Thursday, December 24, 2015

Work & Devils Marbles

As I wasn't getting any work done I was becoming increasingly bored in Alice Springs. After days of wandering around aimlessly in the heat, I got word of a guy looking for workers somewhere north of Alice Springs. Ringing him up I found out that he was still looking for someone to do a fencing job with. Due to me having a bit of experience in fencing from King Island and Reds I had no problem with it. When he revealed the location I was a bit baffled. For anyone from Germany it would be if you are living in Munich and you go to work in Flensburg. Anybody else, I had to drive 850km to get there. After mulling over it in my head a bit, the distance didn't seem that far. I have lived in Australia for ten months now and done a fair bit of driving. 850km seem to be the neighbourhood now as you only pass through about three towns in that distance out here (and all towns have under 500 inhabitants).
Set off as soon as I could and approx. 30km out of town I realised I had forgotten a few things at the hostel, typical. Turned round near the Tropic of Capricorn and drove back to retrieve my belongings before being back at the same place one hour later. Driving along in Australia gets relaxing/tiring fast. As you round a corner after driving straight for 20km the next stretch of straight thirty kilometre road awaits.
Shortly before reaching Tennant Creek the Devils Marbles are located. A tourist attracting national park were round bolder of rock stand stacked on one another. Climbing around I meet three girls on a bus from Alice Springs to Darwin. One from England, the other from Wales and guess where the third was from*. Had a chat and found out they had an entire tour bus for themselves as no one else was driving to Darwin currently. After some pictures we went separate ways again, but met shortly after at the fuel station in Tennant Creek again.
A short stretch (short in Australian terms) I turned of right to the road that leads to Cairns and got hit by a few lightning storms. I am getting closer to the tropics up here now and the wet season is just starting up. That’s the reason a lot of people are avoiding Darwin at the moment. After a few hundred kilometres I turned back north at the Berkley homestead, a sign warning that there is no fuel for 325km.
Up until that point I had evaded stock on the road, but out on the Tablelands they where clogging up the road here and there. I met very few people, a Ute here or there and that was it. Driving along the scenery is the flattest I have ever seen. Even the Outback around Lake Eyer had rivets here and there, but the tablelands are just flat plains filled with grass and animals. In the distance a thunderstorm was ragging, which made for some dramatic scenery whilst I was trying my best not to kill any wildlife, cattle or my car. 

Arriving at Brunette Downs Station I was greeted by Station Hands that where left over from the slowly expiring mustering season. Frosty (my boss) was just a way behind with his caravan, his co worker Darel and another backpacker from the UK called Tom. Had a few beers with them watching above mentioned storm pulling over and got to know each other. Frosty and Darel are both from Queensland about an hour drive from Cairns and come out here to do work like this regular. They employ backpackers nearly all time around and they had gotten Tom and me there for two others that had just left. Tom himself was from Norwich and working up a bit of money to go back home and join the Navy. His girlfriend was working somewhere along the east coast, but the promise of quick money made him come all the way here.
Pitched my tent after a while and slept in it for a few days before we got an air conditioned room. The room was lovely after spending a few night out in the heat, waking up in the morning covered in sticky sweat. The work was, as mentioned, primarily fencing. Ten kilometres of fencing. Basically you stand in the middle, look left until to the horizon and right until to the horizon and all you can see is the fence line. Due to the rain surprising us a few times we had to catch up over a few days and worked over 12 hours a day in 35 degrees (dam English keyboard doesn't have the degree sign). When we had only about two hours work left on the fence it absolutely pored down so we couldn't get out. Frosty was, understandably, very happy. It ended up raining so much the helicopter couldn't fly out to retrieve some belongings, so we left later that day. Frosty and Darel back to Queensland, Tom to his girlfriend and me to Alice Springs. The next feasible time we can carry on is probably after New Year. Getting of the station was just barely possible. Had I not got a Subaru with AWD, I wouldn't have got of the station. As it was I sometimes was sliding along at 45 Degrees to the desired route. Dropped Tom of at the Berkley Homstead for him to catch a bus back to Cairns and headed of back to Alice to watch the new Star Wars film and wait for a phone call for the work to be started again.



*Oh, and the third girl was from Scotland.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Old Telegraph Staion Trail

Murray has abandoned me to a life in Alice Springs for the moment. He and the other two have left on a two week job out north-west of Alice and as four blokes was to many last time I have had a long, boring holiday. My cars registration fee was coming up, so that was a big mayor money spending event. Cars just eat money. Counting down the things, I had to register the car again (600$), a new set of tires are needed soon (ca. 400$) and a service check is a couple of hundred kilometres overdo.
Alice isn't the best place for activities once you have done the mayor tourist things, but what I had heard was that there is an assortment of mountain bike trails in the area. Later I found out that the total amount of mountain bike tracks is somewhere along 450km, so rather a lot. A few weeks back two other backpackers and me went to the YHA to ask for some mountain bikes, but the only ones they had present where city bikes. Bikes with one gear, no suspension and block brakes. So a no go and we went for a walk instead. This time I did some research on the internet before deciding what and where to do. Outside Alice is an old telegraph station that has been turned in to a tourist attraction now and they hire out “proper” mountain bikes (nothing like a Frenchie thought). Hiring one there the age old problem of mine came along, my tall status. I got their tallest bike and it is still to small. Tried around a few different ones and settled on one before taking off. Before leaving one of the workers Lihi said he was going out for the evening and if I wanted to join him. Local tour guide, for free, so of course that was a yes. Wanting to test the bike I took off towards somewhere and had to get off as I had no clickis. Really miss them when I don't have them on my foot. But missed not biking at all more. Getting a bit out I started worrying about things like accidents and co. so I turned round after a short stretch. Big fear in Australia is that you get knocked off your bike and lye unconscious on the road getting fried until the next person finds a barbecued human on the track. Not my way to end, wouldn't look good on the gravestone. Turning round I passed the telegraph station again and went back to the hostel to get a time lapse video edited that I had taken the night before from Anzac Hill.
In the evening I then set of to meet Lihi and upon reaching the hire shop had a fun talk with him and Andrew. As I wasn't that happy with a fully they gave me the chance to test a hardtail I had seen before, but thought it was Andrews, so didn't even touch it. Felt better, not much bouncing, but still not as homey as my own bike. Left along a track that Lihi normally takes better riders on and in the end it amounted up to 20km and a lot of ups and down. The general layout of the immediate country isn't one long climb but riddled with lots of ups and downs. Lihi was in front all the way as he knew what areas he wanted to check and were to go. Plus he was relaxing a bit with me behind him (I wager). The last time I was in the saddle of a bike was last Christmas biking up the Alpspitze with dad, so nearly a complete year ago. Stamina takes a steep drop in that time. We passed some kangaroos and probably a bunch of other crawling stuff on our way. No snakes fortunately and Lihi told me of how he nearly got bit a couple of weeks ago. So snakes aren't littered across the tacks as feared, rocks are thought. Twice I came to an abrupt stop but nothing bad resulted, just wounded pride. Lihi took me the more fun way around and not the scenic route, but we did stop a few times for some pictures. Otherwise it was bouncing around from rock to sand dips and tracks. Sand dips proofed interesting. If you hit them to slow you get bogged and you cant get fast with the terrain set up before it. Similar to snow, just not as slippery.
We completed the track and both carried on back to Alice. Said goodbye to Lihi and peddled back to the hostel for some rice and vegetables. Lost my rice so it was only vegetables, but Maryse (Canadian girl) offered to cook some tacos tomorrow. Looking forward to getting on the bike again tomorrow. Have to make the best out of the few days I have it rented.


