December 2 — Orroroo to Wilmington, 53.66 klms, Avg speed 20.7 kph, Cycling time 2.35 hrs; Total kms 25,285
With views of the southern section of the Flinders Ranges to the west & Willochra Plain to the east, it’s easy to see why Wilmington was called “beautiful valley”. Leaving Orroroo we peddled up a long, long hill which was followed by 10 klms of downhill, with favourable winds we sped along, it was great. It’s so dry around here but the curves of the Flinders Ranges still looked beautiful. Wilmington has a pub, cafe & service station, the general store recently closed (expect most locals go to Port Augusta 40 odd klms away) so the servo now doubles as the store. We stopped to have a cuppa at the cafe, contemplated having one of their delicious looking pies but amazingly resisted. Heading back up the hill to the park for lunch and Horsey has a puncture! This is the first puncture since Walpole WA nearly 4,000 klms ago. Five Thumbs Greg soon had it fixed and we pedalled up the hill to a very nice park for lunch. Greg declared “we can’t live here” as the Radio National reception was quite poor so after lunch we rode a couple hundred meters to the caravan park. Beautiful Valley Caravan Park found us a green patch to pitch the tent, the Park looked tired & unloved, pity really considering its location, but it did have a decent camp kitchen to escape the heat & have dinner—another serve of beef chilli. His Lordship is still suffering from his cold so slept for most of the afternoon, the fur ball seems to be dissipating, thank goodness. We think he caught this cold from Jack who camped next to us a Port Augusta, we’re blaming him anyway, so thanks Jack! While cooking dinner this bloke comes up to us and lets us know that he’s tied his dog near our tent and it may bark for a while as he’s orrff to the pub! After some discussion that included suggestions like taking his dog to the pub, locking the dog in his cabin, letting the dog free and dropping a brick on the dog’s head, the guy relented and took his dog away. It was nice of him to come and discuss it with us but WHAT WAS HE THINKING? Silence resumed and a disturbed nights sleep averted.
December 3 — Wilmington to Melrose, 23.72 klms, Avg speed 16.6 kph, Cycling time 1.26 hrs; Total kms 25,308
As we contemplated getting up this morning, the birds were chirping away, lots & lots of different songs, the Butcher Bird being one of our favourites. Over brekkie I sighted a couple of new birds, a Brown Treecreeper & parrot yet to be identified, making a total of about 150 different species seen since we left Sydney, still have a long way to go to sight all 750 of them in Australia, it’s an enjoyable hobby though. Poor Greg is still sniffling but said he felt OK to move on as we only had 24 klms to ride to Melrose, the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges. This area is called “The Delicious Southern Flinders Ranges” where you can find simple, fresh & local food—there’s cafes, bakeries, orchards, wineries, olives & local meats. Being nestled at the foot of Mount Remarkable, Melrose is also a mecca for bush walking & mountain bike riding enthusiasts, it’s a very pretty town, the Caravan Park is lovely surrounded by huge River Gums so we’re staying put for a couple of days. There’s 2 pubs in Melrose, the newly refurbished North Star, apparently one for the foodies, the other the Mount Remarkable. I trotted into both to check out the menus, there was not a soul in the North Star, no staff, no customers so I trotted out & trotted into the Mount Remarkable where the cheerful owner said he could accommodate us for dinner provided we sat outside & ordered by 7pm as there were 2 large groups booked in after that, one being 80 members of the Ulysses Motor Bike Club. By 6pm we’re sitting outside the Mount Remarkable bathed in beautiful sunshine enjoying a beer & staring at the beautiful, huge mountain in front of us by the same name, it was a mesmerising sight. Our meals of steak & spag bolt were dished up on time, decent pub grub with decent prices too. We found out the next day they’d served 150 people that night while up the road they only served 30, lack of service I’d say was the problem. After a small walk around we found ourselves standing in front of Blueys Cafe. We’d coffee’d there yesterday and it’s the best coffee since Coffin Bay. This morning the sun was shining and the Cafe owner had just finished a great big tray of caramel tarts. Well, how could we refuse, so we didn’t. We sat outside this old blacksmith’s shop stuffing our faces and slurping our coffee’s while we pawed over the Mr. Murdoch’s weekend broadsheet, bloody bliss! I could see small signs of activity around Greg’s cranial region and at last he said “Wellsy, I’ve got an idea”. Obviously miracles do happen. He went on to suggest we spend the afternoon in the very pretty park next door and have sausage sangers for lunch with onions and mustard. It was a very good idea and we did just that. I did some admin while Mr. Blumenthal worked the tongs. As usual, he made himself scarce around mid afternoon for horizontal thinking time while I enjoyed all that little park had to offer. Greg re-appeared some time later with two cups and a thermos full of hot water for a cuppa tea. He’s not entirely useless.... We had enjoyed the friendly staff at Mount Remarkable Hotel so much we returned at night & ordered more spag bol & steak and dined Al Fresco overlooking the Mount. What a nice way to spend a Sunday.
