Cadney Homestead to Marla
Up = 233m - Down = 195m - Highest Point = 331m
CADNEY HOMESTEAD TO MARLA – 27th August 2017
For varying reasons I had been looking forward to this day. One is because for the last 500 kms we have been seeing countdown signs – 500k to Marla, 400k to Marla, 300k to Marla, 200k to Marla, 100k to Marla – and then 90k to Marla – conveniently placed just before Cadney Park Homestead – I think clever marketing so drivers might just go that extra few kms to get to Marla. To be honest - if you didn't stop at Cagney Homestead you didn't miss much!! Half of the few power points at the caravan park didn't work, and Annie had to pay quite a price to stay in a very small "Donga" with suspect air-conditioning unit etc.
Another reason – was that it was to be a shorter day kilometre-wise that should make for an early finish. A chance to recover from the 150 kms yesterday and to get ready for the big 180 kms tomorrow when we leave South Australia and cross into the Northern Territory. For rides under 120 kms I like to get into our next nights stop before having lunch - it just helps us to relax earlier in the day and get better rest I find, rather than sitting roadside somewhere being annoyed by flies etc etc!
So we settled for a 30 minute sleep in and left at 7:30 am instead of our normal 7:00 am. Start of ride day pictures were taken and as we were ready to leave, a Greyhound Bus swooped into the station. There only appeared to be one person on board! I assume this is an Adelaide to Darwin run – but am not sure. He didn’t stop there for long as we had barely made it out to the road before he passed us and was off on his way.
Sunday morning was even quieter on the roads – very little traffic around. We made good time to our first meet up point at 45 kms. A rendezvous here revealed that unfortunately for Des he had starting problems with his vehicle again and Pat had to come to the rescue and jump-start it. How frustrating!! We kept thanking our lucky stars that even though our campervan was "oldish" and had over 500,000 kms on the clock - so far it had proved to be very reliable - but we didn't want to jinx things!!
The road surface wasn’t the best we have had, but also is certainly not the worst. I think when it does rain out here, it can tend to flood and damage the road surface as there were several cracks and "folds". That first part went really well as there was as much downhill as uphill, so at times we were rolling along at about 30 kph. Slowing progress is the frequent need to cross “grids” – we all stop and get off and walk our bikes across – safety first is the call!! I guess many cyclists might ride them – but I fear for my narrow road tyres and if I got the front wheel a little crooked of straight ahead – I fear a disaster of horrendous proportions! Walking across them is not entirely safe either as Annie found out this morning – there is a narrow vertically running gap between the lengths of bars, and her front wheel slipped down into that!!! Ooooops!!
We saw amazing bird-life on our ride this morning. A huge flock of Corellas farewelled us from Cadney Park, and along the route there was a massive flock of Galahs who somehow seemed to be an even brighter and deeper shade of pink than those seen around the coastline at home. Loads of the little zebra finches flitted here and there, flying alongside us a lot of the time. Crows, eagles and hawks would fly off from the road-kill as we approached.
Sadly – 2 large cattle had met their demise on the road overnght. Unfenced from the roadway, they obviously wander onto the road with disastrous consequences. The remainder of the roadkill was made up of ‘roos. Oh – and there were 3 “dead” cars – crashed, wrecked, burnt out!! That seemed rather strange way out here away from civilisation! I hate to think of the damage done to the vehicles particularly when they hit large cows.
After our “coffee stop” break (thanks Bette - no tiime pressure today so that was good) we decided to bike on through to Marla rather than stop again. We are definitely nearing the “Red Centre” and the colour of the soil alongside the road is a beautiful hue of red ochre that I love. Along with the lovey shades of the grey grasses and grey-green bushes makes this land truly beautiful.
We got into Marla at midday – our wonderful supporter on this trip Bette was there at the turn-off from the Stuart Highway onto the Oodnadatta Track – that we needed to take to get into the Marla Travellers Rest. And what an oasis in the desert this place is!! I think the first time that Annie has been able to erect her tent on grass!!!! It is a super complex of motel rooms, cabin-type rooms, tent areas and caravan drive through sites – surrounding a bar, restaurant, well-stocked shop and service station. There is also an RAA agent here on-site.
Immediately on getting in I checked the pressure of my back tyre. It has needed to be pumped up a little each morning whereas my front tyre has been holding pressure really well. I don’t know if it is a slow leak or a faulty valve, but with 180 kms looming tomorrow, I wanted to fix it. My tyres on leaving home were in not bad condition – they had been on my bike for 6 months – instead of ripping them off and starting this journey with new ones – I had left them on and brought the new ones with me. We have now done just over 1,000 kms. So I put a new tube and tyre on the back of my bike and also cleaned the chain and the front and rear cassette that had become pretty dirty! Quite a bit of red dust I reckon sticking to the chain lube. Anyway – all back together, a test ride and hopefully they will be ok!!
Then it was to the shower – and again – what fabulous facilities here. A fantastic hot shower with good strong pressure – just what a bikers body needs after a day in the saddle!!
The afternoon was spent with a little stroll around the grounds – the treat of an ice-cream, and attempts to get Telstra mobile internet going on my computer. A relaxing drink with the “gang” and then Pat cooked dinner in the van from supplies bought at Coober Pedy.
Meanwhile, Des and Barry had spent all afternoon with their heads under the bonnet of the car – I think with the alternator and electrics getting checked out to see what was causing the poor Toyota not to start!! I know I would have just gone running to the RAA guy on site at Marla – but Des was confident he was able to get it fixed.
By late afternoon / early evening the camp had really started to fill up – I am sure this place has great reviews on internet – and certainly for the same money – one should stay here as opposed to Cadney Park. The facilities are far better!!!! It’s been a good stop here – I am sure I will be back.