The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rest day at Normanton

It was a lovely rest day here in Normanton, after chatting with the Whanau this morning and telling them about the statue of this massive crocodile and how I thought it was a load of crapola well I thought I would go out and take a photo of it for you to see, but first we were chatting to another couple who also thought that the crocodile statue was out of proportion to what it should be (they didn't think it was a load of crapola like I did).  Here is the full length of it - it is approximately 8.5m long and I am going to guess the length of it is correct but the face, mouth, legs and body are not proportionate to what a crocodile should be .... I mean this had massive legs when a crocodile in real life has little legs!  the body was puffed up where as in real life they have flat broad tummies and as for the head well that is completely wrong they have massive jaws but tiny heads whereas this one on the statue had a massive head in comparison to the body and its' jaw is now where near what the size of it should be according to the photo.  they do say that the statue was created according to the dimensions recorded at the time but I think they got the ft measurements and replaced them with meters!!!
 take note of this photo of Neil next to the life size croc for further reference ...
 well I hope this doesn't happen to Kouta in real life (even if Neil keeps threatening to dangle him from a rope over the next river we cross just so we get to see a croc!)
 Now here is the story of how this croc was killed ...
 this is the woman who shot the croc sitting on it ... compare it to the photo of Neil.  Either this woman is a giant or the crocodile statue is a bit over exaggerated!
 Now speaking of crapola ... I have more ... this one is for you Sharon.  Walking around last night we came across these 2 boats at opposite ends of the street and I ask Neil how does he think they got there, he responds that probably from the floods as they have had quite a few up here.  I think nothing of it and think yeah that is plausible.  So I tell you about it this morning Sharon ... well I ask Neil again and for some strange reason I think he is crapping on (like he normally does!) and why I didn't think he was crapping on last night I don't know.  So here I am thinking these 2 boats were placed here by the towns folk for tourist reasons ...

when it is not it is Neil feeding me his crapola!!!  The moral of this story is never believe a yarn Neil tells you!
So this is my last posting on the blog until we reach Cloncurry which is either in 4 or 5 days depending on how strong the headwinds will be!  Catcha later.  Oh we still don't get mobile phone reception out here ... damn Aldi!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Croydon to Normanton


 Croydon to Normanton = 157km (day 1 = 92km, day 2 = 65km)
Cummulative totals = 4461km and 24,462km
Normanton tourist park = $24 unpowered

It was a good 2 day ride here to Normanton, despite what the profile looks like it wasn't as down hill as it looks but it was relatively flat for most of it!  Upon leaving Croydon we faced our usual hazards in the morning while on this road ... peak hour traffic ... it is a real killer but we are reside to the fact that this is the way it is to be ...
 Neil found out that today (Wednesday) the tourist train will travel from Normanton to Croydon so we should see it sometime today and we were fortunate to meet it 60km out of Croydon at Blackbull Siding at 11.30am ... this is the Gulflander
 I was shocked to see the front part ... at first I thought it was a peanut bus on the front but it is a legitimate rail car towing the 2 carriages ...

