The Kindness of Strangers.

After needing a few days to digest the pizza we had in Armidale it was time to set off once again. We thought highly of Armidale, it was a great little town. All the old buildings in the Main Street and around the Showgrounds gave the place plenty of character. The farmers had a spring in their step too as they walked down the Main Street. All the fat cows and sheep in their paddocks have made the smiles return to their faces. What a difference a year makes.

They ran out of gas, like we were.

We had a bit of a spring in our pedal stroke too, we always do after being a sloth for a few days. It was a good day this one, the sun was out, we found Nirvana and then my favourite campsite for this trip.

Expected more after finding “Nirvana”.

We debated whether to go into Dangar gorge. Our legs were becoming tired of side trips and extra kms. After taking the turn off to the gorge you could almost hear our legs say “ ffs sake guys not again!” The pricks got a smile on their kneecaps again after realising we were done after 23km for the day.

Our legs after a short day.

Seeing the gorge immediately brought a smile to our faces. Another spectacular sight was staring back at us and it was ours for the rest of the day. Things got even better when we found a hut near one of the lookouts to the falls. With the only access being by walking track, we were going to have no problems camping here tonight. The hut was first class for us; Undercover picnic table, drinking water, gas bbq and stove top. The Rotary Club of Armidale, we salute you!

On the way to Dangar gorge.

We got to share it with splendid company at lunchtime, an old couple from Armidale and their grandkids joined us for lunch. The Gypsy liked the old man before he even said a word, by result of him simply wearing a Furphy t-shirt. I liked grandma because she gave us fruit and hot crossed buns. We’ve met some diamonds on this trip.

We stuck our heads out of the hut for one more look of the falls as the sun was calling it for the day, it’s last rays stretched out to the hills and the trees behind the gorge turning them a ridiculously good orange colour. It wasn’t hard falling asleep that night listening to the sound of the falls roaring.

Dangar gorge.

The sheep gave us a guard of honour leaving the gorge the next day. It was quite the gesture they bestowed upon us. We waved to them gratefully as we cycled past, while our wheels made a mess of all the shit they deposited on the road.

The Gostwyck chapel was our next destination. If I was ever going to get married in a house built by kiddie fiddlers it would be this one. The pedophiles have sure shown some remarkable craftsmanship in building this church. It was a picture postcard, god bless them.

Speaking of blessings, the amount of wildflowers on display for us now by the roadside was a sight to see. It was an explosion of colour, it sure made for a nice days ride through the back country roads to that nights destination, and what a disappointment it was rolling into Kentucky that evening. The reason being that there was a distinct lack of fried chicken and old men with white hair and goatees. What wasn’t disappointing was the Kentucky public school. It was pissing down and after a suggestion from the owner of the general store, we set up camp at the school. It was the perfect undercover spot in the school assembly area. They even had a outdoor power socket and the toilets were open. Gracias Kentucky.

Now it’s amazing how I can’t smell flowers from a few feet away, but a bbq from 200 metres while cycling? That’s no problem. Heading into Walcha road village a place with a population of roughly 5, thats including a goat, I got a whiff of some yummy goodness in the distance. Then we came across Dennis walking along the road. Now, this man could’ve just stopped for a chat, or even just waved, said hello and bid us fair well. He didn’t though, after stopping for a chat and asking us about our trip, he invited us into his family’s holiday home for breakfast, the building being an old church. Dennis is one of 11 kids, he has ten himself but he reckons he is only at halftime, mad rooter! Dennis and his big family grew up next door and went to school at the church. When the church went on the market years ago the family snaffled it up and now it’s their holiday home. At Christmas with the kids and grandkids they have over 100 people at the table. As we pushed our bikes around the back we were greeted by a few of Dennis’s siblings, coffee and bacon and eggs. What a beautiful family, and when invited inside the church for a look you could feel the warmth and good times radiating out of the walls. It was quite an unexpected surprise after an hour of riding and set us up for one of the nicest days of the trip. If you ever read this Dennis and family, thank you so much, little acts of kindness from strangers have made our trip.

The luck kept rolling along with us on this day. We got into Woolbrook around midday and decided to have a look around town. There was a free camp spot at the bridge but we thought we would see if there is any other hidden beauties around to pitch our tent. The school was out, wide open and a few houses around, we didn’t think the good folk of Woolbrook would appreciate two vagrants sleeping rough in their school. Next was the church, it offered nothing from a camping prospective but gave us 1 bar of phone reception and some false hope of contact with the outside world. After hanging around the church for a while we were greeted by Elly who lives next door. She wandered down to the fence line to see what we were up to and release a bat which had made its way inside her place. After a while her husband, big Mick, waddled down to join us. His bear size paws matched his character. Before you knew it, we were invited over for a cuppa and rhubarb pie and ice cream. This was turning into some sort of day. They were a great couple Elly & Mick, it was nice to share their porch for an hour with their dogs and chickens and swap travel stories. They have a big bus parked out the front of their place and as soon as the temperature drops the dogs jump in and they are off. We told Mick where we were headed tomorrow, gaining by his reaction we were in for a rough one. Mick picked up the phone and tried to ring a mate that lived out that way. He was out of range, so we left it at that and bid each other farewell. When we were leaving Elly gave us the excellent tip of “ if you need some shelter set up camp behind the hall, it’s undercover and the locals should leave you alone.”

Later that afternoon, just as we were beginning to think about setting up camp and cooking dinner, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by Elly & Mick around the back of the hall. They had drove down with their 2 dogs to show us the road we were taking the next day. They had noticed a truck and trailer go past their place and there hadn’t been much traffic during the day, so they were worried there might have been a landslide with all the rain we have had. How nice is that! Leaving Annie to mind the fort, I jumped in with them and went for a drive. I was sitting in the car with the biggest smile on my face. Not only was the road fine, but we were in for some spectacular scenery the following day. We had been gone a while and Annie was just about to send out the search party before our return. In a perfect piece of timing, the lady who runs the hall had come “to pick up a table” just as we got back. We think neighbourhood watch was in full swing and she had received a tip off about some undesirables loitering around the hall. Mick stepped in, vouched for us and before we knew it, we had been given the keys to the hall. What a day! We got to have a shower, cook dead potatoes and gravy in their kitchen and sleep with Lizzie and family looking over us. Good fortune came in threes this day. Thank you Woolbrook for your generosity!

I woke in the morning with a smile on my face, knowing what was in store for us today. The Gypsy had a smile for a different reason, she got to eat breakfast on a couch. Today, I was on the lookout for a disheveled tomato while I was riding. Mick told us the day before this was Barnaby Joyce country, and fair enough an hour into the ride the honourable Mr Joyce drove past in his 4×4 with family in tow. What a nice gesture, Barnaby took time out from screwing his staff members and went for a drive just to wave at us. He really is a man of the people. What I can’t understand though, is why does he appear so angry all the time and want to go around slaughtering celebrities dogs? He lives in a beautiful part of the world.

Reenactment of assassination attempt on Pistol and Boo

This was turning out to be a spectacular piece of gravel. So good in fact talk turned to is it in our top 3? Maybe, but definitely top five. Zero traffic and glorious countryside were our companions for the ride. These last 2 days had turned into something pretty special. We headed into Kootingal for lunch, there wasn’t much free camping around and the caravan park was a bit of a hole but we decided to stay anyway. We thought we would quit while we were ahead and not ruin a top day.

