AustraliaSouth Australia: Ceduna to Adelaide


Denis Kertz, ©2002


Day 29: Wed, Oct 02, 2002 - Ceduna, SA, rest day

The morning was cloudy and the weather not looking good.  After my usual breakfast I walked the short distance to the town centre for coffee and toast (but no vegemite).  Then I did some grocery shopping to replenish my groceries that were depleted after the Nullarbor.  Following that I cleaned and lubed my bike chain.

When I walked back downtown in late morning, it started to drizzle.  This turned into a hard drizzle that lasted most of the afternoon.  On a day that would not have been fun on a bike it was a good day for a rest day.  I found Grant, Dave, and Rachel, a traveler staying in the same camping area, outside at the Ceduna Café and I joined them.  We stayed there the rest of the afternoon, joined later by Dale. For the tenters, this was a much better option than hanging out in the caravan park.

Late in the afternoon we met Arley, a cyclist from Adelaide on his way to Perth.  He had a Canondale bike and was traveling ultralight with just a handlebar bag and a pack with a bivy and sleeping bag on top of a rack attached to his seat post.  We invited him to our BBQ later.

In the evening we all got together at the BBQ, including Rachel and Arley.  Arley was a serious cyclist, boned up on all the latest nutritional ideas.  He was a vegan as were Grant and Dale.  I had some snags again and then Grant made desert – pancakes with ice cream and bananas.  In Australia pancakes are really a desert item rather than a breakfast food.  I decided I could handle pancakes for breakfast and desert.

The Nullarbor – In review, the Nullarbor was a surprisingly interesting ride, made more interesting by the company.  Water turned out not to be much of an issue as I used my extra water only once and I was able to get water from the water taps at all the roadhouses.  Of course, water requirements would be entirely different during truly hot weather.  For this trip, food actually was a bigger issue since groceries were limited along the way and the selection even more limited.  Packable bread, such as bagels and English muffins, and cheese were non-existent and some of the roadhouses only had candy bars.  The scenery was not austere as a treeless plain suggests.  There was a variety of trees and bush along the way with the dramatic limestone cliffs the scenic highlight.  Kangaroo sightings were frequent although the amount of roadkill was dismaying.  All in all, a far more interesting ride than expected.  Of course, weather, wind in particular, has a great effect.  We only enjoyed favorable tail winds from the prevailing westerlies the first 3 days and the last day but the cross and head winds were not major problems.

Day 30: Thu, Oct 03, 2002 - Ceduna, SA to Streaky Bay, SA [113.4, 06:43:52, 16.8, 2916]

When I got up the weather was looking good and a good thing because staying another day really wasn’t an option.  The Oyster Festival scheduled for the weekend had everything booked.  So we packed and were off around 8:30.  We would have been gone a little sooner but had to wait for Dave while he ate breakfast with Rachel.  As Grant observed, “When a woman is involved, everything slows down.”  But we finally left and Rachel took our photo as we left.

Although the weather had cleared we still had our friend with us, or more correctly, against us and it was a pretty strong head/cross wind.  But we made pretty good time the first 40K to Smoky Bay as we passed through rolling farm fields of wheat and grass with occasional sheep.  After 40K things improved as trees lining the road helped break the wind.

At 90K we pulled into a scenic lookout.  There were only 20K left but the last 20K were harder than the first 90K as the trees disappeared and we caught the full force of the wind.  Even doing a 90-degree turn didn’t help as we still got hammered.  Finally we made it to town and stopped near a bakery and store for rest and refueling.

Then we headed to the caravan park on the outskirts of town and set up camp ($6.50).  I ate at the camp store that had reasonable fish & chips and much cheaper than what I was used to paying on the Nullarbor.  Then I joined the others at the BBQ area and we had a farewell beer.  Tomorrow we will ride to Port Kenney and then split up.  I will continue south down the Eyre Peninsula and the others will head east to Port Augusta.  Dale and Grant have time schedules that require them to head back more directly and Dave, on the road for over 5 months, is understandably anxious to get back home.

Day 31: Fri, Oct 04, 2002 - Streaky Bay, SA to Venus Bay, SA [81.7, 04:48:51, 17, 2997]

We were a little slow leaving town since we waited for the grocery store to open at 8:00.  Then just after leaving we got caught in a drizzle for about 10 minutes.  That passed and the weather pretty well cleared up.  Even better the head wind we had yesterday was reduced to a modest head wind.

