Month: February 2012

Sunrises, sunsets and sandy beaches.

Location: Bangalee – Bowen, Queensland, Australia
Distance: 643km

The road out from Yeppoon was same as on the way in. Hot and with too much traffic but I was able to turn north soon enough onto quieter roads and the noise was soon behind me. I hadn’t actually left Yeppoon until nearly 4pm, avoiding the worst heat of the day by the beach. I figured better there with a cool breeze than somewhere inland with it. My destination was Yaamba and by the time I arrived it was near dark but I was greeted by Joe and Paul – a couple of removalists on their way to Port Douglas – and a dinner of pasta, kransky (not chorizo as they apparently had wanted) and a pile of veges. Set up in the dark on the flattest bit of ground but probably should have thought about it some more because a couple of hours later I found my tent floor feeling like a water bed. The rain that had been predicted all day had finally arrived. Donned the gore tex and found somewhere a few meters away, hardly flat, but out of the pooling water. Amazingly everything in the tent stayed dry.

Spent the morning drying out before pedaling off for a rather sparsely populated stretch of road. 80km north I camped at a truck stop at Marlborough. It rained again but managed not to drown the tent this time. Another 80km of empty road before I found St. Lawrence which had a great big rest area with showers, BBQs and nice soft grass to set up on; all to myself. Only downside were the wetlands starting just meters away which bought an army of mosquitoes like I’ve never seen or heard. Was eager to get going in the morning. The highway headed back to the coast and there a few tiny towns marked on the map. I rode through the wetland for a little while firstly though and found a few baby turtles to say hi too. Not long up the road. I pulled into Clairview and sat and watched the coconut palms and water behind them for a while. Scored an icy cold bottle of water and then a cuppa and a sandwich from a nice lady. Turned east of the highway and back into cane fields and a headwind to get down the beach to camp. Early night as I had my biggest day yet to come.

After an early night I was up before dawn and caught a nice sunrise reflecting off the wet mudflats. Put in 30km before breakfast at Ilbilbie (where there was a fatal truck crash a couple days later) and pressed on to Sarina for lunchtime. Stinking hot but with 50km I had to head on for what would be the worst stretch of road so far. The traffic seemed to double in numbers north or Sarina. If there a shoulder to ride on it was rough as guts and covered in debris and otherwise it was roadworks with a nice half meter drop to the edge of the bitumen. The bridge across breakfast nearly threw me off my bike is was so rough. Strangely just a few minutes on the road became a cycling haven. Super smooth, wide shoulders, even bike lanes. Wound my way through Mackay and some more cane fields out to Blacks Beach to a warm welcome from Cath and Jen. Showered and refueled on a good feed of noodles and a few Bundys. Had a mini reunion with my London flat mates Chris and Clair via Skype. 

While I had only planned on staying a couple of nights that stretched to 5 while I waited for a waylaid parcel. Spent my time doing very little to nothing. Enjoyed a good seafood lunch at the Eimeo pub looking out to the Whitsundays, finally found a tripod stool (best $10 spent so far) and gave the bike a good check-up and clean.
Took off finally after a breakfast of bacon and egg rolls, heading west, then north past more sugar cane along quiet dirt road to Seaforth when I thought I might camp but nowhere suitable appeared so I headed back to the highway and found a tiny park in Calen to camp in. The traffic seemed to have thinned a little, certainly less trucks which was welcome. Sugar cane continued to dominate the flat country with hardly a break to Proserpine where I found lovely spot on the river behind a coffee plantation and more cane the following day to Bowen. The temperature climbed to its highest I have seen, 42C as the highway veered slightly inland but dropped back by the water. Scouted out a place to camp, cooked up a feed watching an amazing sunset over Grays Bay. Unfortunately I probably should have done some more scouting as my camp site turned out to be full of thorns but if was too late to find somewhere else. I slept as still as possible hoping my mattress wouldn’t be punctured.

Broke camp at first light, itching to get out of my spiny camp and settled down at Horseshoe Bay just around the corner for a lazy day of swimming, eating and people watching. Could have done with goggles to have a look at the reef in the bay but I’m sure I’ll more opportunity for that further north. Finally uprooted myself mid afternoon to have a quick look at some of the other beaches and to find lunch but was surprised to find Bowen completely shut except for McDonald’s which I resorted too with no other options. At least it was air conditioned.

Posted by Aaron K Hall in Australia, Cycle Touring, 0 comments

Citrus, Ceratodus, Cania, Coast.

Location: Ban Ban Springs – Bangalee, Queensland, Australia
Distance: 561

Despite the lack of water at Ban Ban Springs – I had to ask for some from a couple stopped in a caravan – it was actually a nice stop. Very few mosquitos, nice soft grass and it didn’t rain which made an early start easy and the 30km ride into Gayndah – apparently Queensland’s oldest town – for a breakfast stop quite pleasant. It was good to see the Burnett River flowing strongly but the countryside was noticeably dryer, the rains having fallen elsewhere. This was confirmed by the old timer at the information centre who talked of the stark comparison with last year having been stuck at home for 10 days due to flood waters.