One thing I had been doing lately, and one thing I’m good at, is ignoring the elephant in the room. The elephant being Annie’s sore knees. I’d just ignored it since she said she wanted to quit and was hoping they would magically get better on their own. They hadn’t and the Gypsy had just about had enough of battling along in pain. Annie was tired and needed a break. Me thinking this could be the end of the trip, or have to catch a train somewhere really made me sulk. Sulk that much that I pretty much didn’t talk for two days. I was being selfish, I had it in my head if I have catch a train somewhere, I might as well catch it home. No matter how much fun we have had, in my head catching a train would have cancelled all that out. Annie needed a break and she wasn’t even asking me to come with her. All she wanted to do is rest on a beach for two weeks. She couldn’t care less if she rode or swam there, she just wanted to stop. I had permission to ride around the back of the Blue Mountains on my own and meet Ana on the coast. To be honest, Ana didn’t even want me coming with her because she knew three days into a two week stint I would get bored and drive her nuts. I didn’t want to go on my own because I’m a bit soft and I was scared of getting ass raped in the bush. Plus we make a pretty good team and happiness is better shared. After a big blue we finally agreed I’d ride around and meet her on the coast. I didn’t want to but I knew I’d regret it forever if I didn’t. After finally finishing sulking we got back to somewhat normality and focused on enjoying the ride once more. Our faces must have told a different story when we rolled into Gundy campground. Looking like cats asses screwed up in a sandstorm will do that to you. There were a group of retired mountain bikers camping in Gundy too, Jack being one of the members and sensing we were battling came over with a couple of cold beers. Simple acts of kindness can make the world of difference! After cooling off in the river we joined their circle to eat our dinner. The group of 3 couples were great company. Sitting by the campfire sharing a laugh and listening to each other’s stories is what trips like these are about. It shouldn’t be a pissing contest about how far you have ridden. A few of the guys where on E-bikes. When Marg started talking about when you ride one you instantly get an E-smile, I thought she was full of shit and just trying to justify having an engine on her bike. Well Marg, if you read this I offer my sincerest apologies, when Jack offered us a ride on his e-bike, first Ana, then me, went up the hill with a smile and returned with an even bigger one. Then Jack put it on boost, bugger me these things fly. I don’t think I’ve smiled more on a bike. Ana though, was thinking about killing me for not getting one at the beginning of our trip! I have changed my tune on e-bikes now, they are so much fun and it’s a positive thing getting more people off the couch and into nature. To Jack, Julie, Steve, Mary, Col & Marg thanks for putting a smile back on our faces.

It was quite obvious we were entering the land of race horses now around Gundy. I’ve never seen such impressive farms. The horses have it good around here. Guess who else has it good? The residents of Aberdeen do! So good in fact they feel they no longer need the use of their dildos! That’s right, the town is so satisfying when you leave you toss your dildo out the window. We found an example of this on the New England Hwy just outside town. I would have taken a picture but this thing was an absolute monster, the size of it scared us.

Heading into Aberdeen.

We were on our way to Muswellbrook now. We took the New England because it was just down the road. If you don’t need to visit this place…. then don’t! It didn’t seem to have too much good going for it. Once in town Ana headed for the station to see if she could put her bike on the train without boxing it. Coming out with a smile on her face my lip dropped realising I’d be riding solo for a bit. Ana said before she was an 80% chance to get the train. I took that like Lloyd Christmas would and thought she would still come with me. It looked like that wasn’t going to be the case.

We stayed at the Showgrounds in Muswellbrook that night. We have had some awesome camp spots in this trip. Sadly this wasn’t one of them. We were in luck though, there was a witch doctor staying there in the form of a grey nomad called Ron. He and his wife Shirley were beautiful people. After joining them for a cuppa we soon found out Ron had a remedy for everything. The one he had to fix Ana’s knees was a beauty! A bit of Wd-40 he said would do the trick. At first I thought he was taking the piss, but he swore by it. Ana willing to try anything by now, gave it a go. The verdict is still out on this one. I’ve been a bit cheeky towards Nomads on this trip, but it’s generally normally them who we have the special moments with. They have time for everyone and really are a treasure to spend time with.

After seeing my lip drop, Ana must have been concocting a plan inside her pineapple because later that evening all of a sudden she dropped “why don’t we go to the coast near Newcastle? Stay for a week, then get the train back to Muswellbrook.” It was a great compromise and something that kept us both together. Problem with that is, it’s school holidays and every park on the coast wants to charge $60 + for putting up a tent! I’d want my anus bleached for that price! That’s how we now find ourselves in the Hunter Valley. It’s a bit cheaper, not packed full of people and a place we wanted to visit when we first started riding on this trip. It’s not perfect but nothing is. Thanks Annie for once again keeping the show on the road. I love you x

We know it’s wine country, but that also means it’s full of wankers, so we bought a box instead.

We’ve been to the promised land.

Snags.

After leaving the comforts of Keithy George’s house, we were back on the road. Since the “China virus” has swept all before it, we hadn’t made a visit to the Australian institution that is Bunnings. Being a Sunday and having one in the vicinity, it would’ve been rude if we didn’t call in. For health and safety reasons the onion was placed under the snag, and now because of Covid I wasn’t allowed to have a fair shake of the sauce bottle. This country is falling into disrepair.

We headed out to Sawtell for that afternoon, it was a beautiful spot, but busy. We were starting to have doubts about taking the coast. It was a shock being around a lot of people again. It only took a brief encounter with a Lebanese drill Sargent and that sealed the deal on which direction we would take from Coffs. After throwing about 10 bucks worth of hot chips to the seagulls in the park, she was oblivious to the two devastated seagulls sitting behind her, who had their dreams dashed of another free feed. Now it was time for her to unleash on poor little Jacob. Her son was copping it, “Jacob you never do as your told!”, “Jacob get your dirty shoes off the blanket”, “Jacob wash your hands you’re filthy!” The drill Sargent had a booming voice, if I closed my eyes I could have sworn it was “Dutch” from Predator. All I was waiting for next was for the drill Sargent to scream at poor little Jacob and tell him “Get to the chopper!”

The new plan was to head inland through Bellingen. We had heard a few times that Bellingen is turning into a mini Byron bay. With devastating news like that we thought we better pay the town our last respects before it’s well and truly fucked! We broke a record for us on the way to Bellingen and got there a day later than planned. Leaving Sawtell we headed through Bongil Bongil National Park and after 5km we got to a picnic area that was too good not to stop at. It was good to be back amongst the trees.

It was only by pure luck that we got into Bellingen, the town had a dress code that was Boho Chic only. Sandals, helmet flap and cycling gloves didn’t cut the mustard. Luckily a man bun left a side door open and we snuck in. We stood out like a vegan in a butcher shop once inside though. Speaking of vegans we are thinking about giving it a go now. The girls who worked at the guesthouse we stayed at were all “super grateful”, “blessed” and everything was just “wonderful”. Mung beans and being able to touch your toes must make people “super happy”. We entered full sloth mode at the Belligen guesthouse and our plan was to do as little as possible. The Corona capital of Australia did us a favour and made some people cancel. They really are a filthy bunch those Sydneysiders. We got the last room available, it was so small you had to go outside to change your mind. That shifted our sloth enterprise to the couch on the balcony, and that was us for the next 4 days. I got up early each morning and morphed into a towel and pretended I was claiming a sun lounge poolside at a resort. There I waited on the couch until the Gypsy arose from the sardine tin. One morning she slept in too long so I had to get the can opener from the kitchen and go and wake her. We only left the couch under two conditions; one you needed to go to the toilet, or two you were going to get food.We needed this break, our enthusiasm, and morale for the trip had become almost non existent. The heat and then rain had taken more out of us than we had thought. Christmas was a good day at the guesthouse. We were the only orphans with nowhere to go, which meant we had the whole place to ourselves. For most of the day it felt like we had booked a double story mansion all for ourselves. After picking up some cream for the “couch sores” we acquired, the day of reckoning had come. After 4 days on the couch at Bellingen and the 3 spent at Keithy’s house prior to that, it was time to get amongst it again! A rare occurrence happened on our grand depart, the sun was shining.