We made good time with the modest head wind and we made the 62K to Port Kenny by noon.  We ate at a takeaway, sitting outside with our food.  Then the others realized they had miscalculated the distance east to their planned stop for the day and realized they had another 79K to go.  That was a bit of a shock and they proceeded to consider other possible options.  Planning was complicated because Grant was feeling under the weather, so bad that he had trouble keeping up with me, and wasn’t sure how far he could make it.  In the end, they decided to continue on their original plan, realizing they might have to make camp short of their planned destination.  This discussion proved useful to me.  I was planning another 60K to Elliston but realized that Venus Bay was literally just around the corner on the bay and would make a nice easy day followed by another easy day to Elliston tomorrow.

So after much thought and discussion we left around 1:45.  We headed south a few kilometers to their east turnoff to make it as far as they could.  After wishing everyone well, I took a photo of them riding off, looking back with thumbs up.

With mixed emotions I continued south.  I certainly enjoyed their company, especially on the Nullarbor where there was not much to do besides riding fairly long distances.  And it was a treat to see Aussie culture up front and personal.  I learned about cricket, rugby, snags, boiling the billy, swags, Ned Kelly, stubbies, and got to experience an Aussie BBQ and vegemite.  Of course, touring cyclists have their own special personalities that become obvious over time.  Grant set the stage by revealing his email “handle” – theleisureman.  From that setup, Dale was identified as theweatherman since he supplied us with daily weather information.  Dave was known as thehamburgerman since he had to have a hamburger at every roadhouse except Nundro where we got there too early in the morning for a hamburger.  Unfortunately, I got tagged as theoldman since these guys were mere pups although they were pretty accommodating on our daily rides.  Dave was an ultramarathoner who has done a 100K run.  Grant was a triathelete who has competed in a couple of Ironman Triathlons.  Dale was just an “ordinary” triathlete but was usually the fastest cyclist in our group.  On the other hand, I was better at going slow than anyone else.  Whereas the others would stop at rest areas I was often ready to continue with little or no rest, and I had to be to keep up with these youngsters.

Nevertheless, even though I enjoyed the company, I still enjoy the total freedom of solo touring.  This wasn’t much of an issue on the Nullarbor but I was now touring an area where a variety of side trips were possible, starting with my decision to take a short day and visit Venus Bay.  So I headed south a few kilometers and another 6K west to Venus Bay.  I rode through Venus Bay, pretty much a caravan park with a general store and jetty and followed a sign uphill to a scenic lookout.  There I found an outstanding view of the coast, reminiscent of the cliffs along the Bight, just not quite as steep.

Then I headed back to the caravan park and got the last, and one of the few, grassy tent sites for $9.  After cleaning up I had fish & chips at the caravan park kiosk.  Then I checked out the general store and walked out on the jetty.  Finally I walked back uphill to the scenic lookout and watched waves crashing over rocks as the sun set.

Walking back to my tent I noticed most of the houses had water tanks, some with two or three tanks, for collecting rain water by feeding water from the gutters into the tanks.  Then I retired to my tent, glad that I had become aware of Venus Bay and had stopped here.

Day 32: Sat, Oct 05, 2002 - Venus Bay, SA to Elliston, SA [65.5, 03:35:48, 18.2, 3063]

I got up early and walked back to the scenic lookout to watch the sun rise on a foggy morning.  Then I took the South Head walk around the tip of the peninsula at Venus Bay.  All outstanding scenery and well worth the early rising.

Due to the early morning stroll I didn’t get on the road until almost 9:30 but that wasn’t a problem since I only had a little over 60K to Elliston.  When I left I was glad to have a head wind on the 6K back to the main road because that meant a cross wind at the worst as I headed south.  Initially, the land was covered with bushes but after about 20K it opened up to gently rolling farmland with green wheat fields and yellow grassland.

After about 40K I got lucky again.  I was in a cycling trance with my head down a bit when I suddenly saw a frantic wiggling motion in my upper vision.  It was a yellowish snake with black spots and was sidewinding frantically to make it across the road before this cyclist could run over him.  Unfortunately for him I saw him too late to take evasive action.  So I removed my feet from my pedals and lifted them as high as I could and coasted over him.  I doubt I hurt him much since I ran over about the rear third of his body but I didn’t hang around to find out.

