The Last Hurrah.

After 5 days, our bodies had left behind the perfect mould of our backsides on the couches at the Caravan Park in Eden. We had spent that much time on them it started to feel like we were wearing the couches as underwear. Once again we had turned the lounge area at a caravan park into our personal sloth den. Now Wednesday had rolled around and it was time for Emperor Dan’s 11 o’clock presser. We were waiting with baited breath to see if this saviour of the universe would lift the lockdown, or if he planned to lockdown Victoria forever. You’re never really sure with this bloke, but luckily the curtain had lifted and we had permission to roll into the final frontier the following day. The old lady’s in the park were happy, once again this fearless leader had “saved them.” Saved them from what? I’m not quite sure, but the way the unwashed spoke about this terrible affliction it seemed evil lurked on the other side of the imaginary line that separated the rest of Australia from certain death.

Thursday morning was a sad day, we waved goodbye to our baby giraffe mate at the caravan park. Not before one last exchange of tea and chocolate biscuits. Finally he got to see us ride our bikes off into the wild. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the big fella suspected we brought the bikes along to use as props. Each morning he would walk into the kitchen and find us on the couch and we would be in the same spot when he returned later that day after conquering another mountain on his bike. Occasionally, we did leave the couch to go to the toilet, but he wasn’t around to witness the most exciting part of our day.

It didn’t take long for us to change plans heading out of Eden. Originally we were heading out to the Green Cape lighthouse to spend the night. A quick discussion on the topic of shaving off a few kms and a few hundred metres of climbing turned the decision into a no brainer. For some stupid reason, 7 months on the road had made us the only people in Australia that were excited to get into Victoria.

So off to Wonboyn Lake it was for us. We tried taking a shortcut through what looked like a military facility but the mall cop put an end to that. There wasn’t any signs saying we couldn’t go through, just plenty of cameras that suggested we probably shouldn’t. As soon as we got to the boom gate Lieutenant Doofy came straight out to inform us that we could proceed no further. After a few questions he informed us with a smug look on his face the only way to Wonboyn was by taking the highway. This irked me somewhat, I think it was his smile. Little did Doofy know there was a shortcut down the road that took us into the gravel nature wonderland that we were seeking.

We were greeted by this bloke at the boom gate.
Happy trails.

Maybe nature wonderland is putting too much mayo on it. Last years fires have sucked the life out these woods, but it still beats the pavement with dickheads screaming past you. It turned out to be a pretty good days riding into Wonboyn Lake. It might of been short but as this trip has gone on we have enjoyed the short days a whole lot more. Another thing I enjoyed was seeing a familiar face at the caravan park in Wonboyn. I felt a giant finger on my shoulder while I was sitting down for lunch with the Gypsy. Upon turning around the giant finger was attached to a giant of a man and a fellow former resident of “gods country” Pearcedale. It was great to see you again Pedo!

Heading into Wonboyn.

Finally today would be the day we were heading into Victoria. Up in far North Queensland, 7 months prior, Victoria seemed a lifetime away. The covid state wasn’t worth thinking about back then. We were too busy thinking “what the actual fuck?” When another bogan strutted past in a terrible fishing shirt that looked like a camel had spewed on. Before setting off in the morning I messaged the lady from the girls school which had a campus just over the border in the bush in Victoria. We had been in contact with her to see if she could do a water drop for us. In the photo she sent back confirming the drop location, we noticed a chocolate bar taped to the water drum. That was all the incentive we needed to cross that border.

We weren’t sure what sort of state the tracks would be in heading out of Wonboyn. We had about 40 km to the border with plenty of up and down. The sign at the turnoff into the bush stating the road was closed because a bridge was out suggested we could be in for a long one. This area was another place the fires ripped through last summer. We couldn’t believe we were still seeing the damage. All the way from Northern NSW to the Victorian border. The scale of these fires is hard to comprehend.

It didn’t take long for us to come across the first bridge that was out. Piece off piss we thought, we just needed to roll our bikes around it. We didn’t even need to take a pannier off. It’s always important to enjoy the little wins you have on the road. The second bridge made up for it though, it was pretty steep down to the water. I found out the hard way about the loose rocks on the way down when I went ass over tit and nearly ended in the water. Annie stepped up to the plate and came up with the genius idea of lowering our bags and bikes by bungee cord down to me while I was waiting with the freshwater Crayfish in the creek. With innovation like this the Gypsy too will be on her way to a black belt in country.

All this lugging gear through creeks and over ditches had us work up an appetite. Shade in a burnt out forest however was harder to find than a hat that fits my head. We did get lucky however and enjoyed our peanut butter wraps sitting on the edge of a bridge that the fire decided to leave alone.

It wasn’t a particularly hot day, but with the trees resembling toothpicks and giving off about as much shade as one, we felt the full force off the sun. Well Ana did, the flap on my helmet has me looking like Saturn and has kept my youthful face from seeing sunlight for the past 7 months.

Near the border we came across a patch of forest that was untouched by the fires. They say the grass is always greener on the other side and on this occasion just before that other side as well.

Fast approaching the covid state.

The pace quickened with excitement as we entered the covid state. It felt like a little milestone that called for celebrating. There was no sign welcoming us into Victotia so Annie made one to mark the occasion. Upon crossing we were quite surprised none of the trees had masks on or were practising social distancing. Karen would have been outraged if she witnessed this.

Border crossing.

True to her word our mate from the School left us 10 litres of water and a chocolate bar taped to the drum next to a road sign just over the border. By now the sun had done the chocolate no favours but it was just another act of kindness from a stranger that made us really happy. Thank you Marian for putting a smile on our face. After years of practice pouring alcohol into coke bottles it was decided Annie was most qualified transferring the water from the drums into our bladders.

When we were coming down the hill to the border we could see the oasis that is Mallacoota. Seeing the condition of the track next to the water drums which we had to take the next day to get there looked suitable for goats only. We thought “fuck that” and rang up a caravan park in Mallacoota to get some info about if we could cross the entrance at low tide. He wasn’t sure but he gave us the number to a boat hire bloke. After giving off the “ I’ve got no time for you pricks” vibe over the phone he finished with “ it’s super low at the moment, you are every chance.” Well that was a yes from our end. We were about to head off after collecting our water when a van with a young couple came over the hill. They looked surprised to see two bikes out here, telling them of our plans to get to Mallacoota the next day the young bloke filled us with all the confidence we needed. “The bush to the beach will be a bit rough, but once you get to the entrance of the lake, a heap of guys fish behind the dune with their boats. Someone will take you across.” This was brilliant news. It would save us a days riding on shit tracks and was a lot more fun.

From the border we headed down Lakeview track. It was about 12 km down to the beach. Out of nowhere, after a creek crossing a farmer came past with a Blue Heeler on the back of his motorbike. In typical farmer understated fashion he informed us the next bit gets a “little bit steep.” I would hate to experience what very steep is for this cocky because this hill was the last thing we felt like at the end of the day. We finished up a few kms from the beach that night because it was blowing a gale and the bush was giving us some protection. Happily we put the tent up next to a track and ate our two minute noodles in the dirt before all the mosquitoes ate us.

No traffic here.

It was only a few short kilometres to the beach the following morning, instead of the regular sized kilometres that most people take. After scaling the sand dune and laying eyes on the beach, I felt like an explorer laying eyes on this marvellous view for the first time. Not a breath of wind, the sand looked hard enough to ride on and the water was like glass. It was so inviting it screamed get nude and swim in me. Politely declining the oceans offer I bounded down the sand to Annie with a smile on my face that announced to her “we’re on!”

Our last little obstacle before the beach.

I guess Annie too had a sense of joy when she made it to the top of the dune, her proclamation of “fuck yeah” was evidence of that. With the sand being hard enough for the most part to ride on, we had no worries traversing the 5km needed to make the lakes entrance by low tide.

Those 5kms were some of the happiest riding we have had on this trip. With a beautiful sunny day, life in that instant has rarely been better. Arriving to the lakes entrance we soon realised we might of miss heard the man from the boat company. Instead of “your every chance “ I think he meant “your no chance” of crossing the lake into Mallacoota. Even at low tide the water was moving too fast and was over our heads for us to attempt to get our bikes across. No matter where we tried, pacing up and down our side of the entrance the maze of channels always led to a section well over our heads.

