This morning up early, a little teary, thinking of what I really wanted to achieve but knowing I am doing the sensible thing. I packed up my camp, struggled through yet another bowl of porridge, cranberries and nuts, and wheeled my beautiful best mate, my bike, around to the front of the Roadhouse to wait and see if some poor unsuspecting sod stops for a feed at the Roadhouse so I can pounce and ask for a lift to Katherine. Midmorning 2 young Ringers walk in, driving a Ute with no sides and I knew I wouldn’t ask them. The barman mentioned it to them and they said no way! Lol. I can understand why, an old granny who would have to share a front seat! 40 years too old. Half an hour later a nice looking very young man walks in. He is driving a Hilux duelcab with an empty tray. We had a little hello chat, then I asked if he could take me to Katherine. 300kms away. Well, he very quickly said he was here to buy a pie and put his back to me. Oh well. He then turned around and said okay. Pauline came out and took his name and rego haha. Poor bloke. Anyway, bike was put in the back, the extra wheel and 6 bags and off we went. The Hilux was old, no Turbo, with a screaming diff. He was a really nice guy from Charleville, working with his new wife on Bundy Station so he had already done 2 half hr drive. After lots of chatter, and laughs we got to Katherine where I paid half his fuel and bought him a feed. He offered to take me to Darwin, another 260kms so it was cat that point I really knew my journey was done. Was a bit sad. I ended up sharing the driving and we arrived in Darwin on dark, totally stuffed. Jessie has dropped me off at a really yukky motel, old, moldy, noisy, but the door locks. What a wonderful young man, he was only 22 and his granny is 3 years older than me. He was concerned rumour would get back to the station that he had picked up an old woman lol.
Top Springs. 45kms
Another first last night. No bulls, but there was a mob of wild pigs running around! I don’t fear them as much as bulls, when you yell and clap your hands they run off. Got the start time spot on today, alarm set 5.45 and by the time I was ready it was first light.The last 3 days have been very special, renewing my enthusiasm and my confidence in the ability to go the miles and not kill myself in the process. After more crappy bumpy road I climbed a small hill and WOW the country was so beautiful. Hills, spinifex, huge dam, cows with calves, more pigs, and just such a change from the last 2 days. There was no tailwind today and it heated up very quickly so lots of shady breaks and fluids. At 40kms I just hit the wall and had to stop for shade and smoko even though only 5kms to go. Was a worthwhile stop, instead of struggling. A few kms out of Top Springs is an amazing Creek called Illawarra Creek. It had running water and I went and sat in it. So cool. So here I am at Top Springs, a most friendly Roadhouse where I was greeted like an old friend by Pauline, the owner who had 4 days of food for me (sent by me from Dunmarra with some nomads). I told her of my plans from here and she was very relieved to hear I am not riding on to Halls Creek – she is going to help me get a lift to Katherine, 300kms away. Probably in a road train. She gave me a free bar of Palmolive Gold and pointed me to the shower. I must have sunk haha.The last 3 days has given me time to think, and it is totally pointless for me to continue to Halls Creek as all I will achieve is a huge cost to get back to Darwin to fly home as I don’t think anyone should tackle the desert to Alice Springs alone. I really hope Lyn doesnt. So tonight I will enjoy a rump steak and a cider, have a good sleep and get the bike ready for another road train trip. Pauline said she is very concerned about Lyn, said she looked gaunt and frazzled, and she was relieved I wasn’t following. I am not surprisedshe said that as Lyn must have done 80kms before she got her lift and Pauline said she bought lunch here so she must have really been flogging herself to do that on these roads. I know I am slower but she did all that well before lunch. It took me all day. I have many emotions at the moment, but I don’t feel failure. It has been an incredible journey and I am getting out unscathed, fitter and not beaten. 5 days ago I felt beaten, now I just feel proud of what I have achieved. No mobile or Internet here but I rang Steve and he is so supportive and I can’t wait to see him. I have a free night, camping under a beautiful shady tree. Probably my last night on the road. Although I am shattered about leaving Lyn I also recognize that it was foolhardy to continue at that pace. As it is I have arrived here a good week before our planned date
Cattle tracks beside a waterway
. Oh well, cider time!
Muddy to get into, but a great place to wet the shirt!
My free bar of Palmolive Gold haha
Day 26 25April 68kms
Last night is by far the best night sleep since leaving home. Not a bull all night! No generators or snoring. Bliss. Just one hiccup – at some ungodly hour I woke up to this terrible sound and decided to sit up to watch a big jet crash land. Well that is what it sounded like . Next thing there was a very loud horn and I realised it was the train which was about 3kms back. Better than a passenger jet lol.
