Day 14 156 days to go. Distance: today 107km total 1138km It’s 7pm Friday 20/7/2012 Bogantungan. This place is sooo cute. It’s got a few old homesteads and an even older railway station and a phone booth and thats about it. Theres a little medium strip and shelter where the rest stop is and Im sharing it with two other vanners. I met them both when we arrived. Maureen is one lady who comes from a small town 200km north of Wilpena sound in the Flinders Ranges. I talked to her for ages and she was full of information about the weather and history of her local area. She was saying about the 7 year weather cycles in Australia and how now we are in a ‘wet’ era following the years of drought. Maureen reckons that nature gives us the best predictions in weather if you know how to see the signs. When there’s rain coming birds will be busy filling their bellies with fatty seeds. Ants will move their nests into above ground mounds. Kookaburras will sing their whole song which lasts about 45 seconds. The water level of the ground will rise which you can see in underground bores and wells. This stuff was soo interesting and she had me hanging off every word. She also spoke about the history of Chinese immigrants in her area from the late 1800s. Apparently they originally wanted to go to Victoria as the weather is perfect for growing their vegies. But the government put a levy on immigrants coming into the state so they opted for the Flinders Ranges area where they worked in the copper mine to earn enough money to move to Victoria. During this time they lived along the railway as there was always good water supply for the steam engines and for growing their crops. When the copper mine closed many moved then to the gold fields and eventually to Victoria. When the Chinese immigrants moved they did so by foot and would walk hundreds of kilometers between these places. Maureen commented about how resilient the culture was. I loved our chats and she was all shy but agreed to have a photo with me to remember our meeting. The old railways station here has been restored and is a historical treasure. I took lots of pickies in the afternoon light just beautiful !!! The cattle trains come through here still on their way to Rocky where most of the beef as well as coal is shipped for export to China. Rocky is a major shipping port and it must be a site to see the big boats come in to load. I dooo love big boats. Cotton is another major produce in this area and apparently the farmers were able to harvest this seasons crop before all the rain came. The roadside is sprinkled with cotton buds that have blown from the road trains. A cattle train came through Emerald last night and I could hear all the cattle protesting. It came back from Rocky this morning when I got up with empty carriages. I hope every one of those cattle feed apreciating bellies around the world and that they come back as a cool critter enjoying much cooler things the next life round.
Before I left this morning a couple came over and told me they thought what we were doing was awesome and gave us two bananas for our travels. Ive saved them for the Drummond Range crossing which will be tricky by all accounts. We had our first break at Anakie where I met an ol’ fella I has met prior in Duaringa. He’s 71 and enjoying life on the road nowadays after working in the mines across Australia since he was 13years old. He has a few health problems now as there were no smoke chimneys to funnel the toxic gases when he was younger and his body obsorbed yucky stuff like cianide and other poisons. Nowadays there are smoke stacks up to 200 metres tall to rid the toxic wastes. No wonder the ozone is pi$$ed off. he was so lovely and topped up my water bottles using the rain water he collects off his van’s awning. He then foilters it for his drinking supply. What a clever fella. He’s going onto Jerico tomorow so I may see him again yet.
The scenery today was again beautiful and the day perfect with chrystal blue skies and a good chill in the air. We rode out of Emerald pass the old railway station which was beautifully restored and dated back to 1900. The traffic was less particulalrly after Anakie as the road trains head off to Rubyvale and the gem field country north of here. The road was undulating over the small hills and ranges and at high points we could se out to the Drummond Range which was in its glory against the blue sky. It’s so pretty after all the rain as all the ponds and rivers are full and dotted across the rolling fields. I passed a vanner who called out for me to stop. He’s been on the road for over ten years and always stops and checks on cyclists to see if theyre ok. He was an old’ hippy fella now into publishing Australian flashcards of wildlife for schools and anynone interested. He’s based in Cotton Tree on the Sunshine Coast and goes to the Woodford Folk Festival each year. It’s a small world and I told him to look out for me this year.
I set up camp when I arived and then enjoyed sunset which was stunning. It was a classic cold sunset when the sky goes all pastel blue and pink. Tomorow we enter the outback proper once we cross the range and onto Jerico. This town sounds classic and it’ll be great to share it with you tomorrow night. For now its time for dinner and an early night for a big day ahead 125kms including the Drummond Range wicked but should be beautiful. Talk soon x