Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DAY 297: Wooramel Roadhouse to bush camp 7km S of Overlander Roadhouse

84km @ 16.0 km/hr
Sat 16th August 2008
Sunny, 25 deg C
Elevation of /destination 69m
Distance to date 18410 km (11506 miles)

After getting up for the loo at 0530 I couldn’t get warm again for ages so didn’t get back to sleep. This was probably due to having no socks on because I washed them last night - I only have one pair you see, got to save weight where I can! I drifted off and woke up after 8 and still it felt cold because there was a tree blocking the suns warming rays.
After packing up, repairing the ripped tent with duct tape (not very effectively because it doesn’t stick well to the nylon material), trying to mend the holed inner tube (there were 3 holes so I abandoned the idea for now) and breakfasting, I went around to the roadhouse to say goodbye to my hosts. As I entered I could smell freshly-baked cakes, and indeed there was a cabinet full of Danish pastries hot from the oven. This was an opportunity too rare to miss - all you usually get at these places are pre-bagged muffins made God knows where - so
I bought one and devoured it with iced coffee; a great start to the day! The cake was delicious; full marks to the baker.
It was after 10 then when I actually got away, with a nice NE part-tailwind helping me along. I’d only been going for 15 minutes when I came across 2 more cyclists heading north. They were Mick and Murray, supported in 4WD by Marie, and they have been crossing Australia via gravel tracks all the way from the east coast for several weeks. The guys were older than me and looked very fit indeed. They have raised $15000 for the Flying Doctor Service so far, a great effort. We swopped stories for a while before they headed off to Wooramel Roadhouse for some of the Danish pastries that I told them about. After we parted I realised I had again forgotten to get their photo, doh....
The first 40km was more scenic than of late, with the road bending around a couple of small mountain ranges. It’s a bit hilly too, but this made a nice change actually after the blandness of the past week. There was little in the way of a shoulder unfortunately, but the road wasn’t that busy to cause worry. There were increasingly large areas of wild flowers on the gravel shoulder, mostly yellow and purple with pleasant scents.
After 40km the road became straight and dead flat again, and soon after that the NE wind became a SE wind and all of a sudden I was having to work harder to go 40% slower! Not nice...but I grinned and bore it with fortitude (a little bit anyway!).
After 76km I arrived at the Overlander Roadhouse, and celebrated with an ice cream, bottle of Fanta and a big bag of oranges from a fruit stall outside. It was an opportune time to phone Lyn too, it being 0930 in the UK on Saturday morning, and she sounded in good spirits. It’s wet and windy in Caithness, and apparently the Mey Games last weekend that Charles and Camilla attended was a washout. It’s such a shame when so much work goes into organising these things, but that’s Caithness for ‘ee, and I'm sure HRH is well used to it after all the times he's been up there. He'd probably be into the Highland Park to warm himself up...
After exhausting the delights of the roadhouse I set off again south, intending to ride at least 5km (out of silent night noise range of the roadhouse generator) then look for a camping site. I found one OK, and picked my way back to the fence very carefully after the thorns of the other night; even then I trod on a few that stuck in my feet so I knew they were there. I can recognise the plant, but around here there’s so much stuff growing you can’t see the wood for the trees.
As I was setting up I noticed that there was a bird’s nest just a couple of feet above where I’d parked the bike, and a few metres from the tent - drat - there were 2 chicks in it too, missing mum, who had presumably been frightened off by me. I sat quietly sipping the last of the red wine over at the tent and with relief saw her come back and settle back on the nest, and she seemed quite happy after that. I had to consult Simpson and Day since I didn’t recognise the species, and it turned out to be a Diamond Dove - described as ‘common’ to this area. The chicks were just newly-hatched little brown balls of fur with no markings yet. All’s well that ends well...I’llhave to creep about as carefully as I can.

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