Today started with an easy road. A little bit of highway followed by a good gravel road leaning slightly downhill.
Whilst riding I’m also preparing for my stop in the next city, Mackay. It’s a fair detour, 100km east from the trail. I’m going there to put a proper derailleur back on my bike and also spend some relaxing days with Michelle. We know that this is the last time we will see each other before flying to France together in a month. While I still have mobile reception I call the bike shop and make sure I have somewhere to stay there.
It’s a rather hot day today and it’s hard to find shade at times.
Around midday I leave the road and have to go through fields, cross a dry deep creek and follow some cattle tracks. At this point I’m keeping the bearings on the GPS but I’m not completely sure where to go.
Soon I spot a creek with a fair amount of water. I can see it is probably a good meter deep if not more, not something I should cross with the bike.
I aim for downstream where I can see the creek is narrower. There are gullies to cross and they are very muddy. I push, pull and drag the bike and finally make it to the other side, almost dry, but covered in mud. It could have been worse.
The wildlife is omnipresent around me. I spot many wild piglets, deers and emus. The creek is also full of fish. It’s probably getting smaller and smaller as it dries and all the fish are concentrated in the same spot, in the remaining water. I almost thought they could be crocodiles at first when I heard them splashing. Then I even thought about sharks, then I thought I was being silly.
On the other side of the creek I have to make my way under very low branches and follow some fences. I hope I’m on the right side of the fence.
At this point I realise – my bum is hurting. It has been hurting for some time, but now I can’t even sit on the saddle which makes riding on this difficult terrain exhausting.
I spend countless hours going from one cattle track to another and pushing in the grass.
I just can’t wait to getting back to a track or a road, even the highway. This is extremely difficult and draining. I make it to a train track. Not knowing where the BNT goes anymore, I just know I should follow the train track. So that is what I do. There are two options; close to the track or a little bit further on the other side of the fence. I choose to follow the train track closely as it’s the shortest path to civilisation. That happens to be a mistake. The surface is a mix of gravel and grass, again impossible to ride.
When finally, after kilometres of pushing, I see a gate and take the decision to leave the train track. From then on I’m riding in cattle yard, trying to find my way. It’s still hot and I don’t find much shade for my late lunch break. I didn’t want to stop but it’s necessary to eat or I risk not having enough energy to continue.
After the cattle yards come the forest and some sandy tracks. It’s slightly easier but not perfect. I finally make it to a road and that is a huge relief.
The road takes me to the highway which the BNT is following for some time. I push hard and get to the next rest area where campervans and trucks are allowed to stay for a night. A sort of free caravan park without the shower.
So from highway to the bush and wildlife back to the highway. It’s has been a tough and strange day. Overall I still manage to cover 70km.
Unfortunately today I realise I have gotten my maths wrong and have too long before Nebo. Nebo is where I’m suppose to leave the BNT and head to Mackay. But it’s 130km away and I don’t have much time. In my tent, chatting with a friend, we work out a shorter way to get to Mackay. Still a long way to go with some climbing. If I get into this kind of situation I was in today, it could be trouble. I don’t want to arrive late in Mackay.