Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back on the road

Thursday 5th May

After waiting around forever in Brisbane - well three months - for the Bruce Highway to stop closing every second day due to flooding and nature kicking our arses and other things, and then having to deal with com-fits and chats to police when I caught a burgular in the backroom of my folks house who had stolen my Dad's wallet, I finally got around to leaving on the next leg of this big ol' bike tour.

I caught the train from my folks all the way to Caboolture. The train trip was rather long, standing up, holding onto my ladden steel horse to prevent it biting or kicking the fellow passengers, or falling over.

I was entertained by a Caboolture man telling his tale of giving up smoking only for his wife to get breast cancer and the stress making him smoke again, and then when his wife was in remission having his house broken into and getting in the way of a man wielding a knife and almost losing his arm. Finally, the train got in to Caboolture, around 12:30 pm.

Made it out of Caboolture without even a single stab wound to ride Beerburrum Road and Steve Irwin Way with no shoulder - I don't recommend it. [Insert I'd give my right arm, or someones arm anyway, for a decent shoulder joke here]

The only really nice part of this route is the glimpses of the Glasshouse Mountains including the pointy one which I've always called the Pinnacle, although I'm not sure of its real name, and the mountain that reminds me of a gorilla, Tibrogarrin - a huge wide mass of a thing. There's one bit where you come around a bend in the road and there is Tibrogarrin looming upon you even though it is a fair way off. The traditional owners found this mountain of some spiritual significance, and I guess I feel it to, in a its-a-huge-gorilla kind-of-a-way. I don't know - I guess the big lump just seems alive. It is certainly imposing.

Tibogarrin looming around the bend

This path beside Steve Irwin Way had a lot of potential for fun, but unfortunately only lasted about 1 km.

 I remember going on a hike around this area in my early teens - all I really remember is the topographic map we had, laughing at 'The Pin' because we we're impossibly easily amused, The Gorilla, pinapples, and lots of walking, as you'd expect.

Back to the ride, there was one part of Steve Irwin Road where roadworks cut the road down to one lane with a stop-and-go man letting alternative directions through in turn. I rode up to beside the car at the start of the queue on the stubble grass that passes for the nature strip beside the road, much to the displeasure of the line of cars. The stop-go man called me over and asked where I was riding to and where from. He then said he'd let me through first and give me a head start on the cars. Yes! This was great as there wasn't enough room for cars beside me which means a kilometre line of cars being very impatient and trying to squash me - and probably succeeding. Anyway I now had a challenge so on the green light I raced off with one eager eye on the end of the roadworks about 300 metres ahead and the other eager eye on my rear view mirror awaiting the descent of the line of cars beside me. Happily, and needless to say as I'm talking to you now, I made it through before the cars and even another 200 metres before they came through. I thought I was pretty good. In reality they probably had to move machinery around without cars in the way.

Further up on Glasshouse Mountains Rd there is a lake, or wetlands really, which I really should have stopped at to take some photos as the sun was setting over it and there was birds taking off n stuff. But I was pretty eager to find camp at this stage as riding with no real shoulder at dusk is stupid.

About ten to five, after about 40 km, I made it to my camp for the night - a rest area called Jowarra Park, which is eight kilometres north-east of Landsborough on Glasshouse Mountains Rd. I found some grass to set up the swag and after cooking some lentil dhal and rice, doing a bit of reading of Tina Fey's Bossypants, I hit the hay to the old familiar sounds of heavy truck traffic and engine brakes. Zzzzzz.

Sun setting on the first day (looking back)

Friday 6th May

Back in the planning stages, I put on a map to ride the b-road way for about 70 kays to my next camp, just past Yandina. However there was a stretch of this that looked interesting - through a forest - but turns out its a dirt road - and given the weather Queensland's been having, would likely be pretty impassable [insert memories of the Murray River 'dirt' road here]. So I was stuck on the stupid Bruce Highway. I got to Yandina (I think 40 kay) by 10.30am and the camp was only two km further on. I just hung around at Yandina until lunch time, went to the bakery, and then rode off to the campsite - Browns Creek Rest Area - which I got to by 1 pm.

Here I thought about putting up the hammock but was too lazy to dig it out of the bottom of a pannier - that's pretty lazy!

One of the other 'campers' was an old couple with a bus with a trailer with a torago van on the back with a dinghy on the roof of the van. Christ! When I got there he had a sander out sanding away at something in an otherwise idyllic bit of bush by a creek. Later his wife collected some firewood and he got a full-size petol chainsaw out to cut it up. I have seen it all.

I just did some more reading, when the neighbours weren't making such a racket, put my tent up around 4pm, and got to cooking and eating.

Some people invited me to join their campfire chat group but I didn't feel like having to answer the usual questions so was antisocial. I already said g'day to one bloke. I had made quota.

Being this lazy makes me sleepy so I went to sleep pretty early.

Saturday 7th May

This day I was going to ride about 50 km to Amamoor but this involved Traverston Crossing Road which involves a dirty big hill. Instead I decided to ride 85 km to a rest area a few kilometres out of Gympie. There was another rest area I guess 5 or 10 km out of Gympie which looked nice and had water, but I kept riding to the next one. The next one was muddy, small and very close to the freeway, with no drinkable water. It is however right next to a wetlands which is nice in the afternoon and morning light with lots of interesting birds and reflections. This rest area is also a park-and-ride which I don't really understand but I guess parking is an issue and I guess its cheaper to drive to a few kilometres out of Gympie and catch the bus? I don't really know how big Gympie is as I didn't go into the city - I only stuck to the Bruce Highway outskirts which is your usual city outskirts of borderline industrial industry. Anyway I got a few strange looks from the people on the buses, me sitting beside my swag like a hobo (It's apparently much more stylish to sleep in the back of a station wagon). The name of the rest area was the Chatsworth Park Rest Area.

