Saturday, 25 October 2008

Day 521 - Tennant Creek

One day at Katherine turned into 2, 2 turned into 3, it was too sociable, too enjoyable, but by then I was just about ready to leave, even looking forward to being on the road again. On the last night I was walking back to the hostel on my own when I passed a drunk Aboriginal beside the road, not an unusual sight, "Have you got a fag?", "No, I don't smoke" I replied and carried on walking, but he carried on talking and shouting at me ending with ".....Oi, I'm talking to you, you fucking white cunt". Now I am not sure that is totally PC or that I should even be writing it in the blog, but that is what he said, "I don't have any, I told you I don't smoke" I said, but that made him even more annoyed "Right, that's done it" he shouted and started going through his small back pack, I stopped and watched him, for the first time in a long long time I felt fear, was he going to produce a gun? But as is normally the case, fear is fuelled by the imagination, he eventually brought out what looked like a sock with a snooker ball in the end, just as two of his friends were walking across the road telling him to calm down. I felt safe enough to turn my back on him and continue walking, in his present state he wouldn't have been able to catch me.

So I was on the road again. After a couple of hours I met a cyclist heading north, he was Richard from Loughborough cycling the entire Stuart Highway and delighted to be finishing in 4 days saying that where we were now was the best bit....oh dear! We chatted for about half an hour, ants crawling over my feet and legs. I stopped a little further on at a rest area with water, 2 Aboriginis were sleeping off a hangover, so I filled up with water and sat at the table at the other end. I pickup came in drove over to me and asked how long I had been here and if I had started the fire, one that I had seen from miles away. "Do you want a job for a couple of weeks", "What have you got" I asked, "All sorts, what is your background?", "Actually I am not really looking for a job, besides I don't have a working visa and with a background in IT I would be useless at whatever jobs you have" I said, "You have to be the most honest person I have seen this year" came his reply. Well, that was nice of him to say so, but it doesn't say much for the company he keeps. "Do you want a bit of advice about the Barkly Highway?" he asked, "I am always willing to listen to advice" I said. "Well, there are more murders on the Barkly Highway than any other road in Australia, so camp well away from the road, secondly watch out for the road trains, the road is narrow and they stop for nobody, but don't worry too much about those two things as there is no water, you are bound to die". Actually he didn't say the bit about dying, but I could tell by the glint in his eye that he really wanted to. I left soon after him and refilled on water again, the fire was sweeping through the rest area totally clearing everything in its path at about 10m a minute. The far end was unrecognisable from when I had been there just 20 minutes ago, it was surrounded by a smoldering black area, though the 2 Aboriginis were still asleep. I reached Mataranka and felt not too bad, the rest must have been good for me.

The next day was shorter, just 75k to Larrimah, a car pulled over driven by Neil from NZ. "I passed you about 3 times in Kakadu" he said, we chatted a while. The old pub at Larrimah was somewhat quirky, I got talking to the locals but attempts to move the subject away from cycling were failing, so I used my trump card and told them about the guy I met who was walking around the world. It worked and was met in a broad Australian accent with "Gee, that's a fucking lot of flip-flops!" Camping here was great, they had a large kitchen area with garden chairs and tables with a mesh around, a fly free zone, wonderful.

Daly Waters was the next stop, where there is an historical pub, the walls totally covered in memorabilia, caps, rugby jerseys, bank notes, bras, stubbies, business card, each with their own area, if you could pin in to a walll it was there. There was little else so I carried on a bit further and camped at the Hi-Way Inn where in the field behind at dusk the kangaroos came out from the trees. Having watched them closely I have come to the conclusion that they are just a large rat on a pogo stick and after much thought I have come to the conclusion that they eat sparrows. There have been far more kangaroos here than in all the other countries I have been through put together, and all those countries had sparrows, here there are none. It makes sense.

