Left of the Centre

 

I made it to Uluru! Aussies simply refer to it as “the rock”, which has absolutely nothing to do with fancy-pants wrestling and more to do with a tendency to deliberately understate things: Uluru is a mountain-like monolith that juts up from the desert in the most spectacular fashion.

Woot!

Woot!

From Darwin, it was about 2,200km of riding through some amazing scenery but in pretty harsh conditions. Temperatures soared during the middle of the day making riding impractical, so I found myself getting up in the wee hours and hitting the road as the sun peaked over the horizon. Luckily, as it was pretty flat terrain, I could knock off 80-130km by lunchtime if the wind was favourable and the coffee and cake kept coming.

2,200km of outback Australia

2,200km through the outback

It was pretty hard work, but it was well worth it. I love being on the bike and rolling through the countryside. As “they” say, a bad day on the bike beats a good day in the office every time. Besides, having family close by makes the going a lot easier with plenty of coffee, cake, hugs, smiles, a comfy bed and wicked tucker.

Speaking of family, Mum set a new mark for oldies on decrepit bicycles (you could hear the clunking and sqeaking from miles away, and the bike was making a fair amount of noise too…) when she managed over 100km in one day – go Mummy!

Mum smashes the 100km mark but is too tired to crack a smile. Awesome.

Mum smashes the 100km mark but is too tired to crack a smile. Awesome.

So, what is it like riding through the desert? It’s actually pretty grand, and not as boring as you might think.

The Never Never...

The Never Never…

Even though the desert landscape appears monotonous when you rush through it at >100km/h in a car, the same cannot be said of the perspective you gain as you ride through (at a much slower pace) by bicycle. The grass blurs into a yellow-grey mat with a tinge of green for those in a car, while the cyclist sees the species variation (spinifex, kangaroo grass, saltbush and feather grass to name the ones I’m familiar with) along with the multitude of teeny desert flowers that boldly bloom despite the oppressive heat and dry conditions.

Feather grass

Feather grass

The soil subtly changes hue every few hundred meters from light ochre to the deep blood red that is so closely associated with the Central Australian landscape. There is an amazing collection of wildlife in the Australian desert, that, again, you miss as you zoom by in a car – the presence of multiple species of butterflies was particularly surprising. Unfortunately, sightings of wallabies and kangaroos are even between the two transport modes as the only ones to see during in the day are remaindered as road kill (hoppy-croon! dang, it’s dead… something my Grandfather taught me to say when I was 2 years old, and you get to say it alot travelling through the outback). Reptiles are less frequently spotted, but I was lucky enough to spy a Central Netted Dragon sunning itself on an anthill by the road.

Central Netted Dragon

Central Netted Dragon

There are birds aplenty, with lots of raptors (kites, falcons and eagles), parrots large and small, the sweet sounding but grisly butcher bird and many others to keep the inner twitcher happy.

A falcon sits on top of a tree keeping an eye out for tasty prey

A falcon sits on top of a tree keeping an eye out for tasty prey

It hasn’t all been monotony,  bird-watching and cake consumption though. There have been a few breaks to recover and the odd touristy activity.

Taking a dip in Bitter Springs, a thermal spring just off the Stuart Highway. A very pleasant detour indeed.

Taking a dip in Bitter Springs, a thermal spring just off the Stuart Highway. A very pleasant detour indeed.

Taking a wee rest break at the Devil's Marbles, another remarkable geological land formation in the Centre.

Taking a wee rest break at the Devil’s Marbles, another remarkable geological land formation in the Centre.

Watching the spectacular bird demonstration at the Desert Park in Alice Springs. This is a Black Kite having a snack in mid-air... snacks on the go, my kind of bird

Watching the spectacular bird demonstration at the Desert Park in Alice Springs. This is a Black Kite having a snack in mid-air… snacks on the go, my kind of bird.

Posing for the requisite tourist photo in front of Kata Tjuta, Uluru's oft ignored sister formation

Posing for the requisite tourist photo in front of Kata Tjuta, Uluru’s oft ignored sister formation.

 

In other exciting news, I’ve passed the $2,000 mark for fundraising, thanks to the generosity of folks met along the road. I still have a long way to go to reach my target of $50,000 so dig deep and chuck a few dollars at the Cancer Council on my behalf – just click here and you will be instantly transported to the magical world of Philanthropy where wonderous things happen and everyone eats chocolate without putting on weight….

The legends of the outback with carte blanche on the chockie front can be found here. Wanna get on the list? It’s a really good list…

The sunsmart kids of the Ellem family who donated generously and were generally enthusiastic about everything. Woo hoo!

The sunsmart kids of the Ellem family who donated generously and were generally enthusiastic about everything. Woo hoo!

From here, I’ve decided I’ve had enough of desert cycling. It’s getting too hot and if I don’t get a wriggle on the wet season will be on me and Tarquin doesn’t swim so we need to get out of the tropics toot-sweet. So that “T” doesn’t get damp, I’m driving across to Townsville with Dad and will be riding down the coast to Melbourne. It’s only another 4,000km from there, but it should be really lovely riding with plenty of beaches and the odd feed of fish and chips with the seagulls.

