After a relatively peaceful night with almost no wind, the next morning dawned with clouds of dust blowing across the road near the caravan park. It was that same strong gusty breeze we were getting to know and love.
Our front tyre had decided to join the rear one with a puncture, so Mick spent some time repairing them. His version of puncture repair overkill when packing for this trip was to bring three spare tubes and a puncture kit. This was obviously not enough, as we had now had four punctures, and were using a patched tube in the front tyre.
Coffee was in order after this and we sat in the stillness of the Matilda Centre for a while…
…before mosying around town and having a look. We got a hint of an idea of what it would be like to live out here when the house is constantly full of dust. Big billows of dust would suddenly launch themselves up the road every now and again, and any vehicle that even went near the gravel edge of a road added to the effect.
The following day we headed off for Hughenden, aware that the wind was still not that favourable. Wide open plains lined the road and the wind blew freely across the long dry grass.
Winton to Hughenden is 214km so we decided to use the two rest stops noted on the map and take three days to get there. If the headwinds continued, we would need it!
Around 10.30am we stopped for a couple of hours in a rest area, trying to wait out the wind in a precious piece of shade. We had a few rests. It wasn’t easy to find something close to the road that we could lean the tandem against. This was black soil country, which meant soft dust, huge cracks from the lack of rain and LOTS of prickles.
Corfield was the first camp stop listed on the map, about 85kms from Winton, with a free camp area and a community owned and operated club/pub. The club is only open when someone is available to operate it, as this is done voluntarily by community members. We were lucky to arrive in Corfield on a Friday when the club would be open and someone was cooking pizzas!
The camp area has toilets and bore water (locals drink it so we weren’t worried about the glaring ‘non-potable water’ signs. Hot showers are also available for a $2 donation out the back of the pub.
As night fell, it was brilliant to watch this apparently empty and desolate building start to hum with conversation, laughter and comraderie as locals came together from their properties to enjoy the evening. We got to chat with Jacquie, a fourth generation farmer who had come back from Brisbane a few years ago. She told us stories of the local area, of current issues, and answered all our curious questions about life out here.
The wind died down sometime during the night, but our sleeping bags were too comfortable to get up and start riding. Consequently we paid the price when we woke around 6am to find our friend had returned with its usual vengeance.
Stamford was the next camp area, another 68kms on. Again, we hung out in the only piece of shade we came across for a couple of hours around 10am after making only 20kms in two hours.
Needless to say, we didn’t complete our 68kms until around 4.30pm when we decided to pull up at the truck rest stop in Stamford, which had tables and shelter. Not from the wind though. It remained as relentless as ever and we ended up huddling behind the trailer and bike to cook dinner in the Trangia. It was not the best night to discover that in our first attempt at tinned stew, we had actually bought ‘stew-style’ soup! The sunset was incredible once more, with the perfect view over the plains.
The final 65kms to Hughenden was just as tortuously slow and doesn’t really bear mentioning, except for another puncture…
…less than 10km from town and while the wind was blowing at 33km/hr with 50km/hr gusts. We managed to do more than 8km/hr most of the time.
Done in by the endless winds, we ate a burger and chips then booked into the Royal Hotel for the night. We love cycle touring in all sorts of conditions, but day after day of relentless winds are proving to be a bit exhausting!