I still was up too early for for light start and ended up reading my Kindle for 15mins waiting for sunrise. I will set the alarm for 6.15am tomorrow, that should work. The road has been a bit of a stinker today. It started out well with a nice headwind but after the first hour the corrugations got worse, and it has been a bumpy one all day. The bird life out here is amazing, finches and parrots abound. I have been listening to bird calls all day. I stupidly cut a finger last night and could have done with a stitch but I have strips on it and some fixomull, bit sore today but hope it’s OK. I settled under some trees at 10.30am today for my midday rest, just too hot to continue. I ended up putting my space blanket up for really good shade, and read and had a decent nap until around 3pm. The weather has really heated up again. It is after 4pm now and I have pulled up for the night. Just walked into the bush and found a clear patch. I also discovered that one for my 1.5lt water bottles has sprung a leak in the bottom of one of my waterproof bags. Wooohooo must be at least 300mls sitting there. Bathwater!!! I have prox 40kms to do tomorrow to get to Top Springs where I really need to assess what to do next. Would love to continue on to Halls Creek, am angry with myself for even considering changing plans but on the sensible side I probably should ride North on the Buntine Highway up to the Victoria highway and make my way back to Katherine where I can bus to Darwin, get a bikebox and fly home. It is pretty pointless going to Halls Creek as that was our plan originally but for me it just means more hours on buses and they are hugely expensive. We were to bus from there to Broome for a few days rest then bus to Port Hedland to visit Lyns family. I wish she had told me when we were planning all this that she didnt want more than a day in each of those places as I would have probably stayed home. Oh well, enjoying my ride here anyway.As it is I have lost money on my flight home from Alice Springs. So when I get to Top Springs I will see how it pans out. Beautiful sky tonight looking out from my tent.
Smoko, my little method stove boiling some water for a cuppa with my Arnotts Biscuits. Haven’t had time to boil up at smoko all trip until my solo ride
Airstrip in the middle of nowhere. Pussy Cat campdraft site
Attempt at a selfie at smoko time
I thought I would share my secret on how to shower with less than a cup of water! First get the Ziplock bag with melted Dove Soap (seriously slime) and put a small amount on your tiny chux cloth. Hang your Camelpack in a tree above your head, suck through the mouthpiece and have a sip, then squeeze the mouthpiece over the chux, probably use 20mls. Rub the chux vigorously to spread the moisture and soap then very quickly wipe your whole body before the chux dries. You may have to squeeze another 20mls onto it. Then squeeze the mouthpiece and really quickly run the water over your body. Wipe dry and feel like a million dollars! Oh if you are super clever the plastic bag you use as a floor mat makes a great pedicure bath. Lol. Something to actually wash your feet in. When you get into your tent use one or 2 baby wipes on your whole body to make you feel extra clean. Simply marvellous!
My little bit of soap and a happy water face – enough to soak your feet in haha
First day riding solo
Day 26 75kms 24th April
Well I have spent my first and last night inside a pool enclosure! No sooner asleep and I hear a splash, followed by giggles and a man telling his girlfriend or whatever to skinny dip! So I am lying there feeling like a perve and wondering if I should say something. Next minute more giggles, another splash followed by 2 words. “Mmmm nice” to which I reply “who is that?” Very loudly lol. A bit of shrieking, an apology from the male saying they didn’t see my tent, the sound of the pool Gate closing and I go back to sleep. Next wake up was the Buffalos rubbing along the pool fence, and the calf knocking my Billy fully of water for breakfast over. After that, not a bad sleep. I set my phone for 5am wakeup, but a little early as I then waited for daylight. Will set it for 5.30am tomorrow.
After 8kms on the bitumen I hit the dirt road, the Buchanan Highway which will take me to Top Springs 188 kms which I am happy to do over 2 nights and 3 days. Have seen one road train and 4 tourist vehicles all day. I decided to go by my body and not the speedo or the time. It worked well.I have had very regular breaks today, have had a few wees which is not usual for me. It has made me realise my fluid intake is the same but my output was just about nil over the last couple of weeks. Just moving too quickly in the awful heat. At 50kms I noticed brolgas, budgies, corellas and lots of bird noises so a short ride down a track and I found a beautiful clean waterhole. Had lunch, actually boiled the billy for my cup of soup and wallowed in the shallows. I lay down on my ground sheet and snoozed until 3pm. Was bliss. After crossing the railway line at 72kms I started looking for a camp.75kms I found a safe camp about half a km off the road.
I also crossed the railway line at 72kns and noticed Lyns tracks so she got this far. I keep wondering why she got a lift and the only thing I can think of was she had some gear trouble, could have been those bags that needed fixing cos she had all her water in them or maybe she was stuffed. I got to the crossing at 4pm and she was at Inverlay by then so she mustnt have had much off the bike time. Anyway I hope all is okay with her. Her truck trip has taken approximately 350 kms off her ride to Halls Creek. I am worried about her, she goes beyond reason and without me i know she will be up at 4am, and just go. I worry about her back bags which only have one screw in each holding them to the rack and I worry about her tiny meals and her weight loss.I feel strong, happy and it is so nice to have a night in the bush again.