Luckily Al and his pirate mate were over our side fishing with their boats. After telling them of our predicament, the boys said “no worries, we will take you across.” We waited around until the old fellas got tired of the fish ignoring them, then they loaded us into one boat and our bikes into another and took us across the lake. What a bunch of champions and genuinely nice people.

We keep getting lucky with people helping us out.

After arriving at the jetty and bidding farewell to our ferry captains. We soon realised we have become pretty similar to pelicans in behaviour. Here was a squadron of pelicans lining up at the boat ramp, watching the fishermen cleaning their fish and staring at them until they get tossed a free meal. We have used similar tactics on this trip and they have generally been successful.

Pelicans have learnt a lot from us.

After giving the bikes another shower, it was starting to feel like they have had more washes than us on this trip. Spotting us on the picnic table, one of our Mallacoota ferry captains invited us into his caravan for a cuppa and some biscuits. Ana has learnt two things Victoria has in abundance, good people and covid. After being offered everything from our wonderful hosts, we bid farewell and took a look around the inlet and this monstrous caravan park. We made it as far as the next picnic table, while sitting down for another serving of peanut butter wraps we got given tomatoes off one set of campers and got given a beer off another. We where having some day! This was another place we could happily live in. Mallacoota was beautiful. With the lake, beach and hills nearby it has something for every outdoor lover. It’s a shame for us that every other prick thinks the same. House prices have gone through the roof since covid. I think a tent will have to do for now if we want to stay in Mallacoota. The caravan park was that big I don’t think they would of noticed if we popped a tent up somewhere. However we decided against that average behaviour and camped with the Kangaroos out the back of town.

It was a short day the next day to shipwreck creek but the good vibes continued leaving town. At a picnic area at the beach we got given sausages in bread and then we bumped into a lady we met from the day before. We told her how the private school in the bush helped us out with a water drop. Turns out she is the outdoor teacher at the school. She is one lucky lady having this as her playground. I found it funny when she spoke about covid, she would head down to the beach when the school was closed during the lockdown and would find half her students surfing down there. It’s a tough life in Mallacoota.

Figuring out ways on how to move here.

Shipwreck creek was only 13km out of town, so it wasn’t the toughest day we have had. Arriving at the beach there Annie was delighted the sand was hard and crusty and perfect for sculptures. My favourite piece from her that afternoon was “the speech bubble.”

In the morning packing up, we thought we heard the faint call of dogs howling. It didn’t take long for that to be confirmed. Riding out on the sandy tracks we had paw prints for about 5 km. With all the 1080 poison signs hanging from the trees the future doesn’t look bright for these hounds. The next day and a half saw us riding through the Croajingolong National Park. This is where the fire tore through that came close to levelling Mallacoota. The damage was the worse we had seen on this trip to date. Nothing lives in here now, we were lucky to hear a bird. There is nothing more lonely then a burnt out forest.

A little further down the track we came across a park ranger working on the fox and dog eradication program. We told him of the howling we heard that morning and the tracks we saw along the road. He had planted baits all along that road and was confident they would get that one. We got chatting to him for a while. Like us he has got lucky during covid, he got to spend it in the bush. Turns out he has done a bit of riding too. In 2002 he rode from the south of Tassie all the way up the middle of Australia to Darwin. He was impressed with the tracks we were on, he told us not even the locals with their 4x4s get out here. When talk turned to last years fires you could see the sadness in his eyes because of all the destruction. He said it will be years until life moves back into this bush. With a thumbs up we bid each other farewell, the ranger returned to digging another hole for his poison. Our thoughts returned to how long is it until we can eat again.

That problem was solved with the next bridge we came across. It looked like it had been built after the fires. With a new concrete kerb for us to sit on, it’s the best facilities we would find out here. Sadly that evenings campsite couldn’t afford such luxuries. Just off West Wingan rd, once again we were eating our dinner in the dirt.

Sometimes we really miss a chair.

Arriving in Cann River we were already sick of this covid bullshit and we had only been in the state a few days. It was pissing me off all these no mask no entry signs on the shop windows. It must of been pretty tough for Victorians putting up with 112 days of lockdowns. For a minute some serious contemplation was had about turning back around and cycling back over the border. There was none of this crap in Durras. The bakery owner help cushion the blown of being back in Victoria, seeing the bikes out the front of his shop he got chatting to us, next he returned with cakes. Victoria isn’t that bad after all.

It was a good ride into Bemm river on the old coast rd. No traffic and only a little bit of pushing is a tick from us. “The Bemm” is a sleepy little hamlet, if you don’t like fishing then your going to be bored as bat shit in this town. We had a pretty good camp at Dollys garden pier that night. The setting sun provided us with all the entertainment we needed that evening.

The following day saw us back on the old coast rd and headed to Cape Conran National Park. Vic parks have done a pretty good job rebuilding the park after the fires. There are some beautiful beaches in these parts. It was very tempting to ignore the no camping signs and put up the tent. Being well before midday was probably the only thing holding us back.

Salmon rocks, Cape Conran.

Our route into Marlo took us past where the snowy river meets the ocean. It must of been quite the body of water before the snowy hydro scheme was built. Even now it was still a nice sight. I’ve often wondered on this trip how things looked before we got here and started fucking everything. The first settlers would of seen some amazing nature. From our handlebars we have seen some spectacular scenery the last 7 month’s but it wouldn’t come close to the sights they got blessed with.

The snowy and the sea.

At the Marlo pub one thing we did get blessed with was a $25 hamburger on the menu that evening. That would of caused a riot up in Cooktown. We miss their 1972 prices. After putting away our budget destroying burgers we set off for our wild camp. We picked out a boat ramp on the outskirts of town. Just before putting our tent up a sign grabbed our attention “ warning large red belly black snake lives here” read the sign. Bugger that, there was no need for heroes that evening and we set off for the opposite side of the park and set our tent up near the farmers paddocks. We slept easier over there, I’m not too bothered if a cow bites me during the night.

It got real cold that night and our tent was drenched from the dew. Welcome to Victoria Annie! With no place to be, we worked on our meaningless chit chat game with the locals that came down for a early morning fish while our tent dried. Packing away our dry house we headed for Orbost and the beginning of the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Power points in the park and taps to fill our water bottles made Orbost a pretty good town in our eyes. It’s a shame some dickheads ruined the bbqs. Peanut butter wraps aren’t quite the same when you can’t toast them. Brushing off the disappointment we began the rail trail.

The rail trails are always good because they keep you away from the cars, but after a while they can get a little boring. The east Gippsland trail stood out because of the magnificent trestle bridges. It would of been quite the sight seeing an old steam engine chug across these bridges. Steam billowing out creating a fog through the magnificent trees. Hopefully these structures stand a lot longer, they are far too grand to be left to decay.

Our first night on the trail had us camping in Nowa Nowa. Sitting down at the recreation reserve we got talking to a local fella named Bill. He got our attention because he rolled into the playground on an electric fat bike with his little one on the back. This thing looked more like a Harley Fatboy than a bicycle. Bill was another cracking person we have been fortunate enough to have a brief interaction with on this trip. He had a real love for his town. Sadly Nowa Nowa’s glory days are starting to fade away. The pub is shut and the school has closed. It’s a beautiful spot along the river and you can see it’s appeal. Bill pointed out the equestrian park through the tree line would be a good spot for a camp. He wasn’t wrong, with the cliff walls on the other side of the river enjoying the last bit of sun, and the fish jumping about, teasing the bloke a few hundred metres away with a line in, as to say “hey dickhead we are over here!” It was a pretty good place to put the head down.

Nowa Nowa.

