week 8...
and not a drop to drink

The Barkly Highway

Whassa? Did this man* get blown up in the last duststorm? Did he get caught in a wild willy-willy? Naw. Chances are he's just looking for a good drink of H2O, like the rest of us out here.

Good luck.

*This man is actually our new mate Jamie, the dedicated Telstra Telephone Pole Climber. He's recently broken his record, climbing 200km straight up in a year. He amused the birthday girl (oh, did we mention it was Aimee's birthday this week?) by scrambling to the top of this water bore and pretending to dangle like a dead man. I guess it's the thought that counts.
making bore bearable...
Water has become something of an obsession for us. Let's face it; it has to be. When you're faced with a 700km stretch of road with only one town and one gas station, water is no longer a right: it's now a privilege.

Worst Bores in Central Oz
If you've got to drink the bore, at least try to get good bore. This is like telling someone if they have to eat haggis, at least eat good haggis. Not enjoyable at any rate, but some are worse than others. Here are the ones to avoid at any cost:
1. Cloncurry
2. Barkly Homestead
3. Mount Isa
4. Hughenden
5. Avon Downs Bore
This week we drank a grand total of 95 litres of the good, cold stuff. Actually, only about 5 of those litres were probably cold, and only about 15 could be classified as good. Have you ever, in the intense heat of a 45 degree day, tried to guzzle a tall glass of 45 degree water? Nothing quenches quite like it. In fact, you can't swallow it. Your mouth doesn't think there's anything inside it, except for the fact that it's kinda slimy.

So slimy, in fact, that each glass needs to be concealed in some way so that we don't gag on the greasiness. Remember, it's bad enough to be drinking constantly and always be a bit thirsty, but to try to drink water that tastes like wet socks is one of the nastiest things about the outback. It's no wonder that we've come up with some solutions to fight the slime...

Rasp Vitafresh, Mang
The classic water flavouring that we all grew up with. It's light, it's cheap and it lasts. But not all taste that great with hot water (don't forget that our water varies between 30-45 degrees) and while it's easy to get a great taste putting powder into iced water, it's another matter together trying to get hot water to taste palatable.
Pineapple, Currant
No-Name Lime
Cordials: A lot of non-Aussies will be thinking that we're drinking and driving. Not true. Cordial in Australia isn't alcoholic, it's a liquid Kool-aid (aka Concentrate), usually with 25% juice added in so you don't think you're just adding liquid sugar to your water. Cordial is one of those items that you really need to spend a bit more money on to get the good stuff. There's a huge difference between Pineapple 25% Juice Cordial (by far the best cordial option) and Lime No-Name Cordial (which tastes more like "green" than "lime". You know what I mean).
Milo: Again, most of you won't be familiar with this powder, so I'll describe it as a better-tasting Ovaltine. It's got vitamins, supplements and it's great added to milk. Only recently have we discovered (through our constant lab testing here at beimers.com) that Milo will take the greasiness out of even the nastiest bore. Sure, it's not so milky, but if you add enough Milo, and your water is hot enough, and you close your eyes, it almost tastes like weak hot chocolate. Almost.

Sometimes, in those situations where flavour is simply not enough, where the water is so bad (Cloncurry) that not even Milo can get it down, it's a good idea to get yourself a filter. Lucky for us, a couple of Belgians came along and gave us theirs. I can't say it enough: we love Belgians!

Of course, to use a filter, you usually need the big Brita pitcher that goes with it. Well, not us! Armed with only the filter and what we had on the bikes, we built this little beauty...
how to build an apollo 13 style water filter

Okay guys, here's what you've got to work with: a Brita filter, a 500ml bottle, a 1.5L bottle, a small thick plastic bag, some duct tape and a sharp knife.
1. Cut a tiny hole into the bottom of the plastic bag.
2. Force the filter through the hole, stretching the plastic around the filter tightly.
3. Tape around the edges of the plastic to prevent leaking.
4. Cut the top and bottom off the 500ml bottle (the top hole shouldn't be as wide as the bottom).
5. Turn the bottle upside down, and slide the filter-with-bag through the bottle, such that the filter hangs out the end. (The little bottle is for stability when pouring the water.)
6. Cut a hole out of the bottom of the larger bottle. Now it's a funnel!
7. Slide the contraption filter-first into the funnel.
8. Voila! You've got a water filter no bigger than a regular sized bottle of water! It should sit nicely in the mouth of an empty 10L jug. Yay! Turn that bore upside down!
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