The last 20K of the ride was easy and I pulled into Elliston around 1:00.  I got a tent site ($14) at the Waterloo Bay Caravan Park.  After cleaning up and eating I walked along the beach to the jetty and back.  A nice walk but not nearly as nice as Venus Bay.  Later I stopped for a beer at the pub and I queried a couple of guys about the snake I ran over.  They said they had brown snakes and tiger snakes in the area but they were no help identifying the one I ran over.  They seemed skeptical that it wasn’t brown or black (tiger).

Day 33: Sun, Oct 06, 2002 - Elliston, SA to Coffin Bay, SA [146.4, 07:27:30, 19.6, 3209]

It started drizzling off and on before I got up so I delayed leaving to get a better sense of what the weather was going to do although I knew it was supposed to clear up.  I finally got on the road at 8:30.  I caught some sprinkles early but I could see it clearing up behind me.

I had two potential destinations for the day.  Coffin Bay was my first choice but it was 150K.  Warrow was an intermediate stop at 90K but there wasn’t much reason to stop there unless I couldn’t make Coffin Bay.

Initially the landscape was wide-open grasslands with some white rocks scattered in the rolling fields and occasional trees.  It was very scenic.  At Cummings Memorial Lookout there was a very nice view of the cliffs along the coast.  After about 80K trees reasserted themselves and there were only occasional fields.

I made good time as the initial cross wind became a tail wind.  It eventually shifted to the west but still helped some.  At just over 100K I saw a sign for a caravan park at Warrow but it was 2K on a gravel road.  That plus not imagining this was really a good place out in the middle of nowhere caused me to move on with a helping tail wind.  Just past Warrow I passed through Coultra with no services.  I began looking for a place to pull over for a break when I unexpectedly found a small tea room.  I had a sandwich and a pleasant conversation with the proprietress, a retired school teacher from Adelaide.  She asked me to sign her guest book.  She also advised me about a gravel road shortcut to Coffin Bay.

Rejuvenated I pushed on.  The land changed back to fields lined with Eucalptus trees whose bark-free limbs gleamed in the sunlight.  After about 20K I came to the gravel road shortcut.  It was a good road and only 5K to a sealed road that led to Coffin Bay.  A real winner as it saved me 15K or so.

When I got to the sealed road I headed west and caught the full force of what had been my tail wind.  The wind and some gradient made the final 6K hard work.  Just before town there was a scenic lookout that I took and had a good view over the Coffin Bay peninsula.  Then I headed through town, eating at a café/store.  Then I stopped at the caravan park for a tent site ($12).

I met a guy who was camped with his family at the tent site next to mine.  After I cleaned up the family next door headed out in their van.  I walked towards the nearby store to check it out.  As I was walking a van stopped along the road and a woman got out and approached me.  I was afraid she was going to ask directions but she was my neighbor and asked if I would join them for dinner at the yacht club.  I said I had already eaten but would join them for a drink.  So I met Jonathan and Tricia and their 3 young boys.  This was the middle of a 2 week school holiday and they were from Adelaide.  Tricia grew up in Tasmania so I pumped her for information.

An interesting day both scenic wise and conversation wise with the tea room woman and the Adelaide couple.  But I was surprised how hard the day was despite what seemed to be a good tail wind.

Day 34: Mon, Oct 07, 2002 - Coffin Bay, SA to Port Lincoln, SA [48.4, 02:30:22, 19.3, 3258]

When I got up I waited for the store to open at 7:00 to get milk.  By the time I was packed up it started to drizzle so I waited it out.  Then I started the Oyster Walk along the bay.  On the walk I met a German couple who had seen me and my companions on the Nullarbor so they asked about my missing companions.  Just when it was getting interesting I decided to head back and grab my bike.  This was fortunate because the sunny sky quickly changed and I was able to get to a covered patio at the store/café next to the caravan park and avoid the rain.  Just outside the store was a kangaroo ride.

The wind was strong and gusting, which suggested the weather could be quickly changing all day.  When the sky started to look a little better, I decided it was time to leave just before 11:00.  Port Lincoln was only 46K away so I was only worried about the weather.  On my way out of town I stopped at the scenic lookout again with blue skies back in favor.

