Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Day 28 - Hawker

We've been heading generally north, away from the coast and with it the reliable rains.  Each day has seen a change in the land.  The well watered Claire Valley is, of course a famous wine district,  a a day's ride north and you are in wheat and sheep country, and a day or two after that and its semi-arid cattle grazing country. The change is quick and a reminder that small change in prevailing weather patterns can trigger a radical change in lifestyle.

Three days out of Adelaide and were were convinced the Mawson Trail wasn't working for us.

A bit of rain and much of the Mawson Trail turns to a thick muddy clay.
At Riverton,  (a town where the milk bar was called a "deli") we found a rail trail. In comparison to the tracks we'd been riding it was glorious. .
So the chance to ride on a rail trail was a real joy
We rode it at pace, inadvertently riding past many of the Clare Valley wineries in the process.  To make up for it we bought a bottle of the local stuff when we got to Clare.  Over the wine we decide to abandon the Mawson Trail entirely and find our own way north.  We find a secondary road - the RM Williams Way.

Limestone farmhouse ruins - wheat and sheep country - RM Williams Way
The RM Williams Way gets its name from a Australian fashion label popular among the rural set. Mr eponymous Williams was born in Jamestown, the largest settlement on the route. It is a smallish railway town serving the local district. The rail line runs from Port Augusta to Broken Hill and still gets a daily train.  Jamestown has probably seen busier days, because the RM Williams Way follows an abandoned of an north - south train route, 'the Old Ghan',  The towns and ruined settlements we see north of Jamestown must have been laid out with the railway as they share a common layout and street names (north, east, west, terraces, first, second and third streets).

The weather clears but the wind that blows away the rain is strong and in our faces.  It blows gusts of 25km/h plus and sucks all our forward pace.  It is a struggle to maintain 8km/h and by we are wrecked by lunch.

Clear skies, open road ... powerful headwinds

We arrive at Orrooroo. around three and stop for the day.  We are so knackered and the winds so strong, we opt for a caravan park cabin rather than a tent.  The next day weather reports say the winds strengthened to a howling 20km/h with 35km/h gusts.  It might be a bit of a cheat, I think we made the right call.

We're in cattle country now

As we head north into the Flinders Ranges and the country becomes beautifully scenic and  little more undulating.   This is big sky country.  Vast cattle grazing properties, horizons in every direction and the spectacle of ancient geology.  The Flinders Ranges were formed by warps and folds in the Australian Plate and t he stresses that make the range continue to this very day.  These is a seismograph in the Hawker roadhouse and it regularly records local tremors.  There was one last night - but not a big one.  We didn't feel it.  These forces produce a land of bight colours warped hills and majesty.

Majestic scenery with photobombing wallabies
Castle Rock - folded rock

The next town of any size is Coober Pedy, some 650km away.  It's remote country, with no supermarkets, limited water and I assume no internet.  We are stocked up and ready.  Bring it on.

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