I never knew Dr Martin Luther King was into cycle touring, but apparently, he is! I was doing some research for the next part of our route and found some notes he had written for a speech. Turns out he came along The Waterfall Way from Armidale to Dorrigo. His reasons for riding a bike seem a bit more religious than ours.

Dr Martin Luther King on one of his tours.

Dr Martin Luther King’s notes.

“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

I’m blaming this prick now for the Promised Land being so busy. We wish he didn’t mention it in his speech. The day we arrived at “The Promised Land” it seemed like all his people had arrived the same day too. We did manage to find a boulder with no other lizards on it and had a pretty good afternoon. It’s a beautiful spot!

That night we had one of our worst nights sleep yet on the trip. We stayed at a free campground at the bottom of the hill before we started the climb to Dorrigo the next day. First we made “friends” with a lady who said she was part Cherokee Indian and an opera singer. I call bullshit on her Indian story but when she retired back to her tent she did let a few notes rip. The whole camp heard the fat lady sing that night. Then the Iranians rolled in, with the only large space of grass being next to our tent, they decided to set up camp. It was nice at first laying in bed listening to the lady’s singing old tunes in Persian. When they started getting stuck into all the 90’s disco bangers from Tehran and the clock struck midnight we were over it. That’s what you get for being a tight ass I guess.

The next morning, yawning, we were straight into a 10km climb. We really have to stop listening to wankers in cars. With all the “advice” we had been given the last few days, I thought we were going to need bottled oxygen to reach the summit of Dorrigo. After reading a book on Everest at the guesthouse, I googled how high is the “death zone” just incase we got into trouble on the way up the Waterfall Way. Turned out we still had a few feet to play with. Over 26,000 actually.

The summit of Dorrigo.

After making it to the top, and relieved the oxygen was still the same thickness as below, we headed out to Dangar falls. So too had everyone else from The Promised Land the day before. With all the rain we have had it was a nice sight seeing all the water raging over. Careful not to ruin anyone’s Instagram photo, we managed to take a few pics ourselves.

We are getting good now at finding structures to put our tent up underneath. Big thanks to Dorrigo sports ground for providing a pavilion and balcony to spend the evening.

Dorrigo.

In our heads, we thought the worst was over getting up the hill to Dorrigo. How wrong were we! The Q word got mentioned today. Quit! Yes that’s right “I want to quit” came out of Annie’s mouth. Followed by “I want to quit, but I’m scared you won’t marry me if I do! If that’s the case I will keep cycling”. I won’t lie a part of me wanted to say “well you better keep pedalling then”, but I couldn’t. Annie has been battling for a month now with sharp pains in her knees and I knew she had been struggling. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to quit this day too. Just I wasn’t brave enough to say it, hearing Annie say those words made me love her a little bit more.

We have had better days.

We gave each other a hug, found a side road, put our coats on and ate peanut butter wraps in the rain. The thunder sounded like it was right above us now. Luckily there were 2 trees in the paddock across from us that had two vagina shaped holes in them. That helped lighten the mood.

Tonight’s structure would be the Ebor Showgrounds behind the free rest area where we would put our tent up to get out of the rain. We saw some curtains move from a campervan as they spied us stripping our bikes down and carrying our gear over the fence. You get away with a few more things if your getting around on a pushy. The Showgrounds even had an outside powerpoint, the Gypsy stated “you Aussies are too honest, the whole village would be plugged into this back home.” I’m pretty sure she was being serious.

Someone plugged the hole in the sky long enough for us to check out Ebor falls in the Guy Fawkes National Park the following morning. The two tiered waterfall sure made for some spectacular viewing.

Ebor Falls.

We had a change of plans after the falls and decided to head out to Cathedral Rock National Park. Our brief optimism regarding the weather didn’t last long when the sky started leaking again. Having underestimated how far the park is off the main road and with it raining I started to regret the decision to head in. Once inside the park Annie found some posts and tied the tarp to them to make a shelter while I headed off for the Cathedral Rock loop walk. After a bit of work to get to the top, it was quite the site seeing boulder stacked on top of boulder. I’m not the biggest fan of heights though and the legs started getting a bit wobbly looking down at all the crevasses. They were huge, If I went down in one of these, poor Annie would have been waiting a lot longer then 127hrs because I wouldn’t be cutting my arm off to get out. To save Annie the unfortunate future of waiting under an orange tarp for the rest of her life, I decided if I did trip I would fall head first, the width of my head would save me from slipping down any cracks.

Next we would make it three national parks for the day as we entered New England National Park. By the looks of it last years fires tore the park a new one with scarred black trees everywhere. It’s amazing to see how nature recovers, there is an explosion of green now with green shoots coming out everywhere on the eucalyptus trees. The tops of these trees still have a bit of recovering to do though. They look like John Howard’s eyebrows after he got too close to the candles blowing out his birthday cake.

We had a big days riding ahead of us on New Years Eve with some potential pushing up some steep hills. That all changed when we got up to the Point Lookout. After 3km under our belts from the campground to the lookout, we came across a stone hut with a fireplace and firewood. It had only just gone past 8:30 am but that was us for the day. We were up around 1500 metres and the cloud had come in so there would be no views for anyone today. The weather was wet and miserable but the chance of having a hut to ourselves was too good to pass up. We played host to all the day trippers who stopped in, the family with the kids who gave me the shits trying to help me start fire, the geeky Canadian nature lover and his influencer Brazilian g/f, the cool Dutch lady and kiwi fella, and the Asian family with 47 different flavoured sauce bottles, the last people being the best because the old lady’s gave us biscuits. We hadn’t planned on being here so our food stocks were running pretty low. We saw the new year in with 2 minute noodles and a record amount of cups of tea for the day. We we were in bed by 9 but it was a cosy evening by the fire and we finally got to dry our clothes out. It’s a New Years we won’t forget in a while.

The cloud hadn’t left on New Year’s Day, it had got worse it was down to about 30 metres visibility and still raining. Much to the annoyance of the early risers who had got up early with the new and improved versions of themselves to see the sunrise. It’s amazing how the clock goes past midnight and the following day everyone has turned into a superhuman and started living their best life.

Down from the fog.

Heading down from Mordor the fog and cloud lightened. We had one destination in mind, the Wollomombi general store and their menu. It was the Works burger for lunch and the Works burger for Dinner. It’s hungry business riding a bike. It was our little oasis for the day the general store and the best coffee and hot chocolate we have had on the trip. Later that night back in our tent under the picnic hut in the park, Trevor a local we spent a couple of hours chatting with in the store, knocked on our tent and gave us a packet of falafel mix for our trip. There is some nice humans out there!

Thumbs up for falafel mix.
Wollomombi gorge.