The end of the line was Bairnsdale the next day. It wasn’t a place we felt like wild camping in. It had about as much charm as a long drop toilet in a national park after a long weekend. We stayed as long as it took for Annie to stock up on noodles and pasta. I sat on the picnic bench watching all the people neatly spaced with masks on waiting to enter the post office. Here’s hoping the world returns to a somewhat normal some day soon. We skipped Lakes entrance, Annie took one look at WikiCamps and saw how many caravan parks there are and said “no thanks.” It’s another town that has been caught up in the covid crazy, prices have gone through the roof and the houses are flying off the shelf. We are going to end up in Baghdad or worse Dandenong if this continues. We headed for Eagle Point after Bairnsdale. It was hard to work out which was traveling faster, the cars flying past us, or the headwind smashing our faces. Closer to Eagle Point I got a glimpse of nature’s amazement. Two large mammals were going for it on the river bank. It was either a David Attenborough special, or a guy stole a fat lady’s sandwich and she wasn’t going to get off him until he gave it back. If there is one thing I have learnt on this trip and why I have a black belt in country now, it is never get between two huge mammals that are either eating or rooting.

Swan lake.

At Eagle point we pulled up on the side of the road to ogle at an emu that had surprised us out of nowhere. Next a bloke in a ute pulled up alongside and asked “where are you lot off too? A bit suspicious we said we are heading out to the point to look around. We needn’t have been, he just pulled over to say “ in the Great Lakes area the council has built three toilet blokes with hot showers for the yachty’s to use. Through that track there, head towards the caravan park. You’ll find one there.” He took off before we could say thanks. He was blocking the road and a car was coming. True to his word we found the hot showers and power points in the picnic area opposite. This man had made our night and he would’ve had no idea. We didn’t smell like onions, our gear was charged and the old lady’s in the picnic area having a chin wag, gave us free food. The swans put a show on for us that evening, as we camped on the lake edge. We could hear them honking from our tent as we slept. But that was nothing compared to the light show we witnessed the following morning. It was spectacular.

The market had came to town the next day in Painsville. With some oldies strumming a ukulele, snags sizzling away in the Lions Club tent. We were in a good mood. We thought it was only fair after all the sleeping and loitering we have done in Lions Club picnic areas, we should purchase a couple of snags and give a little bit back. After putting away these delicacies, I find it hard to comprehend that Australia does not sit top of the pile when it comes to national cuisines. Nonetheless our attention turned to what can we devour next. Finding park benches that reclined like deck chairs at a pool, was the perfect environment to Google which establishment had the best fish & chips. Then I set off with much vigour to hunt that shop down. I am quite the provider, and no task is too big when it comes to my Annie.

After fighting off the near heart attack the fish & chips gave us, we jumped on the ferry and headed over to Raymond Island in search of koalas. We didn’t have to look to hard, the buggers were everywhere. It was nice to see a population thriving for a change. It was a great spot Raymond Island with plenty of wildlife around. We thought we had picked out the perfect camp site for the evening. It was perfect until 3 dickheads got in their boat at midnight and sunk stubbies until 4 in the morning not far from where we were camping. Gathering by the sound of them playing drums on their esky lids and screaming the lyrics of their favourite Rage Against the Machine tracks, it sounded like they had a pretty good night. Us however started the following day a little cranky after listening to them knobs all night.

The crankiness disappeared travelling on the ferry back to Painsville in the morning. A few dolphins popped up for a breather right beside the boat. What a magic start to the morning. We pulled up at a picnic table on the foreshore to have breakfast and watch a horny swan try his luck with a few of the lady’s in the water. He had no luck after repeated efforts, this swan just wouldn’t take no for an answer. Maybe he was a member of the liberal party?

Hiding from the wind at Marlay Point.

Things got a little grim for us after leaving Painsville. The forests had long gone now along with the wildlife. Replacing it was open flat fields with cows and sheep. The farmers really had it in for the trees out here. All this open space turned the environment into a windy hell hole for us. One we wouldn’t escape for a few days. It was blowing a gale at Marlay point, the wind coming straight off Lake Wellington and battering us. The effort was hardly worth the detour in. Thankfully a picnic hut provided us enough protection from the wind that night.

Sale bowls club.

After watching the oldies roll a few over at the bowls club in Sale, with a coffee in hand, we set off for Seaspray, the town that we have now renamed “the unfriendliness town in Australia.” It was a nice ride in with the cypress trees forming a natural arch over the road welcoming you into town. You could tell the locals cared about the place, everyone’s front lawns and nature strips were immaculate. With this carrying over to the lawns along the foreshore it would be hard work to find a blade of grass that was out of place.

Welcome to Seaspray.

The love affair for Seaspray ended right there for us as we picked out a bbq hut to toast our peanut butter wraps. Munching away on our gourmet tucker we were accosted by the local camping nazi. With barely enough time to say hi, we were grilled with “where are you staying tonight?” Picking up the vibe that this old hag is a mole and angry at the world after years of cleaning public shitters, we played dumb and replied with “not sure yet we are just eating our lunch, we will probably head off this arvo.” ( this was entirely bullshit we had every intention of camping in this lady’s town we just hadn’t picked our spot out yet.) she replied with “if I catch you around here I will book you.” Challenge accepted camping nazi! Even if we wanted to leave town that afternoon we couldn’t, the wind had picked up and was blowing away anything that wasn’t bolted down. With the farmers many years ago declaring war on the trees in the district, they had slain everyone in sight. Thus removing any hope of finding shelter in the surrounding wastelands. I had always thought it was named 90 mile beach because of the stretch of sand, but that evening I reconsidered it might be because of the speed of the wind.

They mean business.

The end of town wasn’t an option for the tent we were greeted with a “strictly no camping” sign. Not “no camping” like regular councils but “strictly no camping” they really meant business. While Annie took shelter in a hut while everything else blew away around her, I set off to find a place to pitch our tent. Ever mindful of the glare from Sauron’s eye I found the perfect spot, good luck finding us here camping nazi!

It was a satisfying feeling packing our tent up in the morning, having a little victory over our imaginary enemy. If you ever read this camping nazi we pitched our tent on “the island” behind town. We really wanted to see you again in the morning so we could flip you the bird as we cycled triumphantly out of town.

Camping on “the island” Seaspray.

Port Albert was our destination after Seaspray. It was a pretty boring days ride to be honest with a decent chunk of it being on the Sth Gippsland Highway. It was that boring the highlight of the day for me was stopping at a servo we came past and trying to eat as many things possible from the pie warmer. If anyone reading this is contemplating a Mrs Macs chicken and leek pie I highly recommend it.

Never being to Port Albert before we were excited to see what it had to offer. With a lot of old buildings and cottages remaining the place had plenty of character. Charming? Yes. Bustling? No. We could of gotten away with pitching the tent in the middle of the street but decided against it. After talking to the contractor oiling the park furniture while we were sitting in the park, he suggested a secluded beach at the end of a road just out of town. His tip was a good one, it was a cozy nights sleep in the bushes on the old port trail.

And that was what we would take as we headed out of town on our way to Port Welshpool. At just over a 11km long it was a short ride on the old port trail but it packed in plenty of nice scenery. It was refreshing again to be in some nice bushland. The trip felt like it was petering out from the two days previous riding through barren empty farmland. After all the stunning scenery we have traveled through it would of been a crime to end it on that note.

Speaking of crimes I had committed one when my navigation led us onto telegraph rd. With no turning back we “enjoyed” 6km of pushing our bikes through the soft sand. I kept telling myself this is better than the highway, I’m not sure if Ana agreed though. Just like lessons in life, nothing lasts forever and soon enough we found ourselves back on firm ground and rolling into Port Welshpool.

There wasn’t a lot going on when we made it into town and that is probably still over stating it. It’s a quiet place Port Welshpool but with views of Wilson’s Prom and surrounded by water it’s pretty enough to have a look around. Sightseeing would have to wait though because going a few days without a shower was beginning to make us smell rather unpleasant. With Arctic like conditions the option of the cold public shower was about as appealing as putting a live crayfish up my very own wombat hole. So out came the stove, boiled up some water and off to the toilets we went with bladder in hand. Smelling like humans again gave us the courage to enter the best thing in Port Welshpool, the general store. If you are ever in town the take away on offer deserves your attention. After completing a second expedition to the general store to devour their superb chicken burger, we set off for our campground behind the tennis courts, around the same time the funeral across the road was winding up and the mourners were headed for the pub. Annie didn’t have a great night sleep that night, people shooting in the bushes not far from our tent saw to that. If it was a few of the mourners their aim would of been a little off by that time of the evening. I offered plenty of comfort to Annie, once again I slept through the commotion.

