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 the hill.

Little crystal creek was out of the question on the way down for a wild camp because it was still raining. So off to Big Crystal Creek instead at the bottom of the hill it was. We were pretty happy it was a few degrees warmer even though the drizzle was still hanging around. After a plunge in the paradise pool and another helping of sausages in bread for dinner. We went to bed pretty happy with full bellies!

Big crystal creek.
Bath time.
Around in circles.

The next day we headed out to the Bruce Hwy. It really is shit riding on this thing. We are pretty grateful we have avoided most of it to date. The sign told us we were only 42km south of Ingham where we had started 4 days earlier. You really shouldn’t rush fun! With plenty of food in our panniers we decided to give ourselves 2 days rest on the beach 60km north of Townsville at a place called Justin Park. It’s a free camp for tent campers on the beach. With an outdoor shower, toilets, drinking water and bbqs at that price it’s pretty good value for money.

Made it to Townsville.

It pissed down this morning just before we were packing up. Added with a 5am start it wasn’t the best start to a Sunday. We wanted to get into Townsville before the traffic got too heavy on the highway. Heading into town we passed some of Townsville finest businesses like “Bobs bulk booze” and my favourite “The wet spot”. Throw in a shitbox commodore with personalised number plates that read “bring it” screaming passed we aren’t expecting much of the place. Maybe I’m being harsh. Look at the Gypsy for example. She can hardy contain herself!

Annie hardly containing herself.

Well that was unexpected!

Nina Bay.

A last minute decision has seen us head over to Hinchinbrook Island to tackle the Thorsborne trail over 4 nights. After a little favour from Brad the tour operator from Hinchinbrook Island Cruises who lent us his backpack. All Annie had to do was tie our two day packs together and we were off.

The double backpack.

Heading out of the harbour I thought Brad was taking the piss and was trying to scare a couple of Mexicans when he said the dinghy had a slight leak. Five minutes later when he put the boat on idle and pulled out the foot pump we realised this wasn’t the case. After repeating this three more times and not having the band from the ballroom of the titanic start up we made it over an hr later.

Annie turned skipper on the way home when the boat still had a leak.
We did the same as the croc sandal gang, but only had one night at Zoe Bay.

Most people who do the trail over 4 nights spend two nights at Zoe bay. We thought we would follow the lead of a bunch of blokes who have done it the last 8 years and written a blog about it. Despite the fact they hike in crocs and they should be put down for that reason they seemed to know what they were talking about. Day 1 saw us walk a monstrous 4.5km to Nina bay with a trek up Nina peak included. Walking up hills with heaps of gear is what we had been doing lately anyway. Just this time we left the bikes at home.We could have saved ourselves a sweaty ring and stopped a quarter of the way up the peak and taken some pics there because it was the same view as at the top, just not as high. After getting into camp I set off up a dry creek in search of some water. It soon turned into up shit creek because I wacked my way through the bush for a km to come back empty handed. After seeing the look of disappointment in Ana’s eye that I failed as a provider she took off bladder in hand. Sitting around waiting for the Gypsy to return I had the words of what every man hears at home “you do nothing around this place” ringing in my ears. So I decided to spruce the place up a little bit. I added a letterbox, footpath and outdoor dining area to our little pop up tent home. Annie came back with water and we didn’t have to eat in the drizzle that night. We had both kicked a goal.

The view as we started our hike.
Top of Nina peak.

Day 2 saw us doing a slightly more strenuous 6km to Banksia bay. Not many people camp here because there are no toilets. After smelling the toilet on the first night I would much rather shit in a hole that I have dug myself anyway! Coming here proved to be a pretty good choice, we had the whole beach to ourselves. Well almost there was a couple sleeping out in their yacht offshore waiting for the winds to die down. They had sailed from Darwin.

After this day banksia bay will be forever known as engagement bay! Annie popped the question and I said yes. This is how it went down. While I was reading my book in the shade working on my moon tan. I could see the Gypsy was up to no good in the bushes fiddling around. Next minute she lays next to me with two rings she had made herself and asks to marry me. I was pretty taken aback and thought she was kidding at first. Then the “ oh shit this is serious” thought happened and I quickly said yes. What surprised me the most is the ring fit perfectly on my stupid sausage fingers! I love you Annie and can’t wait to keep having adventures together.

A lot of leaf went into making that ring.

