Outback Australia: are you ready to ride?

There is SO much to tell about these 3 months on a bike in Australia, that I simply don’t know where to start. First of all, and above all, Australia was a country of extremes. From rainforest & tropical weather to the land of the dust and the dry heat in the Northern Territory. From the most overcrowded and artificial beaches to the most empty and peaceful places in nature. Cycling in the middle of a city like Sydney, Brisbane or Cairns, and later on cycling in the middle of the Outback. The Australian Savannah. Just a girl on her bike, surrounded by nature as far as you could see. There might be a car passing you a day. Or four, when it’s busy. And for me, this was by far the most impressive and beautiful experience so far.

So lets write you some little stories about this big bike ride, just to give you an impression. So you can picture yourself in my shoes, or maybe even more appropriate; imagine yourself on my bike :)

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Are you ready to ride? Go for it: it’s all yours!

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It might feel a bit heavy and unstabel in the beginning. But I promiss you, you’ll be fine!

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And then picture the roads like this:

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And like this:

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Maybe you feel a bit slippery in the sand, maybe you are worried about losing grip or falling down. But I can tell you, it only happend to me ones in this 5.500 km Australian-bikeride. So how big are the chances? ;)

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Actually falling down of my bicycle in the middle of the Australian Outback was kind of a funny experience. Let me tell you about that.

So there were many times that the conditions of the road were kind of… ehm… challenging… as you sure can imagine. You could lose your grip easily, you could get slippery or even get stuck when there was to much sand on the surface. But it became really interesting when you had the soft sand combined with gravel and stones on your way down into a dip (like a big whole in the way) close to a river crossing. Like this:

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And it was exactly in this situation -when I already was increasing my speed by going down- that I realized that so far, I had tons of luck on my way by not falling down (although getting very close to it) when I… made a huge sliding… lost grip and… fell down. As I was laying there on the middle of the road I felt impressed by this ‘little incident’ caused by my own stypidity. I had felt that luck was on my side but in these seconds I had realised that life can change surprisingly quickly. I lay down on the middle of the road, with my face in the dust. No hurry for getting up, as there was no traffic. But yes  there was also the realisation: no cars means no people. In case I do get myself in trouble on this road it’s just ME all by myself. So I’d better be carefull, I thought. But after this first realisation a big smile came on my face.  I was laughing out loud.  It was to bad that I was just by myself because I  know for sure that it would be a good laugh to share. Of course, after checking my bike very carefully and the rest of my body. I was OK.  Only a broken mirror and some blood on my knee. That could be worse.  And it was this blood on my knee that brought back the memory of being a little girl learning how to ride a bicycle. We all have this memory don’t we? We all fall down before we actually learn how to ride a bike. We all fall down and try again. Over and over again, untill we manage to ride this bicycle.  And here I am now, 29 years old with blood on my knee. I can tell you, falling down felt pretty good…  I felt alive.

The moral of this little story so far; 1) it’s not so bad to fall down once in a while. You will survive. And 2) having fear for falling down will only make it worst. I would say; fear for something bad to happen – in general –  is never of any use; it just happens or it doesn’t happen. That’s how the world works. Just think about it. When we were kids, falling down seemed to be just part of the story. Part of the playing. Part of the fun. No kid ever learned how to walk without falling down. When I cycled with this blood on my knee in the Australian outback I questioned myself why getting older or ‘becoming an adult’ means for most of us; trying to avoid risk and avoid unpredictable situations or everything else that might seem to be frightening in first sight. Anything new, unknown or extremely challenging should be avoided, and it makes us feel anxious, or more ‘careful’…  BUT… wouldn’t you agree that all the unforgettable moments, the ones that are worth remembering, are those that weren’t predictable on forehand. And can you still remember this magical feeling of riding your bike all by yourself? Without the help of your parents. Without the little wheels on the sides of your bike. I sure can. It was a magical feeling. And I think cycling here in the outback of Australia made me feel this little girl inside me again.

The good thing about cycling in Australia -for all the adults that try to avoid problems- they will put a sign next to the road in case you might get in trouble. So you are always prepared. Even when it goes wrong. At least you cannot say; I didn’t know!

Like in case there is a dip:

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Or in case there ar mannyyyyyy dips

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Or in case the roadconditions aren’t as good as you’re used to…

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I still don’t know the literal translation for this one, and I did think about this for many many kilometres on my way… But you don’t always need language to understand reality. Everytime I saw a sign like this, the road was going up! So it didn’t take me so long to unravel it’s true meaning; sweat and hard work on a bike!

But it can always be worse..

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A common sign in Australia and a welknown problem; flooding. Since there are no dikes as we have in Holland… big parts of Australia will change into big water fields during the wetseason and you’d better be carefull crossing a road. A big shower or storm can change the roadconditions in a fraction of time. It makes you aware of the power of nature.

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And they didn’t say to much. There will be water on your way!

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Although… they don’t mention anything about cyling… ;)

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And when there is water…. there are crocodiles!

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And many many more animals are out there. Here’s the classical sign.

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Only too bad it doesn’t work…  The first kangaroo I saw in Australia was laying next to the road. Dead.IMG_3708

And many more would follow…

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Even without a warning sign…

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Only the big animals have signs in Australia:

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Because there are many of them…

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Like A LOT.

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And they can be very dangerous ;)

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Big animals and big cars. And a lot of car accidents as well.

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Like this:

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Big crashes like this:

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Or tiny breakdowns like this:

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And you’d better be carefull for the big trucks called ‘roadtrains’.

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And they don’t exaggerate when they say; ‘they can be really big!’

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Just like this:

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You’d better get out of their way. But you don’t really need a sign for this. It’s your own intuition speaking: you’d better get out of their way!

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But no bad words about the truckdrivers of these big monsters in Australia. (In contradiction to the ones in New Zealand that transport wood and pass you in a hurry without taking any distance, they drive like idiots!) The roadtrain will pass with the awareness of their big appearance, cautious without taking unnesseary risks. And most of them are very friendly. One of them even offered me some water on my way. Cold water :)

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Just like these heroes. The people that take care of the signs, are mostly very friendly and curious when they see a girl passing by on a bike. Many nice conversations where there on my way, just on the road. They all start the same. In a very nice and sweet way: ‘Hello m’love’, “How ya doing m’love’, ‘Take care m’love’. Or in the very rough Australian way; ‘Hi mate, how ya doing mate?’ “Cheers mate’, ‘Take care mate’. ‘where are you heading to mate?’. I fully enjoyed the sounds of their slang and treid my best to keep up with them. They offered me all kind of kindness: water, a cold drink or even better, and in this case: ice! As they are working in the sun themselves allday, they know what it’s like to be exposed to the heat of an Australian summer. I say ‘cheers mate, thanks for all your kindness & your help!’.

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To all of them. Because there were many heroes on my way :)

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Thanks to all of you, cycling Australia was an unforgettable experience. Thanks to all the help on my way I reached Darwin just right in time to catch up with my friends. And what a better ending could be out there, then just your very best friends and lots of new stories to share? :)

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See you next time! Hope you enjoyed the ride! :)

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And don’t forget; don’t take the easy way, let this little kid inside of you go out and play!

-x-

Janneke