- Start: Manton Dam Picnic Area
- End: DARWIN
- Day distance: 68km
- Total Distance: 5376.7km
- Average Speed: 21.6km/hr
- Pedalling time: 03:08
- Total Time: 05:30
It was super noisy at the campground, the train thundered past at 00:12, and cars and trucks went by all night, some blasting their horns as they went by. Funny. So it wasn’t hard to get up and set off at 7:30am.
It was a weird morning. The last day. I had a bit of nervous excitement, and a bit of a feeling like ‘it’s just another day on the bike’. We set off and it was a really unpleasant ride! The traffic was terrible. Gone were the friendly road trains and the slow Grey Nomads. Now we had all kinds of drivers, most of them did not give a shit that we were on the road, and some were actively against it, getting close on purpose and blaring their horns. Gone were the days of the friendly toot. It was too sketchy to ride in the road, so we balanced precariously on the small patch of tarmac between the rumble bars and the gravel, narrowly avoiding hitting the cats eyes. I had to hang back a bit at times from the boys because I was scared that my reaction times wouldn’t be quick enough should I need to avoid something. We stopped at the gas station where I got my last chocolate milk, and had to pay an urgent visit to the toilet. Things are still running a bit fast and loose.
Continuing on we got to Noonamah where we hadn’t intended to stop but we needed a break from the traffic. We sat there on our phones for a while but I started to get really restless and itchy to move on. I was ready to just get there now. I also wanted to get off that horrible road and onto the bike path that would take us the last 25km into the city.
It was such a relief to get off the road. Even though it was a 2 lane highway, no one could be bothered to move over and it was really horrible. The cycle path was brilliant. We could still see the road but we we no longer fearing for our lives. It took us all the way into the city where we finished up the ride, cycling the last 2km on the road, all the way to the ocean.
It’s hard to explain the feeling at the finish of a challenge or adventure. To be honest it’s not an amazing feeling. It does feel good, don’t get me wrong, but the finish is such a small part of the whole journey. When you start out you are unsure you are going to make it, but there comes a point, before the finish, when you realise that you’re definitely going to make it (unless you get really unlucky with injury or natural disaster), and you kind of have all those celebratory feelings then. You celebrate reaching the end of every day.
Finishing seems much more of a big deal for the people following you. I sometimes wish that people would be as liberal with their support during the challenges as they are with their praise when the challenge is over!
I think part of it is also that it doesn’t really sink in that it’s over (well, it’s not really over yet is it!). You get up every day and you ride, it feels like that’s just what you’ll do tomorrow, and it’s weird that you don’t have to. So you take your pictures, you high five, you take a moment, and then you turn around and leave…
We had things to do. Check into the hostel. Shower, oh how we needed a shower. Put on clean clothes – I hope there are some clothes to buy in Indonesia, I am really not prepared for this heat with only my hiking shorts and a cotton t-shirt as my non-hiking clothes. Then we had to buy food. I felt like I had been possessed by someone else because all I wanted was fresh stuff, so I got strawberries and oranges, avocado and feta and rocket to have on toasted English muffins, as well as a carton of orange juice, which I nailed quicker that I have ever drunk anything, and a litre of soda of course. We had our fill back at the hostel and within about 20 minutes I was sat on the loo feeling really rough as I felt like everything I had eaten had just come straight out. Gross.
After a lie down we walked down to Mindil beach where there was a night market on. It was brilliant, a huge market filled with food stalls from all over the world, at a really reasonable price (aside from things like popcorn and crepes, because they are alway a total rip off everywhere in the world). Unfortunately I wasn’t that hungry, but we wondered around and we watched a beautiful sunset on the beach, with the 5,000 other people!
On the way back we saw a busker set, eMDee, who were absolutely fanbloodytastic. It was a guy on the drums and then a guy playing 4 different didgeridoos, and he was kind of beatboxing into them, the sound was entrancing. As their set progressed some of the local Aboriginals got up and danced, and the more that got up the more the others gained confidence, and soon there were a whole load of them dancing and some amazing kids were moving their bodies in a way that didn’t look physically possible. I’ve included a video which you can’t see anything in because it was too dark, but it is worth listening to the music. I didn’t want it to end it was so good. I asked him if he had digital music rather than the CDs he had for sale, I have no way to play a CD, he didn’t but he has some music on Apple Music. eMDee – look them up!
I do feel a real sense of achievement from this adventure, and I am so pleased I stuck with it, even when somedays the pain, or the traffic, or the doubt made me want to give up. Somedays I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew , especially when I thought the hills would defeat me.
I can’t quite believe that I just bought a bike in Sydney and started pedalling, now over 5,000km I am here in Darwin. I was probably most nervous about the outback, but actually that turned it to be the easy bit. It was Sydney to Melbourne that was the hardest section.
And I didn’t die. I didn’t:
- Get run over by a road train / Grey Nomad
- Get bitten by a snake / spider
- Get attacked by a Dingo
- Die of dehydration/ heatstroke
- Get mugged by a drunk aboriginal
- Die of boredom
I’m really pleased to have met Dominik and Simon along the way, they have taught me so much, made me laugh, I’ve enjoyed their company (but not their stinky feet!), and theses two random German strangers are now my friends. They will fly to Brisbane next and cycle down to Sydney before continuing their epic cycle adventure in New Zealand. You can follow their journey here.
I’ll follow up with some more thoughts soon…
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