Now with that out of the way let’s get to one of my favourite pastimes. Ripping the piss out of full kit hiking wankers. That’s what we encountered on day 3 at Zoe bay. Arriving shortly after us into camp was 3 blokes in their 50’s looking like they were on their way to an Indiana Jones dress up party and had got lost. Head wanker and Captain Personality gave off the vibe he was out in the bush not wanting to hike but looking for a safe place to relocate the bodies he has in his backyard. Now I know it’s not nice to pigeonhole or put labels on people but while I’m at it I’m pretty sure this Indiana Jones/Fred West wannabe harmed kittens as a child. When I looked down after our enthralling chat I noticed he had crocs on. That’s it I was done.

But close to the river.

Old Fred might have had the last laugh though, because after dinner I started looking at our tent and how close I had set it up next to the crocs warning sign and the river. That proved to be quite an unpleasant sleep for me that night. Every splash from the river I thought it was a crocodile coming to bite my head off. I finally comforted myself with the thought “don’t be silly there is no croc big enough out there that would fit your head in its mouth” and fell asleep. Turns out Annie had a rougher night than me. She got eaten by midgies during the night and woke looking like she had ran out of places to jab a needle in her arm so decided to turn her legs into pin cushions.

Midgies 1 Us 0
Annie taking a dip at the bottom of Zoe falls
Heading up to the falls.
Top of the falls
I was too shy too get my tits out.

Atop of Zoe falls on the morning of day 4 you could see why people spend two nights here. The view from the natural infinity pool over Zoe bay was breathtaking. It was too good not to take a dip. After taking it all in we were off. It was a tough slog through open heathland and bush to get to Mulligan falls. We enjoyed the lush rainforest of the previous day much more. Coming down into Mulligan falls we got a pretty good view of Sunken Reef Bay and Magnetic Island off in the distance. That’s been a highlight of this hike, all the different types of environments we have come across and the different views we have encountered. The next one better than the last. Arriving at Mulligans we got to pitch our tent only a hundred metres from the falls. That’s were we spent the rest of the afternoon, swimming and laying on the rocks. It’s always good to wash the gunk off at the end of the day.

Good way to spend the afternoon.
Mulligan falls.
Time for a dip.

One thing that we haven’t been good at on this hike is food. It’s been absolute shit! After 4 days of rice we cooked at the caravan park before we left mixed with olive oil, chilli powder and a can of beans on top in a wrap for lunch, morale was low. Dinner didn’t help change that. It was 2 minute noodles with half an onion. One thing we didn’t fuck around with on the last night was the midgies and mosquitoes. We had been ass raped for days by these little pricks and we were not going to take it anymore! Our dinner attire that night had us looking like we were off to the snow. With a mosquito coil burning out the front of our tent it was the best night sleep we had.

Fuck you mosquitoes!
Last nights camp @ Mulligan Falls

The morning of the final day saw me continue with my plan of waking early and trying to be the first punter into the toilets of death before any of the other evil dark agents had. Sadly, I failed on the final day. As I approached the turd layer I heard a grunt and a few moments later the evil bog lord walked down the stairs grinning and said to me “she is all yours champ”. I had been defeated.

Heading to George’s Point.

Well there is always breakfast, and another serving of oats and a teaspoon of jam sent spirits soaring. Annie really treated me on the last day. I got to eat the last wrap with nothing in it.

The final day.

The last days walk consisted of a 5km beach run to George Point where we are getting picked up by boat and taken back to Cardwell. Having arrived 2 hrs too early that’s where we are sitting now on a picnic bench. Dreaming of a beers and a bbq and celebrate our engagement. It was a good call coming over to Hinchinbrook. The Thorsborne Trail didn’t disappoint!

Annie saying goodbye to Steppy & Grunter.
Time to head back to Cardwell.

Just f@$king go for it!

“What’s a surf & turf?” With that question from Annie, I took a deep breath and began to explain the finer details of this Australian delicacy that sits high on the menu of our sophisticated palate. “It’s a bit of meat with seafood stacked on top”. I am going out on a limb here but judging from Ana’s reaction, which resembled screwing up her face like a cat’s ass in a sandstorm, I don’t think this dish which seems to be so popular in the fine dining establishments in FNQ, like the Cooktown RSL, will be crossing over to the tables of the Basque Country.

