It was a rough ride on the return ferry from Keppel Island. The majority of people were doing their best to keep down that mornings breakfast. The musicians sitting across from us looked a bit seedy from the previous nights wedding. When the guitarist grab a sick bag and made a “bee” line to the nearest toilet, I wasn’t far from doing so myself. Thankfully the “mariner” found dry land and I turned back from a green complexion to my natural pale white.
After 8 nights on Keppel you would have thought we were pretty well rested. Just to make sure of that we rode a whopping 15km once we got off the ferry and spent 2 nights at Emu Park. The Emus having long since left the area and been replaced by another creature, “the grey nomad.” These creatures would be a lot easier to hunt. Just go for a walk between 5-6pm around the park and you will find a bunch gathered for happy hour telling shit jokes and commenting on the tv reception. By the looks of some, you could make a nice handbag out of their leathery complexion.
Once we were ready to start cycling proper our legs began eating kilometres. You could almost hear the “yum yum” sound as the tarmac disappeared underneath. Maybe that’s the secret to this cycle travelling caper; 10 days off, 1 day on. Transfer that roster to the working public and you will have one happy population. If I ran that promise at the next election I could well be the next prime minister. Sadly I’ve shelved too many things on a bender and I’d be easy fodder for my political enemies to take me down.
To keep clear of wankers in 4×4’s and grey nomads on the Bruce Highway meant we had to head inland from Emu Park. With another ride through Rockhampton it grew on us even more. From what we have seen it doesn’t really deserve the bad rap. Along the river it’s pretty nice with all the old buildings. The locals must have thought so too, by 9am they were already on the longnecks dreaming of country.
Things were starting to get a touch greener now. By no means a jungle, just the odd paddock had a few blades of grass in it that had some colour. Speaking of colourful things, we met a pirate in Bouldercombe and he came bearing honey. Chris wasn’t a real pirate I just pigeonholed him because he had long hair and big gold earrings. All he was missing was a peg leg but that won’t be far off if dogs keep biting him. As soon as he spotted us in the park he came waltzing over. Chris turns out to be a fellow cycle tourist of the recumbent variety. Just a tad more adventurous. He has waited out cyclones in his hammock with the water lapping at the bottom, has lost 30kg on one trip and leaves home without a phone or map and just makes his way by using the sun. I felt really soft after hearing his tales. He was a pretty interesting character. He runs an anarchist meeting in Rockhampton once a week. On Thursdays he cycles his recumbent the 25km into town picking up cans on the side of the road as he goes. His goal is one day he gets to ride in and doesn’t have to pick up any cans because there isn’t any! He has just got into bee keeping and making honey. He offered us a jar. It’s the best honey we have tasted. Ana normally hates the stuff but she loves this! We now eat it by the spoon. His secret was thermal mass and not making the bees work too hard. We both just nodded our heads and pretended to understand his secret while we were licking our lips!
Bouldercombe is another town we have ridden through that seems like it’s glory days have long since past. When the pub packs up you might as well pack the town up. The beer garden and shelter it provided still came in handy for us though because it pissed down. We had been lucky until then with the rain but the drought was well and truly broken now! The worlds leading expert on rain Forrest Gump once listed all the different types of precipitation and today we had the stuff that flew in sideways mixed with big ol fat rain. The shelter in the park offered no protection from the sideways stuff so we fled to the girls toilets. Once they started to flood we had serious concern for our tent being washed away.
Ignoring the tent we paddled ourselves past it and set up in the bbq hut of the beer garden to wait the rain out. Once cleared the locals started coming out from their homes. We got a few odd looks sitting in their once beloved beer garden. Homeless people were taking over their town.
Camping out the back of the pub that night we had the campground pretty much to ourselves. That was until Jackie Chan rolled in on dark and set his tent up on top of ours. I was tempted to find a tape measure because they weren’t far off breaking the 1.5m social distancing rule. Asians, good at ping pong and fixing iPhones, not good at following campground etiquette.
We were greeted with a climb to begin the next day to Mt Morgan. Another on the list of towns where it’s glory days had long past. It was once one of the most productive gold mines in the world producing $60,000,000 worth by 1907. One of the founders used the proceeds to form what is now BP. Those profits must have disappeared pretty quick because they couldn’t afford a $128,000 concrete test on their well in the Gulf of Mexico that played a part in the oil rig explosion in 2010. Just under 758,000,000 litres of crude oil leaked into the gulf on that occasion. Oh well no big deal. Now Mt. Morgan has a big lake in the town and a few nice old buildings.
With warnings of a storm coming from locals during the day. We had our eyes set on Jambin. It was now a race between us and Mother Nature. The last 45km we have never pedalled so fast. It started to feel like we were in the movie “twister” with the tornado chasing us as the dark clouds started grumbling closer. Sadly we were beaten to the finish line and got pissed on about 2km from town.
As a consolation prize Jambin has a stellar setup for bike travellers. Free camping under the CWA ( country women’s association) hall with toilets, drinking water and picnic tables and bbq.
If anyone is after some tips on traveling Queensland, here’s one for you. Don’t go to Calliope or even contemplate staying at the caravan park! What a shithole! After doing 100km that day we thought we would treat ourselves and stay at the park. It even sounded good on paper with a swimming pool, I imagined ourselves relaxing in at the end of the day. Oh boy were we wrong. The 3000 plus bat colony on the edge of the park should have sounded an alarm. The citizens of Wuhan would love a free tuck shop like that but to us they had no appeal. Then when going to pay I must have disturbed the owner eating his bowl of cereal at 4 in the afternoon in his pjs, clearly annoyed he told me to come back at 5 when the office is open.
