Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DAY 186: Mt Surprise to Georgetown

Sun 27th April 2008
93 km @ 15.2 km/hr
Sunny, 27 deg C
Elevation of destination 294 m
Distance to date 10924 km (6827 miles)

Up sharpish and away by 0740 in bright sunshine, with blue sky for a change. There was very little cloud today and it felt pretty hot when stationary in the sun, but OK when moving. The wind was pretty fickle today - not much wind at all but when it blew lightly it was from the west i.e. in my face. The road hardly flattened out either - continually undulating between 300m and 550m at the highest point, in the Newcastle mountain range - so much draggy climbing had to be done to make up for all the descents. Traffic was very light in the morning but a bit busier later on - maybe up to a vehicle every 5 minutes lol.
There was quite a bit of twist in the road in places adding a bit of interest, but on other occasions you can (despondently) see the climbing road ahead for 2 km or so! There is quite a nice view back from the Newcastle range summit, looking over the treetops to the few volcanic-looking mountains beyond. Apart from this I kind of like the bush scenery anyway - red and pink soil, bright blue sky, matt green eucalypts - very Australian. Some 75% of the road was double carriageway, the rest the usual single with wide dirt verges. Anyone reading this a few years after 2008 and planning this trip will probably find all the highway has been modernised to double.
There was plenty of fauna earlier on - Kangaroos, Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Wedgetailed Eagles, Black Kites, Butcher Birds, Magpies, Black Cockatoos, and more of the red and green parrots that I think may be one of the Rosellas. Quite a bit of roadkill too though.
Motivation is a bit harder to come by for me when I can’t stop for a ‘treat’. A substitute ‘treat’ could be a nice shady stop where there’s somewhere to sit and somewhere to lean the bike, but places fulfilling all these crtiteria were few and far betweeen today. At one point around 1100 I started looking in earnest but went fully 20km before I found a spot - a pile of hardened subsoil at the side of the road, and that wasn’t in the shade, the sun just happened to go behind a cloud for a while at that time so I took advantage of it. There is usually either a deep drainage ditch or a steep slope running away from the edge that prevents access to any shady trees, tantalisingly out of reach. I did think about getting the brolly out to provide the shade, but didn’t get around to trying it today.
Anyhow it was a bit of a plod at times, but I made it to Georgetown by 1430 and had iced coffee and a Cherry Ripe chocolate bar at the BP. I also learnt there that there is no ATM in this place, which is a bit unfortunate as I have less than $20 in cash - I will have to use the card as EFTPOS to buy stuff and pay for the CP.
The good news is that TerrEstrial - a state of the art Visitor Info Centre / library / internet cafe combined is open today, Sunday - I hadn’t expected that; I was planning to catch it open in the morning. This meant I could do all my uploading this afternoon, which I duly did, and the internet connection (by satellite dish) was pretty fast too. Apparently the place won the 2005 Gulf Savannah Business Awards Business of the Year.
Georgetown is a tiny town but this place cost a cool $1.2M! The council paid most of that sum. The uploading cost me $10 ($6/hr). I also e-mailed a few Rohloff dealers to get a price for the replacement transmission. Lyn had e-mailed me and was nice and positive, so I appreciated that.
I checked in at the Mid Caravan park ($11) which was OK, but on rinsing my white Assos top I discovered the water was brown, and had made it the same colour. I went to see the owners and they confirmed there was a problem with the colour, and they gave me some powder to dilute in the rinsing water, and that did the trick, making it white again. I’ve got a bit finnicky about this shirt being nice and clean for some reason (perhaps because the rest of me is a bit scruffy lol). My Shimano sandals in particular are looking a bit sad - they are OK, still quite functional, but the black is peeling off the Velcro straps revealing white leather underneath which looks a bit naff. I need to borrow some black boot polish somehow.
I cooked for myself again, and made a good pasta with salami again, but this time, using a tip from Jorg, added some sun-dried tomatoes in canola oil, which adds a nice texture and oily base for the sauce - very nice. I was very thirsty again this evening and it’s clear I’m not drinking enough during the ride - I only had 2 litres in 5 hours today, far from enough. I’ll add ‘some Gatorade powder tomorrow to see if that makes it more attractive, but I do miss my coffee treats. Still, the Outback has plenty of compensations - another great sunset tonight. There were lots of mozzies around so I sprayed myself and lit a coil, which did eliminate them altogether while I cooked, ate and did my diary in the dark.
The saddle sores were very painful for a while today, then went OK, weirdly. I still have the trots too, which I will have to seek attention to I think.

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