6,575 km of cycling - as part of a bicycle world trip - from Sydney along the east coast northwards via Brisbane to Townsville in Queensland, by boat to and by helicopter over the Great Barrier Reef, then westwards across the Outback on Barkly Highway in the Northern Territory and on Stuart Highway southwards to Alice Springs. From there to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and via Mereenie Loop Road back to Alice Springs.
5 March - 11 June 2006 / 99 days
24,429 metres in altitude
Highest cycled point: 771 m
Unfortunately no travel report in English available yet. Below the German report translated by Google Translate. Sorry for the partly weird and bizarre English! Proper translation is coming within the year 2018!
(5 - 17 Mar 2006, 13 days, 940 km) Much is different here in Down Under, the land of Meat Pies, the Vegemite, the Barbecues, the overlong Trucks and the Easy-Going. After seven months in Asia, you first have to get used to the fact that traffic lights are not seen as a stimulus and even pedestrians stay well behaved in red. At night and even in the evening, the shops and almost everything else have just closed. On the street there are no more stalls selling cheap food. And all cyclists wear a helmet! However, here you can finally read all the signs again and you are not only on the street no longer uninhibited, but even not recognized as a foreigner!
After three days in Sydney, Steffis and my lanes were to part company, so on the 9th of March, I headed north over the Harbor Bridge out of Sydney's endless metropolis. In New South Wales, I did not see much more than Pacific Highway No. 1, which was almost always at a clear distance to the coast to the north and with more than 14,500 km also once around rum. A lot of traffic, overlong trucks and again and again highway-like road with several lanes made it often no real Radelvergnügen. And when I made a trip to the sea, that often meant steeper up and down and long detours. So I spent the days almost exclusively on the bike.
Already on the first day I drove with my left foot only a hair's breadth past the licking head of a really frightening huge black and red snake, which significantly contributed to the fact that I never wild camped in the first days, but only campsites. At the famous Byron Bay, I paused only a few minutes before crossing the Queensland border on March 17 on the Gold Coast.
(17 Mar - 16 Apr 2006, 31 days, 2,849 km) After crossing the border with Queensland, I drove to the Gold Coast Highway to the party stronghold of the East Coast par excellence, the Mecca of all graduation parties: Surfers Paradise! With the highest residential building in the world and other skyscrapers pretty zugebaute, the otherwise very beautiful beach, however, could not move me to stay and after party all night long I was not at the time. So we went on on the now mutated to eight-lane motorway Pacific Highway forbidden, but we did not change, rather stressful 70 km to the center of Brisbane. Even in Asia, one of my two photo lenses did not quite work as it should, but unfortunately it was Saturday and even in Australia's third-largest city, most shops closed. Nevertheless, I stayed over the weekend and then drove, but without a new lens, on the Sunshine Coast, where I made a short visit to a former colleague from Germany, towards Fraser Iceland.
Thanks to foothills of Cyclone Larry, which raged in the north of Queensland, it rained but now for days almost continuously, at least gabs barely sun, so I left the island on the right and drove on the Bruce Highway on the coast further north. One night, while searching for a tent, I was fortunate to find a spot off the road on the banks of a creek, a small, shady, more stagnant, than flowing water. After having cooked and eaten happily on the shore and packed everything into the tent with me and it was already dark, I read something in the guide book. Not that I did not know, but you could not think of everything! Well, it said: crocodiles live in rivers, lakes and creeks in northern Queensland. Especially near the coast. And this creek was damn close to the coast! Sweatbathed not only because of the heat, I wondered if one of these creatures would now rather be shot out of the water, if I would dismantle the tent in the dark and put it down further, or if I would lie so temptingly close behind the thin tent wall on the bank. I thought the former was more likely and spent my worst, naturally sleepless tent night ... Well, there was no crocodile and probably this creek has never seen one either, but by no means only once did I think I heard one ...