Annie looked after me with a breakfast feast for my b’day.

Someone with a harder job than me try to convince Ana that this meal is a good thing was the owner of the caravan park we stayed at. His mission is trying to get people to turn their 3 day visits to Cooktown into weeklong stays. We had the same idea as many of the residents in town with their “for sale”signs out the front. We were pretty keen to get out of there.

With our bikes pointed South it was time to start pedalling over the same ground we had been over just a few days earlier. Once again we called into “ The Lions Den Hotel” this time it was only to fill up our water bottles instead of filling ourselves with beer. The publican still looked grumpy. I wondered if he was still looking for the 4×4 driver who took a crap in the middle of the campsite on our last visit.

Proud partner moment here.
Annie joined me in the “guiri” life!

One thing that isn’t crap was riding through the Daintree again. Yeah, we had to push our bikes up the same heartbreaking hills but it sits at the top of our list of fun to date. Somewhere out in that rainforest Ana magically became invisible. Well, she must have, because the 4×4’s drove straight past her and stopped at me and asked if we needed help. It must be mans business going up big hills. Ana’s theory which I support is “If you wankers can get up here. So can I !”

Due to the lack of cassowaries to date we turned our attention to the unique species of grey nomads and started admiring them from afar. Just like the cassowary it’s advised to keep your distance. If you get too close or make eye contact you are trapped by their evil sorcery and find yourself talking about the weather and how fine the facilities are in this caravan park. One nomad uninvitedly offered us this pep talk over dinner in Daintree Village “ I started in a 2 man tent, now look at me!” The Neville Bartos of the grey nomad world. Jog on mate.

After those words of encouragement that someday we will too get to tow our tv around and watch it in different locations around Australia, we started pedalling towards Port Douglas, once again with a stop at the Mossman swimming pool/ caravan park to inform the lovely lady that we are still alive. Once at 4 Mile beach we had a pretty relaxing day laying on the sand followed by the worst location we have free camped to date. I’m sure we will find better places than behind the shed of the Port Douglas rowing club to pitch our tent.

The next morning Ana became the first Spanish person in history to wake at 4:30am to start their day. She would probably be sitting down with the family to eat dinner at this time back home. We (I) wanted to do this so we (I) could beat the traffic into Cairns and watch the sunrise over the water. Maybe the 4:30 start was a bit over the top, but it matched the scenery. What a ride!

Once again we found ourselves by the lagoon in Cairns before heading to our new mate Kimm’s house, who we met first time in Cairns. He kindly offered us a bed for a couple of nights. It was the first time in a bed for us in over 30 odd nights. I never drooled so much on a pillow in my life. Ana repaid the hospitality by cooking the house dinner. My contribution was eating it.

After a plan hatched up lagoon side with our young nomad mates it was time to head up into the Atherton tablelands. Annie hitched a ride up the Gillies range with them. I had to prove that I was a man and rode up it. This cycle touring caper is a lot easier without panniers.

Lake Eachem “The people’s lake“ we named it was so good we visited it three times. One old guy on our last visit didn’t hold the same view. He got out of his car and took one look and declared “this lake has gone to shit, I wouldn’t take my dog to piss here now”. We didn’t let his lack of positivity for “ the people’s lake” diminish ours.

Lake Eachem. If I was a dog I would piss here.

I could tell I was starting to get restless when in the evening I started to walk the campground and give the nomads nick names. After a week of R&R with Iluka, Nick & Nai at Yungaburra it was time to hit the road.

Time to hit the road again.

Some days you strike gold when you look at a map and wonder if that dotted line is rideable. Sadly for us on day 2 after Yungaburra, behind Lake Tinaroo on Mt Edith rd. The trail we where looking for turned out to be a goat track. When we saw a goat give up and turn around we knew that that track wasn’t for us. The day continued to get worse when I missed a turn on the downhill. Before we knew it we were at the Mareeba rodeo with a hundred other nomads sitting in a field waiting to die.

Yeehaw!

Next day we only had a few kms to ride back into Mareeba and stay with our first warmshowers host of the trip. Meet Konrad an interesting fellow. After spending a bit of time with him I started to picture him riding a horse with his top off back in Poland. It turned out to be a pretty good call staying at his house. He showed us some great sights the next day and gave us some inside info on secret camping spots. Thanks Konrad for being so generous with your time.

