Monday, July 5, 2010
Hughenden to Charters Towers
Hughenden to Charters Towers = 256km
(Hughenden to 20km west of Torrens Creek = 67km)
(20km west of Torrens Creek to 14km west of Pentland = 62km)
(14km west of Pentland to 3km west of Balfes Creek = 77km)
(3km west of Balfes Creek to Charters Towers = 50km)
Cummulative total = 3950km
Day 1 -
We had a couple of visitors to our camp site this morning
The premantis was between the fly and the tent and the gecko was cleverly camouflaged on the grass and I nearly stepped on it so Neil put it back on the tree and then we couldn't see where it went ... so at least it can move safely in the knowledge that if we couldn't find it then its' predators won't find it!!!
We had and early start knowing this part of the leg will be extremely tough what with facing a headwind all the way to Charters Towers as the prevailing wind always comes from the east it just swings between the north and south!! And today was no exception it was a strong headwind and the road is very open and wide for the first 30km so we were faced with the full brunt of the wind with no trees or hills to buffer us - I think I crawled along at 12km per hour! The road itself is the best we have been on and the traffic wasn't exactly heavy and not too many trucks maybe because the train line follows this road all the way to Townsville! but the surface was predominantly that chunky gravel bitumen.
We were stopped by a guy in a car and he wanted to chat to us about the BOB trailers we have as he has just bought one and he was thinking of doing a cycle tour in NZ so Neil loved chatting to this guy and offering him all sorts of advice and the guy was happy to listen!
Not long after the above photo was taken of our first hill since NSW! we obviously began to start gently climbing the continental divide but at least we were buffered from the wind behind the trees and hills! And so the gentle climbing begins for the rest of the day.
At Prairie (44km from Hughenden) we took a long cuppa break and this is a nice wee town and the picnic area is maintained by the Lions club so it was quite interesting to look at the historical items in the park.
Neil says this is a comet windmill one of 15 in Australia - don't know where the other 14 are! Also below is the old lock up which is now the public toilet - it was quite quaint going to the toilet in this building!
I felt alot better after having a cuppa and I realised when I was cycling along that I had forgotten how hard the day can be with a constant headwind but if I didn't think about it it was okay! I think it was a shock to the system having to use the granny gear and a greater range of the gears itself! The wind did begin to die around lunchtime so that helped. But our day did perk up when we pulled over at a truck stop and just as we were about to head off we passed a bag of squashed mandarins and we assumed the owner had left them on his car and drove off and they fell - we after a quick glance I saw that there were still some whole unsquashed ones in the bag ... so you guessed it we picked them up and put them in our bags! ... it was like someone had left a little food parcel on the side of the road for us!!!
After Prairie we found a nice little area between the road and railway line - there was not alot of opportunities to bush camp along this highway as one side of the road is completely fenced off and the other has the railway running close to the road - at this point where we camped the railway line is about 50m from the road and we are about halfway between the railway and road!!!
Since we are near the railway line we assume we will get trains through the night and more than likely they will be around 2am!
Dinner tonight was weetbix for me and Muesli for Neil - we are having to ration out the food for the next 4 days, especially certain foods, namely bread and bickys!!! - 14 slices of bread, 7 biscuits, 8 Sao crackers, 3 pieces of fruit cake between us per day or else we will eat all our food in 2 days!!!
Day 2 -
Well we didn't exactly have a great nights sleep last night as Kouta was farting to his little bowels content and he had a wee accident in the tent but at least it was a solid - we are not sure what is going on with him! may have to take him to the vet when we get to Charters Towers if he is still having problems! but the wind is really horrendous - worse than rotten eggs and it lingers for a loooooooooooooong time! Not only was our lack of sleep due to Kouta but also to the fact that is was a warm night and the front door of the tent is broken so we have no mesh to let the fresh air in and so it can be stiffling in the tent at times ... and .... there were a few trains passing through last night - we saw the passenger one at around 8pm (I think) and there wasn't too many people on the Overlander passenger train and the rest were cargo trains.
So after an 8.15am start we had a break at Torrens Creek and at exactly 9.16am the wind began to blow and it was strong again. The Torrens creek is dry like all the creeks around here.
Kouta is moving alot in the trailer so we put part of the tent in his basket with him and he seemed a little peeved that it was there but at least it sort of stopped his moving about from side to side!
