(written by Nancy)
The caravan park really filled up last night – we were all stacked up on each other and a few times while we were in the camp kitchen Dave had to go out and make sure the new arrivals did not drive over the tent! Even with all the people though it was pretty quiet once it got dark so we slept pretty good.
We woke to grey skies and condensation on the tent again – hate that! We were on the road by 8:30 or so, after a few goodbye chats with the caravanners around us. We weren’t sure how far we were going today – there was a town about 45k and then another bigger town 124k from that one. The second town was too far to make it in a day but we had heard that there was a place in between where we could get water and camp. So, uncertain of our destination we hit the road.
We had quite a few trucks in the first 10k or so – mostly trucks hauling cotton bales. We watched one come out of the cotton fields that run along the highway with massive round bales. The ends of the bales were open so it’s no wonder that the highway is lined with little cotton balls. We did see some kind of processing plant on the other side of Emerald yesterday that had lots of similar looking bales laid out in rows so I assume that is where these trucks were headed.
Once we cleared the cotton fields there was very little traffic until we made it to Anakie, where we stopped for morning tea. Anakie wasn’t much of a town – it did have a caravan park but there didn’t seem to be anyone around and there was a ‘For Sale’ sign on the front. We found a sign for restrooms, behind the Anakie School of Arts, which on Sunday morning seemed to be in use as a church. So we quietly snuck down the side, trying not to interrupt the hymns that were being sung inside (about as good as my singing, as Dave would say).
We ran into an old prospector who was in town to collect water. He confirmed what we heard yesterday about getting water in Bogantungan. He told us a bit about his fossicking activity just north of Anakie. While his slightly scruffy appearance and dirty truck made him look a bit suss, he did tell us about his trips to the US and India and other places so I expect he does okay out in the gem fields.
We headed into the Anakie Gemfields Hotel to see if we could get anything to eat or perhaps a chocolate milk. With a limited selection we settled for a meat pie and a flat white, served to us by a young lady from Manchester UK who somehow ended up in Anakie of all places. Two locals in the pub also confirmed that we could get water at Bogantungan so we decided to go for it. One of the fellows in the pub also said that his parents were at church (Catholic) and had a big spread for lunch afterwards that he was sure we could attend if we wanted some free food, but it seemed a bit bad to pretend to be Catholic just to get some free food (plus we weren’t sure we would get the cross thing right)!
The road narrowed a bit after Anakie and we lost what shoulder we had. Traffic continued to be very light though and we could usually see or hear any trucks or cars coming so it was no issue. We stopped for a quick break to eat some leftover spinach and feta damper that I was carrying from yesterday’s bakery stop. The last 20k seemed to take a long time as the road got a bit hilly – we missed the long flat stretches from yesterday. The tailwind wasn’t as strong as previous days either so we were feeling a bit tired by the time we finally pulled into Bogantungan about 2pm.
This isn’t really a town – just a collection of houses and an old train station that appears to have been turned into a museum (wasn’t open today). There is also a park/rest area just next to the train station. We found the toilets (gold coin donation) and looked around a bit for the water that everyone had promised. We found some outdoor taps that turned on so we figured we give it a try. We got out our SteriPen and started treating water to put in our dromedary bags. While we were processing the water a caravan pulled up and parked in the rest area, and we noticed that there was another caravan already parked there. That was good to see, as we didn’t want to be the only folks camped around here – not really sure this was the ‘allowed’ place to camp.
While we were processing the water we also took some really quick sponge baths, stripping down behind some plants near the water spigot. Dave almost got caught in his birthday suit as a couple from one of the caravans came into the museum area for a look around. He got dressed just in time as they rounded the corner where we were at.
After water (for some reason we purified 24 liters – not sure what we were thinking…) we took the bikes down to the rest area and set up the tent. We chatted a bit with the caravanners next to us – farmers on holiday – and then cooked dinner before it got too dark to see anything. Tonight we tried cooking these Indian boil in the bag dinners and a rice packet that you can also boil. Actually tasted pretty good, but thank goodness we also had some naan bread otherwise I think we would have gone hungry (at least we had a lot of water we could drink to fill us up…).
No Telstra signal at all here, despite there being a Telstra substation right across the street. So, this will have to wait until tomorrow to post when we get to the big town of Alpha – about a 70k ride from here.