I was lucky the wind was in my favor because it was so strong that a cross wind would have been dangerous and a head wind impossible.  15K got me back to the main road and the wind was even more favorable.  As the wind gusted I could feel myself get accelerated down the road when I was already doing 30+ kph.  As I approached Port Lincoln down a hill I got caught in a hard drizzle but I only had to wait a couple of minutes before the drizzle out raced me.  But as I entered the city the road swung left and I had a strong cross wind to contend with.  Then I turned left again and I had a nearly impossible head wind.  I also encountered my first traffic light since Albany in Western Australia.  All of the small towns I passed through used roundabouts that seemed to work very well to control traffic without slowing traffic down unnecessarily.

I made it to the Visitor Centre and got ideas on things to do.  I also learned it was a holiday so many places were closed.  I walked my bike the block to the Pier Hotel, suggested by the Visitor Centre, and got a room for two nights for $25/night.

After settling in I headed back to the Visitor Centre to get on the Internet.  Then I found a Laundromat to clean my clothes.  Finally, I walked a couple of blocks to another hotel that served pizza, my first served meal in some time that wasn’t standard takeaway fare.

Day 35: Tue, Oct 08, 2002 - Port Lincoln, SA, rest day

When I woke up the wind was much calmer but the weather was still variable with occasional showers in the morning.  I checked out the grocery stores and used the Internet in the public library, which had about 20 PCs.  I researched snakes as I was curious about the one I ran over the other day.  I concluded it was probably a brown snake, one of the most dangerous snakes in Australia, even though it wasn’t brown.  The web page I visited showed one that was olive with dark spots/bands that looked fairly similar to what I saw.

In the afternoon with the weather looking more stable I did the walk along the coast to the Lincoln Cove Marina and back, about 4 hours of walking.  Port Lincoln is a town of 13,000 with fishing and grain export the two big industries.  The grainery had over 100 silos for collecting grain, mainly wheat and barley, from the Eyre Peninsula that exports 90% of its grain.  However, that might not happen this year as much of Australia is in a drought.  Nevertheless, I could just imagine what the road train traffic must be like during harvest season.

The walk along the coast was scenic with nice views of the bay and Boston Island.  At Lincoln Cove Marina I found the ritzy part of town where the well heeled had a house on the water with a boat docked next to the house.  On my return walk I got sprinkled on a bit.

I had lasagna at a takeaway place for dinner.  I was looking forward to another meal without chips (French fries) but found even this came with chips but it was still a good meal.

Day 36: Wed, Oct 09, 2002 - Port Lincoln, SA to Arno Bay, SA [125.4, 06:59:37, 17.9, 3383]

I thought about getting up for the sunrise but there were clouds so I skipped it.  When I did get up, I got some cash at an ATM machine and was first in line at the grocery store when it opened at 7:00.

I left town just after 8:00.  It was an unusual day as I had 3 options for stopping – Tumby Bay, Port Neill, and Arno Bay, which could make the day range from short to long.  Leading out of town was a bike lane but it was “operational” from 8-9 am and 3:30-4:30 pm.  It wasn’t obvious what happened at other times.  There was a fair amount of traffic so the lane was nice.  I hadn’t seen this much traffic since leaving Esperance.

The first 30K was scenic with rolling foothills not too far from the road.  Then the foothills receded and gradually disappeared and the flat farmland was uninteresting.  At 50K I turned off and rode 3K to Tumby Bay, a nice small town on the bay.  I found the library and used the Internet to learn about my Minolta camera warranty service.  It wasn’t easy.  I couldn’t find anything for Australia and finally sent email to the webmaster at for help.

After a bite to eat I left Tumby around 1:00.  Tumby was fine but it was a nice day for cycling with little wind.  The wind did pick up a bit in the afternoon but never was much of a factor as a head wind.  In another 35K I came to the turnoff for Port Neill.  I was feeling good so I continued another 35K to Arno Bay.  At this point the terrain became long and rolling and a little more scenic.

I pulled into Arno Bay at 5:00 and checked out the area.  I checked the hotel for a room and could have had one for $30 but they wouldn’t let me keep my bike in the room.  So I headed next door to the caravan park and was surprised to find they had a van for $17 and I took that in a heart beat.  Then I had fish & chips at the mini-mart next door.

This was a day when cycling was easy even though the wind was not helping.  Maybe the rest from the short day from Coffin Bay to Port Lincoln plus yesterday’s day off was responsible.  Tomorrow would be a short day to Cowell before a long day to Whyalla.

