Thursday, August 27, 2009


I took off quite early the next day with the plan to get into the next town called Miriam Vale by lunchtime so I could visit a store and buy some groceries and perhaps some gas for my cooker.Once again it was a foggy morning but it wasn't too bad and I made great time bouyed by an impromptu cheer squad that was standing at the the top of a hill in what I thought was just about the middle of nowhere.I had been riding for about 40 minutes when upon nearing the end of a long climb I spied the figures of four people.The only thing was they looked tiny and I couldn't believe that the hill was that long as to make people at the top look so small.As I drew near the mystery was solved.Standing next to a school bus stop were four little girls dressed in their school uniforms jumping up and down and waving frantically at me.As I passed them they all stood in a line and clapped and cheered which brought a huge smile to my face.They could not have been more than nine or ten years olds and I wondered what could have motivated them to be so excited by my riding by and that is when I saw in the background,something that moved me emotionally for the rest of the morning.There was an old,old man who was obviously ones of the kids grandfathers standing at attention saluting me as I rode past the girls.I didn't understand at first but as I looked back over my shoulder it became clear.Out of the corner of my eye I could see my Australian flag fluttering behind me,he was saluting the flag on my trailer and the Australian flag jersey I was wearing.That kind of patriotism is rarely shown in this country and I wondered what kind of hell he must have gone through at some time in his life defending that flag to move him to such a dispay.It was a humbling moment.

Spurred on by a renewed sense of purpose I quickly covered the 67k into Miriam Vale by 11am and set aout trying to do some shopping which put me in a bit of a mood.The only store in town was horrendously overpriced a was lacking in many things that I needed the most important of which was gas.I realised that there was going to be not much cookig done that night and so perchased some stuff that could be eaten cold.Not every rest area allows campfires so I could not assume that I was going to be able to cook at all,not even a coffee-good lord!!

I did have a chance to check out the cool info center and they helped confirm that the rest area I was planning on staying at was only about 38k away.So after a couple of hours of hanging in that little town checking out the parks and having some lunch I too off and made the afternoons ride without incident.105k done and early to it was time to find out if campfires were allowed and unfortunately they were not.I did strick it rich when a nosy camper came to investigate my camp.He chatted for a while and after hearing my tales of caffeine adddiction he told me to give him my cup and he would get his wife to boil me some water in their van.Awesome,coffee sorted and I was a happy man once again. The rest of the afternoon and evening was very quiet and I was in bed early preparing myself for an early start to the day.

Just after sunrise the next morning,while I was finishing the packing process a huge semi-trailer pulled into the entance to the rest area with some massive machine perched on the trailer.The driver got out and scratched his head fo a while before coming over and asking for my seems that the hydraulics on his trailr were not working properly and the 50 ton portable cane crushing machine was listing to one side.He needed me to puch accelorater down with my hand so he could pressure up the hydraulics and level out the trailer.We tried several times but each time the trailer bottomed out and to make matters worse the poor bloke had a flat tyre as well.He resigned himself to the fact that he was going to have to call for help but where was he supposed to park the truck?He couldn't leave it there as it was blocking the driveway and there was no room anywhere on the side of the highway so he had to drive on and crawl along the highway until he found an truck pullout.He wasn't happy.
As for me,my day was a repeat of the day I had endured before the Calliope River stop.The roads into in Gin Gin were narrow,rough and very dangerous.I rode the 67k into Gin Gin well before lunch but they were hard miles an wih a superhot afternoon in the offing I wasn't looking forward to the rest of the day at all.Ihad a bite to eat and then took off in search of some propane/butane gas for my cooker.Do you think that in a town with about four truck stops,three hardwear stores and a supermarket I could find any gas.Nope,no luck at all.Bugger me!!

As I was wandering around town a couple of van dwellers stopped me and asked if I was staying the night here or moving on.I told the that I was supposed to be gone already but had stalled so long it didn't seem worth it to ride on.With that they invited me down the road to the rest area for a cup of tea and cake.I never turn down a food offer and after a short 1k ride I was sipping tea and eating chocolate cake.Yaaay.
Later on in the evening I was just getting a fire started when a familiar voice told me not to bother as dinner was already being cooked for me.It was old Frank from the Home Hill rest stop all the miles ago.He told me that his wife Carmilla was cooking dinner and saw me so she just threw in some more and sent him over to get me.We had a great time chatting about our travels over dinner and after moving into their trailer for coffee and a cupcake it was time for bed.Even though it was still early we were all tired and I slid into my sleeping bag a happy man with a very happy belly.The next day I knew could be a long one as I had ridden these roads the previous year and knew that they improved a lot from Gin Gin south to the Sunshine Coast.Only three more days to Noosa was my estimate as I looked at my map book and I turned off my torch praying for a tailwind.


