At the end of April I was finally able to fly back to Australia. To cover the long distances in Australia, I decided to take a trailer with me. Thus, I can transport more food and water on the long distances and relieve my rear wheel.
My flight from Zurich to Alice Springs took almost 31 hours (with stops in Dubai and Sydney). Completely exhausted, I arrived there. I had stored my bicycle at Self Storage Australia.
Because the rear hub was broken on the Great Central Road last year (see blog: https://cycoholic.org/en/trips/three-continents/in-the-outback), I had to build a completely new rear wheel. In addition, I have replaced my front Tubus rack with a Surly and the fenders, handlebar grips and the brake on the rear had to be changed as well.
The assembly took almost 3 days. Luckily I could use the workshop in the hostel where I stayed. Seb, the manager, is a trained auto mechanic and has a nice tool collection. After everything was built together, I was able to move to the campground.
Actually, my plan was to cycle around the Simpson Desert first. However, I learned in Alice Springs that the entire area around Birdsville is currently flooded due to violent tropical storms and therefore remains impassable for at least 2 months.
So I decided to cycle on the Stuart Highway south to Kulgera. Since there is no supermarket on the whole route I had to transport quite a lot of food. This resulted in some extra weight on my bike.
Already after 60 kilometers drive there was a loud bang on my rear wheel. The Presta valve did not withstand the pressure and exploded. Luckily, I had a replacement tube with me. Changing the tube in the heat while thousands of flies fly around you is not that enjoyable.
The days here are pretty short. Daylight is available for a maximum of 12 hours. So I had to set up my tent pretty soon. Here in Australia you can just get off the road and set up your tent somewhere in the bush. What I like so much about this country is the endless wide landscape without a human soul in it.
In addition, there is no noise or other human influences out here. Just pure nature. The next morning I cycled on with confidence and reached the Stuarts Well Roadhouse after 2 hours driving, where I filled up my water bottles.
About 15 kilometers after the Roadhouse there was another bang on the rear wheel. Again the valve had exploded. This time I did not have a replacement tube with me. This left me with only one option: to walk back to the Roadhouse.
But that's not so easy with a heavily loaded bike. After a while, the tire was completely flat and I was very worried that my rim could be damaged.
In Africa, I have learned a method how to build a tire together again in an emergency. All you need is some dried grass, which you have to stuff into the tire. So at least I was able to push the bike back.
After 2.5 hours I arrived at the Roadhouse quite exhausted. The owner provided a room where I could store my things. During dinner in the restaurant I met a few people. One of them promised to take me back to Alice Springs the next morning.
In Alice Springs, I went straight to the bike shop, where I had my rim drilled out to install a tube with Schrader valve in it. We noticed that also the axle, with which my trailer is attached to the rear wheel, is already bent. It takes about a week to order a spare part.
So I decided to hitchhike back to the Roadhouse and cycle to Alice Springs again. I packed some of my gear in a duffle bag and sent it to the next destination by car. This allowed me to move faster.
Half way there was a cyclist coming towards me. Geordie is from England and started his journey from London 8 months ago. He cycles towards New Zealand and then on to South America https://www.geordiestewart.co.uk/.
We talked for almost 2 hours on the roadside. The flies bothered us enormously during this time. Without a head net, it is almost unbearable during the day. These bastards try to crawl into every imaginable body opening.
Geordie drove down the Stuart Highway from Darwin. I told him about my mishaps and he advised me to cycle north. Actually a pretty good idea. The crazy thing here in Australia is the seclusion. No matter which street you drive on.
Cycling through the outback would have been better, but if you have a problem, there is almost nobody there to help you. That's why I pondered in the evening for a long time in the tent on an alternative route and finally came up with a brilliant idea: Just to cycle all around Australia!
Back in Alice Springs, I stayed at the campground again. The nights here are pretty cold at this time of the year. The thermometer showed just + 2 ° Celsius in the morning. Another reason to cycle up to the tropical north.
Maurizio Ceraldi https://ceraldi.ch/ gave me some good advice when I started my trip to Africa: "Be wise, not brave“. Now, after this false start, I'm finally looking forward to cycle around this huge country.
I would like to personally thank all the people who helped me with the preparations:
- Tom and the whole team of the bike shop Leuthold for the trailer and the spare parts https://veloladen-leuthold.ch/.
- David and Sam from Self Storage Australia for storing my trailer https://alicesprings.selfstore.com.au/.
- Miriam and Seb from Alice's Secret Hostel for their spontaneous help https://www.asecret.com.au/.
- The My Ride Bike Shop team in Alice Springs for the repair and organization of spare parts https://www.myride.com.au/alicesprings.
- And all the people who have given me a ride.