9th September 2017 – Day 12 (122)
Camooweal to Barkley Homestead 270kms
A lovely, relaxed, slow morning! I felt like I’d been run over. You just don’t realise how much your body is working on those rough roads. Making small manoeuvres to dodge rocks, using your legs and body to make the bike move left or right, and hanging on over the corrugations. The concentration is also tiring, and you should sleep like a log, if the truckies weren’t on the piss and singing all night. But we did have a good chat to them over our cereal, and discovered they were all just sitting waiting for a safety situation to be resolved. Poor buggers. They are a great bunch of people, of all ages, keeping things moving around this huge country of ours, under tough conditions and restraints. Anyway, we were the last ones to leave the little park.
With water restrictions coming in, Will thought to get some of the dust off while he could.
About 10 kays down, we came to our second last border crossing for this journey. The good old Northern Territory! It’s been a very long time since we were last in the Territory. I wonder what’s changed. Not enough to stop us getting our border pics. But it was a bit of a surreal scene, with the massive sky and seemingly endless plain.
Becky Beetle busting another border! Look at that huge sky!
Not a huge ride today, and nothing between the start and finish, and we could go fast if we wanted. Instead, we both chucked on some tunes, sat back, and enjoyed just cruising along at about 100. With the Territory, comes a time change, we gain half an hour (9am becomes 8:30am), and the max speed limit is now 130kms/hr. So we did get passed by a few vehicles, but it didn’t bother us. At one point we were going through a hilly area, that had been burnt out. All the undergrowth was gone, just leaving the blackened trees, and the dark red ant hills. Then “Sometimes” by Midnight Oil, was playing. “Sometimes your beaten to the call, sometimes, sometimes your taken to the wall……but you don’t give in!” As we rounded a bend, you could see the green undergrowth bursting through and just starting to regrow. It doesn’t give in.
Lunch was not a relaxing affair, the bloody flies…..we haven’t been missing them!
All in all, the ride was pretty straight forward, a couple of short stops, one to have some lunch, and for the first time this trip, there were flies. Bloody pesky buggers, and then Bam! We were at Barkley Homestead. An oasis on the Barkley highway. We refuelled, and went inside for a cold beer, and to decide our next move. Stay, or ride another 400kms up the Tablelands highway to Cape Crawford, with nothing in between. Easy, after yesterday’s big day, STAY. In a room! I need a bed, and a night without the 2km walk for a pee.
Cabin booked, bikes unloaded, and we did some blogging while we waited for happy hour. Then we went over for a couple of beers. In the bar, we came across Tom and Candice, who we’d first seen in Normanton, then again at Lawn Hill, Camooweal and now here. They are a young couple with two boys, doing the circuit. Since we’d chatted a little and stuff, we all had a drink and discovered, that Tom is actually Tom Price. Very funny, seeing as we lived there for ages. It’s great to see young families getting out and doing this sort of thing. It isn’t easy, but it’s great for the kids and family unit. The boys were enjoying some people playing pool, and eventually (as happens with kids) we all moved out there to carry on the chat and keep the boys from being too annoying to the pool players. As it turned out, Scott and Janine, didn’t mind at all, and enjoyed entertaining them.
Candice, Tom and the kids went off for dinner, so Will and I chatted to Scott and Janine, who had just done every hard dirt road known to man, and were really interesting. Scott described to us how he had fried his alternator in his landcruiser ute, and had used a generator (strapped to his roof rack) connected to the battery, to keep the car going until they could get to a station to try and fix the alternator. What? Bullshit? Nope, really! Bush mechanic 101. They were so nice, that when we went to cook dinner in the camp kitchen, and discovered no gas burner, they let us use the one on their camper trailer.
An easy day, but we met some more super interesting people, who we hope to meet again.
10th September 2017….Day 10 (123 of tour).
