Thursday, May 08, 2008

DAY 193: Normanton to Bang Bang Jump Up bush camp

Sun 4th May 2008
109 km @ 15.5 km/hr
Location S 18 deg 31.397’; E 140 deg 39.456’
Sunny, 28 deg C
Elevation of destination 10 m
Distance to date 11510 km (7194 miles)
The good thing about travelling as I am is that if you don't like where you are you can just move on to find somewhere better / more peaceful, and after breakfast in the campers kitchen off I went at around 0715. I took a pic of Kris, a replica of the biggest croc ever caught (and he was immediately shot of course as was (is?) the way (:-<)), who is in the main street in Normanton, and also had a look at the very nice old railway station, before departing for the vast and remote wilderness of North West Queensland. There is again nothing whatsoever between here and the Burke and Wills Roadhouse 200 km south, apart from bare, cleared land and some Savannah woodland here and there. Not a building, nothing, just road and elecricity lines. I was carrying 12 litres of water because I knew I would have at least two long hot thirsty days and a night’s camping in the bush, with no water to be had for 200km. I also took a litre of milk that I bought yesterday and had not drunk, and I downed this in the first 20km. The road is pretty straight and dead flat for the most part, and is single track for about 50% of today’s ride. It soon got up into the upper 20’s, with a clear blue sky all day. There were 2 good rest stops, at 30 and 75km approx, both had one concrete table with a good-sized roof so nice and shady. I stopped at each for enforced rest; this helps me recouperate and remotivate for what is not the most exciting riding to be honest. At the second I spent almost an hour, getting the billy on for a good, strong coffee, and lying stretched out on the bench for a while. I dug out the radio and placed it in the bar bag so I could listen whilst riding - unfortunately the only station I could tune into out here was ABC Queensland, which today was wall to wall sport; however it did take my mind off the tedium of the landscape for a while. The wind was fairly strong but usually right on my left side - a SSE-er methinks. I found myself watching for the next bend in the road (which was sometimes a very long time coming) to see if it went left (bad) or right (good)! Just a small right turn meant a slight tailwind and considerable increase in speed. The cranks / bottom bracket is squeaking quite a lot, which is a bit annoying. Only significant feature was the Flinders River crossing - I was amazed how many raptors there were in this area - literally hundreds - in fact for most of the day I was ‘shadowed’ by several raptors, mostly Black Kites, which are in abundance around here. At one point they were stacked up into the air, one above the other, like planes waiting to land at Heathrow. In my case they’re probably waiting for me to peg out so they can fight over my eyes or other tasty bits. I saw a few ‘Roos this morning too, and plenty of stinking roadkill throughout the day whereupon I attempt to hold my breath until I passed. After 105 km or so there is a little hill - oooohhhh! - and I had a look a round for a likely camp site. It was pretty rocky and no good at all, however just further on, 300m from a lorry lay-by, some land had been partly cleared for mining / prospecting or something judging by the boreholes, and I pulled off to a shady spot well away from the road. No-one saw me pull in (traffic is still very light on this road) but a few thousand bush flies were on my tail and chose to join me for tea. Today was the worst day for flies for months, and I has to eventually resort to my headnet. It was virually impossible to get tent pegs in the hard ground, but this MSR Hubba Hubba can be pitched without as long as you get some weight in the tent asap when it’s windy. So after cooking pasta it went dark and I have utter, dark silence except for a magnificent display of stars with the Milky Way smeared across the heavens, and the odd wandering unseen creature rustling around in the undergrowth. Nice. The Bush.

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