Uluru bei Sonnenaufgang

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Someone had told us, Hobart and Melbourne have roughly the same climate. After 18C in Hobart, we are greeted by blue skies and 30C in the capital of Victoria. That's more like the Australian summer we were expecting. Rain jacket, gloves and beanie disappear deep down in our packs.

We spend the first night with friends in town and then drive our little rental car 300 km further west to the Grampians. A rugged mountain range in Western Victoria.

First day on the road

Cut Lunch Wall in the Grampians

The Gallery

Here the cliffs are steep, pocketed and dry. And the conditions are good even at 40C due to cool breezes in the gullys. But one can see the draught. For the last 12 years there wasn't enough rain in Western Victoria. Water levels in reservoirs are reported daily in the newspapers. At the moment they are at 3.8%.

Rocklands Reservoir with boat ramp

Swimming holes are hard to find, like here at the Cherrypools. But where else can you see emus, white ibis, spoon bills, black swans and cockatoos while swimming?


Orb Weaver Spider

We don't see many poisonous snakes or spiders. Only Orb Weaver Spiders inhabit the forests below the cliffs, forcing us to take the odd detour. But they are rather harmless. A bite is said to be like a sting from a wasp. But I'm not going to find out.

Even in March the temperatures are still soaring up to 40C. So we drive over the weekend down to the coast for a swim and a drive along the Great Ocean Road.

The Twelve Apostels

Former London Bridge

The coastline is really impressive with tall cliffs and 6 - 8 m swell. And we see many native animals along the road too.

Sleepy Koala


After three weeks it's time for a change and on Good Friday we drive 900 km to Adelaide and further north to the Flinders Ranges. Destination Moonarie.

Flinders Ranges

On the way to Moonarie


Moonarie Top Camp

Even on the Easter weekend things are quiet here. The campground below pine trees is filled with 6 tents. It's 20C, not a cloud on the sky and a light breeze is blowing. For belaying we put on a fleece but for climbing it's as good as it gets. After two pleasant warm-up routes I'm trying a 25 (7b). But after 15 m the ground feels much harder - I went the wrong way. I place a Rock #1 in a horizontal crack and rest on it. Straight ahead the rock is crumbly, if I go right rope drag will be too much, and the next bolt 5 m to the left can only be reached via a shaky traverse high above the last bolt. So I remove my wire and climb down. 2 m below (still 3 m to the right of the last bolt) I'm running out of steam and take a controlled jump into the rope. But don't see the corner 5 m to the left of me. Only split-seconds later I realise, the landing is going to be painful.

There is a horrible crash and it's obvious something broke. My right foot hurts like hell. I remove my climbing shoe and pull up to the last bolt. After removing my gear Debbie lowers me to the ground. The foot is swelling quickly and every move hurts. Standing or walking
on it is impossible. Luckily two strong climbers from Sydney are around the corner. Michael carries me piggyback down to the car which takes two hours. We drive 150 km to the nearest hospital in Port Augusta. At the emergency my foot is x-rayed and casted with a backslab. Two days later I'm back at the hospital to get a full cast. But only after I insist the x-rays are shown to an orthopaedic surgeon. His diagnosis: several fractures of the ankle (talus). He wants to see a computer tomography, to make sure the blood support of the bone isn't interrupted and the parts aren't dislocated. The next CT is in Whyalla 75 km away.

Only the CT scans show the full damage. But at least nothing is dislocated and I don't have to be operated. The foot is casted and I won't climb during the next 8 weeks.

Still shocked we keep going north from here.

Stuart Highway from the passenger seat

Lake Hart - a salt lake like most lakes in the Outback

Sign along the road

Road Trains have up to 4 trailers out here

In the evening we reach Coober Pedy (Aborigine for white man's hole in the ground) with more than 250,000 mine shafts. Summer temperatures rise reguarly above 50C and freezing in winter nights is common. Half of the population (3500) is living in dug outs, where it's constantly 28C. We find a nice backpacker hostel with rooms below the ground.

Locals in Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy

Opal mine shafts
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