Day 37: Thu, Oct 10, 2002 - Arno Bay, SA to Cowell, SA [48.4, 03:05:53, 15.6, 3432]

I meant to watch the sunrise but I miscalculated and missed it by 5-10 minutes but it was still nice.  I took my time leaving since my destination, Cowell, was only about 50K and the next destination, Whyalla, was another 110K which I didn’t want to do unless I got a good tail wind.

I left about 8:45 and had some head wind.  Yesterday, the last 20-30K or road was a bit messy with no shoulder.  Today a road widening project cleaned up the edge of the road and added a shoulder for 20K.  Then the road reverted to no shoulder for about 10K before becoming a good road again.

The scenery was nothing exciting, pretty bland open farmland.  I didn’t make great progress, partly due to the wind, but I must have been on a slight gradient as well.  So it took me 3 hours and I pulled into town just before noon.  I found the library as I pulled into town and waited for it to open at noon and took advantage of the Internet access.  However, I found nothing on the Minolta warranty and my email to the minolta webmaster had bounced.  I did learn that Whyalla was larger than Port Augusta so I hoped to get to Whyalla early enough to find a camera store.

Then I wandered through town to the jetty.  I got a room at the hotel for $30 that included a continental breakfast but I had to lug my loaded bike up the stairs again to the 2nd floor.  After cleaning up and a bite to eat I walked out on the town jetty.  I was expecting to be able to walk along the beach but was disappointed to see there really wasn’t a beach, just some scrubby trees up to the water’s edge.  I did see a couple of dolphins gliding through the bay, which was an almost totally enclosed harbor except for a small opening that was not obvious from the jetty.

After the stroll I wiled away the afternoon on the hotel’s veranda.  I did see my friends the German couple again as they pulled into town and waved.  I had also been seeing signs advertising Pokies at several hotels recently including the hotel in Port Lincoln and today’s hotel.  I finally guessed and confirmed that Pokies were just slot machines.

Day 38: Fri, Oct 11, 2002 - Cowell, SA to Whyalla, SA [109.4, 06:22:37, 17.1, 3541]

I managed to make it up in time for the sunrise but just barely and it was a nice sunrise on a cool, clear morning.  I ate and packed up and was off by 7:00.  I wanted to get to Whyalla early to take care of several things.

For the first 40K the road was lined with gum trees but with scenic farmlands and some foothills.  But the going was slow on a calm day.  I tested my brakes and wheels to make sure nothing was wrong so I must have been climbing a small gradient.  After 40K the trees took over and farmland was left behind.  I also picked up speed with some descents but mostly flat land.  I saw kangaroo roadkill for the first time since leaving the Nullarbor.

At 80K I crested a small rise and could see Whyalla and the Spencer Gulf in the distance.  After a short lunch break I headed to town but the head wind kicked up and the last 10K was slow going.  It was also quite warm and I used 3 water bottles for the day where I normally used 2 at the most.

Just before 2:00 I pulled into Whyalla, a town of 23,000, and followed the road to the town centre.  Whyalla was a center of heavy industry on the Eyre Peninsula with shipbuilding and steelworks.  However, it had seen better times, having been a town of 34,000 in 1978.  It was important enough to Australia that there was an anti-aircraft gun on a hill overlooking the gulf that was staffed during World War II.  It also had no access to fresh water for drinking and imported its water by pipeline from the Murray River on the other side of Adelaide.

Downtown on the corner was a photo shop and I managed to get a Minolta phone number, an 800 number in Sydney, but didn’t get through.  A few doors down was a bicycle shop and I had the mechanic look over the bike as a preventive measure, now that I was almost half way through my trip.  He adjusted the shifting and cleaned the chain, spending about 30 minutes and charged only $10.  He also mentioned another cyclist had stopped by earlier in the week with a mountain bike.  After a little querying, it was obvious the cyclist was Dave who had planned to visit a friend in town.  Originally I was going to wait until Port Augusta to have my bike checked but I was glad I stopped here.  The mechanic was friendly and seemed quite competent.

Then I got a room at the Hotel Spencer across the street for $33 that included its own bathroom rather than a communal bathroom like most of the hotels I had stayed at.  It took me some time but I eventually came to understand that these hotels were great value.  Unlike the USA where one goes to motels for inexpensive accommodation, here you go to hotels.  These hotels in the small towns are really pubs and their main purpose in life is to make money from the bar.  The rooms are usually just a simple room with a communal bathroom and sometimes included a continental breakfast but they seemed to be more of an after thought and not the real purpose for the existence of the hotel.

