(written by Nancy)
Dave had the great idea to set the alarm this morning so that we could get up early and get on the road before the winds got too serious. So, at 5:30, in the pitch dark the alarm went off. Both of us got up to heed the call of nature and just about froze outside the tent so we rushed back into the tent, put our bike clothes on and crawled back into the sleeping bags to warm up while we listened to the radio for a bit. We finally got up and moving about 6:15 when it was finally light enough to see.
We shivered and shivered as we tried to pack things up, both of us wearing our down pullovers over our bike clothes. Somehow Dave has commandeered the job of putting the sleeping bags and pads and things away, which he does sitting in the warm tent, while I am supposed to be pulling all the bags out of the tent vestibule and packing them up. Note that involves me being outside in the cold air, while he is sitting inside the tent. Hmm, not sure how these jobs got divvied up.
Anyway, we cooked our oatmeal and coffee and ate them as the sun came up over the river and hit our picnic table – that felt nice. Still cold, but a bit better. Unfortunately the picnic table was a one-piece cement fabrication and it was pretty cold to sit on so we were just barely perched on it to eat. Caravanners started to stir as the sun came up, and one came over and told us his thermometer read 5C (41F) and it was sitting in the sun. Brrr, need to keep the beanies handy I think!
We rode a bit slowly at first as we didn’t want to increase the breeze on our bare legs. We finally warmed up and put our head down and pedalled. The wind was blustery and seemed to switch from crosswind to tailwinds to a bit of headwind. Overall though it wasn’t too bad – maybe that was because Dave was in the front most of the day! We stopped for a few pictures and then once to eat some sandwiches I packed this morning but otherwise we rode pretty hard all day. Like yesterday, the road didn’t turn much all day and the scenery didn’t change much but it was pretty, despite the wind. And traffic was next to nothing.
Wild grevilleas are starting to appear along the road and they are just starting to bloom, most in a very pretty yellow-orange colour. The wispy foliage provides a nice contrast to the gum trees, they look quite elegant in the wind. We are also seeing a lot more prickly pear bushes – quite big ones, nestled among the gum trees.
We saw more camels today, near an old farmhouse. Can’t tell if they are wild or kept as pets/stock. It always takes a minute after seeing them to figure out what animal you are actually looking at! We also started to see a few more kangaroos today – haven’t seen any for a bit. Someone at the campsite last night said that you don’t see as many kangaroos near the road now because all of the rain has meant that there is sufficient grass out in the fields for them to eat so they don’t need to get near the verges of the road so much. Unfortunately we did see (and smell) quite a few today that hadn’t survived encounters with traffic.
We were also told by caravanners yesterday that those grey parrots we first saw a few days ago are Apostle birds, and that they call that fungus on the side of the road puffballs – probably not the scientific name but apt none the less.
We were both a bit chilly all day – even though the sun was out. People have been talking about a cool front coming through and I think it is here. Hopefully it will pass in a few days and we can get some of that warm Queensland weather that we hear so much about. I’m sitting here typing this with my down pullover and my beanie on.
We had intended to make a quick tour of the sites here in Barcaldine this afternoon and move on to Longreach tomorrow but we ended up at a nice little caravan park right in town (the Homestead caravan park) that has free wireless and by the time we got set up and took our showers it was 3pm so we would have had to rush through everything. So, in the spirit of this trip we decided to take a day off tomorrow to see the sites. And, Dave has figured out that today is the first State of Origin game -NSW (Blues) vs QLD (Maroons) – and he now wants to go into one of the 6 pubs in town to have a beer and watch a bit – hmmm, could that be why he jumped at the thought of taking a day off??? Anyway, I guess I have to go with him to make sure he doesn’t get beaten up if he lets out a whoop if NSW makes a try. Apparently there is at least one pub in town that is set up for Blues supporters so we better try to find that one.
At least we don’t have to be up at 5:30 in the morning, whatever the temperature is. And, we plan to make pancakes for breakfast so there are lots of reasons to be thankful for rest days! Dave says, ‘Go the Blues!’.