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Oz is big, very, very big.

I considered stopping for the night at Oberon but it was only just after 4pm. It was only another forty kilometres to Black Springs so I decided to keep going and stay there. I’d have fewer kilometres tomorrow and get to Sydney sooner.

Unfortunately, I never even noticed Black Springs. It didn’t exist. On checking my map again I’d mistaken a square blob for a round one, a homestead for a town. Supposedly there was a real one another forty kilometres further on.

I could return to Oberon or keep going but it would be nearly dusk by the time I got there.

I decided to keep going.

My map doesn't have any contour lines.

As the sun got lower I could feel it dragging the temperature down. It didn’t help that I was also climbing steadily.

This route was listed as a scenic drive in the ‘Reader’s Digest Scenic Drives of Oz’ which was why I was here. It was probably a lot more scenic in daylight rather than at dusk.

As it got darker I got slower. Whenever the bush encroached upon the sides of the road I lowered my speed even more worried about another roo rendezvous.

Then the tar disappeared. It was lovely to be in a first world country because there were actually signs warning of the change before it suddenly ended. As part of an international conspiracy (presumably by a secret brotherhood of undertakers) this always happens on corners.

However, dirt road was fantastic as it weaved its way through the forests and over the dried up river beds. This area was in a severe drought and hadn’t had any rain for several months.

Looking at my GPS map I could see that I was getting close to the town.

It was another triumph.

It was so small it didn’t have a shop, pub, petrol station or camping site so I had to keep going.

Next was Taragala, another fifty kilometres away. It was getting much colder and would soon be dark.

I turned on my heated grips and crouched lower behind the fairing. Trying to think warm thoughts I settled into to a slower rhythm as the colour left the sky and the darkness closed in around me.

It was now only six degrees and at over a thousand metres.

Camping was going to be fun.

As I pulled into Taragala I was relieved to find a pub and several shops. There was bound to be a municipal camp ground. I stopped at the pub to warm up and ask for directions.

I huddled up against the fire and asked where the camp ground was.

‘You can camp under the trees out back if you like. I won’t charge you anything’, said Jeff the manager.

I went outside to have a look. It was getting cold fast.

I went back into the bar.

‘How much are your rooms?’.

‘$30’.

‘Oh’. That was a lot more than I wanted to pay.

‘I’ll ask the boss if we can do a deal’ said Jeff.

He returned a few minutes later.

‘$20 including breakfast’.

‘Thank you’, but it was still a lot more than nothing.

I decided to camp.

Just as I was leaving the bar one of the locals said:

‘It was minus six last night’.

My decision made I went outside to put up my tent.

I’m not one of those wimpy campers who flee in the face of their first frost.

I went back to the bar and gratefully accepted Jeff’s kind offer.



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