Distance today 100.5km at 18km/hr
TOTALS: Distance 4570km Donations $6796.09. Days remaining 73. Deserts: Sturt Stony, Strzelecki, Tirari, Gibson, Great Victorian. Tracks: Birdsville, Oodnadatta, Red Centre Way, Great Central Road.
Note to new readers: I am travelling with my bike who’s name is Banjo. I often refer to ‘we’ meaning Banjo and I. ‘We’ have an amazing support team of family, friends, sponsors and folk we meet each day. But it’s still up to ‘us’ to face the challenge and tackle each day one peddle at a time.
It’s 7.00pm on Tuesday the 6 July 2021.
I’m hanging out with ‘old man emu’ in the Milky Way. It’s right in front of me to the east and reaching out to hold my heart safe and sound. What a beautiful night. It’s still chilly but without that edge and I can sit under the stars in comfort.
We hit the 100km mark this afternoon and soon after noticed this red gravel shoulder leaving the roadway. It led own into a clearing of low lying vegetation and rocks. There’s a rocky escarpment to the south and the desert plain between is sparse and picture perfect. Great ninja camp 2 to Wiluna.
I woke this morning before sunrise and the growing light was glowing off Banjo. Morning handsome!!!! Time for a cuppa to wake up for the day. It was a long night with lots of road trains passing. They sound like rockets especially in the night and made sleeping a bit tricky.
It was a slow start to the day but I took the time to savour the spot around camp. Dead trees and branches were in different stages of decay putting valuable nutrients back into the soil. Other trees and shrubs were benefiting with new shoots of growth. It was special to appreciate the cycle and how nature works so well to sustain life.
I finished packing up camp and safely wheeled the boy back out to the roadway to start our days ride.
The weather was blue skies across the many open plains. The rocky outcrops were more weathered sprawling rocks over the red shady fields. We passed a number of wind turbines which is exciting to see natural energy being harvested. It also means wind is a commodity and blows up with a force at times.
The Goldfields Highway was born from the gold rush era going back to the mid to late 1800s. Lots of folk are still drawn to the thrill of prospecting like Bob and Chris who I met in Laverton. They head out to the tracks where they’re allowed to try their luck with a permit. I passed one of the tracks today, ‘The Lawlers-Darlot Track.’ The entrance had an information sign offering an insight into its history. The sign read, “The stampede to Lake Darlot was one of the great rushes of the 1890s.” The track was cut by men risking their lives to strike it rich. The gold fever took many lives especially those unprepared with food and water to face the harsh conditions. It’s incredible to imagine the perils and risks taken in the goldfields of old. The irony is the massive industry that’s present along the highway today. Road trains are by the numbers, taking excavations and other natural resources to/from mine sites. It’s a massive industry with economic benefit and lots of money invested by companies to sustain the mining community. I can’t help wonder what impact were causing in the process and the long term costs of the gains.
We had our first break at 25kms into the ride and 180km out from Wiluna. It’s a chance to restock the lollie supply for the next stint and enjoy portions of breaky and a wee break.
It was a blue sky day and the headwind didn’t develop attitude until the afternoon. This made the morning ride more enjoyable to appreciate the countryside.
I noticed more patches of greenery that were more developed from the shoots I saw yesterday. They’re actually spinifex seedlings all very green in their early stages of growth.
I also came across fields of native ‘cactus’ shrubs. They grow like aloe vera but with hardier stems that are spiked. Dylan got his picture of a spikey desert plant after all. It’s a little more authentic than the towering exotic I found back beside the pool at the Eulandra Resort on our way west to Uluru.
There are many sections of open floodways along the Goldfields highway as there has been on all the roads. When it rains, it takes very little to flood the roads. The landscape is so clever the way it channels any precious rainfall towards its waterways. One section of road has been built up about 3 metres to cross an expanse of floodway. For now it’s an open plain of salt and sparse shrubs waiting for the next rain to bring relief. I can understand with the amount of traffic that the mining industry would be keen to continue business as usual and not be subject to road closures during the wet. A lot of money has been spent on the road to carry such a volume of heavy vehicles. So far it’s all sealed.
We climbed a small range where there was an entrance to another mining site. I stopped to check it out and noticed I had reception. It was wonderful to call my partner to say hi and share our day. The energy levels were low today and it was a pick me up to connect with home. What a bonus before Wiluna tomorrow.
The afternoon was windy and by this stage I was tired and a bit over it. I had done 90kms by 3pm. It was slow going for the next 10km and I was done once we hit the 100kms. The spot for our camp was perfectly timed.
It was so appreciated to stop where the scenery was raw and stunning. The cloud cover was patterned in fluffy cotton buds making sunset a delight of colour. It’s quite wooded in the neighbouring field and the birds were soothing over a cuppa to take it all in.
So it’s 100kms into Wiluna tomorrow all going well. The plan is to start early and have most of the kms done before the wind blows up after lunch. Good plan so let’s see how we go. Tomorrow’s a new day and for now we’re loving our desert camp along the Goldsfield Highway. Time for dinner. ‘Old Man Emu’ says goodnight. He’s as clear as day in the Milky Way tonight. Talk soon xx