Crossed the river in town on a very high bridge, stopping to take a photo and quietly thought to myself it was a long way down. Moments later I managed to knock the lens cap off my camera and watch it tumble on the breeze all the way down. Bummer. The rain started again and I decided to wait it out by having a hamburger fir second breakfast/early lunch and started reading my 80c copy of The Bourne Identity. Off again and not to far down the road I was greeted by a nice 5km of climbing and a lumpy downhill run into Mundubbera. I was getting low on cash and found but found a Suncorp branch – closed of course on a Sunday – but no ATM. I’d come back in the morning. Sussed out the two caravan parks in town, settling on the 2nd place for $15 (still a ripoff but better than $25) for the night at which I talked away with Nick, a photographer wondering Queensland looking for a new place to settle down.

A late start, tired legs and a reasonably up and down ride to Eidsvold put my intended destination, Wuruma Dam, out of reach. I avoided more rain in the park in Eidsvold and scored myself a hot shower at the local pool before settling down at Ceratodus rest stop a half hours up the road. The clouds looked pretty ominous so I set up under the BBQ area. Unfortunately the rain never arrived and the lights were fun to ignore all night. I did make it to Wuruma Dam the following morning – getting off the highway taking the most direct route along a dirt road or varying quality – and on arrival was met with a rather sad sight. There was plenty of shade though and a nice breeze so I killed time and avoided the heat for a while. I had no particular finish for the day in mind but after some nice rolling hills, cattle country and open forests I made it to Mulgildie when I discovered you could camp for free behind the mural covered pub. A Bundy or two and big, tasty plate of chicken kiev made for a good end to the day.

It was just a quick spin up the highway to Monto where I grabbed a few supplies before riding out to Cania Gorge National Park. At a guess I’d have to say it was 12 years since I last visited but I do remember waking to find frosts on the car windscreen, tent and pretty much every surface, a problem I shouldn’t have to deal with this time. Unfortunately there’s no camping in the national park so I decided on the first caravan park – avoiding the extra 18km return ride to the alternative – and right at the start point for most of the walks. Took off to the fern tree pool and Giant’s Chair lookout in the afternoon, thongs proving much more comfortable than the cycle sandals. Back at camp I quickly made friends with some caravaners, picking up plenty of tips on good spots to camp all over Queensland and a free BBQ dinner while watching Australia beat India again, this time in a Twenty20 match. While I had originally planned to stay a couple of nights I decided to have an early start to get a bit more walking in and I’d see how far I’d make it in the afternoon.

I met a couple of goannas and a brush tailed wallaby on the way to The Overhang. A very peaceful place which I had to myself for a 1/2 hour. Had a couple of fresh, free range eggs for breakfast – something I’ve been missing since setting off from home – before loading up and backtracking to the highway to continue on. Another one of those unknown ranges appeared out of nowhere. Not too steep but it did seem to drag on forever. I did console myself with the the knowledge that – in theory at least – it was all downhill to Rockhampton. After a rest at the top , there was a nice long downhill run and the traffic seemed to dry up. Retired for the day behind Lawgi Hall. Not sure where the town of Lawgi was but it was nowhere in sight.

Powered into Thangool then Biolea in the morning, stocked up at Woolies before gorging myself over lunch. Two ham and salad rolls, 1L of coffee milk, an apple, a couple muesli bars, some peanuts and chocolate. Didn’t move for a while after that but I think I needed it. Spent an hour in the library in the air conditioning sort some photos before continuing north through dead flat countryside and 10km of very rough, unfinished highway upgrades. After some searching settled in a rather rocky paddock near Jambin and watched my first sunset in a week or more. After sleeping well I woke early but was greeted by my first puncture while packing up, almost certainly a result of the paddock I camped in. Just after crossing into Banana Shire the “Rough Surface” signs actually indicated pristine, smooth road. A pleasant change. At Dululu I had a choice of roads, hills and flat – I chose the hills – and filled up with certainly the worst water I’ve had so far. Thankfully there was a cafe open in Mount Morgan last on a Sunday afternoon where I bought the best vanilla milkshake I can remember having. Plenty of vanilla, a decent helping of ice cream and icy cold milk. Mmm! Considering retiring for the day but decided it would be best to get the climbing out of the way and have an easier day tomorrow. Finished the day with a quick blast, down through plenty of switchbacks, camped in the park across the road from the Bouldercombe pub. Enjoyed some good stories, a few beers and a hot shower.

The run into Rockhampton was nice and flat and free of traffic. Had to dodge a sun baking snake and finally saw a train line in use. A never ending coal train lumbering by, probably to a port. Managed to take a ungainly tumble on possibly the worst designed kerb I’ve come across while pulling in to stop at Woolies, dumping the contents of my handlebar on the pavement. Licked my wounds for a while before finding a nice shady table to relax at by the river, whiling away a few hours eating and reading before setting off to Bangalee where my second Warm Showers host awaited. The road out to Yeppoon was less than pleasant. By far the busiest yet. Minimal to no shoulder at times and a good headwind for a near 20km. I arrived eventually, covered in sweat but was welcomed by Rhodes and his family. Enjoying home made pizzas in the backyard pizza oven and plenty of cycling talk. It was good to have a day off, my first in 10 days. Spent the morning under a pandanus tree on the beach and pretty much had it to myself. Stupidly got my back nice and burnt. Won’t be doing that again any time soon.

Posted by Aaron K Hall in Australia, Cycle Touring, 0 comments