I was now fully back to normal, I have my strength back. It's difficult to say why as I have changed a number of things, the most important ones being eating more protien and salt as well as drinking little and often rather than downing 1/2 a litre every now and then. All this helps the mind too, things don't seem half as bad as when you are pushing the pedals with the tank on empty, no power in the legs. I am even beginning to enjoy myself again, it must be time for a downward turn! Having reached Newcastle Waters after 123k I decided to push on to Elliott as it was only another 25k. Two thing happened, there was a slight change in direction to the SE and for the first time in days the scenery changed, gone were the big trees, it was "Hello wind, how are you today, oh, very well it seems!" It was a slog all the way to Elliot, but at least I had the energy, it was better than grovelling with no energy. I camped at the garage, the little store there had no prices on items so I picked a few things up and went to pay. A small tin of tuna that had cost $1.09 in Katherine was now costing $5.90. The camp area was terrible and to make things worse the fuel pump on my stove had stopped working, so I was totally unable to cook. I asked the German couple in a caravan to cook up some pasta for me. I decided I would have to go to Tennant Creek to get a replacement, but during the night I decided I would press on without it or at least try and repair it the following day. When I pulled the shower curtain a green tree frog fell to the floor, it wasn't impressed, but I was impressed when it started climbing up the tiles Spiderman style. I arrived back at my tent just as the local dog was walking off with my bag of uncooked pasta. Peacock love pasta! As I ate my dinner one of the many peacocks came past so I threw it a piece of pasta, it loved it and came over and kept trying to stick it's head into dinner, it was pretty determined.

So I decided not to go into Tennants Creek, but I think I was being told I should go there. After 10km of slogging into a very strong wind I realised I had left my mits behind...shit! I really didn't want to go back so just decided to carry on a buy a new pair when I could. What I hadn't anticipated was just how quick my hands would become burnt. Within 40k they were red and very sore, once again I decided I would have to divert to Tennant Creek. I covered 93km that day, the whole time into a strong wind, it was painfully slow. I called it a day at Renner Springs where people I talked to all mentioned how strong the wind was and didn't know how I coped with that or the sun. I spent about 1 1/2hrs trying to fix the stove without any instructions, but I got there in the end much to my relief.

A shorter day followed just 60k to the old cattle station at Banka Banka, but the wind had remained all night and was still there to greet me as I set off at 6am. Progress was even slower and covering such a vast distance across Australia seems ridiculous at just 12.5kph. I always get excited about what I might find at the next garage, it's the highlight of the day, will it be SPC or Hienz baked beans, tinned pasta or raw pasta, will there be corned beef at under $8 a tin? All that is if the choice is good, if it's not so good the choice is pop, sweets or nothing. When I arrived here the choice was beer or pop, I chose nothing. The old cattle station was wonderful though, a lovely place to stop for the night. A group of 20 in a van turned up later. There was an outdoor slideshow in the evening about the place and its sister cattle stations nearby that are still working, narrated in typical Australian "Once you have rounded up all the cattle you have to let them settle down, if you don't they just piss off." After the slideshow I had a go at water divining (at least I think that is what it is called), you could try it home. You just have two 'L' shaped pieces of metal amd hold the short end in your hand, but not holding it with you thumb. Then just have them pointing parallel in front of you, as you near underground water they begin to turn towards each other and when they are fully crossed you are standing over water. I tried it twice, the second time trying my hardest to stop them moving, but I couldn't, it work. It's the method they still use here to locate water.

The wind eased over night making the last 105km to Tennant Creek a little easier, suddenly 14-15kph seemed very fast and easy in comparison to the last few days. But the scenery is still much the same just scrub as far as the eye can see, nothing to get excited about. I checked into the Tourist Rest Hostel, I seemed to be the only one here. The only other people that use it are those on the bus from Darwin who arrive at 2am, then depart on the next bus to Mount Isa at 10pm. I am told that nobody ever spends more than one night here, other than cyclists. Cyclists generally stop for a rest here as its the only big town (pop 3,500) between Alice Springs and Katherine. I went to the!! There is choice and cheap stuff too, I just marvelled at the selection.

Today has been a bit of a failure, I arrived everywhere just as it was closing, the library, the sports clothing shop, the internet cafe, the Newsagent, and whats more its Sunday tomorrow so they wont be open then either. There is not alot to do here, I could go to the supermarket again, I have to stock up before setting off on the next stage to Mount Isa, in the first 500k, 5-6 days depending on the weather, I will pass just one petrol station, but there are a few rest areas with water.

Can't load photos here, will do that at the next stop if it works.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Day 512 - Katherine

After such a good time in Darwin I was amazed at just how quickly things can all turn sour.

Mick was away on exercise for my last night and added to that there was a new couch surfer, consequently the ambience changed so in the end I was quite happy to be moving on. On that last evening I gave my sister Mally a call, she was giving me a bit of advice ".....and watch out for the road trains, they are very dangerous AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!", shit, what the hell is happening "Are you ok" I asked somewhat worried, "There's a mouse in the workshop" she replied. Hmm, she is telling me to be careful of thundering lorries 50m long whilst she is terrified of a bundle of fur 2 inches long, that puts it in perspective.