The Desert Venturers
Monday morning, we met Ulf and his wife, who gave us Mentos. Later that afternoon, an orange bus pulled up to our rest area, with two bottles of orange juice and some cold water. Ulf bought us OJ at the Barkly Homestead and sent it back with the Venturers! We love the Swedes!
Holy Frickin' Frack! Is that another bike? You mean there's someone else who's crazy enough to be doing this trip at this time of year? Alone? He's even nuttier than us! William the German Adventurer started up in Darwin, and is heading in the other direction. See you on the Nullarbor!
James & Marc
What a blast. These energetic blokes brightened up Aimee's birthday with a song and a dance, and gave us a headband that will keep us cool for thousands of hours to come (if only we could find some cold water to soak it in first). Thanks for the Barkly Highway birthday greetings!
Sakura, Akane & Ritsuko
These three Japanese ladies made our stay at Garyochan's Hostel a memorable one. Fantastic artists, fantastic chefs and fantastic hosts. As far as we're concerned, Gary's place is the best part of Tennant Creek. See you next time we're in the neighbourhood.
Garyochan's Backpackers is a little, out-of-the-way hostel in the little, out-of-the-way town of Tennant Creek. We recommend a night or two on your way through... how can you lose at $12.50pp? Stop in for a sleep and a movie (especially if you're Japanese).
Ben didn't really stay at Gary's; he was looking for someone to split the petrol on a ride to Cairns. Standing easily a foot taller than Kevin, Ben is easily the tallest person to sit on Aimee's bike. Good thing for the adjustable seat!
wally's amazin' facts!
Remember that Australian Cattle Dog? As I mentioned, they're bred from four dogs: Dalmatian, Bull Terrier, Kelpi, and... the Dingo! There's nothing more Australian than that!

This Week's Amazin' Fact: The town of Tennant Creek is one of the few "cities" up the guts of Australia, along with Alice Springs, Katherine, and I suppose Coober Pedy. But do you know how the town was established? Tennant Creek was founded when a beer wagon also carrying building supplies broke down at the site! Reason enough for me!

Now, you may complain about the price of gas, but can you guess how many litres of diesel per day it takes to power Barkly Homestead? Go on, try!

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
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Distance this week: 390kmDistance since Day 1: 3141km

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Day 51: How many more before they call me a man?
Distance Travelled: 73.1km Temperature: 45
Time on Trikes: 9.0h Water Left: 15L
Terrain: Bastard of a climb
End Location: Wunara Store
my way is the highway
Ahhhh. Nothing ahead of us but... um... nothing. I know that we talk (winge?) an awful lot about the huge expanses of nothing in the outback, but this is what makes Australia incredible and unforgettable when traversing it in slow motion.
   Most of us have grown so accustomed to having every modern convenience located within a five-kilometre radius that will satisfy our every need, 24/7. The Woolies may feed your belly, but the outback will feed your soul. Think of it as a shy schoolmate; It doesn't speak to everybody, but if you spend enough time with it, the outback will open its heart to you and all you have to do is raise your arms above your head, feel the wind against your face. Embrace the emptiness. There is nothing but patchy grass as far as the eye can see. The highway is yours. You don't really need anything else.
   It's then that you know that the outback has accepted you and it suddenly becomes less harsh, less of a hostile environment. It becomes a second home.