Later I ate at a café down the street.  It was Mexican night so I had a chicken burrito and a margarita.  And in true Aussie style, the meal came with wedgies, a variant of chips.

Day 39: Sat, Oct 12, 2002 - Whyalla, SA to Port Augusta, SA [80.2, 05:18:33, 15.1, 3622]

When I got up I had to wait for a bakery to open at 8:00 for milk so I decided to ride to the Hummock Lookout.  The lookout was OK but not the one I intended but I could see the one I wanted.  So I headed down the hill and rode up the right one, right on the bay.  It had a good 360-degree view.  During World War II this hill was equipped with an anti-aircraft gun to protect the Whyalla steelworks.

When I descended it was after 8:00 so I stopped at the bakery for my morning breakfast.  Then as I was getting ready to leave I discovered I was missing one of my cycling gloves.  I looked everywhere but couldn’t find it and finally gave up, leaving just before 9:00.

I expected the day to be easy since it was only 76K to Port Augusta plus the weather forecast was for south winds that would blow me to Port Augusta.  Unfortunately, the weather forecast was wrong and the north wind was a fairly strong head wind.  I also was climbing a slight gradient and I struggled along at 11-13 kph.  At that rate this was projecting to be a very hard day.  My only hope was that the head wind would become a cross wind later when the road veered northeast.

After 40K of travel through saltbush and occasional trees, I stopped at a rest area.  Australia does a pretty good job of providing reasonable rest areas with trash bins but most don’t have a picnic table to provide relief to tired legs.  So I wasn’t too thrilled when I took off to see another rest area just on the other side of the road with a picnic table.

On the good side, I seemed to have stopped the little climbing I was doing and the road started its veer to the northeast.  The net effect was I started picking up some speed, in the 15-18 kph, which seemed scintillating.  It was also getting quite warm and I removed my tights and was cycling in shorts for the first time since early on the Nullarbor.  I was also using my water faster than normal.  Normally, I use 2 water bottles and yesterday I was surprised to use 3.  Today I would use all 4 and I was rationing the last bottle at the end.

After 50K the Lincoln Highway merged with the Eyre Highway and I picked up more traffic.  The wind was now a decided cross wind and appeared to be helping some.  But I had to be careful with the occasional gusting cross wind that was blowing me into traffic.  For the final 20K, I could see Port Augusta in the distance against the Southern Flinders Ranges backdrop.  On the final approach to Port Augusta the road turned more easterly and the wind blew me into town around 2:30, much better time than I thought possible based on my early projections.

I stopped at the first service station and inhaled a 1.25 litre bottle of Sprite.  Then I continued across the tip of the Spencer Gulf on a bridge, passing through a couple of traffic lights, and followed the sign to the Visitor Centre.  They had an Outback Centre Display that I paid $9 to see, a little over priced but a pretty good display.  Then I got directions to the Northern & Exchange Hotel where I got a room for $27.50.  Then began the chore of getting my bike up the stairs.  This stairs was a simple straight shot up and it had a chair rail for the disabled.  I momentarily considered declaring my bike disabled and seeing if I could transport it on the chair but I ended getting it up the old fashioned way – I carried it.  Interestingly, my room was actually outside the hotel and the restroom was too but an overhang protected the outside walkway.

After cleaning up I walked around the town centre.  The wind had kicked up a couple of notches and was howling and gusting now.  I was happy to find a big grocery store conveniently located right across the street.  The hotel also had a pizza bar so I ordered a large pizza.  It was actually more than I could handle in one sitting so I saved a couple slices for desert later.  Then I walked down to the bar to write my notes and plan tomorrow’s trip through the Southern Flinders Ranges.

Day 40: Sun, Oct 13, 2002 - Port Augusta, SA to Melrose, SA [69, 04:45:24, 14.5, 3691]

I didn’t sleep very well for some reason, waking up at 11:00 and not sleeping again until 2:00 and then only intermittently.  When I did get up just after 7:00, I walked across the street to do my grocery shopping for breakfast and otherwise.  When I left it was almost 9:00 and I picked up a South Australia map on my way out of town.  It also noticed my cyclometer stopped recording speed.  I adjusted the pickup slightly closer to the wheel magnet and it started again but that didn’t seem like a likely fix.

