Tuesday, March 18, 2008

DAY 146: Carmila to Mackay

DAY 146: Carmila to Mackay
91 km at 20.5 km/hr
Tue 18th March 2008
Distance to date 8873 km (5546 miles)
Cloudy, sunny intervals

I didn’t sleep well last night due to the neighbouring couple leaving the TV blaring until the early hours, and a mammoth family row going on nearby. After a quick muesli breakfast I hit the road at 0720, glad to get away from this place. Why didn’t I just find somewhere at the side of the road to camp? There would have been somewhere suitable I’m sure given the remoteness of the area.
The road was busier today than the last 2 days, mostly extra lorries; however there was a good width for the whole of today’s route, so I never felt pressured. The SE wind was just as strong as ever too, so I was blown along very nicely. There’s still nothing in the way of a hill other than gently undulating sections, and even when going uphill I rarely dropped below 15 km/hr.
After 12km I spotted the rare sight of another touring cyclist coming south towards me so I pulled over and waited for him. We were quite delighted to meet as you see so few cyclists out on the open road, and we had a good chat for a while. His name is Mark, from Barcelona, and he is riding from Cairns to Sydney. He came out to Oz with his girlfriend and they bought a campervan, and as I understand it she has gone back to Spain and left the campervan in Sydney for him to collect, so at least he has somewhere to live for now and some transport. I gave him my card and he will hopefully be in touch when he gets chance.
I stopped for a rest at Ilbilbie and decided to have a bacon and egg roll, but when it came it included salad, cheese and a pile of chips! Far too much for me but I kept the chips for later and ate the rest; not quite what I was after though, still it only cost $6.50 so I shouldn’t complain. Thus fortified I continued north over muddy creeks, weaving through broken branches and bits of lorry and shredded tyre scattered along the road, until I rolled into Sarina, a small town 35km before Mackay. I tried the library for internet but it was expensive and the librarian had no idea whether I could upload, so I didn’t try and went to the nearby internet cafe instead and got it all done in no time for $3, and had an iced coffee whilst at it.
The run into Mackay from here was very fast - the wind was strong and bang on the tail. I knew I needed to be at Peter and Jackie’s at 1730 so I had time to kill, and I had a look around the Botanic Gardens, which are close to the road in from the south. They’re nice enough but very new - planted from 2002 I think, so there were few big trees for shade, and not so much to look at; however it will be very nice in 10 years or so. There was a nice cafe there too but it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays unfortunately. From here I went to have a look around the town, which is pretty modern and a bit sprawling at first sight, but I understand there is a lot more to see than this. I saw a bike shop and went in to buy a rear light after losing my last one somewhere, and Norm was in there, whom I met in Rocky! He had broken a spoke so was having his wheel rebuilt. I gave my host Peter a call and he said it would be fine to bring Norm along to stay tonight too. Once Norm’s bike was sorted we went for a coffee and cake to await 1730 and had a good natter.
Peter and Jackie and their 2 boys Tamma and Bellamy, and not least their very friendly dog Cactus, made us very welcome in true Warmshowers style. Throughout the evening we learnt about what to see and do both locally and further north as we travel to Cairns. I was particularly interested in visiting Cape Hillsborough which several people have recommended, it being very quiet and unspoilt with idyllic beaches and peaceful rainforest, and it’s not too big a detour either. Tamma cooked us all a great spag boll (the family take turns in cooking dinner) and afterwards we watched the Graeme Obree DVD “The Flying Scotsman”, which I haven’t seen before and really enjoyed.

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