The next morning I was woken up early by a couple of trucks which had driven into the deserted gas station for a sleep break.I figured that I might as well get up and stat the packing process but I must say my enthusiasm for the day waned when I realise just how cold the mornings ride was going to be.I did manage to get going well before 7am which was the earliest departure of my trip so far.

The first thing I noticed about the mornings ride was just how much hillier it was compared to the previous few days.The road was just as shitty as the day before and I had a real fight on my hands when I reached the run ino Mt Larcom only 26k from where I was camped.The road was like a narrow alley flanked by trees and with the sun still low in the sky what little light there was made visibility poor.I had so many close calls with trucks and was run off road three times.
I stopped at the Mt Larcom gas station for a coffee break and realised just how much my legs hurt after fighting with my bike for the first hour of the day.The lousy road and close calls had rattled me and I sat in the cafe for 90-odd minutes before I took to the highway once again.Things did not get any better and after another 25k I came upon a rest area at the Calliope River Crossing.I rolled up to a really nice looking old store in front of which looked like some sort of heritage village.I was in need of cheering up and an ice cream,a mars bar and a coffee went a long way to achieving that.
There was an old lady working the kiosk and she told me that the Calliope River Historical Village was a labour of love for an historical society in nearby Gladstone and that she was one of the many volunteers who manned the kiosk and looked after the little village.I thought the place was great and after chatting with a few people who drifted in and out of the place I decided to stay for the night.It had been a rough moring and I would have to be happy with only 50k in the books for the day.

I asked where the rest area was and was directed to a beautiful park-like area at the bottom of the hill behind the store.The large Calliope River split the rest area in two and I picked a spot to camp on the northern side,closest to the village and kiosk.What a great place it was and as I lay out my tarps to dry and set up my tent I made the decision to take a complete day off and stay at this great little place for a second day.It would give me a chance to spend a few hours checking out the village and hopefully recharge my enthusiasm after such a shitty morning.The ladies at the kiosk cheered me up no end when I went back up to ask if I could plug my laptop into their power supply.They were all very interested in my trip and loved checking out my blog (why is it that strangers like my blog but my friends really don't seem too fussed about it at all?) and asked me all kinds of questions about life on the road.It was a pretty funny afternoon but as the sun started to set I realised that I'd better go wood collecting for a campfire that night as my gas supply had expired that morning.

With a healthy supply of wood collected and a roaring fire started I set about checking out the maps of the Asian leg of this long trip.I figured that if I could get excited about riding through South East Asia then maybe my enthusiasm for this part would return.I must admit, I think it did the trick and I got stuck into my maps and guide books with renewed energy.

The next day I woke up early as usual and stoked the fire to make breakfast and watch the sun break though the mist floating through the campsite.I sat there overlooking the river and watchd the day come alive,the other campers took quite a bit longer to stir so I was already on my way up the hill to the store before anyone emerged from their camper vans.I was looking forward to visiting the historial village and I must say it didn't disappoint.There were all kinds of different buildings which had been trasplanted from various communities in the district.They were the sort of buildings that you don't really see much anymore and some had quite a significant history in the local community.I loved the place and spent a good two hours walking around and reading all the little info cards posted round each building explaining the significance of each room or what was stored there.Another hour or two of chatting with some new volunteers and a new wave of travellers made for a great morning all around.
The rest of the day was spent doing some organising of my gear and more research into the Indonesian and Malaysian legs of my trip.I was really looking forward the different challenges that Asia was going to present and realised the main part of my funk was the fact that Queensland is just so large and is taking so long to ride through without any real changes in landscape,weather or culture.It got me to thinking about what it would be like once I crossed into New South Wales where I know things are a little different.I also thought that I might actually head inland after my Noosa break and see some of the country that I have never seen before.The coastal tourist path is a well worn one and did I really need to go over it again?I wasn't so sure.All that was in the future though and for the moment I was just happy to be in one place clean,dry and away from the bloody highway.


After my breakfast with Paul and Judy I hopped on the old bike and headed down a misty highway thankfull that I had made the stop at Waverley Creek.It had been a treat and set my mind in the right place for the second half of the "death stretch",the 170k south to Rockhampton.Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and I only lasted 10k before the fog closed in again and it became much too dangerous to ride.I know that the trucks appreciated the fact that I had pulled over as many of them gave thier horns a little honk and waved at me as they thundered by.

