Julia Creek to Cloncurry…well nearly…

I woke up early again in the morning, sometime after 5am, but the desire to stay in bed was strong and I went back to sleep. At 6.20am I forced myself out of the tent. If I was going to get this 140km to Cloncurry over and done with, I had to get going!

Everything was done very slowly that morning. Even as I packed up I knew that this morning was a good example of why it’s good to have a routine method of packing up. When you’re really tired or unwell, you don’t want to have to think too much, and you need to be able to rely on your routine to do things properly.

It wasn’t until 8am that the tent and gear were packed up ready to go. I was feeling slightly shaky and very underwhelmed about the day’s ride. I applied some more sudocrem and a big bandaid to the sore patch on my bum (which showed some signs of improvement since last night) and headed off fairly miserably…to the roadhouse down the road…The Bicycle Pedlar - Julia Creek PUMA roadhouse

Good old PUMA roadhouse again proved to do a good feed with a big truckie breakfast and a big cold coffee drink going down nicely.The Bicycle Pedlar - truckie breakfast! Chatting with the woman on duty, I found out there was a rest area with shelter and toilets about halfway between here and Cloncurry, 70kms out. In my current state, that sounded like a fantastic option for the day! Thankfully I had miscalculated the days and didn’t need to push on all the way to Cloncurry today.

Some well-dressed and fresh looking German tourists stopped in at the roadhouse for a coffee. They had ten weeks in Australia and were covering long distances each day in their car with no camping, just B&Bs and hotels. It sounded wonderful…oh, I mean, it sounded pretty boring, all those hours sitting in an air conditioned car peering out through tinted windows. It’s always much better out on a bicycle…experiencing the reality of the country whether it be heat or wind or flies…

By 9.30am I was on the road again. That huge breakfast had been just what I needed, and even though my bum cheek still hurt and I was still tired, there was a new sense of optimism about the day.

Not too far along and I struck a wiiiide load, so wide I would have been squished if I had stayed on the bitumen. The safety driver who is always a couple of kilometres stopped for a quick chat. There were two trucks carrying the wide loads, and they were going all the way from Cooper Pedy to Mackay!

The Bicycle Pedlar - wide load

Thankful for a tailwind and the shorter distance, I took my time, stopping at very regular intervals to rest my bum and my feet, which were still causing some issues. When I reached the rest area I was putting on the billy and having tea and biscuits!

Around 12.30pm the shady rest area appeared. It had toilets and a tank full of beautiful cool water, with which I washed down and washed up in. The day’s clothes got a wash and I poured water over myself too, making up for the missed artesian baths.The Bicycle Pedlar - rest area halfway to Cloncurry

Once everything was settled, I set up the Helinox chair (more comfortable than concrete seats for a sore bum!), put the Trangia on to boil and got out the iPad to type the blog. I hardly moved, except to chat with a couple of truckers, one of whom had seen me early in the week on on of his trips. About three hours and a whole packet of biscuits (unopened since the Hughenden shop) later, I realised it was 4pm! Time to start evening preparations, which included cooking Deb instant mash and dehydrated peas. Sounds pretty bad, but it tasted surprisingly good, and was nice after overdosing on sweet biscuits.The Bicycle Pedlar - rest area halfway to Cloncurry

I waited up for another gorgeous sunset, then climbed into the tent about 7pm to avoid the incoming mosquitoes. The Bicycle Pedlar - sunsetNot longer after, I heard a car pull up and a gaggle of tourists climb out. There were actually only four, but they had been driving all day (so tough) and were fairly excited to stop for the night. I am not sure what the protocol is in this situation, but I couldn’t be bothered getting out of the tent to say hello when I had just climbed in there and really just wanted to lie down. Another car drove in then, and it turned out that couple had met the previous tourists somewhere along the road so they stood there for a while trading stories about attempting floodwaters and other stupid things.

You may sense some burgeoning frustration on my part, but I was quite happy laying there resting and listening to the conversations initially. It wasn’t until hours later when two young lovebirds from the ‘gaggle’ kept talking and giggling and WAKING ME UP that I really felt annoyed! Besides, I was hot.

The Bicycle Pedlar - rest area halfway to Cloncurry

I had set the tent up on the concrete under shelter and had used the fly for privacy. I didn’t know who was going to turn up during the night and wanted to keep the element of surprise at hand. The fly requires pegs in the ground to keep it hooked out and away from the tent to allow in the breeze. I don’t know how you sort that one out on a concrete floor (in hindsight, probably with rocks) but consequently I had hardly any breeze and lay sweltering in the balmy evening, oozing sweat all over my clothes (didn’t want to get undressed just in case) and my bedding.

I fully expected it to get cold as it had the previous nights and provide some relief, but even that didn’t happen. And so I had the lovebirds, the heat, the occasional green frog jumping on the tent (heart palapitations stopped once I worked out what it was) geckos singing and some other animal (who left evidence in the form of small poos) sniffing around the tent to keep me on high alert all night.

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