Thursday, May 08, 2008

DAY 195: Bush camp to Kajabbi

Tues 6th May 2008
73 km @ 12.2 km/hr
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 152 m
Distance to date 11715 km (7322 miles)
Awake in time to watch the dawn whilst eating muesli breakfast in bed, and away at 0810. As soon as I came out of the tent the flies descended in scores as if they'd waited just for me all night. I’d packed everything up without opening the tent flap though so with head net on I could load up the bike without them all over my face. I wonder why they always go for the face? You hardly ever see them on other parts of the body - I’ve said before, they just ignore insect repellant alltogether. There appears to be no way to deter them.
The first 25km or so consisted of a draggy uphill - by no means steep, but with a bit of a headwind it seemed a bit like it. It’s a new road too, one that you can see stretching ahead for 2km or more sometimes - not very motivating when you see an uphill ahead. I guess I’ve been spoilt with all the flat roads lately.
Very few birds to be seen other than the Apostles as usual, and 3 Wedge-Tailed Eagles, 2 of which were roadkill, but a few kangaroos thumping dementedly away from me across the open bush. Tree cover is very thin around here, so the light wind is full-on. I'm saddened by the number of dead Eagles - such a beautifil bird and lord of it's territory, but not of mans territory, which is everywhere I guess.
After 30km, as I approached the right turn for Kajabbi (I had more or less decided to go this way although longer and a gravel road) I saw again the unexpected spectacle of another cyclist, then another...then another - 12 in fact! This was a supported tour from Port Augusta to Burketown along the Birdsville Track and other gravel roads like the one from Kajabbi, where they stayed last night. Sounded pretty ########, but they weren’t carrying any weight since their stuff was in the broom wagon, however a great feat noentheless, and with respect, some of them were quite advanced in years - good on ya guys. All of them had front suspension too, and I feel that this was an omission on my part - it’s very handy indeed on this type of terrain. I was bombarded with questions and well-photographed before we parted. I was told that the gravel road I was about to turn onto was not too difficult (unless you’re carrying 40kg of baggage that is lol, as I later realised).
Undeterred I set off and was soon sliding around in deep bulldust trying not to fall off, although later on I kind of got the hang of keeping going. You also quickly get to know where it’s safe to cycle and where not. When the sand went the coarse gravel appeared, and this was very hard going for about 5km - stone size ranged from 1mm to 50mm and I was jumping and jerking and sliding all over the place. It was very hot and dusty and I drank a lot more than usual, however I was well supplied with water. A few vehicles, including road trains hauling beef cattle, passed me in a huge cloud of fine bulldust, however I was on the left and the wind was blowing to the right so I escaped the worst of it. This whole area is absolutely dry - not a trace of water anywhere. This 43km on gravel was a big effort taking around 4 hours, and I was delighted to see the 4 or 5 buildings that make up Kajabbi village.
It was straight to the pub / camp ground, and I had a beer and glass of cold water before setting up - mistake, because I then felt very tired, the effects of drinking during the day. However the landlord, Pat, 1st generation ex-Pom, was very chatty and we arranged for me to ‘raid’ his fridge for food for a small fee rather than bodge my own dwindling food supplies - nice! Also tea or coffee whenever I wanted.
The sunset was utterly amazing again tonight - long vivid bands of bright orange merging to blue, and spread halfway around the horizon; I just sat and watched it for ages. The sun disappears around 1810 at present, but the last colouring in the sky is present until 1850 or so. Quite a show.... I love the Outback.
I cooked up some sausage on the barbie and made rolls smeared with salsa, then went around to the front where several locals were sat outside in armchairs having a drink and shooting the breeze. They’re a friendly and welcoming lot here, and it was interesting to find out from Jeanie, Jack, Pat and the others all about this place over a Bundy rum ‘n coke, and how much they liked the place (unspoilt! We don’t want a bitumen road!). The village population is around a dozen, with 40 or 50 more on the surrounding cattle stations. It hasn’t rained since last December, and the local cattle stations are feling anxious - they’re not able to grow the fodder for the animals. There is no school or doctor, but the Flying Doctor Service can be out here from Cloncurry in 30 minutes. Publican Pat feels that he no longer wants to travel; he has found his El Dorado right here in remote Outback Queensland, with all his local friends as well as many more via the internet. He is right into making cash by advertising via Adsense, a Google company, and he showed me on his computer how it all works. I liked Pat a lot - unpretentious, friendly and interesting, with similar views on the world to my own as far as I had chance to observe during our brief encounter. Nice evening in good company.

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