Day 17. …waxing lyrical…

Tuesday, 19th August 2008.

Today I decided I would walk all the way to Balranald, a distance of about 37 kilometres. It was sealed road all the way from Kyalite with few diversions along the way, so I took off early to make a mile. As they say at the Harding household, “the sooner you start, the sooner you get there”, which seems to have some sort of logic.

As I had walked into Kyaliteyesterday I had passed a roadhouse with a big sign advertising ‘clean showers’. I told Annie about the showers and she initially thought I was joking. The last time we had had hot showers was at Berni’s in Mia Mia, some 13 days ago and although we had been scrubbing up in buckets of cold river water, the lure of a hot shower was too much of a temptation for Annie. She drove off in the opposite direction to check out if the roadhouse really did have showers, letting me know I would suffer terribly if I was lying about the availability of hot water. A few minutes later the radio crackled angrily as I was informed that the roadhouse had closed down a few years ago but they had not removed the sign. Luckily Annie found a shower at the Kyalite Hotel, so she got her shower and I did not have to endure the pain she threatened to inflict upon me. (Personally I don’t know what all the fuss is about washing your hair – if your hair gets dirty just do what I do and shave it off, saves on shampoo and you never have a bad hair day. Do be warned however, if you chose to shave off your hair make sure you have a good quality beanie to wear at night in the swag otherwise you will freeze. I like a good Polartec beanie as my ‘spare hair’.)

Unlike my early start, Burke took a while to get the waggons across the Wakool River and they only marched nine miles from Kyalite before camping on the plains. I stopped on the plains nine miles from Kyalite and looked around before continuing northwards. Several cars and a couple of trucks stopped to see if I was OK, which was very considerate of them – if you are in the outback and see someone walking or a car stopped by the side of the road it is the done thing to stop and ask if they are alright, it’s just the way it is in the bush and I appreciated the concern shown, however I decided to avoid further interruptions by walking along the powerline track off to the side of the road.

Dr Hermann Beckler was obviously quite happy at this stage of the journey and wrote a glowing report of the area, a part of which I include here, copied from Jeffries translated book, because it gives a wonderful impression of the landscape;

The sight of the arid land is often pleasing to the traveller’s eye now and again he finds it charming. Whoever has learned to love nature finds her fascinating everywhere…the character of the western rivers is so tremendous, so impressive and often so enchanting that it is only with a heavy heart and after lengthy gazing that one turns one’s back on the many lovely spots, perhaps never to see them again. The delightful thing in this landscape is the graceful grouping, the roundedness and opulence of the trees and shrubs. The peace, the tranquillity that is poured over this landscape and the parklikeneatness of the whole area so satisfies our innermost souls that we revel in beholding it. Not one barren spot, no stony ground (scarcely even a solitary stone), no tree skeletons, barely even a single dead tree-trunk disturb the impression of a landscape filled with exuberant life.

After 37 kilometres – my biggest day so far – I got into Balranald (population 1,500) just before dark. I crossed the Murrumbidgee and strolled into town with a big smile on my face. I didn’t know what I had achieved or why I felt so good to be here, but I was pretty stoked to be in Balranald. A quick beer in the Shamrock Hotel and it was off to the Murrumbidgee Wier to scrub up and camp for the night.

Distance travelled today; 37.0 km.
Today Dave is at Balranald.
After seventeen days of travel, Burke was at Speewah.
Dave has had two days off so far. Burke and the expedition have had seven days off by this stage.

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