Saturday, July 12, 2008

DAY 259: Bush camp to bush camp 20 km SW of Hall’s Creek

74 km @ 16.5 km/hr

Weds 9th July 2008

Sunny, 28 deg C

Elevation of /destination 411 m

Distance to date 15453 km (9658 miles)

I stayed huddled in sleeping bag a while after dawn due to the chill which fell overnight - it must have been close to zero I think. I awoke very cold at around 0200 and donned another pair of trousers and top, plus my sunhat, ironically. Even then I was barely warm enough. Tonight I’ll erect the tent outer cover, which I didn’t do yesterday, and maybe it will retain some heat (no, really, it does!!). The higher altitude may be lowering temperatures, and tonights camp is a bit higher again.

Even after setting off it was still cool for the first few km, until the physical effort warmed me up. I’m not likely to see many such cold nights, and it isn’t worth carrying extra warm gear just for these occasions in my mind.

The first 30km were pretty tedious, due south so that the SE-er was a headwind, and a continuation of the Tobleroning, with the climb out usually gaining another few metres of height. I wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic this morning, to put it gently; I’d have preferred to lie around the pool and do nothing! Still, after 30km the road bent to the west a little and put the fresh wind on the left side, which was slightly more comfortable.

The road was quite busy, and pretty narrow where unmodernised, which accounted for most of it. Scenery has degenerated somewhat into patchy Savannah again, with a few feeble mountains in the distance.

After what seemed an interminable ride I landed in Hall’s Creek and busied myself with lots of tasks - internet (fast connection at the Telecentre and no charge!); topping up food supplies (I overdid it actually and had a job fitting it all in without squashing the new loaf); taking on 10 litres of water (there’s nothing at all between here and Fitzroy Crossing 280km away); phoning Lyn, and doing lunch. Oh, and remembering to draw some cash from the post office (no bank ATM in town). There seems to be a large black population here, the newest member of whom was around a week old, wide eyed, big shock of black hair, and in front of me in the post office queue in ithe arms of grandparents; very cute! I also looked at a statue of a man pushing another man sat in a wheelbarrow in the square, and the plaque told of Jack, who in 1885 pushed his badly injured friend 300km to the nearest hospital along uncharted roads! What a friend!!

I quit town feeling up at around 1500 with a good tailwind - the road had veered a little more to the west - but only rode 2km when I saw an odd group walking along the grassy shoulder of the road. When I got closer I saw that it was a group of some half dozen people each leading a camel, and as I slowed down to take a piccy a lady came over to talk to me. They were a group of friends who had just started a 2500km+ trek to Melbourne by camel! They expect this to take 18 months and havae been planning it for a long time, she said. They had led the camels right away from the road having seen me coming - as with horses and cattle, camels are often afraid of cyclists - she confirmed it was because we are silent, whereas noisy cars don’t seem to bother them all, surprisingly. They were going to take the Tamani track which turns off to the left 16km from Hall’s Creek. I forgot to ask if they have a website; I would like to know how they get on.

That excitement over I continued to enjoy the bracing tailwind, and was managing twice the speed of this morning on a dead straight and flat road - we seem to have seen the last of the hills for now, although still up at 400m ASL or so.

With an hour of light left I pulled off where the bush was thickish, and found a flat area to pitch; a little close to the road but mostly obscured I think.

I didn’t stay in Hall’s Creek itself as there wasn’t much of interest to me, and I’d rather camp in the bush anyway. Also, I’d like to get on as quickly as possible so as to spend more time on the very interesting west coast - Broome, the Pilbara, and Ningaloo reef to mention but 3 places. I also want to have at least a week at the end to explore Perth, Freemantle, and Rottnest Island.

After some 3 hours doing all this, and enjoying some good nattering en route.

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