Port Augusta – Adelaide
After a rest day in Port Augusta we were soon on our way again, eager to reach Adelaide and see our friends Paul and Jenny as well as Guy’s sister Justine who was planning to fly over from Melbourne for a quick visit.
An easier-than-expected 500m climb saw us enter the southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia’s largest mountain range. After spending so much time in the flat centre of Australia, it felt strange to be surrounded by rolling green pastures.||
In the afternoon we dropped down into a valley a little reminiscent of the English countryside and soon reached our destination for the day, the historic town of Melrose, one of the oldest towns in the Flinders Ranges. When it was opened in 1848, the police station here was responsible for the largest police district in the world, an area extending all the way north to the Timor Sea. This huge district was covered by only one constable, two troopers and an Aboriginal tracker.
As we now regularly passed villages, shops and cafes and enjoyed the easy access to food and good drinking water we realised the hard “k’s” were over. Most towns had a campsite, and these were very well equipped with indoor camp kitchens.
Our daily cycling distance decreased as the frequency of coffee shops and bakeries increased, reminding us of our days cycling the Danube.
Passing through a little village we spotted a fully loaded touring bike parked on the curb with a cardboard “For Sale” sign hanging off the cross bar. Just as we were pondering what had happened to the owner, a door opened and we were greeted by a friendly man named Rick, who explained his leg pain had caused him to stop cycling. He immediately invited us for a cup of tea and we quickly accepted, pushing our bikes into his living room.
Only 7km later, we came past the Old Stone Hut Bakery, which is quite famous for its pies and coffee. Of course we could not resist and went in for another cuppa!
We camped in Gladstone and then cycled on to Clare, entering the famous northern wine regions of the Adelaide area. The Clare Valley is known for its Riesling which seems to prefer cooler temperatures – good for the wine, bad for tent camping.
We were excited to cycle the Riesling Trail, a dedicated bicycle path between Clare and Auburn. The ride was lovely, though of course in the middle of winter the vineyards were looking a little bare. We followed the extension of the Riesling Trail, the aptly named Rattler Trail, which unfortunately was not well maintained and had suffered a lot as a result of the winter rains.
Surprisingly, we did not see a single other cyclist during the entire 40km we spent on a dedicated bike path.
Following a long climb in the late afternoon, we descended into a lush valley and spent the night in Kapunda where it was noticeably warmer than in Clare.
We now entered the heart of the Barossa Valley - arguably one of the world’s great wine regions producing 21% of Australia’s wine, with a focus on big fruity reds. With our grubby looks we decided to focus on the wineries another day, perhaps a day trip from Adelaide once we have had a chance to make ourselves more socially acceptable
Tanunda is the main town in the Barossa Valley and holds a very special place in our hearts. It was here we had our 75th consecutive and final night of non stop camping! With any luck tomorrow night would see us sleeping in a real house, with real beds. We were pretty excited.
With the thought of a warm bed nothing could ruin our day, well almost nothing. We had mapped out a quiet route off the main roads but had failed to check the altitude profile. The climbs weren’t big but they were steep. Freddie even resorted to pushing her bike, which had not happened since we left Europe a year ago. We did not want to be late as we knew our friends were waiting for us, so we pushed hard and were relieved when we finally reached the river Torrens, which led us right into the heart of Adelaide along a beautiful bicycle path.
Last time we had seen Paul and Jenny, we had been “young professionals” working in London, so they looked a little surprised at how grubby we were and immediately lent us some of their clothes so that we could look a little more presentable during our time in the city.
We had been looking forward to this moment ever since leaving Darwin, and it was great to see our friends again even if they joked about making us camp in their backyard. Our timing was perfect as they had just completed their house renovations, so the bikes were parked in the garage and we were issued with our own bedroom and revived with home made scones and calzone and a drop of red from their healthy looking wine rack.
Having a shower in a warm room and with an adult size fluffy white towels was a pleasure we had not enjoyed for a long time. And the bed! Oh, the bed. Ironically we couldn’t sleep at all the first night as the bed was so soft and comfortable, luckily it was only temporarily and we were soon sleeping like babies.