Distance yesterday 45km at 12km/hr average
TOTALS: Distance 7317km. Donations $9140.09. Days remaining 36. 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 6.00pm on Wednesday the 11 August 2021
We’re camped on the Great Sandy desert side of the Tanami Track with the Tanami Desert on the other. So we’re smack bang in desert country and it’s classically stunning. The floodways are plains of spinifex and cone shaped red anthills. They look like distant mountains on the flat horizon. The track is a waterway pattern of red sand. It’s tricky riding but the scenery is everything I imagined desert country to be and so much more.
We’re tucked behind an anthill of low lying all burr bushes and spinifex. We rode through similar countryside yesterday and it’s special now to be nestled amongst the scenery under the crescent moon, evening star and a sky full of diamonds.
We found this spot at about 4pm and checked it out to find a safe path for Banjo and a tucked away spot to set up camp in time for sunset. We’re behind a monster anthill and shrubbery so it’s a ninja camp from the road. I spotted a rabbit and there’s a bunch of camel tracks. There’s no signs of dingos but I have my whistle close by just in case after last night’s debacle. Only the bugs know we’re here and they’ve turn out in numbers to welcome us 🤣
It’s been a mixed day and a hectic 24hrs of events. Yesterday we chipped away at 83kms to arrive at Granite mine by 3.30pm. I called Hamish at security to let him know we had arrived. Granite Gold Mine is where they had the covid case while we were on the Great Central Highway. Hamish came out to the gate wearing a huge smile under his face mask.
They have extra safety practices in place and the mine site is closed to anyone without authorisation. Truckies used to be allowed to come in for a feed and shower but not anymore. He said Barry, Billy and Jenny arrived earlier and got back on the road after delivering the mine trucks. We had a chat for an hour about his work and fly in/out lifestyle with his wife and son back in Perth. He said mental health is a challenge but they have a lot of in service supports. He’s a peer support officer and provides ongoing assistance to his crew about wellbeing issues. He’s a very positive fellow that is gracious and wanting to help where he can. I can see he’s be awesome in this role. He gave me some electrolyte ice blocks and arranged for the night shift guy to check in on me after handover with a couple of cokes. Oh yay!!! I’m savouring the second can to night. He took my water bottles to fill and battery pack to charge up overnight and we found a camp across the road at the truck stop.
We arrived to find lots of dingo scat and prints so I gathered firewood to have a fire going for the night. I was carrying my first load of wood back to camp when a dingo walked straight past me. “Well hello there.” He was a handsome fellow with black markings and healthy physique. He hung around my camp while I set up; both of us keeping a watchful eye on the other. I went back to grab a huge branch that I had found and on my way back saw him on top of Banjo checking out the panniers. He ran off when I growled at him and later realised he had taken my jacket in its stuff sack from the handle bar panniers. Cheekiness!!! The security guy popped in soon after and said he’s the resident dingo who will pinch anything you leave out!!!!
The fire kept him at bay for the evening while I called my family to share our last days and had some dinner before bed. I woke an hour later to him sniffing around the tent. I gave him a blast of the whistle and he just looked at me like ‘you got nothing.’ Oh dear!!! I recon he’s got industrial deafness from the mine noise 🤣 I heard him back up on Banjo who fell over with the weight. Maybe that gave him a fright ‘cause I didn’t hear much more after that and got a few hours sleep after the debacle. The truckies can be a bit messy at the stops leaving food scraps and rubbish. No wonder there’s resident dingos who are just being resourceful for food.
We passed the time during the day looking out for tracks on the roadside. I followed the truck tracks left by Billy and Barry for the most part. There was also a set of dingo prints following their track so I recon the dingo is hot on their tail after Billy’s other boot.🤣
We spotted a huge snake track that left a wave of sand in its slithering wake. It was amazing to see and appreciate how big the snakes get out here.
The main two varieties are browns and taipans. I met a family today travelling home to Adelaide after doing the Gib River Road. They were telling me they saw a snake earlier, over two metres with a black head and lengthways stripes. I need to google that one!!! Tess and Mark have been on a 6 week trip with their daughters. travelling with their two daughters. They have the travel bug now and are working on Mum to consider a 12 month adventure. The family shared their stories, carrot sticks and snakes and gave me an orange, mandarin and muslei bar for the day.
Just a few kms down the track, Banjo got a cut in his tyre. Sealant everywhere. Bugga!!! Fortunately it was near a shady tree and I got busy patching the gash and refilling his tube. I enjoyed my fruit while I waited for the patch to dry and flagged down a car to ask for some water to top up my bottles. It was thirsty work!!!
I met Rorry who was travelling back to Alice Springs in his Troopie. He has been rock climbing with a mate in the Kimberly. While he was filling my bottles his radiator cracked from overheating in the rough conditions. We said our goodbyes as he walked back to where he knew there was reception. He said he’ll keep an eye out for me in Alice. Rory was super chilled about the whole ordeal and said there’s no point worrying and making things worse than they are!!! I heard his wise words!! There’s no point crying over spilled sealant 🤣
The road is hard on cars (and bikes). Just before stopping for our camp, I saw Tess and Mark’s camper trailer on the roadside with a broken axil. They were aiming for Alice today. I hope that works out okay for them getting their trailer safely to a repair place. That must have been so hard leaving it by the roadside.
So for now it’s dinner o’clock under the stars with the nighttime crickets. It’s another 215kms ish to Yuendumu. That’ll likely be 2 1/2 days riding so we may have to flag someone down for more water. One peddle at a time and lets deal with tomorrow first. The crescent moon has now set and the stars are once again centre stage and a putting on a magnificent dinner show. By the way, I found my jacket still in its stuff sack before leaving camp this morning. Very happy it wasn’t his size. Night and talk soon xx