Our mission was to follow the coast to Adelaide where we’d have to give the bikes a service before heading into the perilous Red Centre. Winter was catching up with us and in southern Australia that meant wind and rain – riding misery.
Having left the Great Ocean Road behind we had a day of sunshine, though it was super windy. And heavily, non-aerodynamically laden Lea quickly finds her top speed reduced to 85km/h. The poor little engine fights on but I have to drop down a gear or two most of the time. So we weren’t going anywhere fast. Add to that a long stop over to buy a new battery that had to be charged first and you get a sunny day wasted faffing.
The weather report wasn’t looking great for the next day or two so we decided to hovel up in a forest and catch up with writing diaries for a day. We pitched the tarp, lit a wet, smoky fire and settled in.
On the rare occasion that we did leave the tent, I spotted some pretty cool neon-yellow worms crawling along the charred bark of a tre, busy avoiding a funnel spider web. (Charred forests are common here. They are testament to either a forest fire a while back or a controlled burn-off designed to prevent such fires. The plants here are pretty much designed to let the flames woosh through fast and taller bushed and trees often survive.)
One of those trees was bleeding a bright red sap which looked pretty impressive.
When the sun started poking through the clouds we packed up and rode out of the forest. Only to realise how clever it had been to hide from several days of rain down some mud tracks. What had been the odd puddle or two to ride around had turned to lakes crossing the road and slimy slosh all the way back to the tarmac.
Within minutes Lea’s tires had turned to slick racing ones and the debris stuck under the fender stopped the front wheel dead. There was no steering at all. The rear wheel propelled me forward under a fountain of mud while the whole bike slid uncontrollably this way and that. I wrestled Lea in the direction of the road, mighty glad once again to have downsized to a smaller bike.
Aidan had better tires and fared much better on Pippa. It was an effort, but at least he maintained some control over where he was sliding. Safely out, he helped me push Lea out of a mud hole she was fast digging herself into when she couldn’t get over a tiny hill.
Safely back on the Princess Highway we got some mileage under our wheels. To give you an idea of the vastness of Australia, this is an actual house number. There was a 33145 and all the numbers in between but I was too lazy to take a photo.
We wildcamped in a cozy spot not far from the sea having crossed in the state of South Australia and had some local ants for neighbours. Unlike previous experiences these guys were rather peaceful, despite their massive size and aggressive colour.
The next day the highway was pretty boring and the wind prevented me from going fast and getting it over and done with.
I was feeling pretty sick too. Maybe the water we’d got from the petrol station tap? We fill up on public taps where we can to avoid spending our precious budget on pricey water. But by far not all tap water in Australia is drinkable and there isn’t always a sign to let you know which it is. So when we suddenly reached a light pink salt lake, it provided a welcome distraction.
That evening we would reach our chosen camp site near Adelaide, where we would hole up a couple of days.