Day 20: Hann River to Mt Barnett (Manning Gorge) - Katherine to Perth 2022 - CycleBlaze

August 7, 2022

Day 20: Hann River to Mt Barnett (Manning Gorge)

I set an alarm today to try and get off early but it still took me an hour and a half, even without porridge. It was nice riding at 6:30 though, the road was pretty good, very little traffic and cool. 

I passed a ute pulled over just on the side of the road. They looked like they were camping and seemed quite surprised to see me. I made good time to the Jigngarrin (Barnett Gorge) turn off. I stashed most of my stuff and headed off down the 4K track in. Alan had camped here but I reckon Hann river was nicer. I thought I was alone once I reached the carpark to walk into the gorge and was just having a pee when three cars turned up. I was worried about not having anywhere to change into my togs so I charged off without reading the sign even though I love to read signs. Then I found myself following this rough track marked by cairns across a hot (I forgot my hat) savannah. 

I reached a lookout and the gorge looked great but I was still unsure how I was going to get into it
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Eventually my continued walking paid off as the track wound down to the top of the gorge. 

My own personal spa
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And swimming pool
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It was not very deep but very refreshing. I had been going to switch my breakfast and morning tea, so eat porridge for morning tea when I’m generally resting anyway. But I realised I had carted in my stove but no porridge so decided that’s eating porridge in the morning is a dumb idea, too many things can go wrong. As I came back up the group from the cars were coming down. I passed another group on the way up too. I ate the last of the lollies from the tour groups and another museli bar back at my luggage. 

Just after I pulled back onto the road, a tow truck passed me carrying a ute that looked like the one I’d passed on the side of the road with the front smashed in. Maybe they weren’t voluntarily camping. 

Back in red range country
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The just under 30k into Mt Barnett didn’t take too long, just over two hours, but it was a bit painful cause they’d put these rocks on the road. Where they had stopped the corrugations it was good to fang down the middle of the road but where they hadn’t they littered my path on the side and made it very frustrating. But my tyres held up well (touch wood). 

The crossing at Barnett River, which has been following the road off to the north  since the gorge, was paved so I thought I could ride it but it was much deeper than I’d anticipated, up to my knees. Sorry bike, I’ll clean the chain again. My front panniers were nearly submerged and were dripping but I don’t think they’ve leaked much. 

Maybe there is a reason they say check depth before you sail into a crossing
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I rolled into Mt Barnett at 1:20, only to find the roadhouse closed at 1 on sundays. A very nice man called Matt came out and asked if I needed anything. I don’t really but I was very keen for a cold drink so he got me a coke, and told me I could camp for free, saying “it’s like warm showers”. Thanks, Matt!

 Lots of other people have also been caught out by Sunday afternoon hours as I’ve been sitting here writing this. At least it makes my decision on whether to come back to the shop tomorrow for me. I will now go down and camp in Manning Gorge, about 7k of sandy road but at least there will be a swim at the other end! 

The campground was amazingly packed and huge. There’s only three toilets and three showers and at least three tour groups here plus so many caravanners. I don’t really understand where they have all come from. I’m camped next to the same people I was camped next to at Parry Creek last weekend. I’m not that great with recognising faces but they have two salsa Fargo’s on the back of their car so I recognise them!

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 1,292 km (802 miles)

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