After all the nasty things I had said about the grey nomads towing their tvs around Australia and how fond they are of sitting in fields of boredom waiting to die, it was always going to come back and bite me.
Someone must have gave word to these grey haired “adventurers” that we were traveling through, or one of their children helped them log into their iPad, because they had forgotten there password again, and showed them our blog. Because once we returned to the Beachcomber van park from Hinchinbrook island we were greeted by the N.Q.C.C. For those of you that aren’t in the know, that’s the North Queensland Caravan Club. It was Friday night and for them that meant tropical night, and they were out for revenge.
Instead of having a nice evening celebrating our engagement we were swamped by what felt like hundreds of people with plastic hips and pacemakers.
Have a look at them surrounding our tent like a pack of hyenas having happy hour & fish&chips. When our tent started to become the centre piece of their circle I told them I can fit a couple inside. “Tilt” laughed ( I nicknamed him this because he walked with a severe lean to one side) and said “ at least I won’t have far to walk to bed if I have too many cans”. You are a riot Tilt!! I wondered if the fellas call him “Full Tilt” when he gets to that stage.
Now it was the lady’s turn to get a bit lippy. For story’s sake let’s call her Mavis, chipped in with “ you’re welcome to join us , we could do with some fresh meat!” Well didn’t that get her squad cackling and waving their bingo wings around with delight. As I turned away and spewed in my own mouth the mood turned even more festive when a hawaian shirt rose out of its chair with a corpse inside it and declared “ I have an announcement to make. I’ve just got word that Shirleys operation has been a success. She is on the mend.” Good onya Shirl!
The other club that was at the park that weekend was the VW club from Townsville. Their functions seemed a lot more fun than Ernie’s pass the parcel.
We never did get to put our hands in Sandra’s bag of goodies because when Sunday came around it was time to hit the road again. Our plan was to continue on with the race to the rock route from Cardwell to the Dalrymple Gap hiking trail. Sadly for us upon arriving at the trailhead we were greeted with a little too much rock and there would be zero racing for us.
The sign said it was 10km and a 6 hr hike. With us having 10 days of food on board ( Ana carrying most of it) we were kidding ourselves. After a few hikers on completion asked us “ what are you f@cking retarded? We put our tails between our legs and hopped on the Bruce Hwy for the first time and pedaled for Ingham. We ended up camping in the glamorous location of behind a shipping container at the rugby club that night after deciding against sleeping in the wetlands with all the recent croc sighting signs.
After some of the garbage we had ridden on lately the route out to Walkamin falls flew by. We passed endless scenes of cane fields until our legs were in for more punishment.
The climb started the same as all the others. The Gypsy humours me for a few hundred metres chatting away. Then she has enough of my shit, asks “ do you mind if I put a podcast on?” Puts her headphones in and then starts eating the hill!! After about 10 minutes she is out of sight and I’m left looking down at my pale chicken legs abusing them for being useless. Then sometime later we meet at the top.
When you see an image of something and then you see it in person sometimes you are a little disappointed. Luckily for us this wasn’t the case with Wallaman falls. All the hard work getting up there was worth it. It was quite the sight!
One bogan wasn’t quite impressed by us riding up the range. “ They rode their bikes up here, fuck that” as he sucked on a xxxx stubby pushing a pram with a bing tang singlet on. I could say the same about what you’re doing champ!
Leaving Wallaman falls was always going to be interesting. On the map it was a dotted line which didn’t really tell us a lot except there is a way over the top to Mt Fox. In reality after the first 3km of smooth riding it turned into a overgrown mess which resulted into roughly 4hrs of pushing. I squealed a few times when something landed on my $20 Kmart sandals while I was looking for the track and I thought it was a snake.
There were a few team meetings along the way about whether we should turn back, with neither of us wanting to admit defeat. However, if the Gypsy had said “ stuff this” I would have happily waved the white flag and got out of there quick smart. Luckily, Annie is a bit tougher than me because the further we went in the better the track became. Ana’s motto is “ we don’t turn back” and it served us well that day. Instead of 42km of shit out of nowhere a freshly graded gravel wonder appeared. You never know what’s over the next hill!
We appreciated this smooth beauty for the next 30 odd kms into the Mt Fox campground. Just before heading into the camp we past the boys working on the road. It was a joy to ride something that had just been hit with the heavy roller.
What a little gem the Mt Fox campground was!!! Turns out the boys working on the road were staying there too. Mt fox has a state school with 2 pupils. Sisters. A fire brigade with the husband and wife members also running the campground and that’s about it. One thing it does have though is plenty of character and they sold $3 beers so that’s a big tick from us. The guys from the fire brigade were pretty impressed we got our bikes through that track. They do a lot of back burning in the area and knew it well!
We got to have dinner with everyone that night at the campground. The lady from the fire brigade cooks the road workers dinner and makes their lunches for the next day. Even the teacher joined us. She told us the town needs young people to breed. When I looked over at the Gypsy eagerly she proceeded to ignore my hint.
