Cycle days 7-10 - Katherine to Timber Creek - Far too much luggage - CycleBlaze

May 5, 2024

Cycle days 7-10 - Katherine to Timber Creek

CYCLE DAY 7 – Katherine to Bushcamp

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79km cycled today with a total of 397km touring so far.

Temperature is the usual mid 30’s by mid morning! And last nights low in Katherine was around 22 degrees. 

Winds – south easterly so we are now going in a south west direction so the wind is either a cross headwind or crosswind.

Bushcamping alongside the road literally we are about 15m from the roads edge!

Had a great 3 night break at Katherine – restocking of the food, sorting out the clothes and sending the warmer gear onto Broome via Aus Post!  Went for a dip in the Katherine Hot Springs – which they weren't really hot but in any temperature above 25 degrees it was refreshing.  A popular place and it is a series of pools coming of the Katherine river.

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Up early this morning at 5am and it is still dark and we left just on 6.30am when it is light enough to see and be seen.  Fortunately we the front and rear lights have come in real handy.  It just means for the first 30 minutes or so the front rack is clear of junk that I usually put there  so it is piled on the trailer at the back!

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We have started out with an absolute full load of food (for 2 people for 7 days) and water – 34 litres or 34kg!  Bit of an overkill but we are not sure if the rest areas have water in the water tanks.  We do know they are filled up on a 2 week cycle but not sure if we are a little too early in the season for this to start.  So it could be that 34 litres has to get us to Timber Creek which is 4 days away!

The trailers are heavy to get rolling but once going you hardly notice the extra weight at the back.  A little bit of the colli wobbles if you try to stand so it is best just to hover over the seat if you need  to do a little bit of free wheeling.

Not much traffic around for the first 2 hours – just the signage people that control the traffic when doing road works.  We have decided to approach the days differently now – in the past we would get to our camp spot whether it be a caravan park or bush camp as soon as possible and just relax once set up.  But due to the heat and the need to be in shade when we do camp which is really hard to find if you are dictated by a minimal distance cycled sometimes a bushcamp may be in shade mid afternoon but in sun in late afternoon and with the temp at 35 – yeah that is just awful.  So we have decided to cycle for at least 50-60km then stop and have a 2-3 hour break in the shade and if at a rest area then restock on water and around 3pm move on to complete another 20 km or so.  That way the bush camp chosen we will be able to see if we have shade.

So today we got to our first rest area (King West) at 30km and the green tank had water.  The next rest area is another 26km further on (so around the 56km mark).  This is where we are resting up for a few hours before doing another 20 odd km – the minimum to cycle today is 70km. 

It has toilets which is a drop toilet and Neil informs me it is absolutely chockas! Plus it has 2 water tanks – the usual green concrete one and a newer purple one

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There is plenty of shade for us to sit the day out.  For most days we would not have this luxury of sitting the few hours out in a rest area but we noticed there were plenty of pull overs for us that has great shade but unfortunately something that I completely forgot they have and that is the dreaded red dirt – crikey it gets into everything and onto everything – soon my feet will be stained and there is already a light film of red dirt coating the bags!

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Welcome to the outback I say to myself.

Now we are heading in a south west direction for a few days and the wind swings between a south east and east south east so we no longer have a full on head winds just an cross head wind or a cross wind with gentle assistance this morning.  The road is pretty flat with less of an incline when coming out of a creek/river crossing but due to no headwind the going into a creek/river is nice and cruisy.

We left the Rest area at 3.15pm and our minimum was 70km.  The legs felt ok after the 3 ½ hour break.  We did have our dinner just before we left in case we were late getting of the road as bushcamp sites might be hard to find.

The wind is still blowing from the South East and so it is a little bit of a headwind.  We cycled for 22km and it was still hot and very little sites to get of the road and bushcamp.

One of the bonuses of restarting at 3.30 and finishing around 5pm is there is very little traffic.  Now at 5.30pm there are heaps of trucks and last minute backpackers!

Our spot tonight – and we have had worse!

