Watarrka Canyon of the Kings

Posted in Diary on December 16, 2011 by harydial

The day begins with an early morning rise to catch sunrise at kings canyon. So were were up at about 5.30am

When we got to the base and start of the walk, we could spot a couple tourist buses arriving as well. Its a popular hike  which takes about 3 hours in total. We decided to park our bike at a save spot and gradually begin the walk. We did brought along some food supplies for brekky when we find a good spot.

Mighty Ghost Gum always ever present in the desert landscape

Its a surreal experience again observing how the sun causes the rocky cliffs to glow. The redness of the rocks always amazes me. The landscape here however is very different than Uluru. There are more sharp jagged rocks in this area.

Pondering into the horizon. Plenty of spots to do it here

A close up 360 degrees view of the surrounding Kings Canyon

Winding through the hike, it feels like we were in the pre historic age. The rocks all really appears to be ancient. Rocks that you don’t see anywhere else in the world. Its unique to this area.

After an hour of walking we finally spotted a great spot fitting enough for us to break fast. We chose a sheer drop cliff face. It feels absolutely unreal eating jam and spread looking down a drop that is so steep. Goosebumps were felt. Probably the most dangerous spot of the whole trip to have brekky there. But it keeps us awake and alert.

One for the camera

Classic Kings Canyon postcard shot angle

Tourist from the other end

These are lines embedded onto the rock face showing lines of running water million of years ago. Pretty mind blowing

The Lost Cities

By the time we finish the walk it was about 11:30am. Sun was scorching and it was time for us to pedal back to campsite.

The plan for the latter half of the day was to do pack up and ride for the next 3-4 days to Alice. Graeme would be traveling with us through the Mereenie loop. 3 of us were insane enough to tackle this dirt road.

Some serious laundry hanging out there. This would be our last proper laundry before we finish at Alice.

Team of 3 ready to rock the Mereenie Loop for the next few days. Wooo Ha

We decided to deflate our tires slightly as the roads ahead are unsealed for about 300K. It is written that this dirt trails ahead of us are for 4WD only. So we would imagine it would be a pretty sandy route ahead.

Prohibition is still strong in the middle of nowhere ey?

Before long we we starting to hit some extremely soft sandy patched along the way. Looks like a bulldust traps a long the way. Pretty treacherous for cycling.

300K to Alice and thats it.

Skinny tires onto sand traps…big struggle

After riding for about 1.5 hours we found the going pretty tough. We may have just covered about 6-8km. Wow don’t really wanna think too much on the days ahead the Mereenie. I also dropped my camera on the ground which is not pretty. Soil gets into the lens big trouble.

We decided to set camp earlier. As the route is so remote we just bush camp next to the dirt path. We decided to start a camp fire thanks to Graeme’s pyro inspiration.

Pedal On to Watarrka

Posted in Diary on February 4, 2011 by harydial

Day 49

18 May 2009

60km from Kings Canyon-Kings Canyon Resort and a few detours


Total Riding Time: 4hours 33minutes 45seconds

The morning begins with about 60km to Kings Canyon Resort. We plan to ride to Kings Canyon Resort and drop all our luggage before riding back to the Canyon for a brief sunset tour

Got to love the names around here!

More Ghost Gum the National Tree in the Outback

We did a brief stopover at King’s Creek Station. This is a cattle station which also doubles up as a tourist accommodation. They offer heli-rides and horse riding around the area. You can book these helicopters for a bestest view of Kings Canyon. We are gonna do it on a bike instead.

Few hours into the cycling we got to Watarrka National park. This is the official gateway to the Kings Canyon national Park.

There is a short little circuit named Kathleen Springs Walk. As the surrounding landscapes starting to look rocky we decided it will be a good little warm up before we get to Kings Canyon. It’s actually 1.2km and not 12km!

Beautiful Mighty Rocky Cliffs

Yes it was scorching hot at that time of the day!

