A Divergent Italian: Day 4 to 7 – Outback SA

Australia, or [pick your choice of country], for a holiday trip? Why is it the case that people lust after a hip overseas trip than within Australia? Does the familiarity of home, in fact, breed contempt and ignorance, or is there simply an underlying cultural cringe amongst us?

Australia is a developed country with its share of tourist traps and travel destinations, many of which are within easy access from major urban regions. Yet, it is not difficult to become blasé in relation to the environment around us in which we live. This particular attitude can be compared with being stuck in the same job for many years, especially in the case where career advancement or simply job satisfaction is lacking. We yearn to be able to explore different avenues of possibilities, and the opportunities to experience a variety of activities. We long to discover the unknown, and uncover new things that we learn and grow to appreciate and cherish. When we are confined within the boundaries that are essentially man-made, we fail to flourish.

The amazing thing about Australia is that it’s one incredibly large landmass, with many islands dotted around its extensive perimeter. You can spend one whole day driving, and you may likely still end up within the same state. You can drive for many days and, quite possibly, you would not have yet reached the other side of the continent. It’s so large, that there is a time zone difference of up to three hours between the west and east coast. Its desert regions are so broad, to the point where you could combine the land area of over 20 European countries, and still have space to spare. We have white sandy beaches, bustling metropolises, masses of arid land, living fields of greenery, grand wineries, world class landmarks, mountainous scenery, snowy ski fields; life that can be lived to the fullest.

What I have learned so far in my continuing journey of travelling around Australia, as an Australian, is that we should not limit ourselves within perceptions that we have instilled through personal experiences throughout our lifetime. Thinking outside the box is an essential step in achieving something more than what we would have dared to dream. The destination that you choose to end up is important, but the overriding element should be the actual journey that you take, no matter the place, and the events that you translate into thoughts that can be relived and recounted.

Plus, I reckon it doesn’t do any harm, as an Australian, to simply know more about the Australia that I live in, outside of the home Sydney basin.

Day 4 – Mildura to Victor Harbour

Ambient Temperature: 6°C to 11°C

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Cold weather outside in the Mildura area, and the bed was so pleasantly warm, but I must continue on..

I decided to make my way towards South Australia, after spending a night at Mildura. My original plan was to take the direct route from Broken Hill to Adelaide. However, due to a 1-day delay in parts delivery for the Ducati workshop in Adelaide, I decided to take the detour via Mildura with the intention to travel down to the peninsula of Victor Harbour.

The quarantine station greeted me at the entrance of the South Australian border. I had to sacrifice tomatoes, bananas and apples that I was transporting, which was sad because they were fresh and ripe, ready for eating. Prior to this, I was not aware of the stringent restrictions placed on fresh produce entering South Australia, where the protection is set up to ensure that the distinctively high-quality wineries and produce in the state is well maintained and free of pests from other states.

As I was making my way down to the south-west, I encountered probably was to be the ultimate torrential rain on the way to Victor Harbour. This was the worst ride ever to date, and this is compounded by the fact that I still did not have any front brakes or a speedometer. By the time I had arrived at Victor Harbour, my hands felt as though it was on the verge of a frost bite (in saying that, I’m not 100% sure as to how it would actually feel as I’ve never experienced one). Reminiscent of a boiling kettle, my hand turned an itching red as the skin was exposed from the cold wet gloves out to the exposure of a heated room. My feet, which were swimming in the waterlogged boots, had become solid and numb to the point where I could not walk properly as I was not feeling any sensation. The only way that this was resolved was through a very long hot shower. Hot showers fix everything.

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The border crossing from Victoria, across to the state of South Australia
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Never knew that there was a toll fee to be paid to enter South Australia. Had to pay with 2 tomatoes, 3 bananas and 4 apples.
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At Loxton, where fields of fresh-cut green grass is plentiful.
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A contrast of primary colours.
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En route to Strathalbyn, where I am followed by some intense storm clouds. This is not looking good, especially without working front brakes…
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So, I actually do make it to Victor Harbour. Safely. But with the freezing weather and a mass outpour of rain, together with leaky boots and near-useless rain gloves, I was on the verge of becoming almost sick from a flu.
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Accommodation… struggling to get my stuff inside before another storm..
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I dunk myself into a long hot shower, and make myself a cup of tea and light dinner. So glad to be indoors after a horrendous day out riding in the cold and wet.
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The image here does not show the outright severity of the rain. By far the heaviest rain experienced in the past few wet months.