After circling the park and realising everyone is a permanent resident here and some no doubt are hiding from the law, things started to pick up. A kind lady took it upon herself to give us a run down of the park. “There is ghosts in this park. In the corner over there, don’t worry about them they are friendly. An elderly couple died in there. But the shed over there, that’s where old mate got tomahawked!” Making an axe striking the chest gesture. That’s right a couple of years ago someone got tomahawked in the garden shed. I would have known that if I read the reviews. She followed it up with a useful tip. “If you go to the toilet at night wear a hat or the bats will shit on you” We soon realised she was on the money with this one because as soon as night fell the bats were on the move and we where in the middle of our own horror movie. To put us to sleep the musical duo neighbours behind us “ ice addict John Butler and his imaginary friend” strummed a few chords to put us to sleep. In the morning we couldn’t leave fast enough. A positive for us was the price. I never did return at 5.
For every Calliope though there is a Ubobo and the Boyne valley is a beauty! The town centre only has a handful in it but they have built a pretty nice feeling in that town. The campground is run by the locals and they have done a ripper job. All the old buildings make it a nice feeling being there. The general store owner sounds a happy chap. The old fellows who look after the camp told us he loses his shit shit if you start eating your ice cream at the counter. He is even known to throw a sauce bottle on occasion exploding on the front door if you have trouble opening it.
When tomorrow came it was time to climb another range and head for Captain Creek. Our friends Nick & Nai had bought a property just outside Agnes Water. They have made the transition from young nomads to living off grid. The property is a beauty. Hand built by the previous owner most materials come from the land the house is on. He dug a dam to make the mud brick and the timber beams in the house are from the surrounding bush. He really has put a lot of care into it. It even has a composting toilet. I wish the national parks built them like this. Not a fly to be heard or a waft of turd to be had! It really is like sitting on a throne. Annie was happy seeing her best mate again and being able to swim at a beach without being eaten.
The hairdressers were open while at Nick & Nai’s. With a trim long overdue Annie transformed me into a pineapple.
We found one of the best places to put up our tent at 1770. After a few beers at the pub and seeing the caravan park patrons packed in like sardines we ended carrying our bikes down the hill from the cairn marking where captain cook arrived and set up on the beach for sunset. Spots like that make this bike travel caper fun.
Heading out of Agnes Water we decided to take the coastal route through Deepwater National Park. When the gravel road turned into a sand pit we had 6km of serious pushing to get to the campground. A few 4x4s were a tad concerned we were pushing our bikes through sand in the middle of a stinking hot day. One old bloke was a little concerned for Annie, but in the great Australian tradition of not being able to speak to a woman he asked me instead. I made it pretty clear she was fine. On the way back out he stopped again to tell Ana a shit joke. This time he got bogged and we kept pushing. For all you 4×4 Bogans out there we will get our bikes anywhere you will get your clapped out buckets of shit.
It was a beautiful track into the park and well worth the effort. It’s a shame we didn’t get to appreciate it fully because we had our heads down pushing. Carrying 26 litres of water between us didn’t help our cause. Once there we had 2 nights to do nothing.
Just like most things in life, we had it easier coming out the other end. Leaving Deepwater it was only 3km of sand and some of it was even rideable. On the way to our next camp we popped into Rules beach. A couple of old blokes were on the picnic table having a chin wag, after parking our bikes and joining them one of the gents popped of to his car to fetch his corned beef and made us sandwiches. How good is that!
Now we were only a few days away from some old friends Waggy & Bec. I was getting excited to see “ The Fist”. But before we got there we made a detour out to Norval Beach a campground run by Bundaberg Council. We stopped into Yandaran on the way to get coffee and a treat. Sadly for us the store had two parts of fuck all. Not to fear we got chatting to the Mayoress of the town. Everyone knows her and she knows everyone’s business. Before we knew it she opened up the fire brigade, put the kettle on and busted out the biscuits. This land is full of legends.
Travel tip number 2. Don’t go to Norval beach. It’s a nice enough spot but just like flies on a turd it attracts the same sort from Bundaberg . Within moments we were joined by a family, going by first impressions they enjoyed having sex with each other. I would have them as neighbours any day over the Ork that rolled in later. His dogs thought it was a good idea to shit in our tent. After Ana found the land mines she called in the bomb disposal unit. I picked it up with our shovel and threw it over his campsite when he drove out to get firewood.
Next morning I’d noticed he had grabbed more then firewood. He had pinched the traffic control signs to use as a wind break for his fire. Not long after the road workers came down and I overheard them asking campers if they had taken them. They didn’t see his fire. Spewing! When he walked passed us cooking breakfast he was informed we were displeased with his dogs toilet training. His reaction was disappointing. At that moment it was decided the traffic controllers were going to find out where their signs went when we rode out. I’m not sure what happened between him and the traffic controllers when they went back to get their signs, but 20 minutes later when we were riding down the road he came flying up behind and swerved at us. Captain Knobhead was in a hurry to get out of there.
By now it was time to pay a little visit to the Waghorne family. We had been dreaming of their couch for a few days now. What a stay it was. Having a couch to sit on, or bed to lie in was really appreciated. Throw in a lush backyard with a swimming pool and we weren’t planning on doing much the next five nights. We had now entered sloth mode! We did manage one thing while we were there though.We found a place we would like to live in Queensland. Elliot Heads just outside Bundaberg it was a beautiful spot.
It was bittersweet leaving the Waghorne’s. We both got emotional saying goodbye to our bed. But it reinforced how special lifelong friendships are. You might not see each other for a while but you will always be mates.Thanks Waggy & Bec we loved staying with you!