Australia Blog 16
Well in the first mile I had to push the bike twice up gradients too steep (to cycle) with a heavy bike. This was not a good start. The weather now seems hot and sunny, that was certainly more like it.
The town planners had cobbled together some routes for cyclists in the north of the city: the usual hotch potch of dedicated paths, park shortcuts and pavement riding. After a gazillion traffic lights I made it to the Gympie Road heading north. Up until this point I’d spent more times waiting on pavements or on the road for traffic lights to turn green.
After about 15 miles I was heading into the smaller suburban towns. I was not allowed on the Bruce Highway. This meant a very windy path north. Leaving my directions to my Sat Nav I could be going anywhere…
I passed by a set of monuments and graphics to the Navy. The portrayal was accessible to school children. Very touching and effective. This was Moreton Bay.
After this I proceeded through an area warning motorists to be careful not to hit koalas (or heaven forbid a concrete wombat). If I had seen as many wild animals as signs warning about them my blog would be up for a wild life award.
Eventually the busy Brisbane traffic finished and I pedalled in peace. Although I soon found myself on an unmade road. Yikes!
Despite a considerable concern that I might not be going in the right direction I enjoyed the solitude. This track ended up on the Steve Irwin Way. This road convinced me the Australian Grand Prix hadn’t been cancelled but switched to this road with Toyota Land-cruisers. Awful. I later deduced that the traffic was heavy with trucks due to roadworks on the parallel Bruce Highway.
My opportunity to spin up the hard shoulder was firmly rejected:
I bet they might see a kangaroo in here:
After a difficult day I took the road to Caloundra. This coastal town is big with a large community. Part of it is a resort based on the beach frontage. To me it looked quite old compared to other resorts. I stopped to look for a campsite on my iPhone. A bloke from Standish (Manchester) stopped and asked me if I was in need of help. He’d been in Queensland for 40 years but still had a Manc accent. I found a ‘holiday park’ campsite near this stopping point.
I’m aware, especially to the fairer sex (oh God, the Favourite Eldest Daughter won’t like wimmin being described thus), that camping is a mystery pursuit and all thoughts of canvas or the absence of en-suite sanitary ware has them remembering a field near Matlock with Brown Owl several decades ago. However here are some snaps of the type of facilities you might find at their best:
OK girls, you’re maybe not persuaded but this isn’t bad is it? Daylight just goes like someone switching off a light at just past 6pm. I did my chores and then popped to Woolies for something to stick in the microwave. I’m striking up a few more conversations in Queensland. They seem a more approachable and engaged crowd.
Porridge consumed (yuk) I proceeded up the coast. There’s a dilemma here. Do I go on a boring but direct road north and miss the sights or have a day of less northerly cycling but see something? My decision today was influenced by a problem with my air bed:
I had to track down a new one and aimed for some camping stores. All these stops were along the route to Noosa Heads. Despite going along the coast line it only came into view occasionally.
My Sat Nav steered me along some attractive cycle ways:
Progress was slow on residential roads but there was some very plush housing:
At Noosa I went to the touristy beach and nearby were clothes and gift shops, endless estate agents, nightclubs and posh restaurants. Very upmarket. Meanwhile back on Planet Tony I wheeled into a McDonalds to find this playing:
It stopped me in my tracks. An aural delight. From here I then paddled round Noosa looking for a camping store. Noosa has its Sanibel-esque charm but ultimately away from the beach it is an endless sprawl with more roundabouts than Milton Keynes. To my relief, I like to sleep, I eventually found a new air bed:
The Aussie like the outdoors and outside these shops you’ll get the rugged Landcruisers parked with their occupants inside, usually men who have a trade. They were buying awnings, stoves, freezer boxes, chairs, fishing gear etc It all seemed heavy duty stuff for either a spot deep into the countryside or on a boat with a rod in hand.
Talking of the countryside I had limited daylight to head north. I had to get a little nearer to Cairns tonight. Away from Noosa the roads emptied and bloody roundabouts disappeared. I thought I was making great progress until another gigantic mile and a half hill appeared. Some of these were too steep to ride. As I push I’m watching the sun fall behind the trees. My destination Kin Kin was picked from my WikiCamps App. It was a cricket ground with a shower block. It’d do.
To ‘check in’ you go to the pub and hand across your $6. I would have loved to stay for a schooner but I had things to do.
I couldn’t do any laundry but I did get a pitch for the tent and a shower. The Master would be unimpressed but I hadn’t got any food and didn’t want a pub meal (despite urgings from the Financial Controller in Acaster Malbis). I rummaged around my bags for a cuppa soup, some energy bars and a banana.
After the light went I was alone in pitch darkness. I wasn’t worried about this and I’m sat at the table writing up my blog on the iPad. I hear a noise and find a man, behind me, scrabbling over a wall to get into the shower block. Why not go via the path and proper entrance (see below)?
I have bike lights etc and so I can see whatever I chose to throw a beam on. After showering a man appears. I’m also heading to the toilet block and we fall into a one sided conversation. Over 10 minutes I learn that he lives ‘off the grid’, which explains why he’s stealing a shower. He’s 66 years old and American. He’s passionate about artefacts of which he’s collected many locally. The local rock structure is quartz and quite special (?) He believes (actually ‘knows’ to be more accurate) that 9/11 was caused by the American military and that coronavirus is the direct result of 5G. He’s had terrible arthritis but the combination of maple syrup and baking soda cleared it all up. Here I am with this gabbling stranger in the dark when he reaches from behind and says “here’s a bright shiny kitchen knife, do you like it?”
Well actually I made the last bit up. He seemed harmless if not completely deluded. Also camping on the far side of the cricket field (about 250 metres away) were two millennial girls. Can you imagine how they’d felt if this man turned up near them?
I was tired and crawled into my calzone and soon found myself in an Alfred Hitchcock film.