MOUNT ISA   to NORMANTON

So how do you prepare for a 550 km, 5 day bike ride in Australia’s outback?  First, you break the ride into roughly equal sections, hopefully taking in a few rest areas, or at least somewhere to get water, for your overnight stops.  Next you pack your food; 5x spam, 5x tuna, 2kg rice, 2kg oats, 24x pita bread, 3x fruit cake, 3x Allen’s snakes, 5x dehydrated peas, 24x muesli bars, tomato sauce, 1kg Gatorade powder and plenty of tea!  When that’s loaded, and your bike now weighs 50-60kg, you can sit back and relax, rest assured the next 5 days will turn out nothing like what you expect.  This is cycle touring!

The ride to Normanton, promised to be the least exciting leg of our Oz trip – we were only going this way, for the sealed road to Cairns, and to avoid back tracking up the coast road.  But along this lonely stretch of highway, with only one town and a roadhouse, we met so many colourful characters, that the time and the kms just seemed to fly by.

In Cloncurry, we met an English builder who had seen our article in the Mount Isa paper.  Then Peter & Cheryl, who put us up at the Gilbert Park caravan park.  Then we accidently woke the staff at the Quamby Hotel – it was 10am, but seems it had been a big night at this “pub in the scrub”!  Then it was Lyle, travelling in his home-made camper, and Kurt returning from a holiday in Tasmania, at a roadside rest area.  Then Kevin & Vicky, the friendly managers at the Burke & Wills Roadhouse, who did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable.  Then Wendy, who invited us to stay at Waren Vale Station while filling up her 4WD.  Then at Waren Vale, it was Delia, the manager, and the work crew including, Luke, Joog, Digs and Jo. Amazingly, these folk didn’t even grumble when at 6am they had to take us, and our bikes, to the highway on quad bikes, as overnight rain had made the road impossible to cycle!  Finally, in Normanton, there was Patricia from the Gulfland Caravan Park, and literally taking the cake, Deb from the Purple Pub, who had baked Jess a surprise birthday cake!!  It’s an exhausting list; that really does show “outback” hospitality is hard to beat!!

For our rest day in Normanton, we did what everyone else does – fish.  With a new hand reel, a pack lunch and a lot of hope, we dangled our line of the Norman River bridge.  There were only two winners this day – Jess who hauled in 2 mighty cat fish; and that lucky “barra” that somehow managed to get away… he was this big – honest!!
We now head east, across the bottom of the Gulf Penninsula to Cairns – from the outback to the reef, and crossing over the Great Divide – it is sure to be a great ride.

Stay tuned and we wish a wonderful and safe Easter to you all!

Jules & Jess

The stunning Mount Isa to Cloncurry ride at sunrise

 

Graham the toilet frog in Cloncurry

 

The only thing in Quamby - is a pub!

 

Gulf Savannah is not the most exciting country

 

But this was interesting - termite mounds that look like a cemetery

 

The Burke & Wills - unfortunately not there when those chaps passed through

 

The view, when the stony country drops into the black soil plains (100km from the Gulf)

 

Luke and Joog on Waren Vale Station - getting our bikes back to the highway

 

Incredible how quickly the roads get flooded up here

 

The birthday girl, enjoying a meal (not out of a tin) !

 

Deb even baked a suprise birthday cake !!

 

Jess the winner - hauling in her catfish!

 

A replica of the largest croc ever shot... and by a lady too!

 

The barra that got away. He was this big - honest !