Day 11 - Thursday, 18th June 2009 - Pine Creek to Adelaide River

Last night at Dinner, Dave (physio) gave a demonstration of how I reacted when I saw the snake. I laughed as well as everyone else. You might look stupid, but as I said, when you see a snake, you do your best effort to keep both feet off the ground for extended periods of time, but gravity seems to have other ideas.

Last night was a good meal again, and like last years ride, some of the meals on this trip have been fantastic. We had a lot of roasts to begin with, but the meals later on have been nothing short of stellar. We had an interesting conversation, it was about the different ways that we can solve the environmental issues that are currently facing the world. There was a really good discussion, and it was all very polite with no one getting very heated. The general consensus seemed to be that we need someone with the balls to make the tough decisions in power, and right now, that doesn't seem to be the case.

We were up early for breakfast today, despite it only being a relatively short day, Phil wanted us on the road early, as Lunch was planned at Adelaide River, and there was a lot that he wanted us to see there. Breakfast was in a little Cafe next door to the pub, and it had a certain amount of memorabilia from the 50's and 60's cinema. Interestingly, we were beaten to breakfast, as there was a work crew that had their meals at 6am.

We all got away nice and early, and the wind had already picked up. This meant that we were likely to be doing the distance today in a record time. Pine Creek is just of the main highway, and before joining it we saw some really large termite mounds. When we were in Mataranka, there was a sculpture of a termite mound. It was enormous. At the time, I felt that it was a bit of an exaggeration. After seeing these ones at Pine Creek, and others throughout the day, I am suddenly less sure.

I started off in a good sized group made up of John, George, Ken, Alex and Pat, because of the tail wind, we were pushing into the high 30's, often with very little effort. It was one of those mornings when we were all enjoying being on the bike. Like every day that we have had on this trip so far, the sky was clear, and the temperature was already starting to climb. The nights and early mornings are still a little cool, but once the sun rises, the temperature quickly begins to soar.

We passed a small fire burning at the side of the road not far out of town. It wasn't burning very fast, nor was it very large. It does explain the very large amount of burnt roadside that we have been seeing of the last few days. I would be curious as to how it was lit. I didn't think that it was a controlled burn off for the simple reason that it was quite windy, and there was no evidence that it was being monitored. We passed a Road Train going the other way, and it managed to flick a stone at me. It is amazing that in all of the time that I have been cycling, I have virtually never been hit by flying stones from vehicles, yet on this ride I have been hit now about 4 times. This one hit me on the right knee, and it must have hit a nerve, because I had some numbness down my right leg for a few minutes afterwards. I yelled out in shock more than anything else, and the guys on the front weren't sure what had happened at first. I am starting to think that the trucks are picking on me.

A bit further up the road, we hit something that we really didn't expect to see out here. Traffic Lights. There was some road works occurring, and the highway was being reduced down to a single lane. They were controlled by some automatic traffic lights. We had to wait for about 5 minutes before they finally changed and we were able to get through. We waved all of the traffic through ahead of us, before going through ourselves. We didn't know how long they would be, and there was a bit of concern in the group that we wouldn't make it through the section before they changed back. Luckily, we all made it with plenty of time to spare, and there were some police waiting on the other side to pass through, so even if they had changed early, I suspect that they would have sorted the problem out.

We pressed on, and I finally had a turn on the front. I tried to keep the pace as even as possible and as close to the effort that the others had been doing, but we were finally getting a few ups and downs on the road, and that did make it harder. Ken dropped off, and as I said "Oh my God! They've killed Kenny" which got a chuckle from some of the other riders. We slowed up to get him back in, and then set off again. He dropped off again, but we pulled into a Truck Stop, Emerald Falls, to have a quick break. Phil and Susan had pulled in as well, and as we got close, I saw a small dog. I called out to be careful of him, and he then suddenly surged at me barking. He was only playing, but I still swerved to give him a wide berth.

It said that it was open 363 days of the year, but as Alex commented, we must have hit one of the two days that it was closed. Most of the other riders pulled in while we were there, and Pat and Phil both played with the dog while we were waiting. Fiona's cousin also pulled up, as he lives in Darwin. When we finally rolled out, we pretty much had a similar bunch to before, but it quickly broke up, and I found that I was riding with Pat and Alex. As before, we were setting a really solid pace, and despite the ups and downs, we were having a really good time on the bike. Our Morning Tea stop wasn't until about 55km, but we had covered something like 33km in an hour, so we expected to get there early again.

One thing we didn't count on though, was more road works. We were rolling down a hill and we had a green light on the approach, I was hoping that it would be kind to us, and I think that Alex and Pat were in the same frame of mind, but when we were about 50m short of it, it changed as it had sensed a car at the other end.

