Friday, June 27, 2008

DAY 245: Bush camp to Edith Falls

Weds 25th June 2008
83 km @ 14.0 km/hr
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 142 m
Distance to date 14620 km (9137 miles)
This was a very nice bush camp - peaceful, airy, and the small hill between me and the road deadened the noise of the overnight lorries somewhat. Bush-crashing creatures are hardly a surprise though they do make one jump at first, given the silence. I had a great campfire too, lots of good firewood nearby, and a nice low hollow a few metres away where the fire would have been hidden from sight. Only negative was the recently-burned bush which gave a nice coating of black over everything, but I managed to wash my hands this morning and just covered my black feet with black socks lol.
I was away at 0830 and the SE-er struck up in front of me right away, and it took over an hour to Pine Creek, just 12km away. Traffic was heavy again, but the landscape is very nice - rocky hills, gently winding and undulating road and a variety of trees thinly spread.
I had a few things to check out at Pine Creek - internet (library only, not open till 1, so no go); cafe (delicious ham salad sandwich), groceries (well, just bread and biscuits to get me to Katherine via Edith Falls) - unfortunately after all that I forgot to top up water bottles, and didn’t remember until I was 5km down the road. I did have 1.5 litres but that wasn’t enough to EF, and there was nowhere to get any in between. Never mind, I’ll manage somehow, I’m certainly not going back for some.
The heavy traffic was pretty tiresome - at least 60% is caravans and motorhomes which are pretty benign, but much of the rest was roadtrains. Ironic that the goods train I saw yesterday heading south had many empty container wagons just begging for some road freight. There is little in the way of a tarmac shoulder on this road but there is good flat gravel mostly, which is no trouble for me with my 2” tyres to ride on.
After around 20km I spotted a car and caravan in a layby so took my opportunity and went to ask them for water. No problem of course, and we had a good chat about places we’d been - this couple were from WA and I knew the places they were referring to - they are going my way so I may see them again. Around 1230 I was ready for a pitstop and looked out for somewhere shady where I could lean the bike - and soon saw a telecomms cabin between the road and railway line which was perfect for the job. I made myself a comfy seat from some pieces of wood and settled down to my peanut butter and apricot jam butties with lovely fresh bread bought in Pine Creek. The flies were the only downside as usual so I tried to sit out in the warm wind as much as possible - they are very determined though. Funny how it’s the face they go for - maybe there are more minerals and vitamins there compared to all the other exposed parts. Recently I have been sat talking to people who seemed not to be bothered by them whilst I was covered, and this must be due to me sweating more from riding.
Since Pine Creek the wind has been kinder to me, it seems to have shifted more to the left side such that it is not in front of me any longer, which adds both to speed and morale, and by 1430 I had reached the left turn for Edith Falls, another 20km to go INTO the wind now, heading due east.
The first 6km were tough and uphill, but therafter easier as the wind started to die off and I got more shelter from rocky outcrops and little rises in the road. The lack of lorries was bliss, things being much more peaceful now. I was soon arriving at the Falls area camping grounds and YES there is a kiosk! ...So iced coffee straight away as a reward for my efforts, and I paid my $8.80 for a nights’ camping. I was given a nice little pitch right next to the kiosk (too near for temptation!!) though not overlooked, and well away from the Wicked Campervanners that I followed in here lol. Only downside was less shade than preferred but never mind.
After setting up I went to look at the falls, and was blown away by the landscape - a circular lake some 600m diameter surrounded by 100m high pinky-brown cliffs and the falls at the far side - breathtakingly beautiful, and with a quiet peacefullness about it that incites awe and a sense of privelege in the beholder. I have seen some amazing landscapes here, and this is definitely one of them. It’s only about 50km from katherine Gorge and there’s a footpath between the 2 sites for the hardy walker - a 3-day or so trip. There are several places where there are steps or platforms to enable access for swimmers, and there were quite a few in the cool water, some swam all the way across to the falls; a bit far for me.
I spent the evening picking out pictures from the camera for the last 10 days - I haven’t uploaded since then and this will save expensive internet time when I get to Katherine; don’t know why I haven’t done this before. There are about 3 days I spent in Darwin when I didn’t take any pics.
After a late dinner, at about 2030, the camp was in darkness and silence and it didn’t take much encouragement for me to have an early night.

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