Bit of a Nasty Surprise

We left Glen Helen Homestead loaded with three days of water and food. The bitumen soon faded into the distance behind us, and we began what would be an unexpectedly horrible road. Good thing Claire found a nice Aussie who would spot 15 L of bore water 100 k down the road, just in case.
We managed 77k the first day, due mostly to the bitumen bit, 53, 50 and 47 subsequent days, not three days, but four, you will notice. We found our first water stash, and since we didn’t need it all decided to ask someone to spot it further on. Three young backpackers in a rental cheerfully agreed, and we trudged on.P1010635b
The road varied from standard corrugations, with smooth bits now and then, tTheo fist sized, sharp-edged rocks imbedded in hardened clay, to deep red sand. As soon as we were just about to give up on one torture, gloriously, some new form arrived under our wheels. The change, though often worse than the last seemed a relief. Suffering can be interesting – in retrospect.

A good section of road

A good section of road

One of Claire’s rack bolts came all the way out on day three, not a good omen, and two of our water containers sprung leaks, one repairable with a twist tie, and the other transferred to an empty milk jug offered by a passing motorist. Lots of people offer help, which we hope we won’t need, but is reassuring. We finally realized that the many thumbs up we were getting were meant as a question, “Doing alright mate?” not a “Good on ya!” and required a returned thumbs up. However, removing one hand from a death grip on the handlebar and risking a nasty crash wasn’t always advisable, even at the riotous speed of 7kph; those rocks were hard and sharp.

Where are Claire and Bob? We like stomping little pushbiker's tents.

Where are Claire and Bob? We like stomping little pushbiker’s tents.

My water worries were mostly unfounded, thanks to Claire’s planning, as usual, and we ended up dumping five L of bore (bad tasting, stomach rumbling) water before Kings Canyon.

We will be more relaxed about water on this touristy section to Uluru, since people seem eager to help hapless, inept, even stupid push-bikers. We’ll be happy to make anyone feel superior for a liter of water.

Claire making our first damper

Claire making our first damper

Ever present turmite mounds often prove useful

Ever present termite mounds often prove useful

In the Kings Canyon resort campground, one middle-aged man traveling with his son, said I was a living legend! I think that has something to do with being old, and still being a hapless, inept push-biker.

Deadly visitor

Deadly visitor

As we spoke his son noticed that we were almost straddling what might have been the most lethal (quick death at least) snakes in Australia. I took photos from what I thought was a respectful distance, until I remembered that Australian snakes are not slow like our snakes, and that they are aggressive. He easily outran the official summoned for such crises, and found a new hole. I am writing this a few feet from his hole. I hope he comes out to sun again. He was a very pretty snake.P1010683b
We have rediscovered (we learned this 16 years ago about distances) that the maps don’t agree with the road signs, the road signs don’t agree with each other and none of them agree with our cycle computers. This is¬†uncomfortable when the difference exceeds available water.

I nearly fell over with shock when we saw the snake because I had mistakenly assumed that the deadly snakes we were watching out for were the same general sizes of our dangerous snakes in the U.S. Bob and I both have been bush bashing and reaching into small clumps of grasses for fire starter, thinking that no poisonous snakes could hide in them. This little killer was the size of a garter snake. When I asked how their tiny mouths could even make a bite, our neighbors assured us that the jaws open very wide. Didn’t sleep real well that night.

One fly didn't get away in time; extra protien

One fly didn’t get away in time; extra protein

dinner in the bush

I’d wanted to justify our extra effort and expense of mailing ourselves food to remote locations, knowing that the prices out here are typically quite exorbitant. Armed with my packing list and receipts, I added up a comparison of the few items from our food satchels that are even available here (11 of 24). Those groceries, in Alice Springs, cost us $43.44; here the same sizes and weights would have cost $116.25. The $17 postage was worth it. To celebrate we splurged on 2L of ice cream, $10.


We need more training to finish 2L at one go, but soon.

We need more training to finish 2L at one go, but soon.


Bit of a Nasty Surprise — 4 Comments

  1. You guys blow me away! Good On Ya! Safe travels. BTW what is a damper? I assume it is not something that controls air flow through a fireplace flue!

  2. Claire and Bob,

    Once again I am taken aback by the degree of difficulty of your selected treks … and again I am greatly impressed, but not envious. Thank you for posting about your adventure, as it allows me to have a sense of what you are experiencing, all the while stretched out on my couch.
    In an an attempt to share in the difficulties you are experiencing, I tried to consume a quart of ice cream last night … but guess I am not up to equaling your accomplishments.

    Safe travels,

  3. Finally have now gotten the chance to read this at “full size.” You two, intrepid rascals that you are, are regularly described as my role models. We are planning on DRIVING the Tiger through the Outback in a few years, and I’m taking notes. You are absolutely amazing…keep on having a wonderful time (despite the problems I do know that’s what’s happening!!). Much love, Kathy

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