Tag Archives: Motorbike

Julia Creek Trip Day 13: Home

Today’s 485km ride home can best be summed up in just a few phrases:

  • 6.5 long and often scary hours
  • potholes so large they could swallow a small truck
  • puddles so deep I needed scuba diving gear to ride through them
  • visibility so low I often couldn’t see the cars in front of me or the lines on the road
  • rain so heavy it managed to penetrate my raincoat, winter jacket, fleece vest and t-shirt.

Yes, some will say I should have stopped but that’s not my style. The downpour continued through last night and sometimes here in  Queensland downpours like that continue for days. I’ve learned to ride through heavy rain and to manage my risks so that’s what I did. And besides, a bit of fear is good sometimes.

I made it home safely and am ready to get back into training.

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Julia Creek Trip Day 12: Capricorn Caves to Deepwater

 

It’s our final day on the road as a trio. Tonight I will be staying with a friend in Deepwater, and my mum and grandmother will be staying with their friends at Hervey Bay. We’ll all be home by tomorrow night. It now feels like we’re homeward bound after a fabulous trip.

There’s not much to tell about today’s travel. We drove through Rockhampton to Gladstone where we stopped for morning tea on the harbour. The road into Gladstone is lined with heavy industry. There’s a huge new development being built to house the workers who will live here to keep the coal, electricity and aluminium industries growing. It feels oppressive driving through this type of landscape. Intellectually I know that we need it because our society (including me) has high electricity demands and uses a lot of aluminium products. But emotionally it feels horrible to know this type of industry is destroying our planet; especially after spending time in wilder areas.

From Gladstone we follow the increasingly busy Bruce Hwy south to Miriam Vale. There’s a lot of road work taking place as this section of the highway is upgraded. The road works make travel painfully slow as we have to stop frequently for the stop-slow controllers. Fortunately we can turn off the road in Miriam Vale to turn off the highway to take the back roads south rather than continue to battle the road works. I needed to turn off there anyway to get to Deepwater but Mum would ordinarily have taken the highway all the way south to the Hervey Bay exit, south of Childers.

We stop at the Lowmead Road exit where Mum has to turn left and I need to continue onwards. We stop here on the side of the road for lunch. It’s quiet here and there’s nowhere else to stop so we just set up our chairs right beside the road. Here we eat left over dinner for lunch before Mum and my grandmother leave me to continue our own separate ways. Our last meal together was lovely and as I rode off I reflected on the wonderful trip we had together.

Julia Creek Trip Day 11: Airlie Beach to Capricorn Caves

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We’re on our way home now, starting with today’s long drive down the notoriously long and boring stretch of Bruce Hwy from Mackay to Rockhampton.

We start out early and make our way through the cane fields to Proserpine and then Mackay, where we have breakfast in a pretty park dedicated to the South Sea Islanders who helped develop the sugar industry in the Mackay district.

From Mackay we drive about 100km to Flaggy Rock. It’s a tiny town and from the highway all we see is the ice cream shop. You have to stop here if you are in the area because the home made ice cream is delicious! I had two scoops: lychee and ginger, and banana and cinnamon. Yummo.

After Flaggy Rock we drive  120km to Marlborough. Despite the large road signs indicating the town’s existence, Marlborough is also tiny. We stop at the Lions Park for lunch and a short sleep. It is clean and relatively quiet. I really needed the sleep.

On the road between Flaggy Rock and Marlborough there were a series of official road signs with trivia questions on them. It’s one of the fatigue management techniques being used to reduce the road toll on the road. Most people drive the 311km from Mackay to Rocky in one hit so it’s a dangerous road. The lack of variety in the scenery makes it boring, increasing fatigue. I wish I had been able to safely stop to take photos of the signs. The current question is ‘What is the tallest mountain in Queensland?’ The answer is Mt Bartle Frere.

We had planned to drive to Yeppoon, 35km east of Rockhampton but see camping signs just 25km before Rocky at the Capricorn Caves.