 there weren't too many passengers and I spoke to one of them who said that about 2/3's of them are staying the night in Croydon and will travel back to Normanton on the Gulflander on Thursday and other 1/3 will be taken by coach back to Normanton.
 we waited for the train to leave and took advantage of the tables under the shade to have something to eat ...
 We could have stayed at Blackbull siding but that would mean a long day to Normanton.  We were feeling quite good and a good tailwind was helping us along the way so we continued.
I think I have mentioned this before but this road is very quiet, most of the time Neil and I can ride side by side, there is sporadic caravan traffic and the odd truck now and then ... it is great riding and the road is well formed and not broken up.
The railway line is on the right side of the road and will continue like that all the way to Normanton so it would provide us with the ideal spot for bush camping.  Neil found a spot at around 90km but as soon as we got of the road I saw a decomposing wild pig.  At first while on the road we were up wind of it but I mentioned to Neil that the pig is there and in his off handish way he ignored what I said,  I must admit it was a great spot with 2 off the most important things for us today - shade and the ground was clear of native grass/tussock.  We begin to unpack and then a breeze came across and  a waft of rotting carcas came with it.  Neil was so desperate to stay in this perfect spot that he states that it is not too bad and we will get use to it!  another breeze blows and phew what a stinker ... nah I am not staying ... see ya Neil!   He knew it was not a good idea to stay.
So back on the road he is lamenting as to how good that spot was and I am agreeing and looking for another ... we did find one a few kms later but no where near as perfect as the first but it did have dappled shade it did have a clear spot for the tent ...
Both sites were close to the road and only 3m from the railway line (don't worry the only train is the Gulflander and that has already gone through and when it returns the next day we will be long gone!)
 so you can see us but this road is so quiet and no one  looks at all!
 you can see the railway line there! and now looking down the line ...
 It was a great spot and the  night time was quiet.
So today we got away by 7.30am even though we overslept.  Not alot is expected to happen today since nothing has happened to us so far.
It is still flat and there is still very light traffic.  We only have a short day today so we can take advantage of the extra time resting in the afternoon.
We do cross the Norman river which has some water in it on one side of the bridge but empty on the other side ...
 this bridge is somewhat strange (like alot of bridges in Queensland) it has no sides to it only a 30cm concrete lip either side so if a van decided to knock us off we would go over the side of the bridge.  In saying that at the end of the bridge there was a huge colony of bats in the tree and when on the bridge they were less than a meter from you and they were at eye level ... they were noisy and smelly and definitely didn't like me stopping next to them and taking a photo!


from here it is only a short ride to the town of Normanton.  It has a population of 1500 people which is more than we expected.
We got here just before lunch.  After lunch I decided to get the bulk of the food shopping out of the way and knowing that they supplies would be very limited and not to mention expensive here I went to the 4 square shop stop and trying to find something for 4 meals to get us down to Cloncurry is nearly impossible there is no heat and eat type products in tetra packs so I had to get the dehydrated pasta (Neil is not to fond of them) and tinned tuna, so I managed to piece together 3 meals and the 4th and possible 5th can be weetbix since I have alot of them ... we paid $7.50 for a 1kg container of yoghurt (we haven't had any since Ravenshoe!)  I don't mind paying these prices you sort of expect it and do a bit of bush camping to conteract the cost of food.  Bananas are $4.99 a kg which is not bad, fruit is about $5-8 per kg depending on the fruit.  tomatoes are $5 something a kg so we are eating as much fresh food as possible today and tomorrow and will take bananas with us to Cloncurry which will take 4-5 cycling days - we have looked at the forecast and we unfortunately are going to have raging headwinds for the bulk of the ride down to Cloncurry.
Tomorrow we will have a look around town, there is a statue of a crocodile in town with a little story to it, I will take a photo of it and explain why it is a load of S#*t !!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Georgetown to Croydon


 Georgetown to Croydon = 149km (day 1 = 80km day 2 = 69km)
Cummulative totals = 4304km and 24,305km
Croydon Caravan park = $15 unpowered (you wouldn't even consider powered at $30 way out here!!!)
Day 1:
Georgetown was a great place for a rest day, we did go to the local swimming pool which is hardly used (a few locals did turn up after we got in the pool) and I think I can understand why - it is a 29 degree day and it is definitely a hot day for a swim but the pool is not solar heated or anything like that ... it is just plain cold water and so it is a shock to the system when you get in, but once in it is very refreshing and you soon warm up!
The ride towards Croydon is relatively easy.  The first 30km is predominantly single lane so with everyone overtaking us and kicking up red dust we are soon covered in grit and you can feel it sticking to your sun block!  About 20km out you come to the Cumberland Chimney which is all that is left of the old gold crushing plant.  There are one or two mine shafts around as they are fenced off.
 After all the excitement from the last blog post not alot happened on our way to Croydon, we did see some Bustard birds but they were so shy and flew away before I could even stop the bike for a photo ... but we did manage to get a photo of these Brolgas ...
 The road is rolling up to the 50km mark and from there is is relatively flat going so it is easy to pull off and have a cuppa alongside the road ...
 It is a very hot day and there is not a breath of wind about (which is unusal as the prevailing wind should be a south easterly and behind us but the O'Brien curse has done it again!).
We cross the Gilbert river and all creeks and rivers up to this point have been bone dry and I thought this river might have a little bit of water .. no it too is bone dry both directions ...

