“What’s a surf & turf?” With that question from Annie, I took a deep breath and began to explain the finer details of this Australian delicacy that sits high on the menu of our sophisticated palate. “It’s a bit of meat with seafood stacked on top”. I am going out on a limb here but judging from Ana’s reaction, which resembled screwing up her face like a cat’s ass in a sandstorm, I don’t think this dish which seems to be so popular in the fine dining establishments in FNQ, like the Cooktown RSL, will be crossing over to the tables of the Basque Country.
Someone with a harder job than me try to convince Ana that this meal is a good thing was the owner of the caravan park we stayed at. His mission is trying to get people to turn their 3 day visits to Cooktown into weeklong stays. We had the same idea as many of the residents in town with their “for sale”signs out the front. We were pretty keen to get out of there.
With our bikes pointed South it was time to start pedalling over the same ground we had been over just a few days earlier. Once again we called into “ The Lions Den Hotel” this time it was only to fill up our water bottles instead of filling ourselves with beer. The publican still looked grumpy. I wondered if he was still looking for the 4×4 driver who took a crap in the middle of the campsite on our last visit.
One thing that isn’t crap was riding through the Daintree again. Yeah, we had to push our bikes up the same heartbreaking hills but it sits at the top of our list of fun to date. Somewhere out in that rainforest Ana magically became invisible. Well, she must have, because the 4×4’s drove straight past her and stopped at me and asked if we needed help. It must be mans business going up big hills. Ana’s theory which I support is “If you wankers can get up here. So can I !”
Due to the lack of cassowaries to date we turned our attention to the unique species of grey nomads and started admiring them from afar. Just like the cassowary it’s advised to keep your distance. If you get too close or make eye contact you are trapped by their evil sorcery and find yourself talking about the weather and how fine the facilities are in this caravan park. One nomad uninvitedly offered us this pep talk over dinner in Daintree Village “ I started in a 2 man tent, now look at me!” The Neville Bartos of the grey nomad world. Jog on mate.
After those words of encouragement that someday we will too get to tow our tv around and watch it in different locations around Australia, we started pedalling towards Port Douglas, once again with a stop at the Mossman swimming pool/ caravan park to inform the lovely lady that we are still alive. Once at 4 Mile beach we had a pretty relaxing day laying on the sand followed by the worst location we have free camped to date. I’m sure we will find better places than behind the shed of the Port Douglas rowing club to pitch our tent.
The next morning Ana became the first Spanish person in history to wake at 4:30am to start their day. She would probably be sitting down with the family to eat dinner at this time back home. We (I) wanted to do this so we (I) could beat the traffic into Cairns and watch the sunrise over the water. Maybe the 4:30 start was a bit over the top, but it matched the scenery. What a ride!
Once again we found ourselves by the lagoon in Cairns before heading to our new mate Kimm’s house, who we met first time in Cairns. He kindly offered us a bed for a couple of nights. It was the first time in a bed for us in over 30 odd nights. I never drooled so much on a pillow in my life. Ana repaid the hospitality by cooking the house dinner. My contribution was eating it.
After a plan hatched up lagoon side with our young nomad mates it was time to head up into the Atherton tablelands. Annie hitched a ride up the Gillies range with them. I had to prove that I was a man and rode up it. This cycle touring caper is a lot easier without panniers.
Lake Eachem “The people’s lake“ we named it was so good we visited it three times. One old guy on our last visit didn’t hold the same view. He got out of his car and took one look and declared “this lake has gone to shit, I wouldn’t take my dog to piss here now”. We didn’t let his lack of positivity for “ the people’s lake” diminish ours.
I could tell I was starting to get restless when in the evening I started to walk the campground and give the nomads nick names. After a week of R&R with Iluka, Nick & Nai at Yungaburra it was time to hit the road.
Some days you strike gold when you look at a map and wonder if that dotted line is rideable. Sadly for us on day 2 after Yungaburra, behind Lake Tinaroo on Mt Edith rd. The trail we where looking for turned out to be a goat track. When we saw a goat give up and turn around we knew that that track wasn’t for us. The day continued to get worse when I missed a turn on the downhill. Before we knew it we were at the Mareeba rodeo with a hundred other nomads sitting in a field waiting to die.
