After packing up this morning I say goodbye to a lovely couple who invited me for dinner.
I spend the first three kilometres climbing up to get out of the dam area. It’s a good road going up and I decide to walk it in order to preserve my energy. In the back of my mind I’m looking forward to being in the next town tonight, Collinsville, but it’s 120 kms away and I’m not sure it’s reasonable.
After I reach the top of the range, I’m at 700 meters above sea level. High enough to get a tiny bit of mobile network. For the next 10 km it’s undulating on a 4wd track until it goes steeply downhill. I progress slowly, cautious and aware of the weight I’m carrying. It does not behave exactly like a light mountain bike. The view is splendid though.
At the bottom of the range it’s pretty much flat and the track merges with the road to Collinsville. It’s a good gravel road and I’m riding fast, by my standards, over 15kms per hour.
At one point though, I realise that I’m deviating from the BNT according to the GPS. I double check, I must have missed a turn. I try to get back on the trail but it doesn’t really make sense as this road is better. I ask for directions at a homestead after taking the wrong way, and they put me back on track.
As far as I understand the trail is travelling east of the river and I’m on the west. The reason for that is probably because there are a lot more creeks on the east side which allows horse riders to get water for their horse, and to camp. For me, that is not necessary. The main road is easy and still has nice scenery so I stick to it.
I need to travel over 15 kms per hour if I want to make it to Collinsville before it’s dark. By midday I still have 70km to cover. It’s very intense.
The national trail merges with a gravel road further north and then goes another way again. I try to spot the turnoff but the BNT marker on the tree is giving me a different direction to the GPS. I get to what could be the river crossing, but decide it’s too deep, so it can’t be it.
Once I’m back on the road, I take another turn off and check the GPS again. If I follow this road, I will get to a main road with bitumen, which will then head north to town. It’s a longer way but the tar will surely help me finish the day without too much trouble. I keep pedalling to the road, get to the sealed one, and then slowly finish my day, arriving at Collinsville at 5pm.
Not bad, 120km down, considering I spent most of the morning leaving the range.
On the way, I ride along the coal mines. All the trains, equipment, and machinery are impressive. So much coal that will get burnt. Collinsville is a mining town, no question about that.
Once I arrive I check out the showgrounds, it’s mostly RVs there and the showers are at the pub next door. It’s not very convenient for me, so I go check out the Caravan park. The manager is not there at the moment but I’m told that I should camp anyway and chat with him later if I see him. Good for me, it looks quite, comfortable and friendly. Lot of grassy green space for me. Top spot.