Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DAY 295: Bush camp to bush camp 37km S of Carnarvon

50km @ 13.3 km/hr
Thurs 14th August 2008
Sunny, 25 deg C
Elevation of /destination 6m
Distance to date 18236 km (11397 miles)

I was glad to quit this camp this morning; too many ants, flies and a busy road, being so close to Carnarvon, the biggest town since Port Hedland. Loading up the bike was hard with nowhere to lean it - just thick bushes everywhere; no trees.
Within half an hour I had turned off the Northern Coastal Highway for Carnarvon, and straight into 4km of industrial estate - reminiscent of Coff’s Harbour in NSW. Were planners involved here at all I ask myself? It makes a town ugly for me if you have to enter it in this way. The roads were busy so I jumped on the cycle track - OK, at least there was one! I passed about 6 caravan parks before spotting a shopping centre complex; ah, must be the town centre! A little further on is the concrete esplanade / sea frontage area, which is pretty bland in my opinion, and I had a quick cycle along the coastal path which ends abruptly inside 1km. I was considerably underinspired by what I’d seen so far.
I went in the VIC to ask about caravan park prices, but they had no price list, and I learnt that they were very full at the moment, which didn’t sound good. I was already planning my exit! They had internet at the VIC though, which I availed myself for a full 2 hours ($12) to keep you, my readers, happy. I uploaded all the pics that I couldn’t manage at Coral Bay and answered lots of e-mails. I was pleased to see 2 more generous donations to WaterAid via the website too.
Next job was shopping to restock food supplies, and I bought too much as usual. I was just forcing it all into the panniers when this German lady (now resident in Albany WA) came to chat. Her name is Ute (pronounced ootay not yewt!) and she is a mad keen cyclist and environmentalist. I was very impressed with her green principles which are much sounder than my modest attempts in comparison. Her and hubby head south tomorrow and she had promised to stop when they reach me to give me fruit and water! Look forward to that! Her enthusiasm was infectious, and it’s a treat to meet people like her once in a while - like Renee in Cairns who similarly struck me. I am reminded that there is hope for the planet with such individuals around.
Anyway after some lunch, and topping-up of water and petrol for the stove, I hit the Coastal Highway south, having decided there was no attraction for me in staying in Carnarvon. As expected, having read the weather forecast in the paper, the wind was southerly and in my face, and fairly fresh too. At least there was a shoulder, and a bit of tree cover in places, but much of the rest of the day was in open country with the wind gusting into me. The road is undulating for the first 20km, before flattening out. I decided to keep going until around 5 to try and get as many km in as I could, but then after 5 I couldn’t see a decent camping spot in this open country. Eventually, as the sun was low in the sky, I saw a clump of trees and thankfully dived into the bush on the right.
That’s when things went pear-shaped. There were millions of flies which descended in droves and covered me all over; worse even that that, there were lots of jackthorns that were sticking to my clothes and bags - and into my rear tyre, which was now flat! These are pea-sized seeds with 3 or 4 very sharp short spines sticking out of the sides at different angles, and I already had my tent laid out before realising that they were sticking straight through the ground sheet and tent bottom so no way could I sleep here! By this time the sun had dipped below the horizon; I had a flat tyre, and nowhere to pitch the tent - oops! I had to move on, so resigned myself to this, loaded up the gear again, and with the tyre still flat dragged the whole lot back to the road, where I stripped everything off again and turned the bike upside down to sort the puncture out.
It’s a good job it stays light for half an hour or so after dusk, so I was able to fit a new (repaired) tube and the old spare tyre. The tyre I’d just removed needed to be thoroughly checked for thorns, and I didn’t have time to do that at the moment. There was nowhere to lean the bike as usual so reloading the bags was difficult as I tried to fit the heavy panniers and balance the bike upright at the same time. By the time I’d done this it was almost dark, but I still had to find a pitch. I had no intention of entering the bush round here again with all the thorns around, so I had to go against principles and camp in the open on an area of clean red sand. I was about 50m from the road, so darkness probably hides me somewhat; anyway it’ll just have to do!
I got set up quickly with the help of the light from an almost-full moon, and was soon enjoying a de-stressing mug of red vino, and preparing sandwich dinner with fresh wholemeal bread newly-bought today, followed by copious fruitcake and mugs of tea. Traffic became lighter as the evening wore on, so this doesn’t feel too bad a site now.

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