Day 5 – Victor Harbour to Port Augusta

Ambient Temperature: 7°C to 13°C

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Rise and shine, and clouds clearing up…

Woke up early to briefly check out the town of Victor Harbour. Apparently it is the second largest Schoolies venue in Australia after the Gold Coast. I know where I’d avoid during the first week of December..

I make my way up and finally reach Adelaide safely back into the mother’s nest that is the Ducati dealership to get my front guard repaired, as well as the brake lines and speed sensor. Costed me approximately $950.00. Unfortunately, it was not eligible for a claim under warranty as Fraser Ducati deem it to be a non-manufacturer issue.

Adelaide region hosts some very beautiful hilly and green landscapes, and the road leading out from Adelaide has a continuum of even more green grassy scenery, until it eventually leads to a semi-arid region leading up to Port Augusta, where the industrial port city is surrounded by bald mountain ranges, without any consistent forests and areas of trees due to past logging activities and a very dry climate, despite being a coastal area.

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.. still darn cold, though..
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Catching a glimpse of the sunrise near the shores of Victor Harbour.
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Made it safely to the Ducati dealership workshop in Adelaide with all parts intact, less the front guard.
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While waiting around for repairs to be completed on the Panigale, I relish in the showroom full of a variety of Ducati bikes of various eras.
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2001 model Ducati MH900e, a fusion of old and new design cues of its time. Next to it is the venerable 848, of course with Termi pipes.
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More of the MH900 Evoluzione
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Can’t go wrong with the Termi pipes made for the 999s!
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Dual Staintune exhausts for the MH900 Evoluzione. Gives it a robust cafe-racer style.
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Early-90s Ducati 900SL Super Light
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Trying out the Indian Scout cruiser. I don’t quite look right on it.
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After 2 hours, my Panigale is back in 100% functional form, complete with working brakes and speedometer!
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Left Adelaide, going up north towards Port Pirie, where there is a vast landscape of green hills, planted with countless wind power stations that are not seen in this image.
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Capturing the sunset. At this point, I knew that I would be riding in the dark. Again.
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A heavenly sight. A rest stop like this is hard to beat.
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Checking on the tyre wear.
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Finally make it to Port Augusta, cold, hungry and in need of a shower.
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Taking every opportunity to keep the baby indoors.

Day 6 – Port Augusta to Cadney Park

Ambient Temperature: 8°C to 15°C

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The plains of outback SA… where it is dry, whether it be hot or cold.

Back out in the outback. I had managed to have achieved the longest single day to date at 700km. Despite the distance, it was also easier than the day before yesterday, when I had to battle it out against torrential rain. Utilising the tank bag as a kind of pillow for my chest to lean on, and posturing myself to a race-tuck style seating position, allowed me to be able to sustain longer trips in between rest stops.

The Stuart Highway is a very well surfaced road, though coarse, with minimal police presence, save for one general duties vehicle. I had encountered countless camper vans. In fact, they were the most prevalent vehicles on the road.

The SA outback is obviously a very arid landscape, with dried up lakes and lengths of plain lands. The one thing that I want to point out is how civilised the road is, especially considering that it is a road that leads to the very centre of Australia, which I had always presumed to be an area that is seldom frequented by drivers and lacking in proper fuelling facilities. I could not have been so wrong. The road is decisively the more civilised than the road between Cobar and Broken Hill, where the only main town in between them was Wilcannia, not exactly a place that you’d want to park a bike like the Panigale.

