“Fuck off Clive!”And with that let me introduce you to Townsville’s infamous magpie. Just like his namesake Clive Palmer this Clive is also a cunt and enjoys fucking people over. Clive the magpie resides outside of Fat Clive’s office in Townsville. He gets his name because when he swoops people out the front of Palmers office, bike riders yell out “fuck off Clive!” He is an evil prick this magpie and swoops people for sport!!
Ana found this out first hand riding through Townsville. Just as we passed a “danger magpie” sign, Clive attacked Ana for the next three blocks trying to peck her eyes out.
Leaving Townsville we add our eyes peeled for this prick as we cycled past Palmers office. Thankfully he took the morning off and Ana left town with her right ear intact. Well almost. Clive must have spotted us at the last minute and radioed ahead to one of his evil henchmen. Approaching the edge of town I looked around to see if the Gypsy was behind me. As my eyes scanned the horizon I spotted her pinned down, getting dive bombed from all angles by this evil bastard. Hearing every swear word in the Spanish vocabulary, I acted fast, returned over enemy lines, under heavy fire and rescued my stricken comrade. Not all heroes wear capes!
Soon after we were greeted by a cockhead passing in a 4×4 no doubt sporting a fresh southern cross tattoo who yelled “get off the road dickheads!” This would set the tone for the remainder of the day because we were in for a shocker.
Doing 40km for no reason in car? Who gives a shit! Slightly annoying maybe, but really who gives a shit! Doing 40km for no reason on a bicycle is a really good way of making sure you have a shit day! Here’s why.
After having enough of dodging road trains on the Flinders Hwy we pulled into a servo to sink a couple cans of “the thirst crusher” and ask the lady behind the counter for some info on Dingo Park rd. We pinned our hopes on this road getting us around the back to Home Hill and off the Bruce Hwy. In reality it was just a dotted blue line of uncertainty on our map. The Queen of battered savs didn’t give any answers we were hoping to hear. “ I think it goes through but it crosses private property and you need permission, not sure who you would ask. I’d go up Woodstock-Giru rd. It’s only 10 minutes up the road.” “We are on pushy’s” was my reply. 10 minutes for people who fry dim sims is an hour for us poor souls on bikes. “Oh, well if I was you I wouldn’t do it. It’s a bloody long way to get turned back around.” Hearing that and getting reminded of every dickhead in a 4×4 that has told us you can’t get through there on a bike, we decided to ignore Lady “deep fryer” and give it a go. Leaving the air conditioned oasis of the servo it was slightly unpleasant being back out in the furnace. What ever enjoyment the cans of Solo had given us, had immediately vanished. We gave each other a hug and set off for Dingo park rd. Later that evening we realised this was the spot where I lost a pair of my undies. No doubt some lady at the service station saw me ride off without them tied onto my bike properly and they now take pride of place on her mantle piece. I’m down to 1 pair of jocks now until I get to a town. Not ideal for me or Annie.
Now back to the road. We got about 5km in when we waived down our first car to see if they had any info. Well that was a waste of time. They clearly weren’t local, they looked like they were on a reconnaissance mission to find a new place to smoke their glass BBQ. Next bloke we stopped was slightly better but slightly more suspicious. He gave us the name of the cattle station we had to cross. “The dingo park feedlot” They really got creative with that one! But that’s all the info he had for us. Thereafter we stopped a couple of fellas in a Diesel fuel tanker. We were getting closer, they had the phone number of the neighbour. Now that was an interesting phone call. First question we got off the cocky after explaining our predicament was “ you’re not greenies or activists are you?” “ No mate we are just two plebs on push bikes” was the reply. Bingo! He had the phone number for the station! Now with all this fucking around and over an hour sitting on the side of the road in the dirt, our fortunes depended on the good will of a farmer. After calling and asking the question his response was “ sorry, mate, I’m not on the farm at the moment. I can’t let you go through. I have thousands of cattle out on the road and they won’t like a couple of bikes going through. It will stress them”. Fuck me, they’re cows, they are not studying for an exam were my thoughts.
After all that dicking around we set off back down Dingo Park rd in the same direction we came from with our tails between our legs. We should of listened to Lady “deep fryer”.
Riding back towards Townsville on the Flinders Hwy dodging road trains again wasn’t the most enjoyable afternoon we have had. With every cloud there is a silver lining though. Cycling through Woodstock that morning, a town with a population that looked like it hovered around three. Two of those were the grumpy old pricks that ran the store/ petrol station. We noticed a park in the middle of nowhere. That was our saviour for the night. Electric bbqs, picnic tables, toilets…it ticked a lot of boxes. The council could of saved some cash on the play equipment though, I don’t think any kids live in the town.
It pissed down that night. Well at least for a few minutes I thought it was. Not long after we had fallen asleep the sprinklers came on. I awoke thinking it was the mother of all storms. In a mad panic I was fumbling around trying to zip the tent up half asleep.
