Thursday, July 24, 2008

DAY 272: Bush camp to Cape Keraudren

Tues 22nd July 2008
151km @ 20.6 km/hr
Sunny, 28 deg C
Elevation of /destination 1m!
Distance to date 16661 km (10413 miles)

Excellent camp again; only slight drawback was the drone of the roadhouse generator 1 km away - must have been bad at the CP! I overslept slightly after having resolved to get away earlier, and then had to go back up to the roadhouse to get more petrol for the stove, which cost me the princely sum of 62 cents. The original Sandfire Roadhouse burnt down some time ago, and all that’s there at the moment is a portacabin (demountable building in Ozspeak) with very little to offer - not even an iced coffee! So it was a cheap visit, and then on the road at 0850.
A nice SE-er was blowing freshly again and as the road bore further west at Sandfire it’s right behind me - wheeee! Hurtling along at 28 I laughed at the miserable 14 of the past few days (.....gather ye rosebuds whilst ye may.....). It was great, and the road was in very good condition too. I’ve noticed a way of deciding whether one’s going uphill or not (because it’s impossible to tell by looking usually) - there is a wider strip of bitumen known as the floodway which I presume is to strengthen the road during the Wet, and this is obviously level-ish. Thus the road before and after this section is downhill and uphill respectively; I doubt if the slope is greater than 1% though. Anyway I was sailing up these ‘little’ hills at 18 instead of 9 or 10 in recent days, which felt good. There are a growing number of flowers to be seen at the side of the road, yellow bushes (Acacia, Wattle) as previously mentioned (pic), plus some purple flowers a little like lupins but clearly not lupins. The landcape for most of today’s section was very open with low trees, and shrubs, spaced sparsely.
I stopped at 1145 for lunch, after 60km, having spotted a shady tree where the bike could be leaned easily, and got the billy on for 2 mugs of tea, some nuts, a muesli bar and a handful of chocolate cookies. The latter I bought 2 500g packs of in Broome for only $2.29 each (£1.05) - bargain - and they are very nice too. Trouble is I can’t stop eating them once started - I’ve even woke in the middle of the night to have a munch at them.
I’d stopped after 46km to have a look at the 80 Mile Beach Caravan Park road, but as expected it was very dusty and deep with sand, so I declined the opportunity to travel the 20km round trip to this place.
I saw quite a few ‘roos today, in fact heard them first crashing through the undergrowth as they spotted me, and when I turned to look could usually see them bounding away in terror. Was it something I said? Also saw a couple of Wedge-tailed Eagles, which lifted off from some roadkill as I neared. Plenty of roadkill too, including some cattle, which must have strayed outwith the boundary fence where there is one.
The afternoon saw be bowling along, and I eventually arrived at Pardoo Roadhouse (138km) at 1630. This is a very friendly place, and they make their own sausage rolls so I had to try one with my 2 x 600 ml cartons of iced coffee which hardly touched the side. I got water too - slightly ‘tasty’ bore water free but with donation for Flying Doctor Service requested, and asked about the track out to Cape Keraudren Coastal Reserve. I was told it was good gravel, in which case a side trip might be on. The track starts 250m S from the roadhouse, and when I checked it out it did indeed look much better than the 2 tracks I’ve declined over the past few days.
Off I went then with the sun very low in the sky (dusk is at 1735 at the moment here), which made it very difficult to see where I was going due to the glare on the side, and it was hard to see and avoid some corrugations in the road. I coped with it though and arrived atg the wardens place after 9km, where one has to pay a fee for entering and camping in the reserve, however he kindly waived the fee because “of the effort you made to get here”! The beach camping area is another 4km and the sun had completely gone by the time I had negotiated a very sandy section of road and arrived at the coast. The area several km in from the coast is completely devoid of vegetation so it’s a kind of lunar landscape - different, but nice. There were about 10 other vehicle-hauled campers in the camping area, and after chatting to a few I continued on about 300m past them until the bike got bogged down in the sand, and there levelled a site on the sloping beach a few metres above the high tide mark and pitched the tent. It was low tide when I arrived, and the sea will rise in the night to no nearer than 40m from me (I hope!). It’s very nice indeed here and worth the effort / side trip. I look forward to exploring the beaches and sea swimming / sunbathing tomorrow - I’ll stay here tomorrow night too. Only thing I have to watch is carrying sand into the tent and all my gear - thorough brushing-off before entry...
I didn’t bother cooking tonight, but had the 2nd sausage roll from the roadhouse - they are very filling - washed down with mug of red. I had bought a 3l box of wine in Broome; cheap $15 stuff, and discarded the box, fitting the bladder of wine into a disused 4l water bag cover. That way no-one would know it had wine in it; this is a very stealable commodity in *some quarters*. I bought red because it’s usually more drinkable at warm temperatures, however it’s going so cold so early on at night these days that it’s actually a bit too cold, and white wine would have been preferable. I’ve put a brave face on though and drank it regardless.....hic.

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