Safest place to watch these go by is off your bike, in the gutter.
My lunchtime swimhole
Day 25 NIL kms 23rd April
If only I could use this little tablet easier! It’s a pain, just lost today somehow.Anyway, another fun night of not sleeping, this time due to a close encounter with yet another bull! We slept our last night together AR Dunmarra which has 4 Buffalos, a calf,a bull, and 2 cows as well as a longhorn bull and another fierce looking bulls with curly horns. We were told they come in at night and to be very careful of them. In the middle of the night I wake to loud chomping and look out to see this massive long horn within 4mts of my little tent, which is nothing more than a fly screen. At first I whisper shoo, then louder and louder, thinking if it takes 2 steps it will walk on me. It completely ignored me. Next move wasctovstart whispering at Lyn, then yelling at her or anyone to get up and chase away the bull! Next minute Lyn is out of her tent yelling at it and flinging her sarong over her head lol. That got rid of him. I was a long time going back to sleep as the other bull and the wild Buffalo were not far away chomping.
Lyn left in the wee hours, she didn’t wake me so not sure what time.
I am finally feeling back to normal, in fact I think I have struggled the last week now that I feel good. I got up and had a great walk around Dunmarra and went through a fence to take photos of old wrecks and a Bower. I also went with some people to have a look at a Lagoon across the road, but a sleeping Buffalo sent us out of that paddock quick smart.
The grey nomads had me over for cake and coffee and I had a terrific dinner of Barra which totally hit the spot.
I went right over the bike today and the resident alcoholic just tweeked up my rack job so it is nice and tight. All in all a good day – back on the road tomorrow to start my solo journey to Halls Creek. I have just heard that Lyn hitched a lift to Inverway, so she is only a couple of days from Halls Creek. I am not sure why, whether she was worn out or bikje troubles, I don’t know. Oh, my tent is inside the pool fence tonight, away from the Bovines!
Day 24 NIL KMS again!
What a shocker of a night. Elliott was in full alcohol fuelled noise mode. Fighting, screaming, yelling, dogs barking, sirens, you name it happened. Poor Lyn even lay awake and complained. Lyn was gone by 5am to do the 105km to Dunmarra and I was at the bus pickup spit by 5.30 to disconnect my trailer and tie the bags together to make one big bag. When the bus arrived it was full of aboriginals travelling from Alice Springs to Darwin. Most were sleeping with hoodies on. Funny to see people in woolies. My trip only took an hour and we passed Lyn before 7am. She had already done 35kms. I felt the driver was falling asleep, lots of veering all over the road. Lyn arrived at 10.30am, she had done very well.
After a lot of soul-searching and talking with family I have decided to have another days rest here then continue on my own. Lyn and I talked about it and she admitted she is under pressure to be back mid June (that was when I was to finish in Alice but as Lyn is riding back from Alice mid June is just not physically and mentally possible for me . So decision made, we are still OK, just going at a different pace. I anticipate 3 days rest on the next leg but Lyn won’t have a day off now until Halls Creek. We shared a farewell dinner at the Roadhouse, incredible steak, and I will see her off tomorrow. I feel I need another day to get back to speed and will leave day after tomorrow. All is well. No photos today, too tired.