At 7am another couch surfer arrived having come in on a flight from Singapore, it's a busy household. My 4 house mates were all heading off to Darwin so it was hugs all around, then they decided they needed to pick me up for a photo, they are all nuts! I eventually got away a couple of hours after them and was soon heading south on the Stuart Highway, but I was only on it for 15km before I took a little diversion. It was a 300km diversion to Kakadu National Park, made famous by the film location for Crocodile Dundee, but by Australian standards, that's a little diversion, though I have to admit I decided to head that way whilst reading about it the previous night. I had not been going long when my cycle computer went blank, so I stopped. A car quickly pulled up alongside me and the woman driver asked "Are you ok, have you run out of water", "No, my computer has packed up just when I need to know how far it is to the next water and food stop" I replied, "All I can tell you is that it's a bloody long way" she said, still it's reassuring to know that people will stop for a cyclist. The rest of the day was classic Aussie outback, big wide roads, long straights, road trains galore and even a roadhouse and bar where all the men were sporting long beards. At the next services I filled up with water from a stand pipe that was warm bordering on hot and became aware that I probably wouldn't spot a crocodile until it bit me on the arse as there was a stuffed one lying across the top of the food counter, mouth wide open, that I didn't even notice until my third visit. I carried on another 20km before heading down a side road and camping in the bush as kangaroos hopped away in fear and flies flew in in pure delight.

The following day was more of the same, more wide roads, long straights with a bend in the distance which when reached and cycled round normally brought the reaction "Oh shit, not more of the same". On only my second day I was becoming bored and I was in the national park that I had assumed would be a bit special. It was a long way to the only services of the day where they had no decent food and told me the water was not fit for drinking, but I wasn`t going to be put off that easily, so I filled up anyway. By the time I reached there I was tired, I still had 42k to go and what's more it was into a head wind, I struggled. I just wanted to be in Jabiru, my target destination, but it was painfully slow, every turn of the legs took real effort and only moved me a few yards, but at long last I got there and even found a campsite and even if they had tried to rip me off $20 to camp I was going to stay there. Hang on, they want $22! (11 pounds) As I stood there chatting I could feel myself going light headed, spending money has that effect on me, so they kindly brought me a chair and gave me some water. I stood up again and talked a little more, but before long I was going again, I went outside and lay down on a bench. I decided I needed a sugar boost so went back in for a bottle of fizzy drink, but there was a queue of 2. As I waited somebody asked me how it was going as he had passed earlier, but I was going again, did my best to make an apology and left without paying. I just wished I had a brown paper bag, I would have really looked the part. Having downed over a litre I went back in and paid, but I was off again, this time my ears were very odd too, so back to the bench, it took over an hour before I could make a move and stay upright. I set up the tent, I felt very low, probably due to being around friends for a few days, then alone on the roads, but I could only think that the next few weeks was going to be more of the same, dull cycling, no, downright boring, and bloody hard work into a head wind, I could see nothing good to look forward to. To make things worse I had a text from the housemates to say they would not be heading through Kakadu but were heading straight for Katherine. I hadn't felt so low for a long time.

I decided to reduce the distance the following day and take it easier. Getting up was a big problem, I really lacked incentive. Having stocked up on food at the supermarket I turned off the Arnhem Highway onto the Kakadu Highway, more southerly so no real headwind, but I felt fragile, whatever I did today was going to be tough. I carried on gingerly to the turnoff to Nourawotsit where there is the best Aboriginal rock art in the area, 12k down a dead end road. There I met a Belgian couple "We passed you yesterday, we think you must be mad cycling in this heat", "Don worry, I think I am mad too" I replied. The rock art was good, but less of it than I expected. It's age range was 1,000 - 20,000 years old. Back on the highway I reached the turnoff to a little campsite I had decided to go to, 6km down a side road, but I carried on as I didn't fancy the 6km back the following day, so I pressed on to the services at Cooinda, but when I got there, there was a turning but nothing else. I turned off but had no idea how far I would have to go, so flagged down a car coming towards me, by coincidence it was the Belgians again, they told me it was another 3km, oh joy, I was knackered, bored and so desperate for a cold drink and to just stop cycling. "Are you ok?" they asked, being a typical Brit I replied "Oh yes, I am fine thanks". They had camping there, but I bought some milk first and asked at the till "Do you have camping", "Yes there is but it's a rip off $30, there is a little site down the road for $5", so I sat on the lawn and savoured the cold milk before pressing on again, back to the highway and on to the site. It was fine, plenty of non drinking water which I decided to filter this time and nice clean loos and showers. I got talking to Bob from Darwin who had been out in his boat fishing and caught 14 Barramundi, that sounded so much better than cycling to me.

