner all the way from Austria! I met him during a race in Greece and we have remained friends ever since. It is really something special to receive a donation from an Austrian to an Australian charity.

The road is now narrow with no shoulders so I have to be on alert. But fortunately there is not much traffic so it is OK. The last few kilometres were mostly downhill as we are descending to Clare Valley. Suddenly the lush pastures have been replaced with vineyards. There are some 40 vineries now. The first vines were planted by Jesuit Brothers, mainly to make alter wines. The main variety grown here is Riesling.

We settled down in the caravan park, very spacious and comfortable. As we move close to civilization, the prices for camping go up - this one was $29, on the other hand after paying up to $1.80 for petrol in the outback, the price here was only $1.18 and it more than compensates for dearer camping. Not to mention everything else which is so much cheaper here.

The forecast was again for rain and as soon as we settled in, in started pouring and never stopped all night. This time we slightly delayed our departure, hoping for the rain to stop but getting ready for a ride in rain. It looked as if it was never going to stop. But then at 7.30 the rain eased and by 8 am when we left it stopped. The southerly wind was only moderate but very cold. It was only 4 degrees so I had to dress well again. But apart from few brief showers it was OK. Fortunately it started again with a long claim. I considered this to be a benefit, an opportunity to warm up. Soon we are again back to a country looking like Tassie with lush pastures and rolling hills. This continued all the way to Tarlee, where the pastures were replaced by huge fields of wheat. Huge grain silos at Tarlee confirmed that this is the main source of income in this area. We also visited a local school. Unfortunately there are school holidays in South Australia but we still caught up with some staff and were able to leave for the information about Canteen and our fundraiser as well as information about our forests. There is no camping ground at Tarlee so we continued 16 kilometres to Kapunda which we would have normally bypassed. I am very happy that we did not. The road was very hilly, only pastures with sheep and beef cattle. But Kapunda, we never heard of before, surprised us with its rich history. It is situated at the northern edge of Barossa Valley. It is the oldest Australian mining town. A very rich deposit of copper was discovered and the town established in 1842. It produced the world’s richest and purest copper. Interesting to note, that the initial discovery was kept secret since it was on a leased land. Only after Francis Dutton and Charles Bagot, who made the discovery, were able to purchase the land freehold, the find was made public. Before long many miners from Cornwall and Wales flooded into the settlement of Kapunda. The strong Celtic heritage is still celebrated in Australia’s oldest Celtic festival.

Another interesting thing is that Sir Sidney Kidman, the Cattle King, made this town his own and made it famous throughout Australia and the world for 30 years with his yearly horse sales held behind the North Kapunda Hotel which still stands today.

There is yet another thing about Kapunda. It has been dubbed the most haunted town in Australia. Sightings and unexplained sounds have been experienced in more than 30 buildings in and around Kapunda.

Just before arriving it started to rain and finally I got wet before arriving at the caravan park. But we quickly turn the heater on, Jo made a nice hot cup of coffee and we are settling down for the night. I would like to see some ghosts, but Jo doesn’t want to hear anything about it. And just now, for the first time after few days we can see the sun briefly appearing before quickly disappearing behind the horizon. At least we know it is still there!

In the morning, since we had less than 40 kilometres to Gawler, we had a chance to look around, especially the mine was very interesting to look at. On the way there were some heavy clouds all around, but apart from a couple of very brief showers, the weather was acceptable though I had to dress up again because the southerly breeze was still very could. It was very lucky that we booked the caravan park by email, it was fully booked when we arrived. Again a very high standard park, lovely grassy sites and spotless facilities. I went for a ride around the town to try some fundraising but once again there were very few people in the streets. The weather is not very helpful for the fundraising. Even in the caravan park I am able to catch up with only few people who venture out for a moment. Mostly they are all hiding inside their vans and I do not like knocking on peoples doors. That would not be right anyway.

Gawler lies on the edge of Barossa Valley, has about 18,000 people, similar size to our Burnie. It is the oldest country town in Australia, founded in 1839. That makes it exactly 100 years older than I am!

It was 4 degrees when we got up. Daylight saving started today but we did not get by that hour earlier. It was a lovely morning and I wanted to delay our departure till 9 am, hoping to catch up with few people in front of the supermarket. But another setback, the town was completely deserted, all shops closed. Finally in front of a coffee shop a caught up with a couple having breakfast and got some donations. Further on I saw a couple walking a dog, had a chat with them and as I expected, they had no money on them going just for a walk. But to my surprise, about an hour later they made a special trip by car to catch up with me with a $20 donation. This is the sort of things that make us keep going on. People who make so much effort to contribute something. The road eventually joined the highway to Adelaide and the traffic got very thick. It surprised me that there were absolutely no sealed shoulders on the highway and I must admit I did not feel very safe. Jo was finding it very difficult to find a place to stop. I could not believe, that this three lane highway not only did not have any shoulders, even for emergency stops, but in spite of a lot of space on its sides, there were kerbs for many kilometres making it impossible to pull of the highway in the case of a puncture or other emergency.