December 5 — Melrose to Laura, 46.28 klms, Avg speed 19.6 kph, Cycling time 2.21 hrs; Total kms 25,355
Greg’s cold is slowly disappearing, he announced he feels less daggy now, not much fun being sick on the road. Still a quick ride of 46 klms down to Laura, you can tell civilisation is around the corner as we passed through 3 towns on the way—Murray Town, Wirrabara & Stone Hut where we stopped at the bakery for coffee & a Cornish pasty, we couldn’t resist, they looked delicious. We voted the coffee & food as “fair”, another 8.5 klms down the road we had another cuppa at Laura, another “fair” one too. Laura (pop 570) is a delightful town, 220 klms from Adelaide & situated on the banks of the Rocky River (dry) amid stately red gums. The community run Caravan Park is a nice, small country town park, well shaded with a bit of grass. We spent most of the afternoon relaxing in the camp kitchen, not sure if we’ll get much sleep as there’s a constant stream of wheat trucks heading to the grain silos, the farmers are happy so that’s good news for all. There’s no camp kitchen but they do have a fridge and Barbie so we’ve bought all sorts of vegetables that are very bendy and then visited the local butcher for some meat. A really nice guy, BUT WE’RE NOT HAVING HIS SAUSAGES.....He’s got no fingers on his right hand and who knows where they’ve ended up. “Two steaks please” I hear Greg say and I sigh in relief. Today I set up the tent Ta Dah! Even His Highness is impressed. Better not do it too often, it may become my job, or worse still packing it up, a job I’m definitely happy to leave to him. Later on another touring cyclist rode into the Caravan Park, it was John, from Kangaroo Island (KI to the locals) taking a few weeks leave to ride the 900 klms off-road Mawson Trail through some of the most beautiful & spectacular regions of SA. He was a nice guy John & said we’d catch up with him when we land in KI next Feb/March.
December 6 — Laura to Jamestown, 37.73 klms, Avg speed 14.7 kph, Cycling time 2.33 hrs; Total kms 25,392
We took the back road to Jamestown via Caltowie, still had to content with a few B Doubles carting wheat but it wasn’t too bad. For some reason I really struggled with this short ride, was a bit hilly & a bit windy but shouldn’t have been that hard. Wasn’t going to say anything to Greg & when we arrived in Jamestown he announced he found the ride hard ... some days there’s no rhythm or reason why we find some rides hard. Jamestown’s (pop 1,407) wide, leafy streets are home to some striking historic buildings & it’s also the birthplace to one of Australia’s iconic cattlemen, RM Williams. The town is also a mecca for railway enthusiasts plus it’s in some of the best farming land in SA. We’re only here for the night so unfortunately didn’t get a chance to have a good look around. Fortunately the caravan park had an enclosed camp kitchen where we could shelter from the heat, it also had a BBQ where Greg cooked one of my favourite bush camping dinners—salmon potato patties (that’s the bush bit) with fresh asparagus, cauli, broccoli, zucchini followed by cheese & bikkies & for starters it was BBQ’d halmoumi with watermelon....yum..yum..yum...
December 7 — Jamestown to Burra, 79.32 klms, Avg speed 21.0 kph, Cycling time 3.46 hrs; Total kms 25,466
After struggling yesterday we were on the road at 7.30am as had double the distance to ride the forecast was high temps. Very scenic ride through fields buzzing with harvesters. Slogged for 7 klms up & over a range bristling with wind turbines then down the other side into Burra, belted with thousands of locusts along the way. They hurt when you hit them at speed. On arriving we headed to the Caravan Park to be met (greeted not appropriate here) by a female sourpuss declaring the camping area & camp kitchen out of bounds due to renovations. A gravel site in full sun was our only choice. Escaping while we could we headed to the Burra Hotel, booked in for 2 nights where for $60 per night we got a balcony room with air con & continental brekkie. Burra (pop 978) is one of a kind. Geographically, it’s a large settlement, spread along a valley & surrounded by soft, low hills, it’s also one of the most beautifully preserved towns in SA. This former copper mining town is listed on the National Estate Register & also declared a State Heritage Area. Our first dining experience was at La Pecora Nera (The Black Sheep), which describes itself as an Authentic Italian Eatery (Woodoven Pizzeria & Osteria) run by Karen (aussie) & her Italian hubby, Paolo. After feasting on an antipasto of prosciutto, artichoke, pickled onions, pecorino, bocconcino & bread more delights followed with pasta tossed in a sautéed zucchini & chilli sauce (me) & a simple Marguerita Pizza for Greg. It was our kind of food—fresh, vibrant & oh so delicious, so good that we returned the following night & shared a pizza topped with broccoli & salt bush pork sausage as well as a wood fired pork loin served with bocconcino, tomato & garlic salad & bread—again simple, rustic food, some of the best Italian food we’ve found in Australia. How lucky is Burra that Karen & Paolo opened their restaurant there, hopefully they realise this.