Konrad and the Avatar tree.
Morning swim @ Emerald creek falls.

After we said our goodbyes to Konrad at the end of Davies creek road, where he said would be perfect for a tent and turns out to be the same spot our goat track would of taken us to, it was time to wait for our mates Kimm & Emily. Kimm bought his pushy with him and was going to join us for the next “few days” riding around. He is a pretty interesting man Kimm. It’s quite possible he has read every book on the planet. He is a lawyer working on Aboriginal land councils and got given the skin name “Jabbanunga”. If he cycled as much as he talked he would win the Tour de France most years. Well Lionel Hutz aka “Jabbanunga” proved his worth when a 4×4 came up to the end of the track on the first night. The lights woke us up 3:30 in the morning. It was ok though because “Jabbanunga” was stalking them in the bushes in his jocks with a stick bigger than him. It turned out to be a false alarm. It was only hikers starting the trail so they could see the sunrise.

“A few days” riding with Kimm turned into over a week of good times. We headed back around Tinaroo and camped for 2 nights. There, we were greated by a 1.5m python crawling through the Nepalese girls campsite next door. It was their first time camping, they had forgotten their tent poles and had to sleep on the ground outside. Thats a tough start!

Now we are three.

From there it was into Yungaburra to stay at our second warmshowers hosts. We struck gold again. James and Sarah let us camp in their garden with wallaby’s jumping around. James’s tips set us up for the rest of our time on the tablelands. They led us to some stunning sights and trails. We really appreciated your hospitality guys!

Riding into the unknown.

Winding our way through Malanda to Wondecla. We found ourselves on the 2019 Race to the Rock route. Or as I like to call it “the race over every rock in Far North Queensland”. We did everything on that section from Wondecla to Ravenshoe. Push, pull, carry and sometimes ride.

Our campsite near McKenzie falls.

From McKenzie falls it was a pretty short day into Ravenshoe and the end of the line for this gang of three. Kimm had to return to Cairns and stick it to the man. We celebrated with a meal at the pub and a few beers. The lady taking my order mustn’t have heard me properly. I’m pretty sure I said steak not the sole of an old boot. You win some you lose some. While I was at the bar I thought I’d try some to get some info on the next section of the track which we knew was going to be pretty rough. While I was asking the lady if she knew about the track leading south down to the Kirrama range, an old man behind me yelled out “ just fucking go for it” “ it will shake the shit out of you”! Turning around I could see he was 15 schooners in and by the way he was looking at the pineapples on my shorts I decided to turn around with my tail between my legs and inform Annie “ I guess we will just go for it then.”

Today was the end of the line for Kimm. We spent the morning at Big Millstream Falls. Then it was the afternoon bus back down the hill to Cairns for him. Thanks for the laughs mate.

End of the line.
Big Millstream Falls.

It was a pretty good feeling heading of into the unknown side by side. It felt like we hadn’t been on our own for ages. It’s a nice way to spend the day pedalling along talking shit, or asking Ana what’s for dinner that night.

Limbering up for what lays ahead.

After 3 weeks on the tablelands it was time to make our exit. We definitely need to come back here. We haven’t begun to scratch the surface of things to do. In front of us we had roughly 150km from Ravenshoe to the Kirrama Range then down to Cardwell over the roughest and most remote area we have been over to date. We only passed 4 people out there. Including the farmer who is living out in that bush looking after his cattle in a little camp. He was a top bloke who recommended a great spot to camp at on the second day. It meant we only pedaled for 21km but we were fine with that. We clocked 1000km for the trip somewhere out there. No doubt pushing up another hill.

First nights camp @ Cameron creek.

Our last nights camp before heading into Cardwell was another awesome spot we had all to ourselves. Well almost, the resident goanna didn’t mind sharing with us. We are thankful he left our food alone.

Blencoe creek.

Waking in the morning of the final day out bush we had the big decision to make of either head to Blencoe falls for a look and possible camp or go down the Kirrama range to Cardwell. With reports the falls and campground were shut for bridge works we decided to head back to civilisation. It really is shit having to turn around for no reason on a bike. Now back in Cardwell at another nomad hotspot we can see why they take the virus so seriously here. Most of them look ready to drop at any time. There is a church group sitting across from us playing board games and praying. We really need to get back out bush!

Annie appreciating the smooth pavement.

A snails pace!