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A few thousand kilometres on these coarse highway surfaces.. many more thousands to go.
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Sunrise across a terrain, sparsely-vegetated.
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Reminds me of the artwork on Muse’s album cover of Black Holes & Revelations.
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First fuel stop of the day. Not much need to worry about fuel availability along the Stuart Highway, as long as your fuel range is over 200kms. Longest stretch of road without fuel services is 255kms between Glendambo and Coober Pedy.
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Beneath the branches, where the weary can take refuge from underneath the exposure of elevated levels of UV rays.
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All that accumulated grime and dust. Still looking composed.
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My drop bear, still clinging tightly on to the pannier bag. Hang in there, buddy.
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Many hundreds, thousands of kilometres of this very familiar landscape.
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Reached Coober Pedy, muscles aching in pain, where the town is surrounded by mounds of dirt thanks to the widespread opal mining operations.
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Made it to my accommodation without any issues. Yes, I felt totally drained, lifeless, and my butt accompanied by a pelvic pain from sitting on the saddle for far too long. Hurts to stand, hurts to sit, and a uneasy numb sensation when lying down. It’s probably only 50% of the pain experienced by women during childbirth.
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Dusty.
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Your place of rest for tonight.
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A helicopter landing near my place of accommodation, creating a whole load of racket, whilst nearby grey nomads jokingly exclaiming that it is as noisy as the Panigale. I smiled affirmingly.

Day 7 – Cadney Park to Curtin Springs

Ambient Temperature: -1°C to 16°C

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Never knew, until now, that the outback is so bitterly cold during winter. You think Sydney’s winter is pretty cold, think again!

So far, this was to be the coldest ride ever to date for this trip. Really, I was expecting the outback to be warmer, not colder, than Sydney! Conclusively, the outback is a place where you will be met with two extremes: Very cold, and very hot, depending on the season.

Crossing the border to the Northern Territory, where I am greeted by a more reasonable speed limit: 130km/h. However, with a higher speed limit, I noticed that my rear tyre was getting worn out at an accelerated rate, due to extremely rough and coarse road surface. One technique that I had attempted to use was to travel on the well-worn wheel tracks on the road, however I am unsure as to how much this may have contributed in lessening the rate of wear on the tyres.

Covering as many kilometres as possible in a relatively short span of time was my priority for the Uluru leg of my whole trip, due to the distance and lack of sights in between. However, at this point, I was heavily fatigued and desperately needed a real break. Consequently, I had made an effort to ensure that I arrived at my accommodation earlier in the afternoon. With a bit of pace, I had managed to arrive at Curtin Springs Roadhouse by 3pm, which allowed me to have a pleasantly relaxing time, which allowed for time to be set aside for mental and physical recuperation.

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Cold enough to prompt an ‘ice’ warning with a dainty snowflake symbol.
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Meat pies, where would I be without you?
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The only bar in the area within a 100km radius.
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Power nap [pou-er nap]: “A short sleep which terminates before the occurrence of deep sleep or slow-wave sleep (SWS), intended to quickly revitalize the subject.”
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Crossing another border, this time to the Northern Territory. Now I really feel very far away from home.
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Nope.
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Uluru & Panigale, slowly but growingly becoming a reality.
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NT-side of the rest stop, SA-side on the left side of image (not fully shown).
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Amongst actual dedicated dirt track explorers, at Erldunda.
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The right way to do an interstate Aussie road trip on a bike: ride a BMW R1200GS.
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Triumph Tiger 800XC, another bike which I had actually considered when selling my Multistrada, the main appeal being its smooth-as-silk triple engine, same configuration as seen in the Street Triple and Speed Triple, but in an adventure-touring chassis.
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Who would have known that there’d be a traffic jam right in the middle of Australia?
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The petrol prices are getting more expensive, the further that I progress towards Uluru.
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Uluru’s forgotten sibling, Mt Connor, which stands at a peak of 859 metres above sea level.
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Arrived at my accommodation at Curtin Springs. An early end to the ride for the day. What better way is there to relax than to light up a barbie for some succulent meat.
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Lamb loin chops to finish off the day.
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No mobile internet connection out here in Curtin Springs, nor is there any mobile reception at all. At least I am able to use ‘Roaming WiFi’: Internet for Rural Australia.

To be continued…

Map - Day 4 to 7 - Outback SA

6 comments

  1. Hi Dave, love reading your adventure. And the pics are amazing. One question, how do you keep that Nike looking so great in those conditions.

    Like

    • Thanks Garry! I don’t really mind a bit of dirt, and for the most part the bike was kept in good shape. However, if you check out the next part of the report, I do provide a ‘bike hygiene update’… the extent of grime and dust is shown up close 😊

      Like

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