Monday, May 12, 2008

DAY 200: Clem Walton Park to Mount Isa

Sun 11th May 2008
68 km @ 18.0 km/hr
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 340 m
Distance to date 11953 km (7471 miles)
Apart from a few animal noises - probably cattle and kangaroo - a blissfully peaceful night. I didn’t bother putting up the flysheet again since it isn’t likely to rain, so I could look at the stars as I lay in my sleeping bag. The only sound was the occasional noisy vehicle on the main road 1.5km away.
I didn’t have a big ride today - just 60-odd km to Mt Isa - so I didn’t have to get away so early, so I can enjoy some more of this lovely place. After muesli and jam butty breakfast I stationed myself in the shade again with binoculars and Simpson and Day, and watched the avian community and all its little dramas. I noted one or two birds new to me, and many of the ‘regulars’.
Around 10 I tore myself away from this tranquill scene and got packed up, and away about 1030. The traffic was heavier today with a lot more lorries / road trains, especially wide loads. One was so wide - taking most of the road up - there were 6 escort vehicles including 2 police cars, who required everyone to actually get off the road onto the hard shoulder.
The roadscene scenery was very pleasant again; rugged red rocky hills through which thye road twisted and turned. Undulating still, but today with steeper and longer hills - typically 5 to 7%, 1 to 2 km long, varying between 300 and 450m. It felt much harder than I’d expected, and I was feeling quite weary towards the end. The day was hotter than recently too, and the afternon sun radiated off the hot red rockfaces of the many cuttings. The shoulder wasn’t quite as good as recently either, quite narrow in parts, and the road surface was pretty bumpy.
With 20km to go the road flattened out somewhat, but an easy ride into town wasn’t to be - at 13km to go another long draggy climb went on for 5km, with no advantage from the wind which was on the south side of the mountain range. I finally rolled into Mt Isa at around 1500.
From first impressions this isn’t a pretty town by any manner or means - a collection of concrete boxes laid out in grids without a well-defined ‘centre’. I had expected this - after all it is a town, er city, built on the site of the worlds’ biggest copper refinery, and probably many of the residents work there.
I tried 2 caravan parks but they were both rip-off price of $20 so I just paid up and didn’t look pleasant at the second, and was even more miffed when I saw the dusty and crowded state of the camping area. Bang in the middle of the small camping area were a group of young Dutchmen which fed my paranoia about loutish behaviour.
I hadn’t wanted to linger here, there’s nothing to interest me here, but last Saturday I ordered parts for the bike to be posted to here for me to collect, but it doesn’t look as if they’ll be here by tomorrow after I phoned St Kilda Cycles today - they haven’t even taken delivery from their suppliers yet. In which case I’ll probably get them sent to somewhere further west so that I can move on. Everything is working OK now that I’ve shortened the chain, but I am concerned that I don’t have a spare chain if this one breaks.
After setting the tent up I showered and went to see what I could get for dinner as I didn’t feel like cooking, but all that appeared to be open in this town of 25,000 was McDonald’s - oh well, why not! It was OK actually, chicken cutlet burger-thingy with chips and coke for $9 - can’t be bad, and it filled a space OK. I couldn’t get anything sweet from the McCafe though because it was closed due to insufficient staff availability.
Nothing else to report, I hope for a quiet night...

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