Sunday, April 13, 2008

Motorcycling in Australia - pt 5 Mungo National Park

From Burra I headed to Mildura and the gateway to Mungo National Park. In 2002 when living in Bright, Victoria, I planned to visit Mungo but never made it, so was very excited to share its treasures, and many treasures there are...

(click map to enlarge)

Mildura seemed to me to be just another biggish town with my much avoided fast food stores. Oh for the little towns with out Mc Ds and KFC !!

Just out of Wentworth west of Mildura I found some beautiful sand dunes. Stunning with the evening light. Another photographers dream location.

The patterns of the sand I found mesmerising and incredibly seductive, I just can not get enough of this wonderful textural and colourful world

Such a wonderful simple landscape with so much passion and awe.

In detail so fragile and delicate hidden mysteries and secrets

Reflecting and holding the last light of the day, creating wonderful pattens and smooth shapes.

So very quiet and peaceful was this spacious place. My heart in love and my spirit at such peace here. I felt like I had arrived. For so long I had dreamed about being amongst dunes and surrounded with such space. Being here is beautiful with its spiritual aura engulfing me in its beauty.

Waking early next morn with the dream of Mungo consuming me

With some information gained from the Aboriginal guide I decided to take the slightly shorter and less busy, dirt road to Mungo. Needing to take fuel I again tanked up with 5 litres spare and set off.

However after much harsh riding through rough corrugated hard packed surface and then soft bull dust and sand , I discovered my spare fuel
tank had shaken off and lost on the road.
Thankfully I was to meet a lone farmer on the road checking his fences or something. He kindly offered to fill my fuel tank to allow me to continue to Mungo and make it out to the nearest fuel station at Pooncarie.
Such kind souls these tough Aussie farmers.

So on to Mungo. The dirt road often catching me with the soft sand. Hard slow going for me in incredible heat. Upon arriving I set up tent after a chat with the two Aboriginal staff at the information centre. I decided to take a rest before the sunset tour. But had a problem. With the doors of the tent open the persistent flies harassed me and with it closed the 50degree heat was too much to bear.
Thankfully Rod one of the rangers arrived to talk me into taking one of the air conditioned shearers quarters units for the night. Believe me it did not take much convincing!!

So after indulging in cool environs and relaxing serenely I braved the never ceasing heat to join the tour.

Graham our Aboriginal guide is a wealth of knowledge on the Aboriginal, archaeological and geological history of this amazing place. Once, about 40,000 years ago this area being a lush lake area sustaining Aboriginal communities living on the shores. The layers of silt and sand that gathered over the years has now been eroded exposing the secrets of the past. Graham pointed out black circular areas among the white silt, which are the fossilised remains of camp fires from thousands of years ago.

Grahams knowledge and connection to this great land was very passionate and inspirational. His perception of the disgraceful treatment of the earth hit home with me as I completely sympathise with his view. I found him to be a very inspirational man indeed.

And what an inspirational place, so full of history and spirits.

See more images here

And so very beautiful with stunning colours and shapes.

After the most memorable night at Mungo under the glorious stars so vivid and radiant I headed out to the main road and up to Poonacarie to fuel up. Then back through Mildura and south.

At this point the bike started to demand attention. Running rough I drained some of the fuel line and cleaned the spark plugs hoping for an improvement, which seemed to work. However a little further down the road the front tyre started to feel very strange. Such luck it was that I was only a couple of km out of a little town where I was able to find a place to repair it.

From here I travelled west back towards Adelaide, not that I had any intention of visiting the city. However I did have a desire to check out where the Murray River meets the ocean. So all the way down to the bay I rode. Through another Wellington and unbelievable it was more uninviting the the previous one, and incredibly windy!

This whole area being very windy and to me unattractive I did not loiter long.

Consulting the map I followed the Murray back north towards my destination of Morgan, a small town on the Murray River kept alive I think by the many 'shack' owners who visit weekends and holidays. The Murray River I found to be impressive in its wanderings, cutting its way through high cliffs and lagoons which sheltered a multitude of bird life. I, about this time, was getting the idea of kayaking the length of the Murray from the Great Dividing Range to the ocean. Would be fun I think!

Upon arrival at Morgan I decided to fill in time, as I was due to meet my cousin, one of the 'shack' owners, that evening. So I took a ride out into the countryside on the search for Mt Marys pub where I was told I could get the best meal ever. The company I was keeping in the pub where I acquired this information, was lacking in stimulating conversation, so I decided to try my luck at Mt Mary.

Mt Mary was once a busy town with its own school, post office and the railway carting trees from here to Morgan to fuel the paddle steamers. However now the total permanent population numbers 2. The barman and his lovely wife.

These cheerful people run the pub and provide fantastic meals.

As dusk came I decided to take advantage of the light and photograph. This is when I discovered the dear of Blue bike would not run. So it was parked up and I was invited to join a small partly of folk on the porch for a drink and chat. Turned out two of the group had grown up here 60 or so years ago, and the wonderful stories they had to tell!

What a wonderful evening with these friendly genuine people.

And the bike..............well a young guy happened to pull up in his Ute. Brian one of the locals organised the bike to be taken back to Morgan for me.

And the next day I picked it up from one house pushed it across a road and down a bit to Kerv's house.

Kerv is one of the memorable characters from this trip. Motorcycle mad, with a shed full of classic to brand new bikes including a Wasp side car dirt racing bike, old Honda side car police bike, 1200BMWGS and various others. After meeting him for a few minutes a couple of things became apparent. He is passionate about motorcycles and he knows his stuff. So with a little help from bystanders he soon found the problem, dirty watery fuel and a dirty tank. He had it sorted shortly after.

I am not quite sure about what he thought of this silly little kiwi wandering around in the desert in summer ! But he treated me with much respect as a fellow motorcyclist and I feel very privileged to have met this very interesting, energetic and passionate man. He tells me he is having his 3rd 21 birthday next January.
So on the day I needed to leave these lovely kind people he decided to ride with me awhile. First stop to Brians block out in the bush, down a dirt road.
Brian is one of many people I met who have become concerned for the environment and making efforts to retain its naturalness.

He provides water for a group of young wild emu who have become tame to humans and provided me with a really good close up look at these fantastic birds. Stroking their bodies I discovered they are bony creatures with the hugest thighs you ever seen! No wonder they can run so fast.

So it was again I was to leave a place and people with a sad heart, but one full of warmth with faith in the human race after spending time with down to earth decent people who extended such kindness to me.

Another character I was to meet around this time at my camp site was this Major Mitchell Parrot. He delighted me for an hour or so playing on the wire. Spinning around the wire hanging upside down with just his beak, or one leg. Flying back and forth to the tree. He was just so full of love for life, delighting in being .
We can certainly learn alot from these wonderful creatures. And how cruel it is to lock them up in a cage denying them the freedom to dance to life as this little guy was.
These elegant Ibis also charmed me with their beauty
And on my was back through Mildura ,toward Echuca I took a little break near the river, and was entertained and amused by these lovely local aboriginal lads showing off.

So into Echuca I ride caught in a rather heavy thunder storm.
Treated myself to a hotel room for the night and consulting my map decided to check out Hay, one of the flattest places in the world apparantly.

So that will be in the next and final instalment of my wonderful adventure....................