Summer vs Winter season riding… What do you prefer? Here are my brief points, as outlined below.
– Cold, but this can be alleviated by wearing proper thermal gear, or simply wearing more clothes
– Weather seems more predictable, allowing for sufficient preparation
– …but there’s more of that wet weather going on
– Fellow riders seem more conscientious and competent on the road…
– …because cagers tend to miss us from their mirrors even more than usual
– Days are shorter, nights are longer..
– …but less police presence at glory locations
– Hot as hell, and there’s nothing you can do about it
– Bike is also running hotter. Great way to keep yourself nice and toasty… under the sweltering heat of the sun
– Roads are cleaner, tyres are stickier
– Extreme police presence at prime riding locations
– You’re riding under the clearest of skies for most of the time.. later, you’re gnarling your teeth at the sight of thunderstorms and torrential rain. Such is the predictability of the weather at times.
– Wet weather gear & warm and humid conditions are the worst. Absolute worst, arriving at work all soaked from sweat.
– Balmy 8pm evening runs, with the sunset on your back.
For the most part, the weather in the outback of SA and NT were very pleasant, in that it was very predictable, and nothing unusual was presented to me, apart from the extremely cold mornings which reached sub-zero temperatures. On that factor alone, I would rate the roads out there as being up there among the best for a good road trip, to the likes of the Great Ocean Road and Great Alpine Road, even though you are only travelling on non-stop straight highways.
What are your preferences?
Day 8 – Curtin Springs to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Ambient Temperature: 8°C to 20°C
A late departure from Curtin Springs created some good vibes for me, indicating a very easy-going day; a huge change from the constant pressure of covering a large distance over the days.
I will make my conclusion of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta visit very short: It’s a must-go. We’ve all seen images of the famous rock in postcards, photographs, magazines, books. This is one place where you have to visit to fully appreciate the scenery. It is an amazing place, and you will love it. Mark my words.
In contrast to the world heritage sites, I had another unforgettable time in my accommodation. I ended up staying at the Outback Pioneer lodge. There’s nothing that’s very characteristically ‘outback’ about it. You’d be hard pressed to check in to a worse place to stay in the outback. I mean, you’ve got all this space out in the outback, and yet I am having to squeeze into multiple bunk beds in a room that’s more suitable for only a queen-size bed. To make matters worse, the whole site plan was laid out in a way that restricted footpath access along blocks of buildings that would lead to an illogical change of direction. To access the amenities was a nightmare of zigzags. Never again.
Day 9 – Yulara to Marla
Ambient Temperature: -2°C to 15°C
This day indicated the dreary ride back to Adelaide down the same route that I came up from. All that was in my head was to ride continuously, like a machine, and not think too much of anything that may induce boredom. This is when I really needed that helmet bluetooth kit and a variety of music that I did not organise. No other option but to suck it up, and hum my own tunes.
At this point of my journey, I was very concerned about the wear on my tyres, so I did my best to travel on the smoother parts of the highway, and avoiding the severe rougher sections. In the end, I probably would only extend the tyre life by a measly amount.
Stayed at Marla Travellers Rest. I’ve read some reviews indicating that the nearby Cadney Park (70kms away) is a better place to stay than the one in Marla. Don’t know about what the others were thinking, because Marla seemed to have better facilities, and a supermarket which helped with the convenience factor. Cheaper too.
Day 10 – Marla to Port Augusta
Ambient Temperature: 0°C to 14°C
Travelling on the Stuart Highway once again, to get back to where I came from: Port Augusta. Something which I have not yet mentioned are the pervasive presence of cattle grids. Every once in a while, you’d approach a caution sign warning of a grid ahead. Some are level flush with the highway perfectly, others would require you to sit up from the seat and stand on the peg to prevent your spine from receiving an involuntary jolt of awakening.
Needless to say, it was rather uninteresting to see another stretch of road of nothingness on the way back. For anyone embarking on a Red Centre trip, I’d recommend them to travel to or from the north, entering from the Queensland border for the sake of variety and adventure. Doing the same road again for over 1000kms is just dull and tedious.
Arriving in the early evening at Port Augusta, I had a gloriously greasy meal from KFC to greet myself back into civilisation, devouring the Five Stars Box. Included were the zing of wicked wings, the assurance of a handy drumstick, snackability of pop corn chicken, the salty goodness of hot chips, all of which were washed down with the effervescent refreshment of a can of Mountain Dew.
Day 11 – Port Augusta to Adelaide
Ambient Temperature: 7°C to 14°C
Leaving Port Augusta, it was so cold and windy on the way. In my mind was to make it to the Ducati workshop before lunch time so that I can get the bike back to top mechanical condition. Unfortunately, I made it to Adelaide a little later due to a few rest stops that I had to make to ensure that I was not overly fatigued. It’s a hard life, when you’re on the road for longer than you are in bed.
Arrived in Adelaide after 1pm, a great city that is well organised and easy to navigate. I’d describe this city as being the perfect size; very European, and appears to be quite a manageable size, population at a touch over 1 million. Adelaide has its roots on a more upmarket society that is akin to what one may see in Melbourne, but with more parklands and open spaces. Aesthetically, I’d regard the CBD area to be better than both Melbourne and Sydney, due to the fact that it is less cluttered, has an abundance of older and imposing buildings, picturesque neighbourhoods lined with perfectly maintained mansion homes and is generally very clean.
Adelaide does not seem to have much of a night scene, however the appearance of a fitness flash mob, a light drizzle of rain and an atmosphere of generally less-stressed people helped to create a good evening stroll before retreating to the hostel. Top marks to you, Adelaide. Now I see a glimpse of why you call yourself a well-kept secret. If only your unemployment rate was much lower than it is at the moment.
To be continued…