Australia Blog 14
The first 30 miles came for free. I started with a breakfast muffin and a real cup of coffee at the local bakery. The barista was an Irish lass. I’d forgotten how nice proper coffee was. The miles were ‘free’ because on the Pacific Highway they were easily achieved. I stopped briefly on the motorway:
On entering Queensland I was kicked off the motorway. I’m not sure why but the level of traffic went up dramatically as I approached Brisbane, which may be a clue.
I’m quietly amazed that I have been allowed to ride this Highway. Unless you’re experienced and have resilience then it is not a good place to be. I’d hate many cyclists, I know, to be soldiering along it. This eviction coincided with my desire to look at the Gold Coast. I started at North Kirra Beach.
I went slowly on the beach cycle paths and gazed at the ocean. Even more attractive were the many apartments and houses built just behind the beach.
It seemed all of a sudden that the wealth of the surrounding area was greater than I did seen further south on the coast. I imagine that many of these properties were second homes. After cycling so quickly in the morning then getting back to the world of traffic lights, eternal junctions and roundabouts was quite a shock. I didn’t like it.
I’d bought a fabulous sandwich from the Brunswick Heads bakery earlier and I parked up my bike and munched away looking at the sea. Somehow this is what retirement’s meant to be rather than racing up continents!
The Gold Coast is a town, as well as an area, and it is full of tower blocks all crammed with apartments. There are hotels and my first thought was that this has all been built recently. There are no quaint and out of place older buildings. They tell me it is tacky but what I saw was impressive. Certainly not a place I would spend any time but for sun seekers it was ideal. Less ideal was where I planned to stop for the night. I thought about staying a little way out from Brisbane but the camp sites were rated poorly and so I thought ‘let’s just get this done’.
I’d stolen an hour because Queensland is on a different time zone to the rest of the east coast and so I could cycle for longer. However this extra time didn’t mean I had any more daylight to play with. If the light was a challenge then the weather wasn’t: bright sunshine and temperature around 30°C.
I soon discovered that Brisbane starts about 40 miles south of its centre. The traffic built up to be constant heavy and fast. I was sent by my Sat Nav and cycling friendly signage on a selection of cycle paths that twisted and turned. One minute you’re riding beside the main motorway north, the next you’re in the middle of an industrial estate or weirdly following a small path through a park. I was feeling strong but concerned as the light drained away.
I though that I must book my accommodation: a hostel. I stopped at a very large junction, just at the side of the road, and typed away on my App. Very kindly a lady cyclist stopped to enquire If I was alright? (I looked a tourist with my jersey proclaiming York on the back and I had some Union Jack bunting on my panniers). I knew what I was doing but was appreciative of her kindness and interest… not something the Australians have ordinarily lavished on me so far.
Eventually I followed for about 12 miles a cycle path straight into the heart of the city. The path was part pavement/sidewalk but a few bits were purpose built. The infrastructure was trying to ferry the cyclist quickly and car free to the heart of the city. There is more purpose built track about to be commissioned.
It’s always quite exciting to find yourself in a city on such dedicated road systems. Sadly what the town planners haven’t gripped yet is that there are normally three types of cyclists. One are school kids, another are urban mums and the last category are millennials, who temporarily like this form of cheap transport until their jobs mean they have to stay later, be smarter etc. The ambition of these investments is to entice business folk or the elderly to give up their cars. Can’t see it happening any time soon, personally. On my ride in then I think I only saw one other person of my age. However this route worked for me. I just followed the Garmin and it eventually led me along the side of the Brisbane river. The centre of the city sits around a large ox bow shape. The path ran through South Bank. In the twilight there were climbers scaling the 30m rock face that ran beside the water or others were leaping around at a Zumba class. It looked very chilled and modern.
Eventually my Sat Nav took me to The Kookaburra Inn in the Spring Hill district. I was greeted and helped to my accommodation.
From here I continued my day of exercise by a long walk to McDonalds and then Woolworths for some grocery shopping. A long day indeed but there’s always a smug feeling of satisfaction after a ‘century’. Also this brought up over 1,000 miles for the ride.