Many moons ago, back in the normal times long before people fought over bog roll at the supermarket and when we could actually shake our mates hands and not do that weird elbow touch thing that is an accepted form of greeting these days; If someone said to me at the beginning of the year “ you’ll be celebrating your day of birth in Cooktown this year”, my immediate thought would have been “something has turned to shit here somewhere along the line!” And yes it has, but at the same time we are pretty lucky to be here.

Cooktown R.S.L

We met a couple in Cape Trib the other day who were riding their bikes as well. They left Sydney the same time we did and got to Cooktown a few days ahead of us. Considering we drove all the way to Cairns and they have ridden, gives you some indication of our sloth like pace. To be fair they looked like they were having about as much fun as you good folk in Melbourne right now. You really shouldn’t rush fun.

Konan & Konnie ready for departure to Kuranda.

It was a false dawn. Our triumphant departure from Kuranda was put back a day because the good folk at Auspost decided to inform us that our new tent poles had finally arrived in Cairns. What’s the point of a tracking number if you can’t f@cking track it! So next morning I was on the 7:45 bus with all the school kids back down the hill to Cairns. I scouted who was most likely to be the bully and stayed wide away. I was pretty grateful none of the kids picked on me because of my ginger hair. O’Doyle rules! Annie even made me a play lunch for my trip!

Play lunch & tent poles.

After managing to jag a ride on the 9:15 am back up to Kuranda and avoiding another full day in the cesspit that is Cairns waiting for the afternoon bus, we now had a full day to explore Kuranda. Plenty of green, plenty of tourist stores, plenty of hippies was our conclusion.

Barron gorge

Our first days ride couldn’t have been any better. Black mountain road was a stunning start. Lush rainforest and zero traffic on a gravel rd were prime conditions to begin our trip. Peak enjoyment levels were reached at lunchtime when we sat down for an avocado and vegemite sanger and could hear the call of cassowaries in the forest.

They didn’t show their faces despite our best attempts of luring them from the bushes with some calls of our own. Our problem is we use the same noise for all animals. I’m pretty sure the whales in Maroubra speak a different tongue to the cassowaries in FNQ.

Our day ended just a little way down the beginning of the bump track and our first wild camp for the trip. The bump track was originally an Aboriginal trail linking the coastal regions and the hinterland. Later Christie Palmerston in 1877 turned it into a supply line joining Port Douglas and the early settlers and miners on the tablelands. It was the first track wide enough south of Cooktown for carts and wagons. Those poor bloody horses would have had to work hard to get up this thing. These days the bump track is a double black diamond mountain bike run.

One thing we could of done without was the 4km return hike down a steep hill at the end of the day to see some waterfalls. Yeah it was a bit of fun having a swim in the nude and it was pretty refreshing but our legs were already cactus after riding. We both felt like lieutenant Dan when we made it back to camp. By the time we had eaten it was pitch black dark and the forest had come alive. We fell asleep to the noises around our tent and woke in the morning with the hope none of the little pricks had chewed through any of our gear looking for food.

Annie enjoying the view from the bump track.

The next day some sections of the track felt like we were hanging on for dear life coming down the hill to Port Douglas. Upon completion we were both quite proud of the fact we weren’t dead. Then a few kids around 12 y/o come flying down past us, with one stating “ f@ck yeah that was awesome!” Is this the start of getting old for us?

Beers @ sunset in Port Douglas

After recharging our powerbanks and ourselves in Port Douglas we had our sights set on getting into the Daintree. On the way one of our stops was @ Mossman gorge. Staring in awe at some of these trees had us thinking we wouldn’t be surprised if some blue men jumped out and started throwing spears at us. It really felt like being on the set of Avatar.

That night at camp in Mossman we were talking with a guy from Zimbabwe about our trip. He told us a story about a couple he met a few days ago. The guy 35 years ago was riding his bike around New Zealand’s South Island where he met a danish backpacker at a pub. They kissed but went there seperate ways the next day. He was pretty keen on her but all he had was the date she was flying into Sydney. So feeling a tad embarrassed he flew to Sydney airport early that morning to meet every flight that landed. When he saw her walking of the plane he came up and tapped her on the shoulder. They have been married ever since.