Do you know that feeling when a day comes along and you have zero motivation for anything and the couch is your best friend? Well today that was exactly how we felt. The Victorian summer was really turning it on for Annie, I could almost read her thoughts “what the fuck am I doing in this freezing shit hole?” We made it as far as Toora that morning before we sat down for a team meeting. Over a slice of the world’s best carrot cake we raised the white flag and decided “fuck it.” I rang the Caravan park enquired if they had a couch and booked it for the afternoon. We were done.

It turned out to be a good call bunkering down in Toora, it was a miserable day. Awaking the next morning, we attacked the day with a little more vigour than the previous one. After a detour into Foster to see the sights which took about 5 minutes we jumped off the rail trail and headed down to Sandy Point. We were relieved the rush of long weekend had yet to reach the town. One look at the beach from the viewing platform had us salivating over the prospect of another cheeky beach ride the following day. That afternoon lazing in the sun we were admiring the teachers for spending a week camping with their students at “The Prom.” It would take a fair amount of patience putting up with that lot. Never afraid of seizing an opportunity to make lives easier for ourselves we pinched their left over water while telling the teachers where we had ridden from. Puffing our chests out proudly with more than a hint of wanker about us. We decided against camping in Sandy point, solely for the fact it was the Friday of a long weekend, so we rode out to Shallow Inlet. What a perfect spot to spend the night. Hut, bbq, tables and toilet. What more could you ask for?

After being greeted to a stunning sunrise over Shallow Inlet, it was time for us to hit the beach again. Annie turns a different kind of happy when she gets to ride along the beach. It was only 8km along the sand to Waratah bay, but with the sun out there was no need to exert ourselves. Finally the Gypsy got to experience the scorching Victorian sun while we layed down on the sand. Me however, ever mindful about what the sun can do to a pasty individual such as myself retired to the picnic hut after about 15 minutes.

Today fortune favoured the not very brave, while I was in the picnic hut I got chatting with a local. Maybe I got a “hello” because of my appearance and this gentleman was concerned for my welfare. There wouldn’t be too many homeless in Waratah Bay. After chatting away for a few minutes, you could this tell this bloke was a pretty decent fellow. Questioned on where we would be sleeping the night I gave the usual “not sure yet, around here somewhere.” It’s a hard habit to break not telling a stranger where we are going to stealth camp the night. I needn’t have worried Geoff had introduced himself by now and followed up with you can camp in my backyard if you want? He walked me up to his place that was just behind the park. “You can pitch your tent here. I’m just going to pick my wife up now, she’s judging a cake contest in Foster but I’ll be back later.” I returned to the picnic area and immediately thought “ we have a chance of getting a cheeky bit of cake this evening.” We got more then that, Geoff returned that afternoon to inform us of the good news, we are invited to dinner. He timed the invitation to perfection because the Gypsy was just about to take another packet of pasta out of the pannier. Thank Christ for that! I immediately summoned Annie over to meet Geoff, she could tell by the tone of my happy voice that there must be food involved here. Before trotting off Geoff informed us to come up to the back veranda around 6.

Geoff & Vivs yard.

We have got so lucky on this trip with people we have met, joining us for dinner was Geoffs wife Viv and their friends Deb and Mark. We had a cracking evening, instead of chewing on pasta and sleeping in the bushes we were sitting around a table with a bunch of dead set good people. Annie liked Geoff because he had a sparkle in his eye and talked about everything with a lot of passion. You just had to be careful about asking him too many questions because before you knew it, you could be sitting at the table with no ears left. Viv was good value, she liked taking the piss out of Geoff for this very reason. If we are still doing as well at 60 as you Viv we will be pretty happy. Thanks for the dinner, drinks and cards Geoff, Viv, Mark and Deb it was a pleasure to meet you.

After saying goodbye to our new friends we rolled onto the sand and left Waratah bay with a smile. Meeting people like that and having those experiences makes you realise what a good place the world can be. We have been really lucky to do a trip like this, riding on the beach that day into Walkerville we hoped this buzz would last forever.

Cheeky bugger.

This ride has delivered a few positives for us, take Ana’s legs for example they are borderline ridiculous now. When she gets me to poke and prod them I’m immediately intimidated. She is that happy with the monsters they have now turned into, she renamed her calves. From now on if I’m talking to her left calf I must address it as “Hulk” and the right one is referred to as “Hogan.”

One thing that hasn’t improved is our ability to handle any decent amounts of alcohol and we found out the hard way when our good mate Walshy and his girlfriend Meg rolled into Cape Patterson to camp with us. Walsh was our last mate that came visit us in Maroubra before we started the trip and our first mate we got to see back in Victoria. What accompanied Walshy though was another friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time, the shower floor. This was a 12/10 hangover and by 6 am after a battling in the tent for a couple of hrs I pathetically limped to the shower block in search of salvation. Head in my hands with the water pouring down, once again I vowed to myself I am never going to drink again. After a cheeky spew in the bushes me and Ana found ourselves face to face on the picnic table in the bbq hut at the caravan park. Me looking like death, Annie a slightly better version. When Walshy and Meg finally arose from their slumber looking fresh as Daisys we looked at each other and said “get fucked.” After we said farewell to our mates that afternoon, we couldn’t get in the tent quick enough and try and shake this horrible thing. We were so close to home but we weren’t cycling anywhere that day. A rest day was in order.

The Gypsy, hungover and eating a kebab, while I stare at her like a creep from the tent.

Recovered somewhat and vowing to never drink again, it was time to exit Cape Patterson. With the men in fluro sealing the only passage out of town that wasn’t a main road, it was time to hit the beach again. We couldn’t ride this one, but feeling rather chipper it was a good day for a push.

It’s stunning coastline all along these parts and there are enough tracks around here to keep you busy. If all that fails, or you get hungry like us and need a electric bbq, you can jump on the rail trail and ride that into Kilcunda.

As we entered the last couple of nights of the trip we started to get a tad sentimental and soppy. In Kilcunda the evening was full of emotion because it was the last time we would be eating two minute noodles on the trip. Ever since we discovered you could put peanut butter in the pot with them it was a game changer. Undoubtedly my favourite meal of the trip. Sentiment went out the window with the last pot though as I thought “thank fuck I won’t be eating this again for a while.” You really can have too much of a good thing. The noodles might have missed the mark but our last nights wild camp didn’t. Wandering to the outskirts of town we put our tent up on the cliff next to the George Bass Walk. The views were stunning, beautiful colours from the sunset while the waves were smashing the rocks below. The daily grind will be hard to return to after this. Giving Annie a kiddle ( kiss & cuddle ) we retired to our little safe cocoon with contented smiles. The tranquility briefly shattering when a couple of cheeky little pricks walked past with their boom box and quipped “look free bikes.”

Stunning our campsite was, warm it was not. We shivered our way through the night and the sun couldn’t come up quick enough while we packed up our drenched tent before any walkers came past. We love to start the day early us Australians. I always laugh when I think about Annie when she first moved to Sydney. Fresh off the plane from Spain she headed down to the beach jet lagged in the early morning suitcase in hand. Before the sun had came up Coogee beach was abuzz with activity. People walking, running and swimming. The Gypsy sat there in disbelief “what are these people doing? We are still out partying at this time back home.”

After warming up in the sun over breakfast we took the George Bass Walk out of Kilcunda towards the Island. It’s called a walk for a reason but we didn’t mind, the scenery was top notch. If your ever in these parts the walk is highly recommended.

Being the second last day of pedalling, spirits were at an all time high. Cycling past scenery I was familiar with made it set in that we were nearly “home.” When we came into San Remo I spotted a fellow cycle tourist on the other side of the road. Quick as a flash I ducked across to have a chat. Annie thinks I’m like a dog chasing a ball when I see another bike rider, tongue out wagging my tail. Annie had better things to do, eat, so she rode and left me to it. My cycling mate was just heading out while we were coming in. On his way to “the prom” lucky bugger. He reminded me of myself a little bit when we started our trip. A tad nervous and carrying too much shit. Only problem is I’m still nervous and I still have too much shit.

