Day 5 - Marree to Oodnadatta

Pats post: "Tonight Paul is without internet or phone coverage... He is using pay-phones to communicate as much as he can in 50seconds. He got the last room in the back of a small motel in Oodnadatta tonight, for the price of $65, arriving late into the night (i.e. 7:30pm) The road was twisted and very rocky, Paul is totally exhausted. Tomorow he plans to make it to Marla on the bitumen, which is 212km from Oodnadatta. The road from Coober Pedy to Alice Springs is sealed. Today Paul said that he could see some water in Lake Eyre." Pauls's post;

What a day! After an early morning walk around marree to get photos of the old Ghana train loco , the station & track that closed in 1981, the Lake Eyres yacht club, I packed up the tent & bike and headed north . I did not refuel as I'd only done 80km on the tank and should do the 204km to the next fuel at William creek with ease. Fuels usage has average about 5ltr/100km , up on the norm of 4.2.- expected with extra weight. Range on 22ltrs is about 400km.

The ride to Lake Eyre South lookout was interesting and reasonable dirt road with 80km/hr possible for a lot of it.

The old Ghan railway stations are passed regularly, with Wangianna 28km along being one of the better examples.

The craziest site is the Mutonia Sculpture Park, with two piper Comanche light aircraft buried tail first.

Stopped at the 9600km dog fence for a photo, then on to the many viewing points for lake eyre south. The most northern one is the best. There was water to the horizon, with a long crust of salt for a few 100m. It's about 25min walk each way to the salt, but I was too hot and had felt salt before. Apparently lake eyre north (big one) is now down to 12% full. There are lots of scenic plane flight at Marree, William creek & Oodnadatta , with varying reviews as to it's cost.

Next stop was a preserved Ghan station and tracks at margaret sidings, followed by Coward Springs, with it's 3x3m boxed in swimming hole. The water felt mild temp, and not drinkable. Last rain was 3mm on July 8th, 72 days ago. By now temp was well over 30 degrees. A German tourist gave me advice on relaxing of the arms in the sand, to stop the death wobbles, and I found it to be helpful. Riding standing on the pegs was the best for sighting a good line between the ruts & sand/stone piles that build up between the car wheels.

At William creek I refueled as it's 200km between fuel at max on Oodnadatta track. In the pub, I discussed the options of staying the night ( camp on dirt or $65 for a donga - bed in room) or pushing on. Wisely, I was questioned by the publican on having a sat phone or UHF radio (with UHF repeater station 6 monitored on the track). Topping the camel backing with 2 x600mm water (cheap really @ $4 ea) was a smart move as it was 15:00 and very hot.

I would recommend a telstra phone card for the few public phones found. There is no telstra 3G service although there are radio repeater towers regularly . I called home, looked at the rockets from woomera testing in 50s - 70s and left at 15:00 with 204km to Oodnadatta . I had crossed paths here again with Alan from wangarratta heading the same way.

The ride to Oodnadatta was the toughest I've ever done. Mostly rutted, sandy in places and corrugations ranging from mild to absurd. I passed Alan and he told me over dinner how tough it was for him in his van and he watched me sliding around crossing the ruts. I felt comfort that they stayed about 5mins behind , so someone to pick up the possible wreckage. Having a number of death wobble experiences in the lose sand and gibbers, I decided to change my approach. Every dip, floodway , corner or grid approaching, I learnt to slow early, drop two gears and hit the throttle to steer me thru. This consistently worked to my surprise and my confidence that I would make it grew. Even with a 60 dirt/40 road front conti TKC80 , i was glad i had swapped out the metzler tourance. I wished I had a new TKC80 on the back instead of the half worn tourance, as the rocks could easily cut it.

Entering the town limits of Oodnadatta about 15mins after dark at 19:00 was such a relief. I found a room at the pink roadhouse as it was closing. The Irish girl had worked there 3 weeks - the accent was out of place, but quite common in in the shops and pubs out here. She described 3 motorcyclist two days back, where one had written his bike off on the same road.

Alan and Trina offered to share their dinner (cooked at bush kitchen) and we had a memorable meal discussing our achievements. I wiped up and bartered my unopened breakfast cereal for sausages and veggies.

416km today @ moving avg of 57km/hr. 7hrs riding and 2hrs stopped.