In Mackay, I waited two days for the long-awaited new lens, ordered in advance by phone, until I learned that, "sorry so much", the camp had not even left! So again without further. In Airlie Beach it had finally worked with the lens and here should also work much more! Every now and then it rained, every morning I had the tent soaking wet and unpacked soaking wet again in the evening. Here in Airlie Beach gabs now finally two full days sun and blue sky pure. The Whitsunday Islands off the coast and the Great Barrier Reef far beyond the horizon, mostly because of this latter, largest living thing on earth, I had cycled the long way here. So in the morning I took a motor catamaran cruiser through the Whitsunday Islands for a few stops and then out for two hours on the horizon towards the Reefworld platform, from where I first explored the Hardy Reef while diving from below. That was very nice, but how can you really capture the Great Barrier Reef from above? And so one of the most spectacular experiences of the entire journey began! With a helicopter, of course I had reserved the space next to the pilot, I flew over the Hardy and the Hook Reef and will probably never forget it! Rimless reefs in turquoise waters, bizarre structures below, countless and sometimes randomly curious, like the famous Heart Reef. A world of its own, incredibly huge and infinitely beautiful! On the way back, past the dream beach Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, I sat up on the sundeck and let the evening sun shine in my face. That it should start to rain again at night, would not have stopped again the next morning and everything would be flooded, I should not mind at all! A magical day!
In Townsville (and before that ...) it was raining again, or rather "still", and so slowly it finally got to me with the weather, the always wet stuff and the at least nightly cascades and so I did not want drive up the last few kilometers to Cairns, but start here to the west. Therefore, despite clouds and drizzle, I went swimming in the sea three more times, then I sat down on the almost deserted beach, turned on the music in the headphones fully and said goodbye to the sea!
After more than 2,600 km I turned from Highway No. 1 and made me on the long and after all the clouds and the rain hopefully dry and dusty way west to the Outback, into the heart of the red continent! After crossing the Great Dividing Range, which in view of the passed passes in Indonesia, Laos and China, was really not really "great", I saw, so to speak, from above, very far back at the end of the sea of clouds a strip of blue sky over endless plain, finally!
There were a few chills then the days still, otherwise I was surrounded by unimaginable expanses with always blue sky since these days! I drove roads that led to the horizon, behind them again and again. Often there was not the slightest curve for hours. At night the milky way above me shone so brightly, as if someone had turned on a sea of innumerable fairy lights! Often it was hot, after more than 100 km driving was not fun anymore. Not because of the temperature, but because of the lack of shade. Often there was nothing, no tree, no shrub, no cloud!
Nevertheless, I drove an average of almost 150 km a day, what else would have been done. But the real agony of cycling in the outback was not the heat, it was the flies! Because it was not like in Europe, they waved their hands and they were gone. No, there were often hundreds here, who crawled around a man who hurled around and uninhibitedly into his eyes, ears and nose as soon as they stopped! There were only a few during the ride, up to about twenty. You could either drive with a waggling hand or simply accept them and try to endure them. A damn hard test, especially since something else drove me very fast to madness!
So I drove every day to the west, towards the evening sun, until suddenly just before Cloncurry, a tiny collection of some houses, something extraordinary happened: I had just built my tent next to the road on a group of a holding bay, because drove a car with a bicycle passed the rear carrier, stopped, turned and stopped beside me. And who got out of the car? Tilmann Waldthaler! Many travel eagles will know him well. For over 35 years more on mountain bike trips of the more extreme kind on the way, he had published books and countless reports and ultimately it had been his books, which had brought me partly to bike tours! He emigrated from the Dolomites to Australia, of course by bike, and now lived in Cairns. For two hours we chatted about everything, his plans, my plans and what had happened to us in the past. A great meeting! And we should meet again some time later in the Northern Territory.
About Mount Isa we went to the west and here began the part of the map on which at intervals of often more than 150 km marked "places" were no longer places, but only roadhouses, so in German gas stations. So it was neat to load water and food and continue through the loneliness! Always greeting the rare oncoming vehicles, no matter if camper, jeep or roadtrain with up to four trailers, I drove even more than 200 km that day in the last section in Queensland, a so far unbroken brand!
Then a little bit broken I built my tent exactly on the border. It was Easter Sunday and the sign next to my tent said "Welcome to the Northern Territory". There was nothing but my tent, this sign, and the road, no tree, no shrub, no bump, even to the horizon, in every direction, just nothing, only grass! There were no sounds and the horizon was drawn in a dead straight 360-degree circle around the sign, my tent and me. It was like being alone on an alien planet, madness! Tomorrow morning we would continue to the Northern Territory!
(17 Apr - 10 Jun 2006, 55 days, 2,786 km) On the next 450 km from the border to Queensland to the west to the intersection with the Stuart Highway there was absolutely nothing but a lonely roadhouse, the Barkly Homestead. From there I drove over 200 km in one day, the last of them even on a sandy dust track to the Pebbles, a Aboriginal sacred site with rocks that looked just like oversized pebbles.
