Thursday, December 06, 2007

DAY 62: Meningie to Kingston SE

Thurs 6th December 2007
154 km @19.8 km/hr
Sunny AM then overcast, 32 deg C
Wind mostly NE tailwind approx 30km/hr
Distance to date 4230 km (2644 miles)

Great tailwind today for a change - woohoo!!
Said goodbye to fellow campers and away by 0800. A good tailwind was evident, which wasn’t as welcome as it might be, given that I wanted to linger on the Coorong and watch the birds. A tailwind is strong motivation for getting in as many km in as possible rather than lingering. I needn’t have bothered pondering this, since birds were somewhere else today. For the whole length of the Coorong I only saw the odd magpie and crow.
I’d better explain what the Coorong is - a brackish lagoon spread along the coast some 150 km long by 1 or 2 km wide. The lagoon water is very salty but it is mainly freshwater. The whole area is wetland - hence the RAMSAR status - and birds could be expected to abound - but not today! It’s possible the NE offshore wind has driven them over to the far side of the lagoon, which is disappointing for me. Not to worry - the tailwind beckons. However I decided to ride the 14km offroad section that runs within the lagoon system and parallel to the main road, and rejoins the road further up.

Why did I bother?! this 14km was dismal - still no birds at all; potholed and corrugated track that was very hard on me and the bike, and billions of flies constituting the worst day in Oz to date for flies - I was covered head to foot and thank god for the midge net. Anyhow, I suppose it gives me insight into what other Outback gravel tracks will be like e.g. Gibb River Road in the Kimberley - if like this a possible no-no.
pics above = rest area by Coorong in background
I don’t think I mentioned the fact that from getting back on Highway 1 at Wellington yesterday there has been a decent tarmac shoulder! Wonders never cease!After some 1500km without a proper shoulder (since the WA/SA border) that came as a surprise - pity there’s hardly anything left of SA and I’m nearly in Victoria!! Better late than never though, and maybe upgrading is on the cards all round. Slight downer is that in some sections it has not been laid smoothly, and I’ve been diving back onto the main carriageway if nothing’s coming.
I had a brief lunch at Policeman’s Point and soldiered on, nay, bowled along at 25 km/hr!
There isn’t much in the way of scenery on this stretch, just bush, and bends every km or so - not the usual ‘vanishing point’ straight road. There were virtually no hills after the first 20km though - pancake flat. In the absence of birds and the mass of flies it did not seem sensible to camp in the Coorong as planned so I just kept going.
I met 2 cyclists coming west against the wind poor buggers - Annoushka and Ferg, cycling from Melbourne to Adelaide. We chatted for a while and compared notes - it was A’s first long ride, and given that they had already come 65 or 70 km from Kingston SE she was doing very well - a very tough day for them with a strong headwind to contend with. They are going to travel back to the UK overland by public transport, which sound exciting.
Best part of 8 hours in the saddle today, so very tired in the evening (the white wine didn’t help actually). Just as I was cooking supper on the MSR stove a strong and searing hot wind blew up off the sea all of a sudden, ans stuff was flying everywhere. I left my washing to blow away while I secured the tent with a guy upwind, but it soon passed. It’s been a very hot and close day, and right now at 2115 it’s still far too hot - a cold shower is called for I think. Had some tea instead of coffee tonight, using Nestles milk from a tube for milk - if you just use a small amount it tastes quite OK. It was so hot today that my Vaseline was the consistency of petrol (and leaked of course grrr) and the yoghurt part of my yoghurt-coated fruit and nuts also melted. However I was delighted with Grace’s water bottle sock cover - I filled up in the afternoon with some very warm water from the big bottle, wet the sock, and within 20 minutes it was getting quite cool and much more palatable. So another big thank you to G.
Pics above are of my tent at dusk (just prior to big thunderstorm) and giant lobster at Kingston (local speciality)