We were waiting for what felt like about 5 minutes before it finally changed back to green to let us through. The road works weren't that long, and it did make us wonder about the length of time that they allowed each way. We ended up guessing that because they will stop Road Trains at times, they will take a while to get up to speed, and so need that amount of time to ensure that they have cleared the section before allowing traffic through in the other direction. A pain in the arse to most motorists, but a blessing for cyclists.

Pat, Alex and I were still setting a good pace, we weren't trying to kill ourselves and for all of us it was a pretty comfortable pace. The scenery today was really spectacular, we were getting quiet a lot of hills around, and the road was winding it's way between them. The vegetation is also starting to get some tropical trees growing naturally, yet more evidence that we are in the tropics. The distance to Morning Tea was tumbling, and according to the profile, there was supposed to be a pretty good downhill section on the way there. There were some good downhills, but mostly the road was undulating. I suspect that it was generally downhill, which is what the profile map was showing.

We came across an interesting sight on our way to Morning Tea. It took me a while to realise what it was, but we saw a trailer from truck on the left hand side of the road, overturned, and burnt out. Then, about 50m up the road, there was another trailer, with what appeared to be a similar load, also burnt out but on the right hand side of the road.

We saw a sign advertising that our Morning Tea stop, Hayes Creek was only 5km away, and near the top of the hill Pat called out Hole, I yelled out Hole and avoided it, and Alex, on the back said "Yep, found it!". We then had a cracking downhill, and I stayed behind Pat for most of it, except near the end when I ducked out and tried to pedal past him. I didn't get far, but it did mean that I got a slightly higher maximum speed on it.

We pulled into Hayes Creek Truck stop, and Morning Tea wouldn't be served until all of the riders were in. When people came in, they were generally buzzing as it had been such a good morning on the bike. While we had had ups and downs, the wind made sure that it was generally quick riding, and that always makes it good fun. Morning Tea was served early, and it was a really nice spot. Everyone was nice and relaxed, and enjoying the morning. When we had left Pine Creek, there was a sign indicating that it was about 111km to Adelaide River. We were going to cover about 130km for the day, as we were going to take the Old Stuart Highway from just up the road, to Adelaide River. This would be the first time that we were really leaving the main Highway on this trip. There was a bit of trepidation from some of the riders who had done the Rock Ride, as we all remembered Phil's Magical Mystery Tour on the way into Port Augusta last year.

We set off from Hayes Creek, but not before I put some more air into my rear tyre. It wasn't soft, but I wanted to have it as high as I could. I was last out, but I had reached the back markers by the time we reached the turn off. Many of the riders were spread out along the road, and while it was narrower, we weren't expecting to see as much traffic, so it shouldn't have been too much of an issue if we did.

It didn't take long before I realised that I wanted to do this next section solo. The road surface wasn't the best, but the scenery was really, really pretty. The road was also very windy, and nice and undulating. I could see Pat in the distance, but he was a long way off, and I wasn't going to bust my boiler trying to catch him. I just wanted to enjoy the ride. The wind was still reasonably strong, but as we were twisting and turning so much, it wasn't always behind us. There were a lot of flood ways along the road, and some of the creeks they were crossing still had minimal flows and some standing water. There were roads leading off the main track that were going to some interesting sounding areas, and some roads that just seemed to be a driveway to a property.

There was a large body of water to our right, and it was quite large. There was no signs to indicate what it was, so it might have been a properties water storage, or a natural pond. It was still an interesting sight though. While I got close to Pat, I never really got close enough to catch him, because the road was very up and down, and the wind favoured us more at some times than others, it meant that while my time gap was probably pretty constant, the distance varied dramatically. I caught up to and passed Alan, who had left Morning Tea early, but I kept on going. We had another snack point marked at about 95km, but even when it arrived, we were still all buzzing.

Alex came in behind me, and Pat asked him what had held him up. Alex had had an encounter similar to mine yesterday, he came across a snake, and it was crossing the road. He said that he realised too late what it was, and as a result he had ridden over it. He said that it was a weird sensation trying to lift your feet out of the pedals without remembering that they are still clipped in. The riders behind him hadn't seen a snake on the road, so it must have continued on it's way.

Many of us thanked Phil for taking us this way, as despite the extra distance, it was a really beautiful route. We had seen vehicles, but not many compared to the highway. They were all travelling pretty sedately, so they were able to give us a wide berth. Rob had hitched a lift to the snack point, but was going to ride the last leg into Adelaide River. We had a relaxing 30 minute stop, and then set off again to finish the days riding. We had about 35km to go, and at the rate that we had been going, I expected to take about an hour to cover that distance. Initially when we went to move off, we waited for a vehicle that was on the road. As it turned out, he was turning off, but he didn't feel that an indicator was necessary. We all cheered him for that.