Next day we only had a few kms to ride back into Mareeba and stay with our first warmshowers host of the trip. Meet Konrad an interesting fellow. After spending a bit of time with him I started to picture him riding a horse with his top off back in Poland. It turned out to be a pretty good call staying at his house. He showed us some great sights the next day and gave us some inside info on secret camping spots. Thanks Konrad for being so generous with your time.
After we said our goodbyes to Konrad at the end of Davies creek road, where he said would be perfect for a tent and turns out to be the same spot our goat track would of taken us to, it was time to wait for our mates Kimm & Emily. Kimm bought his pushy with him and was going to join us for the next “few days” riding around. He is a pretty interesting man Kimm. It’s quite possible he has read every book on the planet. He is a lawyer working on Aboriginal land councils and got given the skin name “Jabbanunga”. If he cycled as much as he talked he would win the Tour de France most years. Well Lionel Hutz aka “Jabbanunga” proved his worth when a 4×4 came up to the end of the track on the first night. The lights woke us up 3:30 in the morning. It was ok though because “Jabbanunga” was stalking them in the bushes in his jocks with a stick bigger than him. It turned out to be a false alarm. It was only hikers starting the trail so they could see the sunrise.
“A few days” riding with Kimm turned into over a week of good times. We headed back around Tinaroo and camped for 2 nights. There, we were greated by a 1.5m python crawling through the Nepalese girls campsite next door. It was their first time camping, they had forgotten their tent poles and had to sleep on the ground outside. Thats a tough start!
From there it was into Yungaburra to stay at our second warmshowers hosts. We struck gold again. James and Sarah let us camp in their garden with wallaby’s jumping around. James’s tips set us up for the rest of our time on the tablelands. They led us to some stunning sights and trails. We really appreciated your hospitality guys!
Winding our way through Malanda to Wondecla. We found ourselves on the 2019 Race to the Rock route. Or as I like to call it “the race over every rock in Far North Queensland”. We did everything on that section from Wondecla to Ravenshoe. Push, pull, carry and sometimes ride.
From McKenzie falls it was a pretty short day into Ravenshoe and the end of the line for this gang of three. Kimm had to return to Cairns and stick it to the man. We celebrated with a meal at the pub and a few beers. The lady taking my order mustn’t have heard me properly. I’m pretty sure I said steak not the sole of an old boot. You win some you lose some. While I was at the bar I thought I’d try some to get some info on the next section of the track which we knew was going to be pretty rough. While I was asking the lady if she knew about the track leading south down to the Kirrama range, an old man behind me yelled out “ just fucking go for it” “ it will shake the shit out of you”! Turning around I could see he was 15 schooners in and by the way he was looking at the pineapples on my shorts I decided to turn around with my tail between my legs and inform Annie “ I guess we will just go for it then.”
Today was the end of the line for Kimm. We spent the morning at Big Millstream Falls. Then it was the afternoon bus back down the hill to Cairns for him. Thanks for the laughs mate.
It was a pretty good feeling heading of into the unknown side by side. It felt like we hadn’t been on our own for ages. It’s a nice way to spend the day pedalling along talking shit, or asking Ana what’s for dinner that night.
After 3 weeks on the tablelands it was time to make our exit. We definitely need to come back here. We haven’t begun to scratch the surface of things to do. In front of us we had roughly 150km from Ravenshoe to the Kirrama Range then down to Cardwell over the roughest and most remote area we have been over to date. We only passed 4 people out there. Including the farmer who is living out in that bush looking after his cattle in a little camp. He was a top bloke who recommended a great spot to camp at on the second day. It meant we only pedaled for 21km but we were fine with that. We clocked 1000km for the trip somewhere out there. No doubt pushing up another hill.
Our last nights camp before heading into Cardwell was another awesome spot we had all to ourselves. Well almost, the resident goanna didn’t mind sharing with us. We are thankful he left our food alone.
Waking in the morning of the final day out bush we had the big decision to make of either head to Blencoe falls for a look and possible camp or go down the Kirrama range to Cardwell. With reports the falls and campground were shut for bridge works we decided to head back to civilisation. It really is shit having to turn around for no reason on a bike. Now back in Cardwell at another nomad hotspot we can see why they take the virus so seriously here. Most of them look ready to drop at any time. There is a church group sitting across from us playing board games and praying. We really need to get back out bush!