6th June 2019
202km From Bililuna Bush Camp to Well 49, via Breadon Pool (10km return side trip), 51kms
Not a pleasant morning at all. A howling Easterly, that had us all hiding in the car to drink our instant coffee. We are tolerating this instant stuff because we have to. The little Italian style coffee maker is bloody good, and we have been spoiled too much. This did not help Max, who was slow to get going on the bike, but who would have blamed him. Once he left we cleaned the Engel Fridge, which had a couple of centimeters of skanky water in the bottom. It was so shit outside of the car, we skipped breakfast and headed off, after an emergency style pack and go. Well the flies weren’t bad, hey? At least there is that.
Mid morning conference to discuss the next section. “How’s your ride this morning Max?” “Pretty flat, corrugated, and a bit sandy. Fuck the flies are still shit though!” “Really? I hadn’t noticed.” None in the car with us…..he he he.
The track was pretty good, with moderate corrugations, and some sand, and just after 15kms we turned off into the Breaden Range, to see Breaden Pool & Godfrey Tank (actually a large plunge rock hole). It was only four kilometres in, but it was quite tight and overgrown. I was going to a bit tough on Max, but he is in a very determined mind set right now, as we approach the end, and is pushing to ride as much as he can. Bloody Champion! Once in there is a smallish parking area, and several overgrown pathways. It was a little difficult to locate the one into Breaden pool, and not a simple trek in. Only a short distance, over lots of feral plants (all with large prickles or thorns on them), we came into a small amphitheatre kind of opening, with a shallow and manky pool at the bottom. It wasn’t hard to imagine how beautiful it would be after a good rain.
Quite overgrown not many visitors this year, so far, I guess.
Once back at the Mother Load, I stayed behind and the guys went in search of Godfrey Tank. That was a tougher walk, and I wasn’t up for rock climbing or an uncertain distance. They found it, and unfortunately it too was quite dry. It did have some old and interesting graffiti, Trottman 1906 (Alfred Canning’s Foreman) amoungst other names, was engraved on the sandstone wall.
Godfrey Tank, is another one I wished I could have got to myself. There is some good old graffiti there, and I think with some good rain, it would be even better,
As we finished our lunch, of wraps, nuts and berries, 3 Landcruiser Utes rolled in. Of course Will had a quick chat, while we just observed from the shade of our tree. The group was all men, and looked like a good old boys club. Glad we had not planned to camp here, it would have been a loud and long night, I think. Max cycled off, and soon after we rendezvoused with him at Well 48 which is just ruins, but did have a magnificent view across to the Breaden Ranges, in the afternoon sun. Very nice indeed. The Pussy Wagon rolled on to Mt Ernest (361 m), where we waited about an hour and some, for the crazy determined Orange Man. It was a good spot to look out across the plains, and watch for Max, who only had to ride the 12kms, into a fierce headwind.
Well 48, again just a couple of rusty drums, had some of the nicest views of any Well. What a stunning area.
The Breaden Range is beautiful, and I think it would be a lovely spot to visit again, after some good rain.
Max reached us, and happily hopped in the Cruiser as we drove another 12kms to Well 49. This is the last of the Wells with water, and it used to have an aboriginal ranger station, which has a proper shower shed, with a pump. It has two water tanks that were pretty full, yummo, and even though there is no ranger there now and the shower pump was not connected, we could have a nice bucket bath in the cubicle, out of the wind, on a concrete floor. The wind dropped off around 5pm, and there was not much wood for the fire. Will and Max did find enough for us to enjoy the night and cook dinner. It would be nice to have a day without this shitty wind now.
Leaving Breaden Ranges behind, it becomes flat, windy, and we have never seen so many Bustards in our lives. It was just like a free range chicken farm.
Well 49. Such good and abundant water, not too much shelter for camping, but a “Monument to Man”, two in fact, and some interesting history too.
Not sure why the Rangers Hut was unmanned, or why the shower pump was disconnected. But it was a good night for us all, knowing we were nearly there.
7th June 2019
Well 49 to Well 50, 34kms
Slow start to the day, you can tell we are all running out of steam. We woke up to yet another windy morning. Between the wind and the flies, we are finding lots of good fodder for complaining. Nothing like a good reason to pump out a few good swear words. Max and Will were busy at things, Will coffee, the real kind, and Max getting himself sorted for another hard cycle day. Hiding from the wind behind the car, we enjoyed the coffee and the Double Striped Finches who came to the nearest tree to investigate us. Will cleaned & lubed Sandy, for her final attack on the CSR, he really couldn’t let it end so close to 500kms. I packed up tent, Max did his thing to prepare for the day’s ride and off they went, while I remained to complete the packing and enjoy some more of the Finches and Willy Wagtails.
I toddled along so slowly, cruising across the sandy track, shaking my head at the thought of the tough ride, the boys would be having. The track was very sandy & corrugated. Only 7 kilometers along, I spotted the crazy buggers, in a Desert Oak, grove, checking out another car wreckage. I don’t know what happens to some of these cars. When I got out of the car to look around and snap a few pics, I realised the boys were also riding into a cool, strong, headwind. He he he he, nice in the car.
“Are you coming with me yet Sandy?” “Nah, I’ll make a few more kays Mother Load, I’m just resting here on this burnt out thing.”
Off I crawled again, with the plan to stop right on Will’s needed 18 kilometers. There wasn’t anywhere, so another bend and bump, I just pulled off to the left and parked up. Too windy for the awning, no big trees, and a bazillion flies. Never mind, it was a very nice, scenic area, and I busied myself looking in the scrub for little lizards, or signs of other life. Finally, after almost an hour of waiting, I saw the Orange man appear over the rise. No Willsie ! Uh-oh ! At 12 noon and with 18 tough kms under his Maxxis 2.8 knobbly tyres, Will caught up to us. He was only a minute or so behind Max, but was getting bogged, left right and centre. We had a little celebration to congratulate Will, and enjoyed our Vegemite wraps. The corrugated soft sand cycling is shit, and after a hard morning he was happy to call it quits. Max continued on cycling and the track didn’t improve or provide any respite. It was also quite warm, even with the wind.
This corridor of burnt trees is such a great example of “The Freddy Kruger” trees we’d been through earlier in the journey. Luckily some other travelers had raced through here and broken many of the sharp branches off for me.
The Pussy Wagon reached Well 50 at 1.45, where we cooked up some bacon & popcorn. Bacon flavoured Popcorn. Mmmmm, give that a crack. Cook some bacon until it is crispy, then remove it from the pan. Cook your popcorn in the bacon fat. Yes siree Bob, it is just a good as it sounds. By the time Max arrived (3pm) it was too late in the day to make it to the next aviable camp site. “Lagoon” on WikiCamps is about 30km further along about 12km north of Well 51. Since Well 50 has good camping we all agreed that we will stay tonight and see where we get to tomorrow. Stretch Lagoon is about 100kms away from here.
It is rapidly getting more clay-pan and less sandy dunes. This looks like it would be a nightmare if the slightest rain fell. Lucky none is forecast.
This Well is also in ruins, but is situated in a flood plain. The surface of the ground looked like the top of an overcooked cake. All cracked and crackled. It had an abundance of river gums, and therefore plenty of easy accessible wood. While we sat and ate our popcorn, and made our decision to camp, several other vehicles rolled in, and found themselves quiet and secluded spots. We could hear them at night, only due to the stillness of the night, and lack of other urban noise. It was a lovely night.
The Well at 50 was about 300 meters away from the large open flood plain we camped in. Just a couple of rusty drums and dried spinnifex.
8th June 2019
Well 50 to Nyana (Stretch Lagoon) 104kms
The day started off nice at Well 50, initially there was no wind and not too many flies. Max headed off at 7.30am, Will and I leisurely packed up. We were back on the track by 9.15am. It was soft, corrugated, sandy and generally slow going. Tough riding for Max, and at Well 51 we caught up to him. He had been there for 20 minutes. Both Will and I were unsure why he didn’t continue cycling. The old decommissioned windmill was making a hell of a racket and the area was a dust bowl, certainly not a good camping spot. Especially with the “doof doof” beat the windmill was pumping out.
Wrecks, wrecks and a good beat we busted a few moves to, at Well 51. No one had mentioned the ridiculous noise it made in any of our research, and we had considered it for camping. Thank goodness we didn’t make it here intent on camping. I would have been pissed.
Off we continued, the last CSR sand dune (small) is about 17kms further on, and Max is going to make that. The Mother Load stopped just after the last dune, and waited 45 minutes for Max to catch us. 40kms, for the days cycling, and completed that last dune, then we all piled in for the arduous trek on the insane corrugations, to the lagoon and a proposed day off. While waiting for Max, we notice bicycle tracks and it appears the elusive, Doug (another cyclist tackling this track North to South) has turned back for Bililuna.
