Two nights in a caravan cabin was enough to give us itchy feet, thankfully only the metaphorical kind, and we were packed up by 7am ready to go. Darcy’s Diner opened early so we headed there for breakfast before launching into another headwind towards Longreach.
As we were getting ready to leave, Heather came and said hello. She does some work for the ABC in Longreach and invited us in for a radio interview later that morning. The timing didn’t quite work out, but Heather was travelling to Winton that day anyway, and said she would interview us when she passed us on the road.
30 kilometres down the track, while we were stopped at a rest area, Heather pulled up with a va full of family members who were visiting for the weekend. The interview was recorded on a smartphone and the van headed off again for their day trip to Winton.
It was going to take us a lot longer to get to Winton than the van…obviously. The headwind/crosswind we were getting meant it was going to take a looooot longer! We managed to tick along at around 15km/hr, trying to get the 90km done that we had planned for the day.
Traffic was more frequent on this route, but still light enough that there were no issues except for when roadtrains passed us in the opposite direction. When that happened the bike literally nearly came to a halt with the wind gust created by the truck (NOT what we needed!).
We didn’t stop for an extended break until after 2pm, at which point we had only done 70km. Tomato and lettuce bread rolls along with an apple pepped us up and we continued on sometime after 3pm, determined to at least get halfway!
The wind didn’t let up, but neither did we, and so at 5pm we pulled up at a PAD. We have no idea what a PAD is or what it means, but it seems to go with flat bits on the side of the road (maybe where roadwork supplies have been stored over time?).
With sheep, wallabies and flies for company, we had a cup of tea and biscuits, then cooked up a green curry (that jar did well!) and had tinned fruit and custard for dessert. We also refilled the bottles and drinking bladders on the bike to see how much water was left. We had left Longreach with our usual 4.5L each plus and extra 14L in anticipation of two hot days, but still wondered if we were going to have enough!
During the night I discovered my Thermarest sleeping mat had developed a leak and that the dirt under the tent wasn’t really that soft. That didn’t matter when we finally woke around 6am to discover the wind already blowing a gale. It was warm too, not a good sign that early in the morning.
At 9am and after only 19.6km with an average speed of 13.5kms, we came to a blessed rest area with a shelter. Here we stopped for an hour while we ate some food and waited hopefully for the wind to slow down.
It didn’t so we packed up and head off again.
The next 20 kilometres was much quicker, our average passed increased by one kilometre an hour!
We stopped at the next rest area for some lunch and were relieved to see it had a water tank as our water supplies were getting low. The water definitely needed filtering, so Mick took great delight in using our water filter for the first time this trip. We had brought a 10L Ortlieb water bag for this purpose and hung it off the handlebars on the bike so the water could move through the filter into our bottles. It worked a treat and was a fun activity to keep our minds off the not so fun headwind.
With no sign of the wind abating, but still 50kms to go to get to Winton, we packed up again after a cup of tea and lunch. Adding to the hard work required by the headwind, the heat and the barrenness of the landscape, today’s ride was not turning out to be that enjoyable.
Winton’s approach was filled with exciting signs proclaiming the town’s attractions. This kept us entertained for the final 5km stretch into town along with traffic that seems to materialise within a town’s boundaries.
As we turned in towards the town centre close to 5pm, the bike started to feel that foreboding squishiness that comes with a puncture. Fortunately, at this point Google maps informed us we had only had 800m to walk to get to the Tattersall’s Hotel Van Park, which apparently had some grass sites available.
Winton’s hotels all seem to offer van parking out the back and do their best to attract customers. Tattersall’s had a free washing machine (so exciting when you’re cycle touring) and we got a patch of grass to put our tent on.
With nighttime approaching, the tent was quickly erected and while we drank a cold beer, Mick fixed my sleeping mat with duct tape. We also watched a family pull into the caravan park and set up their two big 4WDs, caravan, boat, tent and camp cots (all for one night). They took up two large sites and were quite entertaining to observe from the comfort of our small Helinox chairs.
We had a pub dinner that night, our energy for cooking sapped by the endless headwinds of the day. Tomorrow would be a rest day in Winton and a chance to to regain our energy, and for the winds to change…hopefully in our favour…