Wollomombi gorge was our destination in the morning. It was pretty breathtaking!!! It’s another sight on this trip that a photo doesn’t do it justice. There was too much going on to fit it all in a happy snap. This country is full of some pretty special places. The only thing that ruined the view was the token Sydney wanker and his gags about where are the three sisters?

Next stop Armidale.

After Wollomombi we were headed to Armidale and the conclusion of our Waterfall Way adventure. It was about time too because we had some serious smells coming out of everywhere. Us and our clothes stunk of wet dog and adventure. Besides the worlds coldest shower in the national park there wasn’t a whole heap of bathing going on in this section. We were looking forward to showering and being able to hug each other without throwing up.

Rolling into town we hadn’t seen the newspapers for a few days, I thought something must be up after looking at the headlines coming from the newspaper stands. Scotty from marketing was at it again changing the lyrics of the National anthem. We have gone from “young and free” to “one and free”. How good’s that?! We are all in it together! I immediately started high fiving and hugging my new mates down the Main Street of Armidale. Then the locals found out Anna was Spanish and I was from Victoria and suddenly the high fives stopped. That’s the thing with Scotty he is big on words and gimmicks and light on actions and substance. No amount of wank songs he sings at his little church will save him from that.

Hands up if you’re a wanker.

Before the Flood.

After the girls left us in the beer garden at the Rosewood pub, the local reptiles started to get a bit restless. When one leather handbag said to the other “ your not my cup of tea” we read the tea leaves and decided to step back into the oven. Upon leaving I gave Annie 2 instructions for a safe departure; don’t make eye contact and don’t mention you don’t like motorsports.

Straight outta Rosewood.

Rosewood Showgrounds provided the perfect ingredients again for another uncomfortable night spent in a tent. We decided to follow the example of the elderly with their mobile lounge rooms who looked like they had all spent a weekend with Bernie, we just laid still and motionless and prayed for a breeze.

H.M.A.S Gypsy

We were up at sparrow’s the following morning, excited to leave the Brisbane Valley. The only green we saw in this valley was the labels on our VB stubbies. Our exit was via the back roads towards Boonah. We had our sites set for the gorge campground behind Lake Moogerah and more importantly, the river that run through it. Picture a male staffie on a hot day lying on some cold tiles panting, trying to cool his nuts off. Swap those tiles for a river and we pretty much employed the same tactic to cool down. We got real comfortable that afternoon by the river.

Letting it all hang out.

We called into Boonah on the way out of the gorge, to replenish our noodles, pasta and oats stash, within 5 minutes a local offered us a place to stay. We liked Boonah! After politely declining the offer it was time to attack a few hills and head for Rathdowney.

It was a nice ride out to Rathdowney, top scenery and no traffic. We were knackered though. The heat over the last few days had fried us. We welcomed the storm that came through that afternoon with open arms via the female cubicles, standing there like little creeps in the public toilets smiling happily. Finally our tent might be a decent temperature to sleep in that night.

Today was the day we were finally going to make it out of Queensland. It had only taken us 136 days and 4223.5 km. What a ride out it was. We took “The Lions Road” out of Queensland. It was fitting we had one more stunning road to ride before we left Texas! I just envisioned we would cross the border a little more triumphantly then the way we did. One more push up another fucking hill!

Crossing the imaginary line into New South Wales we waved at the security cameras, informing them of our arrival! If we swapped all the surrounding trees for wankers, we could have sworn we were back in Sydney.

Pushing up more hills we came across a road crew grading the road. There weren’t many pleasantries exchanged. One bloke just sat in his truck with a look of “ you guys are knobs”. We smiled and waved and pushed on. A few times on this trip, there has been times no matter how good the scenery has been during the ride, there just comes a time in the day where you have had enough and wish you were anywhere else but sitting on that thing that is starting to make your ass sore. That feeling struck again rolling into the sheep station campground. We were spent. Luckily it was pretty lush there and we were rejuvenated soon enough by the nature

Today was a big day. We had a whopping six km to do to get to Forest tops campground. That’s right, six. Like I’ve said before, you really shouldn’t rush fun. In our defence it was a bit of a hill. It still left us plenty of time to act like sloths for the rest of the day. Even though it was short in stature it lacked nothing in beauty. It reminded us of riding through the Daintree again. We even heard the bird we thought was a cassowary riding through the border ranges. God knows what we were chasing up on the Bloomfield track! Wankers!!

6km really takes it out of you.

We have seen some sights on this trip, the Daintree, Hinchinbrook Island, Wallaman Falls and the dress sense at the Mackay Shopping centre. The view looking out into The Tweed Caldera sits among them for highlights on this adventure. It was breathtaking. It was nice riding through the Border ranges. One of our favourite sections of the trip so far.

The Tweed Caldera.
They only serve piss at this bar.

Dante was lucky when he entered through the gates of hell. At least he got some sought of heads up when he read the last line of the inscription that was on the gate “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” For us poor souls there was no such warning as we crossed into the dark realm that is Nimbin! It wasn’t long until my guide Ana Urrutia and myself heard the anguished screams of the uncommitted.

Annie at the gates of hell.

2020 has been dominated by one news story, Covid-19. For me, the second biggest story going on, that no one knows about is, there is still someone practicing lobotomys up in the hills of Nimbin. They must be cheap too because most have one. It’s outrageous! Those poor souls. “The lucky ones” who missed the lobotomy have all picked up the black lung just like Derek Zoolander.

We pictured happy hippies in Nimbin. It was anything but, What a shithole! With talk of “a few showers” over the next few days it was a soggy pack up when we left Nimbin. We didn’t care it was wet, we were just happy to be leaving.

Just like BC & AD we have a new timeline now to measure the trip. Before the flood, and after the flood. When scholars go through the annals of history in the times of “Before the flood” they will find The Stylish Pedlar folk whinged a lot about the heat, hid in public pools and waterholes, and did everything they could to avoid the scorching red blob that torched everything it touched. The same scholars will find in the times of “after the flood” there is no sun. Our offspring will have webbed feet.

The Lismore shopping centre provided us with an hour or two of shelter from the rain. It was hard to find a seat. Even on wet days blokes get dragged along to sit miserably in a corner staring at their phones. With the rain continuing and Noah refusing two more animals on his boat. We set of for Coraki.

Our new headquarters.

It was a good gig at Coraki, we had shiny new facilities to wait out the rain. Only problem was it never stopped raining. After 2 days we got bumped up to the penthouse. The manager let us set up our tent on the balcony. Now this was living. Everyone else pulled their vans out and took off because the river was going to flood. We had the place to ourselves now. Well, almost, the local shitheads knew the access code to the building. After kicking them out when we caught them snooping around, the youngest one, all of about 12 years old, waited until he crossed the road, took his shirt off, flexed and called me a sex offender! The fucking little cunt! How can I do any offending when we aren’t having any sex. For all it’s pluses the bicycle and a 2 person tent does nothing for the romance department. Just like Asians and swimming, it’s not a good combination.

After 3 days, it was time to make a getaway from Coraki. The weather was supposed to be better today, but it was still pissing rain. Only comfort we had was the headwind had stopped. The original plan was to head to Lawrence via the back way of Whiporie. I had rang the General store in the morning to see if they had any info on the road. With the store owner stating “I’ve heard there is water across the road but I don’t think it’s much”. We thought we would be sweet. A kind old German man put a stop to that. He pulled over on the side of the road to tell us a little bit further ahead there is over a metre of water covering the road, “you have no chance of getting to Whiporie that way”.

