Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 20 Willare Bridge to Broome 163.84 kms

We have made it all in one piece. No dramas, no mishaps, it all went very smoothly. The winds were kind today, they were mostly up their behinds or slightly across them. The weather was kind with cloud cover all the way keeping the temperature below 30 degrees all day. The road surface was good and the scenery up till lunch was not bad. Annie, Jacquei and Melanie took off and went like bullets so they could get in early and have a shower and change before the celebratory meal. Roger took off and rode on his own so he could get to the post office before it closed. The rest rode along fairly close together and arrived before 2.30/ 3pm. The meal was at the Cable Beach General Store and we were joined by Peter's wife Jan, her friend Ellen, John f's wife Carolyn, Theo's wife Carolyn, George's wife and daughter Ingrid and Katrin and Mark's wife Lorraine. Big party! We missed the sunset but managed to get photos just before the sun went down. There is only 9 maybe 10 on the next leg. It will be strange for all of us but it should bring us even closer together.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 19 Bush Camp to Willare Bridge 105 kms

Collis was up wandering around camp at 3 am today with the fire going and the water on the boil. This made it a bit hard for me to get back to sleep so I'm just a little tired again. 2nd to last day of riding this leg and I am ready for a small break in Broome.
The next leg has much fewer riders so it should be quite pleasant with the opportunity to ride with them most days.
Still lots of boab trees with good favourable winds for most of the day. The weather has turned slightly with cool weather today and I was looking for some long sleeves at morning tea time. Morning tea was at 50 kms on the side of the road and no-one hung around for long today as they are always keen to get to their days destination after a bush camp.
Willare Bridge is a pleasant surprise as I had imagined it to be just your everyday roadhouse in the outback but it's a hive of activity and the facilities are quite good with nice green grass to camp on. Whistling kites and wedge tail eagles in abundance and little wallabies hopping around the camp ground in broad daylight.

It's Mark's birthday today so we are taking him out for dinner tonight to celebrate. It's a bit hard to get a cake organized.

Day 18 Fitzroy River to Bush Camp 125 kms

Late start this morning or I should say late start for Collis and I as we slept in till 6 am. Most of the riders were up already and most had even finished their breakfasts. Joan left camp not long after we rose at around 6.30 am. We have 2 more sleeps before we get into Broome. Tonight I am providing the meal so there is only one meal the riders have to get for themselves, if any, as most of them buy from the roadhouses.
The riding today was pretty good with mostly tail or side winds (or so I'm told). The road surface is good but the scenery wasn't anything to write home about.
The boab trees have come back today after an absence over the last couple of days. They are bigger than ever also- huge mothers. We had morning tea and lunch on the side of the road today with some trouble finding shade but we parked ourselves under a boab tree at lunch time and we have noticed the trees have leaves on them now as well. This tree was unusual in the bark on the tree but definitely had the fruit of a boab.
Roger volunteered to lead the pack to find a nice area for camping tonight. We were looking at the 130 km mark but he came across an area that had a road along a fence line into a property with a nice cleared area for the campfire and tents. This was at the 123 km mark. The sign was put out straight away to lead everyone in. We thought everyone was in so Joan brought in the sign from the road and we started to prepare the fire and dinner when I realized I hadn't seen Peter J yet. Sure enough he hadn't come in but it was only 3.30 pm with plenty of light left so no need to worry. The sign was quickly put back out but if he had gone past it was too late. We were quite visible from the road so he should see us. I asked Collis to start searching for him when there was still no sign at 4.30 as we only had another hour of light left. Mark went off on his bike and Collis started flagging motorists down. A bus load of aborigine kids said they had seen him about 10 or so kms ahead of us heading towards a boab tree. Mark was riding ahead to see if he could locate him. There were so many stories going around camp by this time with him being bitten by a big brown snake to him being stuck up a boab tree. He and Mark came in just on sunset and Peter was a bit embarrassed that he had caused so much drama. He had sailed straight past the sign, Joan riding down the track into camp and seeing us from the road. Peter ended up doing an extra 40 or 50 kms today.
We had spaghetti bolognese for dinner which I had cooked last night at Fitzroy Crossing and froze up. I also did a vegetarian version for Joan and luckily I did as we just had enough with no leftovers tonight. I then made a gluten free peach cake for dessert and we had long life cream that was NOT curdled this time. All went down well and was finished off with chocolate handed around for the late stayers.
Everyone sat around the fire for quite awhile tonight and we went around the group to hear everyone's highlights. Everyone agreed the scenery has been spectacular but the friendship and group dynamics also featured in the highlights. It has been a great trip. Shame we only have 2 more nights before Broome. Woody even said he was enjoying this bush camp and that is a biggy for Woody who hates camping out at the best of times.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 17 Fitzroy Crossing Rest Day 0 kms

