Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pilliga

Time for a wash. Pilliga has a public hot spring. Actually it's a bore that empties into a pool.
When I arrived, the park was busy. Lots of caravans, motor homes and campervans. Well a lot compared to how many I'd seen recently. I rode up, took my sandals off and walked into the pool. Figured my clothes needed a bit of a clean also. The water comes out of the bore warm, and with a salt content. I was hoping it was less than what was on my clothing. Only stayed in a bit, then out to dry off.
Temps have been trending upwards, so it didn't take long to dry. I interacted with a few of the visitors. Apart from one couple, parked noticeably away from everyone else, people were not happy. Grumpy would describe them. Not sure why.
I was happy. Fine day, a wash, food, water. I didn't stay. While there was a lot of room, a spot on the first was already reserved for me. Off down the dirt road towards Baradine I went.

Burren Junction

I found breakfast on the road this morning. Courtesy of the semi-trailer that went past earlier. The bird was definitely fresh road kill. Didn't get much off it; two bits the size of oysters. I'd have thought it would have been tender, having been hit by a truck, and being a young bird. Maybe it was my cooking technique. It was a tough chew...
It didn't add a lot in calories either. Need to find bigger road kill.
Burren Junction is a dead town. The shop closed last Friday. The servo had shut. Only the pub is left. I only stopped at the rest area out of town to cook breakfast, then headed towards Pilliga.

Collarenebri

A steady cycle along the dirt road into Collarenebri. Given it was Sunday, not much was happening. I did stop briefly at the aboriginal cemetery. Looked pretty western to me.
Collarenebri is a dry town, as in no alcohol. The cemetery is out of town.
I didn't stay long, headed out towards Burren Junction.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Mungindi

Mungindi, the only town straddling a border in the south hemisphere to have the same name on both sides.
It's a small town, but has two police stations, one in Queensland, one in New South Wales.
I noticed the signs going south about fishing licenses required in NSW. That explained why all the fishing was happening on the QLD side of the river.
But keeping rabbits, is way more costly in QLD!
Not sure if it was state rivalry or not, but was told I could only get water on the Qld side. Since I needed to go that way, I didn't argue. But I do think they were pulling my leg.

Friday, 26 September 2014

St George

Arrived early, after a night of thunder, lightning, strong winds, and a little rain. Found out later that I'd missed most of it; 25mm had fallen in town. This was to cause me some problems when I wanted to leave.
Wandered in to Unique Egg, thinking to look about the sports gear, and found it was a tourist attraction on its own. 60 years of hand carved emu eggs. Spent time talking with Steve Margaritus about his life in Australia, and the eggs he'd carved. Was very interesting. Might go back and talk more with him another time.
St George was smaller than I'd though it would be. I didn't stay long. Food then water, and headed out.
St George has the water systems: rain water, bore water and river water. Mostly people drink rain water, wash in bore water, and water the plants with river water. Yes, some off the taps give out river water. Noticeable from the muddy color.  I declined to buy bottle water, and eventually found a drink fountain near the river to fill up at. I suspect it is bore water, but had signs up saying it was drinkable. It is!
I'd planned to take the dirt road to Dirranbandi, but after the rain, and locals saying it was probably all mud at this time, decided to stick on the tar. In the end it didn't matter. At the turnoff, the wind was blowing so strong, I decided to have an easy time, and not ride into a head wind. Stayed on the road towards Nindigully.
Stopped off just before the Nindigully Pub, and sheltered from the wind. A peaceful night was had.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Surat

Surat was a lovely town. Rolled before lunch. Showers from the overnight had eased, but it was still cloudy. Sun trying to peak through.
I used the time to find some water and wash the mud off my tent and ground sheets. Also washed my sandals and socks. The mud out here is very sticky. Clogged up the tires also. I took to carrying a stick to scrape it out. I would have washed in Roma, but I couldn't find a tap at all. Even getting drinking water was hard. Didn't like Roma much - too big, lots of mining traffic, everyone in high-viz gear. And traffic lights!
Two locals in Surat went out of their way to come and tell me about the camping options and free showers in town. How sweet is that!
Cause I didn' t use the showers - I'd washed in Charleville.
I went to look at the camping. It was a very nice site near the water. But, lots of caravans about. I've been spoilt: too much camping on my own. Loaded up with water and headed out. Found a lovely spot just for me later that day.