As we went on through Smithfield, we had a very special feeling, though we could not recognised exactly when that happened since there were no signs identifying it and it and it has grown together with other suburbs including Elizabeth. What is so special about Smithfield? Last week, on Wednesday 30th September, it was exactly 40 years, since we landed in Adelaide and spent the first two nights at Smithfield Hostel. (The same day is also birthday of one of our granddaughters Carly.) For the younger people I would like to explain, that those hostels were like army barracks, where the immigrants were accommodated, got free rent and food in the canteen until they found a job and could move out. I think there was a time limit for that. We arrived on Wednesday from Vienna to Adelaide, were taken to Smithfield and all were offered jobs at Holden factory. At that time there was a big shortage of workers. But through an interpreter we were given a chance to visit an Employment Office in Elizabeth and try to get employed in the profession we were qualified for. One young lady, who studied English at University felt confident enough to interpret for us and so six of us ventured the next day to Elizabeth. It took only few words for her to realize, that she could not understand anything they said nor they did understand her either. She immediately panicked and we all had a job to calm her down. She felt that she let us all down but we managed to convince her that it was only a small setback. Then we tried to explain what our qualifications were. We did not have any documents, since we were leaving Czechoslovakia only for a short trip to Austria and if searched and caught on the border with any such documents, it would betray our intention to stay there and would be promptly sent back home. I have a Diploma in Dairy Food Technology but did not even know the word milk. I tried various gesture when finally, when I was pretending to milk a cow, they suddenly jumped up with a joy. They understood! After a few calls, they wrote up some notes I could take back to the Hostel and see the interpreter - a Yugoslav who could speak Czech. They found a job for me at Amscol, an Ice Cream Factory. I could start whenever I wanted. The plane we arrived on was Boeing 707 chartered by the Government with 168 Czechs escaping from the Russian occupation. Everyone had decide to give themselves at least a couple of weeks enjoying the taxpayers hospitality and settling down, learning few words of English and look around. But this is not my cup of tea. I do not like to be dependant on anyone. So after arriving on Wednesday, I was on my way to work on Friday morning.

When we left Czechoslovakia, we could only exchange equivalent of $20 and Czech currency was worthless in the West. I found a job in Vienna, earned just enough to buy food and pay a rent in an abandoned cabinet makers workshop. It was full of wood shavings so we swept some away to create enough space for our camping gear and happily lived there for few weeks. I used to walk to work more than an hour every day to save 5 shillings on a tram. At the time of our departure I had saved enough to exchange it for $7.50. The first thing we bought was an alarm clock so I would not sleep in for work. When I left for work in the morning, the Immigration Officials transferred Jo and the boys to Glenelg Hostel, to be closer for me to the city and my workplace. And I was supposed to find my way there after finishing work. I was given a small flyer with a map showing only the major roads, told how to get on the tram to Glenelg and told to get off as soon as we cross a river. When I saw the first creek, I thought it must be it and jumped off. Of course it was not it and from the basic map I could not work out where I was and could not ask anyone. But I could see from the map, that Glenelg was not far from the airport. That was my guide. When I saw a plane landing or taking off, I walked in that direction. After several hours and just before dark, I found it. Wasn’t I proud of myself! I cannot keep telling all the stories, it would be a book. But when people ask: “Was it hard?” My answer is definitely NO. It was a challenge and we always saw the funny side of it. Isn’t it funny, when you are lost in a city you do not know and do not speak the language to ask? I had to laugh about it. I am still saying, that the newcomers should not be given all to them on a silver plate as it is being done these days. Make it hard, sort the boys from the men and make sure, that only the useful people stay here. There are enough non-hopers being born here and there is not much we can do about it. But we do not need to import more. Enough said!

After another short day we settled down in another high standard Highway One Caravan Park. That is why I have enough time to bother you with these stories. Hope you will forgive me.

Our journey is almost over, thanks to the strong winds lately we had another short day, ending in another very good Levi Caravan Park, only few kilometres from the finishing line. To avoid any confusion in the morning I went for a scooter ride to check the route and make sure that I will know exactly where to go and which way. I was glad I did. The route I was originally going to take ended up wit a very steep hill and I did not think it would look pretty for the TV cameras to be seen struggling up the hills! All I needed to do was to alter it slightly to arrive from slightly different direction.

In the morning with full confidence we arrived at the destination. Few hundreds metres from finish we were joined by a number of members and staff from Canteen, some on scooters, some just running with us. Channel 7 TV camera was there, journalist from The Advertiser and many additional members from Canteen. With the Canteen banners all around it was a very impressive display. Peter McGlennon together with other members of Canteen organised the finish very well. We appreciate their welcome for us and their enthusiasm. It reminded us once again, that we are trying to make a difference to the lives of very special people who deserve every bit of our support. I urge again everyone to support this organisation. The donations are well spent, not much is spent on an administration and nothing is spent on the covering the costs for the fundraisers. That's why it is so much appreciated, when someone like Forestry Tasmania together with Southern Cross TV are prepared to support Canteen and covered the cost of this fundraiser. And of course with the contribution from other sponsors like Asics, Spirit of Tasmania, Tasmanian Heritage Cheese Factory (formerly Lactos), Vanders Ute Trays and Metal Works, Cadbury, and others, this fundraiser could become a reality. It is not possible to thank all those who donated money and who offered free services during our journey. We are on the way home, but this is not all over yet, there will be another chapter after we get home to an official conclusion of the journey. Meanwhile we still continue with fundraising and donations can still be sent to www.everydayhero.com.au/scooterman

Thank you all for your support.