We have no idea if the days in the title are correct. That’s the beauty of a long holiday, you start to forget what the date is and what day of the week it is.
We felt that way leaving Stonehenge. There was more pedalling to be done on the open road and at some point we would reach Longreach.
Well, we thought we would reach Longreach, but the headwind/crosswind was absolutely ferocious! It kept blowing us around and making our helmets sit sideways on our heads. There were no trees to speak of, just bare plains of dry grasses or dirt stretching far into the distant heat haze.
On a positive note, there was minimal traffic and we saw only two or three roadtrains the whole day (think back to the last piece of advice we were given). This meant we could stop and pee in on the side of the road with no problem, despite the lack of shrubbery.
The photo above is a pretty poor panoramic shot because the wind was so strong I couldn’t hold the camera steady!
When we saw a big blue sign announcing ‘Rest Stop 5km’ we decided we would pull up there for an extended stop. This wind was ridiculous! As we inched along the road towards the rest stop, we realised that at this pace, it would take us 30 minutes to get there. Then we realised that the popular ‘Park Runs’ that are held on Saturday mornings across the world are only 5km and that most people probably complete the run in 30 minutes. We were pedalling so slowly we could probably run at the same speed!
The shady tree promised on the sign was not actually a tree either, it was just a shelter but we were so grateful for the shade it cast that we didn’t care. As the wind howled and gusted around us, we ate lollies and biscuits and reassured ourselves that the wind had to change at some point.
A kind caravan driver stopped at the rest stop and gave us two bottles of water straight out. He was happy to be in his car today.
It was about three hours later, at 1pmish, that the wind died down a bit and seemed to shift direction. We saddled up and pushed on. There is 150km between Stonehenge and Longreach and we needed to get there tomorrow otherwise we were going to run out of water.
The afternoon wore on with more barren plains, 35 degree (at least!) heat and an okay wind that couldn’t make up it’s mind. By 5pm I was ready to fall off the bike just to get a rest, despite Mick’s willingness to push on, and we had done 105kms, enough for today.
Our campsite was next to a farm driveway. It was the only spot that wasn’t covered in some sort of prickle bush and that had some trees to shield us rather ineffectively from the road.
None of this mattered however as the traffic stopped before dark. Apart from a couple of roadtrains during the night, we didn’t hear any other traffic all night.
We had peanut satay and rice for dinner (using peanut butter), and custard and a tin of fruit for dessert. Tinned fruit is heavy, but it contains it’s own fluid, which adds to our water consumption. It was wonderfully refreshing too.
During the night the wind came up again, this time from the south. We had forgotten to tie the bike to the tree and had to get up to make sure nothing was blowing away.
The next morning it was cold, but the wind was going in the right direction for once!
We noticed the sky had a real haze about it, almost as if it was raining in the distance…
This continued all day. It was the edge of a dust storm that apparently engulfed Mount Isa.
With 51kms to go, and a cross/tailwind, we sailed into Longreach in under two hours! At some points we were cruising along at 39kms an hour, which is SUPER fast if you’re on a fully loaded touring tandem!
Our first stop was the Merino Bakery, after which we rode around town checking out the caravan parks. Today’s dusty heat did nothing to make putting up the tent on a dusty, gravelly campsite appealing, so, for the first time this trip, we booked into a cabin (Longreach Tourist Park)!
Today has been a rest day in Longreach. We have heard so much about the tourist attractions in Longreach from campers and caravan travellers that we lost any enthusiasm for them by the time we got here.
Instead, we chatted with Patricia and Lance who ride tandem bikes back in Perth, visited Darcy’s Diner for a coffee and went looking in the small camping store on the Main Street.
We considered riding to Muttaburra, then onto Prairie, rather than going via Winton and Hughenden. Apparently there is only 20km of unsealed just before Muttaburra, and 40km of unsealed road before Prairie. This sounded good until we realised our water needs would be too great in this heat. So, to maintain a sense of holiday enjoyment in our last couple of weeks, we are taking the safe route!
Tomorrow morning we will head for Winton, 180km and a roadside camp away, well refreshed after two luxurious nights in a cabin.