The main road between Darwin and Port Augusta is flat and straight with few highlights but its own MaxMax feel and the far between petrol stations (yohoo, coffee time!). Until recently Stuart Highway, as it is called, had no speed limit, but nowadays it is restricted to 130kmh. I lingered along, hoping for that first sight of kangaroos, but I saw nothing, not even the tiniest lizard. I only discovered why butterflies are called butterflies – they look like butter after smashing into the visor. Yes, could easily be mistaken for Tine Setersmør. So bring a handful of tissues because it might be another 150 km’s to the next handkerchief on earth.
Ha ha ha
To survive the heat and the dust and the butter and the straightforwardness I’d printed out a photo of my Sweetheart and placed her on the tankbag. When the landscape became exceptionally monotonous I would still have something exceptionally interesting to look at, thus staying vigilant and awake. In other words; it was all a matter of traffic safety… ehem… Anyway, after some time traveling I’ve become familiar with attention from journalists, but the cameraman in Renner Springs who was there to cover a SIDS rally was more interested in the picture on the tankbag. What’s the story about the girl, he asked. I told him, and voilà, she hit the TV-news in Australia, and she didn’t even have to show up in person. What a woman!
Sharing my breakfast with a friend
(photo by BMW-traveller Mark Hamilton. Thanks Mark!)
Another half day down the road I pitched my tent in Wycliffe Well which has its own UFO landing site. If I didn’t see any kangaroos on my way through Australia I would at least see a few aliens. Allegedly they were all over the place. But, would you believe it, I didn’t see any of them either. Thus for one night I lived next door to Alice, that is, the camp ground on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Disillusioned by the 1500 kilometers of wildlife from neither bush nor space I went to a wallaby feeding ground at dusk. I was dying to see something. At first it was a mediocre show, but it all gained some appeal when an overfed wallaby started to vomit. I had no idea that a tiny creature like that could contain so much green liquid substance. Amazing! Then it was another 450k’s to Ayers Rock. Climbing it was like smoking – they urge you not to do it, and then offer you the ticket. So I did it. Unfortunately I did it with my motorcycle boots on (ouch, blisters, blisters, au, sh*t, f***)
…and then there was no ice-cream bar with live music and jacuzzi on top, just this lackluster copper plate
Finally at Coober Pedy I entered the Thunderdome. Yep, in the eighties they were all there - Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, you name it - to shoot Mad Max 3. On every other corner you see signs warning you not to walk backwards. Who the hell walk backwards? Anyway, the reason for the do-not-walk-backwards-frenzy is the holes in the ground. Coober Pedy is an opal mining town, and we’re talking deep shafts. Occasionally tourists fall into them, and the holes are so many and so deep that some of the missing tourists are never found.
A Coober Pedy sofa is always safe
Today you can go for a guided tour to the mining fields, or take a visit to an underground Serbian Orthodox Church, or a few other things with a touch of seriousness. Though on top of my list was an old chap called Crocodile Harry, not because he had a role in Mad Max 3, but because of his well-known and large collection of women underwear. I had all the questions lined up; if he preferred the panties new or slightly used, and if he sometimes wore collection items himself etc. Things like that. Unfortunately Crocodile Harry had just passed away, so I never got to understand anything about his hobby. I had to settle for the underground Serbian Orthodox Church, though it wasn’t really a good substitute.
World premiere at Harstad Kino sometime… well, probably never
Whyalla is a fascinating city. It has some hidden jems behind its industrial facade, but most noteworthy you can say its name while throwing up. Try to do the same with e.g. Alice Springs... That’s right, you can’t. In fact, whatever you say while throwing up it will sound like Whyalla, something that can be useful if taking a taxi home late at night (or a problem if you really want to go to Alice Springs). Anyway, I'm happy that my good mate Steven was home. I met him and his wife Anna Marie in Iran, then Pakistan (see photo in the Pakistan posting) before they gave their trusty Beemer the full throttle to Oz. Now I opted for a few days vacation and perhaps a late night taxi or two, but Steven had a different plan.
Imagine this going on for 1100 kilometers
For three days Steven, his buddy Disco, and I raced the gravel roads in the Flinders, a mountain range stretching from the Spencer Gulf and 400 kilometers north into the real outback. I realized that I’d never driven Balto without luggage, thus the “new” handling of the bike was an exhilarating surprise, just like a prudent girlfriend who one day and out-of-the-blue says something naughty.
OK, the metaphor sucks, but you know what I mean.
I do not recall the names of all the places we went. I do remember Arkaroola, another late-night-friendly name, but the perception of this being a general feature of South Australian places came to an end at Nooldoonooldoona.
Disco enjoying this lady’s pump
Sunset Steven and his sunset beer
After a whole lot of kangaroos and a bone-dry emu-burger we returned to Whyalla. It was time for that long awaited taxi ride. But Stevens Mum and Dad had returned from exile in South Africa with a few bottles of white and a bundle of good stories. Spending the evenings with the O’Briens made me rethink the saying “to be able to talk about anything” which often is confused with the ability to speak about private matters. No, with these guys even the silliest, most microscopic topic of no practical significance whatsoever could be discussed with great enthusiasm. I just had to love them.
On the last day Steven equipped me with Australian army supplies - olive green cheddar cheese, olive green apricot fruit spread, olive green tomato soup etc. Yep, they can nuke Oz and I'll still be touring it. Stevens Dad Terri hadn’t driven his beefy Kawasaki since last year and he joined me through the beautiful Claire Valley Wine Region, and we raced the sunset but the sunset won and we arrived in Adelaide after dark. After some gourmet pasta on the bustling local strip we camped in his father-in-laws house. Next morning Terri sponsored me a full tank and wished me good luck. It was almost strange to be alone again.
Soon winter in the Coonawarra Wine District
For the next days I had three things on my mind. The second thing were the exams in Sydney. I spent a couple of days in the excellent Heyward’s Oak Hotel in Penola to catch up with theories on B2B. Thirdly I was getting close to what numerous mags and world travelers rank as THE best motorcycle road in the world – the superduperfantastic B100, more commonly known as the Great Ocean Road. Naturally my expectations were sky high. At the same time the temperature plummeted. The clouds clustered, and some hefty wind promised a ride more annoying that pleasant.
I just have to say it: Those suggesting that the Great Ocean Road is THE best road in the world have clearly never been to North Norway. But to be fair - I guess any road on a shitty day is a shitty road.
No, this is not Bjørnøya. It’s the view from the best road in the world. Dah!
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