Wearing puffer jackets, beanies and gloves, we enjoyed a leisurely start the next morning, with sultana damper and cups of tea for breakfast. It was close to 9am when we got rolling, with a promise from Kevin and Chris that they would be along later.
The road was wonderful from here. As the very first roadtrain appeared, we realised we needed to dash over to the other side of the road to avoid being smothered in a cloud of red dust. Apart from this, we were able to ride as we pleased on the road and found the crosswind a great relief after the last few days of headwinds.
Kevin and Chris appeared after an hour or so, providing us with espresso coffee and chocolate biscuits. We sat in their luxury Bushtracker caravan on plush seats discussing the pros and cons of the world. We left with that night’s dinner planned, as Chris gifted us some celery sticks and a cabana sausage. This would definitely help what was going to be a simple instant mash and tomato paste stew combo!
An old ringer stopped his ute (in the middle of the road of course) to check we were okay (must have been looking good). He was on his way from Cloncurry to Mackay to help an equally old mate muster some cattle. He was sad to see the old skills of mustering by horse disappearing.
After 53km, we reached the end of the dirt and the sign for Belyando Crossing. 6kms in the wrong direction would take us to the Belyando Roadhouse for a hamburger and chips. It took a split second to decide an extra 12kms would be worth a good feed to help us get the next 166km to Clermont.
And it was worth it too. The food was great, not expensive (by Townsville standards anyway) and we chowed down while a couple of people took photos of our dusty tandem. We bought two 1.5L bottles of water and a packet of biscuits to help us along before we left.
By around 4.15pm we were spent and pulled up in a clearing off the side of the road. We made a cup of tea and gratefully cooked up cabana and celery tomato stew with dumplings (new Trangia trick!) and instant mashed potato. The sunset was amazing and we wiped the dust off our legs and face once again before climbing into bed.
At some point during the night we both woke with a start, the wind had suddenly come up and was vigorously rattling the tent. Next thing we heard a CRASH and the wind suddenly stopped! We stared at each other for a moment in wide-eyed terror, then looked out the tent. The BIKE! The willy-willy had knocked over our tandem which had been leaning heavily against the tree!
In a second Mick was out there in bare feet and undies picking up the bike and making sure no damage had been done. Only a couple of roadtrains rumbled past with their huge daylight-making headlights shining directly on our campsite while this was happening.
No harm had been done to the bike except for slightly twisted handlebars, but we vowed to tie the bike to whatever it was going to lean on in future