Cobar

Day seven promised a challenge due to the 160km distance into the incessant east and south easterly winds. I left with 10.6 litres of water, hoping not to have to overnight on that store. There are RTA tanks along the way, but the worst thing for a cyclist is an upset gut, so I would only touch that stuff with great reluctance.

To manage the day, I determined to take a photo for each of the 5km posts to make a “Road  to Cobar” montage. The RTA stops are too far apart to make an organizational framework for  the head. So every 5km was stop, photo, drink and continue.

This has been the entertainment day ofthe trip.  I met two shearers and a lad who were stopped on the side of the road. Pride of place on their old 4WD Kingswood ute went to a dog box where a 12 or 14 week old pup was snugged up. Next came a deep freeze, to which was lashed a washing machine.  There were then sundry swags and other gear to round out the load. I was generously given a handful of icy poles from the freezer!  “We just plug it in when we get to the next place.”

The lad sat their shaking his head at me and repeating, “You rode from Adelaide!” On about the fifth repeat I burst out laughing and said he was allowed to say I was crazy.  He looked at me seriously. “You are crazy. When I get my driver’s license, I’m getting a car, and driving to work.” They were headed to Wilcannia for the next shearing appointment.

The dad was interesting. At the lad's outburst, he looked at me and said, "Ah, he thinks differently from us."

I remarked there were so many goats in the area it was like some guys had given up on the sheep and just ran goats.  I was told that is the case.  I have no idea how you manage these animals. A mob of ten at a time can run through a five wire sheep fence without slowing down and barely making a sound.  I reflected it would be a brave man who put a cyclone fence between a goat and where it was going. I later found just that; five panel cyclone about 3 inches off the ground with a barb making a sixth wire on top. I spotted no goats in there, either.

The country between Emmdale and Cobar is surprisingly heavily wooded in places. The goats are currently feeding on the green pick in the shade near the road, and would look at me oddly for a few seconds before heading for the hills. Road Trains are passé, but push bikes are an unknown to avoided.

The Road to Cobar


At dusk, shortly before my first puncture of  the trip, a mob were eating right on the verge, with some standing around on the bitumen. A kid spotted me and gave a bleat and jumped off the road. As everyone else looked up the Billy,  who had a mean set of horns, put his head down and began to line me up. I had a three or four seconds to wonder how I would explain to Alex Rodgers that I didn’t turn around,  I got beaten up by a Billy Goat,  before a sudden change in the attitude of said goat.  I don’t know how much we read into animals, but I would swear that in goatish he said something like, “Hang on, that’s not the Billy Goat from down the road! I don’t know what that is!” His whole demeanour changed and the troop of them raced off through the fence into the bush.

I also met two kangaroos, later, in the dark. These popped out into the headlights right in front of me, waiting to be run down- or to slice me up!  The one advantage of a slow pushbike is that you have time to yell at dopey ‘roos, and we missed each other by a good five feet.

A few kilometres after the shearers, I came into Meadow Glenn truck stop where a Polish trucker in his sixties was cooking tea.  He watched me refilling the bike bidons out of my panniers, and we discussed the state of the world and the trucking industry as we ate our respective meals, and I also consumed the icy poles. This place gets heavy traffic. The birds came and sat under the tables waiting for food.  RTA has signs up asking people not to waste the tank water on the birds!

He told me his son bought a racing bike, but put it in the shed because the seat was too hard.  I got the impression that I will be used as an object lesson for the son.

For the most part the surface between Emmdale and Cobar is very good.  The winds were still more or less head on, but when they did drop for half an hour or so, I nearly cooked with the son on my back.

My flat tire occurred just on dusk, on the up of a hill, without a road post in sight. When the back tire of a touring rig goes flat you have to take everything off the bike, because it is too heavy to change the wheel with the panniers on. I had them all sitting on the verge with the daylight NiteFlux flasher facing back and a headlight flashing into the traffic. Fixing a tire is easy. Reloading a bike with nothing to lean it against is a pain!

The last hour and a half of Day Seven was done in the dark, which is a real treat on a country road. Traffic more of less stops, and there is a chorus of insect life chirping all around. I passed little birds like obese sparrows, with owlish heads, sitting on the bitumen, and they would fly off silently as I went past.

The Cross Roads Motel in Cobar is cheap, clean and welcoming.

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