DAY FIVE – Flinders Ranges By Bike.
Wilpena Pound to Rawnsley Park, approx ~ 25 km
Its our last day on the bike and the shortest. We have a leisurely coffee and write a few postcards, stretching out the moment, but all too soon, we have to say good bye to our new friends.
Its slightly déjà vu time as we bike down the road, for the second time on this trip, but today we turn right onto the Telegraph Track, rather than left to the Cazneauz tree.
The Solar farm is on our way and we discover that it’s the largest off grid solar electricity system in Australia, contributing 40 % of Wilpena Pounds power annually. This is what we need at home.
The telegraph track is a station 4wd, and easy going with many abrupt watercourse dips. Fun to blast though with a bit of speed. The trail takes us around the the many small peaks that make up the pound and I want to sit and sketch them, but discover that what looks like grass is actually very sharp and prickly.
The bike trail then hits the main road for 6 k, with a limited shoulder and cars buffeting us at 100 k plus. Not much fun, but it is downhill. We keep a look out for the turn-off to the Arkaroo cave paintings, it’s only a short ride and then a walk up to the caves.
The FRBB turn off from the main bitumen road is hard to notice, and we almost miss it. The trail heads up a gentle but demanding rocky gradient. It’s rough going, skirting the famous Rawnsley bluff, with many more watercourses and stony patches. By now we are expert at picking a line and rattling through dry bouldery riverbeds.
I keep wondering what it would be like with water flowing though, except for Sacred Canyon’s waterhole and Wilpena Pound’s spring, we have seen no water at all in any creek or riverbed, the last five days.
Rawnsley Park feels like a homecoming, we can see the campsite stretched out down the wide valley. The wonderful staff at Rawnsley Park retrieve our car and camper and we hand back the UHF, thankfully not used.
As the sun sets on Rawnsley’s famous Bluff, we celebrate with a bottle of wine and a non-dehydrated dinner.
It feels rewarding to have completed the track without mishap but the experience of spending the entire five days, immersed in the landscape with all its smells, dust and rocks, weather torments and limitless photo opportunities is one that will stay with us.
Have we come to any conclusions about the allure of the outback? I don’t think so, but I do think that we have embedded this ancient landscape into our psyche even further.
220km of track ridden, 15km of unintended detours. Not one puncture. No breakdowns. No snake or spider bites, no sunburn.
Would we do it again.?
Yes. In a heartbeat.
Things you might need to think about…
If you’re doing this outback epic like us, by yourselves, there is a bit of paperwork to do before you arrive and fees to be paid, as the Flinders Ranges By Bike trail is maintained by an association of the Station Owners with the cooperation of the Department of Environment and Heritage.
We decided to bike as lightly as possible and had two bags with – sleeping bags/tent/cooker/food/ transferred from camp to camp for a fee, rather than have full panniers. For the unsupported – it’s wonderful.
Bikes – both Giant MTB. Recently serviced.
Mobile phones – only good for taking pictures as no reception.
Tyres with slime – we didn’t have one puncture! Or if we did, the tyres didn’t go flat.
Bike and tyre repair kit, chain breaker and spare links/chain lube/ tools / spare tyres/tubes.
First aid kit (including: emergency blanket, strapping, bandages (for snake bites), anti diarrhoea, painkillers etc ) 30 + sun block, insect repellent.
Cannon EOS60D DSLR camera, sketchbook.
Water – I had a backpack with 3-litre bladder, plus bottles on the bike. Mark carried 6 – 8 litres in liners in his panniers as well as two bottles on his bike.
Dry Sacs – for camera etc, more for dust than rain.
Gaffer Tape – I put stripes of this on the bar of bike, one on top of the other, as it saves taking the whole roll and is ready to be used.
Head torches/spare batteries.
Swiss army knife
Breakfast: Porridge – pre mixed with milk powder, brown sugar. Coffee / Tea.
Lunch: Hard boiled eggs for first day / cheese /tuna / salami / pita bread and crackers.
Dinner: Back Country dehydrated ready meals. Just add boiling water.
Snacks: Carmen museli bars / bite sized snickers /nuts/ bananas.
Drink: Hydrate for bottles /Coffee / Tea /
Mark – cycle shorts by Ground Effect, Ozone bike T-shirt.
Change of clothes for chilly evenings. Montane jackets – lightweight, incredibly warm without the Michelin effect of down.