Tracks at GPSies (TrackOne and Track Two) and pictures at Picasa.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Water Drilling

The first working experience in Alice Springs has been getting under way for a bit. I got started up with drilling for water bores out in the Outback/desert. My boss Murray gave me a call about a week ago that we were going to do a bore really close to Alice Springs, about 30 km away which is nothing here.
Four of us showed up to that contract, which is a bit to many for a bore actually. The ideal number is three, as you have the leading operator (Murray), an assistant for him that helps him with the actual drilling job (Timy) and another guy running around getting trenches for the water dug, preparing things and cleaning stuff up (Brody & me). The first day close to Alice was a sort of test run, not a deep bore, nothing to complicated (or so we thought) and close to Alice in case of a problem. The morning of the first day was spent with getting all the gear to the are we needed it. Two trucks, one with the rig on the back and another with all the casing used to secure a bore once it is deep enough and all the other extras like welding tools, cutting tools and the likes. Once we got there we had to wait a bit for the horses to get sorted out, due to us drilling the bore on a horse farm and them not liking the noise. After that all set up for the bore drilling, which is done at a fast rate. Put the rig up in under a minute and get all the machinery up and running and away you drill. The day was spent with a few of the above mentioned jobs and a few runs back to the yards to get some stuff we needed. By the end of the day we hadn't quite finished, so we went back and returned the next day to finish the job. After that all pack up to the yards and prepare for the next couple of days which would be spent out bush, away from pretty much anything.
In the morning of the next day we did a few final preparations and then set of about 200 km away in to the Outback with three trucks and a Ute. The tucks where the rig, the other mentioned one with all the gear as before (just a bit more), another trailer with a fully functioning container with kitchen, shower, etc. in it and a truck with sandbags and extra stuff on. Due to Brody and me not having a truck licence we had to borrow someone from the yards which I took back after getting to the target location. Once I had returned from taking him back the rig was already set up and the trucks all parked in their right places. The evening was spent eating some cooked dinner made by Timy and then sleep in the swags for an early start the next day.
Waking up we started up at six o'clock in the morning (after finding some snake tracks around the swags, but nothing of the animal) and got started just as the sun came up. The initial big hole for the casing near the top had already been done in my absence yesterday, so the drill was lowered done through that and started the deep drilling process. Quite a bit of water and foam is pumped down to the tip of the drill to cool the tip of while it is drilling. Tube after tube of steel is lowered in to place (each being six metres long) and used to press the drill down. All the while water is being blasted out of the side with gravel and dirt from the ground bellow. Samples have to be taken every while and stored away to be sent to the government late on for ground surveillance. The blasting water out of the side actually dug a really deep hole in to the road we had directed the water to run down. After hitting the depth needed that Murray estimated would deliver the most amount of water the drilling tubes and the drill were all lifted up and stored back in to place. Six on the rig for fast reloading, similar to a revolver in the old west and the rest were lowered down on to the closely parked truck. After that the casings (eight inch wide black steel tubes, which do not get hot in 40 Degrees at all, no) get lowered in and dropped down to the bottom slowly, each one being welded on to the one underneath it. Near to the bottom there are two sieve like tubes to let all the water in that can then be pumped to the top. After lowering in all the tubes we needed the top was cut to length and the space between the wall (12 inches) and the casing (8 inches) was filled up with gravel to secure the whole thing. After that it was six in the evening and we decided to finish of the next day.
Timy cooked again in the evening and we enjoyed a fairly good meal out from the big city.

The next day we spent doing a measurement on how much water could come out of the bore, concreted up the entire thing, painted it white, put up a sign with the information on it next ot the bore and packed up to leave. After hooking everything up back to the yards (which took two and a half hours) and then pack up all the next casing and extra for the next job.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

McDonnell Ranges Gorges

Woke up earlier than usual, as seems to be normal in the tent. Some of the others had already left. Got up and packed up the tent before having some of the rice and baked beans left over from yesterday whilst mum had some cereals. After that playing tetris with the boxes of the car again. Everything was stored as planned and we set of back towards Alice Springs with all the time in the world to explore the gorges riddling the side of the McDonnell Ranges. The first one we came to wasn't that far from the road and we went and had a look at the Ochre Pits. The Aboriginals used to use it as a medium to trade and paint themselves so if you remove any of it you can pay a fine of up to 5000$. Being the tourist we are we took a few pictures and then left the place just as a small bus pulled in. Seems like the tourist time has started.
Carried on along the road to a place called Ellery Creek. I had heard from the Dutch guy I had met in Coober and then in Alice again that you can go swimming there so we went to the Creek/Gorge with swimming stuff packed. And good that we did. Of the whole tour that would have most likely been the best thing to visit. The water was fresh but you got used to it after a while. Really nice for me to swim in something akin to a lake after over a year of not doing so. We met a couple with their baby there too, who were both enjoying the time before all the tourists come by later. Both of them commented on there being no shortage of jobs in Alice after hearing I would be working there (maybe). Both had moved there as you earn much more than in any coastal town, but you have to get used to the heat. After swimming to the other end of the gorge and getting some really nice pictures we carried on towards Alice. 
We didn't do much on the last run to Alice Springs, except visit the Desert Park which is a type of zoo in Alice. Got some animals in there that don't exist in the wild anymore and the usual kangaroos, emus and snakes. Mum got to see her first emu and close ups to some kangaroos. Finished of the visit by watching a birds of prey show, similar to Banham Zoo in England.
After that back to the hostel in Alice Springs, a chat with the hostel owner Brian and an ice cream.

Track at GPSies.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mereenie Loop

This morning I woke up felling well rested and nearly as good as before visiting the hospital. After managing to get up we had some breakfast of porridge and banana before once again packing up all our stuff and leaving the resort. Our next stop was at the reception to get a permit for driving to Glen Hellen later that day, as we pass through aboriginal country on the way.
We drove back a bit to get to Kings Canyon itself and finally get a bit of exercise done. There were a ton of tourist there already. You can do rather a large amount of walk around and in to the canyon itself. The longest one is the Rim walk around the top of the canyon which takes up several hours. A lot of the other visitors had left early in the morning to do it, as if the temperature is just predicted or realistic above 36°C they close the walk at nine in the morning. Mum and me got there at about 10AM, so we chose a walk along the outside of the canyon before climbing to the top and looking down in to it. There were warning at the bottom saying what things to take and what to do. Walked up and started taking some pictures with some chattering Asians following along. Nearly at the top we met a few Japanese people coming the other way who did not seem equipped for the journey in any way and looked the part of being very uncomfortable in the heat. At the top we stopped for some pictures over a cliff edge in to the canyon and met a couple from Holland who I took some pictures off and vice versa. They carried on along the Rim walk even if it was officially closed (prediction had been 36°C) whilst mum and me carried on back down to the car to get moving. We planned on reaching Alice Springs that day and only had about six hours left to go. Went on to the off-road track that travels through the aboriginal country and saw dozens of wild horses. A van with some people my age passed who seemed happy to have reached the end of the gravel road near Kings Canyon. We carried on and got loads of pictures of wild horses and a few serious four wheel drives stirring up plumes of dust and sand behind them when they passed us. We were doing a good effort and trying to hamper their view with our own dust trail, but well, my tires are a bit thinner (saves me fuel on the road). We reached a crossing that turned of to Hermansberg and Glen Hellen and chose the way to Glen Hellen. We had been warned that Hermansberg was only accessible to four wheel drives with enough ground clearance. Also Glen Hellen has the road with the nicer gorges, if more tourist. Along that way mum saw her first kangaroo, a scraggly looking thing, on the side of the road. Still alive fortunately. Carried on and went to have a look at a gorge just before reaching Glen Hellen, but we would have spent another hour trying to get there so pressed on. There was a lookout looking out over the McDonnell ranges nearly next to the road so had a quick stop and mum saw her first dingo duck in to the bush. 
Carried on to Glen Hellen and put 10l of fuel in to get to Alice and bought some food for the way. It was four thirty by then and we wanted to see a few gorges so pressed on. The first gorge we came to was Ormiston Gorge and as we drove in we saw it had a camp site. Instead of being stressed out to see the rest we decided to camp here for the night and after building up the tent and having some dinner had a look at the gorge without hundred of other tourists being around. Walked back and wrote the blog before going to bed.