Now if you remember from Day 1 we found some mandarins in a truck parking bay ... well today there was a loaf of opened bread in one of those truck parking bays ... and ... no we didn't pick it up! but I think I would have if it hadn't been opened! I know you would have Dad!
We picked up some water (albeit with a slight yellow tinge to it but drinkable!) at Torrens Creek and headed off towards the Continental divide - we were hoping to get a nice sunny view from the top but the day was overcast and cloudy - we did have a few sprinklings of rain last night but not enough to wet the ground! The road is a gentle incline up to the top of the Divide at 550m above sea level - this was 23km from Torrens Creek. At this point we were in the White Mountains National Park so the fauna was really nice - alot of red grevilleas and orange and yellow bottle brush type bushes so it was very pleasant riding both up and down the divide.
Like everyone else I etched '4 pedals and 4 paws '10' on the flat rocks but I would imagine that it will disappear soon as I am sure Neil and I wrote our names there 12 years ago and we couldn't find it ... I must remember that if we come by here again I will bring a chisel so my etching will be a bit more permanent!!!
By now the wind began to die down again just like yesterday so that was a real bonus but I was too pooped to go much further! so again like yesterday there is very little opportunity to pull over and bush camp but we did manage to find one about 14km before Pentland and I forgot to take a photo of it but it was like the night before between the road and railway line - but I think a bit more closer to the road! ... 2nd night without a shower and only a British bath!
Day 3 -
We slept better last night mainly because we slept through most of the trains that passed through so we must be getting use to them! We started by 8am hoping to get an hours ride in before the wind begins again ... and we waited ... and we waited ... for the wind but it didn't come! How lucky are we! expecting nothing but strong headwinds all day every day and we have been very lucky so far so what little wind that did come today was not very strong and came more from a southerly direction so we capitalised on it and did a bigger day so that tomorrow to Charters Towers would be smaller!
Just before we got to Pentland we came across a huge snake (dead) alongside the road - it was about as thick as Neils arm and about 2m long! we think it may have been a python! It is lovely riding along here and the traffic is not that busy so it is easy to just pull off alongside the road like in the photo below!
The day is still cloudy and overcast and threatening to rain but it doesn't. There is no sun to charge the solar light so we will just have to listen to the radio tonight if we can pick anything up or maybe we will just listen to the static on the radio!!!
The road is predominantly flat with the odd undulations here and there and since we have crossed over the divide there is a tendancy to do more down hill than up hill and so the undulations were easy to tackle and I felt good and strong while cycling so the fact that we could hardly find a suitable bush camp wasn't any problem as we increased our daily kilometers! We finally found one about 3km before Balfes Creek and it was on the side of someones paddock!
Since it was such a cloudy day and the clouds began to break up late afternoon the sunset was really lovely to watch ... along with the kangaroos that would come out of the over grown paddock and onto the graded path that we were camped on and boy did they stop in their hoppy tracks when they saw us ... you could almost hear them say to each other ... "what the hell are they!!!"
by the way this is our 3rd day without a shower!!!
Day 4 -
We woke very excited today that we were very close to a major town that would have real supermarket with fresh salads and food! So we got a nice early start with a headwind that again wasn't very strong and the first 20km was flat and then the final 30km was undulating but with the knowledge that a supermarket was close by I didn't really notice the hills at all! We did however come across a small snake in the small shoulder part of the road and I didn't see it until I went passed it so we circled back and Neil took this photo - we didn't get too close as I thought it was still alive and just sunning itself and getting warm, but Neil thought that it was dead but he or I couldn't see any tyre markings on it or anything!
We have both been to Charters Towers before (12 years ago) and knew that is was a nice picturesque town with well looked after old style buildings. We made it to Charters by 12pm and decided to splash out and get a powered tent site - the supermarket is closed today being a Sunday and we sort of guessed that it would be but the Foodworks town and country was open to get bread and yogurt - and we decided to get pizza for dinner tonight - thinking that 1 should be enough but Neil got a meal deal of 2 pizzas, garlic bread and a soft drink for $28 (Neil forgets we are on a budget sometimes!) and I thought yeah we will have the rest for lunch tomorrow ... there was none left we had a large pizza each!!!
Like I said above Charters Towers has alot of historic buildings but none so more important than the one below
We haven't had been in one of these since Roma ... hundreds of kilometers ago - I am looking forward to tomorrow when it opens ... who the hell closes on a Sunday! it is so backward up here!
Oh yeah we did have a shower today!!!