Heading over to Phillip Island.

I was super stoked to get barrelled for the first time in my life as soon as I got onto the island. The experience was nowhere near as gnarly as all the super stoked surfers rave about. Maybe I was doing it wrong? I wonder if anyone drove past and saw me and thought “what a cockhead” like I did with all those “f@ckh&ads” up in Coffs Harbour with the big banana?

Super stoked.

For our last nights accommodation we would be spending it at my brothers and wife’s mates house. Alissa offered us a bed but we couldn’t abandon our tent on the last night. In between identifying what animal was that splattered on the road, we sung most of the way to Alissa’s house. On arrival I felt the greeting got a bit awkward, it’s hard meeting friends from the real world. You are scared of hugging incase they smell you and tell you to get out of their house. That evening sitting on Alissa’s deck we could see across the water to the mainland. All we had to do tomorrow was catch a boat, a bit of pedalling and we were done.

The final day.

Now here we were, the final day, the last hurrah, the home straight. We pinned the ears back and let it rip. The bikes were squealing like stuck pigs, we were squealing because we were bloody excited. Arriving at the Cowes ferry with time in hand it was nice to take it all in. It was fitting to finish such an adventure on such a grand day. In 2017 when I first bought my bike I rode from Frankston down to Stony point pier to catch the ferry across to French Island for my first overnighter. I took a bottle of Chivas Regal with me for some extra courage to help me sleep in the tent on my own. I remember the ferry captain asking where I was headed with all my gear, and him telling me he has had people on this ferry who have cycled all the way from Cooktown. That has always stuck with me and I thought no way was that possible. Now here sat Annie and I waiting to catch the same ferry back to Stony point. In a non wanker sort of way we were quite proud of how far we have come. Not only in distance, but as individuals and as a couple.

Once we got of the Stony Point Jetty we were off in a flash. There would be no adventurous tracks today, no pushing up hills, no need for heroes, we were going home. Life is full of surprises and today’s surprise was there is actual sections of Hastings that are actually nice. The raised boardwalks through the wetlands made for a great ride. What didn’t make for great viewing was all the shit specimens who had been fly tipping their rubbish along the back roads. We’ve met some really great humans on this trip, it’s such a shame there are a few wankers amongst us.

Hastings wetlands.

Rolling into Pearcedale I started rattling off who lived in which house and what we did in that spot as kids. Annie couldn’t give a shit she just wanted to get off the bike. We asked a lady sitting in her car at the Pearcedale hall if she could get out and take a photo of us.

Now it was time for the finish line. High fiving Annie I got a little emotional turning into my brothers street. It was some welcome party. My nephew was in his room and wouldn’t answer the front door, then my mum pulled into the driveway and took out my brothers hedges in her car. That’s what’s nice about home. Some things never change.

Home.

What a spot!

Doors closing, please mind the gap.

As the train chugged away from the Lithgow station I was fairly relieved that the dick measuring exercise didn’t eventuate. Mainly because I would of come up short. But before I got to dream of Tom Cruise in a Hawaiian shirt mixing us fancy drinks, I managed to have one more sook before leaving the Blue Mountains. As we headed down the hill in the direction of the coast, Annie wanted me to look out the window at all the breathtaking scenery. Me, being the child that I am, couldn’t bring myself to do it. It pissed me off looking out at all that nature and thinking of all the adventure we left behind.

Goodbye mountains.

The sooking stopped as I got closer to the city. I had a new distraction now, my dislike of Sydney had returned. The poor Gypsy was having some train ride sitting next to me. It felt strange being in a big city again. Everything is busy, the cars look busy weaving in and out of traffic, the rubbish looks busy as its blown along the train platform looking for a cyclone fence to be stuck against, and the people are busy ignoring each other. Even the middle aged white fat man was busy on the train. Busy being a prick to the old Asian men who were sitting opposite him and not wearing a mask. Problem was Jabba The Hutt wasn’t wearing one himself. It was dangling down around his third chin. Maybe he was using it as a crumb catcher? We shouldn’t whinge though, for the shit show 2020 turned out to be and the direction this year is heading as well, its the first time on our trip we have had to bother with a mask or been in an environment where people are worried about the virus. It hasn’t affected us at all. In fact it’s been a positive. That’s not a bad run.

Central station.

Part one of our train ride was done as we came to a halt at Sydney Central. I was dreading pushing my bike around the station in the days leading up to this, but in reality it wasn’t that bad. It’s always nice walking on the grand concourse, it’s a beautiful station. Part two of our train ride that took us south from central is where Annie’s head really started to wobble with excitement. She had been dreaming of the beach for a long time now. She finally got a glimpse of it as we left Cronulla and headed through the Royal National Park. I hadn’t seen her smile like that for a while. The beach is Annie’s happy place and she wasn’t far away now.

Head wobble.

The weather had been stinking hot for a while now, but as the doors opened at Nowra, one look up at the sky and you could tell we weren’t far away from being pissed on. It was going to be cold and wet for at least a week. Not the start Annie was hoping for, her tan would have to wait. For me, however, it was perfect, no chance of melting on the beach. Train stations aren’t generally the best representation of a suburb and this one did Nowra no favours. It had a bit of Moe about it, only difference was the locals bought their clothes from a surf shop instead of Rivers. Our first night on the coast saw us put up our tent under the canteen roof of the Nowra Showgrounds. It wasn’t glamorous but at least we were dry. On discovery of an unlocked electrical switchboard allowing us to charge all our things, it was borderline perfect.

Greenfield Beach, Jervis Bay.

We had about 50km of riding to reach Jervis Bay and then begin our slow meander down this stunning coastline. We timed our arrival to the coast perfectly. A day after Australia Day meant most of the poor souls had buggered off back to work and the annoying kids had vacated our camping spots in the playgrounds. This was the beginning of our holiday within a holiday. Everything is easier on the coast. Services are closer together, water fountains galore and free showers to save each other from our smell. Our only problem was finding enough tracks and side roads to keep us off the Princess Hwy and there is always a way around that. With the weather being slightly disappointing it was time for another game of finding structures to pitch our tent under. Greenfield beach came through with the goods for us, and with the weather being terrible it kept the swimmers away. We even got a free history lesson in the hut from the information board. All the 200 + years that Jervis Bay has existed for, right there in a few paragraphs and pictures. I don’t think it would hurt to mention the 40,000 plus years before that and give a nod to the Yuin nation who live in these parts.

It’s a beautiful area Jervis bay, one we had visited before in our campervan when we were living in Sydney. It’s a completely different feeling visiting it again by bicycle. We were free to do what we wanted and didn’t have to worry about getting back to Sydney and attend to that minor thing of our day jobs.

If you ever get the chance to pop into Erowal Bay, go around to the side of the general store and pop into the once cafe turned pizza shop for the world’s best coffee and hot chocolate. You always get a good feeling ordering something of a little jolly Italian man and this fella didn’t disappoint. His business, like many others have been through a shocking year; First fires, then flood, now a pandemic. He made the switch from cafe to pizza shop to sell more takeaway. It’s worked a treat, he gets to work less hours and still make a profit while keeping six locals employed.

The Gypsy in search of hot chocolate.

Sussex Inlet was our destination for today. I decided to give Annie a little treat and take her on a tour past some of New South Wales finest burnt out cars. She is a lucky lady Ana. To get to the finest sights on the South Coast, occasionally you have to work for it and these statues of crime proved no exception.

The tracks were a bit rough in parts but it beat being on the highway. We would rather push in the woods than dodge cars on the tarmac. That nights picnic hut was brought to us by the lovely patrons of Sussex Inlet Lions Club. It did the job of keeping us warm while we ate what felt like our 734th dish of pesto pasta. Summer was doing its best job of avoiding the south coast. The only positive was Ana was getting acclimatised to Victoria early. We got to camp on the waters edge that night. Not that we enjoyed it. Wet and windy we set up in the dark so no one could see us in the park.

It’s important to get all the pesto out of the jar!