Track at GPSies.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Kings Canyon

Woke up in the morning felling better after yesterdays episode, but still not in top fit condition. After finally getting up with sore muscles from the cramps from yesterday I passed on breakfast whilst mum had a few cereals. Mum got most of the stuff packed up and we left for the car and packed it up. As we had come all this way to see Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuja (The Olgas) we went to a look out that wasn't quite in the National Park, so we didn't have to pay the fee to enter. At the lookout we each got a fair amount of pictures of the two rock mountain formations before proceeding to the petrol station. We had agreed on continuing on to Kings Canyon as we didn't want to spend another night in this freakishly expensive tourist centre. The fuel costing 2,03$ per litre was the last draw. I can understand it will be more expensive than Alice Springs or similar, but not over two dollars.
So we drove on to Kings Canyon, most of the day spent with mum driving the car. We passed a patch of freshly burned ground created by a bush fire the day before when we had passed. Nearly all the way back to Mt. Ebenezer before turning North up another type of highway. After a while this one started getting a bit hillier and rockier, as we were drawing closer to the Mc. Donnell Ranges.
Warnings for camels, kangaroos and livestock started appearing but the first wild animals we saw were some wild horses. Loads of them were seen on our journey further north. We reached Kings Creek Station and had a look at fuel prices and something to cool to drink. Got a drink but passed on the fuel as it had risen to 2,30$, which up till now is the highest I have seen in Oz. We had a look at Kings Canyon, but it was getting to late to actually walk anywhere, plus I wasn't felling up to scratch yet either. So we carried on to Kings Canyon Resort where we got a bed for the night. Wanted to have a look at the sunset on the mountain range, but due to the sky being full of clouds that didn't work. There were a lot of other tourists around, but not as many as to call it “silly season”. Mum cooked up some dinner after that and we had some rice and backed beans before heading off to bed. Just after we had booked in to the room a gecko scrambled across the wall and ceiling, but they take care of the flies that get in.

Track at GPSies.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Rip-off Rock

Got up early this morning (4.00AM) to go and have a balloon flight over the McDonnell Ranges. We got picked up at the front of our hostel, and drove to pick up some more people after which we proceeded to a field close to the airport. Our balloon hadn't been blown up yet, as the pilot and crew were not to sure about the wind. It was a bit strong so they sent up a dummy and waited for another ten minutes to see if it would die down and we could carry on as planned. As the wind didn't die down, the flight was cancelled and we found ourselves back at the hostel earlier than planned.
Mum and me then proceeded to pack up for our journey to the Uluru/Kata Tjuja National Park, filled up the car with fuel and bought a few supplies for the journey. Then we set of for the hour long drive to the National Park. In total it would be somewhere between 500 and 600km, in Australian terms a short distance. We switched drivers a few times on the way there. In Erldunda we turned of the Stuart highway to carry on towards Yulara on the Lasseter highway. At this point my stomach started felling a bit weird, but nothing remotely bad. In Mt. Ebenezer we had some lunch and picked up a French guy who needed a journey to Yulara airport. We wondered how he had ended up there and it turned out he had lived in Kulgera for the last five months working as a chef in the roadhouse. Never cooked before that, but he seemed to have gotten used to it. He was on his way towards Melbourne to drive along the Great Ocean Road and then carry on to Tasmania. He himself came from Stra├čburg, so not that far from Germany actually. At some point along there my stomach really started playing up. It most likely didn't like the greasy chicken and chips I had for lunch. After we dropped Max (yes, same name as me) off in centre Yulara, we carried on to the camp site and mum organised a stay for two night (72$, for two night on an un-powered camp site?!) whilst I visited the toilets.
 Went and built up the tent after that and I had to go on the toilet again. At that point I realised something was very wrong. My body started tingling from the hands and feet up (like when they fall asleep) and I just managed to get back to the car and tell mum to drive me to the medical centre (luckily she had noticed it when we were driving in) before my whole body cramped up. As it was Saturday the medical centre was closed and after ringing and discussing money business over the phone, mum finally got a nurse to come. In the meantime I had managed to drop out of the car and lie down on the floor. Muscles everywhere were cramping up even worse, couldn't move my hands anymore and to top everything off my shoulder managed to drop out as well. At that point I didn't care anymore and just started screaming out (never had that pain before). In the end the nurse came, but I was starting to feel better before then (probably due to me throwing up). It turned out I had most likely contracted some type of virus which had sucked my stomach dry, thus resulting in near worst case dehydration. The nurse did a lot of check ups, told me what was wrong and put me on a drip for about an hour. She had just been in the process of packing for a holiday and said that dehydration was something they normally encountered around here, especially during summer. Due to me having the virus she recommended having a separate room for the night in an air conditioned climate. As it was for medical reasons we got a discount, but still had to pay 205$, for one night. I just went to bed, had as much to drink as I could and tried to get to sleep.

Track of the journey at GPSies.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Royal Flying Doctors Service & Reptiles

Had the nicest sleep that I have had in a long time. First time I have found a cover that is long enough for me. Got up to have some breakfast and then headed of to the tourist info to get some information in on what to do in Alice for the day. The following days will probably be spent around the area and not in Alice Springs itself. They had a few things, but after some questioning mum booked a balloon flight for us in the morning the next day above the McDonnell Ranges to see the sun rise.
After that I took a short time of as I had got a phone call from the company I visited the day before that mentioned they might have something. I'll be on a trial first of all, as I don't have a clue if I can handle work in the heat of the Outback or maybe even the desert. Talk went well, so I'll see if I can handle the work.
After that we had some lunch in a Subway. It was pretty packed and on the way I met the guy I had seen in Port Augusta, Australia is a small country. After dinner we went of to see the Royal Flying Doctors Service Museum, as mum has had a profound interest in them for a while. We watched a hologram about how they came about and had a stroll through the museum afterwards. Then we had a look at a Reptile House at all the snakes we want to avoid in the Outback (including Nr. 1: Inland Taipan aka Fierce Snake). Pretty lively in there, they where moving around a lot. Held a python, but he didn't seem to mind.
Then some shopping for healthy veggies and co. and back to the hotel for a dinner. I wanted to see the sunset on Anzac Hill, but my internal clock was still set to Adelaide time and we got up to late. Had a look at Alice at night and then went back to write this blog and get some sleep for early in the morning.  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