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Tomorrow there should be a rest area about 20km further on where we will replenish our supplies and this will have to last us to Timber Creek.  We could buy water at Victoria road house but I would rather not unless it was a necessity.

CYCLE DAY 8 - bushcamp to bushcamp 

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79km cycled today with a total of 476km touring so far.

Temperatures were again very hot – mid 30’s, although a somewhat cooler night earlier last night, this morning the temp gauge said 20 degrees

Wind is still blowing from the South East and the road is still heading in a south west direction. Winds are strong around 20km per hour.

Bushcamp is a little further back from the road by at least 15m extra.  It was extremely hard to find a buscamp again today.  Since the rest area about 55km back this is all we could find.  No tracks going off the road, not even driveways to a gate, no rest areas.  It was very hard due to the long grass on the sides of the road.

We slept in this morning, although the usual disrupted sleep due to the traffic on the road and it was aot last night but no more than usual so I sort of wake but not really wake when they barrel past more you hear them and that is it.  What was disturbing the sleep was the cattle as they past by over the fence, they stampede when they realise we are there and panic and boy is that noisy. 

Even when we were packing up the locals were still a little disgruntled with us!

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So on the road a little later this morning so there was no need for the lights.  It was about just on 8am when we started

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There is a rest area about 24km away that we were going to stop to pick up water and on the way we saw a dingo.  Neil said there was one on the right side of the road  and I thought great it is going to take off like they always do and I can never get a photo – well this one decided that he/she was going to be very curious about us.  As we approached it came towards us and I couldn't believe it as I managed to slow right down and get the camera out and just started to point and take a photo.  It did stop and I think it was smelling the dead fetid cow on the side of the road and may have mistook the smell for us!

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It let us past and just starred at us and realised that we weren't that smell.  It looked hungry and was just hanging on the road sniffing away, I think the rotting carcass of the cow was just too far gone for it!

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Well that just made our morning, this has got to be a first for us that a dingo didn't scamper when it realised we were around.  I still can't believe it now as I type this!

But from that point on our day just got worse ... got to the rest area and both water tanks were empty!  This is always the risk and sure was glad we over compensate with carrying too much water for in cases like this (see Dad and you mocked us carrying 34 litres!)  However there was a Backpacker couple from Germany who offered to fill our 6 bottles (around 8 litres) as they were going to Lake Argyle Discovery Park today and they could refill their water cannister there.  We were so relieved as as the day panned out it was an extremely hot day.

I have forgotten to mention that yesterday at the rest area on our long break 2 sets of French women back packers chatted to us and 1 pair unfortunately forgot the quarantine coming up for them and gave us 2 bananas and 2 apples.  The other pair were just very happy to chat to us! 

So on our merry way and Neil says that we will do a normal day and not the long break day. 

 Riding along what surprised us the most was there was no access to the shade of trees.  Most trees and shrubs were surrounded by long grass and way back of the road that they were just too far back that they couldn't even cast a shadow on the roads edge.  We crossed floodways and rivers/creeks and even then we couldn't get to the trees for shade.  So by 50km the heat was beginning to show.  We crossed the Brandy Bottle Creek and we sort of could leave the bikes up on the road and walk down to the creek.

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Under the bridge it was lovely and cool that we took a dip in the water clothes in all and then had a good wash (doesn't matter that we still had another 30km to go and we were gonna get all hot and sweaty again!) then put our wet clothes back on and continued cycling.

This was was very refreshing for about 10km and then we were completely dried and just baking under the sun.  Still looking for a spot to pull over with shade but there was none.  I even think towards the 75km mark I was beginning to suffer a bit of heat exhaustion (first time ever for me) there was a truck pull over with a tiny bit of shade that we sat under for a break and decided to keep going on until we find a spot of the next rest area.

Just on from there we start to enter a gorge type area

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It looked lovely and with lots of trees and as we start to go down we can see that it is like all the kilometres before - can't get access to the shade! But we did find 1 sort of flattened area and it was possible to get to a cleared area around this tiny little tree ... so we grabbed it.

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We are out in the open but we don't care as it has a tree with our name all over it! And beggars can't be choosers.

