At last we reached the turnoff for the Flinders Highway after spending the last few months sauntering up the NSW and Queensland coast. We started heading West from Townsville into the Outback and took it easy on our first day, setting up camp at Reid River rest area after 65 kms. We bumped into Conor who gave us a number for his brother in deepest Cloncurry. We thanked him and promised to look him up on our way through. We reached the town of Charters Towers the next day and admired the original and well-preserved architecture. There was a country music festival on that weekend which explained why everyone was dressed as cowboys. As it turns out however, that's the general look in Western Queensland. We camped wild that night by the side of the highway appreciating the natural beauty of this area. The sunset was stunning as it settled on the flat, open landscape and we felt very contended. After Charters, the road really flattened out and was to stay completely flat for the next 500 kms.
We arrived in Hughenden, a small outback town 400 kms from Townsville and spent the night in a campsite. As it was a public holiday, we enjoyed a free "Driver Reviver", tea, coffee and biscuits supplied to the travelling public on the highways. We'll do just about anything for a free digestive biscuit.We covered the 100 or so kilometres to Richmond in a record time again and set up camp by the side of Lake Fred Tritton. Richmond is yet another friendly little town with a rich history in mining and farming. Despite their remoteness, all the towns we have been to so far have an extremely close knit community and made us, the travelling stranger feel extremely welcome. Life runs at a very slow pace out here, which is fitting for the temperature of Inland Australia and so many people took the time to chat to us about our trip and offer us help. Food is more expensive out here which is no surprise considering the geography but we managed to make our food we had bought in Townsville last 5 days.
We left Hughenden and cycled 115 kms to Richmond where we camped by the side of Lake Fred Tritton. The following day was a 100 km stint to Flinders rest area . We arrived in the dark to be welcomed by the sight of a roaring fire and spent a nice night with some backpackers. The next day, we did our longest stint without a break, 96 kms. We usually take a break after 50 or 60 kms but as there was no shelter, we just pushed on through the midday sun. In Julia Creek, we booked into ther campsite and enjoyed having the local swimming pool, with an entry fee of 60p, all to ourselves. A man called Graham shoved $5 into my hand for some cold drinks, appalled that we had to drink hot water on the bikes all day. In Scotland, we have the opposite problem where it's so cold the water freezes and cracks open your bottle.We stayed at another rest area the following day at Oorindi. The rest areas are great, offering toilets, drinking water, tables, shelter and sometimes a cold shower.
The Kersh family
Whilst bedridden after an accident, Brendan had time to see just how much work Sally did for him and the kids and wrote this book as a token of appreciation. I'm sure mothers everywhere would relate to it( http://www.brendankersh.com).
Whilst in Mount Isa, we managed to get an interview on ABC North West:
Next day we broke our record and cycled 155 kms to another rest area, Wonarah Bore. we arrived buggared but pleased with our efforts and enjoyed another amazing Outback sunset and sunrise. Before setting off, ex-Edinburger Ron and his wife Karen let us shower in their mobile home which refreshed us for the day ahead. They took a risk leaving a Glaswegian in their van and were pleased to find it still there when they came back. We did 95 kms to Frewena rest area the next day and then zoomed off to get to 3 ways, where we made our first right turn in almost 1600 kms.I wasn't having a good day that day and long overdue a rest, slowed down to a snails pace. Ben, ever the gentleman, sped off to avoid having to listen to my complaining. When I arrived at the next rest area, Ben was drinking a cold beer with this man:
The next day, John and Colleen pulled up next to us. John got out his home-made rum and before long, a good time was being had by all. Peter and Chrissy came to join us and offered to lend us their spare camera until we got to Darwin. We were delighted as this would mean we wouldn't miss out on photo opportunities.
We left Newcastle Waters and faced an unexpected headwind so gave up after a few hours. Greg at Dunmarra gave us a free night in the campsite where we enjoyed cold Bundaberg Ginger beer by the pool. Ph: 08 8975 9922. Paul and Denise even made our dinner.
We got to the famous Daly Waters pub the next day. Once again, we got a free nights camp and we started to realise just how good-spirited people were in the NT. Daly Waters is a bit of a "must see" really, especially between 4.30 and 5.30pm when they play "Toss the Boss". This is a happy hour with a difference where, if you win the toss of a coin, you get your drinks free. (http://www.dalywaterspub.com/)
Manu and Elodie
Ant Hills - all over the NT and Western Queensland
Night cycling in the NT
Save yourself a fiver, get to the Driver Reviver!
Anders and Pierre
Adrian and Lorraine
Arnaud and Julie
Thanks to the farmer who let us draft him for 20kms on the way to Darwin!
Heather, Chris and Julia
The lovely Chrissy and Peter who we met at Mindil market to give the camera back. Thanks so much.
And the sunset at Mindil
Darwin - more sex shops than you can shake a stick at. Our last night with our new friends Manu and Elodie. See you in France. Bonne route!