Brolgas and Burke and Wills
Bush Camp, June 11. The rain finally quit and we turned south into the teeth of a 30k headwind.
99k later and we are knackered (pooped). The day was highlighted by seeing several brolgas, large cranes very much like North American sandhill cranes. Beautiful flying over the broad tropic savannah, slow wing beats carrying them to the distant horizon.
The famous Burke and Wills Roadhouse, June 12.
103K of headwind again. The “well stocked store” promised by tourist literature turned out to be some potato chips, nuts and a few small squares of cake at $1 each. And we had two more days of brutal headwinds awaiting us with little food.
We ate a large tea (supper) and breakfast, bought sandwiches for the next supper. The owner sold us a loaf of white bread and some beans from the kitchen. We will carry more food in the future. We have been carrying lots of extra water, but almost running out of food every two days out. Claire eats too much! A family stopped us on the road today, “You’re keen!” We looked puzzled. “You’re quite keen to be doing what you are doing, on that…” pointing to Zippy. Oh. They were impressed. I like the word keen.
By the way, Burk and Wills were early Australian explorers attempting to cross the continent south to north. They made it to the Gulf, but died on the way back. Typical of Poms of the time, they were too proud to seek the help of the Aboriginals who knew where all the water holes were located, and how to live off the land. Later explorers learned to hire Aboriginal guides, and they lived, and succeeded.
Guess who gets the right-of-way on this one lane bitumen Queensland road?
Bush camp, June 13.103k ridden. Sun and wind changed to clouds and wind as we continued south on deteriorating one lane bitumen. The shoulders here are becoming deeply rutted and it is very difficult to stay upright when we have to get off the road for road trains (three or more trailers) and caravans (camping trailers). Very tiring. At a roadside rest we met two couples from Melbourne and one from Adelaide. They are all caravaners on holiday. We had a fine campfire. They heated our beans for us and for sweets (dessert) made jaffle (two slices of bread filled with cooked apples, put into a waffle iron kind of thing, without waffles, and put into the fire.) It is lovely. They also put ham and cheese, meat or other things between the bread before cooking. Wonderful people. Pictures all around.
Cloncurry, June 14. 80k ride. A hard headwind for our fourth day in a row and it is getting old. At the Quamby Hotel about 45 k north of Cloncurry: A speckled dog lay in front of the door, a poster of the dangerous animals of Oz on the wall… The barmaid responded to my request for morning tea, or any food with, “How about a ham and cheese sandwich?” Do you have any scones? “I could make you a ham and cheese sandwich.” Do you serve lunch at noon? “I could make you a ham and cheese sandwich.” We had ham and cheese sandwiches. It was food. A young girl asked Claire, “Do you have to shave your legs lots?” and “Are you married?” twice
Our road train in outback Queensland
I met a ringer (cowboy) at the urinal, “You going to pedal that push bike right the way ’round Australia are ya?” I nodded. He paused a long time, contemplating the urinal, then looked back at me. “Mad bastad ” big grin. Mad bastard is the biggest compliment you’re likely to hear from an Australian.
Later, bad road conditions and deep ruts led to a small crash. Claire got a bit of road (dirt) rash. The long rainy season has done in the roads around here, and there is no attempt, that we can see, to fix the shoulders. Which brings up the subject, outback Queensland Roads: They are mostly one lane bitumen with drop offs to the shoulder of 1″ to 8″ and increasingly rutted from the wet (tropical wet season) Some shoulders are as smooth as the chip sealed bitumen, but most are rough. When a caravan or road train approaches, we have to bail out onto the shoulder, no matter the condition. This can be difficult. We hope the road train keeps to the bitumen, otherwise the 56 or so wheels throw rocks and dust at us. The roads are also strewn with roadkill: kangaroo, wallaby, cows, feral pigs, wedge tail eagles and one feral cat.
Two hundred kilometers between any human habitation is common already, and that will get longer. What are we doing? Having a wonderful time, that’s what.