Some of the best riding we have had to date on the South Coast awaited us the next day. But first we found a cafe in Cudmirrah that let us loiter around in and charge our stuff. It’s always an understatement when we ask if we can charge our phone in the socket over there. Next minute, out come a hundred devices and the lights start to flicker because we are draining too much power out of the grid.

It was incredible to see the forest fight back from last years bushfires. Everything was a bright green as we picked our way through the tracks to get to Bendalong. We had a spot in mind at Washerwomens Beach to sleep that night. It was next to “the wife is in the kitchen bay”. I couldn’t find the sign that actually informed me it was called that, I just assumed that’s what it was named. On arrival at Washerwoman’s, the conditions were filthy so we raised the white flag and headed to the caravan park. This thing was a behemoth! I had to punch our site number into Google Maps to navigate there properly.

Roads, who needs them?

When we awoke from our slumber at the caravan park we decided to take a punt today. Instead of heading back up to the highway and around to Lake Conjola we decided to head down to the beach at Manyana and see if we could get our bikes across the entrance to the ocean. The high tide didn’t do us any favours but the man in the rubber dinghy did! After a brief chat he kindly offered to take us across. We were rapt, it saved us 20 odd kms, added a little fun to the day and meant we got to spend the whole day on the other side hanging out by the lake. Despite what the news likes to tell us, there is some really good people out there.

Come evening time when the lake started to dry up of people, Annie went on a fact finding mission to see if she could find a spot for the tent. Yet again the Gypsy came through with the goods! A perfect spot on a viewing platform overlooking the ocean. You don’t get that at a caravan park.

In the morning it was time for a shower, courtesy of a lovely lady who gave us the code to the ammenities block at the caravan park.We got chatting to her in the picnic area the day before and she kindly offered us her site she had booked but wasn’t using and gave us the code to the toilets. Maybe she thought we stunk? In any case, it’s just another act of kindness we have been shown by complete strangers who have helped us on the way.

Colours.

Riding out through the caravan park the resident kangaroos gathered to see us off. We were beginning to like the Kangaroos on the South Coast a lot more than their Queensland counterparts. They are more lively in New South Wales and tend to be less splattered on the roadside than their northern cousins.

Every time I hear the name Lake Conjola it reminds me of last years bushfires. It was a town that came perilously close to being wiped out. We got to see those scars firsthand as we left town. It must of been a nightmare for the poor residents last year. Another town that reminds me of the bushfires is Cobargo, sadly we weren’t going to meet the fireman that pulled up in his truck and told our prime minister to go and get stuffed.

One of the great bakery’s.

The bakery at Milton lured us in as we attempted to cycle by. A grand building like that and with the word “bakery” plastered across the front, it would have been a crime not to stick our head in. It’s Australia’s first cashless bakery apparently. Who gives a shit! We came for the pies and they were outstanding. Continuing on we cycled to Dolphin Point. We renamed it “Zero Dolphins here” and left. Sunburnt beach campground was our destination that evening, normally my complexion would quiver hearing a place named that. Thankfully the clouds were on my side and my milky skin could breath easy.

Finally the sun showed it’s head as we headed for Bawley Point the following day. Upon arrival one look at the colour of the water and the bush and hills in the background I declared loudly “What a spot!” I have since said that at every beach and lookout thereafter. Much to Ana’s amusement, I was unaware I was doing this until I dropped it for the 17th time and Ana pissed her pants with laughter.

We have came across a few of these on our trip.
What a spot!

The stars aligned at Bawley Point. Sun out, the bluest of blue water, dolphins swimming out the back and a coffee van conveniently parked in the corner. That’s the holy trinity plus one right there. Sitting on the bench overlooking the water with our coffee and hot chocolates in hand. That’s when a member of the public walked past with the look of “I too am a cycle tourist and seeing a bike and panniers has reminded me of all my rad times. So now, I’m going to ask you about all yours you are currently having.”

The holy trinity plus one.

They turned out to be a lovely family from Canberra with a holiday house in Bawley Point. Enjoying one last swim before they headed home they offered us a bed in their Caravan parked at the holiday house. We politely declined the offer but gestures like that leave you with a happy feeling.

Our destination that afternoon was a place formerly known as “ordinary looking beach.” New South Wales parks got wind that Ana was coming and renamed it Pretty Beach. They decided not to name it after me because I’ve given myself enough nicknames on this trip. Like these for example: “El Capitan, Mateo Sanchez el Rey del Ciclismo III” ( that’s The Captain Matthew Smith the King of Cycling the 3rd, for all our readers who aren’t bilingual.) and my latest concoction “Stephen the Dolphin” Why? I hear you ask. Well, when I’m walking around on dry land, I’m one of the smartest men on the planet, like Stephen Hawkin and when I go swimming I’m the smartest thing in the water, hence Stephen the Dolphin! I really have abused Annie’s ears on this trip with a lot of shit. Enough about me, Pretty Beach was another location where I dropped “what a spot!” We took over the day use area and made it ours for the day. With a few kangaroos laying around and views of the beach, it sure was pretty!

Pretty by name, pretty by nature.

With a storm rolling in the evening we snuck into the National Parks campground to put up our tent. We timed it pretty well to beat the thunder, lightning and rain. Well, the rain nearly beat us, we woke during the night with it still raining and the floor of the tent resembling a water bed. In the morning we came out of it not too bad considering how much water was running around our tent during the night.

We were a bit naughty today, leaving Pretty Beach we had a route we were hoping to take through Murramarang National Park. As we rode deeper into the park we came across a road closed sign. A team meeting between the two executives of The Stylish Pedlars was in order. We could turn around and head back and around, go straight up to the highway or pretend there wasn’t a sign there at all. When a parks officer drove past mid discussion and smiled and waved at us, we interpreted that as “I don’t care that you are in here, go your hardest.”

So once he was out of sight off we went on another magic ride amongst the trees. However, it wouldn’t take long to see why the road was closed. Last years fires had burnt out the bridge on a creek crossing. No problem, panniers off and we carried our bikes and gear across.

Besides the snake that Ana nearly rode over, every time we cycle through these forests we always notice a distinct lack of wildlife. They are in full recovery mode with bright green colours bursting out everywhere but it might be a bit longer until the residents move back in.

After a few more obstacles and another burnt out bridge we got through the road closures and were back in view of the coast and off to Depot Beach. It’s a pretty special area this South Coast. With most of the beaches surrounded by National Parks, hopefully that will save them from future development and will be enjoyed by generations to come. Depot Beach was another beauty, if you are ever in the area it’s well worth a stay. The National Parks campground has enough facilities for you if you don’t like completely roughing it. We stuck our heads in the parks office while we were there to see if they could shed some light on our plans for tomorrow. We were hoping to cross the entrance at Durras Lake on low tide. All the Ranger could offer us was “you might be able to do it” and that was good enough for us.

We got down to North Durras bang on low tide. Ana looked after the bikes while I bounded down the sand and out to the lakes entrance. The water was flowing out pretty quickly, but at just over knee height I ran back to Annie with excitement to inform her: “We’re on.” We stripped my bike down a little too close to the shore line and nearly lost a few panniers when a wave attempted to sweep them away. After rounding up the stray bags, it was back and forth with all the panniers and then bikes until we were across.

It was a fun start to the day and it’s always good to shave off a few kms. Rolling into South Durras the inviting blue water was not going to take no for an answer. This was another spot along with pretty much the rest of the South Coast we would be happy to live in. Post swim, while barbecuing some peanut butter wraps, we got chatting to a couple of old surfers wandering down for a paddle. They were impressed with our ride, we were impressed with where they get to call home. They finished with “welcome to Durras.” The good vibes were everywhere today.

