As expected, today is fairly easy going until about midday. I complete the first section which is 30 kilometres on flat gravel and sealed roads.
On the next section, the trail goes away from the main track and I’m supposed to follow the cattle track. I must be following the wrong one as I end up with high grass everywhere around me and I’m not sure anymore if this is the trail or if I’ve got it all wrong. I look at my GPS which gives me a rough indication of where the creeks are. I’m heading in the right direction which is very good news. When I look above the grass I can finally distinguish the main trail.
Once I’m back on the gravel road, what a reassuring thing, I ride along some more cattle yards. In one of them men on horses are moving cattle away in the yard. I ask one of them if it’s ok for me to go by. After my experience at Kroombits I know cattle can be scared by anything and I didn’t want to ruin their work by scaring the cattle away in the wrong direction. I get the green light and push on.
The roads look the same. Station after station, more and more cattle. They seem to always run away from me, but often stay in my way which leads to a nonsense race. If only they would stop running and just let me go through. One cow keeps on going faster on the gravel road, I’m right behind it trying to race it over. It suddenly decides to get back to the yard on the right, sees an opportunity at the mesh gate, and attempts to jump over. Not high enough. The cow goes right into the gate, knocking it down. I’m amazed at how much damage it has done. I put the gate back into place and attach it back with the remaining pieces of wire.
By mid afternoon I reach Eight Mile creek, a National Trail campsite. It does not have much to offer, a patch of grass between a creek and a road not far from a busy mine. From my notes I can read there is a recreation reserve 27km further with shower and toilet. I’m thinking I would prefer that. Unfortunately the contact number to get someone to open the facilities is not connected. I contact a friend, and BNT coordinator, who kindly offers to work it out for me. He suggests I get in touch with someone named Cedric who lives nearby.
I get back on the bike, hoping my friend will have been in touch with the right people by the time I get to the reserve, 27km further.
Once I get about 4km up the road, I notice someone is sitting on his dirt bike by the side of the road and smiling at me. I stop and start to chat. Turns out he his Cedric, the section coordinator, the same person my friend and I are trying to get in touch with by phone. Cedric offers to have me stay at his place instead of riding all the way to the reserve at this time of day.
Cedric lives with his wife Therese and their five kids in a tiny house. Cedric is a cattle farmer and Therese a former school teacher who looks after the kids and teaches them at home. I had been dreaming about a bathtub for days and they even have one, so I’m very, very pleased. We chat along and have dinner together and I get to sleep in the shed, which is the kid’s classroom.
Therese was riding the national trail, just like me, on a horse 10 years ago. She had to stop at a farm for some time where Cedric was working. They fell in love. Cedric came along for the rest of the trip, it took them five months to complete it, 18 months all together for Therese. Therese came back to the property and they have been living here happily since then.
Their lifestyle is interesting and they believe that simpler is better. They don’t own much, they only possess what they really need and try to limits loans to the essential. I’m really excited to meet a family who share the same values as I do. They aren’t too influenced by the city and the materialism that goes with it. I notice that their kids are extremely polite, curious and already very knowledgeable. I wonder if it has anything to do with the absence of television, and having the bush and animals as main source of entertainment.