Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DAY 298: Bush camp to bush camp 60km S of Billabong Roadhouse

101km @ 17.3 km/hr
Sun 17th August 2008
Sunny, 26 deg C
Elevation of /destination 198m
Distance to date 18511 km (11569 miles)
I overshot again and didn’t wake until 0810, being cocooned cosily in the warm darkness of my lair. Peeping out, I was happy to see that Mrs.Diamond Dove was feeding her twins, and all seemed normal with them. Maybe the lack of fear is based on not being harmed by other big animals such as kangaroos. I managed to slowly get within a foot of the nest to take a photo and she still sat there!
It was nearly 0930 then when I carefully picked my way through the undergrowth, keeping a wary eye open for Jackthorns so as to avoid yet another p*******. Despite this being the sabbath the road was still busy, mostly with caravanners and boaters / fishermen. The first 65km is dead straight, which with 25km yesterday adds up to no bend in the road for 90km.
The first 40km took me to Billabong Roadhouse, and it was a bit of a grind with the wind bang on the left side the whole time, so I was averaging just under 15km/hr. There is a decent shoulder of 700mm to 1m so no traffic dramas, and from 20 to 40km there are some moderate undulations that almost amount to Tobleroning - some would call it hilly. Not as many wild flowers on show today but the stunted shrubbery is gradually giving way to bigger and denser trees - good camping territory all the way, especially as there are patches of firm sandy ground all over the place.
So I was happy to reach the roadhouse for a ‘treat’, which consisted of a ‘rooburger and double-strength iced coffee. The burger was very nice (it was just lean meat with gravy and fried onions on a bun), but I wasn’t too impressed with the response to my request for a few litres of water - the rather grumpy lady said I would have to buy some desalinated stuff (“because we have to pay to get it out of the ground and remove the salt”), which is fair enough, but when I went to buy some the guy said they didn’t have any and I could buy water in bottles at around $5 each. Thanks mate. I know drinking water is precious here, but most similarly-placed roadhouses don’t quibble about giving a few litres of good stuff to cyclists. The raw water is indeed pretty awful, but I took a couple of litres from the bathroom nevertheless, to use for cooking and washing. It’s the high mineral content that makes it taste bad apparently, and it doesn’t do your gastric system much good either!
I was discussing this with a guy from Perth outside, and he kindly gave me a half-litre bottle of frozen solid stuff, which went down a treat in the afternoon.
On setting off again around 1 I was happy to find that the wind had shifted somewhat so it was more behind me, plus after 20km the straight section ended as the road bent right so I was even better off! Tailwind = happiness. The icy bottle was placed in the centre rear pocket of my cycling top so it cooled the spine while it melted, as I enjoyed nice cold water for a change. Temperatures over the past few weeks have been very nice indeed to ride in; mostly mid-twenties, so I’ve not been overheating, but still enjoy cold beverages.
After the roadhouse the road continues to undulate and bend quite a bit, but with the tailwind it wasn’t hard riding. I spotted a little blue wren dead on the road and had a chance to admire up close the beautiful colouration (pic). There was plenty of road kill too, with some of the biggest ‘roos among the victims. They are pretty huge up close, and make a terrible mess all over the road. I’m immune to such gore by now, but it still saddens me that man kills so many creatures as he storms around everywhere.
I decided I’d pack in after 100km, which I did, and found a good campsite right away - a 100m walk through the trees to a wide sandy patch out of sight of the road. There was lots of dead wood around as usual so I got a fire going right away, before having a good wash down unworried about being seen by anyone. The tent pole fix has been OK so far; fingers crossed it’ll do until the end of the trip.
I had another good supper of spaghetti, and finished off the last 4 slices of bread toasted on the fire, with pb and jam of course. It’s a pretty cool night again but I’m typing this sat warmly by the fire listening to the BBC Proms on World Service. The long aerial that came with this great little radio works very well when strung to a nearby tree.

No comments: