Day 15 – goodbye Northern Territory!
I departed the Barkly Roadhouae around 930am on day 13, loaded down with 10 sticks of chocolate and 12 litres of water to get me through the next 260km stretch to the one horse town of Camooweal. This stretch was interesting for a couple of points – it is the remotest stretch of the entire cycle with the greatest distance between resupply points and secondly I cross the border from Northern Territory into Queensland.
I fought headwinds all through day 13. But even worse were the flies. I stopped after 40km for lunch at a rest area and was covered in horrible black flies immediately. As I sat down in the shade of a rubbish bin eating my sandwich some campervanners parked close by enjoying their lunch from the sanctuary of their vehicle rolled down their window and yelled “looks like you are eating raisin bread with all those flies on it mate!”.
Anytime I stopped during the day I was swarmed with flies and they drove me nuts so I eventually just kept riding albeit slowly for hour after hour, eating and drinking while on the go. Even while riding some of the faster flies could keep up with me but it was better than stopping.
At 6pm I pulled into a rest stop and just as the sunset the flies dissapeared. I have noticed this before, that as soon as it gets dark the flies knock off for the day. What a relief to sit there finally after 8.5 hours in the saddle and cook a delicious dinner of beef curry and a massive Mug of sweet tea with no flies trying to crawl up my nose. After 90 minutes rest I was back on the bike and riding into the darkness. It was much nicer to ride at night with no headwind or flies. I saw a dingo trot across the road in front of me. The Milky Way was showing off her splendour and the stars were my friends as I rode with only the noise of my chain whirring to break the silence.
At 1130pm I had hit 190km for the day and lay down at a rest area in my sleeping bags for five hours until 430am. Wanting to maximise the night time lack of headwinds and flies I was up to polish off the remaining 70km to Camooweal. I stopped at 630am for another Mug of sweet tea and a cheese sandwich and to watch the sunrise. Wow the scenery had changed overnight and I am now out of boring flat scrub land and into wide open expansive pasture land which I can see for miles. I saw my first Kangaroo – unfortunately it was dead on the road.
15km before Camooweal I crossed the border into Queensland. And then 24 and a 1/4 hours after leaving Barkly Roadhouse I finally pulled into Camooweal at 945am to polish off a distance of 260km since departing then Barkly Roadhouse.
My conclusion from the last 1400km riding through the Northern Territory outback is that I like it much more by night – when the heat and flies dissapear. It is a tough, tough landscape. A harsh environment and one I would probably not be very suited to living in. I do feel privileged to have experienced at least a little of it from the seat of Stephanie’s Donkey.