On the N.S.W parks website North Head campground was fully booked and on the road in they had their campground full sign out. Our suspicions were justified on arrival however, there was only one other camper there in a huge campground. We think they are doing it because of Corona and trying to keep people out. We weren’t cycling anymore today and they would just have to put up with us. At North Head, the beach was a bit wild for swimming but the scenery was something else! We even got to eat dinner in a chair that night and not have to sit in the dirt. A camper had left a couple of plastic chairs behind. They are more valuable than gold for a cycle tourist at the end of the day. One person who wasn’t happy we were in the campground was the fattest possum we have ever seen. This thing looked like it had lived on a diet of burgers and chips. We woke in the night to a noise from our bikes. Shining a light in its direction the spotlight stopped on a big hairy stomach and some beady eyes. This fat bastard was trying to do a break and enter on our food pannier. At first I thought it was Halloween and Rebel Wilson decided to dress up as possum and sit on the end of our bikes. We tried hissing at it and throwing rocks from our tent but it just sat there with its fat guts staring at us. It wasn’t moving this thing until it got some cookies. Finally, cracking it, I got out of the tent and it shooed it away.

North Head beach.

The residents in Batemans Bay were a curious mob. Most people up North in N.S.W couldn’t give a stuff that two flogs on bikes were sitting in their town with panniers open and gear everywhere. In Batemans Bay we got curious questions from everyone as I was attempting to do some maintenance. They really are a friendly bunch these southerners.

Annie did the nation and particularly me a favour in Batemans Bay. She donated blood. Sitting in the park having our lunch we saw a mobile donor truck in the car park. The Gypsy being a better human than I put her hand up to donate. I just sat there minding the bikes on a park bench waiting for her to return with snacks she’d been given for being a sound citizen.

Get snacks.

While we were looking for outdoor electrical sockets and having breakfast the following day at Malau Bay, we got talking to a local. We gently asked her how she was going after the fires. Batemans Bay was on the news regularly with its red sky’s and residents seeking shelter on the beach. Malau Bay was one of the beaches that the residents gathered on. Hearing her tell stories of hundreds of people in the water with their animals and hearing explosions in the distance must have been horrific. She spoke of the sky being pitch black during the day with red embers flying around the sky like fireflies. She still feels a chill now when the wind blows in same direction as it did last summer when the fire came roaring through. Trees grow back, but for some the scars will take longer to heal.

Be careful of people falling out of the sky.

The Bingie Dreaming Track is a 13.5km hiking trail that follows the ancient song lines of the Yuin Aboriginal people from Congo to Tuross Head. It gathered our attention as a means to avoid the highway. It was another punt that turned out to be well worth taking. For us it was a case of half rideable, half pushing, but the scenery kept you entertained even in the soft sandy sections. When we popped out at a beach and it was blowing a gale we had a long push in the soft sand to get to the other end. We must have looked like a couple of lost fools in the eyes of the old couple sitting in the warmth of their car from the car park. As we made it to harder ground the old man jumped out to see if we were lost and if we needed help. Smiling we gave him the thumbs up and sought some sand dunes to camp behind just out of Tuross Head to protect us from the wind.

The weather in the morning did us a favour. It started raining once the tent was away and safely inside a pannier. We were up early to avoid being spotted camping where we probably shouldn’t be and that tactic has served us well throughout the slowest ride down the East Coast that humans have ever undertaken. There wasn’t a lot of cycling happening for the last few kms into Tuross Head, the soft sand saw to that. Pushing or riding doesn’t really matter we are just happy to get there.

Once off the beach the bikes needed a shower to get rid of the salt & sand. We needed one because we stunk! Each local walking past gave it the “nice day for a ride” as it was pissing down and blowing a gale. It’s almost as good as the “at least it’s all down hill” when we tell someone we are riding Cooktown to Melbourne.

We decided to treat ourselves today, it had been awhile since we had something different from the cycle touring diet of shit, or wet our whistles with a beer. A craft brewery magically appeared out of nowhere on the way to Dalmeny. We treated it as an omen that would be foolish to ignore. Chicken wings and a few schooners were a good way to kick off this Saturday afternoon. It was hard to throw the leg over the bike after a few beers but the stunning cycle path into Narooma cushioned the blow.

On the way to Narooma.

Narooma is another classic South Coast town. The locals must hate summer when their paradise gets overrun with tourists. Thankfully most had moved on when we rode through these towns and we have them more to ourselves. Continuing on with our form from the brewery we decided to settle into the pub with the million dollar view and blow our budget to smithereens. The beers were going down just as good as my drone did the next day. That’s right, flight MA 221 now sleeps with the fishes.

Water views.

We had a cracking camp site right on Narooma inlet. In the morning watching the boats motor out through the breakwater I thought that would make some good footage. I was correct with that assumption, I just wished my drone made it back to its runway. Following a boat out, flight MA221 suffered engine failure and banked sharply to the left. My heart sank as a warning to land immediately flashed up on the screen. The drone was about 500 metres away so I tried to land it on a sandbar in the middle of the inlet. I overshot the landing and splash, the drone is now history. I had to cycle about 3 km around to get to where it met it’s fate. I was hoping the GPS was wrong on the map and maybe it was in the bushes somewhere. Eventually I stripped to my jocks and walked around in the cold water for an hour but to no avail. I had to concede and ride back to Ana and break the bad news that the drone is missing at sea. Not the best start to a Sunday. We decided to have breakfast and return when the tide is lower to see if we have more luck.

The final footage from the flight recorder on flight MA221

It’s a somber feeling walking around in your jocks in the cold water trying to locate a wreckage on the ocean floor. After a little while I found the drone in waist deep water belly up sleeping with the fishes. The drone along with its passengers didn’t survive the incident, but the memory card did. With every cloud there is a silver lining.

The salvage operation.

Central Tilba was a pleasant surprise. The day before chatting to a couple at Mystery Bay he mentioned it was worth a visit. We decided to take him up on that and called in the next day. What a nice little town. Obviously it exists for us tourists, but the main street was like a movie set. The town was really looked after.

Arriving in Bermagui, not before listening to the song that Ana had come with about cycling to Bermagui, we got to watch a lot of nuffys talk to their dogs like they were human. There was a dog show on in town and the caravan park sounded like a pound with mongrels barking. We would rather stab ourselves in the eyes than stay there, so we headed to the foreshore for dinner. At the picnic table we got front row seats to the poodle show as owners walked past dog in hand each sporting magnificent hairdos. It’s got me buggered why humans talk to their dogs like they are little people. “Who’s a handsome boy?” “Is it time for dinner?” “Mate the dog isn’t going to answer you, it’s a dog.” Is what I felt like saying.

We called into Merimbula on the way through for a couple of nights. The bikes needed some maintenance and we needed a rest. We had chewed through our chains and break pads and we needed some sealant for tyres. It’s been over 6000km now and we haven’t had a flat. Touch wood the good luck continues. The NRMA caravan park in Merimbula could have its own postcode, its massive. In summer it must be heaving! Our general chit chat game was on fire there, talking to all the campers who were curious where we were riding to.

We are in Eden now and we have commandeered the camp kitchen at the caravan park. Anyone that attempts to take our seat on the couch gets snarled at. Everyone except our new mate and fellow cycle tourist who we trade biscuits and tea with in the evenings on the couch. He is the height of a baby giraffe and resembles a brontosaurus as he cycles towards you.

Now our trip has come to a grinding halt because someone sneezed in Victoria. At the start of these journey Victoria felt light years away, we have moved down the coast at a sloth like pace and now sits just 48km away from the border. Now, Premier Dan Andrews if you read this, and I see no reason why you wouldn’t, do yourself a favour and please lift the lockdown. You don’t want to piss this Basque lady off!

A message to Dan.

It’s a small world sometimes.

Wine Country, the natural habitat of wankers. It was an eye opener to see these creatures venture out of their urban settings and watch them indulge themselves in their wilderness habitat.

Glass sniffers.

On the second night in our luxurious caravan park, sitting poolside, I entered into a bit of chit chat with a young glass sniffer. “Been to any good wineries mate?” Was the opening line of interrogation from myself. “Yeah” came the response from the young chap in an Akubra hat who couldn’t tell the ass end of a horse from the other. He then proceeded to rattle off every winery in the Hunter Valley and which variety they are good at. When his next sentence started with “If you like your sweet wines…” I immediately zoned out and regretted starting this conversation with my yuppie cowboy friend.

We skipped the wine tour.