Barkley Homestead to Cape Crawford (Heartbreak Hotel) 390kms
What an awesome nights sleep! So comfy, and the beers may have helped a bit too. Well worth the expense. Nice people, nice bed, nice sleep! It was easy to get cereal into us, and pack up, and it was a gorgeous morning. Again, we were off around 9am, and heading north on the Tablelands highway. We have no idea what to expect on this road, all we know is it is single lane bitumen.
What we found was a real other world scene. For over a hundred kilometres, we rode through cattle stations, of grassy savannah. At some points I could imagine lions lazing in the short grass, or herds of wildebeest. Oh no, they’re just cows walking towards a windmill. It was vast.
Miles and miles of open plains, random lines of cattle, and just us.
There was a bit of caravan traffic, and we passed one van. All the traffic was awesome, pulling off the single lane, slowing down, and basically giving us the room. Wow, thank you all. We slowed down too, and moved as far left as we could on the bitumen. We pulled into a rest stop for a break, and a sandwich (which I’d made in the cabin, before we left, easier if there is going to be flies). A van was pulled in already, and we had a chat to the couple in that, while watching the zebra finches.
While there, the van we passed, drove by. Oh well, I guess we’ll catch them and pass again. By the time we got going again, they were nowhere to be seen, and we went a bit slower, as the road was very bumpy and rough. A couple of dead bloated cows, the odd wallaby, lots of hawks, and an ever changing landscape. It was getting hot, and we both ran out of water in our camel backs, so we pulled into the next rest stop. There was the van we’d passed. So we met Pat and Lyn, and their little dog Izzy. That little dog had his own chair, and was very spoiled. And cute.
After another sandwich, and topping up the water, we carried on. The whole terrain started changing, the colours, the ant hills, and then there was some hills. It was really nice. Some big bends (which was nice, after the very long straights we’d been doing) and suddenly I spotted a tree with no leaves and full of yellow flowers. Really pretty. These trees are native kapok, and drop,all their leaves before flowering. The yellow flowers are edible and are almost 90% water. They are also high in vitamin C. Good to know. The flowers get pollinated, then turn to big green seed pods, and inside them is a nest of fibrous material surrounding the seed. This is kapok, the stuff used for pillows and mattresses. It is a very nice tree. They were everywhere.
Some nice looking hills, and the trees are greener. Must be some water overvthere somewhere.
The flowers are so simple and stunning. I hope we can see them seeding.
It was now about 36C, hot and we were getting tired. The last bit of the ride was very scenic, coming into a gorge area, and the bush became thicker and taller. It was more tropical too. Then we spotted the Cape Crawford sign, and we were here. Yay, I was buggered and a bit over it today. So we fuelled up again, and booked into The Heartbreak Hotel caravan park. The young Canadian backpacker serving me, told me where to go, and that “a guy” would be waiting to place us. Okay….that is odd, there is heaps of empty space, and we only need a little bit of shade and grass, but if that’s what you do. Off we go, meet “the guy”, who points to the empty dirt patch between three vans ( really, we can’t spread out a bit? ) and we park up, gin around a bit and I get the main tent up, and then sit and chill for a bit. Then “the guy” comes back, mumbles something that sounds like, “move the tent, I’m putting a van there”, we chuckle, he says, “you got about 30 seconds, here it comes”, we look him in the eye, he’s serious, so we just pick it up and now we are dead centre between four vans and two camper trailers. Everyone has to walk around us. Oh well, I guess we’re heart broken.
At least we ended up on some grass. Will had a power nap in his chair, they’ve are so comfy.
With no food, and no store, we are stuck with eating at the hotel, and after a couple of beers and dinner, the wallet was definitely heart broken. But Pat and Lyn and Izzy were parked next to us, and we all went and had a drink at the hotel together, and another couple joined us for chats too. It was nice. Then we met a German couple and discovered they had flown microlights (one seater hang glider type things with a motor) across Australia. Wow, that sounds incredible. They have a blog and a web site (Crossing-down-under.de Aussiblog2017.wordpress.com) which I’d like to check out. So we had a good night, after a longish hot day. Interesting people with interesting stories are everywhere.