Tuesday, 22 September 2015


Wed 16 Sep - Departing Katherine
At Katherine there are two options, north towards Darwin, or west towards the Kimberley.  We chose to go west, via the sevannah land to the border and onwards to Broome.  The country west of Katherine is open canopy dry woodlands with a long grass understorey. The trees become more dense closer to creeks and rivers but overall the it is still a dry place.  

The road is pleasantly undulating but the the riding is challenging.  It is hot, particularly in the afternoon, and the only way to manage is to start early and embrace the siesta.  Unfortunately this morning  I got a puncture - my second for the trip. We technically it wasn't my second puncture, it was a re-opening of the first puncture.  The heat appears to have weakened the patch I put on near Kings Canyon.  Whilst it made today suck,  two punctures in over 5,000km of bike riding is a good run.

Unfortunately, my repair job didn't work.  I got the puncture, pulled the wheel and tyre off, found the puncture, patched it, reinflated it and put the bike back together, got a few meters down the road and it failed again,  In this heat the glue holding the patch to the inner tube fails.  The only way to fix a puncture is to replace the inner tube. Which I did,  Much time wasted and much frustration.  By the time the afternoon heat defeated us we'd only completed 80 km.

Thu 17 Sep - To Victoria River
We awoke early to take advantage of the post dawn cool riding conditions. It was glorious.  It lasted for two hours, until 8am.  After that the sun beat down.  Around 9am we were making excuses to find shade and take and late breakfast / early morning tea.  

Our main water stop for the day was a roadside rest area with a tank.  When we arrive the tank was empty.  Fortunately we both had sufficient water to make it to the next roadhouse - but it was a reminder not to rely completely on our maps.  A couple of spots in a row with incorrect water information and we'd be flagging down caravans to get out of trouble.

Yesterday my front tyre gave me grief - today it was the turn of my back wheel to puncture. 

The payoff for all our troubles was the country.  The land is hilly, with more of those eroded ranges that made the SA/NT border country so spectacular.  The Victoria River also provides the moisture to support Pandamas palms, figs and actual greenery (as opposed to the yellowed grass or scorched earth near Katherine.

Fri 18 Sep - Victoria River (Rest Day)
We spent a day at a roadhouse, in air conditioning, drinking cool drinks and and eating ice creams. Early in the morning and again at dusk we left our air conditioned shelter to take a few photos, but otherwise we stayed off the road and out of the sun. 

I'm reading and enjoying 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' by Louis De Berniéres.
We'll ride again tomorrow.  Today we recover from the heat.

Hay bales in the morning light - a little tribute to Monet

Sat 19 Sep - Timber Creek
Its either getting cooler, or we are aclimatising.  Today felt cooler - well at least it took longer for it to get unbearably hot.  We were on the road early and it took till 10 for the heat to become an issue.  We had a tail wind and an undulating, winding road that ran through gorges and savannah country.  By midday we had ridden the 92km to the next town / roadhouse - Timber Creek.

Timber Creek is where I ended up when the wheels fell off my 2002-3 bike tour (I'm being literal here. On my first bike tour a wheel bearing failed and I had to limp the bike between Victoria River and Timber Creek, and then wait till a replacement wheel arived in the mail).  Fortunately this time around it was simply a lunch stop.  We arrived hot, thirsty and a little spaced out from fatigue.  An hour in the air condititioning, a chicken and salad sandwich and more than two litres of cool drink later and we were ready to take on the afternoon.

Today's weather report says Timber Creek had a min of 20 and a max of 38. The thermometer on Maree's bike was reporting temperatures in excess of 42 degrees.  This is our new normal.  That's why we are trying to get as much riding done as early as possible and why we spend so much time hiding under bushes in the afternoon.  Crossing the Kimberly, Pilbera and Gascoyne will involve many weeks of this.  We are questioning whether this is the way we want to spend our time off. At this point riding to an airport, boxing the bikes and flying south is looking like an appealing option.

Sun - 20 Sep - Near the NT / WA border
This is boab country.  Big bottle shaped trees have become a regular part of the scenery.  These giants have a an edible fruit.  The boab nut is a drab green furry wooden thing about the size of a cricket ball.  Crack it open and you'll find a dry white pulp that you can eat.  It has a pleasant citrus flavour and a sherbert-like texture.

It is of course still damned hot.  Maree's bike computer measured a top of 55 degrees (in the full sun) around 2pm.  When we are not being baked by the sun we are being tormented by flies.  We've both taken to wearing fly net headwear.  We both look like we've got an onion bag on our heads, it obscures our vision, and makes eating and drinking difficult.  It is, however, the only way to keep the persistent little beggers out of our noses, eyes and mouth.   

No comments:

Post a Comment