I made it to Kununurra early on Friday. I gained an hour and half when I crossed the WA border which makes me two hours behind you guys on the East Coast.
I thought you all might like to hear how my last few days have gone on the road;
Day 5 (Tuesday)
I had planned to camp just past the Buntine Highway turn off near the creek, but had some major change of plans when I found the entire area was covered with cattle, 100’s of them. Plan B, keep going until I find a spot hopefully shady. Absolutely no luck the road is graded back about 30 metres both sides and covered in high grass or black soot where it had been burnt out. I remembered seeing a sign some way back, ‘Next Rest Area 75 kms’, quick calculation, that’ll be about 20kms from Victoria River Roadhouse (in my head – maybe I could make it all the way – 195 kms).
The temperature was at 40C and with about 150km clocked up on the speedo (my Garmin 810) I got my first flat tyre (trailer wheel). Found a cattle yard gate off the highway, parked the bike, unloaded all the trailer gear, fixed the tyre and back on the road. Love my little green giggle hat, nice and shady.
I hit mountain range and knew I couldn’t get to Victoria River without some damage to my muscles. Plan C, I stopped at one of the sites – Judbarra / Gregory National Park, 175kms all up today.
It had a billabong with what seemed like ice cold water and I sat in it, my legs loving the cold water. I sat there in the very shallow water with a rather large stick in hand. There was a sign saying that swimming is not recommended. Walking back to my campsite I noticed two young guys’ playing cards and drinking beer and water. I asked if I could buy a beer off them. They didn’t understand as they only spoke a small amount of English. So I pointed to the beer, put 1 finger in the air, put $10 on the table and smiled and hence my first alcoholic drink for the trip. I had a cold dinner (which was very good) with the cool beer. I cleaned up, did my teeth and was in bed by 6:30.
Lying in my tent (it only takes three minutes to put up) thinking about tomorrow morning, I only had 20kms to ride to reach the roadhouse and I dreamed of having a huge breakfast. I look back at the day, it was a testing day for me both mentally and physically. So as they say, one step at a time, do circles (Angela even I do it), and not being afraid to have the old, ‘change of plans’.
Day 6 (Wednesday)
I was quite excited packing up my tent and all the gear as I was on my way to having a drink of cold water. Funny how when you drink warm water the mind tells you should be bathing in it not drinking it. Knowing I had completed that extra 50 kms yesterday, my schedule of 160 is now 110. I spent an hour having breakfast at the Roadhouse and it was just fabulous. Breakfast was followed by a quick wash, I cleaned my teeth and then back to the road I went. A Man filling up his Caravan said he saw two riders coming the same way yesterday.
Not expecting to see any other ‘Crazies’ like me on the road, low and behold, what I first thought was a caravan stopped with a problem (you really don’t often see them pulled off on the side of the road) was actually a support vehicle for some walkers. I met Chris (F), Ian and Dennis who are all walking for prostate cancer. Ian was driving, his wife Chris was walking and they were both from Stanthorpe (QLD) and Dennis (Warwick) who I met walking about 10 kms further up the road. There were originally 5 in the team but two got sick so now just the three. They have two vehicles. Yeah, I thought the same (2 vehicles for 3 people??) but what they do is this, Ian drops Chris off and she starts walking, he drives ahead 10kms and parks, Dennis goes ahead in the other vehicle a further 10kms parks, locks it and walks back to meet them all at Ian’s spot. They do 30 to 40 km a day then drive to the next rest stop.
As they drove past me later that afternoon Ian slowed right down to my speed (21km/hr) and passed me a bottle of cold water, I just thought what wonderful people. The temperature was 42C and all my water was so hot to drink. I was really looking forward to getting to Timber Creek Caravan Park. Low and behold I got to see the crazy walkers again at the caravan park when I arrived.
It was two tough days in the saddle, 282 kms done with 232 kms to get to Kununurra. I knew there were no stops for water over the next few days. I can’t rely on the rest stop tanks having water available as the last two that I came across were empty. Knowing this I bought an extra 6 litres of water plus 4 PowerAde for the next stage of the ride. OMG water was dearer than fuel.
I did my washing and I am so grateful that I bought my little money bag full of $1 coins. I had a burger, cold drink, washed up and went to bed. Due to the gruelling heat in the middle and late afternoon I intended to leave at 5:30am the next morning to ride in the dark and cool for a few hours.
