Day 4 - Mildura-Conargo
Disaster update: I can't get rid of the smell of horrible burst milk cartons in my Ventura bag. Anybody got any tips?
After so much rotten weather in Mildura it was lovely to wake up to a bright sunny morning on Sunday. Having said that, it was also kind of bittersweet, coz it was time to break camp and head towards our various homes.
For Nev & Jo, who left home in Melbourne before the Unaugural in early May, and whose tour took them all the way to Cairns and back, it was probably a bit exciting! After a month of living out of your panniers, the thought of a hot shower in your own home is probably very enticing. I guess that's why they headed off early.
The rest of us took our time, though, and spun out the farewells as long as we could. It had been an hilarious weekend and a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and to make new ones. I had lovely cuddles while waiting for Smack to say his farewells to Marty. It was halfway through the day before I headed off towards Jerilderie, which was supposed to be my stopping point on Sunday night.
The weather went bung again, and riding across the Hay plains was actually a bit scary. The sky had that apocalyptic look to it again, and I rode into a massive downpour that had visibility down to about 20 metres. To either side of the road, all I could see was the dome-like shapes of saltbush apparently floating in a sea of rain, and the road ahead was nothing but a haze of rain spatter – no bitumen visible at all. The rain hurt as it hit my gloves, and had me wondering whether it was rain or hail.
I turned onto the Cobb Highway and headed towards Deniliquin. I'd decided that I would stay wherever I happened to be at 4pm, and hoped it would be Jerilderie. It wasn't. The landscape was ugly and hostile-looking – very much along the lines of Henry Lawson's “Up the Country” - and I rode through a couple more torrential downpours.
In a place of big sky it's really awe-inspiring (if scary!) to see storms moving around, like giant predators prowling across the sky – freaky stuff.
At 4pm I was still about 80kms from Jerilderie, so I stopped at the famous Conargo Pub and grabbed a room for the night. Oh, what a lovely lovely hot shower I had...
You know, the fabulousness of a hot shower makes 2 days of cold rain and wet clothes absolutely worth it! I had a distinct shortage of clean/dry things to wear, though, and almost everything I owned reeked of dampness, campfire smoke or sour milk. NOOOOOOO!
The Conargo pub is in the middle of sheep country, and the bar is hung with an inordinate number of portraits of award-winning merinos, pictures of flocks of sheep, cartoons about sheep judging... sheep, sheep, sheep.... They're very serious about their sheep out that way. No wonder there are so many Kiwis in Conargo *evil evil grin*.
I thought I would have a fantastic night's sleep in the very rustic but dry accommodation – with an electric blanket, a lockable door and everything- but it was a shocking night! After a delicious dinner of roast lamb and steamed vegies I was in bed by about 8pm – and spent most of the night waking up at every sound. I kept dashing out to check on my bike or go to the loo. Blood-curdling shrieks woke me a couple of times in the middle of the night... Bunyips?
It wasn't till the next day, as I rode past a sign near Narrandera ' “Koalas cross here” that I realised the nocturnal noise was probably cranky koalas having a bit of a stoush – or perhaps some pissed-off possums.
After Conargo – destination Ardlethan, and a visit with my mad mate Mick.