My route on Highway 1 was through saltbush with some trees and the Southern Flinders on my left.  After 20K I turned left on B56 to Wilmington over Horrocks Pass.  I saw four Emus near the road as I approached the real climb to the pass.  This climb was easily the hardest so far although I didn’t need my lowest gear.  It was also very scenic as it wound its way through the Flinders to the other side.  On the other side of the pass there were large gum trees in the green grassy hills.

After I descended the pass I pulled into Wilmington and stopped for a break.  I had only gone 46K and it was early afternoon so I decided to push on another 24K to Melrose.  The road stayed close to the Southern Flinders on the right with the Middle Flinders off in the distance to the left.  This was farming territory again with quite a few sheep.  Near Melrose there were quite a few impressively large river red gum trees.  Their bark-free trunks and limbs gleamed in the sunlight.

At about 3:30 I pulled into the small town of Melrose, the oldest town in the Flinders, founded in 1853.  I found a backpacker room for $15 in the caravan park and it looked like I might have the place to myself on this final day of the two-week school holidays.  I could only wonder how traffic was on Highway 1 compared to the low traffic I had since leaving it on this holiday ending.

The caravan park manager gave me a ticket to the Court House Museum that was very interesting.  At one time Melrose was headquarters to the largest police area in Australia, extending all the way north to Darwin.  The museum also covered the farming feast/famine history of the area in the 1800s.  Generally it was feast or famine depending on whether the area got enough rain or had a drought.  But even with enough rain there were also problems with locusts and mice eating and ruining the harvest.

After cleaning up, I ate at the general store and stopped at the Mt. Remarkable Hotel for a beer.

An easy day aside from climbing the pass.  It was good to get away from the traffic and noise of Highway 1.  The couple we met on the Nullarbor at Madura Pass recommended this route.  It was a route that most likely would not have occurred to me on my own.

Day 41: Mon, Oct 14, 2002 - Melrose, SA to Gladstone, SA [62.7, 03:37:10, 17.3, 3753]

As I expected, I had the entire backpacker to myself so it was like renting a house for the night.  I slept well in contrast to the previous night and was on my way just after 8:00.

After a short descent out of town I began climbing one of those slight gradients that isn’t obvious except you are going too slow for it to be level.  For about the first 30K the road passed through fields with rolling hills on both sides of the road.  The fields were a mixture of green, mostly wheat, and some yellow grassland with a fair number of sheep.  The gum trees were sprinkled around and were very scenic.

At the half way point I stopped at the Old Bakery in Winabara, which was recommended by the backpacker manager.  Leaving town, the hills receded into the distance and it was less scenic.  Still it was very peaceful cycling on the road with little traffic.  Plus I picked up speed as I had a slight downhill.

Just before Gladstone I took the turn for the Gladstone Gaol but it was not open on a Monday despite the sign on the fence that claimed it was open 7 days.  So I rode into town and got some good information at the Visitor Centre.  I wandered next door for a bit to eat and discovered they had an Internet PC for free use so I took advantage.  Then I rode a few blocks to the caravan park and got a nice grassy tent site for $6.  It was a short day since Clare, another 70K, was a bit too much for continuing on.  So I took advantage of the extra time to do laundry.  Then I walked downtown and ate and picked up a few things at the grocery.  Back at camp, the mosquitoes were so bad I dove into my tent and read.

Day 42: Tue, Oct 15, 2002 - Gladstone, SA to Riverton, SA [125.2, 06:23:20, 19.6, 3879]

I was packed and off by 7:30, not waiting until 8:30 for real milk at the store.  The caravan park manager said there were hills between Gladstone and Clare and he was right.  It started off with about a 5K modest climb that led to some fine scenery looking over the rolling fields with some ranges in the distance on the left.

After about 30K I climbed a hill and a large bowl of fields interspersed with trees with the town of Yacka in the center came into view.  After descending to town and climbing out of the bowl the hillsides moved near the road, reducing the view and the scenery.  Shortly before Clare a sign announced the Clare Valley, a renowned winery area.  And shortly the vineyards appeared along the road as I pulled into Clare after 74K right at noon.

Clare was a fair sized town with a real main street.  I stopped at a bakery for my lunch break.  Unlike US bakeries, which are geared towards pastries, Australia bakeries include meat pies, sandwiches, and drinks in addition to pastries and bread.  After my break I rode down the street to the Visitor Centre where I met a cycling couple from the Kimberlys.  This was their first cycling trip and they were staying at pubs and motels, needing only 2 rear panniers on their bikes.