Day 7 (Thursday)
At this stage I still hadn’t come across the two riders that are reported to be behind me but I thought that I may come across them today because I had decided that I would just ride to the Saddle Creek rest stop. It was a pretty uneventful day to a normal person (normal- that’s a whole discussion there). I was told by a woman at the Timber Creek Crocodile shop to pop into the Bulla Community Store and get a cold drink, say hello, as they don’t see many travellers. It was only 1km off the highway. So I did just that, I rode in, I couldn’t find the Community Store, I asked three people and they all pointed me in different directions. Not being able to find it at all I went back out to the highway and stopped further up at the Baines rest stop.
There was young couple at the rest stop and the guy came over with an ice cold can of Pepsi for me. Mark, Lynn and there little dog Muppet chatted to me for ages. They were waiting there today for their friends who were running a day behind because of the Bali ash issue. I ate some morning tea and just as I was about to leave Mark gave me another can of Pepsi. He said, “It’ll still be cold in an hour or so, enjoy.”
The tailwind today was fabulous I was averaging 21.4 km/hr and reached the 100km spot by 11:30 NT time which left me only about an hour and a half to the camp site. It ended up taking me a little longer as there was a sharp climb before I reached the camp.
I rode into the rest area and parked my bike up against one on the concrete tables and chairs. There was a woman, her name is Toni, sitting in a canvas chair with feet up on a leg stool. Not a rider, she has been on the rode in her little Honda Getz for eight months free camping where she could. We chat like old friends for ages, drinking coffee and eating scones with Rhubarb jam and cream (Toni had been to the Zebra Mine not far back and bought them there).
Something made me look up and it was the two riders, they had been riding all day over the same 120kms as I did. It was about 4:30 and they looked hot, but very fit. Maximus and Kristina both laughed softly, as they have also heard about the rider up ahead who rides in the dark hours of the morning. We finally met.
There was water in the tanks here but only for washing. It was a dry dusty spot, really just like all of the rest stops. So many vehicles drive in and out. Toni and I continued our conversation, mostly about her journey so far, as mine was only up to day seven. We had dinner, funny, mine being a cold Happy Camper meatballs and hers was soup and noodles. I packed my gear for another early start just about to go to bed when two cars pulled into the rest site. One driver in each car. They backed into a spare spot and hopped out. A young Japanese couple (why two cars- no way was I going to ask) they started pulling out camping gear from the car (back seat and boot) mostly still in boxes……..and then I noticed they had a generator. OMG it loudly ran until about 9pm! I just blanked it out and watched the stars above through my tent, thinking about my ride over the WA border.
See… what an uneventful day. Ha
Day 8 (Friday)
I’m sitting here in my room at Kununurra, it’s my rest day and I will tell you about getting here.
Back to the morning of the 8th day. I woke several times in the night, being well hydrated I go to the loo often, good sign really. I finally got up at 4:30 and drank my special morning drinks, packed all my gear trying not wake all the campers. There was a final total of 13 caravans and such at the site. I had a stretch, OMG, the stars here in the outback just have to be seen to be believed.
I was ready to leave at 5:30 when Toni woke from her car, she said she likes to head off at daybreak. She has a great set-up in her car, everything stays in her car with the exception of her large water bottles. She puts those on the ground. This is for her safety because if she gets in a situation that’s not good she can leave quick smart with all her gear, smart idea! Off I went heading for the WA border.
The border was just that, a border, checking all bags going into WA. There was a Greyhound tour bus with everyone out taking photos. I gave one of the ladies my phone and hey presto – a photo of me at the border gates. One of the guys wanted to know if the solar charger was for my esky fridge. I didn’t laugh at the guy, I politely told him it was for my cameras and travel recorder (Garmin).
I made it to town. You know, I was actually ready for a rest and recovery day. That was 514 kms done with a total calorie burn of 17,293. Food and cold drinks here I come, and oodles of it.
What does one do on a day off? Today I’ve had to put a new thorn proof tube in the trailer wheel, build two extra water bottle holders on the front forks, put on the chunky knobbly tyre on the rear of the bike also with a thorn proof tube, check all the nuts and bolts and lube the chain. After that buy more water and odd supplies and repack the gear differently. I am now ready for the 770 kms of dirt roads.
I won’t be able to post any blogs on the Gibb River Road. If I get reception I will give Alanna a call, I’m sure she will keep you all up to date on my journey.
Hey Guys……Big Thanks for all your support.
Chat to you all next Monday week from Derby.