YHA & Mum arriving

Yesterday was pretty much spent just with working. Sorting through the tons of pictures I have made since leaving Reds and getting some of the timelapses rendered. I got a heap of movies of another guy out of the dorm, so I spent the evening relaxing whilst watching a movie. Then trying to sleep, but I had a guy under me who snored, spoke, farted and coughed nearly all night long, so it was difficult.
In the morning up to get packed and ready to leave the Youth Hostel. Mums coming to Alice Spring today, so I got ready to pick her up, Getting some breakfast I watched a few Aboriginals break out in a fight and a policeman had to intervene. After that I had some time to spare, so I went of to the company that Barton mentioned to see if they had any jobs. Talked to the overseer, and he with regret told me they have none at the moment themselves, but others are looking everywhere. Apparently Alice has got lots of work but not enough people to work. They wrote down a few names and actually a short while later I got a call from another company asking if I wanted to have a try with them. Unfortunately they start the next day and I am spending the week with mum, so I had to say no to that. Then off to the airport to pick up mum. I waited a while for her plane to come and after months of not seeing her she walked out on the other side of the planet. Had a chat whilst driving back and found the hotel we are staying in after a ride around Alice. Went out to dinner and had a massive burger whilst I caught up on the news in Nesselwang and told mum how things are in Oz. Shopped some things before going back to hotel and get some washing done. In the end the washing machine didn't work, but I somehow managed to get a job offer from a guy that works as a removalist. See how that ends, thought.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coober Pedy - Alice Springs: Screw the desert, let it rain

So a long drive today, all the way from Coober Pedy to Alice Springs was the plan. Nearly 700km of driving and it would take a while as I sit at 80km/h to save fuel. I left Coober after getting some money out of the bank and refilling my car and both jerry cans. Julius and Andi had left earlier to use the cooler part of the day before the potential 40°C hit. After a breakfast of porridge I was off on the long road north. Passed a lot of holes dug in the ground by miners, looking for the elusive opals. After just a few kilometres I met up with Julius and Andi again, who were just in the process of building up their kite. They have got three kites with them. A small four meter one, a medium seven metre one and a large 12 metre one for when there is near to no wind. As I had come along they wanted to get some video material with them and the kite for their sponsor (kites cost something around 2000$). Spent a while playing photographer as they tried to keep the kite under control in a gust heavy crosswind. Some road trains passed us (three trailers, over 50 metres long, some have told stories of trains up to five trailers long) and splattered us in stones and gravel they had picked up with their high number of tires. After getting as much footage as possible they packed up the kite and where looking forward (not) to a day of strong head-/crosswind. I said my goodbyes and will try to met up with them somewhere on the way/way back from Uluru (Ayers Rock) to get some more footage.
Next stop after that was Marla, the town where the Oodnadatta Track officially ends and I bought myself a cold drink for the journey. The woman behind the counter was lamenting that they were running out of water. It had rained all around Marla (Coober Pedy, Kulgera,...) but just not there and if it doesn't rain soon their tanks will be empty and they'll have to import the water. In that time I also got a message from Danielle, one of the English girls I met in Coober and was planning to met in Alice for the remaining days until mum comes. They had spent the night in Yulara and got hit by storms and small bush fires ignited bye the lightning bolts. They had just left and hadn't booked anything in Alice yet. Driving across the border to the Northern Territorys I was hit by the mother of all storms. Any blacker and that thing would have had a tornado come out of it. My car was dirty from the Oodnadatta Track (covered in yellowish mud/dust), after that storm and a few smaller ones afterwards I don't need a wash anymore. I was worried about driving along with only 50 metres of view and finding a road train turned over, the wind was that strong (it blasted rain water down my exhaust pipe). Luckily they seem to know what their trucks can handle and I didn't find any
 catastrophic condition. It actually surprised me how much was chucked down, I'll have to check the road conditions for the McDonnell ranges outside of Alice, if I plan to drive there. Coming out of that I passed in to Erlunda, the town where the turn of is from the Stuart highway to Uluru. Then it was driving through the red sand section with rock formations here and there. Another rain storm hit, you realise they are coming because the sand being sucked towards the storm suddenly changes direction an goes all erratic. I did get a few pictures I hope showed it well, how the sand is dragged high along the desert and then sucked up. This rain storm saw bushes and at one point a small tree being blown over the road. Passed a road train standing on the side of the road after the worst had passed and the driver was checking something. Signalled him if he was ok, but he waved it of so I carried on. About 120km before Alice my low fuel warning came on, so I filled the jerry cans in and carried on. Ended up coming all the way to Alice with only about 65litres, something most four wheel drives won't manage. Danielle sent another message that they where in the YHA in Alice as everything else seemed to be full. Getting there there were some weird cars driving along the road. One van especially came wobbling down the road and when it passed me black smoke was coming out of the back. Driven by two Aboriginals, but hey, it still does the job of driving.
Once in Alice I went to the Youth Hostel and booked a dorm room for a few night. Woke up a guy who was working night shift and was in bed, so he wasn't happy. Got talking to another two German guys coming down from the top and are on their way down to Melbourne. It seems completely normal to met Germans everywhere. Till now I am the youngest I have found, I guess most my age will just go along the east coast and party nearly all the time.
We all went out in the evening to a pup and had a few drinks. We all ended up going to McDonalds in a taxi. I hadn't eaten anything since the morning and noticed after just a few beers. After that episode back to the hostel and some sleep. Tomorrow will likely be a day of rest, as mum is coming the following day.

Track at GPSies.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy is strange. First of, sleeping underground here has it's mayor pros. You save a lot of energy on air conditioning, then again have to make up for that with ventilation. You have no clue what time it is down there, due to not seeing the sun or any other object for reference. Due to that I woke up at 9.30 o'clock, well rested and not sweating in the heat up on the surface. After some breakfast I got all my photos of the Oodnadatta Track sorted, updated the blog and rendered one time lapse I had made on the way. Finishing that I had a chat with a local doing some electrics in the caves and due to there being tons of opals all over the place he confirmed that we might be standing right next to half a million dollars or something along that line. Could be just rocks, too. He had been digging for a few years, but not amassed a huge fortune.
Then I went around exploring the town. Lots of aboriginal people walking around the place, but I was told that that is more normal here in the Outback than on the coast. I ended up in the Old Timers Mine, a museum of how opal mining used to be. I had a very interesting chat with the owner and we had a very in depth talk of how opals are made, where they find them, how they were mined, etc. She told of some people who have mined out here for twenty years and never found a thing and then you have someone who just wanted to add on a pantry to their house and found loads of the stuff. Apparently one guy ended up digging 21 extra rooms because he was so lucky to find a hotspot of opals and found a vein of them in every room. The most expensive opal they had in the shop of the museum was priced at 28.000$. 
After that I went to a scenic outlook over the town and then back to the backpackers hostel to do some computer work and lunch. Back there I met two guys from Germany (they seem to be everywhere here) who are biking from Port Augusta to Darwin on a tandem lay-down bike. If the wind so permits they also have a kite to pull them. They are documenting their journey carefully and want to maybe get in to the EFT (European Film Tour) with their film they are going to make. If I met them on the way again, I might do a short film for them, so both are in the scene biking and not always just one. Till now they have had problems with the kite thought, as the wind has always been coming the wrong way (Headwind for bikers. Nasty thing, that). Shortly after a massive storm pulled over Coober in the evening, even the owner was out with his phone taking pictures and commenting on how rare rain is out here. He talked about how the miners will not be happy about it, as it will possibly flood some mines, but we have not to worry, he fixed up all the holes in the dorms years ago (I would hope). After witnessing the storm and saying a “see you later” to Julius and Andi I went of to bed to catch some sleep for the drive the next day.