Mitchell, Roma

Nothing to exciting heading down the road to Mitchell. Lots of traffic, compared to what I have had. At Mitchell, I have a weekend to spend before getting to Roma. So I take the scenic route. Dirt roads with no traffic. Much better.
I stopped Saturday afternoon just sort of the tar again. Went back up the road 5km to find a sheltered spot. Showers were forecast. Could happen,  might not.
Turned out it poured. All Sunday. My spot was sheltered, but the amount of water coming down, and the dry soil. Had mud running under the tent. Water also dripped in in a few places also. I don't think the Hubba Hubb Tent is a wet weather tent. More like a fine weather, with chance of rain tent. Used spare plastic I had to keep the sleeping gear off the floor.
Mondays ride into Roma was also very wet. Mud everywhere. Glad I went back up the road, the spots close to the tar were underwater.
I did spend Sunday cleaning up my bags. Found the usual amount of non essential stuff. Was happy to be able to reduce my load by a kilo. But since then picked up more stuff from the road supermarket. Currently carrying a whole roll of pink marking tape, and a full packed of giant cable ties. Both look useful, but I don't think I need them.

Charleville, Morven

Washed everything. The new poison smells good - no smell or taste. Still watching the ticks die as they try and climb up the tent or my leg.
The caravan park was $24 a night for two person site, but since i was on my own it was reduced to $20. Hmmm not much of a reduction.
Ate lots and then headed out to Morven. Stopped and took a picture of the Kero Hut. Made from old tins, during the depression years. Lots of families lived in these type huts. Wouldn't happen today..

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Charleville

Headed out the old Charleville Road to Charleville of course. Not a road that is well advertised. Not a road that is maintained either. You start by going through some closed gates. Then you need to keep you sense of direction turned on. It appears to take a bend and cross a creek, but a bit later, alarms should be ringing, it turns further west. Time to go back. The bend before the river, has a small track that continues straight ahead. You want that. Follow for the next 30km, avoiding cows.

And finally join the Mitchell Highway, 20km outside of Augathella. Sure the highway would have been quicker, but no where near as scenic or as much fun.

I decided to stay the night in Charleville. The sheep dip taste in my water and food was getting to me. I was going to ignore it some more, but then talking with a guy outside the IGA, he mentioned there was a strong sheep dip smell, and that I was the cause of it. Soon as he said 'sheep dip' I knew it was me. Bought some more soap, and went to find a caravan park to wash in.  Really annoying actually, as the poison is odourless and tasteless. Its just the "flavour" that gives it the awful smell and taste. Why can't they make it strawberry or banana? So the agenda for the day was wash everything - tent, bedding, clothing, ground sheets, water bags, bags, bottles, etc.. Yep, everything. The stuff didn't have any smell on my clothes when dry, but when wet, the sheep dip smell was back.  Finally got everything smelling , well, not of sheep dip. A definite improvement.

Then hunted up food, and more poison for the ticks. This time, I did the smell test before buying.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Tambo, Augathella

I'm almost giddy with excitement. I've bought poison! The ticks have had their day. I'm tired of being food. We've had an uneasy relationship. They scurry up my legs as fast as they can. I try to spot them and flick them off. No matter how many I spot, I always had the feeling some were avoiding my gaze.  I got good at pinching the spots I couldn't see and picking them off. But the were always more. Finally, enough!
I stopped early, and sprayed my tent, ground sheets, straps, ocky cords, shoes, socks, only the below the knees of my pants. I smell like a dipped sheep. But no more ticks! It was with great satisfaction I found dead ones in the tent this morning. As they keep climbing out of my gear, they will all die.  The only down side of this - besides smelling of a dipped sheep - is that at times my water seems to taste the same. Small price to pay I decide. I sleep well at night now.
Continuing south, I pass the Dog Fence. Though, I'm sure I saw dogs on either side of it. Not sure how useful it is really.

A rare site

Riding along a quiet back road, I find an old bridge. I have to dismount and walk across it, but it talks to me as I pass.
Much more friendly than the newer bridges that stay silent...

On the way to Blackall

Woke up in the middle of the night. Had a visitor, and he ignored my 'shoo' and stayed about. Finally I unzipped the door and stuck my head out. Just as he stuck his head in. We bumped noses. His was cold.  Then he backed away and went somewhere else.  Luckily he visited this night. The night before, I might have invited him in for dinner. Must sense when someone is hungry, and its safe to visit.

