Friday, August 13, 2010

Stuart Highway: The great Nothingness

Luckily that wasn't my highway...
Most people whom I met on the Stuart Highway did not understand how I could possibly enjoy cycling 1.500 km with nothing to see in between. They always called it the great "Nothingness". Well, partly they are right. There is not really that much to see. It is all flat with a lot of red dust and scrub. Cycling there was a bit like meditation. But still, there are things that keep you entertained:

Termite mounds: There are literally millions of termite mounds out there. There are magnetic mounds (all aligned the same way), giant cathedral mounds (look like giant cathedrals) and just plain whatever mounds. They are everywhere and sometime reminded me of tomb stones on a grave yard. But this means there are also a lot of ants out there - which can be a bit of a nuisance while camping...So if you get bored, just start counting the mounds.

Daily kangaroo death toll: You should not drive around in the outback in the dark - not if you are a cyclist, because traffic will not see you and also not if you are in a car, because you will hit kangaroos. Kangaroos are night active and blinded by the cars' headlights and so every morning I could count last night's death toll... which gets pretty smelly after a couple of days roasting in the sun.

Pink Panther road house
Road houses and rest areas:  About every 100 km there is a road house with fuel, food and most importantly, water. I never had any problem getting water at these road houses which had been a major concern of mine. Because they are the only attraction in a radius of 100 km they can become really famous. There even is a "Pink Panther" Road house! The rest areas do not have any services, but they generally have water tanks, sometimes toilets and people can camp there for free. I never did because they are directly at the road and a road train passing your tent with a speed of 130 km/h and a distance of 10 meters will certainly wake you up in the middle of the night....But I restocked on water there and was always greeted very friendly by the motorists. People had already heard about me! (Hey, there are not so many single women cycling around in the middle of nowhere.) I was offered drinks and water - and usually a friendly chat.

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