Sunday, 19 July 2015


Day 20 – Mount Lofty Ranges, outside Adelaide, Mawson Trail.

The most densely habited bit of South Australia is the hilly section comprising the Flinders / Mount Lofty Ranges and the Fleurieu Peninsula. These hill capture the rain, everything else is semi-arid. So ever since we crossed the Murray at Tailem Bend we've been in lush, green countryside grinding our way up hills. This part of South Australia is how I imagine parts of Scotland to be.

Perhaps the comparison to Scotland has been helped by the windy and rainy weather – a proper dose of winter dubbed 'the Antarctic Vortex'. Wind, rains hills and little country towns with bakeries to provide distractions, no wonder our daily ride totals have been uninspiring. Still chewing through the kilometres is hardly the point of bike touring.

The height of the windy rainy chilly weather struck us whilst on Kangaroo Island. We had planned to ride its whole length, stopping at wineries, sampling speciality honey and camping among the wildlife in the national parks. Our first day's riding in chilling rain, constant wind along dirt roads and up insanely steep hills broke us. We'd managed all of 30 odd km, seen one tiny corner of the island and had an interrupted night's sleep in a tent that threatened to blow away in the storm. If we were to see what we wanted we'd need help. We'd need to swallow our pride and hire a car.

So next day I became driver – and we covered a couple of hundred kilometres to visit Flinders Chase – the national park at the western end of the lsland. As much as I bemoaned the 'windscreen view' of the island – felt frustrated that all the animal interactions during my travels were reduced peering into the bushes hoping that I wouldn't kill anything – and resented becoming the kind of tourist that sees a place by driving to a car park, walking a few hundred metres to the scenic spot taking a few photos then returning to the car – I accepted this was the only way we were going to see this marvellous place – and Flinders Chase is truly magical. There is a watchtower of freaky rocks carved by howling winds. There is limestone arch – where the land at the end of world holds out against a tempestuous sea. Bull seals proclaim their dominance as their harem sun themselves on rocks. Albatross soar in violent updraughts as waves crash against rocks and an Edwardian era lighthouse stands sentinel of them all – awaiting the horror of fang rock.

Our other find of Kangaroo Island were the wine and spirits – The Dudley Shipwreck Red and the KIS gins were my stand out favourites. Of course I had to treat all the drinks like mouthwash. (Did I mention how much driving takes the fun out of everything?)

Back on the mainland and back on our bikes we headed north to Adelaide, and our last supply stop for a while (probably till Alice Springs really – and if its not there, Broome). Our Adelaide stay was therefore a night and day of walking around looking for shops and grabbing supplies and making repairs. I fixed a water bag, bought some maps a replaced a set of pants that were looking a little threadbare. Maree bought some bike supplies and spent much of the day trying to get her dynamo lights and battery charger to play nice. It was necessary but dull stuff involving a lot of walking around trying to find speciality shops. We did, however, get a chance to grab lunch things from the Adelaide Markets and we bought a fillet of fresh fish, lemon and herbs, marinated olives, crusty bread and some stinky cheese. It was a delicious afternoon cook up washed down with a cocktail of KIS mulberry gin and ginger beer. Eating in a Spartan style was never so delicious.

The path out of Adelaide follows the Torrens river. It was a sunny and mild Sunday and riding the path involved a passing a steady stream of dog walkers and family groups on bikes. The highlight of my stay in Adelaide was my experience leaving it. I hope the residents don't find that a slight on their city.

Good night Adelaide - your inversion layer makes for awesome sunsets

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