Julius and Andi have got a website at “www.outbackcrosskiter.de”.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

William Creek - Coober Pedy

Woke up early in the morning this time. Purposefully, as I had found out the day before that they offer flights over Lake Eyre and the Painted Hills. As I most likely will probably never come here again (to far out) I thought that I should just do it. Bit of drama to begin with, as I don't have the capital to pay for the flight in my Australian bank account but I have a German savings account where I could pull the needed money from. Due to bank reason (and it being Saturday) they didn't transfer the money (haven't yet either) but I managed to get bye with what was left in my wallet, what I had left in my Australian account and using a MasterCard of my other bank.
Off in to the air we went after that and the scenery is just spectacular from the air. Taking off our pilot (a guy who his working up his hours to be a pilot for the Flying Doctors Service) took us past Anna Creek Homestead, the largest cattle station in the world. Being in the air it's territory basically went from one end of the horizon to the other and apparently it takes a week on horseback to cross it. With me was a couple from Queensland, who were touring through Australia. After the homestead we angled toward the Painted Hills and had a look at their wonderful colours and the occasional stock at water holes here and there. Then towards Lake Eyre, where a many a documentary has been made. Apparently the company who owned the plane did a few flight for film crews and similar. The lake was as expected, a massive expanse of dry salt, where nothing lives at the moment. Flying toward the lake we did see a few pelicans take of from a creek bed. We flew over the lake for what felt like hours and visited a few islands out in the middle of no where. Coming back after spending a while out there we found some water in the middle of the lake, due to a storm the night before. Predictions are it is going to be gone shortly, due to the high temperature that was expected. 
After landing back in Williams Creek and saying goodbye to everyone I headed of along the William Creek Track to Cooper Pedy. This one wasn't as straight or long driving as the Oodnadatta Track, only about 160km until to Cooper. Met a few cars driving the opposite way, but surprisingly none of the massive road trains everybody was warning about. The huge ones (with five trailers) have eluded me so far. The scenery turned from the red sand dunes of Williams Creek back in to flat country once I got closer to Cooper Pedy. Weirdly, a rain shower came through the desert and I actually had to turn the windscreen wipers on. Luckily it wasn't to much, so I wouldn't get bogged in my car. Getting towards Cooper Pedy the landscape got weird. Holes and hills everywhere, some with mining equipment in it. Driving around I eventually found the town that wasn't 100% underground and booked in at the local backpacker hostel (cheapest place to stay). I got a dorm room underground in a section called the dungeons and it is wonderful. Due to it being 6,5m underground, it is nice and cool nearly all the time, perfect against temperatures in this part of the world. Went up to the bar after some dinner and used the free Wi-Fi. Met three English girls, a Dutch guy and a bloke from the US. Got talking to them and it ended up with us all driving out to the Breakaways (a geological formation about 30km out of Cooper Pedy). Got some really good looking pictures and had a fun time with people closer to my age. Had to stop shortly to refuel out of my jerry can, as the last time I had filled up was ages ago in Marree and I didn't want to end up with no fuel in the tank whilst they drove away in their Patrol. Had a brilliant time and went in to a bar for the night before heading back to bed and saying goodbye to the other five. They are heading off to Alice Springs in the morning, but as I will probably appear one day early to mum coming, I'll probably spend the day with them.

Track at GPSies.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Farina - William Creek: Oodnadatta Track

The night had been wonderful. I woke as the first person on the camp site again, not difficult due to there only being three of us. The whole night over I had left the flaps of the tent open. Basically the tent was only a deterrent against night crawlers. If they weren't about I could have just slept on the ground with the blow up mattress. After a breakfast consisting of porridge and (the newly auquiered) tea I packed up all the gear and said good bye to the other travellers who had gotten up in that time. It turned out they were heading along the Oodnadatta track, too. Only they planned to go the whole length until Marla, whereas I was turning of in Williams Creek. Set of and had my last glimpse of tarmac road a few kilometres prior to reaching Marree. After that all is gravel or worse. Fuelled up completely again in Marree, prices now having reached 1,90$. The car had only used up ten litres of fuel since Leigh Creek, so I didn't have to pay horrendous. Asked if the track was passable again, just to be sure and the lady at the till said “no problem”. She just warned me about a hole “somewhere after the planes”. Her husband had apparently been doing a check run and his Ute had become airborne. Considering I am in a Subaru Forester I was going to be extra careful.
And then I set of along the Oodnadatta track, with warning signs all over the entrance making sure we had all the necessity (okay, I didn't have a second jack). I was felling rather reassured, knowing that there was a Ute following me a few dozen of kilometres behind (the couple from the camp site in Farina). All along the way I was mostly alone. Occasionally a bus, truck or four wheel drive would pass, but otherwise it was only me, fast open desolate terrain and tons of flies. Seriously?! Where do those bloody things keep hiding and what the heck do they feed off. Passed by near endless terrain of desert, but still surprisingly with some flora nearly on every patch. Sometimes if there was sand on the road I, and anybody else I met, would kick up a rather good sand cloud behind us. The shrubs on the side of the road were caked in yellow dust. The few times I did get out of the car I was greeted with a wall of heat and a few second later the armada of flies that waits everywhere. Spotted the occasional lizard dash across the road, but hopefully didn't squash any. Over my head a giant grey cloud was settling. That can be good and bad news. Good: I have some protection against the sun in the driest state of the driest continent on the world. Bad: If that thing rains and turns the ground to sludge I am stuck a hundred kilometres from the nearest civilisation. Luckily it was travelling the opposite direction to me and didn't release it's hold on to my head. 
After a few crunches on the bottom of my car, due to ground clearance not being quite enough the road bettered up for some time. Passed and had a look at some old planes stood up next to each other and various other sculptures set up in the desert. And after that the warned hole. Also a sign had been put up, so I didn't have any issue with passing through. You could still see how a vehicle travelling to fast would take off. Somewhere around there the couple from the camp site overtook me, so I now had no “safety” backup from behind. Meh, carried on as always and the sky had turned blue again. Ergo, a lot of heat, so AC was switched on to full (and was just enough to keep me cool). Passed the crossing that turned of to Roxby Downs and shortly after got my first glimpse of Lake Eyre. Only the small part of Lake Eyre, the southern section. Still, after I got a few pictures I was just about to set off again when this large lizard is just sitting in the road. Camera out, picture, window down, picture, zoom in, picture, get out, picture, walk closer, picture, walk even close, gone. Thing would be about 30-40cm long, smaller version of the Galapagos Komodo Dragon.
Carried on and passed a concrete bridge crossing a creek with a water hole in it, a rarity around here. Around there also a large bird (1,2m guess) that looked like a heron but had webbed feet. Further on there was a turn off with a four kilometre drive to “The Bubbler”, a spring using the GAB to supply water in this harsh terrain. As I probably won't be along here ever again I took that extra length and nearly got shaken to bits. I found out along the Oodnadatta track that if you travel at the right speed you just fly over corrugation. Loose traction too, but that isn't much of a problem on a straight road with no one coming the other way.
 Due to curves leading to the Bubbler I had to go slower (there was a speed limit sign of 40km/h too, but who is going to check out here) and it was just that amount where it is painful to go to fast (and bad for the car, too). So I crawled there at a snails pace, but was rewarded with seeing life in the otherwise desolate salt dessert. After enjoying the silence and spotting a few twisters make their way across the desert I was off again. The road had deteriorated compared to before and I hoped that my car would get me to Williams Creek before braking a diff or something. Along there the terrain started turning to red, with a few red small sand dunes lining the shores of red salt lakes. As always, there is still vegetation clinging to the spots here somewhere. Surprisingly a lot where green, too. Carried along and twisted around hills and drove through flood ways which where (luckily) empty. After five hours of driving I reached Williams Creek where I stopped for the night and went in to the bar to get a cool drink. Nothing against water, but warm water in 30-40°C isn't that refreshing. Met a girl from Ireland behind the bar, who was working her days out here in the middle of no where. Wondered how you get out here to find a job without your own vehicle, but she mentioned she had some connections.

