We are taking a day off here and then we turn toward Broome where we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary somewhere around August 4 or 5. We hope for tailwind, cooling temperatures and decent food at the two towns and one roadhouse we will have in the next 1000 kilometers.
Bush fires lit the night sky much of the last 1000 kilometres of the Great Northern Highway, and the services were few and far between. We pushed hard to get to Broome for our anniversary, but still had time to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Kimberly area of far northwest Australia. But, between catching up on our love making responsibilities, and eating, we must have forgotten to take notes in Broome. Perhaps it is meant that we go back someday so we can write about it again. We’d both like that, Broome is exotic.
The Great Northern highway, the only paved east/west road in the north of Western Australia
From South Headland (Port Headland) Western Australia.
“..that strange rustling hour of the night-that hour half-way between midnight and dawn, when all nature stirs in its sleep, and murmurs drowsily in answer to some mysterious call.” From We Of The Never Never by Aeneas Gunn
Turning south, it was more than 600 kilometers between Roebuck Plains and Port Headland; one roadhouse, and no other human habitation along the way; that’s one stop each 300 kilometres, or186 miles. That made for long days.
A Very Large Night Visitor
Beautiful bush camp, sunset huge and red from the smoke of bush fires, fine billy of tea, can of beans and biscuits (cookies). Claire lay awake late looking for shooting stars, having seen some speckie ones recently. Suddenly she sensed a presence nearby and became a bit alarmed. She listened carefully and looked out the door of our tent toward Zippy. And then she saw…saw it. A large it, silhouetted in the dim light of the moon. It was large, very large, and very quiet; it did not make a sound as it walked past. “Bob!” She woke me. “What!?” I was now very awake and alarmed, wondering what, who she was seeing. “There is something out there.” “What?” I asked. “I don’t know, but its really big.” I aimed the flashlight. Four very long legs, with knobby knees.
Very tall, much taller than a cow or a horse. A funny color, sort of a camel col… “Camel,” I said. Just then he (or she, don’t want to be sexist) belched the loudest belch I have ever heard and disappeared. Perhaps his parting belch is what he thinks of humans. We had heard there were wild camels in this part of WA, but had forgotten to look and were surprised. They were brought here in the early days of settlement; they were the roadtrains of the desert before the tracks were graded for motor vehicles. Many have gone wild and they are doing well. The station owners don’t mind them, and say their cows do better when camels are present. It was quite a surprise for us, and reminded us of a similar experience with a moose near Yellowstone National Park.
This last section of more than 600 kilometers has been less exciting than the Kimberly. We have enjoyed the bush camps and the roadhouse, but the scenery didn’t change much. There have been many more road kill roos here and unfortunately more birds killed also, allowing us to identify three new ones; sort of cheating. The days have been long, five of them, ranging from 122k to 150k and not the tailwinds we expected.
Many more drivers than usual give us the thumbs up over here, or wave and beep. I suspect the drive is getting difficult for them, and they can’t imagine how we can possibly stand the distances on a push bike. We’re not sure of the answer to that, but it really isn’t too bad. Time has a way of shrinking to fit the amount of stimulation available. There is push bike time, and all other time. Push bike time is better. We have been offered cold drinks of water by three sets of caravaners along the way this past week, and welcome diversion of road camaraderie. We are getting stronger it seems, but a rest day every week is getting to be more appreciated. We find we are able to look back and absorb the feelings, happenings of the week if we have that day of rest. Sunday was a good idea!
Tomorrow we head inland in the Pilbura region, toward the mountains and mining district. The wildflowers should be blooming there and further along. We plan to meet with a cyclist who lives there and perhaps have a guide for a day, if we can make it there for the week-end.