For every bogan fuckstain and racist redneck, there is good fellas out there like Hans. He offered to let us camp at his place until the water dropped. We had to knock the offer back. After 3 days sitting around in Coraki we were pretty keen on getting a move on. Plus we had a sneaky feeling our Warmshowers host that night was going to give us a home cooked meal. With the backroads flooded and the amount of water we were seeing running through the forests and farms it squeezed us onto the dreaded Pacific Hwy.

Riding the canals around Coraki.

What an attack of the senses that was. Another way to describe it is to say it was fucking horrible! Everything happens for a reason though and the one positive about the Hwy was we bumped into my old housemate from London, Keithy George. He passed us on the Hwy and pulled over at the next stopping bay. My abnormally large head and helmet flap must have gained his attention. If we had a crystal ball, and knew then how we would get on for the next few days, we would of taken him up on his offer of a lift to Coffs. We had one thing on our mind, a home cooked meal in Lawrence.

Rolling into Maclean was nice, with many street names written in English & Scottish Gaelic and power poles painted in different tartan patterns. They are proud of their Scottish heritage. As I went a little further up the road I passed the towns original inhabitants sitting on a park bench with long necks. For some reason they didn’t seem as proud of the towns history.

Maclean

We had one more river to cross before we had a meal and a roof over our head in Lawrence. We pinned the ears back and headed for the ferry. All our dreams came to a grinding halt when a local pulled over to tell us “the ferry is shut, there is too much water in the river.” A boat cannot run because there is too much water. Can you fucking believe it?! That’s like a fat kid coming up to you and saying “I can’t eat, there is too much food!” It’s unheard of. Sadly we had to inform our Warmshowers host we would not be joining her and her husband for dinner that evening. Our host quickly jumped onto the Lawrence ferry Facebook page and returned with the confirmation “you’re stuffed.” It was too far around going via Grafton. My emotions nearly got the better of me when I ended that phone call and came to the realisation that it was going to be another fucking night of pasta for us.

Maclean Showgrounds. We were getting good at seeking out structures to put our tent up under.

In the evening, while depressingly eating our pasta we learnt our Warmshowers host was an evil bastard. She sent us a photo of the Thai meal she had cooked us and the loaf of bread she had baked for us for the following day. We cried ourselves to sleep that night!

The new day started just the same as every other one had started for the last 5 days now. It was raining. At least our tent was dry after sleeping in the V.I.P lounge. We headed for the worlds best Bakery in Maclean for breakfast. Why a town with an establishment such as this, are the residents so miserable? People don’t look happy in Maclean.

To avoid our ears getting assaulted again we took some backroads out of Maclean. We had one problem, the roads had morphed into rivers. Add to the equation, I had read the map wrong and it was starting to turn into another shit day for us.

Tonight we had lined up another Warmshowers host so it wasn’t all doom and gloom. We found a solution to the map reading problem too. Bush bash and jump fences. The consolation prize being we were back on the highway. We were starting to hate these days of “after the flood”. Rolling into our hosts accommodation in the hills outside of Coffs was nearly the lowest I have felt on this trip. The rain and the highway were beginning to have an effect. Luckily, Shelby the Canadian girl looking after the place while the owner was away was a little champion and made us feel right at home. I still felt like crying though when she told us the hot water wasn’t working. FML! We slept in shipping containers that night with the walls lined with books. Side by side in single beds, it was proper cosy!

I have to give the toilet at this place the highest compliment. It was one you wished you were constipated on and had to push for hours. The views were superb.

By now we had given up plans of, sightseeing on the way into Coffs. It was too wet and we were too over it. With moral being at an all time low, we realised we needed a break when we rode past the big Banana. The sight of all those “fuckheads” lining up in front of an enormous banana to get their photo taken sent me over the edge. There was all this nature around and people want a photo in front of a fake banana. I don’t know why it pissed me off so much. Maybe I was struggling being back in a big town. Annie didn’t have a great feeling either riding into Coffs. A few of the inhabitants looked a bit rough. Or we were just unlucky and passed the only people in town who’s favourite pastime is getting fucked up. Thankfully Keithy put us up for a few days. It did us the world of good relaxing in a house, eating something that wasn’t pasta and sleeping in a bed. Cheers Keithy!!! We are back on the road again now and can’t wait to get amongst the trees!

On the road again.

Survivors

Hi my name is Matt, this is my partner Ana and together we are survivors! “Survivors of what?” I hear you say. “The big Q, Queensland!!” After 4223.5 km we finally made it out. The land of the big crab, the big melon (the fruit, not my head) and the enormous bogan! You have been good to us Queensland. This place has some amazing nature and terrible dress sense. Seriously guys give the fishing shirts a rest. We all loved Agro’s cartoon connection, doesn’t mean we have to dress like him.

Thanks for letting us ride through your ancient rainforests. The Daintree was something special. We got to travel back in time along the Burdekin. The hospitality we received in these parts was second to none. While out there we were lucky to witness how the cattle and women are used for breeding. It wasn’t until we ventured further south that we got to witness the female species being able to roam a little more freely. We loved your country pubs and your 1973 prices despite the piss you poured through the taps. We have had the pleasure of pedalling past your finest food halls like the Mackay KFC and seeing you waiting patiently 20 cars deep. We are survivors of croc country and grateful that they treated us the same as we treated your “surf & turf.”

On our first expedition into a Canelands shopping centre, our thoughts were: “This must be a state made up of many clans”. Well, going by all the middle aged white men with tribal tattoos, it had to be! We got wrecked on Keppel, just like the resort that lays in ruin there now.

Thank you Queensland for providing us shelter during the pandemic. You helped us survive Covid! It made us realise how united a country Australia really is. “We are all in this together”. Unless you are from another state, if that’s the case you’re not welcome here!

We are going to miss your cattle running along the fence line, cheering us on like we were in the Tour de France! Offers of kindness, like a stranger coming up to us at the end of a days ride with a cold beer, were always appreciated. Also your words of encouragement shouted from passing 4x4s “get off the road you fucking dickheads” always gave us a boost during the tough times.

Thank you Queensland for letting Hinchinbrook Island survive, like it always has. Hiking the Thorsborne trail will be hard to top for highlights on this trip. You have plenty of other islands China can build a resort on.

You really are bred tough in Queensland, that tough you write it on your billboards to remind yourself. “Tough times don’t last, tough people do!” Even I felt a bit harder after reading it, and I’m from “Mexico”.

Just like the movement overseas, “black coal lives matter too”. After seeing the bumper sticker in Collinsville we took the knee. Here’s a tip for you Pauline, if you really want to drought proof Queensland maybe stop big business sucking the landscape dry. You and your mates won’t do that though because digging it up and cutting it down is the “only” way you can keep our lights on.

Also a big thanks to Queensland’s own Sith Lord Peter Dutton for granting Ana’s visa while we were on the road. I still think your a bit of a cunt though.

We noticed a difference straight away as we crossed the N.S.W border. On the Queensland side there is a sign that reads “Welcome to Queensland” low key, you just roll in and get on with the fun. This other mob has security cameras up everywhere and the price plan for visiting their parks.

Everything in Queensland is big. The size of the state, the distances between places, the characters and the size of their hearts. We loved seeing your nature up close. Try not to chop it all down. Thanks for letting us ride through. We had a ball!

Someone left the oven on

It’s got hot.

