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  • Anonymous 5 Jul 2010 at 17:26
    As of June 2010, the record time for a solo unsupported bicycle ride around Australia is 48 days, 23 hours and 37 minutes, held by Peter Heal.

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PIONEERING ON THE WHEEL. RICHARDSON'S RIDE ROUND AUSTRALIA.   AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW. No. II. ("BY PEDAL.") HALL's CREEK TO ORD RIVER. As far as Hall's Creek (Richardson continued), I had been travelling through country which was in communication with the civilized world by means of telegraphy. From there I had to plunge into the prac- tically uninhabited and isolated regions. Early in August I made a start on the long journey across country towards Port Darwin. At the first station which I struck some excellent information as to the route and the country ahead was fur nished by Mr. Buchanan; the manager, who is one of the oldest hands on the Kimberley. My provisions consisted mainly of flour, and with this I made damper for food and used it as well for bait when fishing. Of course one cannot carry a dish for mixing flour in, and the plan I adopted was to scoop a hole in the ground and line it with a gunny bag. The 180 miles to the Ord River station was through rough, mountainous country with few tracks, but I got through all right. From there to Wave Hill-200 miles further on-I had the same sort of country to travel through. TRAVELLING UNDER DIFFICULTIES. Fish continued in plenty, and there were wild figs for dessert. Cattle pads provided guiding paths, but they follow down the creeks, and a man can soon get a long way out if he is not careful. You have to be continually leaving one and crossing a divide till you strike another. All stores for the stations come from Port Darwin and up the Victoria River twice a year, so that there are no waggon tracks. The old Kimberley road has been washed out by the rain for years, and what was a good pad eight or ten years ago is-now just the same as the rest of the country--loose, stony ground, with high grass in places sometimes 6ft. or 8ft. high. Throughout I camped well away from the pads at night, and always continued for a while after dusk for fear of the blacks, who are noted in the district. Some of the gorges through which one passes when getting through the mountains are very solitary and dismal. One of them is known as Swan Creek. It is a long defile, with cliffs on either side covered with brush and scrubby timber. There are always blacks here, for the country is so wild that they can spear cattle and get away into the fastnesses of the mountains, and all the police in Western Australia could not catch them. Day followed day in this manner, and the loneliness at times oppressed me, though I had no misgivings as to my getting along all right and was never discouraged. A CATTLE MUSTERER'S EXPERIENCE. When I was out half A day from Ord River I saw a traveller on horseback coming over the range towards me. When we met it turned out to be a young lubra who belonged to a party of musterers. One of them had met with an accident, and she was then on her way to the station for assistance. A day later I struck the cattle camp, one man being there, having left his packhorses and provisions at the Sterling River with the injured man and a   black boy. Later in the day I found the poor fellow who was hurt in a terrible plight. Five days before I found him he had been thrown from his horse against a tree, and he was afraid that he had met with internal injuries. I shot some birds and made him some broth, which was the first food he had taken for days. He was in a pitiable plight and utterly helpless, a hundred miles from any human habitation. For a day and a half I doctored him, and Iuckily got some quail on a waterhole. There were plenty of natives about, but they were not hostile. How the old fellow fared afterwards I never heard, but I left him fairly comfortable in expectation of assistance coming out from Ord River. AN EXPERIENCE WITH BLACKS.   Two days later I got to Wave Hill, and was lucky in striking the homestead. When crossing what is known as Black Gin Creek I noticed a thin haze of smoke about two miles down the valley. A loud "coo-ee " resounding through the hills soon brought a mob of wild niggers up the river to within shouting distance. They kept well up on the rise with their spears shipped and gazed at the bike, but would not venture near. I managed to coax one of them to approach, which he did by degrees, and each time he stopped in hesitation. I was afraid that he would clear off. The offering of a piece of tobacco had the desired result, and I learned from him that "white fellah sit down alonga creek." As I mounted the bike and made off along the bed of the creek they set up a fearful yelling and screeching. They were not menacing in their attitude, however. A STATION BURNED BY THE BLACKS.   Twenty miles down the creek I came upon a cattle camp formed by men who were mustering from Wave Hill station, and that evening I got to the homestead. I should say that I got to the site of the homestead for it it had been burned to the

