For previous blog entries of our ride through NZ, Australia, South East Asia, China and Central Asia, click on the little arrows beside the dates in the Blog Archive below and use the scroll down menu.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Grafton to Brisbane

Rain, rain n more rain
Bret, Vicki and Jamba

Surfers Paradise
Gold Coast

Puppy Pablo



Myla and Anna

David n Ben

Myla, Ben, David


Bridge jumping, Brunswick Heads

Huntsman spider

Myla and Kitty

Highly venomous red bellied black snake(deceased - obviously)

Snoozing at Byron Bay

Flat Rock campsite

Bluebottle jellyfish

Beach at Flat Rock


Distance cycled: 4635kms
Route: Grafton - Laurence - Maclean - New Italy - Lennox head - Byron Bay - Myocum - Mullumbimby - Pottsville - Coolangatta - Surfers Paradise - Nerang - Carunga - Beaudesert - Jimboomba - Ipswich
Leaving Grafton with our pannier bags full of energy bars Maureen gave us, we cycled up the Clarence river crossing the river on the Bluff Pt ferry at Laurence. We arrived in Maclean later that day. Maclean is a very Scottish town where all the lamposts are painted with the different clans tartans. We noticed that in the Maclean Hotel it was happy hour and enjoyed a few schooners(almost a pint) of lager for $3 each. We got chatting to brothers Ted and Bobby and before long we were camping in their garden. Leaving Maclean we cycled up the highway and slept at New Italy, a rest stop where loads of camper vans stay the night for free. The next night we ended up at Flat Rock campsite where Wayne and Marilyn agreed to let us stay the night. While Ben cooked my dinner in the camps open-air kitchen, I walked along the beach in the cool of the evening. We spent the rest of the evening chatting with Leslie who gave us an impromptu surf lesson.
We cycled into Byron Bay the next day where we saw more cyclists in a couple of hours than we'd seen in the rest of Oz since arriving. One of these cyclists was Dorothee Fleck, a German woman who has cycled 50,000kms since leaving Germany and is on her way to Chile to do even more. Good luck Dorothee. It's becoming more and more common for women to go cycle touring on their own. Anne Mustoe set off cycling from London at the age of 61 after her husband died with practically no cycling experience. She successfully circumnavigated the globe not once but twice and wrote two inspirational books, "a bike ride" and "lone traveller". Anyone who feels they need a bit of travel inspiration should read these. Byron Bay used to be a real hippy town and still is to some extent. When we arrived we bumped into all sorts of animated characters and found the town really colourful. We spent the day relaxing by the sea watching the surfers and eating a slap-up lunch. Ben went for a swim while I had a mammoth sleep. We then cycled North for a few more kms to arrive at the house of our next warm showers hosts, Anna and David near Mullumbimby. Anna and David and their daughter Myla have just moved from Brisbane to a house with loads of acres of land in the country. Arriving, we were shown to our own caravan where we spent two happy nights. We went for a swim in the river where we had fun jumping in from the bridge and enjoyed a delicious meal both nights. David also made us a fry-up both mornings of our stay which was a nice change from the usual porridge. We got on so well with these guys and shared their positive outlook on life. We wish you all the best in your new home and hope that cycle path to Byron takes shape soon! We considered taking their amazing dog Scruffy with us on the trip as he fitted nicely in Ben's handlebar bag.
We left Mullumbimby and cycled North up the highway, rejoining the coastal road at Pottsville beach. We cycled past Hastings and had a big bottle of beer each at Cabarita beach. We arrived in Coolangatta later that night at the house of Ellen, a friend of Mark from Sydney. Once again, we found ourselves in the lap of luxury, with our own room and a key to come and go as we pleased. Thanks to Ellen and Ashley for looking after us. We had a great time. We had now left New South Wales and had ventured into Queensland and the coastline had changed considerably. The beaches in NSW were amazing. The beaches here are busier and more touristy but we've still to venture North and see what awaits us. We cycled up the Gold Coast towards Surfers Paradise, not that impressed by the sprawling mass of skyscrapers right on the seafront. However, we enjoyed a workout as we cycled along the beach stopping to use the al fresco gym equipment which has been provided. As you go along you can do pull-ups on a bar, use a rowing machine, slide along parallel bars etc. Something like this would be ideal in Glasgow where people need the exercise more than most but have nae money to go the gym. It was insanely busy up there with traffic which put us off too. From Surfers Paradise we cycled inland to Nerang and back on to the country roads towards Canungra. About 20kms before Canungra we got caught in a torrential downpour. We decided to call it a day and pulled into a nearby house to ask if we could camp the night. We must have looked a pathetic sight standing soaking wet in the rain with all our wordly possessions on our bikes. We were lucky enough to meet Bret and Vicki. Before too much longer Bret was helping Ben put the tent up while I was in enjoying a warm shower. Vicki then made us a wonderful meal and kept us going on tea and juice all night. We spent a really nice night chatting with these two exceptionally kind people. In the middle of the night the rain came again, harder than ever. Then came the thunder and lightning. We've seen more lightning storms here in a month than I have in Scotland my whole life. This storm was severe though and Bret came to rescue us in the middle of the night inviting us into the house to sleep. Next morning, the place looked like Atlantis and the rain was still falling. Bret and Vicki made us scrambled eggs and toast and sent us off with noodles, hard boiled eggs, crackers and mangoes for lunch. We enjoyed them immensely and thought of you both fondly while we ate. As we cycled on towards Beaudesert, the rain kept falling. There was flooding everywhere. Rising rivers had flattened trees and shrubs and entire fields had turned into lakes. However, we plodded on, keen to get to our friends Prue and Neil near Brisbane. Then, my gear cable snapped. Not ideal as we were in the middle of the countryside in the pouring rain. This meant I had no back gears and made the uphill cycling extremely difficult. I struggled on till we reached the town of Jimboomba. Ben had just got a puncture so we stopped to repair it and have a snack. A cyclist came past and stopped for a chat. We explained to Steve what had happened to my bike and asked him if he had a spare gear cable. Alas, he didn't but what he did have was a yute sitting in his driveway which he offered to give us a lift to Ipswich in. At first we were reluctant to accept, not wanting to break the continuity of the ride but given the mechanical problems we were facing, it seemed like a good idea. So we slung the bikes in the back and Steve and Lee dropped us right at Prue's sisters house Kate. Thanks so much to you both. So here we are in Ipswich, 30kms South West of Brisbane. Prue and Neil are friends from Glasgow who have just moved to Brisbane. Prue is from here originally and her sister Kate has left us her house to stay in while she lives at her partners. We are having a good few days off to catch up with Prue and Neil, service the bikes and hopefully acquire an Indonesian visa. Thanks to the guys from totally spoked bike shop in Ipswich for the FREE gear cable. I have been reading Kate's books about South East Asia and Bali where we're off to next and getting excited about alll the nice food we'll eat and colourful sights we'll see.
There's no doubt about it, we've had it pretty damn easy since we got here. People once again have proven to be kind beyond belief and we've had no end of good fortune. However, I have to say that it's not always easy. Cycling in this heat is HARD, there's no two ways about it and it's gonna get hotter before we've finished here. Also, when people aren't looking after us, we have to look after ourselves which means finding a place to stay most nights and setting up camp after a hard days cycle. We get tired and sometimes lose our tempers with each other but are quick to apologise realising that arguments are the last thing we need. All in all though our day to day lives are magical. I also want to say thanks to everyone for all the lovely messages on the blog. I have only just discovered most of them and they really brought a smile to our faces. All this support from back home means a lot to us and it's great to know people are thinking of us. Till next time.