After the short detour, we pedaled on. From afar, you could spot the majestic Kings Canyon. Slowly we notice the rising jagged cliffs towering from a distance into the dry bushy plains.

We got to the resort/accommodation area at about 1pm. It’s amusing how all the purpose built tourist ‘city’ are called ‘resort’. The thing is the prices of most things here are resort expensive. The grocery store (one and only) is about 2-3 dollars more on most things. As a cyclist we have to buy food here because our supply had already run low.

This is a much needed rest break away from the hot sun. After Kings Canyon is another 200km of dirt road on the Mereenie Loop which has no supplies in between. That means this overpriced Kings Canyon store is the only loading up point for our food supply. Ready to be slaughtered when we walk into it!!!

Later in the afternoon, as we unpacked, we spotted another odd looking BOB trailer laden mountain bike near our campsite in the resort. We were pretty curious and looking at the bike it has been thrashed around a fair bit. We decide to find out who is the owner of the bike later in the evening.

There are 2 walks around the canyon area. The shorter walk is called Kings Creek Walk. It would only take up to 1-2 hours. We decided to explore this walk today before the sunset. The longer Canyon walk which takes about 3-4 hours will be done tomorrow.

Shaded Part of the Canyon

Spectacular Cliff Face

Great sunset onto the cliffs and canyons

After the big ride, overpriced lunch and the evening creek walk, hunger drove us to do crazy things. Testing out Anh’s head of steel…not sure what the ending was…..

To make the day even more interesting, we left some overpriced pasta and instant noodles on the vestibule of our tent. Little did we know the campsite area are infested with dingoes. Those wild dogs came and snatched away a few bags of our carbohydrates supplies. What an eventful day when we came back to the tent noticing the ground is covered with dry pasta and Maggi noodles…!!!

The Luritja Turnoff

Posted in Diary on February 4, 2011 by harydial

Day 48

17 May 2009

Luritja Turn off to 60 km from Kings Canyon


Total Riding Time: 7hours 4minutes 34seconds

After getting up early, we decided to cover more kilometers today to get as close as possible to Kings Canyon. We did the turnoff to Luritja highway with a welcome change to the surrounding landscapes.

The turnoff to Luritja Road that leads to Kings Canyon

Looking upwards to this sign, Alice Spring is still quite a distance away.

As we were pedalling along, we almost ran over this creature like road train of the animal kingdom. However, it was probably traveling at about 5 metres/hour….!

Lunch again on the roadside of the quite highway. This stretch of road probably have about 1 car for every 20minutes. Anh is actually looking pretty camouflage. I think we have been riding around the bush for too many days.

Well the day was filled with a slightly different landscapes. The roads here are very quite too. It’s been cloudy the whole day so it was rather cool and windy. No complaints at all…..

End of Day 48

Backtracking the Lasseter

Posted in Diary on February 4, 2011 by harydial

Day 47

16 May 2009

Backtracking along the Lasseter Highway


Total Riding Time: 6 hours 6minutes 16seconds

Since bread is such a sparse ‘commodity’ here…we figured all this bread would last us for about 2-2.5 days. Most bread here are sold frozen in the smaller grocery stores. The great thing about bread is it can be eaten rather quickly especially for lunches. No need to bring out the stoves etc…to cook. Some sort of can fish and tomatoes would help to make a reasonable sandwich.

An hour into our cycling along the highway we met the dutch couple. Seems like cycling is quite a normal lifestyle in Netherlands. They were very eager to hear about our cycling trip so far. It was good to have a drink and some morning tea with them along the pretty boring highway today. We showed them our bike setup and they showed us their camper van. It actually feels pretty homely and comfortable in the little compact van.

As you may have figured it out, there is only 1 highway leading into Uluru. It’s about 100km long.  Today we just spent the whole day backtracking the same route to get to the Kings Canyon turnoff which we hope we could reach by tomorrow morning.

During long days like these, your mind tends to wander. This stretch of highway is actually just pretty flat and straight. Lunch breaks and brief rest stops are the only thing we could look forward to on days like these.

