Thursday, May 01, 2008

DAY 189: Black Bull Siding to Normanton

Weds 30th April 2008
94 km @ 17.8 km/hr
Sunny, up to 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 10 m
Distance to date 11251 km (7032 miles)

This site was quite noisy in the night - the generator running all night and a lorry stopping in the big lay-by close to - but with earplugs in I managed to sleep fairly well. Erik was away by the time I got up at 0700, probably 100km up the road! I went to fill my water bag at the rainwater tank near the house before leaving, and invoked the extreme ire of the resident Rottweiller, who rushed at me, snarling, only to nearly have his head nearly jerked right off by a chain. I’m glad it was a strong chain. It doesn’t look as if this place will continue to be a camping site in the future judging by the present lack of facilities; funny how they charged Erik $5 but me nothing too....
There was no wind for the first hour or so but it was nice and cool, however by 9 it was pretty hot and not a cloud in the sky. Everywhere is so dry, demonstrating the lack of rain here recently. When you walk on the grass it crunches as if frosted - it breaks rather than bends, and bread goes crisp in a few minutes. Last night was pretty cold too and I was forced to add extra clothing - well, some clothing lol.
Scenically we could be riding 3 days ago - no change, Savannah skinny forest wall to wall. My mind wandered off somewhere; still conscious, but not really present as it were. Lots of birds again early on; I’ve never seen so many raptors - mostly Black Kites but some others with rounded tails which I think may be Whistling Kites, although they haven’t whistled for me yet. The Apostles were numerous again, scratting about the ground in groups of 12 lol until I susprised them and scattered them screaming up into the trees. There were a few ponds near the road, and muddy creeks where Herons were lurking, one of which was a pinkish colour (?).
I knew this was the day that the old Gulflander train runs from Normanton to Croydon, and as the line parallels the road all the way, I worked out when our paths would cross and waited for it, to get a photo, but for some reason the close-up failed. I had fancied a trip on this train on Saturday, but as it only comes up this way to Critter’s Creek, and as it’s pretty samey Savannah all the way, I’ll give it a miss despite the billy tea and tucker.
Some 10km from Normanton the road crosses the wide Norman River which is very low at the moment, but there are plenty of fish in there, and as I silently approached some Herons scattered, and something big that I didn’t see crashed into the water - a croc maybe. The rivers are full of them around here but you rarely see them.
Before long I was riding up the gentle hill into the town, the first 'hill' of the day. The place reminds me of Cooktown a little - old rambling buildings with a frontier feel to it. There’s no concentrated town centre really, the shops are well spread out. I had a pie and iced coffee then went to the VIC, where they have the only internet in town. Unfortunately it was running dead slow, and I didn’t even try to upload images, I just posted the text and answered a pile of e-mails. I will be riding the 71km to Kuranda on the Carpenteria coast tomorrow and I was told internet is quicker there.
I checked in at the central CP and it’s very nice ($11) - a beautiful 25m pool, fully-equipped campers kitchen, and only 200m from the Purple Pub, where I enjoyed a couple of welcome pints after showering and a few laps of the empty pool.
I had a wander around the town just after dusk, thinking about eating out, but plumped for self-catering instead in the empty CK (the CP was pretty full though). There is a high predominance of Aboriginal people around the town, more so than anywhere else I’ve been to yet. I find it difficult to acknowledge them as they often avoided eye contact with me, and my not-too-earth-shattering impression so far in Oz is that for the two races ‘rarely the twain shall meet’.

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