The Burdekin Dam wall is not open all the time. During the rainy season, it is closed to all traffic, so we felt lucky to be able to cross at the bottom of the dam wall.
We didn’t feel so lucky climbing back out of the dam. That 12% gradient had us working hard. The hills after that were so steep they didn’t bother putting a sign. When the wheels started spinning in the dirt, we had to get off and PUSH the tandem up so many hills (unheard of) that we are considering becoming bushwalkers in our next stage of life!
At the 20km mark, we stopped for morning tea. We had been riding/walking for over two hours…at this speed we were going to have to reassess our whole trip!
The hills improved a bit after this, although the road remained very much a GRAVEL road with big chunks of bluish rock used to shore up roads. This made for hard going. Mick had to be constantly concentrating as he navigated chunky rocks and Jen sat on the back absorbing every bump and wobble of the tandem.
Not long later, we saw two small helicopters zipping around before realising there was a herd of cattle being mustered along our road…at a pace of around 4km an hour. It was amazing to watch with the helicopters performing seemingly dangerous manoeuvres to bring in stray cattle, along with one horse, quad bike and trail bike all doing their best to keep the cattle moving forward along the road.
We really enjoyed the experience, but the hour or so we spent following on behind the cattle meant that by 1pmish we had still only done about 30kms. Mount Coolon was still roughly 70kms away and the rough road meant we maintained our 12km/hr average for the next couple of hours.
There was some traffic along the road, but not much. We came across an Aboriginal stockman sitting in the shade of a tree. He was making his way by foot and hitching to Charters Towers because he wasn’t feeling well. We were able to fill his water bottle, but that was about all. Thankfully a car pulled up just as we left, so hopefully he got a lift.
A bit later, a water truck pulled to a stop in the middle of the road. He was excited to see such an unusual sight on his remote road.
Around 4pm we pulled up for the day on the side of the road. We had done a whole 60kms without there being any change to our 12km/hr average. It was time for a cup of tea, using some of our supply of water. We had filled our two 4L Ortlieb water bladders that morning just in case, and after complaining about the weight on the hills, were now appreciating that decision!
Dinner was simple. Rice, tuna, and the last of our carrots and onions with some curry powder. We had already eaten half a packet of biscuits with our cup of tea.
Washing up involved using some dirt and sand to scrub, then the minimal amount of water and soap. We gave ourselves a minimal wash too, with a slightly damp cloth to remove as much of the dust as we could before getting into bed.
We were in bed before it got dark and as the cold night air began to settle, making our down sleeping bags very appealing!