On the way to Cape Trib

Now a few days later when a guy came over to our tent to have a chat to the stupid pricks on bicycles. He started telling us a story about how he met his wife. After a few lines we burst out with “ we’ve heard this before, it’s you!” He got a tad embarrassed and said “ I’ve really got to stop telling that story”. Norm and Hannah it was a pleasure to meet you.

The Bloomfield track was hard work.

After having the hair on the back of our necks stand up seeing our first crock in Cape Trib and being pissed that everyone in the campground had seen a cassowary except us. It was time to set off towards Cooktown on the Bloomfield track. With feedback ranging from “your going to die” and “ it’s pretty much like a paved road these days you’ll be sweet”. We weren’t sure what to expect. One thing that was expected was the hills and they didn’t dissapoint. It was seriously hard work. One thing that is disappointing is the amount of cans on the side of the road in a world heritage area. Is it a pre requisite if you drink Jim Beam, Wild Turkey or Woodstock bourbon you have to throw your can out the window? Furthermore to our studies we never saw one can of Pale Ale. In conclusion, we have decided man buns don’t litter, only bogans do!

No crocs here!

Riding through the Daintree has been the highlight of the trip so far. Without trying to sound like too much of a wanker it was absolutely stunning!! We would definitely cop a few hills everyday for that type of scenery. By the time we rolled into the Lions Den Hotel we deserved a beer and then a few more!!

Waterfalls in Wujal Wujal
Rolling into The Lions Den

Now we are in Cooktown for a few days and things couldn’t have started better for our trip. Well for Ana they probably could’ve. She has been coping it from the locals. From bites all over her ass ( the red dots are a real work of art) to having a fresh snake skin in her shower block, or going to the shower and finding a leech on her leg and blood all over her shorts. It really has been a rough start. Surprisingly they have left me alone. I guess our animals are a bit like us Australians. A few of them don’t like foreigners!

The Stylish Pedlars

South or North?

Not to get all Spanish soap opera on you all but already 2020 was already turning out to be a pretty shit year for us both. Then old mate munched on a bat and the rest is history.

Back before Wuhan Chan and his virus had started to change life as we know it, The Gypsy wandered in one day to the lounge, where I was doing some of my best work on the couch, with her pineapple bobbing from side to side, she then dropped ¨do you want to cycle from Perth to Melbourne?¨ At this stage Annie hadn’t heard of the Nullabor or what something like this actually involved. Her naivety and lack of thought for the finer details of the trip immediately had me sign up for the adventure.

Francis Birtles. The first man to cross the Nullabor in 1905 with his journey from Fremantle to Melbourne.

With everything that is going on it was good to have a little project to focus on and something to look forward to when all this shit is over. Personally I was going that well with life, that when all the restrictions and lockdowns came in it was one of the first times I enjoyed Sydney. No more traffic jams and less wankers around in general. I found it a positive.

¨The Kung Flu¨ has changed our plans since then. Originally the idea was Perth to Melbourne, and the more we looked at the map the bolder our plans got. Instead of riding the Eyre highway across we were going to follow the coast to Esperance and then follow the Old telegraph line past Israelite bay to Bilbunya dunes, up on to the Baxter cliffs and meet the Eyre highway up near Caiguna.

The only problem we had was we couldn’t find any information on people riding this before. I’m sure it has been done, just none have bothered to write about it. The only thing we came across was an old post on a bike forum from back in 2012 asking if anyone wanted to give it a go. I ended up tracking down the author of the post and it turns out they never ended up doing it. Life and all the other stuff that comes with it got in the way for them. Since then I’ve spoke to Al a few times about doing something like this. He has been a wealth of knowledge. It was quite refreshing and comforting having someone back you in and encourage you to give it a crack, instead of the ¨don’t do it you will die ¨sort of encouragement we have had previously. Al keeps things pretty simple and all the tips from years of touring have been much appreciated and like Annie said ¨if we can’t ride our bikes because it is too rough our legs still work ¨. Hopefully the borders open up so we can give it a go.

Having said that it is a pretty remote area and it does need to be respected. If we get into trouble we are on our own. All the 4×4 videos on youtube haven’t had a problem but I think us on our pushy´s with  2” tyres will find it a little tougher. We have switched to tubeless tyres for this trip hopefully that helps with punctures and riding on sand because of the lower pressures we can run. During the trip it’s certain we are going to find out they are called ¨push bikes¨ for a reason!

