Thursday, May 08, 2008

DAY 194: Bang Bang Jump Up to bush camp 41.5 km S Burke & Wills Roadhouse

Mon 5th May 2008
132 km @ 16.4 km/hr
Location S 19 deg 32.781’; E 140 deg 14.400’
Sunny, mid-20’s deg C
Elevation of destination 123 m
Distance to date 11642 km (7276 miles)
Utter peace and quiet in the bush last night - and a long, long deep sleep left me feeling very fresh this morning. I awoke gently as the sky started to lighten (I was sleeping under the mesh inner only having left the outer shell in the bag as there was no chance of rain) and just lay and watched the red and orange develop until the sun finally peeped over the eastern horizon. This kind of camping beats Caravan Parks hands down; no drunken or noisy humans to spoil the peace either, and much closer to nature where I love to be.
I set off around 0750 and just a few hundred metres down the road was a rest area - this wasn’t marked on my map so it must be new - and toilets, but I would still have sooner beenwhere I was. I did hear the odd lorry stop last evening come to think of it. I was another 15km south when I saw my first vehicle, and even after that there was little traffic - what there was was mostly caravanners / tourists.
There was considerable bird and ‘Roo activity for the first hour or so - I disturbed a Wedge-Tailed Eagle devouring some roadkill, and flocks of Little Corellas, plus the usual numerous groups of Apostlebirds. Roo’s bounded away with a staccato thump of their big back legs. There are still plenty of cattle too, though what they find to eat out here I don’t know; the vegetation is sparse and thorny - lots of Spinnifex and other coarse grasses, completely devoid of moisture in this very arid region.
Again, absolutely nothing in the way of habitation / buildings. Burke and Wills Roadhouse, the midway point in the 380km stretch between Normanton and Cloncurry is the only place there is, and it’s my first target today - a great incentive / treat!
After 30km I stopped at another rest area with table and roof, and enjoyed a shady billy-boil coffee break and a couple of peanut butter and jam muffins. Thereafter the wildlife was less apparent as it heated up, well, live stuff anyway, but I was quite content and going very well. The wind was slightly behind or on my left side, coming from the east. The road heads SSW for the first 90km today then SSE thereafter.
I got lots of waves and toots from motorists probably glad of a break from the monotony in the form of a mad cyclist. It wasn’t as hot as recent days, quite a pleasant 25 or so. The kms to Burke and Wills came down pretty quickly on the 10km marker signs - 90, 80.......30, 20, 10, yesssss! Walking into the roadhouse was like stepping into another world from the solitude of the road and bush camp - music, chatter, glasses clinking, kids screaming, pots crashing....and about 20 pairs of eyes turned to scrutinise me, but nobody spoke to me at all! Anyway I was more interested in the chilled drinks cabinet, and joy! They had 750ml bottles of Dare Double Espreesso....beautiful, wonderful....

I ordered a steakburger and blueberry muffin and by the time the former had arrived 25 minutes later the coffee was just about gone. The burger bun was dry and not very nice unfortunately, but I wasn’t going to waste it. I also bought myself a rather tasty Burke and Wills Roadhouse momento sleeveless T-shirt; something else to haul lol.
I topped up all my water bottles to the max, in fact they were all empty and I am using more water than I thought I would now that I’m in the hot Outback cycling longer days - somewhere around 6 litres a day altogether, including cooking water, everything. I’ve got another couple of bottles so in future I’ll be able to carry the following:
6 litre Sea to Summit bag (rear carrier)
4 litre Sea to Summit bag (rear carrier)
1.5 litre PET bottle (cage under down tube)
0.75 litre drinking bottle (cage above down tube)
1.25 litre iced coffee bottle (rear carrier)
2 x 0.75 litre iced coffee bottles (secured on top of front pannier)
That makes 15 litres in all i.e. 15kg, but at a pinch this would just about keep me going for 2 nights / 3 days riding if need be. In fact there aren’t many stretches where I’ll need to do that so I won’t always have them all full.
I spent about an hour at B&W RH then left feeling revived. After 10 km or so the road bent to SSE and the light E-SE wind was slightly in my face, enough to slow me down a little, nevertheless I put in another 42km, riding until 1730. I scanned the side of the road for wild camping spots for a while but nothing felt right, until I came to a telecomms mast and substation, and I was able to lift the chain on the gate and go in (I found that most of the gates to these places and to field access gates were not locked; they just have a mechanism for hanging a chain to stop it opening accidentally - this is useful to know. There’s no chance of anyone complaining about accessing these points - there’s nobody out here! I just make sure I get in without being seen for security’s sake, and I never leave any mess or any trace that I’ve been there.
All day again today there have been lots of bush flies, and I have to wear the net most of the time. They were particularly bad as it approached dusk and there were thousands around me as I set up camp. Last night lots followed me into the tent and were a pain to kill / get out, so tonight I was very careful by backing into a small opening in the flap, and when it was time to get my head in (this is where most of the flies like to land) gave my head a good shake to get them off for a second as I drew my head in. I still managed to introduce half a dozen, but they soon got the chop. I didn’t start cooking until darkness fell, since the flies are in bed by then. After dinner I sat outside and watched the stars, having applied mozzie repellant first. I now know where the Southern Cross constellation is - this can’t be seen from Europe, though Orion is clearly visible here in the northern sky, except that it’s turned 90 degrees - effectively on it’s side compared to what we see in the UK, as is the crescent moon.
And now, perfect peace again....lovely.

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