Bike Odyssey
Sydney to Darwin 2001

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Journal for 6-Jul-2001 : Walgett
Date: 06/07/2001 (Location=Walgett, Dist=115km, Total=818km)
Well today we completed our first century. The terrain was dead flat. Every now and again we'd come across a "hill", where the road climbs all of 2m to a bridge and then descends onto the "floodway" or "causeway".

In spite of the flatness it was tough riding. This road has been recently flood damaged, and it seems like it gets flood damaged quite often. Sections of the road have a shocking surface leaving our hands numb from the constant jarring.

Also, the moderate WSW tail/cross wind forcast turned out to be a blustery WNW (co-incidentally our heading) which didn't change to a Northerly until our course changed to due North. Did I mention we've had headwinds every day?

So far Walgett has been a very uninspiring place. The kindest thing I've heard about Walgett is the water tower is it's most exciting structure. As you ride into most towns you enter through the small holding properties, then through the industrial areas on the town's outskirts, past the residential houses then into the commercial centre. In Walgett the industrial zone is obvious enough, but the residential and commercial zones didn't realy look any different. I stopped at the tourist information centre
(well, the Walgett Shire Council Offices) and axsked for local town information. Rather than having all the brochures on display, the staff there had to search through mountains of paper and folders for basic town info. It had obviously been a long time since a tourist had asked for tourist info. Even what they gave me was more to do with Lightning Ridge. The first thing our hosts for the night (and everyone else we've told we were going to Walgett) suggested we needed to lock up our bikes *very* secur
ely. Even on the approaches to town the vibes were bad. The friendly waves exchanged with passing motorists seemed to disappear as we approached town, replaced by sideways glances. In most Australian country towns it's imposible to walk down the main street without having to exchange a few hundred G'Days to whoever happens to be there. Here if you smile at someone they are more likely to look away than smile back. While I was only threatened the once (and I would only have been at risk if I were shari
ng a Sumo ring with my would-be assailant), there is a definite air of suspicion in the town. I'd heard heaps about the 'aboriginal problem' in Walgett. Maybe there is an undercurent of racial tension here that I havn't seen, but it appears to me no-one seems to like or trust anyone else much here.

We're about to go out and walk the streets to find some dinner. This may be our last entry.

David F

P.S. The loverly warm and sunny mountains (well they were loverly) we climbed over at the beginning of our trip are now blanketed in snow and ice.

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