The wind, the sun… The freedom!
Yes, bike & I are back where we belong. On the road :-)
And what a road!
Well prepared I left Katherine. Carrying enough food to feed an orphanage and enough water to go straight around Australia…
After the luxury of restaurants, cold beers, beds and running water it is back to basics.
The first night I camped out under the stars all alone in the bush I was slightly nervous. But soon I realized there is no better place to be. Why pay for 3 stars when you can get the Milky Way for free ;-)
It was extremely quiet, no sounds, no animals, nothing. Had a wonderful sleep as you can imagine. I did discover that I better not stop cycling before 16.30 because 52 degrees in a tent isn’t too comfortable…
So next time I wanted to camp I got off the bike just before sunset and looked for a suitable spot when a Ute pulled up.
I recognized the guy from my days in Top Springs and he invited me to Coolibah station, 1,5km up the road. I joined the crew for dinner and even got a room to sleep in. he he, roughing it isn’t what it used to be ;-)
That evening I enjoyed a fire works display as they still had a whole lot left over from NT-day.
Lots of people stop on the road and usually wonder what’s wrong with you to be cycling here. This way you also hear about other people on the road. People kept telling me about this Swiss guy being about a day behind me.
In Timber Creek I decided to hang around for a day to catch up… It helped that Sean (Irl) and Dileepa (Sri Lanka) filled me up with beer the day I got there so there was absolutely no way I’d get on my bike the next day.
No sign of Swiss guy though.
Turned out that same day he decided to cycle a massive 200km to try catch up with me. Suddenly he was a day ahead!
We did manage to catch up in Kununnura where he was waiting for me at a camp side. Cold beer ready :-) and after a short chat it was decided to move on together. Not taking the ‘easy’ bitumen road to Broome. But instead turning right. Across the Gibb-river-road. A 600km dirt road across the gorgeous Kimberley region of Western Australia.
He left 2 days ahead of me because I scored a job in the chip-van at the rodeo that weekend. A very entertaining job I can tell you, cooking kangaroo-burgers and feeding hungry and very drunk cowboys…
I’ve been surprised by the random act of kindness of other road users so far, from offering me cold drinks to slowing down on the dirt so I’m not eating dust with every vehicle passing… People even invited me into their caravans for meals or took stuff back to Holland for me! Very pleasant indeed.
I met up with Cyrill after I spend a lovely night at Emma gorge where in the morning I hiked up to the waterfall while the birds at my camp hacked into my food… milk powder everywhere… Better clean up next time before I go and do stuff.
There’s a few river and creek crossings along this road.
First, and slightly nerve-wracking was the Pentecost River.
Chockablock with crocodiles. A 200m very rocky and slippery river crossing. Cyrill wasn’t bothered at all… he doesn’t believe in crocs. I just made sure I kept him on the left and my bike on the right of me.
We survived. Still in possession of two arms and two legs, which makes cycling a lot easier, we moved on.
By the time we started looking for a camp side a sign suddenly appeared. 500 m to camping! At first we figured we must be hallucinating after a hot day in the sun, but the sign was really there, and indeed there was a very manicured camp side with pool and everything!
It’s there we discovered that as true and proper cyclist we both carried that most basic of needs… A bottle of whisky :-)
As we sat on the side of the road one afternoon a BIG noise came our way. Road Train! We would’ve been completely covered in dust if the driver hadn’t seen the bikes and slowed down, even stopped. It was my friends from the yard in Darwin! How nice to see some familiar faces. They let us fill up our water from the tanks and after a chat they moved on down the road.
On this road I learned it’s not always very handy to have clip-ons as I fell off a few times getting stuck in sand…
One time I really hurt my wrist and it was sore to hold the handlebars with all this corrugations. So when I stopped at a creek for a short break I asked a friendly lady if she was a nurse by any chance. She wasn’t… She was a doctor :-) told me my wrist would be fine and gave me a bunch of painkillers. That helped.
When I stopped at a small creek to get some water I was surprised to see a half-naked man with half his teeth missing wandering out the bush.
It was ‘Klaus the camel man’. A bit of a legend on the Gibb River. Has been walking around Australia with his camels for 7 years after starting of on a bicycle in ’94… See what can happen ;-) He invited us for some real and proper coffee and we ended up hanging around solving the world problems and more.
Cyrill and I split up due to different itineraries at the turn-off to Mount Elizabeth station. I’ve heard about this place and didn’t mind making a 60km detour over a particular difficult stretch of road to see it.
I thought about asking for a little work so I could camp for free… But when I got there I got a better offer. A weeks work and my own little house :-)
I was welcomed with the words:’ Hello you crazy girl!’
It’s a truly lovely spot where the kangaroos eat out of your hands and the dogs get a BBQ-meal in the evening. The pet-bulls and chooks wander about happily and it would be easy to get lost in time if it wasn’t for the temperature rising every day and the need to move on direction south.
So I left this little heaven and followed some bike tracks up to Barnett roadhouse…
I found two cyclists enjoying a cold drink.
It didn’t take long to decide to join them down to Galvins gorge. Where the surroundings where so picture perfect and idyllic we stayed two nights. We climbed up rocks, swung on ropes, swam at night and showered in the waterfall.
The Gibb-river road is in our legs. We had some amazing scenery and some extremely annoying stingless bee’s who like to go disco-dancing in your ears or eyes. We cycled across hills and through hot dusty plains. Cooked on wood and drank from rivers.
We’ve been getting up early to beat the heat and the wind that seemed to have turned to our disadvantage….
We’re now in Derby and we’re still together.
After getting extremely dusty I’ve had a shower and discovered that that nice tan was actually just red dirt…
Another two days and we’ll hit Broome where our roads are going to part and the long way to Perth awaits me.
Australia is definitely starting to grow on me…
Will keep you posted.