Australia week 1
Monday 14th Dec 117km Melbourne to somewhere near Seymour
Cycle paths out of Melbourne up to Craigeeburn, and then the Old Sydney Road with 15km of gravel road. Tough going and screws fell off my rack as I rattled about.
Took a wrong turn but saw some cockatoos and some wallabies. Camped near the road 20km away from Seymour.
170km to Wangaratta
Much faster day on the M31. I flew along.
Longwood was a very small place indeed. Europa was very pretty with a lovely park by the river. Reached Wangaratta. Camped at the Aussie football pitch
Wednesday 16th 150km to somewhere just past Holbrook
Woke up with the sun. Nobody had disturbed me, and I go to the road as quick as I could after eating some muesli.
Some nice people in Wodonga gave me some sponsorship money.
Stopped in Wodonga and then Albury for some food. A guy called Joel helped me find a place for food, and asked me all about my story
Holbrook is a strange place with a submarine in the middle of it. Bonkers. They named the town after a British war hero, the first submarine captain to be awarded the Victoria cross. Bringing a submarine to the town seems quite unnecessary though. Lots of grey and pink cockatiels. Brilliant.
Thursday 17th 172km to Bookham
A long day in the scorching heat on the M31. Yesterday there had been a strong headwind, and I had seen storm reports in Sydney with strong winds blowing inland from the sea. The wind had started to die down a little and although there were a few hills, particularly at Kyeamba, I made good pace. I stopped to buy cherries near Gundegai but George the cherry seller asked my story and then wouldn’t take my money. Nice guy. And delicious cherries. I stopped in the McDonald’s in Gundegai, to use their wifi and then headed onwards towards Yass.
As the heat gradually wore me down, I found myself stopping more frequently at the rest stops, and then I filled up my bottles in the tiny village of Jungiong with rusty metal sculptures which told the story of a policemen named Parry who was killed by an outlaw called Gilbert. Another beautiful pink sunset appeared before I called it a day at Bookham. The cafe was closed and I was carrying no food. I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep. I picked a quiet spot by the church to camp. It was about 9pm and I went out like a light.
Friday 18th 150km to Marulan
I was woken up by a cacophony of squawking, screeching, tweeting and the general hullabaloo of the cockatoos, magpies, crows, and who knows what other birds going mental in the trees above my head. It was 6am and I had no other choice but to get up and get moving. The noise as I packed up was deafening. Of course, as I rolled out of Bookham, the noise stopped. It turns out the birds were my wake up call. And the trucks seemed relatively quiet in comparison. The cafe at Bowning wasn’t open, so my first opportunity to get some breakfast and a coffee was at Yass after 32km.
Saturday 125km to Thirroul
966km in 7 days
Australia week 2
From Sydney to Swansea 123km
Crossed Sydney harbour bridge
Ferry from Palm beach
Swansea – incredible winds in the night
Newcastle to Croki (Just past Taree) 160km
Some senior citizens were out litter picking. They also picked up some other rubbish- me!
Peter and Susan drove me to Valentine (skipping just 10km) for breakfast. I couldn’t refuse. It was an amazing breakfast. Peter was a real estate business but was now 74 and enjoying his retirement. Their kids were grown up and living in Australia. Their boat outside on Lake McQuarrie could sleep 10. Not a bad way to live. They were also keen cyclists. Just not doing the distances I do. But a healthy 10km down to the waterfront. Such a nice morning. I even had a lovely shower. Back on the road, there were “driver revivers” as it was a holiday period. This meant at many of the rest stops a van selling food and drink for donations to charity. Perfect for me.
Peter, Glenys and Inga
Croki to Woolgoolga 247k
Amazing tailwind in the morning.
Super tailwind and super fast road. Flying on the Pacific Highway. So annoying at Coffs Beach that the shoulder just stopped and the only route was an incredibly slow winding bike path. Not what you want after 210km. I arrived to the sight of a very impressive Sikh temple.
My hosts in Woolgoolga were sleeping and I was too tired to bother with putting up the tent in the rain so I slept on the porch.