What we would give to be back at the house “ the fist” built, sitting on the couch with the aircon on. It’s got hot now. Nothing like ginger Pete experienced, a red nut I met in the U.K. who once let out a scream when the mercury hit a whopping 25 degrees and let out the now famous “ It’s so hot I can’t even think”. This is next level. Vanilla ice cream shouldn’t be left in the sun and that’s how I feel when I’m riding on the tarmac, melting away. If we knew what we do now, I think we would still be living the good life in the Waghorne’s pool. This is now, let’s go back to then.

It was a busy road out of Bundy, but I guess that that was the only option, because the town is devoid of footpaths. I guess walking hasn’t been invented here yet. We were just thankful for not being decapitated by a bogan while we were there. At least this road had a shoulder, nothing like the size of mine that Annie has been riding on for most of this trip, but a shoulder none the less.

Childers looked a nice town as we rolled through, but 6:30 in the morning even by our standards was a bit too early to pull up stumps. Exiting town I had another heart in mouth moment hoping the dotted line we were following was in fact rideable through the Wongi state forest and wasn’t going to turn into another shit fight, with us pushing our bikes through the bush. Turns out I fluked one and it was pretty good riding into Howard. Well, except for the last 10-15 km through the pine plantation. They really are a sad place to ride through. Lifeless and dull.

Howard rest area.
Toogoom.

We have Fukushima and Chernobyl and now you can add Hervey Bay to the list of man or women made nuclear disasters. What Ana unleashed in the tent that night will be remembered throughout the ages. It made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and in the very next instance singed them off. As the mushroom cloud rose through the tent I said goodbye to my nostril hairs as they were burnt off. As the cloud continued to rise all matter of life forms begun dropping from the trees. I hope no pregnant women gather at that park for a chin wag because I have no doubt birth defects will rise in Hervey Bay.

Live footage of the Hervey Bay incident.

I wasn’t having a good run in Hervey Bay. A butcher bird gave it his best attempt to gouge my eyes out with a frontal attack. We had missed the warning sign telling us there was a madman in the park and just as the bbq started to sizzle with that evenings dinner he launched his attack. The birds beak was written off after the attack and we cooked dinner with our helmets on for the rest of the night.

Riding through Maryborough was a pleasant surprise. They had the best Queenslander homes we have seen to date. Throw in a nice park in the centre of town and it was a good spot for a break at lunchtime.

Maryborough.

We’ve been on a few ordinary roads this trip and you can now add the road from Maryborough out to Poona. Poona by name Poona by nature. Long, straight and boring pine plantations. Once there, the morning colours made up for it

Poona

Next stop down the road was Tin Can Bay and we had reason to celebrate. My little gypsy sidekick had her visa approved. There is little coincidence that as Annie’s VB intake increased The Sith Lord Peter Dutton decided to fast track her application. It was a relief for both of us and now I have a partner for plenty more adventures. All Ana has to do now is drive everywhere in a car, abuse cyclists, use a KFC drive through, wear a shit fishing shirt and pretend to like cricket so she will become a full blown Australian.

We had a good place to wild camp that night in Tin Can Bay. Even though the mosquitoes outside our tent sounded like they had rabies and were itching to get stuck into us.

My dislike for rednecks in 4x4s increased today as we headed into the bogan Mecca of Rainbow Beach. Too many times we had pricks flying past us close enough that we could reach out and pick their nose. If anyone out there is reading this and are thinking about riding the main rd into Rainbow Beach on a weekend. Don’t! When we finally got into Rainbow we pulled up a stool at the pub and got to watch all the “men” with their chests puffed out drive up from the beach, proud of themselves for conquering some sand.

Ready to tackle the beach
And pushy’s too.

The next day it was our turn to be heroes and conquer the beach just like the bogans before us. Our plan was to ride the beach from Rainbow to Noosa north shore. We had found a few blogs of people doing it but our only concern was being loaded tourers we might be a bit heavy for the sand. We couldn’t have got better conditions for the ride. Wild camping in the bushes next to the skate park and thankful the schoolies who were in town left us alone, we were up early and itching to get into it. An 8:40am low tide meant we were on the beach and riding at 5:30. Once we realised the sand could take our bikes we were off!

Everyone warned us before the ride, be careful of bogans flying up the beach. Besides the odd surfer driving up the beach, there was hardly anyone out there. With the coloured sands cliff face on one side, the ocean on the other, and with us in the middle with beaming smiles. Early on this was shaping to be one of our best rides for the trip.

If you pinned your ears back and had the wind going the right way you could get to Noosa in a day easy, but that’s not our style and what’s the point of that. We broke it up over 2 days which meant we only had 18.5 km to do the first day to get to Freshwater camp and day use area. We had the riding done by 9am and spent the rest of the day following the shade around and laying on the grass keeping an eye on the goanna who was getting friendlier with us with each passing hr.

The Qld kids were celebrating “ schoolies week” while we were there. While there was a heap of 4x4s heading through the park they were pretty well behaved. Our only concern was how can these kids who have just finished school can get around in new 4×4’s. They sure put to shame the shitboxes we drove for our first car.

Day 2 saw us have a little further to ride but with only 45 km to the Noosa river barge it was hardly a pinch. With a little tail wind along the way our only problem was deciding on a place to have a break and take it all in.

It’s doesn’t get much better than that.

The only issue with this route is eventually you run out of sand to ride on. But like all good things do, eventually it had to end. Heading across the river into Noosa on the barge nothing could’ve wiped the smile from our faces. The Great Sandy National Park has been a highlight so far.

We’d organised to stay with a warmshowers host once we were in Noosa and we struck gold again with Mick & Mel. It really is a great community and it’s nice being in a bed for a couple of days to recharge the batteries. Another bonus is being able to eat something different that doesn’t need to be heated up in a pot. We are having a few issues with food atm. 2 minute noodles with peanut butter, pesto pasta and oats with jam on repeat is starting to wear thin.

We gave the bikes a spell and walked the Noosa headland trail while we were in town. It’s one of Annie’s favourite places. With it being a bit of a rough day we didn’t have to share it with too many people either. A lot of people love themselves in Noosa but if we lived here we would probably love ourselves too! With the beach and nature on your door step it’s a pretty good lifestyle.

Wish we were Labradors at the moment and eat everything in our path.

Goodbyes are never easy and after bidding farewell to Cooper, Mick & Mels Labrador it was time to hit the hills. After tossing up which way to go, we met a bloke in town who confirmed Annie’s magical route that she had drawn. It was straight up and over the back for us. Heading out of Noosa we started contemplating if we should just ride around here for the rest of the trip. It started resembling some sort of magical cyclist utopia. People were friendly, cars were nice to us and there were bike trails and paths everywhere.

Heading out of Noosa.

To get around the back of Brisbane and The Gold Coast we headed straight up to Cooroy. Hills aside the riding was spot on, green lush and quiet. We camped that night in a free camp ground about 10km from Imbil.

The master chef.
Morning.

The following day was another pleasant ride through the Mary Valley. Taking us into Imbil a town too nice not to stop at. I’m glad we did because we witnessed one of the biggest toddler meltdowns of all time. The strength the mother showed to not toss that toddler off the bridge while he was screaming has to be commended. It was a great advertisement for conception. It’s got me stumped how parents put up with that shit. Alcohol, I guess?

The bridge that the kid lost his shit on.

Yabba creek campground outside of Kenilworth was our camp for that night. It seems like a lifetime ago now. They were simpler times back then. The grass was green and things lived.