When we set off, Pat, Alex and George were up the front, and I was stuck off behind them. This didn't bother me, as I was still having a blast along this section of the road. I was probably losing time to them, but they stayed within sight, and I wasn't in the mood to really push myself. The profile map showed a lot of downhill, but there was also a lot of up hill to contend with as well. There was a good section of downhill where I caught up to some of the other riders, it was reasonably steep, and as the road wasn't the best, and I didn't know it that well, it made it a bit of a white knuckled descent.

We hit some more road works, but they were just a detour off the sealed section. It put us through some dirt that had some water on it, and I managed to avoid most of the wet patches so the bike is still pretty clean. Pat wasn't so lucky, and I caught up to him and the others shortly afterwards. We continued to ride at a steady pace, to ensure that George stayed with us. He was still taking it easy from because of his Knee which had given him grief on Day 2, this particularly affected him on the uphills, but apart from that he was still riding as strong as ever.

I had been riding with Pat on the front, but as we neared Adelaide River, I had dropped back and I was behind Alex. Pat looked back at one point, and he couldn't see me, thinking that I had stopped to take a photo. It was only when he moved across the road did he see me hiding behind Alex. We turned into Adelaide River, and crossed the river by the same name. The railway bridge, like at Katherine had depth markers up the side. They didn't go as high as Katherine's, but they still reached 13m. Just past that, Pat was ahead of us, when we realised that Phil and Sue were off to our right. There was flour on the road, but Pat had missed it. Alex, George and I were able to negotiate the corner safely, but Pat rode bush to get there. All up, a really enjoyable day on the bike.

Lunch wasn't going to be served until 1:30pm, so we had plenty of time. The four of us went into the pub, and we had a drink to finish the days ride. In hindsight it was probably a mistake, but it did taste good at the time. I limited myself to one, but Pat, Alex and George were keen to keep going. I went over to the units and put mine and John's bags in the rooms. There is only a Queen Bed in the cabins, but there is a sofa bed. As I said to John when he came in, I played a game of Paper, Scissors Rock, and somehow, I lost, so I was on the Sofa Bed for the night. I found some nice grass and stretched my legs out, and after getting cleaned up it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I had a look in the Adelaide River Hotel, and they are the home of "Charlie" who was the Water Buffalo who stared in Crocodile Dundee 1 and 2. He died in about 2000, and so he is now stuffed, but he does have an impressive set of horns on him. Phil was offering to take a bus of people out to the War Cemetery, but I decided to take a quick walk around and see what I could see by myself. I walked down to the old river crossing, which would have only been any good in the dry, and I saw a sign warning that "Crocodiles have been spotted recently in this waterway", but in typical Australian Fashion, it had been defaced so it now read "Crocodiles have been spotted having sex recently in this waterway". I couldn't see any in evidence, but I wasn't too keen to get close to the water after having seen the way that they ones at Larrimah would move. I saw some flood debris on the road bridge, and assuming that it was at about the same height of the railway bridge, then it was about 13m above the normal height of the river. That is a big flood.

I wandered over to the Adelaide River Railway Museum, which also had a lot of information about the Overland Telegraph. It was a major undertaking considering that it was completed in 1872. Even the gage of the wire was incredible. They also had examples of different railway sleepers that had been used in the area in an attempt to stop the local termites from having them for lunch. It was interesting that they could use Iron Bark. While termites would eat it, they preferred the local timber, so they were usually safe. The problem was that it is an incredibly hard and heavy wood.

I was given a bit of a talk by one of the people at the Museum, and she explained that the original rail line only went as far as Pine Creek, while there were grand plans to expand it down to South Australia, it only ended up getting as far as Birdum, which was only a bit north of Dunmarra. When the new rail line went in a few years ago, it didn't follow that much of the old line. It is here in Adelaide River, but not at Larrimah where we were a few nights ago.

This ride is very nearly over, we have one day, and a mere 114km to cover into Darwin. It has been one hell of an adventure, and a lot of great memories. Touch wood, but we have had no accidents, and very few mechanicals. It has been a very smooth operation from every angle. I have had a ball. It isn't over yet, so right now, I am off to the pub to chat with the fellow riders.

Distance 127.73 km
Average 32.62 km/hr
Time 3:54:57
Maximum 68.62 km/hr


The shadows of the early bunch
What the hell is a set of traffic lights doing out here!
What time does this place open? Does this place Open?
Map of Australia, the biggest town marked is of course, Hayes Creek.
The Termite Mounds are finally starting to get big. As in really big.
The multicoloured Peleton
Charlie, famous from Crocodile Dundee 1 and 2
Not as high as Katherine, but still pretty high.

Click Here for more Photos from Day 11.

Day 12

Day 10
The Territory Tour 2009 - Index Index
Sign the Guest Book/Contact Me
View the Guest Book