Julie and I were supposed to be hiking the 5,000km Continental Divide Trail in the US in 2020, but COVID-19 derailed that plan. Instead, we will have an adventure in Australia, circumnavigating the country on our bikes, a distance of about 16,500km taking approximately five and a half months. We will use minor roads where possible and occasionally catch ferries across rivers and inlets to avoid busier inland routes. We will camp some of the time and stay in motels, hotels, etc, at others. There will be stretches of up to five days with no accommodation or resupply available, so we will need to be self-sufficient.

Day 030

Day:  030

Date: Friday, 31 July 2020

Start:  Cooktown

Finish:  Laura

Daily Kilometres:  138

Total Kilometres:  3189

Weather:  Mild to warm and mostly sunny, with a few spots of rain mid-morning

Accommodation:  Motel

Nutrition:

  Breakfast:  Curried egg & lettuce sandwiches

  Lunch:  Silverside, cheese & tomato sandwiches

  Dinner:  Rissoles & vegetables/Chicken parmigiana & vegetables, ice creams & mangoes

Aches:  Nothing significant

Highlight:  None really

Lowlight:  We both had falls during the day.  Mine was a run-of-the-mill hitting soft sand unexpectedly and unable to get my foot out of the cleat in time as I went down.  Julie's was an attention-seeking dive as she tried to give room to an oncoming vehicle and hit soft sand on the roadside.  The 4WD stopped and the occupants got out to make sure she was OK.  The rescue mission soon turned into a long social chat by the roadside.

Pictures: Click here

Map and Position: Click here for Google Map

Journal:

We left Cooktown at 6:45am with legs still tired from yesterday, brought home to us by the climb up the relatively small Four Mile Hill on our way out of town.  Fortunately for us, that was the only significant hill for a while and a tailwind helped us make good time through the flat Endeavour River valley passing a mix of agriculture and grazing land.  As usual in the mornings, we saw school buses making pickups and the occasional child waiting on the roadside for the bus.

We stopped for a breakfast break after two hours at the junction where we left the road to Hope Vale and turned west towards Lakefield National Park.  We were happy to see the sealed road continue, knowing that, at some point, it was going to turn to gravel, but it became hilly as we crossed the Great Dividing Range.  It was hard sweaty work on tired legs.

The sealed road ended and our pace slowed.  Apart from two random sections of sealed road, the rest of the day was on unsealed road of varying quality.  At best it was hard-packed bumpy clay, and at worst it was a mix of jarring corrugations and insidious soft sand, that was exhausting to navigate.

We stopped for a lunch break at the entry to the remote Lakefield National Park, but there was little change to the timbered scrub on both sides of the road since we crossed the Divide.  It felt remote and endless, although every so often we were passed by tourists or locals in 4WDs, some slowing to wave and minimise their dust, others flying by with no acknowledgement. By the end of the day we were cached in red dust.

We took our last break at the Old Laura Homestead, dating from the 19th century and still seemingly in good repair, though not occupied since the 1960s.  It was a very remote property, more so in the days before the internal combustion engine, and must have endured some weather extremes.  Tough people.

The last 28km was on slightly better unsealed road, with sections under repair, but it was hard work at the end of a long day and we were both very glad to reach our motel in the remote, mostly aboriginal, settlement of Laura.  I bought some microwaveable dinner and drinks from the small general store across the road, managed by the same people who managed the motel, and witnessed the nightly feeding of the local galah population which resembled a scene from Hitchcock's  "The Birds".  The proprietress also gifted us some frozen mangoes grown in her garden which hit the spot after a very dehydrating day.

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