Sunday 8th May

Rode an early 60 km before lunchtime to get to the Tiaro rest area which is behind the hotel. Felt pretty good about having ridden 60 km in a few hours as the quality of the roads (especially the shoulders) leaves a lot to be desired, with only small patches of wide bitumen shoulder where you don't have to be contantly popping off the road into the grass or slippery gravel.

After lunch I set up camp and a lady who had seen me at Browns Creek rest area two days earlier was there, telling me she had seen me before and I was travelling fast.

There is another rest area further up the road a little but it is apparently a fairly small area.

Monday 9th May

This was a tough day. It had rained a little overnight and when I woke up until about 3pm it didn't really stop. There was very few kilometres of good shoulder, a lot of oversize trucks delivering stuff to the mines up North (parts of buildings, demountables, very large dump trucks). These oversize trucks would plague me all week.

By the time I got to Childers I had just about had enough. But I kept riding onto the rest area called "Apple Tree Creek" 7 km North of Childers.

Earlier in the day I saw a couple (one male, one female) who were probably cycling to Childers (and doing it a lot faster than me, too, travelling light) and I saw a couple of blokes riding south fully loaded in Childers (we just waved and smiled from opposite sides of the road).

With a crappy road, a few hills thrown in, rain and dealing with oversize trucks sneaking up and forcing me from the road, I felt like in those conditions 90 kilometres is probably my maximum distance for sanity.

It had finally stopped raining by the time I got to the shelter (picnic table with roof over the top). Yes, stop raining now that I have a freaking roof, will you?

Tuesday 10th May

Rode a quick 50 km to Gin Gin, visited the bakery (garlic prawn pie) and the IGA, chatted to local Mark who used to do some cycle touring in his youth and now lives in a van on a mountain, doing his art.

Rode another two kilometres to the Gin Gin Rest Area which has drinkable water and I found a grassy area a way back from the road for a bit of quiet.

Wednesday 11th May

Road 60 kilometres to the Granite Creek rest area. This day really tested me because the road was so poor and the oversize trucks were thick and fast. I think there wasn't any water here, but I can't remember now.
The start of a winding downhill north of Gin Gin the truckies call the "Dipper". No lines and no room for bikes either. You see this sign a lot in Qld due to unfinished roadworks (flood and lack of money involved). It's fine to overtake unsafely when this sign isn't present.

Thursday 12th May

Rode about 90 kilometres to the lovely Boyne River Rest Area which 49 k N of Miriam Vale. There is water here and a grotty shower cubicle. Today didn't feel so bad - I think there was a decent shoulder a lot of the way. I stopped at Miriam Vale for lunch (fish burger) and the general store here is one of the "charge three times as much for everything" ones. I was getting low on rice and red lentils and they didn't have these items at a price I could afford so I ended up getting rice noodles and tuna which for some reason were cheaper.

Boyne River rest area is really nice because there is a grassy area that goes well back from the road (I pitched my tent way up against the fence at the back for maximum quiet) and it has really nice views to the Boyne River.

Boyne River in the background

Friday 13th May

Rode a quick 50 kilometres to Mt Larcom which is a tiny town. Stayed at the caravan park for $10. Rode into town and had lunch, bought some supplies from the general store and read the local paper in the library.

Had my first real shower in many many days.

Saturday 14th May

Rode 75 kilometres into Rockhampton and grabbed some lunch from in town. Rode over the river and checked into the Rocky YHA at 2pm($22), had a shower (getting spoilt), washed my clothes, changed into my civvies (whoo jeans, not shorts) and rode over to the Stocklands shopping centre to buy some thongs (lost a pair again) and actually find a 500 gram bag of rice and some red lentils at the supermarket. Bought a pizza from Pizza Capers (Savanna seafood is delicious) and went back to lie in a bed and do some reading.

Didn't do any touristy things like visit the botanical gardens, because I just couldn't be bothered. Probably need a rest day :)


Adrian/Adrain said...

Great reading about your travels -- sitting at home here, cycle touring vicariously through the web. The tweets during the day give me something to look forward to during the duller parts of an IT life in Melbourne's winter.

One minor question, what CB do you use to listen in on the trucks on your travels?

Mal said...

I like the misty photo of the river.

Your comments about the sign implying it might be okay to pass unsafely at other times, reminded me of the George Carlin sketch on Baby On Board signs in cars. If you haven't heard any George Carlin, I think you might like him. Just to not leave you hanging without an else clause, even if you HAVE heard George Carlin, you still might like him.

Maree said...

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for reading! There are dull parts to an IT life? NEVER!

Now to answer your question, the CB radio I have was given to me by a friendly chap in a caravan park in Heathcote VIC (Thanks Taffy!) so I'm not sure on its specs or how much it cost when new. It is a UNIDEN handheld and it has a maximum range of 8km. Not sure how much it weighs but its small and lightweight enough to clip onto my handlebar bag for my listening (dis)pleasure. It takes 3xAAA batteries which lasts me about three weeks before I need to charge them (with my solar PV of course). I think you can get smaller ones now, but I've only really seen them in packs of two and not always UNIDEN brand.

The truckies channel is channel 40 (some grey nomads also use this channel, and also some stop and go roadworks people use it so that truckies can call in ahead).

I'll do a blog post soon on truckie CB lingo for your entertainment.