- Brendan Shaw
Reaching the sea, the sun and the end - Day 7 C2K
The final day of the C2K Bike Ride riding out of Normanton was great.
The track we took was through back country roads and tracks that again provided amazing landscapes. Basically, the plan was to ride straight out on the dirt road out to the Norman River (yes, if you’re wondering, the same river where Krys the Croc lived … See previous blog).
The instructions to get to the Norman River were pretty simple. Ride out on the back road, stop for a break where the broken-down VW Combi van is, then ride on the long, straight, flat, hard road through the salt pans to the river.
The first joke of the day was that when we got to the Combi van, there wasn’t much left of it. It had been a few years since the C2K Ride had come through this way and all that was left was a pathetic sight of a steering wheel, a bit of metal and a tyre half buried in the mud.
After a brief rest stop, it was a 20km haul along a well-packed, hard, graded dirt road that was fantastic to ride. The road was often dead straight for kilometres, with a power line running along side and often passing through flat salt pans which got larger and more numerous as we got closer to the river. The repressed road rider in me came out and I paired up with another guy to ride two abreast. We ended up picking up a few other riders in our slipstream who were drafting us such that we had a pack of mountain bikers grinding out the kilometres. Great fun.
We reached the Norman River where the road we were on abruptly ended in mangroves and essentially runs into the river. We stopped there but people were advised not to wander too far off on their own into the bush given there might be crocodiles around. Seriously.
Krys the Croc came to mind again.
A boat service had been organised to ferry us across the river at a point where powerlines crossed taking electricity to the town of Karumba. There were families of majestic sea eagles nesting up high in the electricity towers on either side of the river and our arrival gave them a lot to look at. All the while they were gently circling in the sky just above our heads, coming in to have a close look and watching us curiously as we disembarked the boat and headed on to our final stop: Karumba.
A final ride across more salt pans saw us arrive at the finish line at Karumba Point. We had reached the sea and the end of our ride.
Karumba Point is a great spot at the mouth of the Norman River where the river spills into the Gulf of Carpentaria. Mixed emotions here. A sense of achievement, sadness the adventure was over, while also being glad to have reached our destination.
Reflecting on the ride, I realised that while the Ride itself was long and challenging, probably the best thing I got out of it was meeting people that I would normally not have engaged with. Spending time with them at dinner, at drinks and riding during the day had all helped me to experience Australia in ways I hadn’t done before. It was a reminder that occasionally it’s good to get out and immerse yourself in people and places that aren’t in your normal comfort zone.
Less philosophical, but just as good for the soul, the ride finished that evening with drinks and pizzas in the tropical evening breeze at the Sunset Tavern in Karumba Point watching the sunset over the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria.