Uluru was also where I had to make a choice. A most annoyingly difficult choice. Head down to Port Augusta or try and ride across the desert on The Great Central Road towards Perth. I REALLY wanted to do the desert ride- 1,250km of deep desert with only a couple of roadhouses, no tar, deep sand (it’s supposed to be graded for normal vehicles now, but the locals beg to differ), bone jarring corrugation – the works. It was also hovering around 40C during the day, the road was rarely used, and help/water/fuel would be scarce at best with nothing at all during the 400km stretches between stops. I REALLY wanted to go. But, it just didn’t make sense. Sure an average of 30 vehicles use it every day, but that’s mostly in spurts in the cooler seasons and I just wasn’t prepared for that kind of riding and would have to spend a couple of days stocking up, getting rid of things I didn’t need (and shipping them to Perth), calling the various stops to see if they had gas (they usually have diesel, but often run out of petrol), getting the appropriate permission from the bands whose land I would be traveling through, and then giving the police my itinerary and getting info on when they’d be expecting me to check-in. More than I was willing to do, and not really what I like to do on this trip. If there was no choice but to take that road I would have been happy- excited- to ride it, but there was a perfectly acceptable tar road that could get me there (not without a long detour), so the risk was just not worth it. Sigh.
To make up for this disappointment- the more since it was me who did the disappointing, I decided to ride part of the old Ghan Railway Line road towards Finke (Aputula). Once a year it hosts one of the worlds great desert races, The Finke Desert Race, and parallels the main road… from about 100km of deep sand away. I figured I could ride it for a while and then take one of the connecting tracks back if/when I’d gotten my fill. So, stocked up with essentials, I headed out into the wild sandy yonder.
Yikes! And sandy it was! Fast and on the pegs was the only way to travel; my big 1200 likes the sand just fine as long as you ride it like a smaller bike, as soon as you hesitate or become too cautious, it dumps you or throws you over the bars like yesterdays one-hit-wonder. Luckily there weren’t deep ruts, just pounded sand that hide potholes and deep patches with malicious forethought. After a day of sweating and beating my poor bike into it’s constituent parts, I headed back to the main road. Happily, the track I took had a relatively hard surface, so I made good time and was able to pitch my tent for the night in a relatively verdant patch that seemed to be seasonal watering hole about 5km from the tar road.