“How’s the road?”, I asked the man outside the sign board at the turn off.
“It’s fucked”, he spat, “where you going?”
I woke up to some girls at the rest area singing their friend ‘happy birthday’ before the sun was up. They robbed me of a whole five minutes of sleep before my alarm was due! Instead of being grumpy, I decided to go for a short morning run. I didn’t want to get my clothes sweaty, so I ran a couple of kilometres up the highway and back in my undies and shoes.
I used the storage tank for a quick wash, got my gear on, and headed off. I was at the WA border in no time, where I had to repack after handing over my bottle of honey and some tamarind from over a month ago.
Welcome to Western Australia, Lincoln!
Lake Argyle seemed like a nice spot – and familiar, because a friend was there only on the weekend- so I turned off and took in the sights 34 km off the highway. Breathtaking views.
The change in landscape began at the saddle from yesterday: mountains and hills composed of harsh red rocks, dry and unforgiving, allowing little to grow than tussock grasses and trees with not too many leaves on them. I’m in the Kimberleys. Baobab grow here aplenty; such oddly shaped trees those are. The termite mounds have changed too; I can no longer use them to tell which way is north.
I slept like shit last night despite being extremely exhausted, maybe because it was too hot. I had a couple of naps at rest areas along the way to Halls Creek.
I would like to see a meteorite crater during my trip. Wolfe Creek is one of the more accessible and recognisable ones in the country, due to not now being a lake, or overcome with vegetation. For some reason, I was under the impression that the road to the crater from the main highway was only 50 km long. I learned from a local policeman at the servo that it’s more like 130 km down a heavily corrugated dirt and gravel road, 20 km down from Halls Creek.
Instant dilemma: I want to be in Broome, tomorrow, 685 km on the highway from Hall Creek. I have two hours of daylight. I can skip the crater, and carry on on the highway, 200 km away to my planned rest stop, and shorten tomorrow’s trip; OR get on the dirt road to the crater and see how far I can get, see the crater, ride back out, and make it three consecutive days of riding 700+ kms daily.
This entire trip has been about the journey, not destinations. I decided to leave the decision to impulse when I got to the turn off.
I pulled over at the turn off.
“Where you going?”
“Going to the crater, then Broome. What’s fucked about the road?”
“Dustholes? Sand? Wet patches?”
“Some dustholes on the other side, small ones though. Sand everywhere. No water”
“Alright then, two hours to sundown right? Wish me luck”
“You’ll be alright. Just take it easy”
An hour, and about 70 km in, I felt exhaustion creeping in, and decided further riding would get increasingly demanding. I pulled over and found a nice piece of high ground with a water tank on top of it. Great place to set up, and see the sun in the morning.
I went for a walk across the road to a shed. And the guy from the main road pulled over on his way past.
“Only another 30 km to go to the turn off”
“Think it’s time to call it a day. It’s starting to get dark. There’s kangaroos crossing everywhere and I can barely see the changes in colour in the dirt”, I said, feeling even more shattered now that I was off the bike.
“You chose a good spot up top… oh yeah, you’re going to Broome aye?”
“That road between Fitzroy Crossing and where you turn off to go to Broome? Watch out”
He looked into the distance through his windscreen, a dramatic pause: “Cattle… safe trip mate”
He stomped on the gas and I looked the other way as the dust kicked up.
It’s dark now. About 40 km north east of me, I see a bushfire, directly in line with the moon. It’s a gorgeous sight. I’ve given up trying to capture the image on my phone camera.
I’m looking forward to a glorious morning, and a ride to the crater and back, incident free. I’ll go back to Hall Creek for a fuel and air top up, and make the 685 km trip to Broome. 900ish km all up tomorrow. Which means shut eye now at 1930 hours.