When you are eating pretty simply you tend to binge on things you haven’t had for a while. I think I put 9 teaspoons of sugar in my cups of tea that evening.
Ana was in for a treat the next morning, one of the workers traveling up from Ingham was a fellow countrymen from the Basque Country. Tomas was 76 and fit as a fiddle. He told me I have to look after Ana “she is a good one”. Another surprise was big Johnny had the keys to the camp kitchen which meant plenty of biscuits for our tea that evening!
It’s been funny our moods while cycling on this trip. If someone is having the time of their lives generally the other is in a world of pain. Sadly for Annie the day leaving Mt Fox wasn’t one of her fondest on this trip. It was up and down hills all day in the middle of nowhere. All we had to break it up was a motorcyclist who stopped to ask us “what are you doing out here?” The mood finally got better that afternoon when I caught Annie after a pick of her nose. She flicked a comet like booger that hurled through the air like the big rock in Armageddon. I got a laugh. Annie didn’t think it was as funny.
After still having ptsd from the bush whacking the day before we decided to skip the single track to the Paluma Dam on the RTTR route and settled for a bush camp along Running River.
It had everything we needed. Fresh water and plenty of wood for that nights fire. I rolled a couple of rocks up for seats and we were set for that evening. One thing we weren’t set for was a cow during the middle of the night. I’d heard something splash through the river, then it started crashing through the bushes and breathing behind our tent. We both thought “we are going to get trampled here!” Luckily for us, the stupid prick got spooked and turned back and headed back over the river. That’s the funny thing about cows. During the day we are riding past them thinking it’s funny “mooing” them. They aren’t so funny in the middle of the night when they want to moo back!
We got wet the next day. Drowning rat wet! Leaving Running River it was only a drizzle. Which kept drizzling! Before we knew it we had climbed into rainforest and the clouds were not going anywhere except straight down on us. It was pissing down. We can’t complain though it’s the first time it’s rained or we have been cold on this trip. Instead of freezing on the side of the road we pushed through to Paluma hoping we could get some shelter, get warm and eat lunch. We got more than that. We struck gold!
Next to the picnic area in the centre of a town of about 25, a school from Mackay was wrapping up their outdoor adventure camp. They were drenched as well!! We overheard a few kids proudly saying they had slept in a puddle the night before. After a chat with some of the guides and teachers who’s interest we must have pricked with our homeless looking predicament a smell wafted over!! Surely they don’t have a Bunnings up here!!! They didn’t, but they had the only thing I care about from there, a bbq with snags on it!! The kids were starving and so were we!! We kept looking at them from our picnic shelter with sad eyes like hungry dogs hoping we would get fed. As the time went by our hope faded of a sausage in bread, so we started drawing up contingency plans. Plan A was find the token red head kid, they are normally up to no good and after years of bullying they are anti establishment. Get him on side, get ginger to steal bulk snags for us. That plan went out the window after no redheads appeared in the lineup. Fair enough too why would you wanna be a ranga in FNQ it’s far too hot. Next, Plan B. Find the fat kid, fat shame him, get him to hand over his loot. Found him, he looks miserable, we can’t take away that poor fellas snag. Just as we had given up hope, the gentleman cooking the bbq started to walk over. Our tails wagged instantly! “ We have some leftover food if you want some now or you can take some with you?” “ We will do both” was the reply and we were over at the bbq in a flash. We already had eaten our own lunch, now it was time to eat theirs. I had the feeling I had more sausage and bread on my face and in my beard than what was in my mouth, but I didn’t care! After the camp leader had a sook that we were getting leftovers he started acting like a knob. So Annie repaid the favour by “borrowing” the bag of cookies he had in his box while we helped load his car. With smiles on our faces and snags in our panniers it was time to literally roll down the hill.
Little crystal creek was out of the question on the way down for a wild camp because it was still raining. So off to Big Crystal Creek instead at the bottom of the hill it was. We were pretty happy it was a few degrees warmer even though the drizzle was still hanging around. After a plunge in the paradise pool and another helping of sausages in bread for dinner. We went to bed pretty happy with full bellies!
The next day we headed out to the Bruce Hwy. It really is shit riding on this thing. We are pretty grateful we have avoided most of it to date. The sign told us we were only 42km south of Ingham where we had started 4 days earlier. You really shouldn’t rush fun! With plenty of food in our panniers we decided to give ourselves 2 days rest on the beach 60km north of Townsville at a place called Justin Park. It’s a free camp for tent campers on the beach. With an outdoor shower, toilets, drinking water and bbqs at that price it’s pretty good value for money.
It pissed down this morning just before we were packing up. Added with a 5am start it wasn’t the best start to a Sunday. We wanted to get into Townsville before the traffic got too heavy on the highway. Heading into town we passed some of Townsville finest businesses like “Bobs bulk booze” and my favourite “The wet spot”. Throw in a shitbox commodore with personalised number plates that read “bring it” screaming passed we aren’t expecting much of the place. Maybe I’m being harsh. Look at the Gypsy for example. She can hardy contain herself!