“ Relax mate it’s the sprinklers” said the Gypsy. For the next hr our tent got drenched like clockwork. We lay there as the sprinkler went round hitting the shed, then the picnic table, then our tent.
The morning didn’t start much better either when nature called. Green frogs decided to sit in the toilets overnight and wait for us. Neither of us were too confident putting our freckle over them, so it was time to dig another hole!
As we have been riding around we are open to the idea if we found a place we liked we would live there. We haven’t been so lucky yet, but we have managed to cross a few places off the list where we won’t be living. You can now add Ayr to that list. What a shit hole! It was Frankston surrounded by cane fields. Only this place had way more people in mobility scooters long before they should be. If it continues at this rate all of Far North Queensland will have a line through it.
We got a good surprise that night rolling through the Home Hill comfort rest stop. As we were looking for a spot for the tent as far away as possible from the clapped out commodore which looked liked it had been there a year longer then the 48 hr limit. We heard an “oi”. Sticking their head out of a Caravan was 1/3 of the young nomads, Nai. A lot had gone on in our worlds since we left each other on the tablelands. We needed a few beers to catch up.
A rough nights sleep and a slight hangover wasn’t the best recipe on departure that morning. The directions were simple enough. Get on Kirkine road and follow it to Kirkine station. Not even google maps could fuck us over on this one. We were on our way to the Bowen River Hotel. To make the trip a bit shorter we got permission to cross a couple of cattle stations. This only left us 144km to get to the pub.
As the cane fields disappeared so did the hangover. We only passed 3 people on the way out to Kirkine station. 2 of those were council workers doing their best job of doing nothing, they gave us a look of what are you 2 peanuts doing out here. Once they found out we were headed for the pub it made total sense to them. The third was another case of the suspicious farmer. Having spotted us in the distance he came rumbling over on his quad bike, no doubt fearing we were evil vegans. “Who you looking for?” Was the start of the interrogation. “No one, we are going to the pub.” We were starting to get the shits now being questioned for riding on public roads. Realising we were humans without man buns and sensing we have eaten a steak before, the farmer kindly gave us permission to cross through Mordor.
We weren’t sure what reception we were going to get from Kirkine station. We had the impression the farmer would be quite happy if we just filled up our water bottles and pissed off. How wrong we were, the farmers wife found us on the road about 10km from the house and immediately invited us back for a cold drink. I don’t think they get many visitors out here. Before we knew it we were staying the night in the spare room. We had no doubt this wasn’t ran past the farmer, he got quite the shock getting home that night and we were on the couch in his daughters play room with the aircon on. He was as dry as his paddocks this bloke but what a ripper. Before we knew it we were eating T-bone steak for dinner. He drew us a few maps that night to navigate the rest of his property. Google maps was no good to us out here.
Heading off the next morning with beaming smiles from the hospitality we had been given, today was already a good day. The maps might of lacked a little detail and the distances might of been a tad off but he knew his property well. 28km later we were at Strathalbyn station.
Rolling up the driveway and spotting a helicopter in the front yard, my immediate reaction was “There’s no fucking chance I’m getting in that thing!” It looked like a large remote controlled toy.
The red carpet was rolled out for us at Strathalbyn station. We didn’t expect any of what we were given. The guest room and en-suite was like a hotel room. After putting down a few hotdogs for lunches we were informed that we would be getting a helicopter tour of the 120,000 acre property. Hearing the helicopter start up and watching it twist and shake as the blades spun round, Ana quickly decided “ fuck that!” I wish I followed suit because on take off I could not have grabbed onto my seat any tighter. It was obvious our host was trying to make me wet my pants and he was succeeding.
From the air you really could see the beauty of this station and why they love it out here. Saying that I was very happy to be back on solid ground when we landed. I informed my pilot that I was shitting myself he laughed and said “I normally get a few”. It was pretty impressive that a 26 y/o was managing all of this.
That night we were informed there was going to be a shed “party”. The farmer was pretty happy with the finish of construction. It was some party, we stood in a circle with dip in the middle and anything the women said got ignored. However things started to heat up as the evening went on back over at the house. These boys were good at drinking rum. As each bottle got mixed with a couple of cans of coke the boys got rowdier with each drinking game. Ana had enough by this stage and snuck off to bed. When the next drinking game was announced as “ goanna pull” and a few boys started taking their belts off. I realised I’m going to be in a world of pain here if I stay up with these boys and slinked off to bed. I’m happy I did though because the fellas looked like dog shit in the morning.
