The Flies Highway
After my failed start and a few days in Alice Springs, I climbed back into the saddle and cycled north. The Stuart Highway was my guide for the next few weeks. A 1'180 kilometer stretch from Alice Springs to Katherine (roughly equivalent to the distance from London to Rome).
The Stuart Highway is named after John McDouall Stuart, a Scottish explorer who in 1862 was the first European to cross the Australian continent from south to north. In 1872, along the route that Stuart had taken, the Trans-Australian Telegraph Line (which connected Melbourne to London) was built through the Australian outback.
Pretty soon, I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. The southern tropic is the southernmost latitude, where the midday sun is just at its zenith, namely only on 21 or 22 December, the day of the summer solstice of the southern hemisphere (in Europe winter solstice).
The drive on the Stuart Highway was usually quite monotonous. The landscape hardly changes on many kilometers, is rather hilly and constantly the flies annoy you.
Already at sunrise, the flies emerge and harass you until sunset. Without a fly net over your head, it would be almost impossible to cycle. As soon as I stopped, they literally pounced on me.
As a result, I usually made only very short breaks during the day and tried to drive as many kilometers as possible to escape this fly hole. Even with the tent construction, I always had to wait until dawn. Otherwise, the tent was filled with flies and sleep impossible.
The distances between the roadhouses are sometimes quite long. That's why I had to carry a lot of water with me. Thanks to the trailer I can distribute the loads better. On average, I consume about 6 to 8 liters of water per day here.
At the beginning I filled my water bottles directly from the tap at the roadhouses. However, I soon found that the water is not always drinkable. Often the water is pumped out of boreholes.
Thus, my water filter is now quite often used. A bottle of water often costs more than a soft drink or a can of beer. So far nobody could explain the reason to me.
Shortly before the Devil's Marbles I got into a few rainstorms. Luckily, one evening I managed to get to the Wycliffe Well Roadhouse, where I was allowed to pitch my tent under a canopy.
Karlu Karlu, also known as Devil's Marbles, is a sacred site of the Aborigines. The meaning of the term Karlu Karlu is round object. According to their tradition, the rocks are the eggs of the rainbow snake from the Dreamtime.
Under the Karlu Karlu is a granite deposit, which emerges by weathering processes of the overlying rock near the surface. The spherical devil's marbles are round-shaped granite rocks created by weathering and erosion.
I stayed right next to the stones at the official campground. In the morning I get up at 5.00 am to be on the road in front of the first rays of the sun and to be able to enjoy the time without the flies.
Already in the evening I reached Tennant Creek. The only place between Alice Springs and Katherine with a supermarket. Since the temperatures rise to over 32 ° C during the day, it is almost impossible for me to transport fresh food.
Only around 1930, when a short but violent gold rush broke out, Tennant Creek became famous. The site was once the third largest gold producer in Australia and is still highly productive. More than 210 tons of gold were mined in the region.
I rested for 2 days in Tennant Creek and also visited the Mine Museum, where you can take a tour of a former mine to learn more about the history of mining.
The Bootu Mine in the north of the city exports manganese to China. Large mining companies continue to look for bauxite, lead-zinc-silver and copper in the region. Exploration for unspecified minerals in the southeast of the city has begun.
Just two days after leaving Tennant Creek, I met Sherri shortly after the Roadhouse in Renner Springs. She walks on foot from Alice Springs to Darwin.
Her daughter suffered an epileptic seizure in 2014. In South Australia, there is no state support for children with epilepsy. With her walk she tries to develop an awareness in the society https://www.facebook.com/SherrisWalkOfHope/.
After I said goodbye to Sherri, I cycled a few more kilometers and had lunch at the roadside. Suddenly a cyclist cycled past me. He came back to me and we decided to cycle a bit together.
Rene left Germany 14 months ago and wants to travel from Darwin to New Zealand https://www.gude-welt.com/. He is rather light packed compared to me and drives nearly 150 kilometers per day. My average daily distance is 80 to 100 kilometers.
In the evening, just before Elliott, we set up our tents in the bush and talked for a while about traveling by bike. The next morning we said goodbye to each other. Rene wants to get up to Darwin quickly.
Slowly the landscape changed and it became ever greener. I have now baptized my bike trailer on the name Yak. Pretty suitable, I think. Finally, the trailer must carry a lot of weight.
It's unbelievable how many people drive around here with caravans. In no other country have I seen so many caravan fanatics as in Australia. I developed my own theory for this:
Australia has always had a problem with overpopulations. After the first caravans were introduced to Australia, they increased rapidly. Since they have no natural enemies, it is difficult to stop their development.
In Mataranka, I recovered for a day in the hot springs. After such a long time in the dry outback, this was a real rest. Besides, there are almost no flies here! Simply fantastic.
Already 2 days later I arrived in Katherine. My last destination on the Stuart Highway. From here I continue westwards. First, however, I will recover in Katherine for a few days.