Sunday, March 22, 2009

Introducing Wanda, Barbie and Jemima

My naming of my bike trailer, Bob, was ruled null and void by the others. The suggestion of B1, B2 and B3 collapsed with a lack of support. "Wanda," Nick said, as we passed Wanda Street in Spalding. And there it was, so the naming began.

Willalo Hall to Curnows Hut to Stone Hut
65km + 55km

Saturday was forecast for hot temperatures, but it came it cloudy in the morning after a speccie sunrise, and a cool change came in before lunch and with it a light sprinkling of refreshing rain. This was a long day, the longest yet on the trail - some 64km. The first climb of the day was from our previous ending spot at Willalo Hall up Camel Hump Range, location of the first stage of the Hallett Wind Turbine Project. Graham was blissfully unaware that he caused some bicycle-wary horses to bolt at the sight of him, jumping their paddock gate and galloping across the adjacent crop paddock into the hills. He must have been distracted by his enjoyment of the long kilometres of easy cruising at over 40km/h as we descended into the next valley.

We followed the Bundaleer Channels, which was winding but flat. The channels were constructed between 1898 and 1902, a series of channels that fed water from the local catchment area into a reservoir. There were lots of gates to contend with, and the grassey terrain made it a little harder. Other people riding this section have told of punctures and locked gates, but we encountered none of this. When I walked this section of the channels on the Heysen Trail in 2006, we also encountered a couple of fences without gates or locked gates, but this seems to have been since rectified. Apparently some riders have attempted to make the ride easier by riding along the bottom of the channel itself, although how they got into or out of the channel I don't know. As the system is no longer maintained, some sections are a little overgrown, and other sections blocked with debris or fencing. I could certainly see how at different times of the year riding along the channel pathways could be very difficult, denser grass or snake risk could be considerable.

Midway along the channels, the trail detours into Spalding. We parked our three bikes and trailers kerbside by the shop, clearly underestimating how busy a shop could get on a Saturday morning after local netball games. From here we rode further along the channels, before leaving them at one of the aquaducts the carries the channels over big creeks. Here we did put some serious deposits into the Hill Bank, from which we had very limited cashing in of on this day's ride. Near Washpool we battled with headwinds over the flat-ish track before a steep climb up Never Never Range. Even on the ridge top there seemed to be more uphill than down, and we finished the day with a mere 1.5km downhill run into Bundaleer Forest and our campsite for the night, Curnows Hut.

Sunday we continued through Bundaleer Forest, which made for beautiful albeit, slow riding. There were many gates to contend with, and the entry and exit gate from the public roads were both locked which is troublesome for our bikes with their trailers. After exiting the forest though, we got to cash in the deposits we had made in the Hill Bank, experiencing many long downhill runs towards Laura. After an identity crisis in Laura (why don't they make those pictures of men and women a little clearer on public toilets?) we rode the last distance towards Stone Hut, and our exit point from the Mawson Trail. We had left the car in Stone Hut, much to the display of the ever-friendly bakery owner, who had contacted the police in regards to the stolen and dumped car outside his bakery. Those theives though, how thoughtful of them to leave a clean and tidy, and locked, car.

Download Google Earth KML file of Mawson Trail

Download kml file to view in Google Earth or adapt to use as a navigational aid in a GPS unit:
The weekend's ride on the Mawson Trail
The Mawson Trail so far completed - Adelaide to near Stone Hut


Mawson Trail
Saturday Sunday
21/03/2009 22/03/2009
Willalo Hall to Curnows Hut Curnows Hut to Stone Hut
Distance 65.0km 55.1km
Start Time 8.27am 8.56am
End Time 5.27pm 3.51pm
Moving Duration 5h32m 3h41m
Stationary Duration 3h20m 2h55m
Moving Average 11.7km/h 14.9km/h
Overall Average 7.3km/h 8.3km/h
Max Speed 45.3km/h

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mt Bryan East to Willalo Hall

Continuing north along the trail near Mt Bryan East, we encountered more of that Flinders-esque landscape we had seen last ride. The view from Dares Hill Summit was rewarding, we could see for miles, although I had no real idea of what we were looking at. We left some scrub and re-entered farmland dramatically crossing Goyders Line.

