We have only spent a day in Oodnadatta – bought a large portion of potato chips, restocked on pasta and pesto, filled our bottles with rainwater we found in a tank hidden behind a former train station and went back into the desert.
Our old Schwalbe Mondial tires were on their last breath in Australia – the heat and extremely abrasive road surface of Aussie roads resulted in a failure of one of them. This is a common problem of the new version of Schwalbe touring tires – the sidewalls are way to fragile and can’t cope with extreme conditions.
We replaced the old tire with a brand new one.
We have been loosing tiny particles of rubber on the roads of Asia. With every meter microscopic pieces of our tires were marking our progress as we rolled through the jungles of South East Asia, climbed volcanoes on Java, and crushed gravel of Australia. Every millimeter of the rubber gone, every little crack or cut marks an adventure.
We feel awful on official campsites, with other people around us. In the Outback we could truly enjoy all the space and thanks to our equipment we camped basically wherever we wanted. There is no better feeling than to sleep in your tent knowing that there are no other people within 100 kilometers!
We had sections of road, where we could find a packed strip of dirt in the middle of the road. The beauty of travelling by bicycle is, that all you need to cover a distance is a 20cm-wide section of relatively smooth surface.
Cycling through the Outback we were amazed by the presence of living creatures in such inhospitable environment. It does rain from time to time over there, and when the water flows through valleys, all the plants are exploding with life!
The main part of the Oodnadatta track runs parallel to a railway track – Old Ghan. The remnants of it are still scattered all over the place, but in half a century most of it will be completely gone. (Unfortunately it seems that the Australian government is not doing much to preserve and maintain these historical sites.)
Cycling in the Outback is only possible in the morning and in the evening – otherwise it is so hot, that one could dangerously overheat and die. We tried to find shadow wherever it was possible, poured water over ourselves and sometimes just waited for the heat to pass.
Large part of the center of Australia is covered by salt (or salty lakes). Some of it looked like snow!
When getting closer to Marree we stumbled upon a series of mound springs. This miraculous natural, volcano-like structures with a running spring on top are the result of water seeping out to the surface from an enormous underground basin. Each spring is home to a number of species of tiny creatures, some of them unique to only one spring!
In the old days the explorers and settlers used to take water from those springs. Some of them are gone now, dried out or destroyed by the people who treated them as trash dumps. Some scientists say, that they may disappear in the future, due to the climate change.
Along the way, we could find precious shadow in the ruins of old settlements. This is Australian heritage being left to the elements. Sad.
We were doing 80 kilometers almost every day, carrying our food and water on top of other equipment we have been carrying around since the beginning of our journey. At the end of the day we only had enough energy to cook some basic meal of pasta with olive oil, seeds and pesto. The temperatures were making us really tired.
After 850 kilometers of cycling on unpaved, sandy roads, hundreds of liters of water drunk, numerous tire failures, we have made it to Marree! This was the longest stretch of such difficult terrain, much longer and more remote than the Himalayan part of our journey! But we managed to cycle it, we enjoyed it in fact! Spending so much time in the nature, with pure land all around, millions of stars above us made us stronger. But would we do it again?