Cycle Oz Day 80 –  so close! 

  • Start: Bridge Creek
  • End: Manton Dam Picnic Area
  • Day distance: 80.1km
  • Total Distance: 5308.7km
  • Average Speed: 20.1km/hr
  • Pedalling time: 03:58
  • Total Time: 10:00

The toilets were seriously gross. I went to have a wee before bed but I should have just gone in the bush. They were almost full and the intensity of the heat coming up through the hole in the ground was really rough, and the smell, oh the smell.

They boys were up early and it was an odd morning. I later learnt that they were up so early because it was so hot in their tent. They aren’t able to set it up without the fly and it must have been ever so warm in there. We were near water so everything was a bit damp, and my sleeping bag was wet on the top. We had agreed a 7:30 start but knowing their routine now I could tell they would be ready much before then, so I packed up quickly and we were on our way by 7am.

It felt like there was some tension in the air and there wasn’t a lot of talking happening. I also don’t know what was wrong with me this morning, I felt so emotional for absolutely no reason, and the tears stung the backs of my eyes and were running down my cheeks before I had any chance to stop them. I deliberately hung back, keeping a constant distance behind the boys trying to conceal my tears, but naturally they stopped and waited for me and I told them they could just carry on and not bother waiting for me now, in a quavering voice. They of course didn’t leave me behind and instead they seemed to slow their pace to allow me to keep up.

We didn’t have to get anywhere fast today, in fact we had a lot of hanging around to do. I pulled myself together and got over whatever it was that was making me so emotional. Mr Brightside came on through my earphones and it reminded me of how much I miss home and how much I miss some people. I reminded myself I could go home at any time if I wanted to. I think it’s partly because getting to Darwin has been my only focus and I’m not sure what the next bit is going to be so there is a bit of nervous apprehension there, and we have been on the road for 16 days since Alice Springs without a break – I’m tired!

Anyway, we cycled along at a reasonable pace and avoided being run over by the road trains and the reckless drivers, of which we have noticed a significant increase in the last couple of days, and we admired some very large termite mounds along the way, which we noticed have changed colour from red to grey as we move out of the red centre.

We reached Adelaide River, our planned morning break after 30km. We saw signs advertising a market which we thought was worth a look, but after seeing it had about 3 stalls and they were asking $5 just to enter, we thought better of it and went to a cafe instead.

And what a strange little cafe it was. It was a bit like walking into someones home, and while the boys ordered their coffee and bacon & egg sandwiches, I was struggling to decide what to have as there were a lack of cold drinks on offer. The lady behind the counter said to Simon “she don’t want nothing then”. Well first of all lady, I am in the room so don’t talk about me like I’m not, secondly, don’t point at me without looking and call me she, and thirdly, don’t use a double negative! Sure, my English isn’t always perfect, but a double negative is one of the worst crimes. But she was right, I did not want nothing, I wanted something and I settled on a chicken cheese and pineapple sandwich which I ordered. Most cafes would take your order, take your money and bring your sandwich out to you, or at the very least let you know when it’s ready. Not this one. I had to wait while she did the washing up, then watch her make my sandwich, then wait while she did some more washing up. Finally I got my sandwich with just two words from her, ‘seven dollars’. The reviews on wikicamps said this place was odd and they were right.

We stayed there about an hour and a half in the end, not wanting to move out of the shade. There was a National Geographic with some interesting articles including this one about water:

“From India to Bolivia, it was always the women who knew exactly how much water their family needed.

When photographer Ashley Gilbertson sat down in households across six countries to document water access for UNICEF, he’d ask them to tally their daily usage. Then he’d display the total amount used in plastic containers filled from the local source.

Although it was wives and daughters who gathered, purified, cooked and cleaned with the water, their husbands or fathers answered first. “The men would often have no idea how difficult it was to get the water, or how much water was being used,” he recalls. “Id say ‘I think we should take to your wife,’ and she’s start laughing.”

The inequality of the chore shocked Gilbertson. Some women he met walked for miles to reach the nearest source. Every day women and children around the world spend a collective 125 million hours gathering water, according to water.org.

“Water is a very gendered subject,” says Lesley Pories, the institutional partnerships manager at water.org. “in a society where water only comes at certain times of the day, one’s whole day is likely to revolve around water collection.” The task, she adds, becomes “an obstacle to paid work or education.”

Gilbertson also water to photograph water usage in the developed world. When he came home to New York City he decided it was only fair to use himself as the subject. He and his wife tracked their water usage – the 1,000 daily litres “astonished” them – and posed with their bottles.

“I turn on the tap; water comes out,” Gilbertson says. “When you work with people who have to collect that water, you really feel the value of that resource. You actually feel it: it’s really heavy to carry.”

Daily litres used
Family of 6 in Jordan: 200 litres
Family of 3 in New York City: 1000 litres
Family of 8 in India: 220 litres
Family of 5 in Niger: 60 litres (and look at the colour of it)

It was only another 30km to a rest area where we planned to wait out the day. Unfortunately it was a tough 30km as we had a strong headwind, stronger than we have had for a long time. We could really feel it as the road trains passed and blew us all over the road. We finally saw a sign that told us we were only 90km from Darwin. How did this happen? And when did 90km start sounding like a short distance! We could have carried on cycling and made it there today, but we wanted one more free camp and one less night in a hostel in Darwin, so we hung out at the rest area from 12:30 until 4pm, and it was really boring!

It was too hot, even in the shade of the trees I was sweating profusely. I aired out my wet tent and sleeping bag and they were dry within about 5 seconds. I lay on my groundsheet but there were too many flies to have a nap and those biting flies kept on biting me. I armed myself with the killer spoon but only managed to kill one. I tried to read but that made me sleepy, I listened to a couple of podcasts and just waited for the time to pass. No one came past with any cold offerings, just one man who was scavenging in the rubbish bins and taking out any glass bottles he found.

Eventually we moved on and we were back in the headwind for the last 20km to the camp area. I will call it a camp area rather than a camp site as it is just an area to camp in with zero facilities, with the exception of a rubbish bin, which is always nice to have. On the way we saw the Ghan train pass by. This train is ridiculous. It goes between Adelaide and Darwin, it takes 3 days and a one way ticket costs $4,000!

I felt really dehydrated, I knew I hadn’t drunk enough today and the warm water that I was carrying was so unappealing. Dominik casually mentioned that there was a gas station 4.5km up the road and he said he would unload his bike and cycle there to get soda to bring back. Hell yes!! So while we set up camp he cycled off and came back with 4 litres of cold, delicious, sugary goodness. It more than made up for the fact that my last packet of noodles came without any flavour packets, which made them even more disgusting than they usually are!

This place is bug central so we got into our nets before anything had the chance to bite us, ants, mozzies, flies, unidentified flying things and we think, bats. It felt a little cooler when we were having dinner, there was a bit of a breeze, or maybe it was because we were drinking cold soda, but as soon as I was in my tent I was in sweat city once more. I am feeling really gross now. I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, my hair is a giant dreadlock and I am covered in dust.

Tomorrow we arrive in Darwin!

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

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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