Thursday, May 08, 2008

DAY 196: Kajabbi to bush camp 17km N of Cloncurry

First 3 pics are of the Kalkadoon Hotel at Kajabbi. The 6th pic is not the gravel road but a dry river bed!

Weds 7th May 2008
96 km @ 12.3 km/hr
Sunny, 26 deg C
Elevation of destination 188 m
Distance to date 11811 km (7382 miles)
I was slow to get away this morning after waking later than usual. I had breakfast of toast, cheese and honey from Pat’s fridge, which made a nice change. After goodbyes I hit the 26km of gravel road from here back to the Normanton - Cloncurry road, some 40km S of where I left it yesterday, so this detour to Kajabbi added 28km in total.
I had been told this gravel road was better than that I cycled in on yesterday, at least, less bulldust, and that was probably true for motorists, however the surface was very stony, and soft in places. But worst of all was the increased wind speed - it was probably around 40 knots / Force 6-7 at times, and it really made this hard going since I was heading right into it i.e. to the E/SE. The flies were bad again too, and I couldn’t wear the net because it stops me seeing all the obstacles in the road quickly enough. I wasn’t a happy bunny then, and this 26km took me 2 hours 50 minutes - 9.1 km/hr. There was no pleasure at all in this stretch, and the landscape is all the same - sparse trees and bare soil. The most open areas were a nightmare, allowing the full wind speed to buffet me, with just a little respite where there were a few trees.
At last I thankfully reached the bitumen, and celebrated with a cheese on toast sandwich I didn’t eat at breakfast.
Speed increased a little now I was back on the main road, but the wind was still in front of me, to the left. Again the open sections were the worst. In the first 5 hours of riding today I covered little more than 50km! I've never gone slower. This is equivalent to riding from Thurso to Wick and halfway back!!!One kind motorist slowed down to ask me if I was OK - I must have looked a bit out of it. I knew there was a hotel about halfway from the Kajabbi junction to Cloncurry, and sure enough after 52km (from the start) I reached the Quamby Hotel, a sight for sore eyes after today’s hard labour. It’s a nice-looking place, all tastefully done out with Cobb & Co. murals on the outside and rustic ironwork made from scrap cars and other junk. It was of course a former coaching station on the 19th century transport / distribution network belonging to that famous company. I had been dreaming of iced coffee but unfortunately they had none, so I plumped for a couple of cans of Coke poured into a glassfull of ice, plus a bin liner-sized bag of sea salt crisps. I also topped up on water in expectation of another bush camp tonight - I might as well just camp in the bush if I find a decent place rather than push on into Cloncurry - at least I’m guaranteed peace and quiet, and it's free AND more pleasureable! As I sat outside every driver that passed waved to me, or maybe to the Hotel too, which is quite a landmark in this deserted region.
After the stop I felt somewhat revived, and seemed to be going much better, and some 35km later, at 1730, I found a very good campsite, well hidden from the road, close by the Sedan Dip junction. I did notice some cows nearby, and I didn't want to get trampled on in the night, so I made double sure they couldn't get through the fence onto my side. In soem places I've been through the cattle just wander about on and across the unfenced road, which sometimes is the case in N Scotland too of course. I waited until nearly dark so that the flies wouldn’t trouble me before I cooked, and I set up BBC World Service with the 10m extension cable that came with the Sony SW radio, getting pretty good reception even though they aren’t supposed to broadcast to Oz (it was the Chinese transmission I was getting). I felt thoroughly tired after today’s effort and will get an early night.

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