Thursday, May 15, 2008

DAY 201: Mount Isa to bush camp 50km NW Mount Isa

Mon 12th May 2008
50 km @ 17.7 km/hr
Sunny, 26 deg C
Elevation of destination 370 m
Distance to date 12003 km (7502 miles)

A quiet night thankfully, and I was up and about and packed up quickly, ready for a busy morning. I have found an unexpected reason why Mount Isa isn’t quite as bad as at first sight - there’s a K-Mart here! I like these shops, everything is so cheap, and there were quite a few bits and bobs I need such as elastic bands (when they get hot they fall apart), a new handlebar mirror, another small notebook, some ziplock bags etc. that I found here. The fully loaded bike was a worry since there were a few dodgy characters hanging around outside this morning - how could I leave it as safe as possible? I remembered that McDonald’s is almost next door, so I chained it up leaning against the side of the place in full view of all the customers and staff; that’ll have to do. And a good excuse for a treat later too, just to say thank you to Mr.Mc. - Well, I have to buy something, to be fair?
Thus assured I took my time shopping both in K-Mart and in Coles Supermarket next door. I got everything I wanted in both places, except for a pair of cycling mitts from K-Mart that wouldn’t fit, so I got a refund. I did quite a big shop in Coles, because this is the last large town for 500km or so, and it’s cheaper here and there’s more choice too than in the little places. When I got back to McD’s it took quite a while to fit everything in the panniers, much to the amusement and wonder of several onlookers, but I finally managed it OK and still managed to look cool.
I decided to defer the treat until after the internet upload, which turned out to be a nightmare. The library allow no uploading whatsoever; the newsagents allowed no text uploading (yet they allow images - weird!), and the only other place I could find, the Visitor Info Centre, was painfully slow. I had some really nice pics to post but the slow speed meant I had to select less than half of these. To be fair when I made a slight song and dance about it I got a partial refund. It was a frustrating 2 hours though. I fully deserved my mango and macadamia cheesecake and hand-made iced coffee at M's after all that.
I tried to find SportsPower which I understood from the phone book to be a bike shop, but they’d moved from their old address and I was unable to find their new one. I need new mitts and a couple of other things. Next stop post office to collect letter from Lyn with essential document in - thank you Lyn, received OK - and that was me just about done with Mount Isa. Oh, and I arranged with St.Kilda Cycles to post my bike parts, which came in today, to Camooweal Post Office (I hope there is one lol).
The road turns from heading west to heading due north from Mt Isa, but there was a decent SE wind that fairly blew me out of town, and briskly on for the next 50km too, except for a few km of draggy uphill - all this stretch was gently undulating but fine with this tailwind. Scenery still OK and interesting - craggy red mountainous terrain with Savannah plains between. The road is in good condition with a good shoulder all the way - much less traffic too once I was 20km clear of the town and all the mines. A quiet road means a happy soul; a tailwind makes him delighted. I got plenty of toots from motorists and - heaven forfend - from roadtrain drivers. I'll make friends with them yet!
It’s 189km rfrom Mt Isa to Camooweal, the next settlement, and there’s nothing in between - I mean, nothing at all representative of civilisation except for a few passing vehicles. The parts should be there within 2 days, I understand, so there’s no rush. I’m well on schedule anyway and can easily put some long days in to catch up between here and Darwin. There are plenty of bush-camping opportunities out here and I’ve plenty of water to last me a couple of nights at a pinch. Tonight I went in some 500m from the road in a nice flat, shady spot, and sorted some of the stuff out that I bought today.

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