Thursday, July 24, 2008

DAY 270: Bush camp to bush camp adj to Shelamar t/o

Sun 20th July 2008
96 km @ 14.8 km/hr
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of /destination 17m
Distance to date 16395 km (10247 miles)

The wind whipped strongly around the tent towards the end of the night and by dawn it was fresh to strong and a SE-er, which would be right on my left side today if it held, which will make for a slowish day again. Nevertheless I slept very well and was quite warm enough. It’s certainly warmer at nights the nearer to the sea you are.
Setting off at 0830 the wind was indeed bang on the side, and a slight disadvantage to progress. It was pretty gusty and not so comfortable to ride in. I was in good form though and just kept plodding along, waving at motorists and looking forward to seeing what the track to Barn Hill Station Stay CP would be like - my book says ‘deep sand - unrideable’. On arrival there after 14km it did indeed look pretty grim, and I rode a few hundred metres which confirmed this - very sandy and too hard to ride on. A kind couple offered to load the bike and gear onto their pickup and they would take me in that way, but I still had to get back, and anyway I’m a bit proud to accept help like that - I guess I want to be as self-reliant as possible. Anyway, I could look forward to a nice break at the rest area at 40km.
And a nice break it was too - as soon as I arrived I was offered cakes by a group of 3 people about to drive across the Great Sandy Desert, and very nice they were too (the people and the cakes!). No sooner had they left but a couple from Perth started chatting, and I was offered a sandwich - and another - and another! Nice fresh bread with Brie, sun-dried tomatoes and salad - delicious! My lucky day, but I hadn’t finished yet because another couple arrived and gave me some fruit! Wow -it never rains but it pours! Anyway there was lots of good natter which I enjoyed, and I finally left feeling quite pleased with myself and newly motivated.
But it was very ploddy all afternoon - never getting above 18 km/hr and usually bumbling along at 13 - however the km went in and I was quite pleased to achieve 96 on a difficult day with over 6 hours in the saddle.
About 6km before I stopped I saw a bike track going into the bush with none coming out, and surmised there might be another tourer in there. Maybe we’ll meet up soon if that’s the case.
I had a lovely hour after dinner tonight just savouring the Outback dusk - the horizon a long band of orange, gradually fading; almost utter silence except for the odd vehicle (there’s hardly any at night); the stars coming into view, and the orange full moon appearing behind me - it’s utterly beautiful, and these bush camps have been a real highlight of my many experiences here.
With my third night bush camping I’m feeling a little grubby so did my best to have a wash. I’ve plenty of water now since I took on another 7 litres from one of the people at the rest area this morning. It’s gone very cold tonight though so I’ve got into the sleeping bag to type this up.
A word about bush camping sites - there have been lots of opportunities between Broome and here so far; although the trees and bushes are not tall they are pretty dense, albeit with sizeable flat sandy patches where the tent can be pitched. In keeping with most of the rest of Oz I’ve passed through there is cattle fencing between 100 and 200m from the edge of the road, nevertheless this margin is sufficient to hide a nice campsite.

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