"I'm going over to see if that woman threw out anything good."
- Aimee.
Day 52: Public Showers
Distance Travelled: 78.4km Temperature: 45
Time on Trikes: 13.5h Water Left: 20L
Terrain: Flat, up, flat, up...
End Location: Near Barkly HS
The pleasure that we get out of having a bore water bucket shower on the side of a highway is rather ridiculous. It was just earlier today that we (Kevin, to tell you the truth) realized that since we certainly don't want to be drinking bore water, we might as well use it for something. Dumping it over ourselves seemed a good a use as any. Better than dumping it in a ditch anyway.
  Not that we're wasting water. We're no Sunset Caravan Park. We've realized that we can adequately clean our bodies (don't bother asking what our definition of 'adequate' is; we live on the side of the road) in less than five litres per person. That's less water than you use adjusting the hot water tap before even stepping in to your shower. Heck, that's less than the amount of milk we drink in a town with a grocery store.
   Besides, they say that water is absorbed through our pores. This way we won't have to taste it.
Kev: "You're the first guy I've ever met actually named Biff."
Biff: "Me mum didn't like me very much."
Jason: "Neither do any of his mates."
Day 53: Oasis
Distance Travelled: 35.8km Temperature: 44
Time on Trikes: 4.0h Water Left: 11L
Terrain: Flat, up, flat, up...
End Location: After Barkly
home sweet homestead?
Back when we were driving through America, we'd get to a place like Nevada, or the Mojave Desert, or even through some of the upstate New York interstates, and see big signs that read "Next service, 35 miles" or "Last Gas for 73 miles". An Australian would look at a sign like this and say, "So what?"
   The Barkly Highway is one of the emptiest stretches of highway in Australia, and to be honest, we've been dreading it. Oh, it's fine across Queensland, where there's a town every 120km or so, but once you leave Mount Isa, it gets a little lonely. The distance between Mount Isa and the Stuart Highway (the next place we turn right) is 640km. Within that 640 is one "town", Camooweal, located 187km West of Mount Isa, and one gas station, Barkly Homestead, located 187km East of the Stuart Highway. And today, we've just finished that 266km in between the two. Whew!
   You'd think after four days of nothing we'd be jumping for joy. Well, we were, until we saw the prices. I suppose being the only thing for two hours in any direction has its advantages. Gas was 25 cents more per litre. Coke was $4.80 a bottle. Milk expired days ago, and it was still $3.50 a litre. So, we stayed for the afternoon, and by four o'clock, we were back on the road to nowhere. Now that's cheap!

"I've actually found something cheaper here than in a regular place!"
- Aimee.
Day 54: I think I can. I think I can.
Distance Travelled: 87.4km Temperature: 45
Time on Trikes: 11.0h Water Left: 15L
Terrain: No joy
End Location: Between Roadhouses
i'm in charge
Oh boy. How is it possible that someone can log 2500 kilometres on a bike and have no idea how to steer?! It's my first day being the front of this road train and it's been a whopper of a learning curve for me. The past 53 days have been a cakewalk - Pedal: bike goes faster. Don't pedal: bike goes slower. It suits my one-track mind.
   Now I'm in the front, and when I decide to adjust my clothing, or uncap my water bottle, the bike amazingly seems to start going haywire! Ziggle zaggle it goes, all over the road, off the shoulder, in a direction that is never appropriate and usually that's towards oncoming traffic. I think in a few days I'll be an old hand at this, but until then, Kev will continue to yell, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WOMAN, STEER!!"
   And I'll tell ya, once I've got this down, then I'll have POWER. It should be told that during the entire U.S. Roadtrip, and in our entire relationship, I have never been the driver (that's another story), which means that the ultimate decision of when and where to stop has been Kev's. "Ooh Kev, there's a fruit stand!" "Sorry, going too fast. Missed turnoff." Well, not anymore, buster. From now on, we'll be stopping at every fruit stand we see. Of course, this desert wasteland of a state isn't exactly brimming with roadside fruit stands...

"It's like trying to have a debate with a guy with no sense of logic, and when you conclude he says, 'yeah, well you're an asshole.' Then you have to decide whether you can get your point across better by saying, 'you're an asshole too,' or, 'on what grounds?'"
- Kevin.
Day 55: A dip and chips.
Distance Travelled: 89.5km Temperature: 38
Time on Trikes: 14.0h Water Left: 18L
Terrain: Still climbing
End Location: Within sight of Three Ways
i'll cry if i want to
Looking for a special way to spend your 27th birthday? Want a unique experience that you'll remember for years to come? Here's our guide on how to make your special day even special-er:

1. Get up with the sun and spend an hour's hard labour getting the trikes packed up; do your stretches; and do your best to avoid the ants that cover every inch of the earth.
2. Bike in the sweltering heat for a few hours with the knowledge that you've got another 70km to go before you can rest.
3. Enjoy the wind that is blowing against you - it may be slowing you down, but at least your own body odour isn't sticking around.
4. Begin to pout and truly feel sorry for yourself. Kevin will offer the valued advice of "oh, stop wingeing, you wimp," which is sure to make you feel better.