I was on the side of the road for about 40 minutes and managed to squeeze in a little nap as well as snapping a few shots of stuff looking weird in the mist.It really in pretty funny to think that I now think nothing of lying in the dirt on the side of the road with my helmet as a pillow and catching a few comfy moments of peacefull sleep.I guess we can adapt to just about anything when we are challenged enough,I just think there is not enough personal challenging going on in our modern world.That is a sad state of affairs as I just know how much people could achieve if they just let go of some of our modern notions and just tried to experience life outside the comfort zone.

Once the fog lifted and I was on the road the temperature started to climb for yet another day.Yes,I had a tailwind but the heat,combined with the dry landscape that I was riding through made for a tough old day.The first little milestone for the day was to make it the the Marlborough turnoff some 60k away by lunchtime. I did it without too much trouble but I did regret not starting the day with more water on board.By the time I reached the little truckstop a couple of kilometers past the turnoff I was out of water and feeling a little dehydrated.Thankfully the non-potable water at this place tasted better than all the other "not for human consumption" fluids I had been drinking for the last ten days or so.I figured that they just put those signs up to encourage people to buy bottled water.I also figure that we are all going a bit soft and that there is nothing wrong with drinking bore water.Mind you,if you saw what the inside of my water-bottles looked like you would give no respect for anything I have to say on the topic of safe food preparation practices. After a lunch of my special muesli mix and a curry pie from the truck stop I refilled all my bottles with the dodgy bore water and set off again into the Queensland heat.

That afternoon was a tough one and the combination of increasing heat and decreasing road surface to ride on stopped me in my tracks at about 4pm.I was just sick of fighting for my tiny little bit of highway.The shoulder was almost non existant and in my increasingly fatigued state I really found it hard to keep my bike on the road.As I crested another of the many hills I climbed that day I was lucky enough to spy a nice clear area off to the right,down a little railway access road.It wan't perfect but I didn't care,I just did my little tarp roll over some more long grass and set up camp.I had ridden 109k that day and just down the road I could see the 60k marker for Rockhampton.That would be my target for lunch the next day but dinner that night was the priority and it wasn't long before my little stove was heating up a big pot of pasta for me to inhale before settling back for a nice cup of coffee and a most beautiful sunset.

In spite of the non-stop train traffic I had a peacefull nights sleep and woke to a chilly,foggy and very damp morning.I packed up camp and headed off down the road as soon as I figured it was clear enough for the trucks to see me.It was the first day that I needed to wear my full fingered gloves and I wondered if that would become the norm as I slowly rode my way south and out of the tropics.

The ride into Rockhampton was a pretty easy one and as expected the road surface improved the closer I got to Queenslands cattle capital.I rolled through town as fast as the horrendous traffic would let me and I was thankfull that there was a nice city bypass for me to follow as it made leaving town a whole lot easier.I did have a couple of close calls with a convoy of semi-trailers crossing a bridge or two and also had to deal with a few local idiots who thought cutting me off would be a fun thing to do.I've survived worse though and just brushed it all off as stuff that you have to put up with,anyway it was time for lunch and my belly didn't care what was happening to rest of my body,it wanted attention.I pulled into a big roadhouse and sat down to a sandwich and a couple of coffees much to the disgust of an elderly couple sitting not to far away.I guess I did stink a bit.

It was a long lunch as I figure I would make my planned stop at Raglan about 50k away quite easily.I figured that there was no rush and I even managed to fire off a few smart comments on Facebook and check out the state of the triathlon world on Slowtwitch.I knew though that I should not delay too long and after a quick chat and a small donation to the surf lifesavers selling raffle tickets outside the truckstop I was on my way again very,very happy to be south of Rocky.For me it was another small milestone and for the first time on my trip in knew that in a couple of days I would be halfway to Sydney.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty easy and I even had the time to have a coffee break late in the day with ony an hour or so of riding required to make Raglan that hight.The tiny little town appeared quicker that I expected and even more unexpectedly I found an abandoned gas station with lots of vacant land surrounding it.Perfect for a nights camp.I checked the place out and set my tent up behind a big shed which sheltered me from both the wind and the highway noise.It was not a pretty place I must say,in fact it was a little creepy but I was tired and it would have to do.The was another 117k in the bank and I went to bed actually feeling like I had started to make some progress on this little adventure.The next day would turn those thoughts around and slap me in the face.A little dose of reality rose with the sun the next day,a day I could have done without.

Early morning in Cardwell,Nth Queensland