Monday, August 11, 2008

DAY 287: Tom Price to bush camp 5km W of Ashburton Downs t/o

Weds 6th August 2008
106km @ 16.9 km/hr
Sunny, 27 deg C
Elevation of /destination 285m
Distance to date 17501 km (10938 miles)

Another very quiet night in the CP and very cold first thing so reluctant to get up again. The camp kitchen here is well out of the sun and consequently freezing in the morning so I left breakfast until as late as possible and got everything packed up first. Swopped website names and said goodbye to my neighbours after the kids had been playing soccer with the 2 resident ‘roos - they’re quite good (the ‘roos I mean). I managed to extract myself from yet more questioning about my trip from some other well-intentioned campers and get away just on 9 and straight onto the gravel road for Nanutarra and eventually to Exmouth.

This road is about to be metalled for the first 10km or so and the water bowser and roller were on the go, causing much red mud to be flicked up all over the bike. Still, it’s nice and flat, and in fact the whole 68km of gravel from Tom Price to the Paraburdoo to Nanutarra bitumen road is in very good condition. This may be due to the fact that it is so little used - I only saw a dozen or so other vehicles on this stretch. Scenery is very nice too, with continuous rolling hills either side of the road. There are plenty of undulations though, many with very steep, but mercifully short, jump-ups, where I had to push a couple of times. I punctured after some 40km - I just glanced back to check that the heavy water bags were still secure, since they sometimes start to slide off on bumpy roads - and that momentary loss of attention to the road caused me to ride over a large stone which caused a pinch flat. Of course there was nowhere to lean the bike so I had to strip the bags off without leaning the bike against anything, which is very awkward, as is putting them all back on again.
There are only occasional corrugations but I could easily pick my way around these. I was probably travelling just as fast on this road as I would be on a bitumen one. Spinifex Pigeons abounded, flapping away noisily as I approached, but not so many wild flowers as I’ve seen lately.
Once on the bitumen again the road continues in the same WSW direction so the moderate SE wind was just behind me, or sometimes on the side. Even this road is very quiet - I guess many folk use the coastal highway via Karratha. Suits me! The mountains continue and there is plenty of small tree cover suitable for camping, athough at my first attempt to camp the ground was covered with nasty tri-cornered Jackthorns, about 100 of which took an instant attatchment to my socks. I eventually found a nice flat site about 100m from the road but well-hidden. Once again I could sit back and admire the sunset, partly hidden by the hills, with glass of wine. I have a 2l bag each of Chardonay and Cabernet in the discreet 4l water bag to choose from. I didn’t bother cooking tonight, although I had a nice fire going, so just had tuna sandwiches. In fact, I’ve found out that I can use the petrol stove anyway; I’m able to prime the fuel by pumping with very short strokes such that the plunger doesn’t stick down at the bottom of the cyclinder, which is good news. The guy at Muzzie’s Hardware in Tom Price went to a lot of trouble to try and fix this thing for me, unsuccesfully, but much appreciated.
Beautiful and quiet here as I type by the fireside, crescent moon setting above me; just the distant clicking of crickets to be heard.

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