Well at least we were able to encounter an emu crossing the roadhouse.

Also there is free camping here! Not such a monotonous day after all!. However when we arrived at this spot, it was only 4pm. Technically we can ride for about 3 more hours and cover more distances. We decided to pose with this sign and pedal on!

Outback has its own way of establishing the genders. Thank goodness for pictures….hahaha

Exploring Uluru’s Mysterious Surroundings

Posted in Diary on February 3, 2011 by harydial

Day 46

15 May 2009

Ayers Resort-Uluru-Ayers Resort-10km off

105.38km (Circling around the Rock most of the time!)

Average Speed 19.7km/hr

After yesterday’s late night and dinner, we got up about an hour before sunrise. Basically we need to time it well to ride from the camping spot to the sunrise spot at Uluru. Although it’s still totally dark at about 6am there were many buses already on the road having the same idea as us.

Pretty glorious morning. The sunrise spot is great but from a photography point of view, it’s more up close and makes it harder to capture the full glowing rock in the frame.

What better way to have breakfast in front of the ever changing colors of Uluru when the sun hits its rock face. Bread and Spread….can’t go wrong with this combination.

‘Cafe’ with one of the best views on earth! Haha it’s free too just bring ya own breakfast!

Uluru actually has a tarmac road built around it. However in between the tarmac and Uluru itself, its a sandy path that’s about 9.5 km in circumference. So to ride around it and explore different spots at the same time actually would take up to 2-3 hours.

The different faces of Uluru.

Trees growing from within the surrounding boulders

Path just for walkers and cyclist. The surrounding giant rocks and boulders gives an unreal experience and the area is actually spiritual…it feels different!

Nice contrast of hardened rocks and clear blue skies

To finally get to Uluru was really humbling and amazing. Sometimes we see Uluru so ever often in books and postcards. We got out chance today to ride around it and be in it. It is something I’ll remember for a long time. It is one of the beautiful/mystical area in on earth you would definitely want to visit given a chance.

We choose not to do the climb on to the top of Uluru. I believe if this is the wish of the traditional resident in the area…we will respect it. They have been the traditional owners of the land. It is also interesting to note that there were a few areas around Uluru that are sacred. Photography are forbidden as this areas are used for certain ceremonies by them.

Farewell Uluru. We managed to bought a few souvenirs from the shop.  Stickers of Uluru on the bike always looks good!

We follow the Lasseter Highway back to our camping spot. Did a few clean ups and pack up for food. They have an IGA in the resort with reasonable prices. Basically there are no other communities in this area (except the traditional Anangu people). The only community here is where the resort is. It’s man made area to cater for all travelers into this area.

We figured that it would take another 2-3 days to arrive at Kings Canyon about 300km away. So we bought few days worth of food. As you can imagine most food are reasonable pricier because of its remote location.

This is the most greens we have seen in a long time….hahaha since great ocean road. This patch of perfect glowing green lawn is found within the resort/accommodation area. Man made all the way (planted)…..what a great piece of lawn to pitch a tent!

Not far now to Kings Canyon and then to Alice Springs. By the time we left the resort it was already afternoon. 1-2 hours of cycling brought us back to the bush camp area.

Unpacking and setting up camp again. This has become such a routine. Continuation of day 47….tomorrow

Uluru and Its Mysterious Colours

Posted in Diary on January 30, 2011 by harydial

Day 45

14 May 2009

Kata Tjuta-Uluru-Ayers Rock Resort

Riding approximately 50km from Kata Tjuta back to Uluru was a bit of an effort. After the big walk into the Valley of the Winds, we plan to ride to Uluru and get some good sunset shots. We got to Uluru at about 5pm. That leaves about 1 hour or so to get into a good spot for some sunset photos.