 There is a rest area on the other side of the causeway and we stop there but it is a dust bowl, so we decide to continue on at the recommendation of a council worker we met at the previous rest area, we had a bite to eat and then got up and Neil spotted in the corner a nice shady spot and easy access to the small creek bed so we can dig a hole for a toilet.  We investigated and it was nice and shady but I wasn't overly enthralled ... I prefer a bushcamp to a rest area camp ... anyway we start to set up and on the ground are these shrub stubble which has been mown over, we lay done the ground sheet and I lean on it and up comes a stubble through the plastic so we move the tent as more than likely it will come through the tent floor.  so we move it out to the sun and again it happens so we give up and decide to have our cuppa and move on up the road ....
 this is the spot, it is probably just as well as it was bit of a dust bowl and all the caravans were looking at you all the time!
So we repacked the bikes and went up the road, it didn't take us long to find a nice spot, close to the road, about 30m from it ... but can you see us?
 I have zoomed in and put where we are on this photo -
 and here is a better shot of where we are actually camped ...
 it was funny as a few cattle came trotting up the other side of the fence, saw us, promptly stopped and sort of just stood there and looked at us for about 10mins thinking what the hell are they, they weren't there the last time we came through, what do we do!!!
Day 2:
We both had a good nights sleep - the road at night is very quiet and it was warm but enough to have to have the sleeping bag on.
Left our spot at 7.30am and again no one is on the road for a few hours.  It is a double lane road now from here to Normanton and it is in real good condition ... I suppose they don't get the heavy traffic load that some roads can get.
Again today was pretty uneventful, probably the highlight was coming across a massive group of Red tailed Black Cockatoos, there must have been at least 100 of them over 3 trees and boy do they make a racket.  We have seen them while in Queensland but only in pairs or small groups of 6 at the most so we heard these ones before we saw them!  Everytime we see them they quickly fly off so it is impossible to get a photo but today we carefull approached them and they couldn't care less about us ...



 the male bird has a 2 red strips on its' tail and you can see the red part mainly when they take off and fly.
I think I have said this before about the drivers along this road they are very courteous to us ut now I have a complaint ... I think Dad will sympathise with me over this ... I have RSI (repetitive strain injury) from raising my hand on the bike to acknowledge the drivers that are oncoming ... as they always wave to you so you sort of feel you have to wave back ... so my right wrist is sore!
We get to Croydon by lunch time and it is warm, the wind is blowing stronger today and is coming from the south south east so it is a cross wind ... tomorrow I hope it stays that way as it will be more of a tailwind!
The campground is nice and has a basic kitchen with free gas bbq, fridge, jug, toaster and microwave.  Croydon is a small town and has this historic general store (est. 1894) and is the oldest in Australia
 I did go in and buy something in there for our dinner (the only other place is at the servo opposite the caravan park) and the lady let me take photos of the inside, it is still set up like in the olden days with the tinned stuff at the back behind the counter and you ask for it,
 but other stuff you can go and grab yourself like the drinks, fridge products and fruit ...
 The town does have a pub which looks pretty old!
 and right next to that is a lovely mural on the water tank ...
Delivery of bread is tomorrow so all we could get was frozen white bread, dinner tonight is tinned Stagg chilli beans, baked potatoes with tomato.
It is a 2 day ride to Normanton so the next blog posting will be on Thursday.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mt Surprise to Georgetown


 Mt Surprise to Georgetown = 93km
Cummulative totals = 4155km and 24,156km
Goldfields caravan park = $20 unpowered

It has been a long hot day today and I am a little late in putting this up but we arrived here late afternoon, had to have an early dinner and then watch Geelong loose to Gold Coast Suns this evening and now I am about to tell you about a fantastic snake show put on in last nights caravan park.
Here is a picture of the owner of the caravan park we stayed at last night in Mt Surprise and his name is Russell ...
 and his friend that is wrapped around him is called Clancey and he is a black headed python ... not a venomous snake but a python that constricts.  It is about 3m long and is 19 years old and is friendly and is use to everyone handling him ... Leanne you will love the following photos!