Woolgoolga to little Italy rest stop 142km
I woke up with kangaroos and a fat kookaburra
I was eventually let into the house by Andre and Kasia, two other cyclists, from Poland who were staying there. Denise, the host had gone to work, but her daughter viviane was still there. So I had some weetabix and a shower.
I was struggling after such a big day. I simply had no energy. I had a McDonald’s but this wasn’t enough. I lay on a riverbank and ate biscuits. All my body wanted to do was eat and sleep.
I was aiming for Ballina but when I noticed people were camping at a rest stop called little Italy, it seemed a good opportunity to set up camp and take a rest. I had no food and no milk for my muesli so just went to sleep and hoped the restaurant would be open promptly at 9am so I could fill my boots.
Little Italy to …. Breakdown at Yelgun Rest Stop 94km
(Took a lift to Tweed Heads)
I woke up to find I had struck gold. It was another driver reviver stop and at 8am they were already open with free tea and biscuits. A nice Irishman called David came over to talk to me and after talking about the ride for a while, he invited me over to meet his wife Siobhan, and their 3 kids and to have some milk for my muesli. I was glad for some company. And also grateful for bananas and chocolates. The nice driver reviver people filled my water bottles, charged my iPad, and told me I absolutely had to return to visit Evans head. I promised I would.
The day was going so well when my crank broke
Tweed Heads to Tamborine 110km
Dan and Chuck at South Tweed fixed Silver in the morning. Away by 11.30am.
Problem fixed by terry and Sheridan at storm cycles. For free.
45344 +876 = 46220
Australia week 3
4th Jan Tamborine to Brighton (via Brisbane) 82km
Roads without space for cyclists, dual carriageways, Nigtchtmare cycle paths, the usual confusion. Feeling lethargic. Wrote to Paola. Worrying about her may be the reason why I don’t have the will to cycle. Reached Brighton and camped. Awful night with wind and rain. Not much sleep. Up at 6 away by 7.
5th Brighton to bokarina 93km
soaked through. So much for Aussie summertime. Spent a fair bit of time on Steve Irwin Way, renamed posthumously after the crocodile hunter whose Australia Zoo is on that road. It was too wet to take a photo with the huge billboard of the grinning Aussie icon sadly.
7th Bokarina to Gympie 115km
Fell asleep without eating. Definitely a bad move.
8th Gympie to Maryborough 75km
Yes. Only 75km. From the moment I woke up at 5am all I wanted to do was sleep. I had no energy at all and a headache. At one point, I lay down for quite a while and later I tried again but still nothing happening.
The highlight of the day was in where I sat and cooked pasta. A 16 year old girl called Tanya ran over to ask me questions. She said she wanted to do cycle touring and wanted to know about how she could do it. I was stuffing a watermelon down me to try to get the energy flowing again. I wasn’t really in the mood but I enjoyed answering her questions and seeing all that excitement.
I went a bit further, thinking about that chat, and then when I saw a campsite, I stopped to camp as all I wanted to do was sleep. And I knew something. I wasn’t excited anymore and I really should be as excited as that young girl. This adventure this amazing adventure was still amazing but if I was following my heart I would be on the next flight to see Paola. I had to make a decision by myself on how my journey would end, but it had to be soon. It didn’t make any sense without her. I wasn’t enjoying it. If she was cycling with me, I would be happy. As things stood, I really had got the cycling out of my system, and the need to see the world, at least by myself, no longer held any charm for me.
I could stop and go cycling again. There were still so many places to see but I had done enough. The long cycle back from Singapore could be done another year. And the chances are, I would be bringing Paola with me. The people sponsoring me would surely forgive me for cycling 50,000 km but not doing the 20 to 30,000 extra that it would take to get home. After all, I hadn’t done a straight line. But I had done enough to go around the world almost twice. As usual, I decided to sleep on it.
Met a Swiss German cyclist.