We realized that to take a good picture of Uluru like how the postcards all look (or close to)….we have to get to the ‘Uluru Sunset Viewing Point’. This is the only spot where all the tourist will gather and be awed by the changing colours of Uluru.  It’s also the best legal spot to be at during sunset to capture the changing colours of Uluru.

The sun is setting right about now!

Starting to hit the rock face

It gets a little red

More red and Intense

Glowing Red!

Well witnessing how Uluru glows based on how the sun hits the rock face reminds me of how this part of the land is really beautiful and mystical at the same time. By the time the sun sets it’s already dark. It’s about 8km back to the Ayers Rock resort. This is the ONLY accommodation for all tourist in the area. Whether you like it or not, if you want to stay over for a night in this area this is the place to stay/camp. Not other areas of legal camping or sleep over is allowed.

Well surprises happens all the time. A few kilometers riding into total darkness,  it got much harder to turn the pedals. The rear tyre also felt soft. Soon I realized the mighty XR finally gave in and had its first punctured.

It was such a pain trying to locate the puncture and patch up the tube. While changing the tyre, we notice a ranger patrol car was patrolling along the highway making sure there were no dodgy camping around the area by cyclist…lol…we just indicate to them that we needed to patch up this tube and then we will be on our way back to the accommodation area.

There are some basic facilities in the area. We decided for once to use the gas powered stove for cooking. Fast and easy. No fiddling around with the metho stove tonight. Tomorrow is another big day!. We will make it for the sunrise face of Uluru!

Valley Of The Winds

Posted in Diary on May 15, 2010 by harydial

Day 45

14 May 2009

Trekking Valley of the Winds and Uluru


Total Riding Time: 5hours 19minutes 45secs

We got to the start of the Valley of The Winds Walk before anyone else. This is the main walk into the depth of Kata Tjuta and into a different world. Kata Tjuta literally means ‘many heads’ in the traditional owners language. It was still sort of dark when we started.

The whole circuit is 7.4km in length. The circuit is closed in summer when extreme temperature hits. We took with us some supplies for brekky and water of course.

Basically the circuit takes you into the winding path of the ‘heads’. These towering rocks can blew your mind away. What that means is it makes you wonder how out of nowhere  these rocks literally ‘grew’ out from the ground.

Ionman feeling overwhelmed

It gets better when the morning sun hits the rock face

Artifacts on the wall

The narrow gap opens up to some amazing views of the rock formation

Having brekky among the ‘Giants’

Walking to the morning market with the Green shopping bag

Karingana Lookout promises some overwhelming sights

As we transverse the steep rocky trail, the trail opens up to many other ‘heads’ down into the valley. One must also say that this walk is actually very windy in some parts. The wind here cuts through the rocks and into the valley.

This all makes the trek worthwhile

Feral camel sightings

Inspirational Place

As we were finishing up the walk, the tour buses started to arrive. Overall this is a must do activity if you are in Kata Tjuta. The walk is not overly tough. If you are into photography, this place is absolutely inspirational.

Kata Tjuta from Docker River Road

See ya Kata Tjuta

Uluru we will be there very soon!

Wonders of the Central Outback

Posted in Diary on May 2, 2010 by harydial

Day 44

13 May 2009

60km from Yulara to Kata Tjuta


Total Riding Time: 6hours 48minutes 17seconds

This morning we are anticipating to get the first glimpse of Uluru & Kata Tjuta. We are about 70km from Uluru. Effectively it’s about 60km to Uluru Resort (Yulara) and another 10km to Uluru itself.

70k to THE PLACE to be!

The Lasseter Highway pretty much only leads to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. As these 2 landmarks are a massive tourist attraction there were lots of coach tours passing by us every few minutes.

After 2 hours of cycling, we finally caught a glimpse of Uluru (Ayers Rock). From afar it totally can’t be miss because out of nowhere you notice this majestic RED rock that glows impressively.

