Tag Archives: Family

Walking tour guide

Playing hide & go seek by Andrew Gills
Playing hide & go seek, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

My uncle is visiting from Holland. He is staying with my parents who live near my home. So this morning we met at 5:20am at my house for a bushwalk in Bayview (my new favourite place in the world).

A thick white fog hung over the grass field as finches sung contently all around. Once in Bayview we wandered the single trails, winding our way between the trees and hopping across gullies.

I practiced speaking Dutch to my uncle (I need all the practice I can get) and tried to find the flattest route for him. See, while our hills in Bayview are low by most people’s standards (the highest hill we walked up today is just 62m above sea level), they are high by Dutch standards because that country is flat. I think my uncle will feel his calves tomorrow but I know he enjoyed the walk.

Total: 7.8km trail walk

Motorcycle camping long weekend

Mum and Dad on their bikes

Mum and Dad on their bikes

We had a long weekend here in Queensland, so after half a day at the high ropes course, I met up with my parents for a few days motorbike camping. Mum and Dad recently bought new motorbikes, and this was their first time taking them out touring. It was nice to introduce them to one of my favourite activities and to have an excuse to go motorbike touring for the first time in almost a year.

My wheels

My wheels

We met at the Bearded Dragon down in Tamborine Village for a late lunch on Saturday afternoon. After huge meals we set off into the cold afternoon air for the short ride down country roads to Rathdowney and then onto Flanagan’s Reserve, near Mt Barney. With clouds rolling in ominously, we were expecting a wet camp but, fortunately, the rain never eventuated.

Camp at Flanagan's Reserve

Camp at Flanagan’s Reserve

Flanagan’s Reserve is 28 acres of bush camping. There are hot showers (20c/min) and toilets. The campsite is located along the upper reaches of the Logan River under the watchful eyes of Mt Barney and Mt Maroon. With plenty of trees for shade and steel drums to use as fire places, this site is beautiful all year round. You can just hang out at camp or drive up to nearby Yellow Pinch day use area to do some hiking around Mt Barney.

Morning walk near Mt Barney

Morning walk near Mt Barney

After a pleasant night around the campfire, I slept like a log. On Sunday morning I walked up the road for an hour, enjoying the country scenery. I thought about going for a run but decided to rest my body because I was sore after my 11km jog earlier in the week and a month off won’t do my body any harm.

Logan River at Flanagan's Reserve

Logan River at Flanagan’s Reserve

At the end of my walk I wandered through the campground to look at all the other campers’ set ups. While my parents and I had tiny little hiking tents, most other campers had huge arrangements: massive canvas tents, dome tents the size of small mansions and caravans that might make a Mac truck look small. I wonder whether the person who invented tents realised there would be such an array by the year 2013.

Riding up Mt Lindsay

Riding up Mt Lindsay

We started our ride on Sunday by heading south-west over Mt Lindsay. The roads were quiet and winding. As we crossed the mountain and state border at 1,195m we could see rain in all directions. The temperature plummeted and the roads got wet (though fortunately from rain that had already fallen earlier). Having only ridden less than 2,000km in total including their lessons and licence tests, the combination of wet and winding roads was a bit of a challenge for my parents. But they made it down into Woodenbong safely for a Tim Tam break.

Lunch at Killarney

Lunch at Killarney

From Woodenbong we rode north west back across the state border to Killarney. The Mount Lindsay Highway was a rough and rugged ride that took all our concentration to travel safely. I think we were all happy to see Shirl & Sandy’s takeaway shop in Killarney where we could escape the cold drizzle and buy some food. Shirl & Sandy’s is an unassuming little place but it was doing a roaring trade when we arrived. Six or seven car loads of men and their young sons were placing orders and eating. They were on “Secret Men’s Business”; a boy’s camping weekend. The food was honest and tasty, the service was friendly and the dining room was warm.

Back of the range

Back of the range

At Killarney we decided to head over to Goomburra and take our chances at one of the commercial camping grounds there rather than staying at the National Park. We are usually National Park people but with the cold weather and threatening skies, my parents decided that hot showers would be a lovely thing to have at the end of the day.

The only blue sky we saw all weekend

The only blue sky we saw all weekend

So we drove north behind the Great Dividing Range along quiet roads that gave us plenty of time to enjoy the views: mountains to our right and farmlands to our left.

Goomburra Valley Campground

Goomburra Valley Campground

None of us had ever been to Goomburra before. I don’t know why because we camp quite a bit and Goomburra is only 175km (110 miles) from home. After looking at the three commercial campgrounds in the Goomburra Valley, we decided to try our luck at the Goomburra Valley Campground. It was a long shot because all the campgrounds seemed to be quite full this long weekend. But they had a no-show, leaving space for us in a prime spot right next to the river.

