October cycle tour map

October cycle tour map


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Normanton to Burke & Wills roadhouse

Normanton to Burke and Wills Roadhouse = 200km (Day 1 = 111km stayed at Bang Bang Rest Area; Day 2 = 89km)
Cummulative totals = 4651km and 24,652km
Burke and Wills Roadhouse = $20 unpowered

These past 2 days have been probably the hardest days so far - even harder than the days from Texas to Stanthorpe!  We always knew that the days from Normanton to Cloncurry was going to be tough and we would have a headwind although we didn't expect the strong winds we have had so far.
Day 1 we knew that the winds would be lighter compared to the following days so we wanted to do a bigger day so the next day to Burke and Wills would be shorter.  We said goodbye to 2 Austrian Cyclists - Markus and Heidi (who are cycling around the world!) and headed off at 7.30am.  There was no wind around but we knew by 9am the wind would kick in and true enough 9.15am the winds starts.  It was forecasted to have 10km per hour wind which is okay but the winds were a little stronger than that but ridable. Once the wind started Neil pulls up alongside of me and I quote "do you want me to break wind" now at first I was dumbstruck and couldn't figure out why Neil was asking me if he could "break wind" (aka fart!) and put it so politely!!!  Then I realised he meant lets draft and slipstream behind each other!  And so our regular cycles of 15mins in front and 15mins slipstreaming.  It was fabulous and the time just flew by, usually I am in front all the time but this was great and really helped me through the long day.  However Kouta was not happy and coped with the first day but by the end of the day today he was spitting chips and throwing himself around trying to look for Neil!  
One thing I did manage to do today albeit not successfully as it was a very rushed photo but out here there are birds that are usually in pairs called Bush Bustards and whenever you pass them they take off so it is near on impossible to get a photo of them but this pair didn't fly off but did begin to run away and all I could manage was the following 
 So the day wears on and it is very very hot, around 30 degrees and we are guzzling down the water, between us we are carrying 28 litres (14 litres each) as well as food for 5 days riding so we are very heavy.  We are making good time and just plodding along.  We come to Flinders River at the 60km mark and are desperately looking for crocodiles but alas we saw none.
 The terrain is flat and very out in the open with very little trees or bush to shelter you from the headwind ...  here is Neil 'breaking wind'
 So we finally get to our target rest area at 111km at Bang Bang this is really a massive rest area with toilets but no drinking water (ok for washing) and there are heaps caravans and mobile homes - all spread out and fortunately for us Neil found us a little corner in amongst the shrubs that only us in a tent or a small van could fit in.  As we were pulling up alongside these 2 women came out (virtually running to us!) and they wanted to chat and began asking us all these questions ... now we try to be nice and answer nicely back but just sometimes we wish people would just stop and think that we might be tired, hungry and would love a cold drink ... but that would be asking too much of people really, they get what they want from us - a photo of kouta in the trailer, our brief story and all the oohing and ahhhing they can muster, where as all we get is nothing but less time to sit down and relax!  We had spent over 7 hours of cycling and were on the road from 7.30am to 4.30pm and not even an offer of a cold drink ... really things are not like what they use to be years ago when we started cycling!
Since there is water for washing we could splash out on our bird baths and use plenty of water so we both felt very clean when we fell asleep at 7.30pm!
We had made a deal to get up early the next morning at 5am so Neil informs me that it is 5am by his clock, so I turn the light on and then he says hang on and rechecks his clock and realises that it is only 4am so I turn the light off and go back to sleep until 5am.  It is very dark so brekky is in the tent, even packing up was done by torch in the dark.  The sun didn't come over the horizon until 7.15am - we had already been on the road for 30mins.  The wind was already around but not strong ... this didn't pick up until around 9am and was forecasted to be around 25-30km per hour and it sure was today.  Our speed dropped dramatically and we prepared for a loooooooooong day ahead of us.  We go through our usual slipstreaming ritual of 15mins on 15mins off.  It works well with a stop every hour.  Kouta is loving it as the wind is a southerly and it is cool and all the red dirt that is in his hair is blown away!  there are plenty of kangaroos around first thing this morning and they quickly skip off when we come by.  For the first 50km there is alot of road works, although they are not working you can see there is alot of newly sealed bitumen.
So the kilometers go by very slowly and every 10km there are distance to go markers and I am extremely relieved to see this one ...
our butts are sore as there is no free wheeling just grinding on the pedals and seat.  Not expecting much at this roadhouse (expecting something like Belyando crossing) we finally get here
 while waiting for Neil to pay I took a photo of one of the petrol bowsers and for those of you interested in knowing how much you have to pay for petrol and diesel out in the middle of no where ... prepare yourself for the cost ...
 but for you kiwis if you convert you probably will find the petrol is cheaper over here in the middle of the outback compared to Auckland NZ!!!
So Neil comes out and informs me the backpacker that served him is not exactly enthused about serving and informs him that don't drink the bore water you will get sick and if you want water you will have to buy it!
So we find a spot, Neil is not happy, I am not happy and begin to worry about where we will get water for the next leg of this journey, we have about 9litres left between us but still need to find or buy another 20 litres and we know what the price of everything out here is like.  so we set up in the dust bowl, at least we had shade.
Neil asks someone about the bore water and we were going to boil it, but the guy said he thinks there is nothing wrong with it, so I go to the laundry and taste the water and it is fine, it doesn't even taste like the bore water in Normanton which had a strong sulphur smell to it, so I tell Neil that it is fine and we have a cuppa and there is no scrum on the top or oil so the bore water here is quite nice.  Happier and relieved we fill up the bottles and bladders.
here are some photos of the campground 

There are about 8 powered vans here and 2 unpowered.  The showers are fabulously hot and big so I had a loooooooooooong hot shower!  The wind has died down now and it is forecasted to be just as strong as today but I am hoping that we will get up early and get a few hours before the wind kicks in.

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