Smacked in the face by a persistent headwind, the landscape appears endless.
Reverberations from the coarse bitumen are felt up the handlebars, with some relief from the countless snaking repairs across the road.
Only the most hardy cattle graze this country.
This is unforgiving country.
And this is an unforgiving sprint triathlon. It's also one of the most unusual locations to find the sprint distance challenge over three disciplines.
Julia Creek sits in the heart of the Outback. About 300km from Mt Isa, it's hot and dusty.
Every April, the town of about 600 people swells into the thousands for the annual triathlon, which is part of the weekend-long Dirt N Dust Festival - and it's awesome fun.
While the distances of an 800m swim, 25km ride and 5km run don't intimidate the seasoned athletes, the conditions do. Sweltering temperatures make this among the toughest of sprint triathlon tests.
Competitors of varying experience, age and fitness face the challenge each year.
Impressive prizemoney also helps lure some big names, who gun for the $2500 open category winner's cheque.
Generous rewards also exist for the age group and teams that place in their sections. Getting on to the podium takes some ticker.
Athletes begin their day in the heart of Julia Creek, where bikes are loaded on to a cattle truck for transport to the start - 20km away at Eastern Creek. Competitors and spectators follow on buses and the usually serene tributary becomes a thriving thoroughfare.
The creek is surprisingly cold for its origins. After this year's recent rains the temperature plummeted to about 18 degrees.
Swimmers head downstream through the murky water before rounding a buoy and heading back to the bridge, which was lined with spectators at the gun.
Once back on the bank, the real challenge begins. The ride back to Julia Creek is tough, challenging and arduous.
Each year, a prevailing headwind, combined with rising temperatures, has the ability to exhaust the strongest of cycling legs.
Sighting the Julia Creek water tower is a sign that the battle is almost won, and after a quick loop through town, the next encounter begins.
Three laps of the main street complete the race. Getting the job done is a struggle against the elements.
Heat rises from the bitumen and the only relief comes from the volunteers handing out water and wet rags along the journey.
There's a brilliant atmosphere in the Julia Creek main street to help get you through. Cheering, whistling, and even the odd singing cowboy on a guitar all help make the Dirt N Dust an unforgettable experience.
And to celebrate getting the job done, you can head to the races.
But it doesn't stop there. As the sun sinks and the dust settles, the town comes alive with a bull ride and after-party.
■ The writer was a guest of Tourism Queensland.
Motels and villa accommodation is available in town, and packages are also available to stay in "Tent City" at the caravan park. Visit www.queenslandholidays.com.au.
More information at http://www.dirtndust.com.au.
It's time to fall in love with your beautiful BRAND NEW architecturally designed home! You will love the PERFECT POSITION - centrally located just a few minutes'...
*** Brand New Carpet and freshly painted there is nothing to do but move in *** Rarely does a property with such a large block of land comes on the market in...
- 3 spacious bedrooms - Luxurious ensuite - Split level contemporary living - Fully renovated with style and elegance - Breathtaking ocean views from spacious...
- Serious sellers are moving on. Entry level buying in Kuluin - Comfortable tiled living & dining areas with a modern flair feel - Stunning kitchen with vast...
Positioned in an excellent street on a level 840sqm allotment, this original Buderim home is ideal for renovation and offers its new owner the opportunity to...
Panoramic North East Ocean and Coastal views are relatively scarce in the Buderim precinct but naturally in high demand. A recently listed master built home falls...
- 1 spacious bedroom - Luxurious two-way bathroom with corner spa bath - Spacious living & dining areas - Large wrap around balcony with North/East panoramic...
There is nothing like this on the market...in a commanding absolute beachfront position, this double storey house-sized apartment, with glorious ocean views that...
Quick features: Long term liveable space on offer, recently refurbished, immaculately presented, stone benchtops, great outlook, even better location, two...
This Plantation built home was designed for stylish, comfortable living with all the needs of the busy modern family well accommodated for, including an inviting...
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.