Cute little fellow

Cute little fellow

There’s a shop about 500m from the campground so I went for a walk to buy cold drinks and chocolate to enjoy while we kicked back for the afternoon. Along the way, I came across a very cute little pony who couldn’t decide whether he was friendly or coy. He’d come up to let me pat him and then back off shyly. We played this game for a  little while before I continued on my way.

On my return, Mum, Dad and I sat around the campfire sharing cold soft drinks, chocolate and then, later, soup, dinner and French cheese.

The creek at Goomburra Valley Campground

The creek at Goomburra Valley Campground

I got up in the morning and took another one hour walk to explore the area. The creek next to the campground was pretty and would be a fun place for kids to play in summer.

Check out the horns on him

Check out the horns on him

Further up the road, I came across a herd of cattle, including a big bull with impressive horns. I couldn’t help but stay well away from him and keep an eye on him as I walked past. Sure, I know he won’t do anything. But those horns still demand respect.

Loving life

Loving life

After my walk, we had breakfast, packed our gear and hit the road for the ride home. In fine weather conditions, we would have stopped heaps to take photos but it didn’t take long before the rain started to fall. And it only grew heavier the closer to Brisbane we got. The first half of the ride was still nice though. We took the northern route back to Brisbane along the New England Highway and then the shortcut through to Gatton. Along the way we stopped at the Thies Memorial Park to make coffee and eat some simple snacks.

The ride home from Gatton got a bit miserable. The only highlight was the burgers we ate at the Ozie Fuels diner on the highway. They were not bad at all.

It was fantastic to play tour guide for my parents and I enjoyed their company for the weekend. I hope we have another chance to go motorbike touring.

Mountain to point ride

Mum enjoying the view by Andrew Gills
Mum enjoying the view, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Mum and I hit the road this morning for a road ride. As usual, we had a lovely time cruising along the roads chatting away.

Our rides are slowly getting longer. Last year we’d have been happy just riding the 25km Carbrook Loop (aka The Seven Sisters). Then six months ago, the 38km ride out to Cleveland Point was our usual ride. This morning, we extended ourselves out to Wellington Point, a 55km return ride.

Total: 54.6km road cycle

An easy spin

Out riding by Andrew Gills
Out riding, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

After two days of total rest and plenty of stretching, I decided to take an easy spin this morning to loosen my legs before Saturday’s Fleche Opperman road cycle.

I also wanted to try out some new cycling gear I bought yesterday: gloves, UV protectors for my arms and a wind vest. It was too warm for the wind vest but the gloves and UV protectors were awesome. I will be grateful for them at the Fleche Opperman.

Mum and I just rode a lap of our area, covering an easy 27.4km. It was just what my legs needed this morning. They felt refreshed and strong as we cruised along.

I have the day off work so will be watching television and resting all day before going out for an easy trail run tonight as part of Whoops Witch Way’s adventure race training. It’s just going to be an easy 5-8km cruise.

Total: 27.4km road cycle

Mother and son road cycle

Mother and son by Andrew Gills
Mother and son, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

It didn’t take much to convince Mum to come riding with me this morning. She enjoys a morning cruise as much as I do. Actually, she’s up for just about any adventure that comes along; so long as it doesn’t involve running 50km.

That’s something I’m grateful for: that my parents are outdoors people. I can’t remember a time when they didn’t take me cycling, bushwalking or camping. As a child, it was normal for us to spend our free time outdoors playing in the sun, rain and wind.

Weekends and holidays were times for camping and exploring; no cotton wool provided. I was still in primary school the first time my family went on a 15km bushwalk and when I was ten years old, Dad took me on a 50km road ride. Being outdoors wasn’t something you planned to do one day; it was just something you got up and did.

I have come to see that the life I live today is heavily influenced by the outdoor experiences of my childhood. And this is why I have recently signed up as a Scout leader; to share the outdoors with the next generation just as my parents shared the outdoors with me. Perhaps one day they will see that getting up before the dawn to walk, run, cycle or paddle is normal and fun.

Mum and I had a lovely ride this morning. Yet another shared experience in the outdoors.

Total: 42.3km road cycle.

Kayaking Coochie

Kayaking Coochie by Andrew Gills
Kayaking Coochie, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

A half metre swell, four children under eight, two kayaks and team Whoops Witch Way. It was a morning to be grateful for.