 It was such an informative show especially angled at first aid to be given when bitten so Neil and I feel a bit more confident if we do get bitten in the middle of no where!
Now have you ever wondered what snake poo looks like? while Russell was chatting away right in front of me I saw the snake urinate so I informed him and he immediately put him on the ground and Clancey proceeded to do a poo and I tell you everyone was fascinated watching the snake do his business and all the oooohing and ahhhhhhing it was hilarious but  the end result shocked us all!  look  at these photos of Clancey pooing ...

  can you believe what it looks like ... a dog poo! we were all shocked that it resembled dog poo that for all we know when we see one now it may just be a snake poo rather than a dog poo and guess who gets to pick it up?
 yep Neil because we had Kouta with us and he went of and did his poo so Neil picked that up and Russell asked him to pick up Clanceys' poo as well!!!
It was such a fantastic show and we really enjoyed it.
so this morning we left at our usual time knowing we had a big day ahead.
Just out of town we come across the O'Briens creek road and gemfield sign so we had to take a photo!
 believe it or not but the O'Briens creek is a further 80km away and yet this sign was a few kms out of town.
Also further down the road we came across some Brahmas grazing on the side of the road, this was a common occurence all day and I think for future days riding as well ... you can call this photo 'running of the Brahmas'!!!
 Overall the day is rolling with not steep hills but manageable ones and both our legs felt good even at the end of the day.  The first 20km is fine and is a lane both ways and then from 20 to 45km we encounter alot of single lane roads which can only fit one car on at a time ...
 the general rule is when you meet another car you both have half on and half off and logically slow down.  There is a general consensus that caravaners don't like to get off the road (why they bother taking this road knowing it has alot of this single lane road I don't know!) but most were really good today, we only had 2 trucks that we had to get of the road for and only 1 caravan that didn't want to get half of the road until I indicated that you haven't given us enough room (mind you he was coming at us at about 80km per hour that is why I indicated with my arms that there is no room for us and you going at that speed!) he did at the last minute slow and move off the road!
Otherwise if you didn't have the narrow single lane you had a nice 2 lane road which has been recently resealed or made into a 2 lane road - generally where there is a crest or hill they have made the road into a 2 lane road ... this is the road going up the range ...
 There was no real wind today so we had to cycle it all rather than have the luxury of a tailwind hence why it is so hot today ... around 29 degrees.
One thing there is alot of are termite mounds they are everywhere ...

 most are probably uninhabited and quite a few are broke ... here is what one looks like on the inside ...
 The traffic today is very light and when it did come they all tended to come at the same time.  so there was alot of the days ride where it was just Neil and I.  Also, Neil noted, that quite a few people took photos of us! we normally get that in caravan parks but today Neil said everyone had there tablets and ipads up against the front windscreen taking photos of us!
You remember the O'Briens creed road sign well here is the O'Briens creek itself ...
 off course like a lot of creeks and rivers it is a dry as a bone!
 We crossed this creek about 10km before Georgetown.  We get to Georgetown about 2.30pm and we got food at the friendly grocer which is also the Ampol service station .. the prices are quite reasonable considering we are in the outback.
The caravan park is nice and shady, not many powered sites but heaps of room for unpowered ... we are amongst the shady trees and will have shade for a fair bit of our rest day tomorrow.
Quite a few caravans and campers have had to go unpowered as there is only about 20 powered sites and they are all full.
It is a nice basic park but a good one for outback standards.  We have a small kitchen with fridge, bbq, jug and toaster ... everything we need! Tomorrow we may go for a dip in the local pool as it is free as we are staying at this caravan park.
One thing we have noticed is that we get telstra internet reception well at the small towns we pass - Mt Surprise, Georgetown and more than likely Croydon and Normanton but we don't get mobile phone reception only because we have an Aldi sim ... if we had telstra sim for the mobile phone we would be able to use the mobile phone but I think I prefer to go without the mobile phone than go without the internet reception! So for those that are interested ...
Monday - bush camp at Gilbert River (no blog)
Tuesday - Croydon (there will be a blog then)
Wednesday - bush camp somewhere (no blog)
Thursday - Normanton - there will be a blog!