Three Wheels Around Oz

July 2002













Monday, July 29th - Katherine

I think this e-mail was sent around this date.
"Dear Ian

Great to hear from you. I am glad that you had a great time on your trip up to Cairns.

After leaving your house I made it up to Coolum Beach which was fantastic I stayed at the caravan park there that is on the beach and I spent a few days there rather than going into Noosa, which I went there for a day. I continuedup the East Coast Highway 1 all the way to Mossman where I climbed up on to the Atherton Tableland via the Rex Range, which was the toughest climb all the way up the East Coast.

The Atherton Tablelands were absolutely superb as it was my first taste of Outback Australia and it was around here that I started free camping and using rest areas. From Atherton I went via Herbeton and over the highest paved road in Qld to the highest town, Ravenshoe. From Ravenshoe I spenta few days at Innot Hot Springs just relaxing in the hot pools. A local chap Andrew Anderson took me off to Tully Falls and Koombooloomba Reservoir were we were going to go fishing but the weather closed in and it was too cold. From Innot my route took me to@ Mt Surprise, Georgetown, Normanton, Burke & Wills RH and down to Cloncurry. Just 25km from Normanton I spent a few days at Leichardt Lagoon where I did some bird watching, with a lovely couple Joe & Judy who took me under their wing before heading down the 370km to Cloncurry with only the B&W RH halfway. If I thought that the 370km with headwinds was tough that was nothing compared with what was to come. I was glad to get to Cloncurry and turn west so that the wind was not a headwind.  It was also a psychological boost for me because The Isa was in sight with the long slog along the Barkley Tablelands. 

Mt Isa is the largest town in the world covering son 42000sq km and a population of just 18000.  The town is overshaddowed by the mine which is the back drop of the town.

Leaving the Isa I had 668 km to Tennent Creek on the Sturt Highway and only one town and one roadhouse, which would not sell me any bread.  To cap this off I had a cold and carrying 20-25 liters of water.  I found that all the rest areas had bores and some of the water was beautiful.  I always carry enough water to getme through without relying on the bores.  By the time I had got to Threeways I was beginning to feel better. 

The Sturt Highway was the busiest road for traffic since leaving Cairns. It was on the Stuart Highway that I saw the most cyclist with 6 of us at Threeways alone.  A NZ couple, a Swiss couple and a Japanese. 

The Japanese are crazy.  They all seem to go hell for leather cycling nutty distances in short amount of time and not carrying much.  I met two Japanese chaps on the East Coast cycling round who had not enjoyed it at all and did not know why they were doing it.

From Threeways I headed north along the Sturt Highway with the Swiss couple, Martin & Christine for a day and thenthey left me and we kept within a day or so of each other, going through Ranner Springs, Elliott, Newcastle Waters, Dunmarra and Daly Waters.

Elliott was a very strange town because the caravan park had a barbed wire fence and the gates are locked at dusk.  It just makes you think. 
At Dunmarra I met two girls from Belgium Anne & Corinne, who were cycling down some dirt roads, the Buchanan Highway and the Gibb River Road.  They had cycled round Oz 6 years ago and now come back to do some dirt roads.

I went into Newcastle Waters which is a town in arrested decay (deserted town).  This was interesting because it was on an old stock route junction.  Most of these routes became redundant when roadtrains started taking the cattle which all happened in an 8year period in the 1950's.

At Daly Waters I took a rest day and went to the historic pub there were I met some locals.  Also at the airport there  I saw 9 planes land at the first international airport in Australia.

From Daly Waters Icycled through Larrimah and Mataranka to Katherine.

Best Regards

Conrad Evans"

Sunday, July 28th - Katherine

I received this e-mail update from Keith Evans, Conrad's father.
From Innot (which is not on my map) he took the northern route (which is now fully sealed) towards Normanton on local advice, which is shorter than that planned and quieter. This route rejoined his planned route at Cloncurry.  He bought a new tent in Mount Isa, a two man dome tent which he is able to sit up in (the previous one seemed not much bigger than his sleeping bag!).

The section from Camooweal to Tennant Creek (just south of Three Ways) is one of the most isolated, with just two roadhouses between them, a distance of over 450 km. At Three ways he had just about run out of food and had enough for breakfast before setting off to Tennant Creek for more supplies. However, very little is open Saturday and Sunday in the small towns, so he had to wait until Monday for proper supplies. Although he was able to eat at the roadhouses, some of them refuse to sell bread etc., which he did not expect. Camooweal is a small town with 2 shops, a bar, 3 service stations, a roadhouse and a motel - and that's about it.

