Monday, April 21, 2008

DAY 180: Mount Carbine to Granite Gorge

Mon 21st April 2008
91 km @ 14.8 km/hr
Sunny intervals, 24 deg C
Elevation of destination 498m
Distance to date 10539 km (6587 miles)

Up early after refreshing sleep and after breakfasting with my old buddies the Maggies, I got away at 0740. This CP was a good choice; very peaceful just now.
The road was still pretty quiet, and there was a decent shoulder as far as Mount Molloy. Scenery is much the same as the last 2 days i.e. Savannah small trees and cattle grazing in between, except more mounatains are becoming apparent all around. The road is dead flat though for the first 23km - until 6km from MM when it starts to undulate with a couple of steepish climbs. The wind was light to moderate, E to SE, so mostly in my face.
I was feeling fully recovered after yesterday’s big effort and quite enjoyed today’s ride - and plenty of birds around early on, especially Kookaburras and those noisy red and green parrots. At Mt Molloy I stopped for an iced coffee; such a stop after 2 hours riding is perfect for a rest stop and ‘treat- reward’!
The bakery that used to be there has closed down, but there’s quite a decent general store. After MM the road turns to the west somewhat, so the wind was either on the left side or slightly behind - whooppee! There was a little more traffic after MM but nowhere near busy. There’s an unmanned fruit stall about 15km from Mareeba where I managed to get a little shade (it was mostly cloudy but sunny at that time) whilst munching on a banana bought on ‘trust’ basis. The road is still dead flat so I made good progress all the way to Mareeba.
Mareeba is a largish modern town with the last bikeshop before Darwin for me, so I bought new sunglasses to replace the ones lost in the river. I also needed some brake sleeving to eventually replace the slightly sticky gearchange, should it get any worse, and the guy gave me, for free, 2 long offcuts which should do the trick - they were left over in the mechanics workshop - cool! Next stop was the bakery for another iced coffee (well it was Dare Double Espresso!) and passion fruit scroll, which I munched on a seat during a short shower. Then it was internet time, but the first place, Nastases’ Cafe was a disaster - no way would the 2 PC’s I tried work properly so after 30 minutes wasted effort I got my money back and went to the library ($6.50 per hour!) - no free library internet in NQ! Another of Lyn’s e-mails got me down a little; perhaps it’s the way I’m reading them, but they aren’t encouraging at all.
Feeling chastened I checked in at the Riverside CP in Mareeba as it was now 1600, and after paying a lowly $8 I was dismayed at the state of the camping area - there were already about 10 tents there in quite a small gloomy and dusty area, and some of these tents and surrounding ‘residential’ caravans were in very scruffy condition, which always puts me off. Why do some park owners let things go that far? No way was I pitching there, so I went for my money back and moved on.
I topped up all water containers at a nearby garage in expectation of a bush camp out of town somewhere, but before I left I checked out my Cairns to Perth cycling book and saw that there was a nice campsite at Granite Gorge on the Granite River, only 14km away on a recommended, quiter, alternative route on the route to Atherton. The road to GG is of the Toblerone type; little steep climbs and descents, suggesting that this is the start of the climb up onto the Atherton Tablelands again, which is some 900m up.
The campsite is very nice, quiet and secluded ($7.50), with resident Rock Wallabies close-up everywhere you go, and when you’re cooking or eating they’re practically on your lap! I pitched within sound of the waterfall on the nearby river - nice. As I don’t plan a big day tomorrow I will go and explore this area tomorrow morning; there are some walking tracks and swimming holes set among massive granite boulders; it all looks inviting.
The mozzies are something else here, so I had to double-spray with repellent AND light a repellent stick whilst eating outside. I could see quite clearly to eat in the bright full moonlight.
Oh, and I was notified by Justgiving of another good donation of £100 today - excellent...

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