It was a good start the next day. My seat fell apart. I’d lost the tension bolt somewhere and the bracket fell off. I have no hard feelings towards the saddle. If I had my sweaty ass on me for that long I’d throw the toys out the pram too. Luckily with a bit of hose a nomad gave us, my towel and a couple of cable ties, there is no problem that cannot be solved.

We’ve been up some decent hills on this trip. The one we rode up to get through Conondale National Park takes the cake in terms of toughest. 30 km uphill, hot and a rough road to boot. It took it out of us. Half way along when an old couple stopped to offer us a lift was something I regretted knocking back at the end of the day. At the top of the hill the tarp came out for lunch and we laid down beside the road staring at the forest.

Water was starting to become an issue after lunch. We had chewed through a bit getting up Satan’s hill. Kindly the Queensland education department has put an outdoor ed camp on the hill. After jumping the fence our problem was solved.

Pecho Lobo!

We were a sad looking sight rolling into Peach trees campground that evening. We were buggered. All we wanted was to eat and for it to be cool enough to get inside our tent. It was a unanimous decision the following day to have a rest day. With the campground clearing out from the weekend and the heatwave coming, we took a leaf out of the locals book and spent the day laying under a tree.

Leaving Jimna it was all down hill into the Brisbane valley and onto the Brisbane valley rail trail. We jumped on near Linville, it’s a great idea using unused space and infrastructure and encouraging people to get outside and explore areas and pump a bit of cash into towns. Only problem for us is the mercury has topped 40 a couple of times since and it feels like we are riding in an oven. Our new tactic now is finishing at towns or caravan parks that have a pool and sitting in it for the rest of the day. Even if we have finished riding by 8am!

Another reason we were setting the worlds slowest pace to get down the rail trail, was to meet a couple of special mates I lived with in London. A lot might have changed since those days. Nap time has taken precedence over what time happy hour finishes. But one thing that won’t change is we will always be mates. Thanks for coming out to that dry hell hole, girls. It’s always a pleasure to see you!

Mates.

How good are mates!

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.

Riding bikes is fun!

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.

Dinner is served.

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.

The kids must have fell off.

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.

Top deck.

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!

River

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.

Dry enough.
Rain expert.

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.

Re-enactment of the crime scene.
I lent my head to far to the left.

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.

The race to Jambin.

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.

We came second.

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.

Ubodo Main Street.

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.

We saved a bee in Ubodo.

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.

1770

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.

Deepwater National Park

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!

Team photo.

Not everything is as it seems.

Last time we left you we were up at Cape Hillsborough enjoying some time off our asses. We had met a bloke named Paul involved in the Adani coal mine protests a few months back up at Wallaman falls. We got chatting and he offered us his place at Cape Hillsborough if we were going past. We weren’t really, it was about 120km out of our way, but thought stuff it and we made the little detour.

Cape Hillsborough

Paul wasn’t home but had left instructions for us on where he’d left a spare key and how to turn the power and water on. All this from a person who we had been chatting to for 10 minutes. People have been really kind to us on this trip. I’m not sure if it’s because people feel sorry for us or they think we are poor, but the bicycle has opened a lot more doors for us than if we had been getting around by car.

No traffic here.

On the way to Paul’s place, we rode through the cane fields and cattle farms. Once again I found myself thinking what this place must have looked like before us, white fellows, got here. In Qld roughly 370,000 hectares have been cleared for sugar cane. That’s a lot of land for us fatty’s that love a cake or three. When compared to around 340 million hectares of land cleared for grazing it’s just a drop in the ocean. No wonder our native animals are feeling the pinch. That’s why people like Paul and our warmshowers hosts in Mackay Peter and Jackie are so important, out there on the front line, fighting for what we have left.

Before I start singing “hello darkness my old friend” let’s lighten the mood a little. My gypsy sidekick had a few toilet issues out at Cape Hillsborough. At one stage she had to shit in a bucket because there was a frog in the toilet and she didn’t want her bum anywhere near it. Add to the mix a rat running past and poor old Annie wasn’t having the best start to her morning routine.

On the billboard for Cape Hillsborough there is a picture of some Wallaby’s kicking back on the beach at sunrise. We thought: “shit that looks relaxing, let’s join the cute little buggers”.

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So up at 4am we got, jumped on the pushy’s and had a short little ride down to the beach to join the wallaby’s and watch the sunrise. In reality we were probably a little naive thinking we were going to have it all to ourselves. On arrival we were greeted by something that resembled a really tacky petting zoo. There were people everywhere chasing wallaby’s with their zoom lenses. We decided to give it the ass and kept to the other end of the beach. Not everything is as it seems.

Reality.

We had heard after we visited Cape Hillsborough that the park rangers bury food in the sand on the beach to entice the wallaby’s down. Aaah nature don’t you just love it!

Our first fellow tourer we have met on the road.

On the way back to Mackay we came across our first fellow cycle tourer on this trip. Darren ( @everywhichwaybutlost ) was on a recumbent and has been on the road since 2015. Ana was more impressed with his bike. She now wants a tandem recumbent so she can sit in the front and take naps when she is tired!

I’d be happier if Annie towed this.
The pinnacle of my cycling career!

It was a big day for me once we got back to Mackay. New sandal day!! Boy was I pumped. My last $20 specials from Kmart had finally disintegrated and that’s not putting any mayo on it. The Gypsy would prefer me to not to dress like a complete flog but after my purchase of fingerless gloves, my ascent through the ranks to reach full cycle touring geek is now complete. While at Canefield central buying my sandals, I noticed the shoppers generally fitted into 3 categories. First there were the ones fresh out of the big house sporting an ankle monitoring bracelet. The second group was the ones with a shit tattoo, and if you couldn’t afford a tattoo, or you were an outstanding citizen, you just got around in one of those horrible fishing shirts.

Horrible fishing shirt.

From Mackay we had been tossing up whether to get a bus to Rockhampton. On the drive up from Sydney, from the comfort of our rental car the scenery resembled something out of a mad max movie. To put it simply it looked pretty shit! After staying another night at our warmshowers hosts back in Mackay, the bus idea was quickly put in the bin. Peter had a way for us to get to “Rocky” that kept us off the highway. He sold it as the worlds biggest bicycle path… and we bought it! Peter loves his cycling and has done a fair bit of riding in the area and put it all down on a map with info on where to get water.

“ I should have caught the bus! “

One of the nights on the way to Rocky we spent it at funnel creek. What a ripper of a spot to camp. We weren’t expecting that when we rode past. What made it even better was “ Big Scotty “ who was camped there in his 4×4. Our first impressions of this big lump of a man with tattoos of guns on his back living in his 4×4, was we were going to be his next victims. When he led us to a swimming spot a few hundred metres from our camp I thought “yep, this is it”. Ana had the same thoughts too, while she was checking he didn’t have any rope on him or a pistol down the back of his shorts.

Turns out not everything is as it seems! You couldn’t have met a nicer fellow! Scotty used to work in Croc relocating. Now he works for Qld parks. He is living out of the 4×4 because where he is based its a mining town and the rents are sky high,l. Also, when he knocks off on a Friday afternoon he hits the road and goes camping for the weekend. We cooked up a storm together that night and enjoyed a few beers around the campfire. Well, Scotty cooked up the storm, he supplied the steaks and potatoes in a camp oven, plus a few beers. All we could bring to the table was pesto pasta!

The one downside about the worlds biggest bicycle path is the amount of road kill on it. Our own private bike path started to resemble the killing fields! The cars weren’t discriminatory out here, all the species were copping it. The worst thing about road kill on a bicycle is not riding past and seeing some poor bugger who’s been splattered and had its brains pushed through its asshole. It’s the smell, you get a taste of it a long way back and you know what lies ahead. Then once you have past the scene of the crime it takes a long time to leave your nostrils!

