A second day of rest was just what we needed in Charleville. We decided to book into the 9am town bus tour for $10, which ran for 2 hours, then we would tuck into a big breakfast in town.
The bus tour was…well…that’s about all we can say. We saw the levee banks, built after the 1990 floods, the animal sanctuary and the 25 historic sites listed on the CD you can hire from the Visitor Information Centre for $5 for a self-guided tour.
In the afternoon we charged up our devices again using our Anker solar panel, which is well worth a mention. We have Apple phones and a mini ipad, all of which charge pretty quick (around 20% in 30mins in full sun). However, the day was a bit cloudy and the intermittent sunshine kept knocking the iPhone and ipad off as the voltage coming through changed. It was a bit annoying and we will carry a battery pack next time. The battery pack will charge easily off the solar panel, and mediate the voltage coming through to whatever device we are charging.
Unrelated to solar panels, but worthy of note is that we have noticed that no one in this land of big hats even comments on our Da Brim helmet brims. Big brim hats are normal…and bikes are not really…
Using the few hours we had left in the afternoon, we stocked up on food again for the next couple of days. The 211km to Quilpie was likely to take three days and we wanted to make sure we had enough.
The Bailey Bar caravan park had live music that night. Our tent site was right near the live music site and we got to endu…I mean enjoy a free three hours of the singer/guitarist with backing track along with the crowd who were having great fun dancing and singing along. We didn’t realise we would be followed by the same musician for the next part of our trip as well…I think Mick is a closet grey nomad. He knew ‘Wheels’, a song that no-one else seemed to know the name of, and a lot of other tunes that the guy was playing.
We cooked stir fries on our Trangia every night at the caravan park. Fresh vegetables seemed so exciting that we made the most, along with plenty of crisps and chocolate…and some wine from the historic Hotel Corones.
The next morning we took our time getting our of Charleville with a GREAT coffee and breakfast at the Black Sheep Cafe. The owner told us that Charleville used to be full of shearers and their families, but since the drought began, seven years ago, the shearers had left and the town was very quiet.
Heading off to Quilpie was exciting. It meant we changed direction to almost directly west for the first time. Fortunately the wind was almost in our favour, with a north-easterly wind blowing us along.
The road was lined with Mulga, the trees that farmers use to feed their cattle, particularly in times of drought when the only alternative is to buy in hay bales. The scenery changed along the way of course, there is never time to get bored on a bicycle!
In no time at all, we had arrived at the Fox Trap Motel in Cooladdi. The owners were lovely and very helpful. They were happy for us to camp out just about anywhere on their 1200 acre property, and as we chatted throughout the afternoon with a couple of beers, were more than happy to include us in the conversations with the locals who popped in to pick up mail, buy a chocolate, have a beer, or just say hello. Gary had seen us before he left Charleville that morning, and the truck driver had passed us on the road. It was comforting to know that just about everyone knew we were out there, we weren’t alone.
It was wonderfully quiet and peaceful that night, and we packed up slowly the next morning before heading back in store to get an iced coffee before we left.
Roxanne was on duty. Her husband picked up work on the Dingo Fence, and spends Monday to Friday away, mainly working on the 300km stretch from Quilpie to Thargomindah. She described the work that he did in exciting detail, and showed us a map of the dog fence in a book called ‘Dog Fence’, which we will be reading when we get home.
Roxanne also raved about Quilpie and it’s zero unemployment. We also found out the Quilpie Show was on this Saturday! We left very excited, ready to see this town that sounded so wonderful.
Ten kilometres down the road, we had realised today was not going to be quick and it was just as well we had only planned on doing about 80-90km. There was a headwind that varied between full-on headwind and a crosswind that slowed us down. It was also a bit hotter today, with the forecast for 31 degrees instead of 27 or 28.
The road narrowed in places, but the traffic was so light it was no issue. We could imagine how difficult it would become if it was to rain; the hard-packed shoulders would quickly turn to mud, making it tricky when big vehicles came past.
We stopped in at the almost non-existent town of Cheepie, which apparently only has one private resident nowadays, but looked like a main point for railway workers.
Around 3.30pm we found a spot on the side of the road to pull up, even though our water was getting a bit low and there was only 30kms to Quilpie. Our day of headwinds meant we were pretty tired by 90kms and we were happy to camp roadside rather than push through to Quilpie.
When we left Charleville the day before, we had loaded up with our normal day’s water (about 4.5litres each) plus an extra 10 litres, thinking we would refill at Cooladdi. It was such a good run to Cooladdi, with coolish temperatures and a tailwind, that we hadn’t drunk as much as expected.
Foolishly, we figured that with the same cool and fast conditions, our water needs would remain low.
Lessons have to be learnt somehow however, and our day of headwinds, warm temperatures and lots of undulations had us drinking a lot more water than expected. We carefully planned our overnight stop, no custard for dessert and limited washing…but we sacrificed enough for an afternoon cup of tea to quench our thirst. Plus we had a bit of cask wine left over…whatever works!
Our new water regime from here on in would involve a minimum of 5litres each per day in good conditions. If there was a headwind, or it was hot, we would need to have more water on board.
We decided to sleep without the fly on the tent (we did have about ten drops of rain during the night of course!) woke with the birds, no wind, and the joy of knowing we only had 30kms to go to get to Quilpie.