Just talking to the locals I found out there is a flight from here around the scenery, Lake Eyre and the largest station in the world, Anna Creek Station. As said before, probably never going to be here again (did ask if there where any job possibility for coming back later, but sadly no) and decided to go along in the morning. After that to the camp site (with showers) and to write the blog.
Track at GPSies.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Port Augusta - Farina: Flinders Ranges

Was the first person awake today morning. No surprise at 6 o'clock in the morning. Me and tents/sleeping bags just don't seem to get along. I had a restful night, but I can't seem to sleep in (yet). That'll probably change after I have slept in it for a while.
Anyway, after packing up my gear and marking a few camp points in the GPS, I said my goodbyes and left to go shopping again. Talking to the others yesterday and seeing what they had I found I was lacking in certain things (tea for example). So first stop was the cheap two dollar shop to get things like an extra bucket to do the washing, cutlery, etc. After that I fuelled up completely and went to Woolworths to do all my grocery shopping for the long trip into expensive terrain.
 Then I was of into the Flinders Range. Not a lot to say about a lot of travelling. Hot weather and mountains left and right with shrubs and gumtrees in the creeks. Until to a town called Quorn the road was rather busy, with trucks and vehicles. Lots of twists and curves between the mountains and a railway line criss crossing the road now and again. After Quorn the road got empty, only a vehicle every five minutes or longer. Lots of animal body's lying beside the road, from kangaroos, to wombats and wedge tails. Some fresh body's where covered in wedge tails which took of as soon as you come along. Basically a massive bird of prey (2m wingspan) and if they don't take of fast enough when a truck comes they go splat.
Reached a town called Hawker after a lot of straight driving and got on to the B83 road, also known as the Outback Highway. Drove for a few hours, with the mountains more to the right and Lake Torrens somewhere in the distance. Only way I really saw the lake was because distant hills looked like UFOs floating of the ground due to the heat on the lake. Reached Leigh Creek after another period of driving and went to the fuel station to fuel up. Only used a third of a tank, but I wanted to check that the Oodnadatta Track was still accessible. I don't want to travel 400 km up just to turn round, drive all the way back down to Port Augusta and then take the Stuart Highway up to Alice Springs. The internet page of the government proclaimed it to be all right, but a local person would know a lot better how things are. As all was well and the next time it was supposed to rain was on Tuesday I carried on. When it rains the track becomes pretty much impassable, even for serious 4WD. I read a blog of a 6WD Land Cruiser getting stuck.
After Leigh Creek the road turned in to a gravel road, which it will most likely remain most of the time. Passed a few other Outback travellers and ended up at a place called Farina, where they have a camp site with facilities. A nice thing out here after a day of sweating, even with AC on. After a shower the flies has disappeared as well for the night and after cooking some dinner I just sat back and did some star gazing. No light pollution what so ever. I nearly fell asleep in the chair due to a warm breeze passing through, the flies gone and the birds all asleep.

Track of the day at GPSies.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tickera - Port Augusta

Woke up the same time in the morning as Mike (older guy with the caravan). Whilst he went out in their kayak they had brought along searching for crabs I cast out the fishing line to see if I got lucky.
Whilst the line was out I made myself some breakfast, consisting of porridge with water. Packed up my gear next to that and by the time Mike came in I was ready to go. He had only seen two small crabs so left them. A local came along in his Ute with his dog on the back and only had a small fish and no crabs to show for the morning catch, so we didn't feel to bad about getting nothing.
Set of after saying good byes and headed along dirt trails to Port Broughton. A very hot day and as soon as you get out you are swarmed by persistent flies. Only way to loose them is to start driving and put your windows down until all of them are sucked out. Passed a lot of ruins of old farm houses that became obsolete when the farms started growing bigger.
Driving towards Port Pirie a mountain range came in to view with a large amount of windmills settled on top. Drove along that for a while and eventually reached Port Pirie and had to go shopping. The past couple of test runs camping, I found out that my bivi tent condensates so much that I wake up wet and damp in the morning and my sleeping bag is about 30cm to short. I thought they had a standard length for sleeping bags, but it seems that is not the case. So I went in to an outdoor shop and purchased a small two man tent and a sleeping bag that fit (actually got in to it in the shop to make sure). After getting rid of that money I bought a salad in Woolworths and had my lunch before carrying along the busy main road to Port Augusta. As I am sticking to 80km/h to save fuel (I'm not in a rush anyway) I get overtaken by everything. Cars, Utes and massive Road Trains. The last ones aren't fun when they overtake you, but I have survived until now. I wanted to turn of and sleep in a camping spot near Hancocks Lockout, but there was a fence going straight through the track, so I abandoned that thought. 
Further on to Port Augusta then and I found a free camp site just on the entrance to the town. There was another guy there already (Australia bloke) who has travelled around everywhere in his van. It's his home and he has done a lot to it and even has a dog with him. Shortly after a French guy showed up and needed some tools fixing his oil filter. And after him a German couple appeared (Silvio a. Lisa) on their way to Adelaide from Perth. Germans, Germans everywhere. They had a set up to be jealous of (solar panel, fridge, mattress beds, diesel, big roof rack,...). But after hearing they had to pay over 6000$ to get it on to the road and there is some issue with their fuel (50litres on 300km, something is wrong) I am still happy with my Forester. Has taken me everywhere I want to go till now and is good on fuel.

So pitched the new tent for the night and lets see how things go.
Track at GPSies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Adelaide - Tickera

Bloody, fu**ing flies. Next town I am getting a head net or what they call them. Sitting here at the beach in the Tickera camp site and got dozens of the things flying around annoying me. Even in the wind the things keep coming back.
So anyway, left Adelaide today and bought 50 litres of water, ready for the Outback, should I need it. Also two extra fuel tanks filled to the brim with cheap fuel from Adelaide. And then the driving started. Navigated through Adelaide first and got out of the other end after an hour or so. The amount of cars decreased rather a lot out there, especially once I got of the main main road (there are a few minor main roads as well). The cars decreased, the trucks increased. It also went from more Mediterranean landscape to desert looking. There are still trees, bushes and crop farms, but there is barren land coming out, too. Drove through a town called Dublin (wrong continent, weather is to good). Somewhere near to there I got a view of my first road train. REALLY long trucks, this one was only a small one if I understood things right. Three trailers behind it, all of them fuel tanks. Probably need them to drive itself. 
After driving through Port Wakefield I stuck the GoPro on to the roof and am atempting a time lapse of the journey to Tickera. Will see how that turns out. After leaving the minor main road I drove the rest of the way to Tickera, and just before the camp site got on to gravel road. Drove in to the camp site, set up my tent, took a picture of a lizard crawling past, all the while being chased by dozens of flies. Set up the camping stool right in the wind to ward them of. There are less, but still a good ten harassing me.

After a short while another couple of older people appeared in their car and camping trailer. Went up to them after they had set up and had a fun evening talking and laughing about different things. They even gave me a fly net for around the head for free, so now as many of them can come as they want to. Looks ridiculous, thought. Tried a bit of fishing when the tide had come a bit further in, but again no luck. 
Track of the trip at GPSies

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Adelaide

Spent the last couple of days enjoying a mattress in Adelaide and meeting other backpackers. Germans where slowly taking over the dormitory were I was staying, an English guy left and a German one came.
All in all Adelaide has been my favourite city so far, it's not as large as Dubai, not as touristy as Sydney and the road system is way better than in Adelaide. The first day was spent with looking around the city and organising a kite boarding lesson. No luck with kite boarding as the wind was wrong and to strong, so to dangerous for first timers. I had a look around the Central Market, which is supposed to be the bigges indor market or something like that. Went and had a look at the kite boarding school, but it was closed (as expected) and then walked along the beach back to the hostel, which took a while. Back at the hostel I did a ton of updates which have been pending for quite some time, to all of my electronic devices. After that I went to a windscreen fixer in South Adelaide to get a crack in the windscreen fixed, before it gets bigger and more expensive. Cars are expensive to keep.
In the evening I then went out with the German couple and the Canadian to view a fire show.