Day 23 NIL KMS
Well the Restavit did its job and I slept. Or maybe it was just the exhaustion but I slept. We were slow to get up, and the only thing I did all day was wash my bike. Some people were chatting with us and Icsaid I would catch the bus to Dunmarra tomorrow and quick as a trick Lyn said she would get on her bike and ride so that when I got there we could get going. She just has so much energy. Once she realised that I was intent on getting off the bus and continuing to rest in Dunmarra she settled. Lyn is riding the 105kms tomorrow and I am catching Greyhounds. Elliott is a highway town , an aboriginal community with a lot of problems. I took no photos today, did nothing more than eat and drink, rest and read. I was touched by the amount of concern and phone calls from my husband Steve, our sons, my parents, siblings and friends. One of our mates is a Mine Medic and he rang to advise me on getting back on my feet. I am OK, just feeling worn out. Tomorrow Lyn is up at 4am to hit the bitumen and I have a bus to catch at 6am. I feel I am needing to reassess the rest of the ride as I need days off to see the country and be able to stop when my body tells me. Be kind to Me time. Dinner was a can of cold baked beans, just to knackered to heat it. Ewwwww
I know this is sounding like a cracked record but today by far was the crappiest. Lol after today nothing can be as bad. From the moment we started I was a goner. The road was sandy, slidey, seemingly all uphill with hardly a tree. Poor Lyn must have been beside herself as she likes to go and my body and soul were in total struggle mode. At 35km we had a stop and a little to eat and some electrolytes, Lyn took off for our next stop in 5kms. I didn’t get far at all until a horror crack noise and my bolt had sheared at the frame of the bike for my rack. So bags off, brolly out , tool kit out and I found the piece of whittled wood my clever husband made for my bike last year when I had the same problem….grrrr. So very amateurishly I have repaired the problem with a hose clamp, 4 cable ties, and my bit of wood whittled by Steve. He even wrote on it Specialized right hand side. All downhill from then for me. After that hot hour I was a mess. We went up the road about 5 kms to a turkey nest (raised man-made holding dam) and went through the fence and lay amongst the slime and the algae just cooling off. No head dunking or face washing! We then walked into a bizarre area of weird trees all rooted up by the bulls and lay in the shade. Lyn tried to get me going but I was actually shakey and feeling like crap. Only a couple of kms on we passes a stand of trees and I should have just stopped but didn’t want Lyn coming back. I think by this stage I was definitely going down in a serious heap and needed to not continue, but no shade. Had a vomit which really finished me. The road was completely sandy and I must have been a mess cos I was walking. I tried the cattle pads but they were as bad. Not good. At 50kms we called it quits, it was all I could do to put my chair up under the tree and force myself to hydrate. Lyn decided to pray to my dad and ask him to get God to send a vehicle as no one had passed us all day. About half an hour later along came Les a roadtrain driver who was such a god send. He tied our bikes down and all our bags and we sucked in cigarette smoke all the way to Elliott, 110kms away. We heard all about his druggy sons, his wife who was an idiot who somehow got knocked unconscious by him, accidentally. All about suicide in his family etc etc lol quite a journey, with heaps of choice words and advice on how to get picked up in a pub!! Haha We arrived after dark, and I struggled to just get to the van park and tent up, dinner and bed. We found the manager and Lyn told him we would be leaving before daybreak. Not me, our bikes need cleaning, our bodies need to relax. I have decided to bus to Dunmarra to rest again and Lyn can ride . This is almost a disused park, but we have a shower and a handy store to explore tomorrow. I have taken a Restavit tonight in the hope of a decent sleep
In the middle of nowhere
Wood, cable tie and a hose clamp
Les tying our bikes down
Day 22 80kms
Well back on the road today after just pulling about all day yesterday. I feel a lot better today thank goodness. We took a shortcut out of Anthony Laggoon which ended up at the dead animal dumping ground lol. So we did about 3extra kms today. When we left at first light all the Ringers yelled goodbye and wished us well. What a great place. We had breakfast in the kitchen, I had scrambled eggs and bacon and Nutrigrain haha so nice after 3weeks of porridge. Today was very humbling, this land we live in is so vast, we rode at least 75kms and were still on Anthony Lagoon, only leaving it in the last 5kms when we got to Eva downs. The earth is indeed round, we could see a curve in the horizon all day. The longest distance between trees was 27kms. This is Barlly Tableland country, open sky and grass. We walked into what is called a turkey nest – a raised dam which a bore pumps water into and from there it is gravity fed into troughs. There would have been 250 head of cattle hanging around the troughs. Tomorrow we will get water from one of these as we are back to carrying water. We usually stop at 40kms and have smoko and today I insisted as that 40kms took us 3 hours in newly graded soft sand and heat. I sat on the road under my brolly and enjoyed my Arnotts Scotch fingers. I was much better today because I am being cautious about hydration, fuelling up and stopping when I need to. Also took some photos today which I love to do. I took one of Anthony Lagoon with the sunrise which I hope is OK. Lunch today was under a lonely tree again. Several big trucks went by , you see their dust for at least 7 mins before they arrive. I am now lying in my little tent at Eva Downs, our last arranged station stop on this road. Showered and green grass again. Tomorrow I am back to carrying 26lts of water as there are only the turkey nests for the next 2days and they say the bore water can make you sick. I don’t plan on drinking it but Lyn has a problem with her new bags, somehow they are coming apart at the top, very close to not being able to hook them on the bike. She did start the ride with some support straps that came with them but she sent them home from Normanton. She is using my spare straps to tie the bags to the rack, but I hope it is successful. I am looking forward to my new seat clamp which Steve sent to Dunmarra and that will be the definite finish to any saddle issues for me.
My attention to capture Anthony Lagoon this morning
A turkey nest. Will swim in one tomorrow
Beautiful roadtrain tooted at us while we sat by the road having lunch under our umbrellas
Decent sized spider on a gate