   Now don't panic. This is simply the... uh... the birthday prologue. It's there to make you appreciate what's to come. Without this tragic preamble, you'd never be impressed with your afternoon. Your arvo just gets better and better. Really.

5. Two strangers (or perhaps just strange) will stop their ute and spontaneously bellow Happy Birthday to you. They'll be free kisses for all.
6. The man in your life will produce your favourite food from an unknown location on the trikes. This will be the tastiest food you've ever eaten in your life.
7. The sky will, for the first time in four weeks, call in the cloud cavalry and the sun will dissapear.

  All of these things will cause you to declare that this is the best birthday ever.

"Hang like a dead guy!"
- Marc.
Day 56: The prettiest little tree
Distance Travelled: 26.1km Temperature: 42
Time on Trikes: 3.5h Water Left: 11L
Terrain: A fight to the finish
End Location: Garyochan's Hostel
stuck in the middle
Detroit, Kenora, Naples, and now Tennant Creek. Another town to add to the worldwide "Don't Get Out of the Car" list. Or in our case, don't get out of the room.
   It's our first town since leaving Mount Isa a week and a half ago, and we couldn't wait to just be surrounded by "stuff". Camooweal came close, but when the borders of town are marked by a cattle grid you know you're not exactly in the hub of civilization (another clue is when the gas station diner is the only place in town to eat out). Then there was Barkly, where the gas station diner was the town.
   But Tennant Creek, though technically a town, since it had over 3000 residents, did not exactly make us throw up our hands in joy. It was a little like winning an all expenses paid trip to New York City, then staying at a hotel in the South Bronx. Ah well, since we won't be touring, we'll at least be able to get some uninterrupted work done.

"If this doesn't turn out I'm blaming the Scandanavians."
- Aimee.
Day 57: The Painted Door
Distance Travelled: None Temperature: 45
End Location: Garyochan's
culture shock
All across the Barkly Highway, we were playing the Food Game. Aimee names a food she'd like right this moment, then I respond with a food that I'd like to eat right this moment. Robin's Donuts Coffee! A Slurpee! BBQ Ribs! Alonzo's Rigatoni with Spicy Bay Scallops! It's a fun game to play when you're surrounded by dirt and dead kangaroos... ah, you couldn't possibly understand.
   When we reached Tennant Creek, the first stop was the grocery store. Aimee picked up all the ingredients for a creamy ham and onion pasta, I grabbed a couple of Vanilla Cokes and a bag of gummies... but when we got to the hostel, we realized much to our chagrin, that we just couldn't eat. Our bodies and bellies were so messed up by those empty 640km that they just wouldn't accept the amount of food our brains wanted them to. That bowl of pasta took four meals to eat!

"I don't love 'em all... I just love as many as I can."
- Gary.
tank water: In some areas, the cleanest, freshest, tastiest water rolls right off your roof. Rain water from last year's wet season. Yummy!
bore water: Well water, from deep inside the earth. One might even say, from the bowels of the earth. Tastes like it, too. Bowels, I mean.

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day 51
day 52
day 53
day 54
day 55
day 56
day 57
We've got mail...
Well originally I found your page by doing a search of tourism in Australia using google. Then a couple of weeks later I saw the article in the post ( on their web page ). Until I had read that, I was unaware that you guys were from Thunder Bay.
It is so nice to see some normal stuff instead of the jazzed up info that is available on sites that are trying to promote tourism. Like I had said we are looking forward to each update of your page. We are within a couple of years of retirement and Deb and I plan on checking out Australia at that time. Right now the plan is to stay for two or three months if we can swing it. We are especially interested in West Australia, Perth and Freemantle. ( so keep peddling lol ) You must be swamped with mail?
- Gary & Deb, Thunder Bay ON


so, whaddya get? road kill slippers??

or just a COLD drink of water?

hope the day was bonzer and you had a beaut day not pedalling 'cause kevin took control!!
- Astroboy, Canberra ACT

I thought you said you'd never eat a meat pie!

Thank you for living my dream. The trip, that is. Not the pie.

(happy birthday to you, happy birthday to yoooooooouuuuu...)

- Twinkie, the dwarf who's never tasted his American namesake, and by the sounds of it, never wants to.

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© 2002 Kevin Beimers & Aimee Lingman. I don't drink the stuff myself...