There’s a joy in the way children see the world. Mangrove trees poking their tops out of the water at high tide amazes them. The waves bring excitement. And a stop on the beach is a chance to frolic in the sea.

In a world that’s so serious and focused on results, the joy of taking children into the outdoors is such a reward.

Total: 2 hours kayaking

Coochie daydreams

Coochie dreams by Andrew Gills
Coochie dreams, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Powder puff clouds drift across the sky as our kayak bobs on the small waves. The usually clear blue water below our boat is a murky brown, as a result of the silty water entering the bay from the recently flooded rivers.

I take the rear seat of the kayak while Mum sits up front. I’m more experienced on the water and Mum’s asked me to give her some pointers. I explain the principles of using large leg and core muscle groups to propel the boat forward, rather than our smaller arm muscles. We power across the water.

Last time I was here, the tide was at its lowest so I couldn’t complete a circumnavigation. Today, the tide is at it’s peak. The deep water is exaserbated by the flood waters flowing into the bay. In addition, last weekend’s storms caused a shift in the sands around the island, sweeping most of the beaches away. So we can stay close to the shore, instead of having to paddle far out in the bay.

It only took us an hour to circumnavigate the island; a distance of about 8km. We spent another half hour playing around the boats in the bay off the beach on the southern side of the island.

Total: 1.5 hours kayaking with Mum

This is living

This is living by Andrew Gills
This is living, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I haven’t ridden with my mum in a while so was pleased this morning that we both had time to go for a spin.

We started out at 6:30am. The late start was fantastic for allowing us to sleep in. It did mean there was a lot of traffic on the road for much of our ride because today is the first day of the school year. After enjoying school holiday traffic for a couple of months, the extra traffic was a bit of a shock. But the roads we rode are wide, so we were still able to enjoy the experience.

We rode down to the Raby Bay beaches at Cleveland. It’s difficult to believe that just a few days ago the sea was so wild that boats broke their moorings up here and were found washed up on rocks kilometres south. Today, the bay is so inviting that I would love to head out in a kayak for a paddle.

I enjoyed the ride with Mum. She’s my favourite riding partner. We cruise along together talking. It’s a good way to spend time together.

Total: 51.7km road cycle

Bikeway cruise

Bikeway cruise by Andrew Gills
Bikeway cruise, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

My favourite cycling buddy is definitely my mum. When we ride together it’s always relaxed and enjoyable. She is always enthusiastic about exploring new routes and never turns a pleasant ride into a workout. Riding also gives us a chance to catch up and chat.

This morning, Mum picked me up from my place at 5:45am and we drove to the Bulimba Creek Cycleway at Belmont. The cycleway is a long paved route that follows, you guessed it, Bulimba Creek. We followed the bikeway north to connect with the Moreton Bay Cycleway, an as-yet incomplete route that will connect Redland Bay to Redcliffe.

The Moreton Bay Cycleway took us up over the Gateway Bridge. The views over the water at the top of the bridge were delightful. We looked out over sailing boats and sand dredgers moored in the shelter of a river bend, a marina of large yachts, a group of paddlers rowing outrigger canoes downstream and a large tug boat sailing

We continued north to Northgate where we joined the Kedron Brook Cycleway, which we followed into the city. I used to ride this trail into the city when I lived in Chermside so I knew my way quite well. We enjoyed the sunshine and the sight of the newly landscaped brook.

After riding through Roma Street and Southbank Parklands looking for a cafe, we continued to Stones Corner where we finally found somewhere to stop and enjoy a well-deserved hot beverage and sweet muffin. We talked about my partner and my decision to sell our house and move to the city. And about the practical and financial things we need to sort out to have the best chance of selling our house in the current market (which in our area is depressed but seems stable for those who are realistic about sale prices).

After coffee we rode down Old Cleveland Road back to the Bulimba Cycleway and Mum’s ute. It was just perfect. I was glad I rode my mountain bike because it meant I could ride on the grass to talk with Mum while she rode on the pathway.

Total: 46.13km cycle



Holding a black headed python

Mum organised a reptile man to come show her many grandchildren some native cold bloods. So I jumped in and had a hold too.


Holding a carpet snake

The snakes and crocodile were all young animals. The black headed python was 2 years old and can grow many more metres. The carpet snake was 1 year old and can grow to 4m long and 30 years.

It was a very cool afternoon with my own grandchildren (yes I have grandchildren in my 30s), siblings, daughter-in-law, nieces, nephews and parents.

Tomorrow is Saturday. I’ve plans for geocaching and to service my motorbike (I’ve never done any motor mechanics before so it could be interesting). But for now I’m chilling out with the reptiles.