Next up on our way down the path was Markwell station and a night with Simon & Sue. We organised to stay there through Peter & Jackie in Mackay and what a great couple they turned out to be! Some of the other stations we have been through made you not want to eat meat because of all the damage the cattle has done to the land. Simon and Sue were a breath of fresh air. They had so much care for the land and their actions were driven by conservation not profits. Keeping a good coverage of grass in the paddocks, fencing off creeks and streams, keeping trees in the paddocks and not over stocking the land, are unheard of any other stations in the area.

A part of that is due to the terrible floods that ripped through the area in 2017 from the aftermath of cyclone Debbie and believing climate change played a big part in it. The wall of water that came through their property taking everything in its path was mind blowing. They lost a few high voltage power line towers that washed away in their paddocks and had water lapping half way up their kitchen cupboards. If you look at the photo of their house below you get some scale of how much water came through their property.

They had water come up about 500 ml on the second level.

After the rain washed everything away it was tough times on Markwell Station they went 6 weeks without power and Sue got Ross River fever. After Simon gave us a tour of the farm we got fed steak again that night for dinner. It’s been a tough life for us whenever we come across these farmers.

The next day was the worst day we have had on the bike so far this trip. 125km of pavement went by but it felt like 1025! Welcome to the worlds longest day. The last 30 kms of it we wished we were anywhere but on those bikes. Our asses were squealing and both of us were squirming around the seat to find a position that was comfortable. Our spirits only lifted when we were within eyesight of the pub & campground and talk focused on how many things on the menu we should order. We decided over dinner that night we are not doing that again. This is meant to be a holiday.

It was a long day.

After a rest day at the pub sitting on rubber doughnuts so our freckles could recover. We set sail for Rocky. Our asses pleaded with us to break it up into 2 days. We were reluctant at first but when they threatened us that if we didn’t they would make us shit the bed in our sleep, we caved to their demands. Turns out it was a pretty good ride taking the back way into Rockhampton. Glad we didn’t listen to the bloke at the Marlborough pub who I’d asked for some info on the road. All he could give us was “ fuck that!” While he was sporting a look that said: “ I really want to punch you in the face for even thinking about something like that.”

We found a good camp that night on the Fitzroy river at Glenroy crossing. We got some advice of the locals driving past. “Don’t swim in there, it’s full of crocs.” When a farmer stopped at nighttime to check on us and give us some water he informed us he has a 5 metre croc at his place just up the river. We were happy we kept out of the water.

Cheeseburgers for breakfast at Grandmas store.

It felt like we were cycling into One Nations heartland when heading into Rocky. There were billboards up everywhere. It really does ruin the scenery seeing that red headed moles face everywhere.

Rockhampton was a pleasant surprise. After everyone talking shit about it we were fearing the worst. But we found it pretty nice. Well nice enough to sleep in the park in the middle of town. We were up 4:30 next morning to pack up the tent before the gardeners could find us.

Yeppoon was flash. Not what we were expecting at all. For a minute there we thought we had gained a few hundred kms and lobbed on the Sunshine Coast. After a few too many terrible fishing shirts waltzed past we knew we were still in bogan country. The lagoon was a big tick, with the infinity pool overlooking the ocean it felt like you could swim straight into the sea.

Yeppoon lagoon.

The reason we headed out this way was we were headed to Great Keppel Island. I don’t know who was more excited about having 9 days out of the saddle, us or our assholes. We had organised beforehand to do a work exchange at the Great Keppel Village. A couple of hours gardening each day and we could pitch the tent and stay for free. The colour of the water and white sand hypnotised us immediately. It was a strange feeling swimming around in water and not thinking about being eaten by some prick. Benny the manager looked after us. If he was anymore relaxed he would fall asleep upright. In the kitchen we got a nice surprise, Janet and Bruce were here, a couple we met earlier in our trip at Wonga Beach. They really are great people, and we thought that before they gave us leftover sausages, bacon, salami, cheese & chocolate! Janet started surfing at aged 50. There is hope for this Author yet. I just need a counterweight for my head and I’ll have the balance problem sorted.

Annie celebrating her 3 year Aussieversary.

We had the best time on Keppel and fell in love with it. Knocking off work in the morning, we would have the afternoon to explore the island by sea kayak, foot, or snorkeling. If that was too strenuous we would spend the afternoon laying on the beach. Well Ana did I laid in the shade.

Just like most things though if you dig a little deeper or explore a little more, you soon start to realise not everything is as it seems. This island is no different to the mainland with its treatment of the First Nation peoples. Poor is one way of putting it. To remove people from their home so some assholes can run a few sheep is pretty shit. A few were lucky, they got to stay and be used as slave labour and fed scraps. There are reports off some “gins” (aboriginal women) hiding in a tidal cave. The men were out on the tip of the headland trying to keep the settlers away from them. The men were shot and the women taken away. That tidal cave had another use for the settlers. It came in handy when any of the natives “misbehaved” by interfering with the sheep. They got chained up in the cave. Some made it through the night with water up to their necks, others drowned. There is reports of a rusted iron ring in the rock face at Svendsen’s beach. We went there one day by kayak. I think I found the tidal cave but no evidence of any rings to see if it was true.

https://www.pngattitude.com/2014/11/survival-against-the-odds-the-story-of-the-keppel-islanders.html ( This is one of the articles I read on it )

Since we kicked them off we have done a stellar job looking after the place. Great Keppel Island resort was booming in the 90’s. With the advertising campaign “Get wrecked on Keppel”. There was some fun to be had out there. The resort got sold once it had gone past its used by date. It’s been mothballed now and the place is a fucking tip in paradise! How can you build all that and just let it go to waste? It doesn’t make sense. Underground nightclub, runway, swimming pools and squash courts all lie in ruin. The homestead involved in the poor treatment of the First Nations people gets heritage listing for running sheep for a few years, but we turn a blind eye to injustice and waste. To me it doesn’t really add up.

Fuck off Clive!!!

“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!

On the way to Home Hill.

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.

Cycle touring life.

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”.

#Gypsy

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!

On the way to Home Hill.

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.

Eating cane.

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.

Found a little shed for some shade.

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.

On the way to Kirkine station. Bin night would be quite the expedition.
Sunrise at Kirkine station.

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.

When the river runs dry.

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.

Another hole in the ground leaving Collinsville.

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.

Good 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.

Mt Herbert on Strathalbyn station.

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.

Us not really eating meat.

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.

Horse, Rachel & Annie

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.

Over another bald hill we go!

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.

Pasta… again!

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!

“ are you cunts serious?”

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 🚵🏻‍♂️⛺️🍻

The Nomads Strike Back.

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.

The nomads are in town!

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.

Spewing we missed Ernie’s pass the parcel on Sunday.

Instead of having a nice evening celebrating our engagement we were swamped by what felt like hundreds of people with plastic hips and pacemakers.

Social distancing went out the window when it came to our tent.

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 line up.

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.

On our way to Dalrymple Gap.

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!

Pretty impressive.

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!

Wallaman falls.

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.

Team meeting.

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!

Back on track!
Sweet Graded Gravel.

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.

Smooth operator.
She ain’t no cleanskin!

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!

My Fox crater.

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!

Running River.

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!

Feed us!
Sandal tan approaching level 4

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