He did have a bit of a shock when leaving Three Ways, when he forgot to shake his yellow hi-vis jacket before putting it on and something crawled/ran out - but it was only a lizard. Across to Three Ways, the temperatures were around 23/25 C during the day and 2/3 C overnight, which is quite cold (to make it seem warm, he says it was minus 6 C in Alice Springs). The scenery was still arid scrubland with few small trees. However, going north from Three Ways, the scenery has changed almost suddenly, after Newcastle Waters (about 250 km north of Elliott), to a more tropical one with a great many more trees.

He has decided not to visit Darwin, because of time pressure. To go to Darwin is a detour of over 600 km and he doesn't have time to visit all the place around there he would like to see, so doesn't think it worth the pedalling just to see the city - he says it will have to wait until next time (!!!!). While in Katherine, he is having his trike services, which needs a spoke replacing (the cycle shop will need to make one to fit) and the back axle needs adjusting. He has been advised to carry a spare chain because of the possibility of accelerated wear with the dust. It is now hotter 28/30 C and he will need to carry 25 litres of water as a minimum."

Saturday, July 27th - Katherine - 5,210km/3,256m

Another milestone- Con has pedalled over 5,000km and 3,000m!!!   Received a brief e-mail. He is staying in Katherine until Tuesday and is not going to Darwin.   According to Marg everything is going well but he found a good bikeshop in Katherine and is having his trike overhauled. This overhaul will take until Tuesday so he is resting until then.  During discussions in the bike shop he decided the extra mileage required to visit Darwin probably wasn't worth the effort so he decided to give it a miss. His aim now is to reach Broome for his birthday on August 13th.

Wednesday July 24th

Received 29 pictures from Con via Lyona Tong in Sydney.          Pictures

Monday July 15th -Threeways Roadhouse - 4,564km/2,852m

"Dear all,
It has been quite a few km since I have been able to contact you all and let you know what has been happening. I am camping at Threeways Roadhouse 25 km north of Tennent Creek which is an old Gold Mining town I have come to get supplies. The first 450 km of the Northern Territory has been memorable not for the scenery but for the fact that I have had a cold and felt lousy all the way to Threeways.  The scenery here is scrub with very few shade trees. There are trees but they are short and give little if no shade. The terrain has gone from flat treeless grassland to trees and gradual rises and falls and rivers and creeks that are dry.  I noticed one that had water in it James River near Avon Downs.

Tennent Creek is the first Northern Territory town and all the way along the Barkly Highway in the NT there is only the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse.  I have stayed in Rest Areas, they all have bore water.  I met quite a few people in rest areas and one couple I met the day before I reached Camooweal and then again just before Barkly Homestead some 320 km, 4 days down the track.  On the second meeting I had dinner with them and a great chat.  This is just one of the many people that have helped me along the way.

Thats all for now.
He has also sent a list of the birds that he has seen so far.       Birds

Thursday, July 4 - Mount Isa

Conrad called me in Florida. He purchased a new tent in Mount Isa as his old one, which he used when crossing the USA, was beginning to perish and he didn't want tit to fail in some remote place. Apparently he had a puncture last Sunday evening as he was approaching Mount Isa. Unfortunately he discovered that he had bought the wrong inner tubes as spares so he had to patch the puncture at the side of the road. He has now obtained the correct inner tubes so he will be able to replace them next time. He described Mount Isa as an industrial mining city that is the largest city in the world.... in area  ..... 40,977 sq km ( I think.) but only 18,000 people.  He had a tour of one of the mines that produced copper, silver and lead but he didn't go down a mineshaft. He has mailed another couple of rolls of film to Lyona.

He considered taking a detour off the main road via the Cape Crawford Roadhouse but as it would be about 100km further than going to the Threeways Roadhouse he has decided to stay on the main road. The countryside is mainly cattle ranches and he has seen many kangaroos but no sheep. He also saw a Death Adder. His phone cut-off a couple of times. I am not sure if it was an equipment problem or operator error.

Wednesday, July 3 - Mount Isa

Conrad decided to head out of town tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 1 - Mount Isa - 3,927km/2,454m

Conrad arrived in Mount Isa.