The following day the Gypsy and I were keen on a day session. Being in the Hunter Valley what do you do? Well, we went to a brewery. There was one across the road from the caravan park so it would have been rude not to tip a few jars in. Problem was it had about as much atmosphere as a library. After a team meeting amongst ourselves, in front of the S.W.A.T team bar staff who were walking around with ear pieces and walkie talkies, it was decided we would head back to the Caravan park, I’d put my stack-hat on and go for a ride into Cessnock to buy a box. If you haven’t been to Cessnock before, don’t!

Our time in the Hunter mostly consisted of getting up, moving to the lounge area of the Caravan park and eating. That was more than ok by us! We did manage to go to a vineyard and sniff a glass ourselves. It was a pretty nice setting, the highlight was the resident Labrador, but we are still stumped on why this area is so popular.

Me and my mate.

In conclusion, the Hunter has too many wankers, dressed like wankers. I blame Sydney, it’s evil tentacles have squeezed the goodness out of its surroundings.

Annie sniffed a few glasses in her time.

One good thing did happen in the Hunter, though. I rode down to the supermarket the day before we left. Rolling into the carpark, I heard a “hey Matt”. I looked at this bloke and I was completely stumped. We hadn’t meet anyone lately and the last few weeks we had talked to more trees and cows than people. When he got a bit closer I recognised the face. It was Glen, a guy I played footy against in Canada in 2004 and hadn’t seen since. A lot has changed since then. He had a car full of kids and my ass is glued to a bike seat. He said he had been following the trip and recognised the toilet seat strapped to my bike helmet. It’s a small world sometimes. I rode home from the shops that afternoon smiling, knowing we have touched our tens of followers out there. This could be the beginning of our brand going global!

Seriously it was good to bump into you Glen. For me it was the highlight of the Hunter.

After 8 days and zero couch sores it was time to leave the Hunter Valley. Thank god! We cycled back to the train station in Branxton and caught the locomotive that would return us to the scene of the crime in Muswellbrook. Speaking of crimes, the town and its people are one big scene. It’s quite possibly the only town in Australia where it’s residents are uglier than it’s surroundings. The sun hasn’t been kind to these fair skinned convicts out here. Not that they would mind, there is still plenty of black stuff to dig up to help them buy a few more bogan toys.

It’s a mind boggling amount of coal coming out of the Hunter.

Riding out of Muswellbrook, it felt like the world had ended and we were the last ones riding to the departure lounge. The surrounding hills have been raped of all their life and been turned into giant holes that keep getting deeper as we try to quench our thirst for coal.

For every Muswellbrook there is a Denman though, that helps remind you the worlds not done yet! Even though it was as hot as hell! What a town! The Main Street and the two pubs on the corner had so much character. We love how the pubs in these little country towns let you camp in their backyard for free.

8 days out of the cockpit and the WD-40 had done nothing for Annie’s knees. As we ventured deeper into the Bylong Valley we realised this section was going to be tough mentally and physically on us. In saying that, it took nothing away from the landscape, it was stunning! All around, we were surrounded by cliff faces and rock formations. The people living out here are lucky getting to look at this each day.

Bylong itself was a top spot to put up the tent. The sporting field was the town’s campground across the road from the general store. It had everything us 2 simpletons needed. Water, picnic table, toilets and power. I found a power outlet behind the hot water service of the toilets. Cycle tourists develop a keen eye for the important things. We were treated to a first class sunset that night. With the cockies squawking as the sun went down behind the hills, the colour made everything feel magic. What a shame tomorrow was going to be another day in the mid thirties and we would have to melt all over again.

Heading through the valley the locals have been debating the benefits of coal. For and against they have put their arguments forward in the form of spray painting it on the road. “No coal, no jobs” read the pro coal mob. In retort came “no food, no life” both valid points I’d say, but I’m giving the debate to the pro life team. There has to be a better way to keep the lights on.

One positive from getting up long before the sun has decided to raise its head is, you finish before the countryside turns into a microwave with you spinning your bike around on the plate inside. Rolling into Rylstone at lunchtime was a good feeling knowing we were done for the day. Straight to the shop for an ice-cream, then to find some shade to hide in. The showgrounds in town provided everything we needed. Another good spot for camping with an unlocked electrical cabinet. One thing that was locked though was the toilets the following morning. Opening at six and me being regular as clockwork for a 5:30am kick off, it was a nervous start to the morning.

The Capertee Valley was our destination for the next couple of days. Apparently, according to the guy that goes around measuring canyons, The Capertee Valley is the second biggest canyon in the world. That’s something to hang our hats on I would’ve thought. Seriously, though, I’m not sure why we hadn’t heard of this area before. As we rode down the hill from Rylstone, the sandstone cliff faces soared up around us, making for spectacular viewing. This was Annie’s favourite section of this area, it was all down hill.

The Capertee Valley is surrounded by world heritage listed wilderness. The traditional owners the Wijaduri would have to be shitty getting the boot from this place. Imagine having this all to yourself then some pasty fella with a handful of teeth informs you “I’ll be having this”. The poor buggers really got shafted in that deal.

Located at the end of this spectacular escarpment is the former shale oil mining town of Glen Davis. In its heyday it was home to over 2500 people, producing oil for the war effort. Now it’s home to about 5. We had the feeling we were in a western movie, with all the residents inside peaking through the curtains, as these 2 outlaws rolled into town on their steel horses looking for a gun fight. The locals needn’t have worried, we were just looking for our own version of liquid gold, water!

It was getting uncomfortably hot now, the “river” in the campground 5km out of town couldn’t come around quick enough. Upon arrival it was slightly disappointing to see the river at ankle height in most places. In a tea bagging motion we dipped our nuts in the river to cool off and let them soak for the rest of the afternoon.

Refreshing.

Heading back from the river in the evening to find a spot to pitch the tent, an English couple stopped to have a chat. By the end of the conversation we had smiles on our faces. One because we had just met some really nice people and two because we had been given some apples and packets of risotto. We were really going to spoil ourselves for dinner tonight. Being the Australia Day weekend it was pretty busy here, but places like this make you realise how lucky some of us are, some of the time.

The next day we were up at stupid o’clock to beat the heat. No doubt pissing a few campers off as we tried to be as quiet as possible cooking our breakfast on a picnic table near their caravans. It’s funny how the quieter you try to be the more noise you make.

You really can’t get enough of this landscape.

I created some really A grade content as we were riding out of the valley. Filming the star of the show, Annie, as she rode through the valley at sunrise, I tried to best capture the moment by flying the drone into a tree. Looking at my phone in horror seeing branches and trees on my screen I knew I was in trouble. I tried flying it out but that just resulted in it coming loose and crashing to the ground. Fuck! Luckily the Gypsy heard the first crash and saw the branches moving. As I rode up to Annie she stood there pointing at the tree like a hunting dog. Leaping the fence and all the bushes in the paddock to avoid the lizards I found the drone and to my surprise not a scratch on it.

Award winning content.

It was a decent hill to get out of the valley, but nowhere near the knee ending ordeal we built it up to be. We beat the heat and were pretty thankful it was cooler up top in the village of Capertee. We spent the remainder of the day under shade in the rest area debating who was the better provider. Then taking turns to walk accross to the shops to buy ice creams. Ana proved to be the better of the providers on this day, she returned with an arm full of plums, smiling like a Cheshire Cat. She had found a tree in town full of plums!

Dreamy

Later that evening a few kids rolled up to the car park looking like they had come straight off the set of the Cronulla riots with the Australian flag worn as capes. It’s a shame what this day has turned into. Change the date, or a stupid display of chest pumping nationalism. It would be nice to find something in the middle.

Some scenery is better then others

Today it was decided we would be leaving the mountains behind. As we rode into Lithgow we got a scary reminder of how close the fires came to this place last year. It was an eerie feeling looking up at all the scorched hills around the town. By now, Annie’s knees didn’t have it in them for what lay ahead in the Blue Mountains and boy did the Gypsy smile knowing she was going to be on the beach in a days time. I was relieved too knowing we didn’t have to split up because I wanted to go on some dick measuring exercise on how far I rode. It’s the fun that counts and riding next to Annie there is plenty to be had.

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.