The day between Mitchell and roma was very long! I grabbed a coffee before i headed out of town. I got into my riding rhythm and the day zoomed on by. I passed through two almost abandoned towns, one had a pub that had burnt down only 3 weeks before i arrived. The trees are almost all gone and i am truly entering into ‘growing’ land. As i made my way along in the afternoon both sides of the road had wheat growing as far as the eye could see. The gradient of the roads are no longer flat they are big rolling hills. I climb them slowly and fly down the other sides as fast as i can! I stopped at some huge grain silos at the top of a hill an had a little moment to accept my time in the outback is over. The road was busy with huge road trains towing upto three trailers, most of them are moving cattle as the region is in drought and there’s not enough water for the animals to survive. They would constantly whizz past me leaving a fine spray of sewage lingering in the air.
Every opportunity i get i will get off the highway, but as i get closer to the coast the opportunities are getting less and less. The highway headed down a large hill towards Roma, when i reached the sign at the entry into Roma town i passed some trees and the swooping began…The magpies had come out to give me a friendly welcome! They are so hard to escape, i raced through the busy industrial part of town and decided to seek refuge from the birds under the buildings awnings. As i was pushing my bike looking for somewhere to camp, a lady approached me and complemented me on the sun flowers i have strapped onto the back of my bike. We talked for a bit and exchanged numbers as she was a teacher at the local school and said she could help me to get in front of the kids. Before i left she said there was a campground at the end of town that would be suitable for me to stay at. I headed off to the end of town to check myself in. When i got there i decided a cabin was cheap enough for my budget, it was a good chance to charge up my equipment. I plugged all my gear in and then headed back to town to find somewhere to eat. When i was in Charleville with my dad we ate at this little food truck that was outside our hotel, they made Indian and Turkish kababs, the owner said he had a restaurant in Roma and that i was more than welcome to come eat there. I found it on the internet then headed in for a hot curry. It has been a long time since i have eaten curry and it was absolutely delicious, especially with the cheese and garlic naan bread.
I rode back to the cabin feeling very fulfilled and immediately fell asleep.
The next morning was the beginning of my rest day and i wanted to use the time to organise talking to the local schools. I stopped off at the towns local lifeline office where i inquired about the best way to get into the local schools, they told me to meet with the schools gideance councillors and explain that my message was going to potentially help students to overcome some big challenges that they can face growing up. It was 9 am and my first meeting wasn't until 11:30 so i went window shopping to kill a bit of time. At the west end of town (where i had been chased by the magpie the day before) there was a little shop called Loot, the owner was burning incense and it drew me in. I was looking around and we started talking about what i was up to. She offered me a cup of tea and i spent about an hour just talking about life. After this peaceful interaction i felt recharged and ready to try and explain to the schools how important it is that i have the opportunity to talk to the students.
The first meeting was at the high school and it went really well. The next one was just as great, i sat down with the principal and she said she would love to have me back the next day at 12 to talk to the students. The rest of my day was spent visiting the bush gardens and Romas biggest bottle tree. That evening i was invited to hang out with some kids who were doing a fun art class set up by lifelife so I went and hung out with them, when I got there they had spray cans and were covering a building in graffiti it was such good fun! I have always wanted to spray paint and now I have. I had another curry for dinner and again had a wonderful sleep.
The high school never called back to let me know it wasn't going to work, i felt sad that it wasn’t seen as a important to have someone exciting and motivating and potentially inspiring speak to the students, I feel I often have a good impact with young adults. When i woke up the next day i packed all my things up and slowly meandered about making a few calls organising the next few schools i wanted to visit over the coming days. When 12oclock came around i shared my story with the kids at the middle school. When i stand up in front of kids i know the words that come out of my mouth have impact and leave a mark on a lot of their minds. The teachers were so impressed they asked me to share my story with two other age groups, my hour in the school very quickly turned into three hours! When the bell rang for the end of the day was when my day on the bike began.
I rode off out of Roma and headed for Wilmbiller, it was 42km from the school to where i decided i wanted to stop for the night. I checked out my map and found there was a road that ran parallel to the highway on the south side of the rail line. Thats the rode i chose to take because it was dirt and i didn't have to worry about a road train sneeking up on me.
I'm finding that I'm living more and more in the moment rather than in my head. I’m watching the trees blow in the wind and the crows soar above, every time i catch myself enjoying whats going on around me i smile. When i smile it feels as though the worlds smiling back at me. As the sun began to set and the night sky crept up consuming everything with the peaceful darkness i have grown so fond of. Riding under the light of the moon is one of my favourite things. Even though it was only a half moon it was still bright enough for me to make out my own shadow and at the silhouette of the trees. The sides of the rode were much brighter because the grass reflects the light much better than the gravel on the road. I had my headphones in and had become lost in the world of music when suddenly out of the darkness came a shape. It bounced its way across the road in front, followed by a second shape and before i knew it a third large kangaroo landed right next to my bike colliding with my bike bag. We both freaked out, it jumped backwards as i was knocked off balance. I recovered without hitting the floor by swerving off the road into the grass, i was so close to being squashed! It would have hurt but the story would have been fantastic. I could imagine the headlines of the local paper the western star ( Reformed drug addict gets squashed by australia's largest kangaroo)…
I took 10 big deep breathes while looking up at the moon to bring myself back into the moment and continued to ride my bike in the darkness. As i approached Wilmbiller it suddenly occurred to me that there was no camp ground. I stopped on the side of the road and pulled out my maps to scan the town for somewhere to hang my Kathmandu hammock. I couldn't see anywhere that wasn't really public and started geting a little stressed about it. I spotted a cabin park with a number so i gave them a call to see if they had any cheap rooms that i could stay in. I spoke to a man called Michael who was the owner and explained what i was upto and asked firstly if he had any rooms. He said that they had one for $130 (thats pretty standed for a small town) but was way out of my price range so i asked him if he knew anywhere in town that i could camp. He was so helpful and told me there was a rest stop just as you come into town.