I hope this post finds you achieving your goals surrounded by wonderful people who can see how amazing you really are!

Cooking cake for the cyclist in the middle of nowhere. How good is my mum????

Cooking cake for the cyclist in the middle of nowhere. How good is my mum????

My bike is 1.7m long...

My bike is 1.7m long…

Creepy scenes over termite mounds.... dead bull nearby added the olfactory heebie-jeebies to the scene

Creepy scenes over termite mounds…. dead bull nearby added the olfactory heebie-jeebies to the scene

Hitting 10,000km for the trip... sounds like a good reason to have cake!

Hitting 10,000km for the trip… sounds like a good reason to have cake!

Spotted this water nymph at Bitter Springs...

Spotted this water nymph at Bitter Springs…

This is officially the Middle of Nowhere

This is officially the Middle of Nowhere

A bottle tree with a flock of galahs on a cattle station. How Australian is that?

A bottle tree with a flock of galahs on a cattle station. How Australian is that?!

Another early start

Another early start

Surrounded by Apostle Birds demanding a bikky from the latest visitors to the roadhouse.

Surrounded by Apostle Birds demanding a bikky from the latest visitors to the roadhouse.

Janey can jump! First successful star jump since I was ten years old.

Janey can jump! First successful star jump since I was ten years old.

Dwarfed by a dumptruck being transported along the Stuart Highway, Mum holds her breath and hopes for the best.

Dwarfed by a dumptruck being transported along the Stuart Highway, Mum holds her breath and hopes for the best.

The support convoy at the Devil's Marbles

The support convoy at the Devil’s Marbles

Despte looking pretty hard, I didn't find any of these awesome looking lizards in the wild. Thorny Devils, Desert Park, Alice Springs.

Despte looking pretty hard, I didn’t find any of these awesome looking lizards in the wild. Thorny Devils, Desert Park, Alice Springs.

Spinifex Pigeions and Zebra Finch (Desert Park, Alice Springs)

Spinifex Pigeons and Zebra Finches (Desert Park, Alice Springs)

Boys are show-offs

Boys are show-offs

Mum and Ron take a stroll along the dry riverbed at Simpson's Gap, Western McDonnell's

Mum and Ron take a stroll along the dry riverbed at Simpson’s Gap, Western McDonnell’s

Posing in Standley Chasm, Western McDonnell's

Posing in Standley Chasm, Western McDonnell’s

Changing support teams at Erldunda on the Stuart Highway. Mum subs out as Dad takes the wheel.... goodbye home-made fruit cake, hello licorice snacks!

Changing support teams at Erldunda on the Stuart Highway. Mum subs out as Dad takes the wheel…. goodbye home-made fruit cake, hello licorice snacks!

Pleeeeease don't go! I need my fruit cake!!!! LOL

Pleeeeease don’t go! I need my fruit cake!!!! LOL

On the road to Uluru

On the road to Uluru

Yes, I did the sunset on the rock thing!

Yes, I did the sunset on the rock thing!

For the full time-lapse sunset on Uluru experience…  click HERE

 

Used my bike work stand to support my iddy-bitty point and shoot camera... looked fab next to the crew with their flashy SLR setups

Used my bike work stand to support my iddy-bitty point and shoot camera… looked fab next to the crew with their flashy SLR setups

Around Uluru

Around Uluru

Another look at Uluru

Another look at Uluru

Camel's crossing... It's true, I saw some!

Camel’s crossing… It’s true, I saw some!

and finally…

If he/she come's down "near" here, they will be disappointed and pretty lonely

If he/she returns “near” here, they will be disappointed and pretty lonely

 


Comments

Left of the Centre — 7 Comments

  1. Salut from Chisinau, Moldova where i am again doing orphanage projects. Jane – is that rock the same as Ayers Rock?? Jane – i am sooooo very very disappointed in your failure to teach Tarquin to swim. Not Nice. BEST

  2. Well done you…the rock, awesome!
    You’re so close, what a champion!
    Just keep peddling, just keep peddling!
    See you soon in Melbourne (hanging out for a potential date!) x

  3. Hey Jane,
    Have I ever mentioned before how jealous I am? Well, just in case I didn’t: I’m jealous. What a wonderful pictures and stories again! It is correct that you now have cycled over 10,000 km and you still have about 4,000 to 5,000 to go? Bloody hell, Australia is big! Well, keep those blogs coming, I’m really enjoying them!
    Big hug from China

  4. Hi Jane

    Your Mum popped into our shop in Coober Pedy after she had been cycling with you and told me of your amazing journey! Incredible! I think she was extremely happy you were on home soil! Best wishes from Coober Pedy. Nicky x

  5. 加油! Add oil!

    Missing you. Think about you a lot, but we’re really glad you’ve been able to do this. Crashes, fruit cake, inferno heated cooking, and all.

    Thanks for blogging along the way, too. This is really something you care a great deal about, that I had no knowledge about before. We’ve become small advocates of your cause because of you.

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