Day 204 | into Garrandalng, Keep River NP: a dirt track sidetrip

74 km | Heading west total: 9,271 km

You meet some interesting types out on the road despite, or even because, I am on my own.

Yesterday I had a decent day in the saddle.

About 5 20 pm I rode into one of those roadside stops where the caravans and RVs are drawn into a circle, just like wagons in the Wild West. There were at least 18 of them, most, if not all, with 2 people sitting in foldable chairs in front of them. Ghastly. A generator was going so mum could watch satellite TV with the AC on. (Why bother leaving home if you can’t bear to miss ‘Home and Away’.) I only stopped to get some water from the big tank they have there: with plenty of people staying at the camp site each night over the months of the Dry Season the ground I’d have to pitch my tent on isn’t exactly hygienic. Actually the camp site really stinks although there are separate the male and female longdrop toilets in the centre of the area, I guess the guys prefer to stand and shoot from the caravan steps with their nightly bladder deflation.

Despite the lateish hour I pedalled on, looking for the next track off the side of the highway to go and set up my camp. With fences either side of the road and long grass everywhere it was 13 km later when finally I spotted a farm gate: into Speyed Cow Paddock.

The road had been very quiet so I was surprised that as soon as I had got through the gate and closed it a farm vehicle cruised up. It was a fencing contractor heading 20 km up the track to get ready for work tomorrow morning. We ended up having quite a chat after he had got out a very cold can of Carlton Mid for me.

Camping? No worries.

He’d once biked from Cape Reinga to Invercargill in 16 days, (that’s 1500 miles and a ferry crossing if I remember correctly) with his army group, raising money for charity. He reminisced that a few years ago going down the Gibb River Road if you had only blown off the tops on half your beer bottles by the time you got to the other end it was wasn’t that bumpy.

It’s all changed now he lamented.

I had an encounter with someone else while I was eating my lunch at the (lonely) Duncan Road junction today. A woman drove up and asked me the nuttiest question I’ve yet been asked on my travels: ‘Are you riding a bike?’

I, of course, responded the only way I know how.

‘No, I’m just sitting here waiting to be picked up by my mother’.

She somehow produced a carton of almost cold iced coffee, a staple around these parts before disappearing in a cloud of dust. That’s pretty thoughtful.

Then tonight I spent the evening with Geoffrey, a Roger Daltry (from The Who) look and also sound alike who specialises in making home brew in his caravan while driving his 4WD along unsealed roads. Beer can cost $80 for a 24 can slab out here. He makes 30 bottles of mid strength for about $10. The bumpier the road the better, as the sediment drops out, well, so Geoffrey reckons.

He had 12 cold bottles which we demolished and then even resorted to a couple of warm ones. Every time I got up to leave he would whip out another one. He claimed to have made his money gold prospecting but there really wasn’t that much evidence of any great financial wealth. But he had bucket loads of human wealth.

It was an entertaining evening despite my wondering if he was about to burst into a quick version of ‘My Generation’ all night.