Next day I got the windscreen fixed, as I had come a bit to late the day before. Also bought most of the stuff I had wanted to get in Adelaide, including an emergency GPS beacon if something should happen way of the track. Hope to not use it, as I'm sure no one wants to. In the meantime the kite boarding teacher had rung up and said that the wind surprisingly had got better and that if I want to still take part he will have a course in the afternoon. So after a small lunch I set out to the West Beach to meet up with him. Taking part in the course was another English guy who had just moved to Australia with his wife and child and the teacher turned out to be from Denmark and his wife from Holland. So all Europeans in the course. 

The course has to be taken in three lessons, so it is a rather costly thing. The first lesson you just learn control over the kite and that thing has a lot of power (seven meter kite). Just learning how to steer the thing took a good part of an hour. So standing on land we got the thing up eventually and kept it in an area of space called the “Neutral Zone” were it is up but has no power. After getting that moderately done we went in to the water without a board and just let the kite go in to the “Power Zone” and let it drag us through the water. Was a heap of fun, but I can understand that it takes ages to master. We hadn't even got a board on our feet yet and it was difficult concentrating on the kite and just walking. At the end of that day back to the hostel and some dinner for the last night.  

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Coorong National Park - Adelaide

This night was really lovely compared to the others. Slept like a log with the sound of waves crashing just a few metres away from the car. Woke up in the morning because one of the cars was packing up and left early and then the other two and me started getting ready for leaving. The flies were and are a constant menace in Australia. They just don't give up, they have a whole new level of annoying. After packing and saying goodbye to the other guys I managed to get back to the camp site and put the pressure in my tires up again.
And then it was back to driving and driving and driving. From the Coorong National Park to Meningie along the ocean inlets filled with the smell of the sea. I noticed a stone had cracked my windscreen, so that'll be a repair I'll need doing before reaching the Outback. Had some breakfast at the bakers in Meningie and carried on along Lake Albert. Passed some pinkish salt lakes (or whatever they are) on the way to the city area of Adelaide and somehow got around to getting near to the city. Lots of driving involved and there is a fairly large mountain range to get over. I think going downhill the last 38km I could have just switched the motor off and rolled. They even had emergency brake strips for trucks and I saw one trudging up the other side. Coming in to the city I took Mum's Lonely Planet book aside for some reading on where to stay. After finding the first one fully booked I risked ringing up one which they said should normally be booked way in advance. The Glenelg Beach Hostel is right next to the sea, only a few minutes walk away and I got a dorm accommodation for cheap as compared to probably most other stuff here.
Then a wonderful shower, which was well needed after the last few days in a National Park. Sat down to write the first bit of the blog and met the rest of my room mates.
Currently in one room with two English guys (of which one has lived in Australia for eleven years), a German couple and a Canadian. Went out in the evening to have some dinner and then went to watch a fire with the German couple and the Canadian. Had a really good ice cream (haven't had one for months) and then went back to go to bed.
Some of the others got up at night to watch a Rugby match, but I slept right through.


Carpenter Rocks - Coorong National Park: AWD Learning

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain came down in torrents. And there were wolves on the mountain.
Naa, more along the line: It was a dark and stormy night. The condensation dripped from the bivi tent in torrents. And there were Roos on the hill.
The night was pretty chilly and windy, considering all things, and I woke up about five times just due to being cold. My sleeping bag is just a bit to short for me, so I'll see how I end up with it. After packing everything up I made a mental checklist of what I needed and continued on to the next large town with a supermarket. Being Australia that can be quiet a distance away. I drove through an area named the German Flat and wondered as to how that got it's name. Once I got there, I saw why. Dozens of windmills, all plastered along the coastline.
I reached a town called Millicent and did my shopping in Woolworths. Bought a heap of Baked Beans and other canned stuff. Also some fire lighters and an apple for breakfast.Got a road map of Australia, with a few off-road tracks shown in it, too. After re-fuelling I drove towards Beachport. On the way there I saw some indications that you can drive on the beaches, but only with 4WD. As my car has got power to all wheels I thought I'd just give it a go and a few moments later I was cruising along the beach instead of the main road. A few minutes later I was bogged in deep sand with the tide coming in just a few metres away. Shitshitshitshitshit.
Let down the tire pressure to about 20PSI and wouldn't come out. Dug out the wheels, wouldn't come free. At about that time a local surfer who had seen me came along and helped to get it out. In the end we dropped the pressure down to about 10PSI and dug out even more sand than before. Reversed out at high speed, did a U-turn and drove the surfer back to his car. If he hadn't had to go to a basketball game of his kid I would have brought him a beer. After saying many thanks and getting the tire pressure back up I carried on along the main road to Beachport and had a brilliant scenic drive along the coastline. Stopped at a rock called the Post Office Rock and had a climb around it. Carried on towards Robe after that and the temperatures were rising. Considering Robe is a beach resort town it was surprisingly empty on the roads getting there, even if it was the weekend. Hot and empty I was happy to have lots of water with me. In Robe I had lunch at a bakery and enjoyed a cool drink before heading of to Kingston SE. Once again empty road. Driving at 80km/h I only met a few people on the Princes highway. Went to a beach somewhere between vineyards and had a swim. Tons of cobwebs were coming in somewhere from out at sea with baby spiders on them, so I got back to the car as soon as I could. Carrying on along the highway it was the same as before: long, hot and empty. The Outback is even more desolate, thought. After checking in on a free camp site near some stones sticking out of the water called the Granites, and finding out it was all concrete so I couldn't pitch a tent I carried on to the next camp site in the Coorong National Park. The 32 mile camp site was no where to be found, not on the internet and not at the actual place it was supposed to be. Only a beach acces road which I had a go at and failed to get up the last ramp of sand. Getting there I met two emus, a stubby locking lizard and a deer hoped out five metres in front of the car. The deer surprised me, would have thought of kangaroos, but not deer. 
After getting back on the main highway I carried on to the next camp site, labelled 42 mile camp. After failing to book online and them not taking the phone to pay the fee I just went in and put up my tent. I am not going to be driving in the dark unless it is absolutely necessary. Walked 1,8km to the beach with the fishing gear on the back, hoping for some free dinner. The beach was filled with fishermen and a family of them (Grandad, Son, Grandson) invited me over for a beer. Had a good dinner, fun chat and some exitment when a massive something hooked up on one of the lines in the middle of the night (which broke the line in the end). In the end one of the guys drove me back and we packed up my stuff and I followed him back. It's different when you have someone with a 4WD and a tow rope with you than being on your own. Built up my camp near theirs and had a few more beers and a stingray on the line before heading of to bed with the ocean just a bit away.