Written by Collis.
A very pleasant rest day had by all. Up early at 5.15 to a brilliant sunrise, purple and fiery red. Jacquei's birthday today- not a big one but special anyway. Off to the Geike Gorge today, I'm not one for boat rides but this is lovely trip down a magnificent river.
Back for Jacquie's birthday celebrations- we had a lovely picnic for lunch under a tree. I'm afraid we all ate too much and the food was"magnifique"!!! Helped Kath make tomorrow's bush camp spaghetti.
Looking forward to our last bush camp on the trip-should be good. 3 days from Broome and everybody appears happy.

Day 16 Larrawa Station to Fitzroy River 151 kms

What a delightful place to stay. We all managed to get some lovely sunset pictures and some sunrises as well. Both were just perfect.
Everyone was taking their time leaving today as they had all enjoyed the surroundings and the hosts. Ben has mislaid his wallet this morning and he has gone off looking for it on the road into the station. I reckon it will be found when he unpacks this afternoon.
We had morning tea at a lovely lookout which was pretty busy with caravaners stopping for their morning tea. One lady fell a short distance down the cliff face and I thought I would have to do a bit of a nursing shift but no bones appeared broken and she wasn't keen having some stranger look at her knee abrasion. The view was spectacular.
Lunch was on the side of the road and to get to the spot, Collis nearly killed me as the slope down to the flat area was really steep and I was hanging onto the dash board for grim death. We made it down safely but I wasn't sure how we were going to get out later on. I walked the area to work out the best way out.
The riders are struggling today. This is the first day in a long while that they had a side wind with some head wind periods as well. The road surface is not the best according to Mark. It's been a long day but a nice spot at the end of the journey.
Martin blew his tyre and tube so Collis had to go back out and pick him and Deb up just 30 kms out. They were glad to get in. The camping area is lovely here but the staff are a bit heavy handed, threatening to send us away if we didn't hurry up and pay the bill before all of us were even in the park. Most of us went to the restaurant for dinner as they had a Sunday special of a 3 course roast in a lovely restaurant with white tablecloths and waitress service. We were feeling out of practice eating in such style.

Day 15 Halls Creek to Larrawa Station 151 kms

Woken early this morning by a telephone conversation in the next tent going for at least an hour in a different language. That was the frustrating thing, I couldn't follow the conversation at all. I got up to go to the toilet and sussed out which tent the talking was coming from, trying to find out whether or not the person was one of ours and whether or not they were sleep talking. It was not one of ours so I politely asked them to go to sleep. I then climbed back into the back of the truck hoping that worked but it didn't so I asked (not so politely) once again. Still didn't work and Collis wouldn't let me pursue the disturbance (I was a little relieved as I had no idea how big this person was or anything). Once he stopped talking the the town music began and continued well into the morning- actually right up till we left the town. It was very loud and it was mostly the same song repeated continuously over and over again. Peter did some investigation this morning and found the house it was coming from which was over the other side of town. Where are the police in these towns?
Packing this morning was a little slower, for what reason I couldn't determine but we were finished in time to get to morning tea by 9.35 am- 5 minutes late. But the riders moved fast this morning and were waiting for us. Road works held us up this morning for at least 15 minutes so we ended up 5 minutes late for morning tea but all was forgiven when I produced my choice of 3 flavours of sandwiches, which are peanut butter, jam or Vegemite. Three loaves of bread were demolished in seconds.
Last night John worked on Fliss' bike and she was able to ride off on it this morning. She can't use all the gears but if she treats it tenderly then it might just make it to Broome. John is a miracle worker!! In anticipation that Fliss may not be able to ride her bike, our spare bike got the best clean it's had probably ever so the next time I get a chance to ride then I should have a much cleaner bike to ride.
The wind has been up their tails all morning and the slowest rider was doing an average of 27 kms an hour without trying. Lunch was at a beautiful little spot called Mary's Pool which we thought at first we could bush camp at but it was just too far from Fitzroy River (tomorrow night's stop). If we don't get the good winds tomorrow then it would be too far for them to ride comfortably in one day. Mary's Pool is a lovely little rest area which is very popular and was already very full but there was still plenty of room for the cyclists. It is so funny, we just keep running into the same caravaners everywhere we go.
Onto Lawarra Station which is just perfect. Wendy, the managers wife, is so accommodating, offering the riders drinks and snacks as they arrived. She has given us camping area around a little cottage they rent out and we can use the cottage kitchen and washing machine as well. Very nice choice for a night's stay. The sunset tonight was spectacular and I hope someone captured it's real beauty for the blog. Cycle across Oz shouted everyone dinner tonight which was cooked by Wendy and consisted of all you could eat lasagne, stir fry beef, ribs, fried rice and a vegetarian pasta. Meal was lovely. Most people who haven't been out to the outback think it is a whole lot of nothing but they are just so wrong. There is always so much to see with changing colors, changing terrain, changing flora and changing weather. It is really beautiful but you must slow down and look at it at the pace of a bicycle to enable you to really appreciate it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 14 Turkey Creek to Halls Creek 161 kms

