Thursday, May 15, 2008

DAY 202: Bush camp to Camooweal

Tues 13th May 2008
138 km @ 18.7 km/hr
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 231 m
Distance to date 12141 km (7588 miles)
I didn’t plan to go all the way to Camooweal today so took my time getting away; breakfast in bed listening to the radio, and watching the sun come up. I had deliberately placed the tent to be shady in the morning for this reason, and it worked OK. I finally got off at 1030 with a nice tailwind again.
I stopped at a rest area after just 6km because I was hungry already, and quickly got surrounded by 4 caravanning couples with lots of questions, and lots of group photos were required. Probably they welcomed diversion from a rather humdrum drive. For the record this rest area is 54km north-west of Mt Isa, and it has toilets and water from a roof water tank. Although a sign said it was not drinkable I think this is just a litigation-sensitive message from the authorities; anyhow I topped up with a litre in a separate bottle which I used for boiling, just in case.
The only other rest area on this section is another 40km to the west. Up to that point the road undulated gently and with the beneficial wind it was very easy riding. The road is in good condition, there is a good shoulder, and there was little traffic after the early caravanners (scores of them) had gone through. The scenery isn’t so interesting as the mountains slip away, in favour of flat and never-changing Savannah.
In just over a couple of motivated hours I was at this second rest area, but it’s not as good as the earlier one. There’s a roofed area, but no table or seats puzzlingly, so I had to brew up on the concrete, floor and sit on it too. A guy from Rockhampton on a Harley-Davidson rode up while I was on my second mug, and we had a good natter for a while, before we continued on.
I thought I would ride until 1700 or so and then look for a bush camp, but this proved more difficult than imagined, since the road was fenced both sides of the road, about 20m from the road. This went on all the way,some 80km, to Camooweal without respite, so I just kept going and finished up here at nearly 1900 at which time it was just about dark. It didn’t feel such a hard ride though because the tailwind continued all day, albeit somewhat lighter in the afternoon. I was quite disappointed at not finding a bush site; I enjoy the peace, quiet and solitude of the Outback. As a contrast the caravan park in Camooweal that I’m in is very noisy - lots of lorries coming and going, people shouting, dogs barking.....I may have to stay here 2 or 3 days depending how long the bike parts take to arrive from Melbourne, so I will develop a Plan B I think - for example there’s a campsite in the Camooweal Caves National Park, so that’s an option.

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