Cycle Oz Day 75 – Have I mentioned the heat? 

  • Start: Daley Waters Pub
  • End: Gorrie WWII airfield
  • Day distance: 102.7km
  • Total Distance: 4845.6km
  • Average Speed: 21.5km/hr
  • Pedalling time: 04:45
  • Total Time: 09:30

We stayed up chatting until I couldn’t stand the bugs anymore, I felt like I had things crawling all over me. So I retreated to the safety of my net and continued to chat from there. The others are a lot hardier than I am and they stayed outside with the bugs. 

They put you in a rather unfortunate spot if you require an unpowered campsite, right behind the ablutions block so the stench that wafted over during the night was unpleasant to say the least. We didn’t have anywhere lovely with a pool to aim for today so we aimed for our usual 7:30am start time, and by the time we had finished chatting to Max it was nearer 8am by the time we left. Max, a bike mechanic who has been cycle touring a lot over the last 10 years was really interested in looking over our bikes. I always find myself putting Priscilla down when I am talking to people who clearly know a lot more about bikes than I do. I always say she was ‘cheap’, and she’s ‘not the best bike’ and I appear a bit embarrassed by her, ashamed that she isn’t a ‘Surley Long Haul Trucker’. When in reality she has been bloody brilliant! She has got me nearly 5000km now, with one minor problem, no punctures, no injuries and no accidents. From now on I will stop apologising to people about my bike and if they ask I will tell them how wonderful she is. Max asked me what I would change now I’ve got a bit of experience and after some thought I said ‘nothing’. 

She works and she works well. I would have liked to have some lower gears at the start but now it’s flatter and I am stronger there doesn’t seem to be a need for that anymore. Bike parts don’t last forever and if I plan to continue to cycle a long way eventually I will need a new crank set and a new cassette, so the option to get lower gears is there when the time comes to replace bits that have worn out. 

Everyone I have met on this trip so far has had a different bike and a different set up, from recumbents, to cargo bikes, there are no rules for this type of travel, the most important thing is getting out there and doing it regardless of which bike you have. 

It was warm again but marginally cooler than yesterday I thought. The next rest area was 52km away and there wasn’t anything to stop for in-between so we powered on through and did it all in one go. As we hit 30km I felt like I was starting to wilt as the sun got hotter and I became more tired. There seemed to be a lit more traffic on the road today, and not many people were keen on giving us space, I guess it’s just going to get busier the closer we get to Darwin so we will have to be a lot more aware. We saw our first snake toady, a big one, half splattered across the road. 

We pulled into the rest area and I drank loads and ate a whole packet of biscuits. I really couldn’t face the tuna in my bag, especially not now it’s hot. The boys forced down some tuna wraps, heavily disguised with Laksa paste. I don’t think we had intended to stay there that long but I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I drifted off to sleep lying on a very hard and uncomfortable concrete bench. The heat just makes me want to fall asleep instantly. I got bitten a couple of times by something that looked like a cross between a fly and a wasp, but it was grey. It hurt a lot! We were hopeful for some cold water or a treat as there were a lot of grey nomads, with very fancy motor homes stopping buy, but it was only as we had packed up and we were ready to leave that a lady in a beat up old bus asked if we were ok for water. 

We bashed out the next 39km to the next roadhouse at Larrimah, the Pink Panther Pub. We arrived at 1:30pm and with only 9km more to get to our camp spot we hung out there until it got a bit cooler. I drank a big bottle of soda, well it was flavoured sparking water which is even more of a rip off than soda, but that’s what took my fancy and I was desperate for something cold and tasty. We sat in some comfy seats and I drifted in and out of sleep while trying to listen to the conversation of the owners. It is only 90km away from Daley Waters so if you’re a Grey Nomad I guess there isn’t much reason to stop here. Unlike Daley Waters, we were the only ones here. Its pretty run down and shabby, and there was no food on offer, so it’s easy to see why people skip it, but we had shade, a chair and a cold drink, which was all we needed. 

There were signs for Fayes bakery just up the road, which had about 10 signs advertising the best pies in Australia and all sorts of delicious sounding baked goods, but on further investigation it was closed. So we went back to the pink panther, sat back in the same seats, had an ice cream and resumed an afternoon of snoozing. By the time we left at 5pm (we were there a while!) it was still roasting, but it didn’t take us long to reach the camp spot and now we have less than 500km to Darwin. About 500m off the highway, down a dirt road is an abandoned airstrip from WWII. There are lots and lots of WWII relics around here and the airstrips are a popular camping spot. 

We found a little secluded area, I took a walk around and found the actual runway which was less overgrown than I had expected to find it. There was one caravan parked up there but we decided to stick to our spot in the bush amongst the termite mounds. The ground was solid concrete so I pitched my tent without staking it and the boys strung a rope between the trees and set up their bug net instead of their tent. 

The concrete really retains the heat so the ground was too hot to sit on. I used my packet of wraps to sit on because that’s all they are really good for now I have no desire to eat them. The flies have been pretty unbearable today and there were so annoying while we were having dinner, they just don’t leave you alone for a second and love to float around your ears and eyes which drove me to almost the edge of madness. As it gets dark the flies go back to wherever they came from and the mosquitos come out. Not wanting to get bitten anymore, having already acquired several bite on my feet, we zipped ourselves up into the safety of the nets. 

The ground is so hot still and I can’t bare to have anything on me so I am sat in my underwear typing this at 8:30pm wishing it would cool down a bit so I can stop sticking uncomfortably to my mattress. Before getting settled I had my third bush poo of the trip and it turns out my bowels are very unsettled tonight. I am already losing enough water from my top lip without my body stopping absorbing it as well. All I can do is hope things are better in the morning. 

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

I continue to raise money for Just A Drop – they bring sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects to communities around the world. 

663 million people across the globe are living without access to clean, safe water. That’s 1 in 10 people. A child dies every 90 seconds from a water related disease. One third of the worlds population – 2.4 billion people – don’t have access to adequate sanitation. 

If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider donating a few…pounds / dollars / euros / yen… and together we can change lives.

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