Thursday, December 24, 2015

Work & Devils Marbles

As I wasn't getting any work done I was becoming increasingly bored in Alice Springs. After days of wandering around aimlessly in the heat, I got word of a guy looking for workers somewhere north of Alice Springs. Ringing him up I found out that he was still looking for someone to do a fencing job with. Due to me having a bit of experience in fencing from King Island and Reds I had no problem with it. When he revealed the location I was a bit baffled. For anyone from Germany it would be if you are living in Munich and you go to work in Flensburg. Anybody else, I had to drive 850km to get there. After mulling over it in my head a bit, the distance didn't seem that far. I have lived in Australia for ten months now and done a fair bit of driving. 850km seem to be the neighbourhood now as you only pass through about three towns in that distance out here (and all towns have under 500 inhabitants).
Set off as soon as I could and approx. 30km out of town I realised I had forgotten a few things at the hostel, typical. Turned round near the Tropic of Capricorn and drove back to retrieve my belongings before being back at the same place one hour later. Driving along in Australia gets relaxing/tiring fast. As you round a corner after driving straight for 20km the next stretch of straight thirty kilometre road awaits.
Shortly before reaching Tennant Creek the Devils Marbles are located. A tourist attracting national park were round bolder of rock stand stacked on one another. Climbing around I meet three girls on a bus from Alice Springs to Darwin. One from England, the other from Wales and guess where the third was from*. Had a chat and found out they had an entire tour bus for themselves as no one else was driving to Darwin currently. After some pictures we went separate ways again, but met shortly after at the fuel station in Tennant Creek again.
A short stretch (short in Australian terms) I turned of right to the road that leads to Cairns and got hit by a few lightning storms. I am getting closer to the tropics up here now and the wet season is just starting up. That’s the reason a lot of people are avoiding Darwin at the moment. After a few hundred kilometres I turned back north at the Berkley homestead, a sign warning that there is no fuel for 325km.
Up until that point I had evaded stock on the road, but out on the Tablelands they where clogging up the road here and there. I met very few people, a Ute here or there and that was it. Driving along the scenery is the flattest I have ever seen. Even the Outback around Lake Eyer had rivets here and there, but the tablelands are just flat plains filled with grass and animals. In the distance a thunderstorm was ragging, which made for some dramatic scenery whilst I was trying my best not to kill any wildlife, cattle or my car. 

Arriving at Brunette Downs Station I was greeted by Station Hands that where left over from the slowly expiring mustering season. Frosty (my boss) was just a way behind with his caravan, his co worker Darel and another backpacker from the UK called Tom. Had a few beers with them watching above mentioned storm pulling over and got to know each other. Frosty and Darel are both from Queensland about an hour drive from Cairns and come out here to do work like this regular. They employ backpackers nearly all time around and they had gotten Tom and me there for two others that had just left. Tom himself was from Norwich and working up a bit of money to go back home and join the Navy. His girlfriend was working somewhere along the east coast, but the promise of quick money made him come all the way here.
Pitched my tent after a while and slept in it for a few days before we got an air conditioned room. The room was lovely after spending a few night out in the heat, waking up in the morning covered in sticky sweat. The work was, as mentioned, primarily fencing. Ten kilometres of fencing. Basically you stand in the middle, look left until to the horizon and right until to the horizon and all you can see is the fence line. Due to the rain surprising us a few times we had to catch up over a few days and worked over 12 hours a day in 35 degrees (dam English keyboard doesn't have the degree sign). When we had only about two hours work left on the fence it absolutely pored down so we couldn't get out. Frosty was, understandably, very happy. It ended up raining so much the helicopter couldn't fly out to retrieve some belongings, so we left later that day. Frosty and Darel back to Queensland, Tom to his girlfriend and me to Alice Springs. The next feasible time we can carry on is probably after New Year. Getting of the station was just barely possible. Had I not got a Subaru with AWD, I wouldn't have got of the station. As it was I sometimes was sliding along at 45 Degrees to the desired route. Dropped Tom of at the Berkley Homstead for him to catch a bus back to Cairns and headed of back to Alice to watch the new Star Wars film and wait for a phone call for the work to be started again.

