Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DAY 306: Bush camp to bush camp 14km NE of Geraldton

Mon 25th August 2008
74km @ 13.3 km hr
Cloudy, sunny intervals, 24 deg C
Elevation of /destination 123m

Distance to date 18847 km (11779 miles)

There was a heavy dew last night, the first for many months, and it took me by surprise. I had only thrown the tent outer over loosely, so there were several places where the outer was touching the inner, which caused some serious drips. I also managed to knock some milk over inside too, durrrr...... What a nice pitch this has been though - carpets of flowers all around me. They are predominantly paper daisies (Everlastings) and I hadn’t realised they close their petals overnight - all I could see this morning was a round pink or yellow bud. Once the sunshine hits them the petals open and point to the sun.
It wasn’t quite as cold in the morning as of late, so it was a little easier to leave the pit, and I was up and away by 0830 to another draggy uphill for 3 or 4km. The wind was light and blowing from the SW, so of no help, but the constantly twisting and undulating road was quite pleasant and made a change from recent dead straight and flat routes.
With a last 3km climb, including a very steep end, I crawled into Northampton at last. I searched for a bakery but there wasn’t one unfortunately, and the cafe only had a few dubious-looking Mrs. Mack’s pies and some unappetising scones on show. I settled for iced coffee and chocolate biscuits from the IGA. Northampton is a pretty and sleepy-looking little town; older than most towns I pass through, with turn-of-the-century clapboard shops with big verandahs facing onto the street - a proper town centre. I lingered with the paper and biscuits for a while; after reading the weather forecast for today resigned to SE winds this morning and S this afternoon - right in the face. No rush though; I don’t want to get to Perth too early.
As I was leaving town for the 52km run to Geraldton I came to the junction with the Nabawa road and stopped to check the map. I remember reading about this aternative route which is much quieter and only 13km longer, and decided to go this way. Good decision as it turned out - hardly another vehicle to be seen, and the 24km to Nabawa was strewn with wild flowers most of the way. One of the main crops grown in this predominantly arable area is Canola - Oilseed Rape we call it in the UK - and what with it’s bright yellow fields and the acres of yellow Everlastings, it made for a great blaze of dazzling colour all around as far as I could see. The road is pretty hilly and never straightens out, but that didn’t matter, this was very agreeable riding indeed.
Nawaba is also a tidy little village, much smaller than Northampton, and there’s a primary school and a pub, but no shop. I got an iced coffee there though, and sat in the sun contentedly with a bag of crisps and newspaper. I lingered for an hour before setting off again, expecting a direct headwind on this south-pointing run to Geraldton, however the wind had dropped altogether for now and the first hour was easy going. Again trees came close up to the edge of the road, which bent around a lot but was considerably flatter now, with the odd rogue hill thrown in. Later on though, once over a large hill, the south wind hit with a vengeance, and I slowed considerably; hardly making 10 km/hr for a lot of the time. I passed a picture of Colonel Sanders (pic) who is standing for election in the WA elections....There was an unexpected rest area with about 22km to go to Geraldton, not marked on the map, and I briefly stopped there and thought about camping, but the canola in the adjacent field was making my eyes itchy and sore (just as oilseed does at home), and so I continued. The road is fenced very close to the road so there is little opportunity to camp there, but near to the junction with the link road to Mullewa there were a few acres of unfenced land which was easy to access and which had several flat areas to pitch the tent on, so in I went at around 1600, a bit earlier than usual. I prefer doing this even though Geraldton is only an hour away - tomorrow I will have all day to check out the best place to stay there for a couple of days, rather than being rushed tonight; plus I save a possible $20-plus camping fee. I made sure I put the tent up properly this afternoon so as to hopefully avoid more drips overnight.

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