(written by Dave)
Today was the start of a long section where we are not sure of camping, food and most important water conditions on the road ahead. The next town is 190k and we didn’t think we could ride that far so we planned to bush camp half way there. There was one rest stop on the road, but we heard that it did not have water so we had to carry 25 litres, enough for riding two days, plus dinner/brekkie.
We had not carried this much water in the past and even when we carried extra, I was not happy with how it attached to the bike. We purchased a new bladder in Mt Isa, plus we had our Ortliebs. This was all great, except that we had to spend lots of time packing and repacking, trying to secure the water and not break bladders or bike racks. If I thought packing the tent was hard, this was double the work. I’m sure that all the other campers around us were entertained by our seemly endless Laurel and Hardy routine. Eventually, we gave up on the new bladder (giving it to one of the entertained campers) but got the full 25 litres secured in a way that seemed like it would hold up. All this mucking about meant that we did not leave camp until after 10AM – and it was getting hot – if only we could drink our water.
Reminds me of a story I learned growing up in Nevada. We were taught that many folks who died of thirst in the desert actually had full water bottles when they were found. Conserving water is not always wise – or at least that’s what I told Nancy. She was still very nervous though and was rationing her water.
The road was pretty flat most of the day. Same sort of trees and bush that we had riding into Mt Isa, only not as many hills. We also had a nice tailwind which helped us make pretty good time. We stopped for lunch at about 50ks. Nice spot with toilets and tables, but no water. We had the place to ourself for 5 minutes then about 10 caravans pulled up. Everyone wanted to know our story…
Back on the road we pushed on to the 190k halfway point. There was a roadside pull over there, not really a rest stop. There was one table, but all the bush around it looked like too many folks had used it as a loo. Two of the caravanners from the early stop were there also. They saw us pull in and gave us 4 mandarins to eat and an offer for lodging at there place up near Darwin. Thanks guys! Nice stop people wise, but not where we wanted to spend the night.
We motored down the road another 5k or so to a smaller pull off that afforded us a chance to get away from the road. We need to learn more about picking these spots. The tent site is pretty narrow, bumpy and full of weeds. Most important, we didn’t have any shade to give us a break from the sun. Sponge baths and ducking every time a car/road train came by were the order of the afternoon. We cooked rice and lentils for dinner and tried to get it eaten before we got eaten by the mosquitoes. Once it got dark, traffic dropped a lot but we still killed our lights whenever a car went past. Not sure that these bush camps are our things – we are going to have to figure it out a bit better before the next one – which may end up being only a few days off. I am sure we will get better at picking them – or we will learn to ride very long days! At least tomorrow, we’ll make it to Camooweal where there is a caravan park and a proper shower.