My day starts early when I wake at 4am to do a get in a few hours work before we hit the road. It’s one of the bonuses of my job that I can work from anywhere in the world. After I get my work done we breakfast on sandwiches, pack and hit the road.
For the first few hours we travel through grass covered hills. Pink seed heads stand atop the metre high blades. A windmill stands in a paddock. It’s as quintisentially Australian as the gum trees that provide shade for the Brahmin cattle being fattened for market.
At Bjeke-Peterson Dam the dead trees tens of metres from the shore are a testament to Mother Nature’s power. They grew there against the odds during times of drought only to die when the dam refilled during flooding rains.
We stop briefly in Murgon to take a photo of the Anzac memorial statue. The town’s dark and miserable past still haunts it. The drunken ladies in the park cat call to us. We ignore them and drive on through.
In Gayndah we stop to buy mandarines. They are dirt cheap at $4 a bag (about 5kg) or $6 a box. We eat some for morning tea and are treated to the delicious taste of Autumn.
We make slow progress for the next 150km. It’s not until we stop in Cania Gorge for lunch that I realise we’ve only been traveling at 80-90kph when I thought we were doing 100kph. It seems my speedometre is out by 10% so I let Mum drive up front so that we pick up the pace. I use her as a guide for my speed.
We continue to travel north. It’s after 3pm when we cross a mountain range into Biloela (Billo to Queenslanders). The landscape changes and we find ourselves in The Outback. The grass is shorter and more yellow here. The creeks are dry and the rivers mere creeks. As we turn onto the Capricorn Hwy we see our first road train of the trip. I ride a motorbike so I also smell it. All three trailers of the truck are filled with cattle so the smell is strong.
That’s one of the things I love about motorcycle touring; you not only see everything but you also smell and feel it. Your eyes see something, your nose smells it and, sometimes, your skin feels it. Changes in landscape are often combined with changes in climate (it’s hotter since we passed Billo), which you can’t hide from using climate control (or windscreen wipes in the rain).
We follow the road west as the sun sets. The Forest Gump Suite plays on my ipod as the golden ball sinks into a red sky. Clouds are painted a mixture of blue, white and orange in a display that many would think fake if they saw it in a painting. My heart sings! I love this Outback scenery.
It’s almost dark as we turn off to the Blackdown Tableland National Park. It’s cliffs rise sharply to a tree covered plateau as we approach through fields of yellow-brown grass along a road bordered by bright red dirt. I sing triumphantly to my ipod.
We drive the last 15km in darkness; the second half of which is a rough gravel track. I lead and Mum helps out by shining her head lights brightly so I can see. It’s a nerve racking ride up the steep twisting road to the campsite. I slide down a wet clay hill, my road tyres losing traction. My back end serves out of control as I head out of the clay up the hill because the narrow tread is filled with muddy clay. It takes a long kilometre for me to regain grip with the road. But it’s an exhilarating end to the day.
We set camp in darkness under a bright blanket of stars. I can’t wait to see what this place looks like when the sun rises tomorrow. We’re a long way from civilisation here at bush camp and it feels so good.
(Posted after writing because there’s no internet or phone reception up here on the plateau. Written my phone so limited editing and layout capability.)