The campground at Capricorn Caves is wonderful. It is a bush camp with powered sites and amenities. We spend our last night as a trio playing cards ( I won my first game this trip) and sitting around a campfire. Mum also makes my favourite dish for tea: a Dutch dish called ‘cold dish’. It was super lovely of her.

Julia Creek Trip Day 9: Alva Beach to Airlie Beach

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After our late night playing cards we slept in and left camp late this morning. We didn’t hit the highway until well after 10am.

Our first stop was a scenic lookout high up on a hill. We could see all the way to the coast to the east, mountains to the southwest and sugar cane fields to the north.

An hour later found us sitting in a backside park in Bowen eating morning tea and enjoying the view over clear blue waters. I also stopped to take a photo of the giant Bowen mango. That’s what Bowen is famous for: delicious sweet Bowen mangos. This is one of the favourite eating varieties in Queensland.

While we were in Bowen we decided to change our plans. We had been aiming to drive to Eungella National Park but, given the late start, we decided instead to stop at Airlie Beach just 100km away.

When I ride down to the water in Airlie Beach I am glad Mum suggested this stop. The water sparkles and shimmers to a backdrop of coastal heads and the Whitsunday Islands. We pitch our tents at the backpacker hostel and camp ground in the town centre and head into town to book a snorkeling tour for tomorrow.

Airlie Beach seems to be a real backpacker town. Everything is geared to their money. Tours depart to the Whitsundays everyday. You don’t have to pre-book; just turn up and book something for the next day. Young tourists abound and most of the shops seem to be staffed with foreign-accented 20-somethings.

After dinner we walk along the lovely man-made lagoon, feeling the fresh ocean air cool the hot humidity slightly. Our stomachs full from eating dinner at a local restaurant we all head to our sleeping bags early; ready for tomorrow’s sailing and snorkeling adventure.

Julia Creek Trip Day 8: Torrens Creek to Alva Beach

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Today we left the Outback behind. After a week of riding under 180° skies and along roads that stretched to the horizon it seemed strange to see mountains rising in the distance.

The first of these were the White Mountains, which formed the western edge of the Great Dividing Range. At 440m high the mountains weren’t impressive but their white rocks made interesting scenery.

The grasslands gave way to trees as we drove further east. Just after Charters Towers we crossed the Burdekin River. It was flowing well but looked empty against the potential size of the river durst flood. It was difficult to imagine that the water rises metres above the road bridge during floods.

One of the highlights of the day was seeing Andrew from Ozonfoot.com. He is walking around Australia to raise money for cancer research. He started in Sydney over 470 days ago. We gave him donations and a cold can of soft drink. I urge you to read his website and blog. I am grateful to people like him who made it possible for researchers and doctors to develop the tests and surgery that saved my partner’s life last year when she had cancer.

We turned off t

he

Flinders Hwy onto the Giru road, which took us through cane fields to the sugar cane milling town of Giru. Here we stopped for lunch beside a creek. It was hot and there was no shade but it was pretty. The crocodile warning signs caught my attention.

From Giru we cruised down the Bruce Hwy to Ayr. We didn’t stop in Ayr but turned east to Alva Beach. This is a beautiful beach side hideaway with blue water and coconut palms. Here we enjoyed the excellent Alva Beach Caravan Park and played cards well into the n

ight.

Julia Creek Trip Day 7: Julia Creek to Torrens Creek

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Both Mum and I are unwell this morning. Mum has an ear and throat infection that she picked up swimming in the pool. I have still got the diarrhea that came on last night as a side effect of racing in the extreme heat. But we pack up camp and hit the road back east.

Our first stop is a rest area midway between Julia Creek and Richmond. It’s the only place to take shelter from the heat in the 145km between the towns. We’re still in the 180° sky country we’ve been in since Winton and, despite my body’s protests I’m loving the ride.

In Richmond we stop at the dinosaur cafe and shops. They are doing a roaring Sunday morning trade with travelers and locals alike. I’m grateful to be in the airconditioning with my jacket off. But I still find the energy to climb into the dinosaur’s mouth for a photo. The dinosaurs are significant here because their fossils have been found in this area.