ground by the natives. The niggers put a fire-stick to the building to windward while the men were away mustering, and the place was quickly demolished. AN UNFAITHFUL GUIDE.     Probably the most trying experiences which I had during the whole journey were those met with during the trip from Wave Hill to Victoria Downs. The inter- lying country is rangy and exceedingly rough and absolutely trackless, the only guide being the trend of the Victoria River, but with the machine this course was utterly impracticable. Taking the advice of the manager at Wave Hill, Mr. T. Cahill, I visited the blacks' camp on the river and arranged with a couple of them to show me a short cut across the ranges and carry the provisions. Only one of them turned up however, and he was any thing but a beauty, He was one of the most evil-looking niggers I have seen, with a peculiar squint in his eye. I was some what distrustful of him. Our provisions were made up of flour, meat, tea, sugar, etc., which I packed in two 50lb. bags, into which I also put my camera. Strapping these bags together by the tops, the boy (all niggers are called boys) carried it across his shoulders. We started off with one hundred miles walking in front of us and no track. The nigger had stated that he knew a short track across the hills which he called "short fella," and we tried it. It was terribly heavy work tramping along a stony creek, then over a range and down along another creek. By sundown we had tramped eighteen miles. We camped on a creek in long grass, but from the moment we stopped I could see that the boy was uneasy, and he at last asked to be allowed to go back. He said that there were "too many blackfellow all about," and the indications were that his surmise was correct, for there were plenty of tracks around the waterhole. I gave the nigger to understand that an attempt to desert meant severe punishment, and after tea we commenced cutting grass to make a camp. The boy set to work at the spot where we crossed the creek-, while I went lower down. Getting a good armful I started back, and as I rounded the bend there was the boy with my tucker-bags, etc., and his own spears, running up the opposite bank. As I was about eighty yards away there was no chance of catch ing him. I fired, and the ball split against the bank just in front of his nose. With a yell of terror he dropped everything he had, and scrambled into the long grass like a dingo and disappeared. I never saw him again. It was any odds that the nigger would join the blacks camped' about, and as they are in that locality as wild and treacherous as any in Australia, I packed up my traps and cleared. For hours I travelled on through the ranges, scrambling through gorges and across creeks, up one gully and down another, getting along at the rate of about two

miles an hour. At 2 o'clock in the morning I rested at a small spring thoroughly done up. All the blacks' in Australia could not   have kept me awake, and the sun was fairly high when I awoke next morning in. a wild and desolate spot and in possession of little knowledge as to my whereabouts. ALONE IN THE WILDS. The next few days were awful in their intense loneliness and the heavy travel ling. While daylight lasted I was all right, for I followed the lay of the country and knew that I must strike the river in time. Even without actually getting bushed I had a most perplexing and un- comfortable time-of it. At times I fancied that I was making great headway, but just as I would begin to congratulate myself upon getting out of a nasty predicament I would come slap up against a blank wall in the shape of an impossible line of ranges or sheer cliffs, and off I would be forced to go up a gorge or down a creek to look for a gap to get through, lumping the machine over stones and through an expanse of thick, high grass-sometimes far higher than myself-with the continual dread of receiving a shower of spears; scrambling up the sides of ranges as steep as the wall of a house, and down the other side the same thing occurs again. Sometimes the blacks would follow along the top of the cliff for miles, occasionally showing them selves, and probably waiting for me to camp, but at sundown I would boil my billy and then push on again into the dark, and slinking through the grass like a dingo, camp away from the bike, with no fire and myriads of mosquitoes to worry me till dawn. LIVING LIKE A BLACKFELLOW. My tucker gave out, and I lived on what I could catch. Lily roots, which one obtained by groping in the shallow pools under the plants (a species of water lily), and which are about the size and shape of an onion, wild figs, and other fruits and berries, and fish formed my chief articles of diet, for kangaroos and other game were not too plentiful. REACHING VICTORIA DOWNS.   