(written by Dave)
After a great dinner and nice sunset, we thought we’d have a good sleep in the park. Not to be as it was a rough night at the Territory Manor in Mataranka. We could never really figure out where it was coming from but there was some pretty loud music going until at least 4AM. It could have been the pub out on main street or it may have been from the nearby indigenous housing community. Wherever the source, it woke me every hour at least and Nancy even more often. Had my earplugs been nearer to hand, I certainly would have used them. Both of us had the same thought during the night, “screw it, we’ll take another day off here so we can sleep”. Only problem with that brilliant idea was we’d have to sleep in the same place again – clear heads prevailed in the morning. We were sleepy but at least we agreed to move on. One night at least where my snoring wasn’t what kept Nancy awake!
We had our usual oatmeal for brekkie – Nancy counted out that we “only” have 10 serves left. Guess I may have bought a bit too much in Tennant Creek – we’ve run out of everything else between here and there. Double servings of coffee were on order today and luckily they seemed to do the trick in clearing our heads.
We pulled out about 9AM noting a good tailwind already giving us a boost. And a boost it was. For the 110ks, we averaged over 27ks per hour (almost 17 MPH). There were times that we exceeded 40 kph and late in the day were sitting over 30 kph most of the time. We are certainly stronger than when we started this trip but not strong enough to push loaded touring bikes at that speed on a flat road. So far we’ve definitely picked the right direction to ride. We’ve heard about an American out in Western Australia who was trying to ride the other direction – he gave up and turned around after 2.5 hours.
There were few stops on the route, only one official rest stop in fact. We stopped there for muffins that we purchased in Mataranka. We met a young Vietnamese/Canadian couple at the stop who just returned from Vietnam. Who-hoo the food and lodging there sure sounds nice – comfy and low cost. We’ll work out the next step of our journey here in Katherine – updates to follow in the coming days.
The second half of the ride to Katherine was very fast. Our speed was only checked 9ks from town where we came upon a bike path. Bike paths often have stops for roads and more curves, and are generally not as fast as the parallel road. But riding paths tends to endear motorists more so we used this one. Why they have a bike path 9ks from Katherine is a real mystery. The airport is out there but I can’t imagine many folks use the path. It’s not much of an airport and there were no other cyclists on the path today.
At town we stopped at the information centre and managed to get them to give us a recommendation on caravan parks. There are 6 in town and most centres are required to be neutral. We like a nice kitchen and reasonable place to set-up the tent. They were honest enough to guide us clear of parks without kitchens. Our park does have a nice kitchen, but not a blade of grass in the tent area. 1 out of 2 is not bad.
We stopped for groceries on the way here. Nancy really wanted a hamburger, so that’s what we ate. We also have fixings for egg and bacon rolls in the morning. The grocery is right on main street, our first decent store in some 1,300ks. Lots of indigenous folks milling about town. Nancy was happy to see me return from inside shopping. I guess the police showed up while I was inside as well. Either we seem to know how to pick these spots or there are lots of police/indigenous interactions. The hamburgers turned out great by the way.
At the campground we also met up with Nikki, a woman that we have run into at multiple campsites along the way from Tennant Creek. It is fun to see people we recognise when we come into a campground – makes it feel a bit like home. She is staying here a few days and kindly lent us a tarp to put under our tent while we are here. That should help reduce wear on the tent footprint and hopefully reduce the amount of dirt and sand we track into the tent – and keep me in compliance with proper tentiquette.
We are spending a few days here in Katherine to work out next steps of this trip. There is good mobile coverage and so long as we pick the right time to shop, good food options. We will be heading out to Katherine Gorge as well at some point. It is supposed to be quite scenic.
Off to bed soon, hopefully for a good night’s sleep…