Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DAY 150: O’Connell River CP to Bush camp 15km S of Bowen

108 km at 17.9 km/hr
Sat 22nd March 2008
Distance to date 9065 km (5666 miles)
Very warm / sunny

Despite another noisy group making a nuisance of themselves I fell asleep without much trouble, once they had gone to bed it was utterly silent apart from the odd vehicle on the highway. Norm and I shared breakfast again and I then set off for Proserpine as I had a lot to do there. It’s only 21km and with a strong tailwind as usual it only took 1 hour. Unfortunately the VIC didn’t open until 10 but no big deal as I mainly want to know where there’s an internet place, however I soon found one and spent well over an hour uploading. I hadn’t been able to upload pics at Peter’s because we couldn’t work out how to get the Apple Mac take just a few images into a folder rather than dump all 650 images onto his computer first. This was the first time I had used one of these machines and it took some getting used to - I had to keep asking dumb questions to do simple things I’d been doing for years on a PC. I finished at the intertnet place just as they were about to close, and then went over to IGA to top up my food stores.
I rode out of town (I think Norm intended to go and see the Whitsunday Islands) thinking I would just ride the 64km or so straight to Bowen from here and as I have said previously, not bother detouring to Airlie Beach / Whitsundays, however when I got to the Airlie junction my mind did some kind of flip and I took the detour anyway! Weird - almost as if something was compelling me to go this other way. Anyhow I thought I would just ride the 26km to Airlie Beach, have a look, and then ride back to Prosepine again - in the back of my mind i fancied dining at the Irish pub there and have a couple of pints of draft Guiness, which I like. The best laid plans can fail though of course, and frequently do.
The Airlie road was quite busy but there is a good shoulder so no worries. As was the case yesterday I got lots of toots from motorists - why so many all of a sudden? Perhaps it’s the sight of my bare arse through the now-threadbare but still very comfortable Assos shorts! Or do I look like a woman from the rear? He he.... Some 8km from Airlie Beach I noticed a road off to the left signposted for Bowen - i hadn’t been aware of this and had thought I’d have to return to Proserpine to pick up the highway north again. I must read my maps more thoroughly. That opened up new options for onward travel.
As I entered the bustling and yes, yuppiefied, resort I moved onto the Millenium path (for walkers and cyclists) and was able to go right across the town this way. It is a very pretty place with it’s sandy beaches and clear blue seas, but I’ve seen prettier - at Esperance in WA or Venus Bay on the Ayre Peninsular for example. And it was just teeming with people - mostly skimpily-clad young females sunbathing in the parks and thousands of sprogs running everywhere - yeugghhhhh! (To the kids that is; don’t mind the SCF’s! I had a look around and took a few pics for posterity, then queued for a Baskin-Robbins 2-scoop ice cream sundae, and as I was eating same an Australian guy (ex-Korean) struck up a nice conversation, and seemed quite inspired to do a ride himself, which has been on his mind for a while it seems. The ice cream was very good, but I then needed lots of fluid to slake the consequent thirst. It was turned 3 now so I headed back out of town the way I had come in, with the intention of returning to Proserpine and the Irish Pub. Strangely once more, I changed this plan and turned right onto the road signposted Bowen, even though I knew it was unlikely there’d be anywhere to stay other than the side of the road.
This road actually runs for 13km to the Bruce Highway at a point 13km north of Proserpine. It wasn’t too busy and there was a good shoulder. I guess I saved 15km overall by taking this route. It is pretty flat, mostly farmland. Once back on the Highway (54km to Bowen from here) it was all flat; good shoulder; sugar cane then changing to rough cattle grazing. Time and again I spooked the cattle, mostly Brahmin crosses, and they thundered away from me in their hundreds the cowards. I went off the road a few times to look for a suitable camp site but none of them felt good, and it was now 1830 and almost dark when I spotted a lake to the left and a wide area of land away from the road, so I turned off to have a look without being seen. It was perfect, I couldn’t be seen from the road but I might be seen if someo ne drove down the track I entered on, but I’m sure no-one would mind anyhow if they did come across me. It is something of an emergency - I didn’t feel very safe on the highway in the dark even with lights.
As it doesn’t look like rain I’m sleeping with the outer off i.e. Just under the mesh. It’s lovely and cool with the gentle wind blowing through the mesh, There’s a full moon so the lake and the grassland around me are bathed in silvery light. The cicadas are at it in the trees around me and there are one or two wee frogs hopping past the tent occasionally. The Highway is getting quieter (at 9) with only one vehicle every couple of minutes. Here’s hoping for a quiet night.

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