I met Bob again the following morning, I was tempted to ask if I could join him on a fishing trip, I am sure he would have taken me, but I was all but ready to leave, having had my breakfast of burnt rice and tuna. Today was the first day that I set off with full capacity of water 11.5 litres, the bike weighed a ton, it's even a real effort just to get the thing moving, but it would be 98km before I passed anything. I felt a little better once I was going, something that wasn't to last, and was to become a theme of the next few days. The first 30k was alright, 30-50km was getting tough, 50-80k was much tougher than it should have been and anything over 80km became a real struggle, just turning the legs and counting down the kilometres and being amazed at just how slow they were passing, it was really not enjoyable, not in the slightest. With 25k to go there was even a most unwelcome climb, it didn't go up that much, no more than a slope for 10km, but I was already grovelling on the flat. I am also plagued all day by flies, they are such persistant little bastards, they hang on tight too, a quick shake of the head does nothing, clearly they wont take no for an answer. When you send them packing with the swipe of the hand they just return to the same spot. I don't even bother anymore about the ones on my arms, legs and neck, but it really bugs me when they are in my mouth, up my nose, in my ears or crawling into the corners of my eyes. Sunglasses that I hate wearing helps a little, but they crawl over the lenses then into my eyes. But on this climb they were kicking me when I was down, I detested every second, to make things even worse I am thirsty much of the time, no matter how much I drink and near the end of the day I am craving a cold drink, I hope to see the services around the next corner, but I am always far to early, I hope people will stop and offer a cold drink, I hope by some miracle there will be a Tesco full of the stuff, there never is. I passed the summit and started to descend, then stopped at a viewpoint. 2 Germans in a van pulled up and started talking, "We saw you yesterday, we just don't know how you keep going in the heat, we don't even like getting out of the car", to be honest I don't really cope, I just have no other choice. 8km later I arrived at Mary River Roadhouse, I met the Germans in the little cafe there, David I think his name was and a Madonna look-alike as a partner. Whilst we talked I downed 2 litres of cold milk without it touching the side, the stuff all my day dreams are made of. I aksed "Do you know what the temperature is, my computer seems to over estimate at 48 degress", "Well we were at Ubirr yesterday and an electronic readout also read 48" they replied. I don't think it was quite that high, but it might explain some of my problems. Most things in shops aren't priced, when I bought the milk I asked why not. I didn't get an answer she just looked at me as though I was mad. Later I returned and bought some pasta that had the price written on, so I gave her $4, "They have the price written on them, $2" she said, "It does" I replied "$4 and one good reason for having things priced up". I camped out the back of the Roadhouse, normally the only part of the day I enjoy, but here it was just more hell. The flies were terrible, dozens swarmed around me the whole time, they covered my feets, were all over my face, it was just terrible. Once I had the tent set up I found hundreds of ants in my bar bag, there wasn't even any food in there. I had to walk around quickly whilst eating to keep the majority of the flies off, but half an hour before it was dark they went to bed, peace at last. It only lasted 30 minutes as then the mosquitos shift started, I gave up and went in the tent, I lay down and sweat was pouring off me, I had to keep drinking, I am consuming over 10 litres of liquid every day.

The following morning I woke to the sound of rain on the tent, oh joy, that will make it a bit cooler. But the joy didn't last long as I discovered that it was bugs hopping about, there was a queue of them out side waiting for me. I packed up as fast as possible, I just couldn't get away quick enough. It was a short day today a nice easy 60k. The road was more interesting a few bends, some hills, rocks etc. But the last 10k was still am immense struggle, there is just nothing left in the tanks. I arrived at Pine Creek Services and sat and drank a large bottle of fanta. I was joined by a young Aboriginal girl whose mother was using the ATM behind me, she asked my name, then it was John this and John that. I asked what her name was but lost track after the 6th sylable. Then I asked her age and she slowing counted out the number on her fingers and held her hands up, "Nine" said her mother from behind me. I was shocked by her lack of education, but the Aborigonies have a very different lifestyle to the white Australians, I will talk more about that at some other time when I have learnt a bit more, but it is the constant source of discussion of travellers and locals alike. I took out my cycle computer to update the records but a number of the figure segments have died making it impossible to read any numbers, again, just when I need it the most. My heart rate monitor seems to be heading in that direction too as they both fade to almost nothing in the heat of the day. An hour later my MP3 player also died, things weren't going well.

