Thursday, May 01, 2008

DAY 190: Normanton to Karumba

Thurs 1st May 2008
80 km @ 17.0 km/hr
Sunny, hot, 30 deg C +
Elevation of destination 5 m
Distance to date 11331 km (7082 miles)
Earliest start ever this morning, away by 0630. I had woken up early and decided to try and catch the early birds in and around the River Norman, before continuing north then west to Karumba. Birds were plentiful too both by the river and in various waterholes and creeks all the way. Main birds seen were the 1.4m tall Brolga (lurking furtively in pairs in the background, and once they were on the road ahead); Small, Intermediate and Great Egrets, Magpie Geese, all the Ibises i.e. Glossy, Straw-necked and Sacred; Storks, and so on. There were hundreds of Black Kites and other similar raptors that I’m not sure of, sometimes flocking together in trees, which I haven’t seen before - we usually see them in 1’s and 2’s in the UK. They were continually flying over me, casting their sinister shadow over me as I rode along. This bird spotting helped break the tedium of yet more Savannah.
The first 30km was into what must have been a NE headwind - I haven’t seen anything other than SE for 2 months - until the road turns to the left 90 degrees, whereupon I had a tailwind for the last 40km. 35 km into the ride the trees disappear as the land has been cleared for crops - but there was hardly any soil, presumably eroded and blown away leaving a sad lunar landscape. Cattle rearing is still the main farming activity, mostly beef I think. At one point I passed 6 black cowboys replete with Stetsons, herding up a few hundred beasts, and each one waved at me.
The road is good quality surface and very quiet traffic-wise. By 1100 it was very hot though, and the sun beat down mercilessly, especially when I stopped to use the binocculars. I rolled into Karumba around 1130 but couldn’t find an iced coffee, so ice cream and lime pop had to do.
The actual town of Karumba (pop 750) is to me a bit of a dry, dusty place, and on this dog-day afternoon it wasn’t a comfortable place for a redneck hombre like me to be. I rode off in search of a riverside path (the Norman River is some 600m wide here) or some kind of scenic walk, or something interesting to see, but didn’t find anything, other than the Barramundi Research Centre, where the hatchling fish are developed ready for release into the river - I’ve seen plenty of this kind of thing in the salmon farms of N Scotland. There’s no interpretation and no signage of use to tourists, and to be fair it’s really a little industrial place based on being the only port in the area. I couldn’t see myself staying here, but happily some 8km back down the road is Karumba Point with 2 CP’s, decent cafe, and a nice pub looking out to the west across the sea and famous for sunset-watching whilst drinking beer.
Before I left Karumba ‘town’ I managed to get the blog up to date at the library, which has a fast Broadband connection, but at a price - $8. I hope you guys appreciate the sacrifice I am making to bring you these exciting glimpses of this wonderful country of Oz! I saw Dave and Lynn (from Mount Surprise) again and we agreed to meet for a pint at the ‘sunset’ pub for Happy Hour at 1630.
We did just that, after which I dashed back to check in at the CP ($10 pppn), shower, and get back the 1km for the sunset, but unfortunately I was too late, it had slipped below the horizon. Whilst down there I bought a fish and chip supper at Ash's, which was absolutely huge (a good double portion), cheap ($8.50), and very good too. And I got my iced coffee at last, so all was well with the world. I fancy a day off, as I’m feeling a little weary, but I’m not sure what I’d do with myself here. It's really just a place to come and fish for Barramundi.

Maybe I’ll wait until I get back to Normanton tomorrow.

1 comment:

Goldwasser Story said...

where is that road I love it!