*Oh, and the third girl was from Scotland.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Old Telegraph Staion Trail

Murray has abandoned me to a life in Alice Springs for the moment. He and the other two have left on a two week job out north-west of Alice and as four blokes was to many last time I have had a long, boring holiday. My cars registration fee was coming up, so that was a big mayor money spending event. Cars just eat money. Counting down the things, I had to register the car again (600$), a new set of tires are needed soon (ca. 400$) and a service check is a couple of hundred kilometres overdo.
Alice isn't the best place for activities once you have done the mayor tourist things, but what I had heard was that there is an assortment of mountain bike trails in the area. Later I found out that the total amount of mountain bike tracks is somewhere along 450km, so rather a lot. A few weeks back two other backpackers and me went to the YHA to ask for some mountain bikes, but the only ones they had present where city bikes. Bikes with one gear, no suspension and block brakes. So a no go and we went for a walk instead. This time I did some research on the internet before deciding what and where to do. Outside Alice is an old telegraph station that has been turned in to a tourist attraction now and they hire out “proper” mountain bikes (nothing like a Frenchie thought). Hiring one there the age old problem of mine came along, my tall status. I got their tallest bike and it is still to small. Tried around a few different ones and settled on one before taking off. Before leaving one of the workers Lihi said he was going out for the evening and if I wanted to join him. Local tour guide, for free, so of course that was a yes. Wanting to test the bike I took off towards somewhere and had to get off as I had no clickis. Really miss them when I don't have them on my foot. But missed not biking at all more. Getting a bit out I started worrying about things like accidents and co. so I turned round after a short stretch. Big fear in Australia is that you get knocked off your bike and lye unconscious on the road getting fried until the next person finds a barbecued human on the track. Not my way to end, wouldn't look good on the gravestone. Turning round I passed the telegraph station again and went back to the hostel to get a time lapse video edited that I had taken the night before from Anzac Hill.
In the evening I then set of to meet Lihi and upon reaching the hire shop had a fun talk with him and Andrew. As I wasn't that happy with a fully they gave me the chance to test a hardtail I had seen before, but thought it was Andrews, so didn't even touch it. Felt better, not much bouncing, but still not as homey as my own bike. Left along a track that Lihi normally takes better riders on and in the end it amounted up to 20km and a lot of ups and down. The general layout of the immediate country isn't one long climb but riddled with lots of ups and downs. Lihi was in front all the way as he knew what areas he wanted to check and were to go. Plus he was relaxing a bit with me behind him (I wager). The last time I was in the saddle of a bike was last Christmas biking up the Alpspitze with dad, so nearly a complete year ago. Stamina takes a steep drop in that time. We passed some kangaroos and probably a bunch of other crawling stuff on our way. No snakes fortunately and Lihi told me of how he nearly got bit a couple of weeks ago. So snakes aren't littered across the tacks as feared, rocks are thought. Twice I came to an abrupt stop but nothing bad resulted, just wounded pride. Lihi took me the more fun way around and not the scenic route, but we did stop a few times for some pictures. Otherwise it was bouncing around from rock to sand dips and tracks. Sand dips proofed interesting. If you hit them to slow you get bogged and you cant get fast with the terrain set up before it. Similar to snow, just not as slippery.
We completed the track and both carried on back to Alice. Said goodbye to Lihi and peddled back to the hostel for some rice and vegetables. Lost my rice so it was only vegetables, but Maryse (Canadian girl) offered to cook some tacos tomorrow. Looking forward to getting on the bike again tomorrow. Have to make the best out of the few days I have it rented.

Tracks at GPSies (TrackOne and Track Two) and pictures at Picasa.