Saturday, June 14, 2014

A short cut: Bauhinia Downs, Rollestone, Springsure, Emerald, Capella, Clermont, Belyano Crossing, Charters Towers

Was wanting to have a rest in Tarrom, but didn't like the look of the caravan park. So headed out. Thought I'd head to Theodore and stay a couple of days, but at the last moment decided to take a 110km gravel road shortcut towards Springsure and rest there instead.

The "short cut" turned a hard slog, that had me wondering if it was such a great idea after all. Gravel road I was told. Gravel road describes anything that isn't covered in tar; from hard packed smooth dirt to deep beach sand, to large cobble sized rocks embedded in rock. The short cut turned out to have the latter.  80km of bone shaking rattling over rocks, with regular oscillations requiring "get off and push". Couldn't even enjoy the downhills because of the rocks, and in the few places the rocks didn't exist, the road was getting bull dust pits.
Historical Site found about 80km from the Tarrom end of the Fitzroy Development Road
But eventually the last 30km come good for me, and it was out to Bauhinia Downs, were I scored a lift with a road train to Rollestone.

I'd decided that since I was covering ground that I'd already cycled many times before up to Cairns, that if anyone offered a lift, I'd take it. So, when the driver offered, I accepted. Bike tied at the end of the load, a long long way back, off we went. Certainly a different view from up high.

Since I arrived in Rollestone so early, I called the rest of a the day a rest day and checked into the caravan park for a washing day. Sadly that night the fire alarm in a nearby locked caravan/cabin started squeaking the low battery warning.  It did mean I was up early to leave...

Easy cycling through Springsure. Stopped to chat with a broken down truckie. He asked if I had any water. Unfortunately my measly 3 litres wasn't going to top up his system after a broken heater pipe. Since I also lacked a spare pipe and cooling fluid, he had to wait for the repair truck to come out.

Another truckie stopped a bit later up the road - two flat tires.  I couldn't help him either. There was some muttering about Friday 13th.

Passing through Emerald was non eventful. Just a quick stop for food, then kept going out of town.

In light showers, 20km from Capella, Luke in his ute pulled over to offer me a lift. I accepted again. Had an extra hour to sit about for lunch and clean the mud off.  I thoughtlessly stepped off the road into a recently dug hole. Sank to my ankles in mud.  Cleaned it up, but repeated the trick later that day looking for a road side camp. Finally got all the mud off in Clermont.

I left Clermont, minus mud, but with a lot of food; I blame it on shopping when hungry. Should never do that!

The end of the day out of Clermont, when I wanted to camp, there was a 20km stretch that had four cars run off the road and crashed. One had rolled several times and jumped the fence near the road. All late model cars. Tired drivers?  I didn't know, but found a spot a kilometre from the road that night and each other night. Wasn't taking chances.

Easy riding till past Belyando Crossing. I'd stopped at a rest stop to have a snack, when a road train pulled up with empty, cattle trailers. Got talking with the driver, and he offered a lift into Charters Towers, where he would then head west.  Tied the bike in the cattle trailer and off we went.