Monday, May 19, 2008

DAY 206: Bush camp to rest area 115km W of Barkly Homestead

129 km @ 20.5 km/hr
Sat 17th May 2008
Sunny, 30-ish deg C
Elevation of destination 248 m
Distance to date 12516 km (7822 miles)

This camp was very nice - smooth hard sandy ground meant no lying on lumps, and it was quite clean too. Very quiet apart from the odd road train throughout the night.
I just had a cuppa before setting off and 48 minutes and 15km later I was tucking into a full breakfast at Barkly Homestead, with copious mugs of tea (you only pay for one) and the local weekly rag. The latter is even less interesting than the JOGJ...I spent about 2 hours here topping up water (nice fresh-tasting bore water); topping up stove petrol, having a good wash, phoning St.Kilda Cycles about the wrong chainring etc., but finally got going again at 1045.
There was a very nice fresh tailwind from the SE, which pleased me immensely - and this lasted for fully another 90km until the road bends to the south more, whereupon the wind was mostly on my left side. Road was in good condition and quiet as usual, no dramas. No interesting scenery either - just continuous straight, flat roads with varying types or scrub Savannah. It doesn’t matter so much as I was pretty focussed, head down, on the (mid-set) bar ends, grinding out the km to the next rest area where my reward would be some biscuits and a stretch out. There’s a rest area 54 and 115km W of Barkly, and each has a bore water tank. I’m not relying on this water to drink but it’s very useful for wetting my bottle cooling system - a really good soak of the sock causes the water to be chilly within 20 or 30 minutes - it works very well. Cool water is sooo much better than warm!
I had planned to do around 150km again, riding until darkness shifted the copious fly population, but on arrival at the second rest area I met another touring cyclist! This was Gil, originally from Newcastle but who emigrated here in the early 80’s. He has cycled right around Oz once already, and this time cycled from his home in Brisbane to Darwin via the middle, and is cycling back the way I came (against the wind yeucchhh!). He has been working in Darwin for 6 months or so. I decided therefore to stay here tonight, despite not liking these rest areas for camping - you never know who you’ll get in, and they are mostly none too clean since people use them as toilets in an often careless way. Anyhow we had a good old chat about stuff (he doing most of the talking lol) and it was a nice change to have a similar soul for company.
I have a bit of a tummy problem again, and I’m sure it’s my water bottle - it smelt a bit off today and there are some black marks in it that I’m sure are bacteria - so I’ve put a Milton tablet in it overnight to see if it clears. Funnily enough I saw some similar drinks bottles at Barkly Roadhouse this morning and wondered if I might change this one again as I did at Brisbane. It probably needs a bottle brush to clean it properly, which I don’t have.
Coincidentally Gil has Rohloff gears on his Trek bike too, and also an MSR Hubba Hubba tent like mine too. He’s about 10 years older than me I think.
I took a picture of a pseudo cattle grid today which I’ll try and upload - these are painted on the road, and the cattle round here must be pretty dim as they appear to be fooled by them!

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