Cycling to the horizon

We pitch up our tent on the empty field of the roadhouse. We enjoy a hot shower and we think we decerved something nice after all the windy and cold days. We both order a ‘Hamburger with Lot’ and we receive a real aussie hamburger with a lot of extra things.

Then we have to wait for a phone call. Since Darwin we have contact with a the NCRV, a dutch radio broadcaster. The program ‘Cappuccino” would like to cal us during their show. We gave them the number of the roadhouse and we sit ready next to the telephone on a fixed time. At the bar of the pub I have a chat with Sjors Frolich about all the kilometers and about the cycling in Australia. Sjors asks us if he can call us again, which seems nice to us.

From the campsite at Threeways we go to Tennant Creek, the closest town to do some shopping. Today we don’t want to cycle for a change and we are very pleased when we are offered a ride to and from the supermarket. We buy food for the next week, because the next part will be through the outback as well.

Plain fields, with the golden Mitchell-grass, the world seems endlessly and the kilometers pass by slowly. Wind, a lot of wind, headwind all the time. Steven is a fantastic front runner and I follow him everywhere. If I don’t, I see Steven disappear and I cannot catch up with him. The wind is to strong for me and without Steven I would still be in the grass fields….. At the end of the day we pitch up our tent in the bush. We are a bit careful, because everybody is warning us about all the spiders and snakes crawling around out here. When Steven has finished cooking he is greeted by a little creature. “Look Marlous a grasshopper!” “Oh no it’s a scorpion!!!!!” We close all our bags and we find a safe spot inside our tent. When we wake up the next morning we see a beautiful sunrise. It’s like the sky is on fire and the colors are amazing. After 190 km of nothing we find some life at Barkly Homestead Roadhouse. Here we have a chat with Jan and Connie. They live for more then 51 years in Australia, but the moment Jan hears we came cycling from his roots he has to wipe his tears away with an original Dutch handkerchief. When he hears us speak his dialect the smile is back on his face again and he starts talking about his memories of the countryside.

We see a lot of kangaroes which is great. Sometimes they are quiet big, they raise their ears when they see us and then they jump away. We see a lot of cows as well. Unfortunately it goes wrong a lot of times. There is no fence and with all the traffic passing by we see many dead animals besides the road. On the bicycle you smell the world, and at these moments it’s no fun…
We enjoy all the signs along the way. It seems like a sport to come up with a new slogan. The signs with “stop, revive, survive”, we take seriously so we sit under the signs taking our break.

It seems like everybody goes on their holidays to the warm North. For many people it is a long journey and the moment you see two people on pushbikes you start waving and blowing the horn. The tourists keep us occupied and we see camera’s pointing in our direction many times.
The road trains are not a worry for us. The drivers are real professionals and if there is space they overtake us with a big bend. When there is traffic coming from the other side they blow their horn in time so we can leave the road.

After almost 1700 kilometer cycling through The Northern Territory, we arrive at the border. There’s a new province in this incredible big country waiting for us at the other side of the border. There are a lot of tourists coming for a picture of the border and afterwards they have to drive back all the way. Here we meet a couple who drove from Mount Isa with their family to make a picture. Wayne and Del invite us to come to stay at their place when we arrive in Mount Isa. We cycle into Queensland and are welcomed in the Sunshine State. In Camooweal we find some nice green grass for our tent. The blue sky changes slowly into a grey one filled with clouds and it starts raining. It’s getting winter in Australia which means here the dry season, so the people here don’t have a clue what’s happening with the weather. We stay an extra day in this small village because the rain doesn’t stop. We have to move our tent to a higher place, because the grass is soaking wet.

The moment it is dry again we start cycling again in the direction of Mount Isa. The flat country changes slowly into some hills. Fifty kilometers before Mount Isa a car appears next to us. Sirens on, police…… “Pull over please!” A strict policeman steps out of his car and tells us we are breaking the rules. The helmets on the back of our bicycles have to be on our heads! Steven plays a very convincing innocent man and I have to try very hard not to laugh. We are lucky we don’t get a 75 dollar fine and we cycle further like good kids with our helmets on top of our heads. When we see the big chimneys appear between the hills we know we are getting close to the mining town of Mount Isa. The instructions we have to find the house of Wayne and Del are easy. Wayne is a fire brigade officer and their house is next to the brigade. We feel at home right away when we meet the couple again and it’s wonderful to sleep in a bed after all the camping days in the bush. It’s funny we cannot hear the wind inside the house, the heaters are on and soon we feel sleepy.

We visit The School of Air. Around 200 children are being educated through the radio. All these kids live on farms, often more than 3 and half hours away from the living world. Everyday the kids follow a lesson of 30 minutes with their own teacher. The teacher sends them their homework and helps them. It’s really nice to hear a lesson and I am impressed how personal the education is.

We go underground in this city. The mine we will visit is not a working one but especially made for visitors. Before we go down with the elevator we are dressed in a nice orange suit and with a belt, a helmet and boots. With a big battery on our belt and a light on top of the helmet we are ready to go. Steve, who worked underground himself, is our tour guide. He tells us a lot of interesting things and we can try some of the machines ourselves. We experience how dark it really is: black!

After some wonderful days with Wayne and Del it’s time to move on again. We have a month left to reach Brisbane and for 2500 km that’s not a very long period. When Brandon, a fireman, offers us to join him in his car to Charters Towers, we don’t have to think long. He gives us the change to spend the 4 weeks before Maaike and Eric arrive in a relaxed way, which seems a lot better to us than to hurry through the country. In Charters Towers we stay at a family and because it keeps on raining they allow us to stay for another day. The Australian hospitality is fabulous.

The last part towards the east coast we are cycling again. It’s almost dry and the scenery is pretty. Hill up and down, we are cycling a nice pace and when we arrive in Townsville we cycled 143 km. With a view at The Great Barrier Reef we find a campsite and we build our house again. We didn’t see much sunshine yet in The Sunshine State. It’s still raining and we hope the sun will break through soon…..

* Threeways – Bush : 91 km
* Bush – Barkly Homestead : 100 km
* Barkly Homestead – Bush : 102 km
* Bush – Evan Dawns : 92 km
* Evan Dawns – Camooweal : 70 km
* Camooweal – Bush : 93 km
* Bush – Mount Isa : 101 km
* Mount Isa – Charters Towers : ride with Brandon
* Charters Towers – Townsville : 143 km

 

 

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