Saturday, March 15, 2008

DAY 142: Gladstone to Rockhampton

111 km at 19.7 km/hr
Fri 14th March 2008
Distance to date 8550 km (5344 miles)
Sunny, hot

After an early start away for 0815 for possibly another long day in the saddle. I was 4km on the 'wrong' side of the town but managed to negotiate the morning traffic without too much hassle. It was pretty hot already as I left the last of the suburbs behind. This place is an industrial centre with a local power station, aluminium refinery and petrochemical refinery nearby presumably providing lots of employment. It's not a 'touristy' place.

I'm going to be on the Rocky Road all day today - no, not eating my favourite sweet thing - riding on it. The road to Rocky, as it is endearingly called, runs parallel to the railway for most of the way, and I passed many trains hauling coal, ore etc. into the area. Some of the trains must be over 1km long, with 2 locos at the front and another 2 in the middle pulling their huge load. Soen are electric and some diesel.
Thankfully the road was reasonably quiet both on the 30km of highway from Gladstone to Mount Larcom, and then on the Bruce highway (Highway 1) from there to Rocky. Road surface was mostly good with a decent shoulder for 60 to 70% of the way. When there’s less traffic like today the shoulder isn’t quite as critical - less likelyhood of having to get off the road for lorries etc. I fitted the new K-Mart mirror this morning and for $8 or so it works very well.
Good news too that the SE tail wind was still on the go - I was averaging 20 km/hr or more for most of the time. Mentally, it makes you feel good. I stopped at Mount Larcom for coffee and steak pie (“hand made on the premises, and very nice too!), and again after 75km at Marmor. These breaks I find fortifying and I always feel better, more energetic, once underway again. These stops are a ‘reward’ for my efforts, and are important to me.
The scenery is quite nice on this stretch and although the road is as flat as a pancake there are quite a few mountains just a few km away as a backdrop.
As I entered Rocky I stopped at the Visitor Information Centre and met another touring cyclist there - the first for many weeks. His name is Norm from Canada and he’s just started off from Brisbane heading for Cairns, and then on to New Zealand. He came to Oz intending to buy a motorbike but finished up buying a $500 Cannondale bicycle. I naturally wished to stay at the same caravan park and we duly met up later on and camped neare each other.
The caravan park is by the river with a nice shady area for tents. Norm and I did supper together, he providing steaks and roast potatoes and me providing pasta - we had a really good feed once the manager got the camp kitchen lights to come on; we were cooking by torchlight for a while. It made for a very pleasant evening, and we were joined later by a Filipino gentleman and between the 3 of us we set about putting the world to rights.
As usual I had a great thirst later on, it had been a hot ride and I had drank around 5 litres; clearly this isn’t enough. Maybe I’ll get some Gatorade powder tomorrow to make the water a bit more drinkable and attractive. I’m having another day here so will have a good look around the place tomorrow - Norm is moving on north.
The rather gruesome caterpillar pic shows a hundred of these creatures all tangled up together gently moving (very slowly) down a tree. Their rear ends have a white coloured stabbing mechanism that seems to help anchor them and stop them falling down. I was watching this over breakfast (yeuchh!). They are each about 2" long (50mm).
The last pic is the bridge in the centre of Rocky - just across from the caravan park.

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