It was late in the afternoon – around 3pm and we appreciate our late lunch under our tree!  We will set up the tent late when the sun has almost set.

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CYCLE DAY 9 Saturday 4 May - bushcamp to bushcamp

76km cycled today with 552km of touring so far

Temperature is around 33 degrees with a little cloud cover.

Winds are south easterlies and a little lighter than previous days – that is because the road has swung more in a west south west direction and so is gently pushing us along at times.  Because the winds are lighter it is not so cooling and off the bikes.

Bushcamp – have no idea but about 36km past Victoria River Roadhouse and I tell you it is easier to find bushcamping in FLlinders Street than what it is here along the Savannah highway!

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A nice evening waiting for the sun to drop to get a photo of the escarpment that I could see over the long grass.  I did have to zoom in since public mowing of nature strips is not high on the agenda of local.

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Up early this morning along with the usual wildlife that get up with us – namely the 8 legged kind called Huntsman – every morning I find them crawling over my bags and boy they scare the bijeezes out of me and I can never get use to them – stink I hate camping!

Last night when it was dark and I was beginning to drift off to sleep we hear alot of howling from a family of dingoes close by to us too, and another lot howling back at them further away.  I did hear the long grass at the back of the tent rustle as well so maybe they paid us a visit last night while we slept seeking out food.  I did think that I should get up and bring the food bag closer to the tent as I also had visions of dingoes ripping open the bag in search of food ... LOL I can imagine the conversation between the family of dingoes upon tearing open our food bag – “oh stink just apples and muesli, what kinda hoomans are these”

Anyway the food bag was still intact this morning at 5m when we got up.

You know how last night I said it was hard to find shade let alone a suitable camp spot well unbeknownst to us we were on the edge of a National Park and also at the start of a massive downhill.  We had started to go down towards what looked like a canyon when this spot popped up so we grabbed it .  And as per usual when you start cycling the next day there are a plethora of camp spots ad heaps of them a little bit further on!.

 No traffic this morning since we are miles from anything in either direction!

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It was a long downhill of around 8km and not steep either.  As per usual I always think well this has gotta end soon and although I have done 8km down I bet there is a 20km up and out of this gorge!   It is actually really nice to look at and as you approach Victoria River which is about 40km away you have these magnificent views of the escarpments.  It is very easy to keep stopping and taking photos of each one thinking this is the last one and then around the corner is another one that looks different to the previous 10 before!  So here is an overload of the escarpments ...

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Just before the roadhouse we cross the Victoria River – this has been in flood quite alot recently

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We get to Victoria River roadhouse by 9am and have a cuppa under a massive tree for shade.  Neil went in to buy some water – he has this fixation that we will run out!  At the roadhouse they stung us $5 for a 1.5 litre bottle of Mt Franklin water – Neil got 4!  Neil suggested we stay here and do the 92km to Timber Creek tomorrow but I am not keen on doing that as it would mean we will be riding late into the afternoon it is better to do a bushcamp and be finished by 1.30pm and sitting out the heat than riding in it. 

Back on the road at 9.30 and we are still in the National Park enjoying the spectacular views ... but wait there are more escarpment photos and a Boab tree!

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You can see alot  of evidence of the flooding and how it crossed the road

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You are only in the Park for 15km past the roadhouse and then the bushcamping opportunities absolutely die!  Still ok to come off the road for a break in the shade like we did about 20km out – there is alot of roadside burning (instead of mowing!)  and this was our lunch stop today.  We had shade so we had a longer break for 45 minutes.

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 From there on it was impossible to find a spot – yeah sure no long grass but the ground is all charred and it has been burnt recently as some spots still had smouldering!  Looking, looking and more looking until we get to about 76km and we crossed our 3rd unsealed floodway and this one had lots of earth moved into mounds and it also had a graded bit that ran a fence line for a while.  No real shade to sit in unless we jumped the fence (so we did).

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Not sure if we will stay here although behind the mounds and the tent is perfectly fine on the graded section to pitch.  We will see how we feel in a few hours time after resting in the shade ... I do the blog while Neil nana naps!