The woman at the bureau told me I could continue another 20K to Auburn or 80K to Gawler and find accommodations.  So I continued on to Auburn as the riding was fairly easy and I wasn’t ready to call it a day.  There were vineyards virtually continuously on the way to Auburn.  At Auburn I stopped at the post office that was also the Visitor Centre.  The smaller towns often combine the visitor center with some other business since they can’t justify a totally separate facility.  As I was asking Steve, the post office worker, about accommodations down the road, a bunch of postal customers arrived.  Steve told me the motel down the road was the least expensive and the guy right next to me was the manager and he told me the rate was $50.

After the real customers left, Steve showed how I could veer a bit to Saddleworth and then to Riverton, which had a couple hotels and a caravan park.  He even called the hotels for me and found one was already booked as sheep shearers were in town.  Steve was a former runner and cyclist but was recovering from a cycling injury from a car accident.  He was interested in my trip and probably enjoyed having someone to talk to and break the monotony of the day.

After 30-40 minutes I was off and took the side road to Saddleworth, enjoying more farmland scenery.  When the road ended at A32, I turned south another 10K to Riverton.  At Riverton, I stopped at the caravan park so I could compare prices with the hotel but no one was around so I continued to the Riverton Hotel.  It was about 4:00 so I was in no mood to check out the caravan park any more and I took a room for $35 that included breakfast.

Later I had fish & chips at a takeaway across the street and then adjourned to the hotel bar to write my notes.

The day was a pretty easy day with some nice scenery.  By continuing to Riverton, I put myself within reach of Adelaide tomorrow, 90K away.

Day 43: Wed, Oct 16, 2002 - Riverton, SA to Adelaide, SA [96.7, 04:27:22, 21.7, 3975]

I took advantage of the continental breakfast at the hotel for toast and milk.  I hit the road at 7:30 and noticed a strong wind.  Encouragingly it was blowing some leaves down the street.  Later it appeared the wind was a helping cross wind as I was moving down the road.  The scenery was much like yesterday morning, rolling fields with some hills as a backdrop.

It was 50K to Gawler and it took me only 2 hours to make it.  I stopped at a bakery on the outskirts for a break.  Then I picked up A20 to Adelaide, another 45K.  First I noticed the wind had shifted a bit and was now a cross wind with some occasional head wind.  At first, there was a wide shoulder so the high-speed traffic was not a problem but after the Gawler area the shoulder disappeared and I had to contend with 2 lanes of high-speed traffic.  It was no fun and easily the most dangerous riding so far.  I would have preferred running over snakes.

This dicey riding continued for 10-15K and then the road widened to 3 lanes near Elizabeth which improved the riding considerably.  Then a bike lane appeared and everything was fine but not for long as both the bike lane and the 3 lanes disappeared.  However, it was an urban area and traffic was not as fast.  There were also a bunch of traffic lights starting with Elizabeth and I went through more lights in a couple of hours than the entire previous trip.

Eventually I made my way into the Adelaide suburbs and then Adelaide itself, heading right into the heart of the downtown and crossing the River Torrens.  Already I could see why Adelaide was noted for its parks as I passed several riding through North Adelaide to the downtown.

I found the Visitor Centre, across the street from where it used to be, and checked on accommodations.  They wanted to book me into a $69 motel but I pressed them on backpacker accommodations and got a list of the ones in the area.  I found the Adelaide Backpackers almost in the center of the 1-mile by 1-mile CBD.  They had single rooms for $38 so I signed up for two nights.  The check-in guy marked up a pocket map showing various highlights including my special interests of a camera store, bike shop, and a place to extend my visa.

After settling in I checked out a camera store and they referred me to a place that was an authorized Minolta repair center.  Unfortunately they were not a warranty center and the woman checked and found I would have to get my camera to either a Melbourne or Sydney location and send it in for repair, which could take two weeks, an unrealistic “solution.”

Next I checked the state library and got on the Internet but couldn’t use it for email or to print any cycling information I found for Kangaroo/Tasmania Island.  So I ate at a Subway as I was now starving and headed back to the backpackers.  And since there was a tavern across the street it was a logical place to take care of my notes.



Copyright Denis Kertz, 2002. All rights reserved.