We officially entered into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The arrangement in the National Park is that any visitors/tourists to the area have only 1 option for accommodation. Everyone are required to stay in the Yulara Resort. Not sure why is there a ‘resort’ word but if you want to camp/rent a cabin/rent a room that is the only place. No other place in the National Park are you allowed to camp or park your caravan etc.

The Yulara Resort is about 10km from the Uluru Rock itself and about 50km from Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). So it’s actually not that near especially for push bikers to get to these landmarks from Yulara.

There is an IGA at Yulara. We decided to checked in to the ‘Resort’ first. It cost 16 dollars per head per night to pitch a tent on the lawn. We set up our tent and unload some of our pannier bags & trailer. We then went to got more food at the supermarket.

This treat works great. Simple sugars & saturated fat for instant energy! Eating this ice cream in the midday sun is tricky. It melts so fast that you got to eat it doubly fast before it becomes like milkshake.

Before visitors get into the National Park there is a fee paying kiosk. I think it was about AUD25 per person for a 3 day pass into the National Park. Push bikers are no exception and are required to line up with the motorcars.

Our plan was to get to the Olgas to catch the sunset. Then we will try to hike the Valley of the Winds walk in the early morning. The problem is its already 1.30pm in the day and the Olgas is another 48km from here. That’s about 2.5-3 hours of cycling just to get there. But then how are we going to go back to Yulara? and be at the Olgas again in the early morning???? Well I guess better not ask…….:)

Awesome Kata Tjuta from a distance

As we were riding along to Kata Tjuta, we were flanked by it on our right and on our left we could see  Uluru. It was a terrific experience along the highway.

Uluru is for tomorrow

Very cycle friendly signage in Central Australia

We are near the Olgas/Kata Tjuta

Leading the way into the foothills of Kata Tjuta

As the sunsets, the rocks also presents itself with a different kind of ‘glow’. It all depends on the mood of the sun. God’s creation is perfectly impressive and put us in awe of whats upon us. It all points back to His perfect creation.

We are so tiny and felt like entering into a different realm.

There are 2 walks in Kata Tjuta. There is a short walk 1.5km and a longer walk (Valley of the Winds). We decided to start early tomorrow morning to walk the longer track as the sunrises. Meanwhile we need to legally not camp (set up a tent) because it’s illegal………so without a choice we decided to

Sleep under the stars!!!! No tents no roof just a sleeping mat and a sleeping bag. Good enough for us as we anticipate to see Kata Tjuta first thing in the morning as the sun rises and walking in the midst of the many ‘heads’ into the valley.

Connor the Wheelbarrow Superman

Posted in Diary on March 21, 2010 by harydial

Day 43

12 May 2009

Mt Ebenezer to 70km from Uluru


Total Riding Time:6hours 23minutes 49seconds

Today would be the day whereby we’ll attempt to bite off a big chunk of kilometers in order to get as close as possible to Uluru.

Breakfast was on a piece of ice cold concrete with some hot tea.

The 10L water bladder is very versatile. Here it is working like a tap providing water to us. A must have for any desert/long distance cyclist.

The Red Center Way is predominantly a highway that links to the Big 3 attraction in Central Australia. There are Uluru, The Olgas and Kings Canyon. Throughout the day there were many tour buses and vans that passes by us all loaded with tourist inside em.

Tran & Goku trying to navigate which side of the straight road to take. Good effort guys!

Got to love the Red Dirt here!

The Giants of Central Australia

As we approach the Kings Canyon turn off, we bid goodbye to Goku as he head towards King’s Canyon. We continue to pedal straight ahead towards Uluru. The monkey shot before the farewell!

Not long after that, we spotted a 4WD from afar parked on the roadside under a tree shade. On top of the 4WD, there was a wheelbarrow. Then there appears a man in a fluorescent suite pushing something in front of him.

Well at first it was obvious there was another road works. But it’s very odd because there is almost nothing from here no town just red dirt and a sealed road. There was only this person on the road. Usually if there is road works there would be a couple of guys on it.