From there on we went south on the Stuart Highway, first to Tennant Creek, the only place on the whole 550 km stretch to Alice Springs. Actually, I wanted to make the local gold mine with a sightseeing, but I decided to, after it turned out that they too, as was the case in Mount Isa, just a million mile extra for tourists specially invested mine, so one like real, but not really real, a fake mine so to speak. The real, well-secured mine was of course no rank. As compensation, I went to the Bush Tucker evening in the evening with the Bush-Tucker-Man Jimmy Hooker, a genuinely amiable Outback native, just as you would imagine a Bush guy like that. At the campfire he gave countless stories, poems, jokes and songs for the best. Completely taken in I just wanted to start "Waltzing Matilda", to bring the mood to boil over, but there was the musical part of the evening luckily over ... We went over to the Bush Tucker, so plants and fruits from the Bush, the one eating or could use for anything else. Finally, big thick white maggots were roasted in the embers and surrounded by mostly disgusted faces I got two times, because it was delicious!
Next we went to the Devils Marbles, scattered over a vast plateau countless "rock marbles", for the Aborigines the eggs of the rainbow snake from the dream time. One day later, I passed the Wycliffe Well Roadhouse, self-proclaimed "UFO sightseeing capital of Australia" (even though it was not a city but just a gas station ...). At the same time, the Roadhouse offered the largest selection of international beers in Australia, which in turn could have explained some of the UFO sightings ... But a very different phenomenon overtook me a few hours later: Again it is Tilmann Waldthaler and again we stopped at the side of the road few photos and talked about cycling, writing books, sponsors and all sorts of things. So z. For example, that a roadtrain comes with a liter of fuel exactly 700 meters! Since someone should get upset about the fuel consumption of his car again ...
In the next few days on the way to Alice Springs, it became noticeably colder at night and in the morning. It was just winter and tropical climate was on these latitudes now really nothing to feel. 18 days after turning my back on the East Coast in Townsville, I rolled into Alice Springs. I wanted to stay here for a few days to organize my onward journey. Because after almost two months in Australia, I realized that travel needles in this country could be quite a lonely affair, especially if you were traveling alone. The distances were just too big. And often for days, the faces behind the windshields of the rare oncoming vehicles were the only people I saw. I missed the hustle and bustle of seven months of Asia around me, the many people, the new and the strange every day, the discovery of different cultures and customs. I had always wanted to experience what it was like to drive for days to the horizon, through endless spaces. It was a great feeling, one was free, believed to have the whole world for itself, because there was just nobody else, nowhere to the horizon, no matter in which direction, and also behind it and not much further behind it. But now I had experienced it and now it was enough!
So I stopped at the first campsite where I met Brit and Franziska, who had just started working at Maui Britz RV rental. Had I been told a day before that I would not find a job in Alice Springs, I would have said "Yes and? I do not want any!" But I decided with determination that after nine months of almost daily cycling there was time for a break and that actually it would not be so bad to finance the ticket for the onward journey by a job. Great thought, but Maui Britz had no other vacancies at the moment, so I applied from morning to night almost everywhere in the city, unsuccessful for five days. During this time, two amazing things happened: First, it rained in one day. And that was an extremely rare event in Alice Springs! So rare that when you saw the Todd River, whose dry sandy riverbed crossed the city, seen three times with water, you were considered a local! Secondly, I met Mary from the East Coast, who could happily tell me that the snake, whose licking head I barely passed by on my first day of cycling in Australia, was a Redbellyblack Snake. And, she said placatingly, that snake would not be one of those whose bites would kill in minutes. I would have had a few hours, if only a few hours! That calmed me down a lot ...