Adrian Pfiffner www.midpersun.ch.vu
Tree in lodge
Sat at a free rest stop and was invited to charge my stuff and then to have a beer, and then to eat food with Adam, Kel, and Adams son Aiken. Real travellers. Pretty rough. Adam was grey haired with tattoos and Kel had a black eye. They went off to the servo (service station) and I talked to Kas, another traveller, an older lady with two dogs who was making “damper”, a type of bread. I chopped up wood with Aiken, who was 12′ and skinny, but seemed like a smart kid. Then we all sat round and ate. And drank whisky. Adam had been to Europe. They wouldn’t let him into the UK because of his criminal past. They carried him out of the Acropolis because he decided to climb the cliff. And he shouted at the guards to stop so he could get a photo of a turtle. He also liked to stop and get to know the homeless and give them some help. That’s where he spent all his money. in Paris. But when a Moroccan led him into an alley, he got a sharp punch in the face, but fought back. he fought off 2 of the guys and the others ran, then called back round at his friend who ran off. He found the guy the next day, and the guy ran, but Adam was holding two beers for him. The guy sheepishly and no doubt confused, came back for the beer.
He also on another occasion in Madrid, he found himself in a fight with three Croatian guys kicking him. He held one guy on the floor to shield himself from the other two trying to kick him. The police came over and broke up the fight. They were speaking Spanish, the other guys Croatian, so he simply shook their hands and said he would be fine, and goodnight. Covered in blood, he woke up in bed with a strange girl.
Kel had adhd, and at 40 was already going to be a grandmother. She wasn’t Aiken’s mum. The black eye was from doing stunts on motorbikes. Kas had been on the road for twenty years up and down Australia. She had seen it all. Her van was kitted out with a shower, a bed, solar panels. Etc. her dogs, Rosie and lily were getting on a bit and quite fat. She loved the simple life and couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t. She didn’t like Muslims much, because there was too much pc pandering by the government who wouldn’t allow carols for fear of offending Muslims or swimming pools being closed on tuesdays so Muslim girls could swim. The damper was burnt on the outside but lovely. And had some Vegemite in it.
Rest stop to Colosseum creek, near Miriam Vale 142km
First motel I paid for.
Sponsored by Peter and Denise, and Scott
To Mount Larcom 115km
Slept in the pub garden. Showers, toilet, cereal, coffee. Awesome.
To Marlborough 179km
To Claireview 110km
Starting to hit long sections of nothing. Water is a problem.
Lovely little campsite with cold beers
To Mackay 123km
So it was a cool day.
Found a campsite with Shower, electricity, wifi. But nobody around to pay. Set up mat and mossie net.
To Proserpine 141km
I woke up at 5.00, packed up and left before anyone else was awake. Left the campsite without paying. Naughty. Ate mangoes. They are falling from the Trees around here. Brushed teeth. Long laborious process of applying sun cream. The tube is almost empty. In Proserpine I stayed at the council campsite. No wifi. But there was a TV at the camp kitchen where I enjoyed a few episodes of rules of engagement.
Stayed with Alex and Lisa who stopped by the side of the rod and told me I could stay with them. !! We went to test out his inflatable canoe. They had a lovely air con room for me, a shower, food and Guinness, and washed all my clothes. But no wifi. Used Lisa’s phone to let Paola know I was ok.
To Billabong sanctuary, just south of Townsville 189km
Next day. Sunday. 100km with tailwind to home hill. No wifi at info place or anywhere.
No wifi at maccas in Ayr at 112km. Kept going.
Fab day being a tourist and not just seeing, but feeding and holding the animals at the wildlife sanctuary.
Punctures in the morning. Slowed me down from leaving. Had some fun getting to Ingham. Tailwind helped. Sugar cane fields. A guy gave me ten dollars. The guy at the bar only charged me 30 for a room
Sugar cane fields and then tropical palms as I climbed the first real hill I had encountered in quite a while. An amazing view over the waterways of Hinchinbrooke.
A brown eagle with a white head flew across no landed on a branch of a bare tree
Codge lodge. Terrible. Bed bugs. And the hotel down the road would have given me a cheaper bed.