Monday, August 04, 2008

DAY 275: Port Hedland to bush camp 12km N of Indee rest area

Fri 25th July 2008
72km @ 20.1 km/hr
Sunny, 28 deg C
Elevation of /destination 40m
Distance to date 16901 km (10563 miles)

Pretty cold again this morning, and a modest dew for the first time in a while, so I lingered awhile before getting up. I went and joined the other cyclist, whose name is Guido, a Flemish gentleman of 70 years. He’s cycling from Cairns to Perth, so I may see him again - although from what he told me he’s going a little slower than I. He explained the history of the Flemish region (most of Belgium from what I gather) and language. He left soon after 8 but I had quite a bit to do - mend a punctured tube; wait for washing to dry, somehow pack all the food I bought into already cramped panniers (I must be carrying close to 20kg of food to start with this time) - anyway it was 11 when I finally departed.
I had a quick look at the mangrove-covered beach (pic) then lingered awhile on the very busy road-train strewn highway bridge near the salt factory (pics), then decided to have a look at the satellite town of South Hedland.
SH is a more down-to-earth version of Port Hedland; smaller houses, more blackfellas, and the first sights that greeted me when I rolled into the town centre was a Macdonald’s and a K-Mart. Firstly I needed stamps so joined the long queue at the PO (just like UK in that respect), and outside a guy came talking about my trip, and told me to be ‘careful’ with the bike here; he meant stuff can go ‘walkabout’ if one’s careless. Further, he offered to look after the bike for me while I shopped, and told me to come around to Coles’ Liquorland if necessary, where he was manager. Well, I was greatful for that, did as he said, and wheeled the bike into the stock room at the rear of the shop and so I went off shopping without having to worry - what a nice guy!
K-Mart first - one of my favourite stores lol - and straight to the cycling section to see if they had a pair of padded shorts. Alas, they did not, but they did have a gel seat cover for $25, and I decided to give it a go. I then went and had lunch at Macdonald’s (I feel like a turncoat after all I’ve said about them in the past). I have to admit again it was very good - an ‘Australian’ burger with lettuce, bacon, cheese, pineapple and a good dash of Worcester sauce - it sounds an odd combo but it hit the spot for me. I need fatty molecules.
I collected the bike, thanked the manager, and took the new seat cover for a trial run. I left the label on in case it was no good and I had to take it back, but actually it felt really good, and fits my Rolls saddle perfectly and securely. There’s a wide circle of gel that prevents the (sore) pressure points around the seat bones, and I was hardly aware of the sores any longer. They’ve been pretty bad for a while too, with 2 areas where the skin is broken that gave sharp stabs of pain repeatedly. It remained OK for the rest of the day too, so maybe this was a good buy!
Very contented and well fed I quit South Hedland and hit the Great Northern Highway once more. I had hoped the traffic would reduce significantly, but there was still plenty, including a lot of road trains. No shouder of course, and I had to jump into the gravel a few times. There is very little shade or tree cover - the vegetation is very thin Mulga (Acacia) scrub.
I turned south at 47km, continuing on the GNH rather than taking the West Coastal Highway, and continued for another 13km or so through virtually bare bush until I came upon a more thickly-wooded stretch, and as it was well after 4 decided to dive in for a camping site. I found a reasonably-hidden spot on lovely coarse, clean, flat red sand, and set up.
Hot cuppa in hand I sat back, sighed, and watched yet another beautiful sunset in front of me. This has become almost a must for me - my favourite time of the day. I’ll never see a sunset again anywhere without remembering these moments in Australia; perfect peace, stillness, solitude and natural beauty.
After all the scoffing of today I decided to just have a cheese and sun-dried tomato sandwich for dinner, using the good crusty bread I bought last evening, which is still very fresh, washed down with the last of the red. I’ve now inserted into the ‘water bag’ the new 2l bladder of White Shiraz I bought yesterday too; I’ve come to savour my mug of wine before dinner, watching the post-dusk colours deepen in the west. Although the sun has disappeared by 1745 lately, it’s almost 1900 before it’s completely dark, so the sunset show is great value! It also means I can get dinner prepared and eaten without hardly having to use the headtorch.
After the 'trauma' of having to pay $39 to camp last night (lol) this has been a good day, and I’m feeling very positive again. (....wait until the SE wind hits you in the morning sucker!)

NB/ my eyboard in paying up and won’t produce certain letters like j,k and l (only it just did that time!).

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