90k to Katherine the following day. Normally I regard 90km as an easy day, but now days I find it extremely daunting. It was straight down the Stuart Highway, busier than the other roads and with the constant smell of death as dead kangaroos cook slowly at the roadside. I felt fine for the first 50k as usual but the last 40 were once again a grovel, just a huge desire to be there with that imaginary cold drink. I arrived not a moment too soon and quite a few moments after I would have liked to have been there, I bought an unpriced litre of milk for a whopping $3.20, I bought one later for just 50c! I checked into a hostel, with air con, oh bliss! It's nothing special but nice and sociable. "There are a fair amount of characters here" I said to Tom "There are a fair amount of bums here" he replied, I guess he was the closer.

I have thought long and hard about why it has all gone so badly, I am sure it's a number of things, long boring roads, back on my own, the immense heat that is also so humid, but does it really explain my lack of energy. I have tried sleeping more, starting earlier, drinking more, eating more, eating more often, eating more carbs, more sugary things, I am about to try more protien. When I am not cycling I am fine, so may be it is the heat, but the strange thing is I don't sweat at all. Hopefully I will find the answer, I relish normal service being resumed, but right now I hate the cycling. with a real passion. I go to bed in the evening and think "Oh shit, I have to do exactly the same tomorrow!" But I wont give up either, I wont take a lift or use public transport. I recall the quote I was meant to read from "The Alchemist" ".......The closer he got to the realisation of his dream, the more difficult things became....", how true that is turning out to be.

I have been enjoying a bit of relaxation in Katherine, today I have been to The School of the Air, a school for 4-9 year olds that is sent arcoss the airways, nothing to do with flying. It teaches about 280 children over 800,00 square km and claims to be the biggest classroom in the world. I watched a lesson in progress via computers and satellite connections, fascinating stuff and a job that I think would be so satisfying. I also bought a new cycle computer, the only one in Katherine, not the only type, literally the only one.

But I have to make a move soon, something I am really not looking forward to. I don't know how this post will come across, but let me tell you that I am honestly dreading the next 2,500km, even more than I have hated the last 600km. I am really not enjoying the cycling at all, there are too many things working together and none of them are enjoyable in the slightest. Right now the headline "Monster Croc Take British Camper" has more than a little appeal.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Day 503 - At home in Darwin

Well life in Darwin has been pretty relaxed, I have chilled out a little, had a look around the town, done a few odd jobs that have needed to be done and learnt a little bit about life here in Australia.

Staying with Mick has been just wonderful, just what I needed. I have thought for a while that I just need to stop somewhere and do nothing. Normally when I stop there are still things to do, look around the place, sort out visa, searching for things I need to buy etc, etc, but I have never just stopped for a break. But Darwin and Mick have provided the perfect place for doing just that. For the first time in 16 months I am staying in a place that feels like home, you just don't get that feeling when you are staying in a hotel or hostel, but from my first day here it has felt like home. It feels very strange to head out, then return 'home', to know what is there, to feel totally relaxed, to be able to sit around in the evening and just enjoy a conversation, in a language that I can understand, to have a proper conversation rather than struggling with the basics all the time. But whilst here, you don't have to be polite and make conversation, you can do your own thing, cook your own dinner, come and go when you please. Such is the hospitality here that you are free to use anything, the internet, the washing machine, Mick even let us use the car if we need it. It's been a time to remember what 'normal' life is really like, a break from the traveling and I am sure I will leave refreshed and ready for the tough ride ahead.

I have now got hold of the maps I need to take me across to the east coast of Queensland and south to New South Wales. The map marks rest areas, some with facilities, whatever that means, some with camping areas, but it all looks very, very remote. Once I leave here it will take me 2 or 3 days to reach Katherine, the last town of any size, and from there onwards another 7 days to Three Ways just north of Tennant's Creek, about 2/3 of the way to Alice Springs, then I turn east taking about another 2 weeks to reach the coast at Townsville. Most of the time I will be using the tent, that will be bliss, stopping by some remote creek, setting up camp, having a dip in the creek for a 'shower' and just enjoying the peace and tranquility, just me and the odd bit of wildlife.