Total Distance: 518km

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tahara - Carpenter Rocks

So today is the day I set of to meet mum in Alice Springs. The journey there will be aprox. 2000 km, varying from coastal climate to harsh central Australian desert. As I have been reading a bit about what is needed I hope to have a fairly good idea of what to expect, but then again, I have never been in a desert far from civilisation. Waking up I just laid in bed for a little longer to enjoy a mattress and heard Red go to do tractor work. After being able to get myself out of bed and eating some breakfast I started packing up my things. Doesn't take me long, as I don't have that much on me and most of my camping gear was already in the car. Electronics take up about half of my backpack, something people a few decades ago didn't really have to worry about. As lunch was getting closer whilst I was packing I cooked some lunch for Red, Jossie and me and had a last meal with them (for now). Then it was goodbye to Red as he had to get back to tractor work and shortly after bye to Jossie and the dogs.
Then I hit the road and drove the familiar route to Digby and then Dartmoor. The Lower Glenelg National Park starts somewhere around Dartmoor and I could have taken the route to Mt. Gambier and then to Carpenter Rocks, were I was planning to camp for the night. I got lost somewhere in the National Park, the only real important thing I can say is “Emus! Emus everywhere!” After driving through a sand pit (thank AWD) a wallaby hopped across my path and a few seconds later an Emu ran the other way, about ten metres in front of the car. Australia. Met a few people travelling around in real 4WD, a few with boats to go fishing on the Glenelg river. After passing through a lot of sand holes I reached Donovans and carried on to Port MacDonnell, where I hoped to get a map of Australia.
Ended up buying a can of backed beans for dinner instead, and they didn't have any maps in the town. Taking a few wrong turns and driving kilometres the wrong way (did get a few good pictures for it, thought) I reached Blackfellows Cave (yes, a town is called like that) and carried on to Carpenter Rocks where they have a camp site just under the light house. I thought it would be free, but due to it being in a national park there is a fee of 14$ for camping. Got that done over the internet and then went down to the beach to see if I could get some cheap dinner. Red has lent me one of his telescope fishing roods and a small pack of all the essentials to fish, so I might get a few free meals here and there. Fishing doesn't require a permit in SA, which is good for me. Didn't catch a thing, as it was also my first time fishing on my own, but I'll learn. Still have lots of coast to drive along. Came back to the car and set up my camping gear to sleep and wanted to cock my baked beans on a gas stove before I realised I hadn't any matches. THE most essential thing camping and I don't have it. Well, back to the shops tomorrow.
Got a picture of the lighthouse with my DSLR and then sat in the car to write this blog. Of to bed now to test the bivi tent in earnest.


Travel distance: 203km

Monday, October 19, 2015

GPS Fields & Roof Racks

Getting ready to leave Reds for a while now, to explore what the centre of Australia has to offer. Plans are to meet mum up at Alice Springs beginning of November to have a look at the stuff Australia is renown for.
Before setting of I have to get my car “Outback”-worthy first, as going unprepared has the potential to kill in the desert centre of Australia. As I don't just want to stick to the Stuart Highway going through the middle and see a bit of the desert my car needed some doing up. The timing belt was replaced so that won't cut out on me in the middle of no were. Installed a light bar on the front should I ever have the disaster of driving in the night (which will hopefully never happen out there). And last of all I got a roof rack that was intended to be put on a Land Rover Defender 110 and had to cut it down to size for the Forester.
As my skills with a welder, angle grinder, etc. are not up to scratch one of Reds mates Bucky said he would help me do it all. Looking back he probably curses himself now, as the job looked fairly simple but there where a lot of complications along the way that made the job arduous. Bucky also was fairly busy as he was lamb marking and had to cut hay at his farm, something which has happened one month to early due to the weather. So that wasn't planned.
As Bucky was using his skills I used mine for him, meaning digitalising his farm layout so he has a map to work with. Basically involved driving around the paddocks with a quad bike and a GPS in the hand to map the points and then using “ExpertGPS” to read out the information to calculate the acres. I would have used Google Earth Pro, but for some reason it didn't want to work out the acres as it should do. Google Earth Pro was used in the end anyway to make the basic picture with the acres written in the individual paddock. Reason to use Google Earth Pro was that most have it, it's free ware and nearly ever body can use it.
Driving around I found out I was still allergic to horses, as Bucky has two of them for his daughter. Means I had to have a few breaks in between tracking along the paddocks and let my eyes de-itch.

We both finished our jobs in the end. I have a roof rack for the journey and Bucky has a map of his farm.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mt. Williams, Grampians

My car is currently getting some modifications, but the guy I'm doing it with (or more likely who is doing it for me) is currently hard at work himself. Bucky helped me with installing an LED light bar on my nudge bar on the front and is now working on a roof cage to store some stuff of mine on the long journeys. As he is currently knee deep in work himself (lamb marking) I went to Mt. Williams in the Grampians mountain range for a night. Red had told me that there is a car park close to the summit, so it would be possible for me to sleep in the back of the car without problems again.
Before leaving I got the back left tire fixed, as it had a slow leak in it and I didn't want to do long distances with it in that condition. Cost me 20$, so next to nothing, thankfully.
After getting that fixed it was of to the Grampians national park. A 125km drive to Mt. Williams in total I passed through Hamilton and got followed by a truck most of the way to Dunkeld, the town that lies on the outskirts of the Grampian national park. Luckily school holidays had been last week and most families were not taking a holiday now. The Grampians, so I have heard, are one of the major holiday destinations for city people from Melbourne. It shows with all the campsites out in the middle of the park. They seem to appear every two kilometres or so. I passed a few motor bikers, but they all seemed to be retired. So the only people in the park are retired people and backpackers. Driving through the park I was getting closer and closer to Halls Gap, a town situated in in the middle eastern part of the Grampians, and was getting a bit worried I had overshot my turn off. I just knew to head along the C216 to Halls Gap and Mt. Williams would be somewhere right. After braking for two kangaroos and slowing down for an ichidna, I found my turn and climbed up Mt. Williams. Dodged another ichidna on the way and reached the Mt. Williams car park with a bit of time to spare for the sun to set. To reach the top it was another 1,8km, but all was sealed road. That being due to a flight control mast at the top of the mountain. The wind was picking up walking to the top, but I got some steady pictures and didn't find any snakes (luckily). I don't know how far I was from the nearest civilisation, but being bitten by a snake because I trod on one is the last thing I want. Especially due to me being the only one on the mountain. The rest of the night was spent in the same manner. Reached the top and got some good sunset pictures before settling down behind a monument rock for protection from the wind. Watched the last rays of day disappear and the milky way come out. Got a few pictures and then packed up my bag and walked back to the car. On the way back I spotted two other smaller star clusters, similar to the milky way (I knew their name last night) but didn't get a picture. Going downhill I had as many lights out as I could. The tar was still warm and, as mentioned before, don't want to meet a snake. Reached the car, unrolled my sleeping bag and blow up mattress and settled in for a warmer knight than in Mt. Gambier. A owl in a near by tree scared the crap out of me, but they tend to do that. 
Woke up twice in the night, but that was to be expected. First time I was to warm and the second time I had dislocated my shoulder again. Getting extremely annoying, my shoulder.
Sprinted up in the morning again for a few sunrise pictures and then it was back to Reds for some breakfast. Met a wallaby and another ichidna on the way back, plus the few cars in the morning.
Back at Reds I was starving (I had actually taken a can of soup with me, but forgotten the cooker) and shoved down a breakfast before having a short nap. Red was out cutting hay and I picked him up for lunch. He asked me if I wanted to have a go and I thought “Why not? Big machine, should be fun.” So we changed a few times and in the evening it's of to Buckys again, to hopefully get the last few bits on the roof cage done.
Made a video of the Mt. William which can be found on YouTube.


Oh, before I forget. Saw a fu***ng Tiger Snake the other day. Damn they look vicious, near to one meter long, a head like a cobra, yellow and black... You get the picture. Luckily there was a car door between it and me.