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 031

Day:  031

Date: Saturday, 01 August 2020

Start:  Laura

Finish:  Palmer River Roadhouse

Daily Kilometres:  93 (click for Julie's Strava and photos)

Total Kilometres:  3282

Weather:  Mild, partly cloudy and windy

Accommodation:  Tent cabin (glamping)

Nutrition:

  Breakfast:  Muesli bars & Mars Bar/Snickers Bar

  Lunch:  Egg & lettuce sandwiches

  Dinner:  Chicken parmigiana, chips & salad, ice-creams

Aches:  Nothing significant

Highlight:  None really

Lowlight:  The wind!  Our first 62 kilometres, from Laura to Lakeland, was not only gradually uphill but was directly into a strong wind (the Weather Bureau had issued a strong wind warning) in fairly open country with little to shield us.  It was a constant battle to make headway, with some gusts almost bringing us to a standstill.  We reached Lakeland exhausted.

Pictures: Click here

Map and Position: Click here for Google Map

Journal:

Knowing we had a relatively short day, we slept in an extra half hour and left Laura about 7:15am, stopping by the roadhouse, which was supposed to open at 6am, to buy some food for breakfast.  Alas, it was still closed, with no sign of activity, so we decided to get going and make do with what snacks and drink we had with us.

We soon discovered that the weather forecast was correct and we were cycling directly into a strong south-easterly wind (see above).  Our speed was cut by half, with double the effort, as we ground our way to the south-east.  We stopped after nearly two hours, and just 22 kilometres, for breakfast beside the road.  The country was mostly lightly-timbered, with occasional small groups of cattle roaming freely and plenty of dead kangaroos on the road.  We also spotted a large black wild boar close to the road, but fortunately it took no interest in us.

The closer we got to Lakeland, the more open the country became, and the stronger the wind ….. and the more frequently we took breaks  There was also some large scale agriculture including one massive banana palm plantation and a vast field of watermelons.

Finally, we reached Lakeland, and a small roadhouse where we gratefully got out of the wind and had some welcome lunch.  From Lakeland, our route took us more directly south and what had been a headwind became a crosswind.  Much better.  The country reverted to timbered grazing land and there were some significant hills, including a never-ending climb up the Byerstown Range, at the top of which we took a break at a lookout (that we even had to cycle up an additional hill on a side road to reach!).

From the lookout, we rode the last 17km along the undulating road, with legs crying out for the day to end, and reached the Palmer River Roadhouse, where we had booked a tent/cabin for the night, around 3:15pm.  There was a large motorcycle group socialising in the pretty roadhouse beergarden and I got a few smart comments as I checked in.  The tent/cabin exceeded my expectations for a remote roadhouse and we were early enough, after showers and putting on a load of laundry, to spend an hour or two on the verandah overlooking the famous Palmer River (mostly dry with a few waterholes) where gold was found in the 19th century, bringing thousands to this part of the country.

Later, we had dinner in the atmospheric roadhouse, joining an eclectic mix of grey nomads, road construction workers and backpackers, and contemplated another day of headwinds and hills tomorrow.

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