Day 9 - Bush Camp to Arkaroola - 65kms
Well it stayed nice and dry last night. Woke up a couple of times hearing cows mooing. Looked outside the tent and couldn't see any. It is a pretty big field though!
This morning the sky was blue again. I started the stove nice and early to beat the flies. So I enjoyed my espresso and muesli all to myself. After breakfast I checked the road to see if t had dried out. It had a bit. So I packed away everything and was pedaling just before 8am.
It was nice to see the sun again and I was getting a little tailwind again. I have to say I've been pretty fortunate with the wind generally blowing the way I want to go. I was making good time, even though the road was still a bit soft from yesterday's rain. Saw my first car after about 2 hours of riding. So little traffic out here.
I came to the turnoff to Copley. I'll be taking this road in the next few days to take me across to the Oodnadatta track. Today though I'm heading north. The original plan was to stop at Weetoola Gorge, which is about 5kms off the main road. As the roads were still a bit wet I decided to continue on to Arkaroola. I'll be coming back this way and the roads will be a bit dryer by then.
For the last 20kms to Arkaroola there were a series of rolling hills. Each one gaining a little more in elevation. I arrived in Arkaroola at about 12.30pm. Just before I got into town I checked the road status sign, the road I took from Blinman is now closed. I think that explains the lack of traffic today.
Arkaroola is surrounded by hills. It is setup as a wilderness sanctuary. I'm staying here for two nights, so it will be my first total rest day tomorrow (no 20km bushwalk this time). I have also decided to have a couple of nights out of the tent and am staying in a bunkhouse room. It's basic, but only $30 per night and has nice views.
For the rest of the afternoon I gave the bike a little clean (most of the mud had been shaken off durning the ride) and relaxed. I've booked into the Ridge Top tour tomorrow morning. Really looking forward to it, as have heard a lot of good things about it.
Arkaroola also has an observatory, which is meant to be one of the best spots in the Southern Hemisphere to see the stars. It is a little cloudy today, but have booked to go star gazing tomorrow. Fingers crossed for clear skies.
Day 10 - Adventures in Arkaroola
Last night was buffet food night at Arkaroola. Which was heaven to a hungry cyclist. Three big mains and two serves of apple crumble later I was well and truly fed. Not bad for $28!
This morning the skies were a little grey. The ridge top tour left at about 8am. There were about 9 of us in the back of the van. The drive out to the top is about 20kms away, but the track is very up and down and extremely rough in places. So rough in fact that we got a puncture along the way. Fortunately it occurred just where we were going to stop for morning tea.
The views whilst we were enjoying our tea were great. About 30 minutes later the truck was ready to roll and we all got back in. We still had a few kms of driving until we got to the destination. The road just got crazy steep. The sun began breaking through the clouds when we got to the final lookout. The views across the area were, as my nephews would say, was awesome.
Took lots of photos during the tour. Our tour guide, Peter, was very informative about the area. He even done a few renditions of some of Banjo Paterson's poems on the way back to the village. The tour was really worth it and I was back in time for lunch.
After lunch I decided to go on a walk. The lady in reception recommended the Mawson-Springgina trail. It is approximately 8kms and starts/finishes in the village. It took me about two hours to complete the walk. It is clear there has been a reasonable amount of rain for the area, as the hills are so relatively lush and green at the moment. On the tour I did this morning the guide mention a tree has started to appear for the first time in 30 years in the area. I also noticed a number of wild flowers, which were generally small and either yellow or purple in colour.
The walk took me to a number of geological significant sites. There seems to be a lot of geologists visiting the region at the moment. I also observed a number of wallabies hopping around. When I got back to the village I went back to my accommodation and had dinner. Which was the exotic two minute noodles.
It was still overcast so don't think I'll see any stars tonight. Which is a shame as I was really looking forward to viewing them from a very clear sky. Today has been fun. You could certainly spend a few days just exploring this area.
Day 11 - Arkaroola to Weetoola Gorge - 34kms
Sadly it was too cloudy last night and so no star gazing for me. It got cool last night in my cabin, so had to put a couple of extra blankets on to stay nice and warm.
This morning there is a little more sun but also a fair bit of cloud. If I knew it would be a clear night I would had stayed another night to see the stars through the telescope. So I was packed and ready to leave at about 9am. Feels quite windy today, but should be another tailwind.
Before leaving I had to checkout. Whilst checking out the group of people I was on the tour with yesterday were having breakfast. They all came over to say bye and wished me a safe journey. It was very sweet, a couple of the ladies gave me some sweets for my journey and the men wanted to come outside and look at my bike. They couldn't believe how organised and loaded the bike was.
After my slightly delayed departure I was pedaling south. For the first 15kms I was still getting a nice tailwind. After, either the wind had changed or my direction changed, as I was getting a nasty little headwind. It kept gusting so slowed my progress a bit.
Thankfully I only had to put up with the headwind for another 10kms, as I took the turnoff to Weetoola Gorge. It was just another 5km until I got to my campsite. The last couple of kms felt like I was riding along a dry creek bed, as it was very rocky. I got to the campsite before 12pm.
The campsite is about 1km from the gorge. I was the only person there. I found a nice spot near a picnic table and began setting up camp. Noticed these grey clouds heading my way. I got the tent up with seconds to spare before a few showers passed. I sheltered for a little while in my tent before going down to the gorge.
Whilst sheltering in my tent I enjoyed lunch. Which was nuts, seeds and dried fruit. I then updated my journal and read my book (currently reading 1984). About an hour later the showers had passed and I ventured outside.
I followed the walk along to Weetoola Springs, which goes through the gorge. The walk was very pleasant. As I was getting closer to the springs there were a number of large reeds growing. This gave way to small waterholes. It was very photogenic, with the red gorge walls against a very blue sky. A couple of hours later I was back at my tent.
The campsite is nice except that it is bloody windy today. So when I got back I had to shelter inside my tent again, this time away from the wind. Pleased today wasn't a big cycle day, as it would had been a hell of a headwind.