One fine, clear morning I clambered to the top of a range, and winding away through the hills beheld the Victoria River. Following its course along a very rough pad, and feeling terribly done up and ill, I reached the station a day or two later. I must have looked a pretty object with my beard halflgrown, my shoes tied together with pieces of hide, and the soles made of green hide laced on to the uppers. You can imagine how welcome under the circumstances was the hospitality extended towards me by Mr. Watson, the manager. For ten days, while I suffered terribly from a sort of low fever, he tended and nursed me, and had me fit and well for the journey to Katharine, which was an eight or ten days' stage. TRAVELLING WITH COMPANY Business called Mr. Watson to Port Darwin, and when I arrived he was get- ting his horses in and having them shod for the trip. Through wild country we travelled for over a week in company, be and a boy riding horses and driving nine spare horses, while I rode my machine where possible, and tramped when I couldn't ride. For the first time water began to get scarce, and the constant watch against sudden attacks from the blacks made us particularly wakeful. A MIDNIGHT SCARE. No one in those regions goes out muster ing or even to the creek for a bucket of water without firearms, and even our black boy carried a big revolver. It was amusing to see him each morning tracking off after the horses, revolver in one hand and bridle and stockwhip in the other, in regular "Dead wood Dick" fashion. One dark, stilly night "Dole," the black, gave us a great start. I had been tramping all day, and was terribly tired. We had camped in some high grass near the Little Gregory River gorge, where more men have been murdered by the blacks than on any other part of the track. Just about midnight bang ! bang! went a revolver close to our heads. We were on end, mighty lively, and ready for fight, but were somewhat disgsted, though relieved, to find that "Dolo" had brought his mark down, but instead of a nigger it turned out to be only a dingo. The animal had got to windward of our meat, and was desirous of obtaining some. In his peregrinations "Dolo" mistook him for a nigger crawling through the   long grass close to his head. DESERTED CATTLE STATiONS.   We passed three deserted stations, which are known as Willaroo, Delamere, and Price's Creek. Willaroo was the nearest to Victoria Downs, and carried 12,000 bead of cattle, but the blacks had most of them, only 3,000 head having come off the station. The last manager, Mr. Scott, was speared there about two years ago. Mr. Watson told me that the place was often the scene of battle between the natives and whites. The niggers were so aggres- sive as to occasionally spear horses and cattle alongside the stock yard, and on one occasion had the cook --a Celestial!- be- sieged for days while the others were away. ARRIVAL AT KATHERINE. At about 4 p.m. on September 9 we rode into Katherine Station, which is 220 miles south of Port Darwin, on the transcon tinental telegraph line. You can imagine what a feeling of satisfaction I experienced when we crossed the river and proceded to the telegraph station, after traversing the solitary and difficult belt lying between Hall's Creek and the line. It was the first time that a cycle had been through the country, but it had stood splendidly, The telegraph master, Mr. Henderson, and his

wife gave me a hearty welcome. A PEEP AT PORT DARWIN. The journey up to Port Darwin took three days, and once again I saw the ocean, into which, as Murif had done, I dipped the bike. Port Darwin, with all its novel- ties and peculiarities and the manner in which I was treated, formed a strong temptation for me to prolong my visit, but I wanted to meet the White Bros. and Mackay, and with this end in view fol- lowed the telegraph line down a distance, of 700 miles to Powell's Creek along the route which Mather, Coleman and McDonald had traversed. MEETING WHITE IN CENTRAL AUSTRALIA. The journey down was uneventful, but you can imagine what surprise I felt when I landed at Powell's Creek and found, in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Kell to welcome me, Frank White, who had arrived from Queensland in an exhausted condition a few hours prior to my arrival. (To be continued.)