Nearing the end of my three months in Katherine, NT, I had the crazy idea of riding my bicycle on a 60km journey to Katherine Gorge and back — this is coming from the most unfit person ever. Totally inexperienced, I got a flat front tire only a little while into my journey, and without a puncture repair kit.

I decided, young and unthinking, to push on instead of turning around and going back. So I pushed and pushed my bike, up and down hills on a seemingly endless highway that led me on. Asphalt beneath my feet, surrounding me was mostly just grass, and nothing much else. But along the way I dropped into an isolated farmhouse, into a tourist helicopter pad, and an Aboriginal village that came my way. Rose was a nurse who happened to work in Katherine Hospital whose husband ran the farm and had an air compressor. Neil was a young man looking bored behind the counter by himself who fortuitously could find a small air pump amongst other random stuff in the storeroom. This Aboriginal village — I don’t know why it had an air compressor, but it definitely did, and thank God too. The Aboriginal man who helped me operate the compressor (and I can’t remember his name) didn’t smile or talk much, but it was ok. Each time with my tire filled, but not patched, I would ride for a short while until it became flat again, then pushed, and pushed my bike until I found my next help.

In retrospect I must have pushed for almost 20km in the noon sun with 2 litres of water in my backpack. At the time though I had absolutely no idea where I was, how far more I had to go, or whether I would be able to make it at all — I just pushed, and pushed, for hours. And I learned, amongst other things, perseverance. Just pushing on.

In the end I reached the Gorge, intact. It was a good feeling. When evening came later, I took the bus finally back to Katherine, and with the manager’s permission I could carry my bicycle along too.

I remember a few things from that day.

7 responses to this post

  1. Family
    // reply // #

    I wonder if I can, “Ha Ha Ha” (because this is retrospective)

  2. OD
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    This is very touching. Running in a race is hard, but walking ‘forever’ is harder.

  3. Anonymous
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    Thank you for sharing. :) I do not believe it is a coincidence that I got to read your post at this time. Gives a huge encouragement for when I push and wonder if I am out of my mind, and also my lack of push when things get difficult. I wonder how you did not feel faint with only 2 litres of water! Definitely not the most unfit person ever. Haha.

    • // reply // #

      I don’t know what situation in you’re in but I’m glad you got some encouragement out of it… Hope everything is ok. Do I know you……? I was careful with the water but I think I did fine with the 2 litres. I definitely refilled when I got to the gorge though.

  4. // reply // #

    determination! did you enjoy katherine gorge? or were you too tired by the time you reached? we used to camp around there, and go canoeing. awesome artwork :)

    • // reply // #

      i loved Katherine Gorge!! i’ve already been to Katherine Gorge with some other med students once before this botched bike ride, so this time round i just did one of those short walks and sat somewhere to read a book while enjoying the… gorgeous views (ok kill me).

      The previous time when I was there we camped there for a few nights and did a few walks, it was really good (some photos here if interested). We wanted but didn’t do the canoes though as there still were some saltwater crocs swimming about. To be honest I was half-hoping to do it and half-scared to do it — Winnie you definitely need to tell me how it was!

  5. Grace
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    Funny often the difficult part of the journey is the most memorable. Time is a good filter, it sifts out sweat and tears leaving the positives with a hint of comedy. Must have been a few memorable hours of push – great work!

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