Monday, May 19, 2008

DAY 204: Camooweal to bush camp 88 km W Camooweal

88 km @ 17.9 km/hr
Thurs 15th May 2008
Sunny, 31 deg C
Elevation of destination 234 m
Distance to date 12229 km (7643 miles)

I was planning another day off here in Camooweal today but after a leisurely start decided to ride on (1) because there was a strong SE tailwind and (2) because the caravan park completely emptied by 0900 and I didn’t like the idea of going off and leaving all my gear in the CP with no-one around. They probably left because of all the noise - this CP is even noisier than the first one; mostly because there’s a truck parking area next door and the road trains and their contents (cattle mostly) come and go all the time. One cattle train was parked for 2 hours with a couple of hundred restless beasts continually stamping on the steel floor of the trailer.
So at 10 I headed over to the post office to get my parcel and to upload. Once again the satellite internet system was very slow indeed, and it was taking around 15 minutes to upload 1 image, so I had to drastically curtail the number I wanted to post. Shame, there are some good ones, and I wonder if it’s worth adding them next chance I get in a few days time - maybe I will if there’s a fast connection.
After uploading Steven and I had a look at the map of Caithness and he said again that he’s really keen on visiting the far north. I showed him the link to for him to have a look at what’s going on locally.
It was turned noon by the time I left the PO and hunger sent me via the Shell cafe for a bacon and egg roll and iced coffee before hitting the (long, remote, deserted and dusty) road west.
Just west of Camooweal the trees disappear and it’s just open plain for cattle grazing so absolutely nothing to see or admire in the view unfortunately. Nevertheless I was focussed enough not to heed that and got my head down, but quite soon the wind was on my left side and even in front a little. This continued for some 30 or 40km when it turned to the right a little so that there was a small tailwind then. The road is utterly flat with long bends.
After just 13km I said goodbye to Queensland and stopped for the obligatory photo at the Northern Territory border - I’ve now cycled in every state - and the road deteriorated in quality with many patches and bumps, and the shoulder disappeared altogether. Traffic was very light, although I had to get off the road 3 times when a road train and another vehicle passed me at the same time. Although it was at least 30 deg C in the afternoon I felt cool enough when moving, but my mouth was very dry - probably due to the roll - and I was drinking quite a lot. I set off with 14 litres of water for a possible 2-nights bush camping en route to the Barkly Roadhouse 261km from Camooweal - the first place where I could top up as far as I knew, certainly the first cafe stop. This is one of the most remote stretches of my trip, from here to the Stuart Highway junction just north of Tennant Creek there is only this roadhouse.
Enjoying plenty of toots and waves my first stop was at the Avon Downs Rest Area, where there are toilets, rainwater tank and plenty of caravanners staying overnight. I got chatting to a large group and was so thirsty that I asked if anyone would sell me a cold can of coke or similar, and I quickly got that and a small bottle of chilled water and the nice lady wouldn’t take any money from me - and it tasted delicious! After recounting my adventures again and desperately trying to swerve conversation somewhere else, and having drank up, I said goodbye as it was only 1700, and carried on.
I felt more energetic for the drinks and fairly pedalled on, slightly worried that there were no trees for camping behind, when after 17km or so there was a small area of unfenced woodland that I could easily access and hide myself some 150m from the road - excellent.
This afternoon the air has been thick with flies - thank God for the net - and they covered me as I was setting the tent up. Despite being very careful about getting into the tent a hundred or so still managed to join me inside, and I spent the next 10 minutes swatting and sweeping out. They all disappeared with the dusk though and I was able to cook without hindrance, though keeping a weather eye on the large black ants that got a bit excited at my arrival and swarmed around a bit, but retracted when I put insect repellant on. It works well for them as well as mozzies, though not, sadly, for bush flies. I’m not afraid of ants, they seem pretty
harmless to me.
I used my last 2 white muffins with tuna on and sat back outside looking at the moon and stars and listening to the BBC World Service.
Afterwards I had a proper look at the bike parts and was dismayed to find that they’ve sent the wrong chainring - the new one has 4 holes and should have 5. When ordering these parts a week last Saturday Vince asked me was it 4 or 5 and to make sure I went back to the bike and checked and rang him back to confirm it was 4 - what’s gone wrong. So I’m still not able to renew the transmission (you have to replace chain, chainring and sprocket all at the same time so they match up). Hmmmmm.......(unprintable).

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