Ahh a day off yesterday. Its a funny feeling to not ride...almost guilt? But nice at the same time. I visited the Waldata Outback centre which was very interesting, great to learn a bit more about the Flinders Ranges I'd be riding in for the last part of the trip. The Aboriginal section was also really good and there were a few snippets about bushcraft and outback survival that I got quite engrossed in. In the section on the first Victorian explorers, their first journeys into the outback were epic, and in some cases, insane. Charles Sturt gets special mention for his insistance at the time that there is an inland sea in the centre of Australia...so on his expedition some poor sap (s) were dragging a boat. It did not go well. He did discover the vast Great Sandy Desert however!
Anyway, I was well rested this morning and keen to keep moving. Any more rest time and I'd go stale...momentum is important.
First, I had to leave town, and the good news there was that as it is early Sunday morning, the traffic was very light so it did not feel as scary as the approach into Port Augusta. Once clear of town, getting over these hills into the next valley was the next step:
But, at that very spot I took the photo from a damn strong headwind cropped up, not at all forecast and I think it was a local effect grom the Flinders Ranges. It took a long time to crawl the few kilometers to the start of the hill climb, which was then nice and still.
Once out of the wind I loved this climb! It was very steep and a the road followed a narrow little gorge. There was the odd car and truck but for the most part, it was just Beatrice and I vs the hill. I got into a nice rhythm, really focused on turning those pedals and got it done quickly.
The road then drops to the little town of Wilmington in the valley on the other side. I grabbed a coffee at a very cute cafe that had delicious cooking smells wafting from inside and watched an amusing drama unfold as a cocky grey nomad was joking and teasing the staff who were running round trying to prepare for a mothers day event the cafe was later hosting. The same caravaners were also surprised to see me there, they'd passed me coming up the hill.
After the town there were some dirt road options so I took those for a while just for a change. They were probably a bit too bumpy for a loaded bike, but Beatrice seemed to handle it fine.
But it was great being off the highway almost all day today. In fact, I should be able to get all the way into Adelaide without highways now, thanks to this diversion. And a beautiful diversion it is!
I started getting hungry again at the usual time, and was in a little town called Wirrabara. It all looked closed up for Sunday which was a bit of a problem as I was totally out of water as well. But on the edge of town I struck gold with this place:
Who had (more) coffee and a fantastic selection of home baked goods. I can vouch for the beetroot chocolate cake in particular...look away now if on a diet...
And they kindly let me fill my water bottles up as well. The area I'm entering for the next few days is known for it's gastronomic delights and so this felt like a good start!
After that little kick of energy, the last few km's for the day were easy. I rolled into Gladstone and got a fantastic warm welcome at the Caravan Park. I'll do a couple more nights in the tent, if the weather holds at least! Some rain to end the trip looks likely.
Distance today: 126km