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
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.
Day 5 – Victor Harbour to Port Augusta
Ambient Temperature: 7°C to 13°C
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.
Day 6 – Port Augusta to Cadney Park
Ambient Temperature: 8°C to 15°C
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.
Day 7 – Cadney Park to Curtin Springs
Ambient Temperature: -1°C to 16°C
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.
To be continued…