The wildlife here is instantly so different. The other night I was looking at a wonderful Green Tree Frog, I have seen pictures of them in the past, they are common here, but it's always great to see something like that for the first time. It's such a vivid green with enormous pads on it's feet to enable it to climb trees. They also have green ants, they have a large green abdoman and it is common knowledge that if you hold it by it's head and lick it's backside it tastes of lime! Hmm, I wonder who discovered that and more to the point, why?

The wet season has just arrived, though it has only rained very briefly a couple of times. How is it that always seem to arrive at places as the wet is just starting? They have just had a spell of 197 days without rain, yet there are no water restrictions, something they are very proud of. There are even roadside water prinklers for the grass verges. The temperature remains pretty constant the year round in Darwin, about 35 degrees, but it's very humid.

When I returned home on Wednesday evening there was an unfamiliar face sat in one of the chairs outside. She was Inga from Hamburg, the latest addition to the house party. To make things seems even more homely I popped into Palmerston town centre on Thursday lunchtime where I bumped into Christina, so not only does this place feel like home, but I can already go out and bump into friends. Early evening Inga and I caught the bus into Darwin, we had to change buses at Palmerston bus station and who should be see there but Irene, it's a small world. Inga and I were heading for Mindil Beach market, we missed our connecting bus by about 30 seconds so had a wait of 45 minutes. The market sold local craft and a whole heap of Asian food, but by heck it was crowded. I didn't feel hungry, but I did manage an icecream, it was a big one too despite asking for the smallest, but it was also the worlds fasting melting icecream, I needed a shower afterwards, but thankfully managed to find a tap to wash under. I found a really nice neck thing made from Kangeroo leather, in the colours of the German flag as Inga pointed out, but I am still too tight, the $17 price tag being too much for me.

Friday night Isa, Irene and Christina were somewhat excited that a weeks work was over, especially as they were going into Darwin for a meal with workmates. Inga and I were asked if we wanted to meet at the Octoberfest in Darwin later, so we all went into Darwin together with the doors of the car open as the windows and air-con don't work and it tends to be a tad hot. We met at Octoberfest at around 11, but somehow we all seemed to miss it and end up in the Casino just behind. Irene and Isa were clearly enjoying their evening aided and abetted by a wee drop, Irene successfully losing a guys money for him as he encouraged her on, then Isa was asked, or rather told, to leave due to a slight indiscretion. We tried at 2pm to take them home, but their night was still young, so we dropped them off at a nightclub, Irene giving us a running commentary as she tried to stand still, "Oooo, that was a big one, 4 steps backwards", oh to be young and carefree!

Over the weekend Mick took Inga and I for a bit of rifle shooting. We practiced with 4 different rifles before having a little competition over 300m, Inga scoring 22.2 then 14 with a total of 10 rounds and I scored 21 and 17. I thought we were pretty impressive, despite the fact that at that range I had no idea if I had even hit the target until we drove back up to it. We had a couple of beers afterwards, a very enjoyable and sociable day. Due to the concerntration involved in sighting up we had no idea that Mick was taking little movies of us and the reactions after the first shot of the big target rifle, it made for a good laugh when we got home.

When I cycle at home with other people we always maintain that you only get puncture when you talk about them, but I can now confirm that you can get them just by writing about them as the day after I made the last post I found I had a slow puncture when I came to use the bike the following day. I gave the bike a thorough clean, always good to see if there are any problems. This time it proved very expensive as I ended up replacing the big ring at the front, the chain, cassette and jockey wheels, but I think it is for the best as I wont see another cycle shop before the east coast another 2500km away.

So I head off tomorrow or Thursday, it just depends on how much I get done today. I want to be in Katherine by Friday evening 300km away, so if I leave Thursday I will have to cover 150km each day, though thankfully it is going to be pretty flat and I should even have a tailwind to help me. The biggest problem is going to be the heat, it's very humid, just doing nothing you sweat here and added to that there is no shade anywhere. There's no point stopping early, all there is to do is set the tent up and sit in the sun, slowly cooking! There are tough days ahead.