The creeping sands

The outback- the real middle of Australia outback- creeps up on you.  Over hundreds of kilometers, the grassy prairies and small forests slowly become sandy stretches and small copses of stunted trees.  There is no line- no instant you can say ‘I am now in the outback’.  It is something you feel and changes for everyone and in every season.  For me, in the rainy season, I didn’t truly feel it until I turned left at Three Ways and onto The Stuart Highway towards Tennant Creek.  It was here that the red sand finally seemed to overwhelm the various scrubby plants that tried to rise above it and began it’s reign supreme.

While I would have loved to instantly take advantage of this new riding opportunity, a quick look at my rear tyre will show that any kind of serious off-tarmac riding was completely contraindicated…

So, off to Alice Springs for new tyres…  But not before checking out The Devil’s Marbles– a fascinating collection of granite ‘marbles’ pushed to the surface and worn down over time.  the story of one of the marbles is also a good example of the massive gulf between Aboriginal and Western belief and how this gulf can, and has, brought pain and hostility to both sides.

In Alice I quickly got a new tyre fitted and the next day was off- taking the ‘short-cut’ to Kings Canyon and Uluru (Ayers Rock) via The Red Centre Way.  The road started out as the perfect country ride…

…Then quickly turned into a proper desert ride filled with gravel trenches, deep sand flood ways, and beautiful hard deck dirt.  It was a hard slog in many places with the 40-45C heat and heavy bike making me fight for every meter.  Up on the pegs and gunning the engine at the first sign of sand still didn’t come naturally, but the familiar feeling of fighting my instincts and pushing hard to stay upright felt like a well worn pair of riding gloves that had been on the shelf too long.  Hard and stiff, before heat and sweat warmed them up and brought back the comforting feel that only hard use can give.  I was back in the adventure.  No, THE ADVENTURE!


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