This post had to be edited when I realised I had got my days mixed up. Prairie is 40kms before Hughenden, which I rode to the following day. The Prairie excerpt has been removed from this post and included in tomorrow’s. As for what I did today instead of visiting Prairie…I have no idea!
I decided to do the 160km to Pentland in one day to avoid stopping early in Charters Towers (50km), and because there is not really anything else in between. In case you’re wondering, Balfes Creek Hotel and campground (this side of Pentland) has shut down.The PUMA roadhouse, on the way out of Charters Towers usually provides a good feed, so I rocked up there around 10am for a bacon and egg burger…side of chips with that ma’am?…oh why not, I’m cycle touring!I hadn’t been past Charters Towers before, and was excited to be entering new waters…err…roads. There was a reasonable shoulder and the traffic moved well away as it passed. The few times I felt uncomfortable about approaching roadtrains or heavy traffic, I just pulled over and waited until they had passed..For some reason, parts of the day seemed to have a headwind, while other parts felt like there was a tailwind. Regardless, my average speed for the whole day ended up being around 20km/hr, so the headwinds can’t have been too bad. It was also surprisingly undulating on this road, but the changes in terrain were great, with easy pedalling or rolling possible on the descending sides. Fortunately I had a tailwind because I was feeling a wee bit tired, and may have even had to stop just a couple of kilometres before reaching Pentland for yet another break just to make it into town.Arriving at Pentland around 4pm, I chatted with Dave, the owner of the General Store while I sucked down an iceblock. Dave had owned the store for three years after doing all sorts of things around the country. His favourite thing was to have a beer out the back with his mates, but was committed to good customer service and would often be open out of hours (usually to people who paid no attention to the ‘closed’ sign on the front gate and barged on through regardless). The General Store is currently open from 7am to 7pm but closes earlier on Sundays.Dave recommended camping at the Pentland Hotel for free, but I wanted to use the washing machine so headed down the caravan park instead. It only cost $5 for me and my bike and was nothing flash, but it did have clean amenities and desired laundry facilities, and was only occupied that night by some workers and me.Waiting for washing to finish is usually a boring task, so I decided to head up to the Pentland Hotel for a beer in the interim. Jason and his workmate were there, FIFOs (Fly-in, Fly-out workers, for those who don’t know), building an electrical substation close by and on the job until Christmas. Edie manages the hotel and was on duty. She said I could have camped there AND used her washing machine…oh well. The pub was a classic country pub and pleasant to spend some time in after pedalling all day.
Well, one thing lead to another, and despite my protestations about the washing, it was three beers later when I headed back down to the caravan park to hang out the washing and cook some dinner. The mosquitoes and I had an enjoyable rest of the evening until I went to bed at 8pm.