We really had a great experience traveling through those stations, and will be forever grateful for their kindness. Setting off from Home Hill we never thought we would be getting helicopter tours and wagyu steaks! There is a lot of history out here, not all of it great. On Strathalbyn, when they were clearing weeds around the original homestead they found a gravestone for two stockmen killed by the natives in the 1800’s. The natives just wanted to return to their land and not be slaves anymore. The stockmen came looking for them and got murdered. In retaliation for the stockmen’s deaths the natives were hunted for over a week and nine of them were killed. Another station which we passed on the way to the Bowen River Hotel has a history that sounds even murkier. Not sure why this family was so revered back in the day. They owned the first motor car that came into Queensland. There were no roads out that way then so it came in by horse and cart and they drove it around the station. The other stories we heard of them shooting at aboriginals camped on the river from their back porch, or having a skull in their private museum with a bullet hole in it. Or how they put arsenic in their flour after the locals had stolen some and killing about 40 of them, makes them sound like fucking assholes.
After 144km we reached our destination of the Bowen River Hotel. What a great little pub! It was built in the 1860’s and would’ve seen it’s fair share of wild characters over the years. Some locals told us a bloke got shot in the bar back in the day. They didn’t clean the floorboards they just flipped them over.
Then the locals attention turned to us and what we were doing out here on our pushy’s. Mentioning we were headed for Melbourne a farmers response of “I couldn’t think of anything worse! I couldn’t wait to turn 17 and throw my bike in the creek and get a motorbike”, led us to believe he wasn’t impressed with our exploits. If we told them we don’t really eat meat I’m not sure if we would have made it out alive. Anyway goodluck being a vegetarian in this part of the world I don’t think they have been introduced to the concept yet.
After sinking VB’s all arvo. We got a nice surprise when Mick from “The bicycle pedlar” rolled in. We first met him in Townsville and we were hoping we would cross paths with him again. It wasn’t one of his best days after copping 3 flats for the day. Selfishly we were happy he rocked up because it gave us a break from the lady at our table. “ Oh my god, I’m so happy for you guys”, “what an adventure “, “ I hope it works out for you”, “ I think what you are doing is great”. If we had heard that one more time she wasn’t far off getting hit with one of the sticks of salami a farmer had bought in for everyone to share.
Collinsville had everything a cycle tourist needed when we past through so we pulled up stumps for a couple of days at the Showgrounds. Free 48hr camping, toilets, showers and a free public swimming pool in town with bbqs in the park next door were all a big tick from us. They encourage you to leave receipts in a box at the Showgrounds from anything you have bought while staying in the town. Over $20,000 for August and you can see it’s a pretty good idea to have free camping. They are going to need a few more ideas when the ass falls out of the coal industry because towns like this are in trouble!
From Collinsville we were taking the back way up to Eungella dam via a stop at “Nans” house to fill up our water bottles. At the time we didn’t know we had a Nan out here but we do now. She was the only one home and was looking after the grandkids. After spotting us coming up the driveway we were soon invited in for lunch. Ham & cheese sandwiches, leftover roast beef, salad and home made mango chutney certainly hit the spot. Nan had a few issues with opening the tin of beetroot, I guess the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be! One of the grandkids is already picking up the farming lingo, we were informed that they got 23mm of rain the other day but they need a lot more. After a cuppa with Nan she gave us a pack of cookies and sent us on our way.
Eungella dam was a bogans paradise. Not too many people have paid attention to the sign on the way in about cutting trees down. There were lopped off stumps everywhere. We also appreciated the dickhead next to us running his generator and having the fumes go through our tent. His partner was doing her best to get a nomination for mother of the year. Telling her kid “ would you shut the fuck up!” Upon hearing that Annie and I ventured into a deep conversation about are people born like that or is that what kids do to you? If it’s the kids fault I’m recommending they need to be outlawed.
In the morning our neighbour jumped in the front seat of his car and fired up his glass bbq. I turned to Ana and said “let’s get the fuck out of here!” We had better luck the next night with our neighbours at “the diggings” campground, they couldn’t have been any nicer. Letting us fill up with water, charge batteries and even gave us a few cans. The old bicycle sure does open up a few doors you wouldn’t get if you were traveling by car.
By this stage though my partner in crime was starting to fill a little worse. The Gypsy had been battling for a couple of days but now we needed to get her to a doctor and patched up. We appreciated the offer of our neighbours who asked if we wanted a lift, even though it was a long weekend in Queensland and their last weekend before the kids go back to school. The Gypsy being the Gypsy and as hard as nails, or stubborn, I’m not sure which, insisted on riding. It was still a couple of days to ride to Mackay but we appreciated being surrounded by green again.
In Mackay we got another awesome experience with warmshowers hosts. Their home was a beautiful old Queenslander and our hosts were really laid back and helpful. They are involved in the Mackay conservation group. They are currently involved in fighting a dam from going ahead that would wipe out the “Irwin’s turtle”. The fresh water snapping turtle that was first discovered in the 1990’s by Bob and the late Steve Irwin. We really need to stop destroying everything and protect what we have!
We are up at Cape Hillsborough now having a few days of R&R before we hit the road to see where it takes us!
The Stylish Pedlars 🚵🏻♂️⛺️🍻