That first night's camp was a very drunken affair, if I recall correctly. Matty had the beer supplies sorted and after riding the Super Ten for two hours, wobbling along on an irrepairable rear tyre at 25 km/hr or so, constantly expecting roos or black cattle to charge out of the dark to knock us flying, it was good to wash the dust out of my throat. I don't think the first beer even touched the sides. I can't tell you how good it was to ride out of the endless desert night into that campsite and be with great mates, new and old.
Uncle Gra and I had had a great day earlier, exploring the mound springs, waterholes and ruined railway sidings of the old Ghan Railway we were following north.
My troubles started about lunchtime from memory, when I picked up a puncture just before Beresford Railway Siding. I'd stupidly used a secondhand HD tube inside a brand new Mitas E09 Dakar tyre that I'd fitted the night before to replace a worn road biased tyre. It failed crossing a cattle grid at speed the next morning. I reckon you passed us while we were fixing it well off the track, at Beresford ruins. It stayed up with the puncture repair until about an hour after sunset, about 100km north of William Creek. I felt it hammer on the rim again just as we were going through a couple of fast, dry creek crossings in the dark. By the time I pulled up, it was ruined. The old HD tube was shredded. The new tyre was stinking hot and full of bits of powdered rubber. We threw my spare (new
) tube inside the ruined tyre carcass, pumped it up to a solid 40psi, knowing it needed to be babied if it would survive the deep slits and pinching gashes inside the ruined tyre. Gra said to keep it slow, but I got excited and ramped it up to about 60km/hr after about 10 kilometres of carefully tootling along. Then, within about 20 kilometres, it went flat. We were stills miles from camp. I had no spare tubes (although Gra offered me his 18" spare) and knew fixing it wouldn't work again, so I said to Gra, "we'll keep going." And here's the thing about Uncle Gra. Here's a bloke that's ridden almost every area of Australia and I've only known him a bit over a day. At that point he could've said "Good luck, I'll see you at camp." but instead he stuck by me, wobbling along the last two hours in second gear, following in the dust behind me, late into the cold desert night. Thanks Graham! You're a bloody legend.
Here's a little of Uncle Gra and my sightseeing......
One of the friendly locals - desert art sculpture, north of Maree.
A quick stop and look around at Curdimurka Railway Siding as we travelled north. The setting sun pushes us onwards, to find a bush camp a few kilometres further north.
Our simple desert campsite that night, well off the road, with firewood aplenty.
New Mitas E09 Dakar tyre slowly warming beside the fire, almost ready to fit.
Next morning, our first stop...the magnificent and sacred mound springs that bubble up from the Great Artesian Basin.
These mound springs form a chain of waterholes extending from the southern coast inland north to the very heart of Australia. They continue to give life to this countryside. The bubbles are said to be caused by the presence of a giant creation being, a serpent, that chased two star women inland during the creation time. Wherever he raised his head to search for the women, he created a mound spring. The creation story provides a map to the landscape that allowed the local Arabunna aborigines to survive and hunt their land, no matter how severe the summer heat (which is quite hot - I've experienced 54C (measured in the shade) one summer).
Next stop for Gra and I was the artesian spa pool at Coward Springs for a much needed dip. It's hard to explain how revitalising this little spa really is. Three jets located at shoulder, waist and foot level pulse under the natural pressure of the Great Artesian Basin, as thousands of litres of water many thousands of years old charge into the spa from a bore pipe inside the adjoining wooden box.
Shortly afterwards, just after leaving the springs, my bike picked up a puncture to the rear tube. The start of a long, long afternoon ahead. We stopped at the next abandoned railway siding, Beresford, on the old Ghan Railway Line. The line went into disuse in about 1986. The water softener tower used to remove salt from the naturally salty ground water, used to fill the old steam trains from the neighbouring square tank. The salt is a remanent of the Eromanga Sea, a prehistoric shallow ocean that once divided the jurassic continent. The broad, mainly featureless desert is the ancient ocean floor.
After having a basic feed while waiting for the tube patch to dry, we packed the bikes and motored hard towards Oodnadatta, around 300km away, briefly stopping in William Creek before chasing the sun towards my next tyre failure a hundred kilometres further north. Sorry but I didn't take anymore photos due to the need to keep moving to make camp that evening.