MY world walk Blog Australia 72 - Oasis at Avon Dale Station
Oasis at Avon Downs Station.
Eventually, at mid-morning I got back onto the road and out of Camooweal. That morning I rose early but as I had many interesting conversations with other travellers I took my time.
Before I left the campsite I decided to prepare my lunch for the road and took a pack of noodles out of a five-pack and boiled up water in the camp kitchen. I normally transport the noodles in my thermos mug and just add a can of sardines. That makes for a handy roadside meal. When I returned to my tent a cheeky crow had ripped through the other four packs of noodles which I had carelessly left on the grass!
Just as I was leaving a friendly police officer arrived. Not to interrogate the crow and his crownies but to see if I needed any help on the road and offered to drop some water for me along my route. From there it was 260 kilometres to Barkly roadhouse which I want to cover in a week.
When I was in the School of the Air in Mount Isa the previous week a woman called Tina kindly offered to host me for the night at her Avon Downs 'station' as the Aussies call their huge ranches. She kindly brought one of my five food supply boxes on from Mount Isa for me and arranged the delivery of the second one with her friend called Amanda for the Barkly supply box. This is how I will keep myself stocked up with food for the next few weeks in this remote area which has no reasonably priced shops.
As Avon Dale was only 70 kilometres and I planned to make it the following day I thanked the police officer for his kind offer as I figured I would be okay for drinks. An hour up the road I met Trevor and his wife Elizabeth. I mentioned last week that he and his wife are from New Zealand and are cruising around this area for a month.
They were in great form. Both aged around 76 Trevor said he misses his dog which is back home in Dunedin and talks to it more than he does to his wife! He said they were partially deaf and he sometimes pretends he doesn't hear her. She remarked that he hears everything that I said and accused him of selective hearing!
Before they left they gave me a half-dozen Pepsis and some fruit. Then I crossed into a new state, the Northern Territory! What new adventures await me?
On, I walked and stopped to talk to so many people that day that progress was so slow. I didn't care as I enjoy talking to everyone I meet. I hand out my cancer awareness my world walk cards to everyone I talk to. These days I seem to be handing out more cards than a Las Vegas blackjack dealer. Additionally, I tape them to wheelie bins in rest areas and at the state line to the welcome signpost.
Because I wanted to reach Avon Downs Station the next day at a socialble hour I decided that I would walk the bulk of the distance that day and effectively have a half day the following day. Because of my late start to the day I walked until 11 pm and camped at the side of the road. It had been a Heavenly evening, no flies as thankfully they desert me at sundown.
That was a 47 kilometre day and the following day, Monday I covered the remaining 23 kilometres in under five hours. On the way I was surprised when a road train, a tripple pulled up onto the shoulder to see if I was okay and needed any water. This act of kindness I appreciated so much as its so difficult for them to stop. Without exception all through Australia they have been so courteous and always give me room. I always check behind and if things are tight I step off the road as there is always plenty of shoulder in the bush!
Like an air traffic controller I am aware of the location and am calculating the speeds of every vehicle around me. I use my senses and listen for their downshift gear. As best as I can I make eye contact and watch the trajectory of every single vehicle as my survival is at stake. I haven't survived 72,000 km on some of the most dangerous roads around the world by luck. There is no place on the road for careless pedestrians and besides it is not fair to the drivers. Australian road train drivers are to my mind amongst the best truck drivers in the world. If they weren't they would soon be caught out.
We always wave a sign of acknoledgement to each other.
The driver that stopped is called Ken and he had seen me a few weeks ago just outside of Emerald. It seemed that curiosity had gotten the better of him!
The wind was at my back and blew me along the prairie-like highway. My Irish and Australian flags even acted like a sail. I made good progress and enjoyed that walk immensely.
When I arrived at the Avon Dale Station and picked up my supply box (see pictures for typical contents) from Tina she gave me an interesting tour of the station. Well, only a little tour as the station consists of about a million acres. Please see the photo of the map. It is perhaps about 140 km by 120! This one is considered a small one. Aparently, Amanda who dropped off my second supply box at the Barkly roadhouse manages a much larger station, the second largest in Australia. One woman who worked on another station mentioned that she had to deliver a part for a piece of machinery and it was 350 kilometres each way. A total journey which is longer than from Mizen Head to Malin Head, Irelands two most extreme locations.
After the tour I was introduced to Glen and his wife April. He is the local police officer at the two-man police station post which is just down the road. He offered to look after me for the next week on the road and as April will be driving to Darwin on Friday she will also drop some water off at locations I suggested. As always these locations will have a plastic bag tied to a signpost. I always ask for bottles to be put in the shade nut please don't make a game of hide and seek out of it as has happened in the past. What a country!
Back at the Avon Dale Station I chatted to some of the workers at the station bar! Yes this place turned out to be an unexpected oasis. Bar hours were only from 6-7pm and drinks are sold at cost price. It's more of a service to the workers, and not a business and is probably Australias cheapest bar! After that it was dinner. A delicious sausage curry in the staff canteen. Before I left I missed breakfast with the workers. Well, they get up at 4.30 am. That was easy for me to miss, as I turned over in my warm, soft comfortable bed!
Sorry for any typos, it's two in the morning... Yawn!