Both Mum and I are unwell this morning. Mum has an ear and throat infection that she picked up swimming in the pool. I have still got the diarrhea that came on last night as a side effect of racing in the extreme heat. But we pack up camp and hit the road back east.
Our first stop is a rest area midway between Julia Creek and Richmond. It’s the only place to take shelter from the heat in the 145km between the towns. We’re still in the 180° sky country we’ve been in since Winton and, despite my body’s protests I’m loving the ride.
In Richmond we stop at the dinosaur cafe and shops. They are doing a roaring Sunday morning trade with travelers and locals alike. I’m grateful to be in the airconditioning with my jacket off. But I still find the energy to climb into the dinosaur’s mouth for a photo. The dinosaurs are significant here because their fossils have been found in this area.
From Richmond we continue the 105km to Hughendon. As we approach the township hills start to appear in the distance. It’s the first sign that the scenery is going to change soon.
Mum and I both need a long break in Hughendon. Our bodies are struggling to keep up with the effort of driving (for Mum) and riding (for me) so we find shade near the tourist information centre and lay down to sleep for an hour or so. After our sleep we eat a tasty lunch at the FJ Holden Cafe. The lemon-orange drink is particularly refreshing. It is fresh lemon and orange juice mixed with crushed ice; just what I need.
Shortly after leaving Hughendon we climb a jump-up and the land changes significantly. Trees grow along the roadside and the soil is red. The air feels cooler, making a welcome change to the stifling heat of the past two days.
By the time we reach Torrens Creek, just 90km east of Hughendon, both Mum and I are feeling chirpier. The pub here has a campsite out the back with shady trees in it. It looks pleasant enough for the night so we pay the barman and set up camp under a huge shady tree. We’ve only driven 350km but are glad to enjoy the afternoon snoozing, reading and playing cards. I even squeeze in a geocache hunt, which is successful and takes me through the tiny town.
It’s quiet here in Torrens Creek. The few houses are eerily silent though I saw people or cars at then today. It’s so quiet it feels like we are camped out in the wilderness, not next to the highway in a town. There are millions of stars above us in the sky and the only sounds are our voices and the insects chirping in through night air.
It’s been a good day and I feel recovered from my exertion at the triathlon and from the culture shock of being at such a big and noisy festival. It’s a little ironic that I’m a city bloke but felt suffocated by the crowds at a festival in one of the most far-flung Outback towns in Queensland. I had a fantastic time but am happy to geocache back on the road traveling.