As we cycled pass we saw this person pushing a wheelbarrow in a fluorescent suite. We stared at him he stared at us all through the fly net veil. After we had pass him, about 300m down the road we stopped next to the 4WD. We read the banner on the vehicle and had a chat with Jo the lady standing next to the vehicle. She explained to us what was going on. The guy with the wheelbarrow was David Baird. David is a marathon man and holds multiple world record running with a wheelbarrow.

He ran across Australia a year back with a wheelbarrow. About 5000km running with a wheelbarrow. Champion with a huge amount of guts, passion and most of all ‘insanity’ good on ya!

After knowing what was actually happening, I rode back the other way to catch up with David. Must have a word with a gutsy man like this. We had a good chat. David was having a really bad patch at this point in time. He was having severe anterior shin pain. What he was attempting to do this time was to run with a wheelbarrow from Alice Springs to Uluru and back (about  920km in total). Imagine running an ultra marathon a day (50km) in about 10-12 hours everyday all made more difficult with a wheelbarrow that’s pretty heavy (it prevents the runner from swinging his arm while running) under the hot outback sun.

However because of the debilitating shin pain, he is reduced to a crawling walking pace taking every single step with some amount of pain. Still because he is fueled by his passion and dream he presses on. Faithfully he logged in 50km a day even if it takes him about 12 hours to complete it and repeating it all over again the very next day.

He is doing the Outback challenge for the love of running, taking up  the call  to pursue his dreams and create awareness for Prostate and Breast Cancer Foundation. His website can be found here.

As he was running 50km a day on the average for the next 17 days, his feet swelled tremendously in his running shoe. Here David showed us how he get away with wearing a heavily ‘modified’ running shoe. A very interesting observation for myself personally.

The running shoe with a ‘big mouth’. That’s the only way he could keep running with some comfort in his runners day in day out throughout the whole challenge.

We wrap up the conversation with a word of prayer for healing for his legs and committed our individual outback challenges to the Lord. It was really an insightful chat in the middle of nowhere with a total stranger a while ago but now because of something in common we felt we have made a new friend. Good on you David you truly are wonderfully and fearfully made by Him. Live life to the fullest every single day and pursue your dreams!

Meanwhile we went back our way and caught up with  Jo. Jo is supporting David every single day in all his challenges and endeavors. She would be his support crew  handing out water and drinks for 12 hours a day every day from as early as 4am when David starts his run till about 6-7pm in the evening when he finishes for the day. Truly an Ironwoman!

After a pretty eventful morning, we decided to have lunch on top of a sand dune. We tried pushing our bikes up the super soft dirt. Honestly is not quite possible unless we have a Pugsley (A 4 inch tire ice/desert bicycle). Almost snapped our back doing this effort!

A good relaxing ‘cool’ lunch under some desert shrubs.

From the sand dune we could spot what people call ‘The first sight of ‘Uluru’. It really is a treat getting a glimpse of this massive rock from afar. However, Uluru is still about 100km away. Could it be a false alarm?

A very multilingual highway

After double checking our maps, The ‘Uluru’ Rock is actually Mt Connor. It is a huge rock probably bigger than Uluru that is often mistaken for Uluru. In other words it’s Uluru less famous cousin/brother. Well still a cause to be excited about as we will be getting a double dose of Uluru.

Got to enjoy Mt Connor is really is awesome too!

We continue to pedal on trying to get as close to Uluru as possible. We did a short rest stop at Curtin Springs Roadhouse for some cold drinks.

Unique tree alive yet looks quite dead

Well it was a day to remember meeting  inspiring characters on the road in the desert. Also a great way to end the day with some Coke and dinner. We need the sugars!

Some star gazing and being overwhelmed by the milky way and stars in the skies! Tomorrow is Uluru showdown time!

Countdown to Uluru

Posted in Diary on February 28, 2010 by harydial

Day 42

11 May 2009

Distance: 131.54km

Total Riding Time: 6hour 5minutes 10secs

Average Time: 21.2km/hr
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