Due to a lack of time and places to charge my laptop, I recorded my journal on my phone. I decided for now to post week per week instead of day by day. I will do my best to post one picture a day on Instagram though. You can find me on Instagram with this tag: @agphotofr
13/07/2016 – Best perfs day ever!
Trip dist: 120.19km
Yesterday, Janet, the lady from the library told me that I can come at 8am to finish my work. The library usually opens at 10am. I came at 8 after a breakfast at the local bakery. Hot chocolate and a full loaf stuffed with sultanas and icy sugar topping. They sliced it and buttered each slice. Just delicious!
I’ve been finishing all my work by 11am, gone to take a free shower in the public toilets and I was ready to go by 12. I decided to have a look at the $10 lunch special at the hotel to see if I was tempted. Chicken and bacon burger! Definitely tempted!! Like that I won’t have to stop on the road to make some lunch which is great because the wind is southerly today. So I have to make the most of it!
That’s what I did. My original plan was to reach 60km for the day as I started late. And I finally ended up 120km after Quilpie with a pace of 25km/h the best I’ve ever done since I started the trip. There is a road stop where I can camp. Exactly 120km from Quilpie. I stopped there and met Phil, Pat and Mick. They are making a fire and invited me to sit around. Such a great feeling to be warmed by the hot ashes of Waddi trees trunks in this freezing night! Those trees are so dense that it can break a chainsaw. Mick and Pat are stuck in here since 5 days as their caravan hitch broke down and they are waiting for the parts from Sydney. As there is no phone reception for 630km around from Quilpie, they have to drive every two or three days to check if the part arrived. And today it didn’t yet. They actually knew exactly when I left Quilpie and overtake me on the road. They were not surprised to see me arriving at dusk.
It looks like everyone knows me already. At the same time there is just one road. Hard to miss me.
I’ve been listening an audiobook all the way and it’s great to be entertained. It changes of hearing in loop all the same musics. On my way I’ve been cycling through a cattle station called “Why not” which I found it a great name. After all. In our life we have the choice to make every decision without to have to justify ourself to anyone. The best answer could be why not? When someone ask me why I’m doing that… why not… after all? It might as well become the title of my book.
14/07/2016 – flying over the outback
Trip dist: 135.36km
This morning Phil who has been a farmer for 40 years in the outback taught me a trick to transform a brown muddy water from the river into a clear water overnight. You use some Epsom salt. One teaspoon per 9 liters. In the morning all the dirt will be laying down the bottom of the bucket. You’ll just have then to boil it and it will be safe to drink.
One more time, the wind was powerful and coming from my back. I’m feeling so lucky! With a pace of 26km/h for all the ride it was my best so far until it dropped to 24.4km/h in the last 10km due to the road turning and making the wind coming from head. I’ve been through the day easily and even arrived in Windorah around 3pm. The lady was surprised to see me there today. She told me she was expecting me for tomorrow. Well it looks like now everyone knows about me even if the towns are 256km away from each other.
This afternoon while I was cycling on an emergency airstrip, yes the main and only road is as well used as emergency airstrip. A guy coming to the opposite way saw me stopped and waved at me. I stopped and he asked me if he could take a photo of me. He was sure that we gonna read about me sometime in the future. That was great. He warmly wished me good luck and kept going.
A bit further I crossed the anti dingo fence. It’s a 5450km long fence that protects most of the Queensland from the dingos. Ok now I’m into the wild. I didn’t even knew about this fence before to cross it. I hope that I won’t meet any of those wild dogs. The only I saw until now are dead tied to trees. It looks like the farmer who killed them is exhibiting them as trophy. It’s weird though.
Here there is no phone coverage. So there is still phone booth and heaps of people are using them. As well, the only place were you can get wifi is at the visitor center. Tomorrow I will head to the last town before the desert, Birdsville. It will be a 386km ride and I think it will take me something like 4 to 5 days to reach it.
15/07/2016 – a photographer photographed
Trip dist: 119.39km
This morning I took my time to take wake up, take a shower, met the caretaker for the campground, she didn’t accept me to pay for the night and told me instead i can put a few coins in the box for flying doctors. What I did. That was really nice to her to offer me the night. Then I’ve been back to the tourism office in order to download a few podcasts and audio books for the next 4 days. The internet is coming and going through satellites and it’s good but not enough for audio books that can weight up to 1Go. The one I choose were around 300Mo but still…. well I still have some audio books that I haven’t listened yet it should be allright.
When everything was done I’ve been looking to buy some food… but here the choice is really limited. This make me feel like in a communist country were there was no choice for food. I bought some bread for $6 and two cans of soup for the same amount. Everything is overpriced and there is no choice… but it’s understandable.
I left town at around 11.30am and started to cycle towards Birdsville. 386km to go. Luckily today the wind is in my back for a couple of hours. Then it came from my side which makes things a bit harder as it is a really strong wind… even though I’ve cycling at a reasonable pace.
Just at the beginning a 4wd overtake me stop on the side of the road and the driver starts to take photos of me. I smile but he’s got a big zoom I might have been too close. As my pace was good I didn’t stop. A few minutes later he overtook me again really fast and this time he stopped 500 or 600 meters away and jump out of his car to take some other photos. It’s weird to jump from being a photographer to a subject. I hope he will send me the pics!
Tonight, I’m by the road it’s windy and cold. I had a stew in can for dinner which wasn’t tasty at all then a hot chocolate like every night. Tomorrow will be a long day again. I need to catch some sleep. But before that I redone my whiteboard with a better visible sign.
16/07/2016 – gravel roads and bad wind
Trip dist: 91.75 km
Every good things has an end. The tail wind is now side wind and it isso strong that I almost felt down of the bicycle a few times. The concrete road is now gone and I’m cycling on a track. I’m lucky the wind comes on the left hand side of the road so the dust of all the trucks is going on the opposite direction. The wind even blow out my white board… It was strongly attached to the bicycle though…
A long time cycling for not much km. My pace today is maybe one of the slowest I ever done. 13.5km/h
Not much more to say for today. My mental starts to be working ok with those conditions. I just put some music on and pedal.
End of the day.
17/07/2016 – find happiness in the little things
Trip dist: 106.59 km
Waking up exhausted. It’s been raining all night. I’m running out of breakfast and lunch. Legs are really sore especially the left thigh. Like if I pulled my muscle. The red earth when wet is like mud. Sticking everywhere. I would love a day off but I can’t. I must keep going. So far from everything I haven’t seen a car since 5pm last evening. There is just nothing. I’m here alone with my bicycle. Far from everyone else. The wind is still there and I have to go back on my bike and keep going.
Ok…. I wrote this just after I woke up and since that the day have been quite amazing! Well… still boring flat landscapes but I’ve been cycling by an amazing piece of art. A snake on a hill made with the stones found around. I’ve met so many really cool people on the way. Three of them offered me to top up my water but i declined as I want to see how much I will have left at the end of those 4 days. The last one, a german dad and his son living in NZ since 5 years, offered me a cold beer. I didn’t declined 😉
The sand dunes started the wind stopped and tonight I set up the camp 80km to Birdsville on a sand dune. I made a fire, saw a funny lizard, a white owl came to see what I was doing and there is a huge amount of mosquitoes and flies! That’s crazy!! I’m now in my tent in undies and I can here them all around. Happy to be protected inside. I will sleep well.
I started the day with a bad mood and finally ended up with a smile and good feeling of achievement even if a bit itchy now…
Tomorrow… will be another day. If I start early enough I will be able to make it to Birdsville before 5pm. I badly need a shower but this is just a detail.
17/07/2016 – there is a first time for everything!
Trip dist: 89.28 km
When i woke up I could hear all the mosquitoes around the tent. I’ll have to be quick to be ready in order to not be their breakfast. Anyway I don’t have any breakfast left so this is sorting out my problem. I started cycling and got my first puncture since I started almost 4000km ago! And seriously it was a good thing because it makes me realised that I’ve got a broken spoke as well and that I lost my tripod on the way.
A lot of problems to solve suddenly. One problem at a time. First I have to fix the broken spoke. Luckily, it’s on the disc side. I don’t need tools to remove anything in order to change the spoke. I’ve had to bend it a few times though. But I finally fixed it quickly and easily. Then the flat tyre. Done quickly as well. A few people stopped while I was by the road and I got offered an orange and a banana by a lovely couple. It’s great as I just have one slice of bread, a tiny bit of cheese and some tomato sauce for the lunch. Those fruits helped me to keep going.
The last problem to solve was the tripod… I used it last night and I’ve been cycling 12km since where I slept. Hopefully it’s not too far away. Well it was 6 km away which gave me a detour of 12km… Things are always happening for a reason. A truck drove on the tripod as when I found it, it was in 3 parts but luckily I could put all of it together. This brand is amazingly robust! I’m surprised for a Chinese brand.
The rest of the day has been hard and slow. Because of the sun, 30°C, the millions of flies everywhere which makes breathing hard without getting them in your nose or mouth. The track is hard, some parts are good and some others are really hard and shaky. I’ve been amazed by the strength of the panniers hooks. Even fully loaded and with all those bumps, they went really well!!
Better fuel than food or drink is people. I met this crazy guy crossing Australia all the way to Perth on his postie bike. We stopped had a quick chat took a photo together and he had to keep going.
One amazing thing, is the smell of the blooming flowers in the desert. As it’s been raining, all the flowers creates an amazing smell all over the road! it makes a huge change with the smell of the dead kangaroos. By the way there is no more dead animals by the road anymore. Such a relief. It was like an horror movie.
I finally made it to Birdsville and came straight to the famous Hotel for two fresh beers. It’s a luxury as the beer is $9… but I needed it. Here is the hub of everyone travelling through the desert or to the desert. I’ve met so many people. It looks like the desert will be for another time. 4 days by car driving all day. By bicycle I would need 2 weeks and the main problem would be the food. I could rely on people on the way but I don’t want to be a charge for anyone. So except if I find someone keen to drop me food that I bought and water on a specific GPS point, it will be almost impossible.
Later that night, as I was eating at the Hotel, I heard a huge voice covering all the voices of the full Pub “Where is the french man cycling across Australia on his pushbike?” Everyone stopped speaking and I needed some time before recognising him. It was a guy who Interviewed me on the road a few days ago. The ex-Mayor of Bundaberg. He came to congratulate me to made it there and told me that I was a legend and that I’ve been their main conversation subject for the end of their trip! Such a great person!
I’ve then met an american girl, T, who is working there in order to save a bit of money for her next travels and 3 girls who just crossed the desert on camels for the last 4 weeks and I have to say they know the desert pretty well. They showed me where to get water, hot springs, but there is no food for more than 600km… This is my main problem.
I’ve got few days here to figure it out and see what will be my final plan and I will go tomorrow to the big red to spend a couple of days and see how it is going with the bike in the sand. It’s just 30km from Birdsville.
Week 3 total progress: 665km