Wide open space, and some good Drone footage of the final rotations of bicycle on the CSR. Well done Max, you are truly incredible.
After another 20kms we come across Doug, he was extremely heavily loaded, pulling a Bob Trailer & really struggling. We’d heard about him from some of the north-south bound travellers and expected to come across him yesterday. What we discovered, was him having turned around, and heading back to Billiluna. The going was too hard for his overloaded set up. Good descision. Doug is 68yo, English, but lives in Sri Lanka. He told us several tails of his adventures. We checked his condition, and gave him 3L of water, including a litre and a half of Powerade. Max repaired a busted valve in his spare tube as Doug had been getting numerous punctures. Max also suggested he lower his tyre pressure, a lot! Slightly unsure what else to do, we left Doug to the pain of his return journey. He had heaps of food, water, seemed hydrated, coherent and in a former life he said he was a Marine in the UK Army.
There was a 10km sandy section south of Bloodwood Camp where we managed 40-50km/h (could have gone faster but air pressure in our tyres is still at 20psi front, 25psi rear & tired, worn Shock Absorbers kept us honest). At Bloodwood which also has a decommissioned windmill, no water & reasonable camping, we met a couple travelling in an old Dual Cab Hilux. Phillipa & Tony were just starting out on their big CSR Adventure, they had driven across from NSW. Quick chat, but it’s getting late in the day, sun is low and it’s nearly 4pm. Stretch Lagoon is only another 10kms away.
Unbelievably we spot another cyclist heading south. Marchin is from Poland, he attempted the CSR in September 2017 but had to abort due to high temperatures & heat exhaustion, 20kms north of Well 49 (very good water and shelter at 49). He appears very well prepared but his 3.8 inch fat tyres are rock hard on the sandy track and Max suggests he should lower the pressure in them to 10psi. Good luck to him, it’s an extremely tough track & ride ahead of him on a loaded Fat Bike towing an Extra Wheel Trailer also sporting a Fat Tyre. He was a lot younger and stronger looking than poor Douglas, and we all felt he had a better chance, with his much lighter set up. We wish him all the best, give him a little advise from our experience, and get to the lagoon.
Holy cow, our second cyclist on the track, all within coo-wee of the end. See, we are not the only crazies out here. They don’t even have a “Pussy Wagon”. Brave, seriously brave.
After a stiff lecture from Max about his rock hard tyres, and not wearing a shirt in the Australian sun, Marchin rode off into the distance. Good luck on round two mate, we really wish you well this time.
Even so close to the end, there are wrecks of vehicles and trailers. Bloody Hell, what a track, hey?
Before we know it, we’re at Stretch Lagoon, not much day light remains. Quickly we select a camp site near the murky body of water. Fantastic spot, lots of birds, trees, and one other camper. Plenty of wood, for good, big fires, not for warmth, but atmosphere and cooking this time. We sat on the beach of Nyana, and made a toast to ourselves with our very last beers. Great work team MaxWilJen.
A huge sigh of relief, and what a great spot to consider what we just did.
Beautiful. We are almost done.
9th June 2019
Stretch Lagoon, Rest Day.
Last night, a feral cat was casing our camp while we sat around the fire. Right when we went to bed, while Max was still chilling out at the fire, we heard the rubbish bag being rustled. We thought it was Max, but when we called out to see if he was into it, he called back from the fire, thinking it was us. Nope, it was pussy cat. There was nothing but burnt tins in there, but he was checking anyway. Max sorted it, rubbish in the car now.
Our rest day was a nice lazy day, doing some washing, lots of sitting by the water, and Max and I had a wade into the lagoon for a wash. I cooked up a fruit scone damper in the camp oven, with the last of our supplies, and we totally enjoyed watching and listening to the Brolga graze around the banks of the lagoon.
On our second night, we heard lots of cattle braying, and horses snuffling at each other. A different feral cat attacked our camp in the night, chewing on our dish sponge. Bloody things. They were not frightened of us in the least, and anything with a flavour seemed edible. We are very diligent about not leaving food scraps, or anything for animals to get into, so these cats are just desperate. Another lovely day in our great country, and we can’t believe we are at the end of this track. Wow! Will I be bloody happy for a proper shower and a “room”.