Waking at our new customary time of 6.30am after a mostly solid twelve hours sleep, we made our way out of the tent to be greeted by a FREEZING cold morning. It took us almost an hour to get packed wearing beanies and winter gloves, which stayed on for the first hour on the bike.
Headwinds appeared to be joining the list of new customs, as were rough roads. Our 12km/hr average remained with us for the whole day, along with mountains of dust. We were starting to have big doubts about getting ANYwhere on this trip!
We stopped for lunch at a fork in the road. While we were eating and gazing at the dilapidated road sign, we realised the arrow pointing the Mount Coolon was actually so faded you could hardly see it. We don’t know if someone has had some fun with the sign, but we were potentially about to head a long way the wrong way!
As the day wore on, Mount Coolon did not seem to be getting any closer. Rough roads, head winds, and weird kilometre comparisons on road signs were not helping with our growing feeling of desperation.
When we finally saw the Mount Coolon Hotel around midday, we paused for a moment, taking a photo and joyously proclaiming it was a day for early beers!
Until we realised the hotel was closed.
Slightly panic-stricken, we walked around for a bit, noting the dongas onsite that looked lived in, and the big shower and toilet block that looked open and inviting.
Two Main Roadworkers from Mackay turned up ready to check-in to the hotel. They weren’t sure what to do either, but at least they had phone reception and could phone the hotel managers…and leave voicemail messages…apparently the hotel managers were on holidays and the the hotel had been left in the care of some young people. While the cat’s away, the mice will play!
By this time it was close to 2pm. We decided to set our tent up in an vacant area across the road and have a shower. Hopefully someone would turn up as we had been looking forward to a good pub meal all day (and yesterday and the day before that!).
It wasn’t too long later that the hotel staff turned up and we gratefully settled onto some hotel bar stools and enjoyed a few cold beers and a huge packet of chips. Kevin and Chris had also arrived, towing a luxury caravan and we had a good chat with them, getting a tour of their van and some good information about which caravans to avoid.
With dinner starting at 6pm, we had time for a cup of tea and some biscuits before making our way back over the road to join the caravan pair for a good steak, chips and salad…and more beer. Our puffer jackets came in handy as we sat in the old pub with wide open doors and windows. It was going to be another cold night!