To help us carry enough food and water to get across that section we bought a bob ibex bike trailer that is now waiting for us at our mates house in Perth (cheers Rich).  The next problem was actually having access to water. We tried desalination ourselves by boiling seawater in a pot but it turns out google makes it sound easier than what it is in reality. That idea got quickly shelved. Al has a Katadyn survivor 35 hand pump desalinator from his years doing kayak trips. They are ex U.S military that are used in their life rafts if they get stuck at sea. Weighing in at 3.2kg and producing about 4.5 litres of water from an hr of pumping. Al suggested getting one and after a few attempts we finally won a bid on eBay. Hopefully, that along with our capacity to carry 26 litres of water between us should solve the water issue.

Next was food, Annie came up with the master plan of buying a dehydrator and shipping a box of food to Esperance for us to collect when we get there. It turns out you can pretty much dehydrate anything. It even looks like Ana has put my head in there. I am looking that rough. It takes a long time to dehydrate stuff, Ana has it running overnight most nights, but we think the effort will be worth it. It really does save a lot of weight. Only problem is we didn’t check with W.A border control first about if we can bring anything over. Turns out we can but will be down to the officer at the border to make the final call if we have dehydrated it properly. Hopefully they are legends and the effort will be worth it.

Thankfully we won’t be going through Kosi in winter now. The gypsy has approved of the decision

But all this is up in the air atm, when we first planned for this we thought for sure the borders will be open by now. Sadly because all you filthy Victorians have been coughing over each other and not washing your hands properly everything is in a little bit of limbo. We are just making it up as we go now. So on Thursday we are going to stuff ourselves with Wan´s breakfast burger from the Zebra cafe in Maroubra, ride past the real estate to hand the keys in and then off to central station to catch a train to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains. It’s going to be freezing at night time but hopefully the scenery will make up for it. Otherwise I will cop an earful from Ana. From there we are going to head south and cut across to the coast past Nowra and follow that down to Merimbula. From there it will depends on if you Mexicans in Victoria have been washing your hands and coughing into your elbows properly. If the virus stuff has died down and there’s been news on a W.A border opening we will head inland and drop into Victoria from either Bombala or Jindabyne. Or if the media is correct and the world is going to end in a fireball of disease and economic destruction we will just keep pedalling west towards South Australia and see what’s happening over there. Fingers crossed all this shit dies down soon. I’m sure all you guys have had a gutful as well. Looking forward to seeing you all at home and catching up over a beer.

Ana & Matt

Its a bit nicer then snow!

P.s If you have made it this far well done. However scrap all that crap I have just written. The plans have changed. Yesterday we decided to head North. We got a transfer car from a rental company in Sydney and we are heading to Cairns. We are going to cycle from Cairns up to Cooktown then do a loop and head back down south. At least it will be a bit warmer and the Gypsy will not give me shit for freezing to death. 

Patagonia

Thanks for joining me!

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Thoughtful

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. “— Izaak Walton

“Get around Matt Vagg coz he is a sick c@nt who pedals around other countries”- Isaac Shute (His words not mine.)

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Isaac Shute

Firstly I will apologise in advance for my poor grammar. The Queen’s English isn’t one of my strong suits, but to make up for it, here is a picture of Smitty and I sporting strong suits.

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Strong Suits

Now, next week I’m off on a 3 month adventure in South America on my pushy. For some that sounds like a pretty shit idea, and to be honest I’ve had a few thoughts of “ why the fuck am i doing this!” myself. But ever since I bumped into a Dutch couple at the airport in Cuba with their bikes  hearing stories about how they travel and after watching the doco “180° South” I have been pretty keen to combine the 2.

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Cracking doco, great soundtrack

With my long service leave just sitting there and my day job consisting of digging holes and putting the dirt back where it came from, it was a pretty easy decision in the end. It’s not like I will be sitting around when I’m older thinking “shit I wish I had worked more”.

So here is the plan!

Next week I’m flying to Santiago de Chile. From there I’m getting another flight roughly 930km South to a town called Osorno. If I walked it, google has informed me it would take 9 days and 15 hrs. Flying was a good choice. Here is a map of me not walking it.

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The map of me not walking it.