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CYCLE DAY 10 - Sunday 5 May - bushcamp to Timber Creek

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55km cycled today with 607km cycle touring so far.

Temperature is 34 degrees with an incredibly warm morning of 25 degrees at 4.30am - how do we know that ... well Neil had a brainwave that we should get up 30 mins earlier today ... why? who knows!

Winds are south easterly at about 15km per hour.  Last night it blew all night and really strong at times too that it just shook the tent.

Unpowered at Timber Creek Hotel is $20 and a fantastic place it is after 3 nights bushcamping.

So we really did get up at 4.30am this morning to be on the road before the sun popped up.  Neils reasoning was to do that little bit extra in the cool of the day.  However it is only going to be a very short day of around 55km!

Before we went into the tent last night it was very cool and breezy, normally this is a hard time for us as there is little breeze about and the temperature is usually still in the low 30's.  This breeze turned into really strong winds blowing all night that it wasn't a quiet night to sleep as the tent shook and rattled and flapped to its hearts content!

We still got up at 4.30am and it takes as 90 mins to get ready (it is a little slower when everything is done by torch light!)  

It was still pitch black and the sun wasn't really peaking over the horizon.  I wasn't quite sure this was such a good idea being only 55km from Timber Creek as we are close enough to a place that may just have early locals driving to Katherine and the 55km is really only 30 mins from us at that point ... and I was right - we had to pull over for 6 vehicles at different times in the first 30 minutes.  As Neil said it was scary but exhilarating to be riding like this.  I didn't mind it at all and was very happy with the front lights and people being able to see us but I thought it pointless to do it so close to a town.  It would have been fantastic yesterday so we may do it again between here and Kununarra.  

Doing that 30 mins extra in the cool of the day would really help us as we are struggling with the heat especially riding at 1.30pm onwards as like yesterday and previous cycle days there is alot of heat coming up from the bitumen plus the temperature from the sun.

After the first 30 mins of cycling this morning there was no traffic for about 1 hour!

It was quiet and cool and we were happy that it was going to be a short days ride.  We did come across a creek that was riddled with fruit bats 

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and once past them the smell was absolutely awful, a gravel pit was just a bit further on but the smell would have drove me batty! (excuse the pun!)

There was a little bit of gentle climbing and then a great gentle down hill.  Just before we had a cuppa we crossed a lovely brook and 2 boys were fishing, we stopped and asked what sort of fish they were getting and it was perch and he showed us this short plump fish that is used as bait to catch the bigger fish - Barramundi (not a sooty grunter Dad!)

We had a tailwind coming into Timber Creek and this is a small town consisting of the Hotel which is also the caravan park and servo and it use to have an Aboriginal Co-operative type cafe, small store and also accomodation with it but the last floods here has closed it down.

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Karen PoretWait a minute ! Is that a sprinkler across the road “hosing” the parked camper? Run over there and get your cool fix!
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1 month ago
Janet O'BrienLol it is a sprinkler to water the grass. This is in the campground and it was glorious just having a cool shower 😉
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1 month ago

But the hotel has a lovely bit shady park with alot of unpowered sites and we came herre at 10am and this shady spot all day had our name on it!

Now we haven't had a shower since Wednesday and today is Sunday and boy we stink!  Fortunately the showers had just been cleaned and the facilities are magnificent and I really enjoyed my long hot shower!

The water was hot and the shower was large!  Also got to catch up on our handwashing.  A cuppa tea was back to the good ole days of bore water with its' oily film on top - you can see them floating in my cuppa! 

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It doesn't affect the flavour!  This is all part of being out here in the outback as well as the red dirt or brown dirt which is over everything including my feet!

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So we will have a rest day here tomorrow and then take the 3 days or 240km to Kununarra  and should get there on Thursday.

Today's ride: 289 km (179 miles)
Total: 607 km (377 miles)

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Karen PoretYou two are amazing! I would never survive ANY heat! ( us native Californians are wimps)
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1 month ago
Janet O'BrienTo Karen PoretYeah the heat takes a bit of getting use to!
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1 month ago