A few days ago I rode the last 30km into Birdsville with my dad. It was only 1130 but I headed straight for the pub to have a celebratory beer after finishing my crossing of the desert. I was ahead of dad because he had stopped to take some photos, I leaned my bike up outside the pub and pushed the door wide open, as it swung back it made a loud bang. Everyone inside went silent for a moment, I could feel the eyes of everyone follow me as I made my way up to the bar where I asked for the coldest beer on tap. As I sat there drinking my beer I looked up at the roof, it was covered in the hats of all the people who had done the hard yards in Birdsville over (roughly) the last 100 years! I became lost in thought wondering what hat was the oldest and who it had belonged to. I snapped out of my day dream when my father sat down next to me and let out a huge sigh followed by the statement, “well that biking sure makes my ass hurt!” He asked the bloke behind the bar to pour one of what I’m drinking and we raised our scooners to my successful desert crossing. We headed off to meet up with Ben, Mark, and the Old fellas. Ben had taken all my camera gear out of the truck and was just about ready to leave back to Melbourne. I checked I had everything and we then said our final goodbyes. As Ben was leaving I gave him a bunch of drying desert flowers to pass onto his girlfriend to get him in the good books. Uncle Mark had got a cabin for us so after unpacking all the gear that needed washing I took a long shower followed by a much needed nap on the cabins couch! I didn’t do much more for the rest of the day, just slept and ate.
Rest day The next day was my rest and recovery day, dad put a huge lode of washing on while I caught up with the happenings of my online world. For the first time in my life I’m starting to feel like my writing is actually not bad. My whole life I have felt as though I couldn’t write and that anything to do with writing was going to be a big challenge in my life. I can’t spell to save myself, I don’t really know about grammar and often my brain mixes up letters but I love sharing my journey and have fallen in love with the prosess of writing. My rest day was relaxing but I had to shake the feeling that I needed to achieve something rather than just rest.
Back on the bike I woke up late today, the blinds in the room blocked out all the light so it stuffed up my natural rhythm. I had said to dad last night I wanted to leave by 9 and when I looked at my watch it was 0930am, I jumped out of bed stressed and started rushing around trying to pack all my gear as fast as I could so we would be out of the room before the checkout time at 10! Dad had tried to start packing his bike but had done it all wrong, he had just filled his bags with all the radix and not put any of his gear in! An important part of the other trailer fell off the vehicle at some point during the last week making it unusable. I had it sent back with Ben the other day but now my problem is I have lots of gear and not as much space. Everything ended up taking way longer than I had hoped but the friendly cleaners were ok with me using the wooden deck to load the bike.
At 12am dad and I rode over to then roadhouse to get supplies for the next few days. Mark had left earlier and was waiting for us with his white ute, he was chatting with some people who had met me out in the desert. When we were finally ready to leave Birdsville we climbed on the bikes and set off out of town. We headed down the road past Burke and wills tree and then turned left onto the Birdsville developmental road. It must have been graded recently because it felt so good to ride on. As we got further away from the river that runs though the town the flowers started to disappear and the lush green faded into red and yellow. The wind was blowing from the south east which was pretty much straight into our faces. After 15km Mark caught up in this truck and swapped out with dad, for the next 17km Mark an I rode. We have now entered into the little stoney desert, the landscape is vast and flat like it was on the other side of the Simpson Desert but this feels different it feels more calm and like water isn’t all too far away. After Mark was done dad got on the bike again, Mark then drove off ahead to put down a roast for dinner in his camp oven. As the afternoon drew out and the sun started to set I could tell dad was getting a really sore bum because he kept stopping and standing up.
As dad and I arrived at the river we started looking for the white truck.
It didn’t take long to spot the smoke from the fire. Mark had pulled off the track and headed downstream about 200m. As we pulled into the spot we could see he had fully set up the camp and had a cold beer for both my father and I. Dad was shattered after his first day on the bike and his sit bones were definitely bruised. As we were sitting around the fire Mark opened up his cast iron camp oven and the smell of two hour slow cooked lamb and vegetables wafted toward me. He pulled out a the large rolled lamb roast just as the last of the days light faded. He piled the food up on our plates and then drowned it in a gravy he had mixed up in the bottom of the oven. Talk about a luxurious camp dinner experience, it was absolutely delicious. We hung out around the fire for a few more hours talking about life, marveling together about the fact we a a speck of dust floating in our galaxy. I rolled out my sleeping bag under a big old knotted gum tree and watched the stars drift across the sky as I drifted of to sleep.