Next day I'm cycling happily along the road. The wind is playing with me. It pretends to not notice me, and I wind up the speed. Then it pounces back and knocks me down to crawling pace. I laugh out loud. Its such a beautiful day.

Later I'm staring in my own concert. I sing and my audience is happy. Well, they are not flying away, so I call that happy. I'm quiet good really.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Isisford, via the "shortcut"

The GPS shows its only 107 km, Longreach to Isisford. Trouble is, no one seems to know the road. I set of to explore. Four hours later, 45 km of dirt roads and I'm talking with Mark about the road. Lucky for me, Mark was checking the dams, else I was on a long trip back to Longreach the way I had come. The road was the old postal route. Long gone. Mark said I was only 6km from the road to Jundah. I decide to take that, and emerge 18 km from where I started.
All up the trip to Isisford takes me 150km. Longer than any option provided by the GPS or map.
But it was country. And no traffic. Just nice dirt roads, cows, sheep, emus and roos.
Arriving, I learn its a public holiday for the Barcaldine show. Nothing open. Oh well, tomorrow.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Winton to Longreach

It's 2:30 am when I admit I'm lost. The moon is out, but it's not showing enough light to help me. My torch just doesn't have the power either.
The day had started so well. Packed and on the road early. I'd found a screwdriver, some spanners (imperial, left them behind) and a battery drill (still working). And I met Noel and Moreen.
We'd briefly meet at the Burke and Wills roadhouse. A quick chat, they where on their way to Lawn Hill National Park.
They recognized me stopped having a snack, turned around, and came back to say hello. What's more, I was invited into their (motor)home for a cup of caffeine, and one of Noels home made fruit tarts. Out off the wind, I heard about their trip.
Most roadside stops are me answering twenty questions, before I hear, "got to go now, bye". So was lovely to hear about their travels.
Whether it was the coffee, tart, conversation, rest, or dropping off the battery drill, I had good travels afterwards. As the sun fell, I passed a gate. In I went 100 meters to some bushes.
That night I didn't sleep well, so at 1:30 decided to get up, pack up, and night ride. No wind, it was cooler. Moon out. Almost perfect. I headed back to the gate.
By 2:30, I admit I'm lost. Can't find the gate. I've pushed almost a one km now, through two drains! I was only 100m from it when the sun set. Now I'm at a fence, I can see the road, I give up on the gate. Unpack the bike, lift it all over, repack, push through the grass, remembering Russ's Mt Surprise snake talk. Is it better to push through the bundles, or steer for a path? I push through the bundles making lots of noise to scare snakes away, and to avoid any death adders waiting on the path for prey.
On the road, I jump on. One turn of the pedals and stop. Unpack the bike again. Panniers on wrong side and hitting my feet. Finally I'm ready. Now I begin to doubt myself. Am I going the right way? The GPS doesn't completely clear things up. It's only when I see new road signs that I'm happy I'm going the right way.
Winton arrives at 7 am. I eat breakfast, look about. Very touristy. I don't want to stay. By 9 I've restocked and am rolling out of town. The plan was 30 km, find some shade and rest. But the wind died down! Oh, to not have a headwind. Then puffs of a tail wind. I had to keep going!
By 2 pm, the headwind was back, and I wanted to stop, but nothing to hide behind. Just empty grass plains. It was 4pm when I came to some bushes and finally stopped.10 hours cycling time, 170km. A big day.
I drifted off to sleep watching the tiny spiders on the tent mesh.
At midnight I awoke, to tired, back to sleep. At 3 I was up and going again. No getting lost this morning.
Later I regretted not starting at midnight. The headwind picked up with the light. The last 40 km into Longreach was very windy. But time passes, and I arrive.
Sitting having lunch, I notice I've more freckles. Arrrgghh ticks, not tiny spiders!! Time to rest, de-tick, and plan where to next.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

On the way to Winton

I'd left Julia Creek for Kynuna. It was a cold morning, and I had delayed starting. Only 117km, no worries. Until the wind blew up, the temperature soared, and I flagged. Then to top it all off, in the hottest part of the day, the rear tire went flat!  What? A new tire, it doesn't puncture! It hadn't. The tube had a patch and it had separated. Darn. Patched it again without taking the wheel off, loaded up, pffffttt. The new patch didn't stick. At this point I took the wheel off and replaced the tube with a patch free one. All this in the blazing sun, flies and dust. Not sure if the glue was off or it was just too hot.

