Distance today 64km at 13km/hr average
TOTALS: Distance 7049km. Donations $8920.09. Days remaining 40. 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 6.45pm on Saturday the 7 August 2021
We’re camped on a small red sandy side track amongst the native grasses with hills on the horizon. I’ve got a keen ear out for wild horses, camels and dingoes. Great spot for our Ninja camp, 43km to the NT border.
I’m feeling a bit weary tonight after an early get up and big day in the saddle. But its a beautiful night with a sky of stars and old man emu hanging out in the Milky Way. If you want to try and spot him, his head is under the south cross and the ‘pointers’ are in his long neck that extends down to his bottom and dangling legs. It’s hard to first see him in the negative space amongst the Milky Way. But once you do you can’t ‘unsee’ his handsome shape. He’s a comfort. I got out the SkyView app over cuppa o’clock and Saturn and Jupiter are making a grand entrance on the southern horizon. Perhaps the insane southerly blue them early into position to make up for the toil it caused us today. The most impressive headwind to date!!!
The day started at 430am when I got up with the crew to enjoy breakfast with them and arrange water drops before they started muster. They do 12 hour days starting at 5am with 2 weeks on and 1 week off. Their season stops with the first sign of the wet. Then they’re back in April and start grading the damage caused. It was a big wet so there’s lots of work to do. They start the last section to the border next week and are all looking forward to the end of season break.
Bianca offered to take extra water so I could water up overnight at their last marker 25km past Balgo. Matt was heading out to survey next week’s work and carried the water left by Balgo police to the border. I got a text from Brendan to say they had left it inside the pink car body at the junction.
Everyone was really keen to help with our challenge any way they could. ‘Cookie,’ the resident chef put aside some cake and muffins. Jo offered her favourite book to read. Matt called the caretakers at Coyote mine who said I could pop in if I needed anything. Pat gave me the directions to Northern Star Tanami Mine Camp 80km past the border. They have already said they will help. So I was feeling very spoilt and part of our growing 10desertchallenge community. This stuff fuels the soul. It was very humbling and awesome to be part of a team effort and on the receiving end of genuine kindness and generosity.
It was 9am when we got underway. The riding conditions were really hard. Everyone was commenting about the crazy wind and unfortunately it was a full on headwind. All Banjo and I could do was laugh and set small milestones to chip away the ride. Fortunately the weather is otherwise stunning and the landscape’s at its desert best!!! The road is very straight and sandy and exposed along the desert plain. It’s corrugated with long gradient inclines. We’re slow going for now until a change kicks in. I know how the wind swings and it’s worked in our favour heaps of times before. So we’re just dealing as best we can knowing this time of year is notoriously windy. It just depends on the direction.
Two road trains have just passed pulling 4 trailers and broken the silence like aeroplane engines. They’re travelling slower in the conditions and look a spectacle all lit up in the darkness. I turned off my head torch as they passed and it’s pitch black except for the stars. What an amazing feeling!!!
Our first milestone was clocking over the 7000kms. We did 16km at 11km/hr and were very chuffed with ourselves ✔️
The next milestone was arriving at the Balgo junction another 8km on. There was a surveying crew there and we videod each other as Banjo and I pulled up. Very funny!!!! They offered to take a photo of us next to the pink station wagon.
I saw Matt had already collected the water 👍
Another 25km on we met up with the roadwork crew. I stopped and had a chat to Kenny and Jimmy who were still handing out treats of cold water, peanuts and tic tacks. Darling men!!!!
Jo and Bianca were a bit further up and we had lots of giggles over a bunch of selfies. Bianca was heading back to camp but said she’d be back to top up my water. I saw her again about 20kms on. Thank you my friend!!!
Soon after Matt came passed on his way back from the border. He showed me a photo and directions where he left the stash of water. More photos and final thank yous. These guys have made this leg manageable. I know my family and I are deeply grateful and I will remember your kindness on the Tanami track. Phil even offered Dawn and I jobs if ever we want to join their team!!! What a cherry on top of the best experience over the last 24hours. It was just a few days back in Halls Creek that we thought the Tanami wasn’t an option and now it’s work in progress!!!! Cheers fine folk and enjoy the end of season when it arrives.
The track from here on deteriorated to constant sandy corrugations. It was probably our hardest riding conditions so far.
Banjo and I had our first spill in a deep sandy patch. We certainly weren’t going fast 🤣 so no injuries but definitely a sign that it was time to call it a day. It took us another 5km to find a track leading off and we were very happy to spot this camp.
We set up in time for sunset and made a cuppa to savour twilight. It’s wonderful to be camping wild at heart and appreciating the silence under the stars. We will try to kickoff early in the morning so it’s time for dinner and bed. Into NT tomorrow all going well!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
I got a sat message from Dawn to say that there’s much jubilation at home this evening with Dylan losing his first front tooth. Now that’s a milestone to top all milestones. Happy celebrations my desert peas. The tooth fairy will be on a mission breaking the piggy bank tonight!!!!!!$$$$ 🤣 night and talk soon xx