It had not been a good morning
I was sitting in the red dust...
I was just staring out at the empty countryside not even thinking about the trike that was in bits all around me
Not only had nature conspired against me with the bike riders' dreaded triple whammy - high temperatures, high hills and high winds - but it seemed that my path had also been strewn with thorns. Puncture after puncture had interrupted my progress and then a bolt on one of my brakes had shaken loose too
Eventually, I finished patching the tube and after a momentary panic when I thought I'd lost a bolt - it was in my pocket - got the wheel back on the trike. Naturally, it was the rear wheel that had punctured and I'd had to unload everything and mess with the chain and the Rohloff hub to get the wheel off and on again...
It was after mid-day and I'd done all of 30 kilometres. At this rate I would make my planned stop until well after dark. I was hungry too
Some ten or so kilometres later I rolled into a small town - more like a village really - in the middle of nowhere. A typical Oz small town; a pub - hotel - a servo - petrol (gas) station - a grain silo, two or three boarded up shops, a lawn bowling club and a dozen or so scattered houses in various states of repair
The pub looked not too bad. I chanced my luck and asked about a room
Nine dollars. Nine! The crappy motel the night before had been over sixty dollars
So here I was, out the back of this lovely old country pub, sitting under the welcome shade of a big pepper tree, the trike again in bits all around me as I tried to get it back into shape. I didn't hear the publican behind me until he said as he handed me an icy cold beer
Reckon this'll help. It's on the house
It didn't touch the sides as it went down in a long swig
The publican was leaning against the verandah post
Got everything you need? The keys are in the old ute (pick-up) in the shed, if you need anything just take it, there's a bike shop about an hour or so away
By now, I'd patched the patches, fixed the brake and the trike was as ready to roll as it would ever be, the only thing I needed just now was a feed
I was somewhat disappointed to find that as the missus (wife) was up in Sydney there was no food on at the pub and so I'd have to go up the servo and see what I could find there. Another bl***dy burger as it turned out
Back to the pub and another beer to wash down the very late lunch. There was a huge map on the wall; the few in the bar all offered suggestions about the best way to get down to Adelaide, one offered to phone relatives further down the track to arrange a decent feed and a place to sleep. After a couple more beers I excused myself and went up to my nine dollar room for a bit of a rest
Seemed like just a couple of minutes later but it couldn't have been cos it was getting dark outside when I was roused by loud knocking on the door. It was the publican
Come on, we've been invited over to old Jonesies for tea. Let's go.
In something of a daze I walked out the back and across the paddock with him and without knocking we went in the back door of a large old house
More beer followed
But best of all, so did a generous meal - lamb chops and three veg never tasted so good. I actually don't remember much of the evening apart from it not being a very long night, each one of us was supposed to be up early and on our separate ways the next morning
As usual, the next morning did come around really quickly
The pub was quiet as I packed the trike. The old ute wasn't in the shed; the publican had already gone off to pick up the missus. I walked over to Jonesies house, the back door was locked. No-one answered. I wanted to say goodbye to these wonderful people
It was as if I'd spent a night in another land...