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113 kilometres of rain-Expedition Dust day 19

I woke up to the most magnificent sunrise, as I opens my eyes my whole word had turned golden the tent was glowing! I sat up and unzipped the door to the real world to watch the sun begin its climb into the sky.

I made my breakfast and turned on my satellite phone to check for any messages, that’s when I heard the first drop hit my tent. As I opened the door on the other side of my tent blackness consumed everything! I rushed out to grab my rain jacket and make sure all the important stuff was in dry bags and the electrics were in the pelican cases. I returned to find in my rush I hadn’t closed my water bag properly and it had started leaking on my roll mat! It was going to be a very wet day.

My body is not happy with me. I have started taking anti-inflammatory meds for my knees as they are so sore and tender. The rest that’s coming is going to do a world of good!

When I got started the weather looked like it was going to hold itself together, I could see the rain falling about 40km West of me where I had been the day before. For the first time the wind had almost stopped blowing, I heaved my leg over the bike and stood up on the pedals. I took a deep breath before softly lowering my tender bum onto the seat. It was cold and my legs were tired as I rode the first 17km to the Koonmarra station.

When I was 19 and walking around New Zealand’s coast I had to put a dog down that was killing sheep and then turned on me(It was a very sad time). Ever since then I have had a subtle fear that I will be attacked again. I think it’s my biggest concern when calling into stations, it isn’t the owners, it’s their dogs. I’m not really that worried for my own safety, as I am confident I can protect myself but the whole situation is just one I don’t really want to re-live. As I road over the cattle stop at the top of the drive the dogs heard and came barreling across the property towards me barking. The big blue healer was old and fragile but the little Chihuahua cross something was very protective of the man at the shed that I was approaching. He Yelled out “Fee Fee get off it!” I think the name suited the skittish pup perfectly. This is when I met Venice, a French Australian gold prospector who was keeping an eye on the homestead for the owner. I told him what I was doing and he invited me in for a cup of coffee. As we drunk our coffee we looked at maps and talked about gold he’s been prospecting in some old abandoned mine sights at the back of the station.

I heard a rumbling outside, Venice said it was just the wind,moments later I heard the rain start to hit the tin roof above me, the rain had finally come. I finished my coffee and as I was leaving Venice gave me a couple of oranges from his tree back in Perth and a small blue tarpaulin or my trailer to stop the rain from getting in. I was so thankful for both things because nothing beats fresh fruit out here and my gear is going to weigh a lot less if it’s not wet!

As I left I waved goodbye to my new friend. I was going to use an old track though the station but Instead I followed Venices advice and took the Mt hale route out to the Carnarvon Meekatharra Road even though it was an extra 12km out of my way. He told me to go that way because the way I was going to go hadn’t been maintained for years and would probably be flooded in lots of places with all the rain.

As I rode along the gravel, a black and brown wild dog pranced across the path in front of me, it looked so beautiful with the misty low clouds and rain around it. I spotted it running along beside me about 100m into the bush. When I reached the road everything was very damp and as I turned right onto the bitumen towards Meekatharra the wind hit me and I got very cold.

The wildlife out here is Phenomenal I watched 7 Emu walk through the mud when I stopped to put on a thermal. The bitumen was short lived and 500m later I was slipping and sliding on a sticky red mud road, I thought this dirt was bad when it was dry oh my gosh it is so much worse when wet. My legs were covered, my gear was covered, everything had mud on it!

I spotted a big brown sign saying Stock route, there was quite a big tree next to it, I stopped to eat my first orange under it and try get out of the rain. As I devoured my orange like an animal I read the smaller writing on the sign. Apparently I was following the wheel ruts of Kingsford Smith who used the route in the 1920s for the Mail Run in this part of the outback.

The ground along the sides of the road were under about 2 inches of water. At this point I opened the weather feature on my Inreach to get a forecast on what was to come. It wasn’t looking good, it said it was going to rain for the next 2 days! I didn’t really like the idea of trying to put my tent up in the slushy mud, so at about 1600 hours after covering 60km I made the decision to ride into the night all the way to Meekatharra. I sent Ngaio a message on the satellite phone to help organize some accommodation so when I arrived in Meekatharra I could just rock up to a motel and checked in.

Sore and tried, I kept spining as the light began to fade. I was a little excited to see what the night would bring in terms of wildlife, but 20km later in the dark with the headwind back all that was on my mind was pain! My knees, my neck, my back and my ankles. Everything hurt so bad but I pushed on and on slowly getting closer to a hot shower and a soft bed. When I hit the 90km mark I dumped my extra 20L of water so I had less weight to carry. I was digging deeper than I have in a long time to muster the energy to push! I went through a flooded part of the road and as I came over the crest I spotted the town lights and knew I was close. I was trying to tell myself it didn’t hurt but I was hurting! The town lights didnt look like they were getting any closer until I was pretty much right underneath them.

A victory party of bats had shown up as I peddled through a Gumtree archway, 9.6 hours moving and 113km from this mornings start point. I HAD MADE IT!

The lady that let me in the gate to the motel told me that people jump the fence to steal stuff sometimes and I shouldn’t leave anything of value outside, so I hope they forgive me for wheeling my filthy bike into the room!

I was so hungry as my last proper meal was over 14 hours ago at breakfast time, the kitchen was closed but the woman who sorted out my key gave me a packed lunch that they normally give to the tradies and truckers before they leave in the morning.

I demolished it so fast and then got straight in the shower, I turned it on and the head snapped off landing on the floor, I didn’t even care, I was cold and there was hot water coming out a pipe on the wall. After I got out I put my clean thermals on and snuggled into a real bed.

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