Tuesday, May 27, 2008

DAY 214: Bush camp to Mataranka

Sun 25th May 2008
112 km @ 17.4 km/hr
Sunny, scattered cloud, 26 deg C
Elevation of destination 123m
Distance to date 13177 km (8236 miles)

My hastily-chosen campsite proved to be a good one, nice flat ground with no sharp stones; partly hidden, and not frequented by mozzies. I slept under the mesh only so saw the moon set in front of me, and watched it move through the sky above me as I fell asleep. I woke early though due to the strong smell of animal urine very nearby - maybe it thinks I’m trying to permanently muscle-in on it’s territory and is making the point.
After breakfast I pushed the bike back through the thorny undergrowth to the road, and got underway with very little wind in evidence. The 36 km to Larrimah took just over 2 hours, the incentive of home-made pies at Fran’s Cafe drawing me along. Larrimah is a small settlement composed mostly of a hotel (Pink Panther), roadhouse and Fran’s cafe and a few houses. Fran was doing a good trade with no free tables so I sat down with a couple from Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsular in Victoria, that I had passed through a few months ago. One of Fran’s specialities is camel pie, and a lady customer said they were delicious so I ordered one, and yes, it was good, very good, with proper flaky pastry. I followed up with a Devonshire tea as we had a good chat about where to go and what to see - the couple were travelling back from Darwin and Katherine. The bill was a bit of a shock at $22 (that included a glass of milk too), but it was worth it I guess. A shrewd old dear that Fran!
On I went north, with scores of caravans passing me both ways, mostly waving or tooting, and having to get off the road onto the cinder shoulder a few times when traffic was going both ways. The vegetation changed to widely-spaced tall trees for endless km as the road slowly wound and becoming more undulating. The wind was of little assistance for a lot of the time today, and after months of SE was more like NE today, i.e. On my right side. Flies were a minor problem so I didn’t need to wear the net.
There’s one rest area with water, some 44km N of Larrimah, where I stopped for a while and soaked my top under the tap for a nice cooling down. The last 30km featured a couple of long draggy climbs but I was in Mataranka around 1630, and checked in at the Motel CP which looked OK ($10 pppn). I also decided to eat at their restaurant as I didn’t have much food in, and as it was Sunday nowhere was open to buy more. I went for kangaroo cutlets, salad and veg, followed by home-made apple strudel with ice cream and cream, washed down with a couple of beers - it made a nice change from bush pasta again!
Tomorrow Katherine, and I can collect the chainring that St.Kilda Cycles resent after sending me the wrong one. Theoretically I could then change the whole transmission, but it seems to be holding up well at the moment - perhaps because there are few hills to put strain on it? I may go around Kakadu NP first with the old one and change it either at Darwin or katherine on the way back down to Kununurra. (I need a bike shop chain whip to remove the rear sprocket unless I can do it with the old chain in a vice).

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