Because i had taken a back road i would have to go into town and then back out to get to the spot. I rode towads a bridge that crossed the creek into town. It was closed because it was deemed unsafe for vehicles, there was a small gap that had been made to be able to still walk across so i wheeled my bike around the concrete barricade and squeezed through the gap. Just about through and all of a sudden there was a loud crash behind me caused by my bike bag catching on the closed sign. Still walking forward i looked back and stepped into hole on the side of the bridge, i instantly lost my footing and fell over sidewise, a sharp pain shot up from my shin and my bike toppled over onto me. I was lucky it was only at the start of the bridge and there was a tree that stopped me from falling about 3 meters off into the creek. My eyes welled up in pain and my leg suddenly felt wet, my imagination made me think my bone was sticking out or something. I pushed the bike off me and lifted my leg back up through the hole, i flicked on my lamp and let out a huge sigh of relief! There was lots of blood but it was just a cut and would most definitely bruise. I was shaken and knew i needed to clean it properly so got back on the phone to Michael and said i would take the room.
After very carefully crossing the rest of the bridge i limped my way up the road to the Wallumbilla Cabin park. It was 8:30 when i slid open the door to the office. I put on a brave face and a smile and introduced myself. They had set up cabin 9 for me and when i went to pay Michael said don't worry about that mate your doing a good thing! My heart melted. I was so thankful, it was the perfect thing to turn my evening around. I got into the shower and washed the cut on my leg. Once the blood was gone the cut was only small and now that it was clean i was happy that it wasn't going to get infected. I grabbed my vssl first aid kit and chucked a bandage on it so i didn't get blood on the sheets. I ficked the tv on to play some music and write my post for the day… indania jones was on and i instantly forgot what it was that i was meant to be doing and just disconnected from the world and floated away with the film.
I woke up quite early because i had organised to talk at a primary school 20km down the road in Yuleba. When i left town i got onto another track much the same as the one i was on the day before but this one disappeared after about 1km due to washouts and new plant growth. This meant i was forced to head back to the main highway. It didn't take long to get into the town and talk to the kids. They are always fascinated by the eagle head i have mounted on the front of my bike and its a great way of creating a dialogue about the importance of wild animals in nature. As i headed out of the small town i spotted a sign for milkshakes and couldn't help myself, i had to stop. After my milky treat i got on the bike and rode at the railway service road through the Yuleba state forest that took me 39km almost all the way into Dulacca were the next school was. Just before i went into town i stoped and ate the banana cake that Donna from the cabin park had baked. It was so so delicious, i savoured every mothfull of the two slices i had. As i rode the final stretch of highway into Dulacca i passed a sign on the opposite said of the road saying welcome to the outback. I was out! I was out of the outback! I did a victory dance under the sign because it made me so excited! It was 2:30pm when I arrived at the school and was greeted by the students. My adventure stories were well digested by the kids and they left inspired to be curious and live their dreams! The teacher at the school told me they had camping out the back of the pink pub. After inquiring i found it was only $10 and i got a $10 meal voucher, sweet deal! I got a pizza for dinner and then retired to my hammock that i had hung between two gum trees. I watched the sun set from my sleeping bag and then drifted off to sleep.
Because i went to bed so early last night i was up about 2 hours earlier than usual and was out on the road riding towards Drillham primary school at 7:30. I was silly and didn't fill up my water but I knew i could do it when i got to the school. I stuck to the highway until i got there as the road was quiet at that time in the morning. I spoke to the kids at 10am and then rode the next 20km along a dirt track that was made to service the powerlines. It was a rough track but took me into Miles where i had planned to spend the night. I had forgotten about filling my water when i left so i was very thirsty! (i had water in one of my bags but i was to lazy to pull it out). I got there just after 12 and headed strait to the nearest water source and then onto the schools to organise to speak the following day. The first school was all like ‘ahhhhh scary man with a bird head on the bike isn't talking to our school’. Ok ok they didn't say that but once again, sorry to the children who missed out on what i had to share. I felt a bit flat when i headed off to the high school because i felt i had less of a chance with them. When i got there they knew i was coming but thought it was on Friday. In a rush to give me someone to share my story with they plonked me down with some students in the next room. The teacher who was listening was inspired and told me i wasn't aloud to leave until i talk to more students. After lunch i delivered one of my most powerful speeches i have ever made, i was in front of about thirty 16-28 year olds. I could see them really taking in what i was saying and processing it as i spoke. Afterwards Raelinda the teacher who had been looking after me for the day invited me back to her house for a hot meal, shower and somewhere to sleep for the night.
Raelindas husband had cooked up a selection of meats and she made a buch of roasted vegetables! It was such a treat to have a big feast with company. As the evening turned to night i set myself up in the spare room and then relaxed with a mug of camomile tea on a very soft lounge chair. Just before bed i showered and brushed my teeth. As i climbed into bed i felt very grateful for such a wonderfull day!