Day 322 | Near The Garden: no Cattlewater Pass for you, sonny

64 km | zzOz total: 7908 km

What do you think about there all day, asks Emily, I’ve come in to the homestead to pick up water.

Oh, I say the usual answer, 98% of the time how not to fall off the bike.

I mean that’s just more than a little intrusive to an introvert like myself. Trust me, there’s plenty to think about out here even without much in the way of worries.

Some time later, you guessed it, the topic of Jesus came up. Being polite, and still needing that water, I steer the conversation around to the Cattlewater Pass Track over to the Plenty Highway.

She doesn’t know, surprising because she is a co-owner of this station and the track goes through her land.

So I ask about the grave only 100 m away, a little boy who drank poison in the 1970s. I don’t state the obvious, ie, what kind of God would permit a small child die an excruciating death so far from help and leave a heart broken mother out here, forever grieving, so isolated.

Maybe the kid was pure evil and we were rid of an Australian Pol Pot who would be even now carrying out extermination of various sectors of Australian society. Perhaps it’s best his life was snuffed out before he could do damage.

We spoke about Eternity, that water was a long time coming, I said I’ll probably be pushing the down button, the elevator straight to Hell.

Maybe we will meet again, she said. Humm, specially if you are planning a bike ride around the South Island.

Coincidence or conspiracy.

When I got to the Cattlewater Pass turnoff, 12 km down the road, there’s a Road Closed by Police Order sign. Oh well, I’ll have it to myself, I’ve traversed a few of these in my time.

Getting ready to ride off the manager of the Ambalindum Station arrives with an offsider, Dave, cheery as. We chat away, rainfall, the state of the road a few days ago with the rain, as slippery as greased kitten shit, why the track has closed, it was popular but the owner at the other end found it wasn’t a gazetted road and has fenced it off.

The blokes get out of their 4WD ute, Dave friendly enough, has a sheath knife in his belt to go with his long goatee. He has a spanner and takes down the Cattlewater Pass sign.

Rob says, just because a road is marked on a map doesn’t mean anyone has a right to just drive down it.

They then walk over to the Road Closed sign and fuss around.

This could take 3 minutes, 3 hours or 3 days, and it all depends on me.

There’s another track to the Plenty, 54 km further along on the road looping back to Alice, but it’s mostly downhill and there’s a gale force tail wind, OK now, but will be a living hell tomorrow on my way back east.

Still that 2 day detour might be the appropriate solution.

So here I am, 8 days after I tried to leave Alice, still less than 100 km from town.

Only about 750 km of dirt road to go.