Rest Days in Winton

Church in Winton was a blessing this morning: that unique Anglican blend of practicality-- "We'll use the second prayer on page 124..."-- and elegant but spare exposing of the centralities of the faith. A small congregation, half of us from out of town, music from CDs, the minister covering a parish with almost 600km between Winton and one of the other congregations.

I was struck again by how much the language of the Faith has shaped me; how much it means; how much it guides me. Are they simply more centred out here in the rawness of the land, or have I been stripped as I have been riding? Both, I suppose

I spent time talking with a long time resident from a cattle property; she and her husband graduated from UNE in the mid sixites, and have been here ever since! Thanks, Helen.

Winton is a fascinating place. It's prosperous; you can see this in the civic buildings and the history which is written up all through the town, but life is also clearly pretty harsh at times. Helen's average rainfall is 14 inches a year, but as she said, "You don't get that every year!" And the rain is often not general rain; there are places not far from town which missed the big rains a month ago-- no rain at all.

Yesterday was shopping day, and I now have a full "larder." There is nothing of my dried food left  to post on to some other place, so I will have to begin buying morning and evening food some time after I arrive in Brisbane. Winton has non-salt peanuts, without fruit and other rubbish, which is a big deal for a touring cyclist, so I'm carrying a couple of kilos!

Peanuts are a big deal. I'm losing weight, but eating around 5 times what I would at home. (Example: I have twice the amount of muesli I have for breakfast at home, plus a couple of large bits of fruit cake for breakfast. And then possibly two morning teas before lunch. I don't eat between meals at all, at home.)  In the mirror after another sulphur shower this morning (the artesian water stinks of hydrogen sulphide) I decided Wendy would say I am looking scrawny! Getting this amount of food into the system, and not getting an upset stomach, requires a certain blandness, consistent intake, and not too much fruit. Added to this is the fact that there is something in a lot of modern bread-- probably a bleaching/rapid breakdown agent in the flour, according to the doctor-- which makes me really ill. So roast peanuts are brilliant: tasty, more-ish, high calorie and nutritious. But of course salted peanut would be a disaster for water balance. But salted peanuts is all many places have; stores tend to serve us up a lot of unhealthy stuff.

Today I have completed a couple of maintenance tasks on the trailer: relashing the spare tyres and tying some heavy duty tent pegs to the frame where they won't damage stuff. After lunch will be time to tighten everything up, check the tyre pressures, and repack the trailer and panniers. I have a bit of extra stuff to carry, but I think the room is all OK.

Tomorrow is Longreach. This will be a 180km ride, which could be a problem given that the winds are not forecast to be very favourable. I will be up at 2.55am, hoping to leave by 3.30. I'll book a tent site in Longreach, and if the wind is too bad, will stop at Morella Creek about 112km out, which allegedly has camp table, Telstra and "tent sites." The camp tables mean I can roll out my stuff on the table or the concrete alongside, pull on a mosquito net and gloves, and have a roof over the top to stop most of the dew. It's a quick way to stop, and can be pretty cold, but it helps if the tent sites are more aspirationl than real, or if the ground is rock hard; apparently much of the country toward Longreach missed the recent big rains at Winton, so impenetrable soil is a possiblity. If i stop there, I can do Ilfracombe the next day.

Plan A, however, is Longreach (180), Barcldine (108), Blackall (108), Tambo (102), Augathella (119), Morven (92), Roma (177) - big day, Miles (142), Dalby (133) Toowoomba then Helidon (103), and then somewhere into Brisbane. What actually happens may be different!

The Old Rectory

The usual pre-pack mess... it got worse during the day!

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