Mt Bryan East to Willalo Hall

Had a look-in at the the childhood home of Antartic explorer, Sir Hubert Wilkins. Cool that such an old homestead survived without even turn-of-the-century renovations, although I think it was abandoned a long time ago. I guess this is all in part due to it's isolation out there so close to Goyders Line.

Sir Hubert Wilkins was an amazing adventurer, yet unfortunately, most Australians know little of his incredible life. Sir Hubert Wilkins was born in 1888 just east of Hallett, in a humble outback cottage. His thirst for excitement and knowledge led him to enjoy a life rich with wondrous experiences. He went to the Antarctic, as a photographer and naturalist on several expeditions. 1926 saw Sir Hubert making experimental flights in the Arctic region, until 1928 when he made the first ever trans-Arctic flight from Alaska to Spitzbergen (3350km) in 205 hours. He was subsequently knighted as a result.

The Regional Council of Goyder, the Australian Geographic Society, Dick Smith, the National Trust and the volunteer based Sir Hubert Wilkins Memorial Trust Committee have restored the cottage of Sir Hubert's birthplace to its original condition.

Eating a late lunch in Hallett, thankful for the shop and lush green lawns by the local hall, we pushed on through some headwinds for Willalo Hall.

Download kml file to view in Google Earth or adapt to use as a navigational aid in a GPS unit


Mawson Trail
Mt Bryan East to Willalo Hall
Distance 51.3km
Start Time 10.01am
End Time 4.33pm
Moving Duration 3h43m
Stationary Duration 2h26m
Moving Average 13.8km/h
Overall Average 8.3km/h
Max Speed 40.0km/h

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Taking Bob out for a spin

Graham and I thought we might take our Bob trailers out for a bit of a trial run to get used to their handling.

Riverton to Auburn and return

We headed to Riverton to cover the section of Mawson Trail to Auburn. We had already been between these towns back in January, but we had gone via the Rattler Trail. This time we followed the true course of the Mawson Trail along the dirt roads, and I gotta say, it was much more interesting and scenic than the Rattler Trail, and a fair bit easier to ride.

Near Golf Course Road we came upon a locked gate. On the GPS map that I found on the GPS track author had ridden around this locked road. The road beyond the gate was nothing more than an old road reserve and with the trail signs removed we could smell an angry landowner. So we rode around this section, taking a small short cut down the Rattler Trail. I think this just proved once and for all just how bad that rail trail really is, it is so rough, in desperate need of some finer gravel or rolling. We exited the Rattler near the famed spot where Graham had thrown his tanty last time. Later that day riding home the trail was still sign-posted in the opposite direction, so we decided we would ride the true trail. We found what appeared to be locked gates, and as we were preparing to unpack and lift our bob trailers and bikes over the gate we found the gates were not locked at all. This was also true of the gate we had first seen back on Golf Course Road! Stupid heads, should have inspected a bit closer.

In Auburn we had a yummy lunch at Cygnets, where we had eaten last time. I ordered the truly magnificent Caramelised Pear on Blue Cheese Bruschetta, my most favourite meal ever combining everything truly yummy. A few passers-by stopped to admire our Bob trailers.

There seemed to be more hills to contend with on our return ride to Riverton than we recalled going down, how easily those downhill runs are forgotten.

Overall, as expected, we were very impressed with the Bob trailers. Like pack hiking, one certainly notices the extra weight when you first set out on the trip, but you soon get used to it. Obviously due to the extra weight they still affect the performance of the bike, we had ours loaded with about 20kg of water to sumulate a normal touring weight. Nonetheless though a Bob trailer is far superior to panniers which grossly affect bike handling.

Download kml file to view in Google Earth or adapt to use as a navigational aid in a GPS unit


Mawson Trail
Riverton to Auburn Auburn to Riverton
Distance 20.5km 20.0km
Start Time 9.40am 1.10pm
End Time 12.10pm 2.58pm
Moving Duration 1h26m 1h34m
Stationary Duration 46m 13m
Moving Average 14.2km/h 12.6km/h
Overall Average 9.3km/h 11.1km/h
Max Speed 41.6km 38.7km
Oodometer 20.5km 40.5km