Well apparently it didn't remain a quiet night for some but especially those sleeping in the front of the roadhouse. Deb and Martin reported a Brahman chewing on their tent straps and our next door neighbor (in the caravan and friends of Collis' cousin) found a large cow pat deposited freshly in front of his van this morning. Deb also said she heard horses roaming through the camp as well but I'm not sure who else heard or saw these but then we found a few brumbies just down the road when we left camp later- so I believe you now Deb. I certainly heard the dogs in the early hours of the morning but I missed out on the rest of the excitement.
Not a good start this morning with, firstly Melanie requesting a day off the saddle due to a lingering headache (?heat stroke). Then Fliss arrives with her derailleur in tatters after a slight mishap in the sandy soil.
So it was decided Fliss could ride Mel's bike and we would carry hers on the trailer until John could have a look at it tonight. I thought this would put us way behind in time but we ended up early for the morning tea break. Once Melanie got herself organised, she was pretty good at getting Collis moving.
Morning tea was at a rest area that was beside the Spring Creek and was just superb. Lots of shade and nice facilities. It would be a great place to free camp on another occasion. Ben decided to dress up as princess as he decided to ride her bike and lend his bike to Fliss.
Lunch was at Little Panton River rest area and this was quite a nice spot as well and another spot that would be great to free camp at. The group ended up very spread out today with most not stopping for afternoon tea but riding straight on after lunch into Halls Creek. Peter J, Mark, Deb & Martin stopped for a quick drink before heading in. I think Mel found the whole experience of staying in the car was very boring and a very long day (sorry Mel but our days can be alot of waiting around).
Staying at Halls Creek caravan park with the barbed wire around the perimeter. Not the most inviting looking park we have stayed in but we have green grass, some power and background music (coming from a live band somewhere in town). What more could we ask for? Lots of warnings around the park about theft so most things have been locked up securely and we just have to hope for the best.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 13 Bush Camp to Warnum ( or Turkey Creek). 118 kms

Most of us had a good sleep last night and the camp was pretty quiet. One little group of riders were singing away as they packed up their tents- zippity do da. No great rush this morning as Collis did organize morning tea for 10 am.
Quite a number of the riders ended up with punctures from riding their bikes down to the river yesterday as there were large amount of 3/4 jacks in the grass. Most punctures were discovered last night but Martin discovered his just as he was about to leave this morning. Deb waited very patiently while he changed it. Not far down the road Woody had his 18th puncture for the trip. This would have to be a record for Cycle Across Oz. The rest of the group rode out without a problem and went to Doon Doon Roadhouse for breakfast or a cuppa or to just use the toilet. John stayed behind to help us load the car (I think he thinks it's not proper for me to be lugging these heavy bags- he doesn't realize some of the heavy loads I've lifted in my working life) but it is very thoughtful and kind of him and very much appreciated. The packing has become so much better organized and even though we have 18 riders we seem to fit everything in with room to spare. The car is still moaning under the load but there is room for a few lighter objects.
Poor John didn't realize everyone was going to Doon Doon so he sped off last and was wondering why he wasn't passing anyone or even seeing anyone on the road. He stopped at morning tea area but thought we wouldn't be there until 10 am so he decided to get back on and keep going. Unfortunately for him we arrived 5 minutes after he had left. So John ended up riding straight to Warnum unsupported today.
The scenery is still stunning (says Annie) but the wind did keep changing today. Some tailwinds but also some side winds today although the wind did not start until later in the day. Temperature was again in the low 30's and the riders got in early enough that they weren't affected by the heat. Nice pool at Turkey Creek but again the water was pretty cold. This was refreshing especially after the bush camp as the one thing you really crave is a dip in the water.
Leftover chicken curry was enjoyed by Mark, Peter, Annie and Collis. I had a little bit then Annie bought me an ice cream. We went to bed so early tonight with Collis asleep by 7.30pm. Not much noise around the campsite so I think most people have gone off to bed early as well. Annie was going to buy us some chocolate but I haven't heard her come back so looks like I may miss out tonight (I'm talking about chocolate).