From Richmond we continue the 105km to Hughendon. As we approach the township hills start to appear in the distance. It’s the first sign that the scenery is going to change soon.

Mum and I both need a long break in Hughendon. Our bodies are struggling to keep up with the effort of driving  (for Mum) and riding (for me) so we find shade near the tourist information centre and lay down to sleep for an hour or so. After our sleep we eat a tasty lunch at the FJ Holden Cafe. The lemon-orange drink is particularly refreshing. It is fresh lemon and orange juice mixed with crushed ice; just what I need.

Shortly after leaving Hughendon we climb a jump-up and the land changes significantly. Trees grow along the roadside and the soil is red. The air feels cooler, making a welcome change to the stifling heat of the past two days.

By the time we reach Torrens Creek, just 90km east of Hughendon, both Mum and I are feeling chirpier. The pub here has a campsite out the back with shady trees in it. It looks pleasant enough for the night so we pay the barman and set up camp under a huge shady tree. We’ve only driven 350km but are glad to enjoy the afternoon snoozing, reading and playing cards. I even squeeze in a geocache hunt, which is successful and takes me through the tiny town.

It’s quiet here in Torrens Creek. The few houses are eerily silent though I saw people or cars at then today. It’s so quiet it feels like we are camped out in the wilderness, not next to the highway in a town. There are millions of stars above us in the sky and the only sounds are our voices and the insects chirping in through night air.

It’s been a good day and I feel recovered from my exertion at the triathlon and from the culture shock of being at such a big and noisy festival. It’s a little ironic that I’m a city bloke but felt suffocated by the crowds at a festival in one of the most far-flung Outback towns in Queensland. I had a fantastic time but am happy to geocache back on the road traveling.

Julia Creek Trip Day 5: Kyuna to Julia Creek

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Dawn over the Outback plains was stunning this morning. I set up a table and chair to act as a desk before the sun rose and worked ny headtorch light until the sky changed colours. It was the best office location I’ve had to date (and I’ve set up office in some fabulous locations).

We took it easy this morning because we only had 120km to Julia Creek. It was a nice change from our usual morning rush.

The Kyuna-Julia Creek road was long, straight and flat. It was narrower than the highways we’ve been following here. It ran straight north, following the bright hot sun’s path towards the centre of the sky. Fields of grass stretched to the horizon, cut only by the long straight ribbon of road.

There were two short unsealed sections of road. It was on one of these that the first of three road trains came hurtling towards us. We pulled over as the triple trailer and it’s cloud of dust approached. The cloud engulfed us as the truck thundered by, shaking my bike as it did. I had to wait about 2 minutes for the cloud to blow off the road, leaving me cake in red dust.

We saw lots of birds again today. While yesterday we saw emus, today we saw brolgas at a water hole. We also saw more hawks and falcons hunting mice and other small animals. It is magnificent to see them glide, swoop and dive through the air.

Once in Julia Creek we set about setting up camp. We’re here for the Dirt n Dust Triathlon, which I am racing tomorrow. It’s the excuse behind our 4,000km return road trip.

The atmosphere here is AMAZING! Today I volunteered as a technical official for the kids’ race. It was fantastic to see so many country kids giving the sport a go. They really got into it, and both their parents and the town got behind them.

Tonight we went to the free music concert. They had some good country musicians playing. Being a country music fan I enjoyed it a lot.

Tomorrow’s race doesn’t start until 9:30am so it’s going to be seriously tough because it gets HOT here during the day. A cattle truck will take our bikes to T1 at 8:30am then we will be taken there in buses. The 800m swim will take place in a muddy creek after which we will cycle the 25km back to Julia Creek along the hot exposed Outback Highway. The race will finish with a 3-lap, 5km run through the centre of town. The atmosphere on the run should be great.

I am looking forward to the event. I expect the field will be small and social. Yes there will be serious competitors but there will also probably be many more who, like me, are here for the experience more than the racing.