Distance today 74km at 14km/hr average
TOTALS: Distance 7123km. Donations $8920.09. Days remaining 39. Deserts: Sturt Stony, Strzelecki, Tirari, Pedirka, Gibson, Great Victorian, Little Sandy Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Tanami Desert Tracks: Birdsville Development Road, Birdsville Track, Oodnadatta Track, Red Centre Way, Great Central Road, Goldfields Highway, Wiluna North Road, Marble Bar Road, Great Northern Highway.
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 6.30pm on Sunday the 8 August 2021
I think this is one of my favourite camps. It was 430pm when I spotted the track off the main road and checked it out. It opens up into a cleared area that’s likely used for NT mains road when grading this way. I found a safe place for Banjo and a fire. We road passed lots of dingo tracks today so a fire will hopefully encourage the pack to give us a wide birth. That was a tip from the boys back at Betoota Hotel that I haven’t forgotten. So far so good!!
It’s so peaceful; just the crackling of the fire and crickets with the occasional night bird call. It’s also a lot warmer tonight and the wind has eased. So I’m feeling super cosy and relaxed after the day.
What a way to celebrate our 100th day by crossing back into NT. The family are now out of lockdown so it’s celebrations all round. Fortunately, there’s no current border restrictions other than obtaining a border pass online. Dawn confirmed that via sat message at the border so we could wave goodbye to WA and enter NT with peace of mind. It’s been 50 days since we crossed into WA from Docker River. My goodness that seems like such a long time ago with so much rich experiences in between.
The Tanami is very remote and quiet on the track. I passed no cars today except for a grader from the mains road team, preparing for next week. The grader was working right opposite where I camped last night. I popped out onto the track and had a chat to the driver. His nickname is GT. He’s a 70 year old fella still full of zest and a love for the simple life far away from the cities. The boss isn’t able to have him on the payroll because of his age so he pays him in kind with items like fuel cards and health cover. He even got a new car at the start of this season to say thanks for all the hours of great work he puts in. GT still loves grading and goes where the work is in between seasons. He lives out of his caravan and listens to Irish country music to help pass the day. We had a wonderful conversation about lifestyle and nature and I loved getting an insight into his world. A road train passed while we were talking. But otherwise that was it for the the day so I’m grateful to have taken the time to enjoy our conversation.
It’s taken me a while today to transition back into my own company. It’s a tricky process when I spend quality time with quality folk. I was very aware of this today and made an extra effort to be open and pay attention to the incredible landscape we’re riding through.
The roadside grasses and shrubbery are so alive with birdlife. The ground is mostly sandy except when we cross through river beds where it’s more stony. There are lots of little lizards to spot when they run off from our path. They’re perfectly camouflaged until they move and are a wonderful surprise on their back legs at speed.
It’s been a day of spotting tracks in the sand including horses, dingos, birds, lizards and snakes. The snake tracks are so cool slithering across the road leaving a clear path in their wake. It’s good heads up to stay alert especially during wee breaks and camping. Tonight’s spot is great because it’s in a clearing away from ominous hidey-holes
We broke the day up into milestones again to work through the tricky conditions. The first was Coyote Mine at 26kms. I had no need to pop in for anything and was keen to stay focused on chipping away at the kms. I waved goodbye to Rosie and her small crew of caretakers and headed for the border at 43kms.
I parked Banjo up against the rickety WA/NT border sign and went to find our water stash. Matt passed on perfect directions. There was our box of 600ml water behind a tree marked with a green ribbon. I carried the box back to Banjo and popped 3L in each of the 5L gerry cans. That’s heaps for the 2 days to Granite mine another 150kms at 75km/day. We made a cuppa and drank our full of water to make the most of the excess then left the rest for Matt to pick up when he’s next at the border. A great plan played out perfectly. Thanks mate again to you and your crew!!! Meeting you guys has been a highlight right up to meeting HT this morning. It’s been the best way to enjoy our last days in WA. It reminded me how much I love being part of a working team. I used the green ribbon to tie round my wrist and on Banjos handle bar to acknowledge my current team mate.
Doing the Tanami has been all about water points. I got a message from Claudia recently. She shared a quote from Rumi that captures our water journey during this stage perfectly.
Organising water has been such a process of unplanned events. I can’t believe how it’s come together and only with the help of others. I got a satellite message from my big sister katie who shared her thoughts…
“Great how it’s come together with the water drops. You really have a tapestry of support surrounding you on your way.” The word ‘tapestry’ paints a beautiful picture of how interconnected we are as humans when our hearts are open. We work together when we’re at our best and we’re at our best when we work together. Respecting human connection as a way of being, is my most treasured learning through this challenge so far.
The sign at the border was a bit confusing whether restrictions applied or not. So it was good to have that confirmation from Dawn to move into NT. Thanks Darling. How fortunate and grateful am I to have your love and logistical help constantly. Enjoy being out of lockdown with our little man!!!!
I wasn’t sure what the NT road conditions were going to be like so I planned to do 15km blocks until it was time to find a camp. We stopped for a break after the first 14km and I enjoyed the birds to top up the energy levels. Birds are my constant source. There were two little yellow breasted ones flying between bushes all busy and playful in the afternoon light. It opened up my eyes to the flowering plants and trees by the roadside and I took it all in like a deep breath of delish.
I found two awesome chunks of wood for the fire tonight. They’re dry and heavy and still burning a treat. I’ll enjoy the crackling sound as I go to sleep. Sometimes I have to pitch myself to realise where I am and what we’re doing. I’m sitting under a sea of stars over a crackling fire on the Tanami Track. There’s no one around for kms except me, Banjo and the nighttime critters. This is definitely one of those moments. I’m one very lucky lady to be on this challenge sharing it with the 10desertchallenge community. I’m going to continue to savour every moment of the next 39days ‘til I meet my family and hold them in my arms. For now it’s time for dinner. Old Man Emu says ‘hello.’ Night and talk soon xx