From there I’m going to have a couple of days in Osorno to get some supplies, put my bike back together, lay on my hotel bed overthinking everything and stealing all the food from the breakfast buffet. From Osorno I have roughly 3000 kms and 3 months to get to “fin del mundo” (the end of the world) Ushuaia. If I don’t make it to the bottom I’m not too fussed, hopefully that just means I have had heaps of fun along the way and I didn’t have time to pedal.

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I suspect there will be 1 or 2 towns in between that aren’t shown on above map.

I know it’s not going to be all smooth sailing and I must admit I have a few fears. Firstly the infamous Patagonian  wind that I have read about, will no doubt be annoying at times. I hate riding into the wind, and with a head the size of mine it’s going to feel like I have a sail attached to the top of my neck. Secondly ass raping, I’m not making light of the subject, it’s a serious matter. The problem is I haven’t mastered the art of wild camping yet and the first time I’m out in the middle of nowhere on my own and I hear the sound of duelling banjos…. “ yep I’m about to get an ass raping here” is the thought that will be going through my mind.

For the first part of the route I’ll be riding the Carretera Austral. What I know of it courtesy of Google is that its a road built by the Former Chilean leader Pinochet. Not sure if he was a good bloke but by the looks of it he built a pretty sweet road through some nice scenery. The road was completed in the late 90’s early 2000’s when it finished at Villa O’higgins.

From there I’ll be crossing the border into Argentina by foot courtesy of a couple of ferries and pushing my bike through, by the sounds of it, some pretty shitty tracks. Then it’s only another 1100+ km to Ushuaia. One date I will firmly have in the front of my mind is January the 5th when my gypsy amiga Ana will be meeting me at Balmaceda airport  with her bike and joining me for 3 weeks. She is either a bit retarded for signing up to this or more likely a bit retarded for signing up to me.

In the months leading up to this I have done a little bit to hopefully hold me in good stead for the trip. I haven’t had a car for most of the year so the bike riding bit I’ll hopefully have down pat. I completed a basic 10 week Spanish course too, so “no comprendo” will probably get a bit of use and I completed a weekend bike maintenance course as well, which  fingers crossed I won’t have to use because I forgot most of it.

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Abandoned house over looking Elizabeth Island from French Island

Along with that, Ana and I had a little overnighter on French Island to test out some gear and to see if I can pedal with the weight. After the trip I have came to the conclusion I am taking too much shit and I’m going to be pushing my bike up hills.

Seriously though, there is only so much you can read or practice or plan. Eventually you just have to get out there and give it a go. I’m a bit nervous but pretty pumped to get it underway.  People look at me funny when I tell them what I’m doing but I honestly love riding my bike. If I’ve  had a shit day at work by the time I have ridden home I’m in a good mood again. It gives you the chance to have interactions with people and nature that you would never have in a car and it’s fast enough to get somewhere, but slow enough so everything seeps in. Like in those picture books you had as kids were you flicked the pages really fast and the scene gradually changes. It’s how I feel when I’m on my bike. Since I was a little tacker I’ve always considered myself a B.M.X bandit. It’s just a shame the old stack hat does not fit my large melon these days.

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The Stylish Pedlar.

Slightly shitting myself!

26kg of stuff I will be lugging around.
I’m a big fan of staring at paper maps and wondering whats out there.

Well the weekend has gone pretty quick and this time tomorrow I’ll be on the plane to Chile. I was feeling pretty good about the trip until yesterday then all of a sudden the feeling came and I started slightly shitting myself.  I did exactly the opposite of what I said I was going to do over the weekend. I had plans of treating my body like a temple and relaxing but reality was I was kidding myself and I got hammered both nights. That certainly didnt help any anxiety I had about the trip. A quick phone call to Annie and her giving me shit about my pasty white complexion and asking me did I pack any lube because I will probably cop it camping out in the wild helped ease my fears and get me back on track.

Not the bike I am riding.

I’ve tried to be smart the last couple of days and pack items items that can be used for a few different purposes to help keep the weight down. Like this old sea to summit portable hiking vagina for example. I converted into a drinking device for those nights when i get thirsty. Little clever ideas like that hopefully will pay dividends in the long run.

I turned this…..
Into this!!

If i do hear any banjos while camping I’ll throw it at them and hopefully they will leave me alone. I can’t wait now to get the airport bit out of the way  and get stuck into the riding. Next time you will hear from me I’ll be in Chile with my bike in one piece (hopefully). I’ll drop you a line when i get over there.

Wish me luck

The Stylish Pedlar