With a new tube of glue, in the cooler evening I patched the tube again to keep for a spare.

Over the next rise, and I met a lovely couple with a camper trailer having a break on the side of the road. They topped me up with water, so I could skip riding into Kynuna, and head straight to Winton. A 10km saving. 

Ended up camped near the road, behind a bush about 100km from Julia Creek.

I'm sure no one could see me here :-)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Sheltering from the wind in Julia Creek

Another blusterious day. Lucky it's a rest day for me. Though, it's not as hot as yesterday, or will be tomorrow.

Sheltering with a magpie. It's been singing non stop; probably complaining about the wind. Or, maybe that I'm not providing any food. I've enough of my own problems there. The spare tire around my waist has migrated downwards. As the legs have grown, the appetite has soared. Stocked up yesterday for today, and promptly ate it all this morning for breakfast. Another shop is needed if I'm not to eat the cycling rations. Better do that while there is a shop. Next one will be in Winton, three long days pedal away. And more headwinds and heat is forecast.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Non cooking pasta!

Found that with the high winds, I didn't want to try lighting up the stove. Sitting in a sea of dry grass, windy, lighting a fire - no way. But needed to use my pasta up, as I didn't have enough non cook items to get me to the next town.

Soak it!

Yep, it worked. Soaked overnight, it was edible in the morning.  If I waited until evening, it started fermenting though. Still edible - just a bit fizzy.

Add milk powder, or curry and yum.

The water is sweet, the pasta a bit tasteless..  That is what the milk powder or curry is for.

Found the same with my breakfast - rolled oats, desiccated coconut and dried dates.  Best to eat it before lunch.  By the evening, its fermenting. Again still edible, just a bit fizzy.

I use peanut butter jar to soak food in. When the food starts fermenting, the containers swell - so could leak. Make sure they are standing upright in the panniers..

Julia Creek

Didn't stop in Cloncurry, known as Curry to the locals.  After four days of not very many people, it seemed crowded at the Foodworks on a Sunday. Decided to head to Julia Creek. Give me a bit more time to think about which way I'm going.

This might be sounding monotonous, but it was steady days of cycling at 15km/hr into the wind. Yep, its windy and all directions I want to go, are into it. The land around here is big open flat planes. Nothing to hide behind, nothing to stop the wind.

Ended up camped near a creek, that had a bit of water in a few holes. Watched all the birds come for a drink. With 33C temps, and windy, its hot.

Stopped in Julia Creek now, as the forecast has 7km winds. But the observation is 32km/hr with gusts up 43km/hr.



Its dry here. Hasn't rained in three years. The locals are hoping for some rain this year. Cause, when that happens, it will be a flood.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Sailing down to Cloncurry

I left Normanton about 4am. Just couldn't sleep. Went to bed early, not feeling the best. Then kept waking all night. So at 3am, decided to do something about all the cool, still weather. Packed up and I was off.

When the sun peeked over the horizon, I saw that I was on a sea of golden brown grass. With the increased light, increased wind. Sailing I was. Not the skip across the wave tops type, nor the lazing about on deck with a glass of something alcoholic. This was the labouring into the wind type of sailing.



I'd managed 50km by sun up. Three hours - not bad. The next 50 took 5 hours. A much slower pace.  I had two car drivers stop. One gentleman, whose name escapes me now, picked me up with tea and lamingtons. A real life saver. I'd been feeling not the best still. But after this, I was almost back to normal.

The next driver to stop was Jim of Free Scotland. His gift was stuff from heaven; cashews, peanuts and dried banana chips. Thanks Jim - they lasted two days.

I'd called it quits for the day not long after waving off Jim. Too hot. Found a solitary bush to shelter behind.

Next day, was a repeat; without the early rising, or the drivers stopping. A steady day of 15km/hr into the wind was itinerary. Seven hours to the Burke and Wills Roadhouse for a couple of burgers. Avoid being trampled at the counter by large mammalian creatures, then on another hour to find a campsite away from the crowds.

No surprise the next day was a repeat. Steady day of pedalling into head winds. I tried a few times if walking was faster; no. I also tried tacking across the road. Seemed to help, but then it didn't.  Just keep pedalling..
Stopped at a pub outside of Cloncurry, but it was too early. Just had to keep going...