December 9 — Burra to Riverton, 63.18 klms, Avg speed 22.5 kph, Cycling time 2.48 hrs; Total kms 25,534
We had rain all the way to Riverton, drizzling rain so out came our rain jackets. Such a fast ride today with great tail winds, there’s no wheat trucks about as it’s too wet to harvest. Considering we’re only 96 klms north of Adelaide we’re still riding on blissfully, quiet side roads. Due to the rain & our wet panniers we checked out our accommodation options in Riverton & ended up staying at the ........pub for $40, cheaper than a basic cabin at the Caravan Park. Accommodation sorted we then caught up with Kris & Noel over a cuppa, we first met them in Mossman, Queensland over 3 years ago & they were staying about 15 klms away making their way back to WA. It was good to see them again & good to see Noel looking relatively fit considering he’d had a terrible work accident 18 months ago. Riverton lies in the Gilbert Valley surrounded by fertile farming land. Another small, town to love full of old, stone houses.
December 10 — Riverton to Nuriootpta, 52.98 klms, Avg speed 16.8 kph, Cycling time 3.09 hrs; Total kms 25,587
Most of this morning’s ride was through drizzle & mist, reminded me of the foggy days in the Old Dart. Past more beautiful stone houses, stopped for a welcoming cuppa at One White Kite Cafe in Kapunda & continued riding into now greener pastures, we’ve hit the grape country of the Barossa Valley. The environs also reminds me of Italy, wild olive trees, fennel & fruit trees growing along the side of the road. Stone houses too. We were going to stay 2 nights in Nuriootpta but decided to only stay for 1, it’s too touristy for us, lots of antique shops, koffee shopees etc. Greg cooked up an enormous, delicious vegetable risotto in the camp kitchen, enough to feed an army, will keep us fed for the next few nights at least.
December 11 — Nuriootpta to Williamstown, 31.30 klms, Avg speed 14.6 kph, Cycling time 2.08 hrs; Total kms 25,618
Lots of hills to climb today as well as a head wind, lots of the lycra boys out, they tend to ignore the touring cyclist even when we say g’day, too cool for school as Greg says. Coffee & food at The Corner Bakery. Lovely camp ground overlooking the oval, the owners of the place were farmers, busy out in the fields harvesting, despite a couple of calls to pay for our stay they didn’t appear so it was a free camp for us. As for dinner, another plate of risotto, tasted better the 2nd day too.
December 12 — Williamstown to Cudlee Creek, 26.81 klms, Avg speed 15.2 kph, Cycling time 1.45 hrs; Total kms 25,645
Undulating ride through the Adelaide Hills with a spiralling down ride into Cudlee Creek with lots of twisting turns & blind corners, not the best road to be on but obviously frequently used by cyclists as there were plenty of signs warning cars to watch out for us. We enjoyed the trip so much we rode back up it, the Caravan Park was up the hill not down it! Strange place the Caravan Park with some permanent residents living amongst rubbish & just mess, pity really as the Park was in a great spot along the Creek & surrounded by beautiful trees full of birds. The place gave me the creeps, was glad to leave.
December 13 — Cudlee Creek to Mitcham (Adelaide), 38.57 klms, Avg speed 16.4 kph, Cycling time 2.20 hrs; Total kms 25,683
Stunning, winding scenery along Gorge Road, we were the lucky ones descending down & down the gorge, there were plenty of lycra lads needing an adrenalin hit riding up it. Suddenly after months & months of riding in the peaceful countryside we were back in suburbia with housing estates, busy roads & traffic lights, it was a relief to reach the Brownhill Creek Caravan Park. The Park is set on 25 acres but campers aren’t their main priority, the camp kitchen & facilities were so far away from our tent we had to ride our bikes there. Still being only 7 klms north from the Adelaide CBD it’s location was fantastic for us over the next 3 days to start to familiarise ourselves with this city.
December 19 — Mitcham (Adelaide) to Morphettville, 9.40 klms, Avg speed 20.3 kph, Cycling time 0.27 hrs; Total kms 25,693
Our trusty steeds, Crazy Ruby & Horsey, have been put out to pasture, we’re now off the bikes until early Feb 2012, it’s too hot & too many crazy drivers try to kill you during the school holidays. We’ve been lucky enough to secure 2 house sits close to the CBD during this time & with friends & family flying down to see us the time with fly. With Adelaide’s population of 1,100,000 we’re looking forward to exploring this city set on the banks of the River Torrens, surrounded by beautiful green parklands & great cycle paths! Our time here will be depicted in our photos, check them out to see what we’ve been getting up to.
To all our friends & family, have a Merry Christmas & a very Happy New Year & 2012.