After these five days it finally worked: I had my job! At Apollo Motorhome Rentals, I prepared daily from now on campers, campers, four-wheel drive and normal rental cars to the new tenant. So it was time to clean up, wash, inspect and exchange equipment, check gas, water and engine, drive back and forth, sometimes bring it to the customer or pick it up and give guided tours through the motorhomes. And it did not even take me that long to get in the car or to turn off the windscreen wipers ... During the day I had mostly with Boss Lindsay, Kevin, Steve and later Shaun and Kosta company, in the evening with Brit and Franziska and later also with Manuela and Andy, who also started to work for the competition. It was great, finally to have a fridge again, so gabs z. B. for over nine months butter again! The work was not a mental strain, but just right as a break. The few days off, I drove to the West and the East Mac Donnell Ranges or did things in-town. Alice Springs was a nice place, manageable, with a large 24-hour supermarket and a small pedestrian street. And you've always encountered the most adventurous motorhomes or high-loaded, dusty SUVs, because anyone who left the coast in Australia sooner or later drove through Alice Springs and until then had almost driven a route at least once across Europe! And Alice Springs was probably the only city in Australia where roadtrains roamed the city! At Apollo they always turned off the industrial area onto the main street, a normal intersection. I was always there and watched with a grin, as those with four (!) Semi-trailers, so those like us with the 40-tonner have only one, around the corner and always waited for someone to cross the traffic island or in our Fence would shred. But that was never going to happen ... It was nice to be recognized somewhere, to have a chat, almost like a local ... But that's not how it should be! I forced myself to go to the dentist and fixed everything for my flight in mid-June.
After three weeks of work, I felt a break was appropriate. Boss Lindsay saw it as well and so I removed my tent and made my way south, over the Stuart and the Lasseter Highway to the most famous rock in Australia, the Uluru (Ayers Rock). Three days later I arrived at the associated desert resort near the sanctuary of the Aborigines. Though sad that most tourists hauled in flocks of buses and planes only had one day off for Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), but good for me because I'm so on the rock hike on the Base Walk every now and then was all alone. Maybe just a rock, but maybe not! The Aborigines will know why. And no, if anyone asks that question, I did not climb Buddha statues in Asia and did not climb mosques or churches. And of course I did not climb the Uluru ... The next day I hitchhiked to the Kata Tjuta from the resort. Jürgen from Vienna had a look and held and then we also walked the whole day together through the impressive rock towers. I made it to Kings Canyon in two exhausting headwind days. But the hardest track in Australia was on my way back to Alice Springs: the permit-compulsory Mereenie Loop. Only recommended for four-wheel drive, it went 200 km through partly deep sand, endless corrugated iron and coarse rock gravel through Aboriginalland. For bicycles and motorcycles gabs probably no permit. I got then half past twelve, but with signature, but without a stamp. I should get that, if I would bring the vehicle data of my alleged rented four-wheel drive. I did not have them at hand, so I just started like this and battled my way through endless sand and the washboard piste for two days. After Hermannsburg gabs then finally back asphalt and brought me in hurricane headwind on my birthday after 1,160 km back to Alice Springs. A good ten days of work were still to come, before it should finally go on. By now I was sick of the cold. During the day it was always over at least 20 degrees, but at night and in the morning it was usually 0 to 5 degrees and they were in the tent!
Had everything been so far perfect, would not be the stupid dumb dumb permanent camper Denis a week before my departure probably drunk drove his car over my tent ... Fortunately, I had not insisted, but unfortunately the tent was over. After leaving my more than valid cursing and cursing tirades in the evening when I came home from work, he said he was going to pay for a new tent, which was obvious to me anyway! Otherwise, I would probably have his housing container AND his car disassembled into pieces! Fortunately, the new tent came out of Sydney two days later. And what I did not tell the stupid dumb Denis of course: The inner tent was still ok, a linkage too, we still ordered a complete tent ... So now I have at least a few spare parts, if one would drive over it again. ..
With Kosta and Shaun, two days before I left Todd's Tavern, I bade farewell to my farewell. Yes, two more days until departure! Where? I would love to fly New Zealand, but at this time of the year I would recommend it only for masochistic cyclists. So it was clear, to South America! And after some back and forth, I had then committed to the country: to Peru! That in itself caused me anticipation and excitement enough, but the blast was yet to come: After browsing through the infinitely long flight conditions it turned out that I could insert two free stops. And if I want that? Well and if, I said only! Why? Because it gave me the incredible opportunity to visit one of the most paradisiacal areas of the world and the most remote place on earth! And so it should go first for eight days in one of the most expensive destinations ever, to Tahiti, where I wanted to challenge myself to explore Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora on the budget trip! And then for five days it was to go to Rapa Nui, Easter Island, the spot of the earth farthest from another inhabited patch of land on earth. The madness! And I was excited accordingly! So put an end to English, for a week all together French and then it would go to the last few weeks unfortunately sporadically learned Spanish.
From Alice Springs I flew to Sydney and after a night at the airport my time in Australia was over and I boarded the plane from Air Tahiti Nui for the long way to the east!