Day 12 Kununurra to Dunham River Bush Camp 83 kms

Nice leisurely start today with a short ride to a bush camp.
Most of the riders went to The Wild Mango restaurant for breakfast and drinks. Kununurra did not know what hit them with our lot standing waiting for them to open. Collis and I took our time but we were still ahead of time. We should have stopped for breakfast as well as we were early for morning tea and had to wait around for them.

 The scenery was lovely and they had a nice tail wind once again today. I say the scenery was lovely when I really should have said stunning according to Annie. The temperature wasn't too hot but it was in the low 30's. Morning tea was donuts (one each- I was being the real mother this morning with policing this).
We arrived in the bush camp by lunchtime. Lovely little rest area with clean facilities and plenty of flat areas for camping.
Nice fireplaces built in so this made cooking much easier. We found an easy path down to the Dunham River so everyone went down for either a swim or a paddle.
Some of us were a bit wary of crocodiles but the water was pretty clear and if there was one then I'm sure we would have spotted it before it spotted us. Quite refreshing!! Dinner tonight was quick chicken and vegetable curry with rice followed by spicy apple damper. I made the main meal and Fliss with Ben's assistance made the dampers. Both courses were very successful although we had lots of rice leftover as Collis had cooked 2 1/2 kgs of uncooked rice. It was a nice dinner with everyone sitting around chatting, I did a trivia quiz and John read us one of his poems. All very pleasant. The group atmosphere has improved and the aim of working together as a team has been successful.

Day 11 Kununurra Rest Day 0 kms

No chance of sleeping in but this is ridiculous. We are cooking the riders breakfast this morning as we are at the half way mark for the period of time on the road. But I went and woke at 4 am thinking about what I needed to do in readiness for the breakfast- stupid! Started cooking at 6.30 am for 7 am breakfast. We cooked eggs, bacon, chippolattas, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns, baked beans and toast. We started with a tub of fruit salad first and of course the usual tea & coffee. We used the BBQ's by the poolside so it was very nice and relaxed.
Most of the riders had an early start to catch their scenic flights over the bungle bungles & Lake Argyle and others had hired cars to go to Emma Gorge and El Questro. Collis and I had chores we needed to do like banking, tax paperwork and shopping for the bush camp. Then we had a nanny nap later in the afternoon and felt we had had a good day, achieving everything we wanted to.
Most of the riders went down to the pub together for dinner and a few stayed behind to cook for themselves. We had cold meat and salad. Early to bed again even though we had the nanny nap.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 10 Lake Argyle to Kununurra 70 kms

Short day today and most decided to have a leisurely morning riding out of camp. Chris left early as she had a flight booked over the Bungle Bungles and needed to be in at Kununurra at a certain time. Jacquei left early as well as she wanted to take diversions off to do some photography. The road out of Lake Argyle is undulating and a couple of the riders had decided that it would be a tough 35 km ride due to hills and winds but they were pleasantly surprised and all thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It was a different story when they turned back onto the main road as the scenery became much of a muchness (boring or not as stunning as we were used to).
We are staying at a nice caravan park on the lagoon at Kununurra. We had to negotiate with the managers for an idealic camp site as they tried to place us near the main road. Collis did well and we are right next to the lagoon. A few including us upgraded into cabins right next to the camp area.

Day 9 Rest Day Lake Argyle 0 kms

Such a lovely spot! Everyone up early, even Mark, to enjoy the sunrise. Can't remember if I have ever taken a photo of a sunrise (written by Collis). Very pretty rising over the escarpments. All finished breakfast by about 7am. It is full on bright sunshine at 5.15 and I can't understand how the people in WA voted against daylight savings.
Many of the rider's are just doing their own thing today. The Durack Homestead was a popular place and this is where Kathy took Debra, Martin and Jacquie. I didn't go as I was misbehaving. A swim in the"Infinity Pool" improved my demeanor.
Kathy returned from the homestead, I said sorry for about the 74,000th time in my life and presented her with a cup of tea and all was-sweet!! The day was finished off with a roast meal and rice pudding,which I have not had in a very long time and it was pretty good too.
 Oh and I raised about $200 for the charity.