Wiser travellers have gone home. We’re almost in the hot part of the hot season and waiting for something called ‘the build-up’. This is the most dreaded time of year up north. It’s the transition period between dry and wet seasons. The humidity goes through the roof to 100% and with 45C/112F temperatures it’s unbearable even for the locals. When the rains start the oppression actually drops somehow and life changes to just miserable heat and cyclones. We haven’t seen a rider in weeks and people are looking at us strangely. Nearly every single person asks us if we’re OK and aren’t we hot. They like this drama and we end up in long conversations. They all have a story to tell about the heat and the places they’ve been or are going. Australians love to talk about Australian extremes. Nothing makes them happier than talking about crocodiles for example. Except sports and the upcoming Melbourne Cup, come to think of it.
But bad news. Our route along the Gulf Coast, has a new problem for us. The Hell’s Gate roadhouse is closed. This means a 449 mile ride to Normanton with no gas and possibly no water. We calculate we need 20 additional liters of gas and 20 of water and there’s no way we’re doing that, even if we found the way to carry it, on dirt. So we ask around and figure out a new way back onto the route via Camooweal, which has a dirt approach from the south back onto Savanna Way. It’s an additional 600 miles to our route. But it works out fine for a few reasons, seeing our new places and then Australia’s token hell hole (by local consensus) being two of them
Inside the roadhouse they have a big chalk board with the top ten stupidest questions asked here and the #1 is why is this called the Heartbreak Hotel? or #2 is why is this place called Cape Crawford with no sea and no Cape? so we obviously don’t ask and there are no fellow travellers to ask.
The next day more of our usual landscape. The speed limit in the Northern Territory is 130kph, dropping to 100kph in Queensland down the track. But we’ve never seen a cop on the road so ride at the maximum sustainable for the 90 minutes between stops and a bottle of water
From Barkly we headed ESE into Queensland towards Camooweal (population 185). There’s an Australian song about Camooweal but I haven’t found it on-line to link to here. As it turned out we really liked the village and stayed a few days
But when they flew as one huge group, thousands of birds, they would start screaming with a volume beyond belief.
It was wonderful.
Sometimes in groups or two or more. I’m not sure exactly what the reason is, we keep forgetting to ask, but there’s one very strong effect: at night under the stars or moon they’re scary, which is a cool effect
The night sky here is incredible as you can imagine. There’s no atmospheric pollution, no light pollution for about 1000 miles except Mount Isa a couple of hundred miles away, and the air is dry.