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.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Australia - Rockhampton to Mackay

Route: Gracemere - Rockhampton - Yaamba - Marlborough - Clairview - Carmila - Sarina - Eton - North Eton - Mackay

Distance cycled: 5993 kms

Chris - slightly taller it would appear

Chris, Ben, Gina, Helena, Phil,Nell

We set off from Chris and Gina's last Friday and popped into Rolf's, a friend of Chris's, a few kms up the road. We had only planned to pop in for a cup of tea but found ourselves still there the next morning. Rolf took us to the Botanic Gardens where they have a mini zoo. Unfortunately we were too late to see the koalas and crocs but did get to see a cassowry, kangaroos and a very sad looking chimpanzee who was trying to express his frustration to us through sign language. Ben even got to pet a dingo. Rolf then drove us up Mount Archer to enjoy a stunning sunset before treating us to fish and chips and a few beers. Rolf, thanks for a great day and thanks also for repairing my sandal. It is still intact, testimony to your fine workmanship. We also appreciate the sunglasses and wonder now how we ever managed without them.

Beautiful rainbow lorikeets

Minx- Rolf's dog

A turtle's head

More turtles heads! ps - note to self, don't stick finger in turtle's mouth.

Dingo doggie

Sorry mate

Rolf and Ben

Sunset at Mount Archer

Ben's jazzy light effects

Ben, Rolf and Minx

We said our goodbyes to Rolf and cycled out of town. It was only 100 kms later that I realised my back was sore again so I popped an anti-inflammatory and got on with the cycling. We cycled up the highway and stopped at Yaamba, 45 kms later, for lunch. By this time, I was feeling decidedly sorry for myself as I wept into my houmous sandwich. We managed another 25 kms and stopped for the night at a hideous, fly-infested rest stop 30 kms south of Marlborough. We baked in the tent all night, dripping with sweat and got up and out of there as soon as the sun came up. 30 kms later we arrived in Marlborough and chatted with Paul as we ate our lunch under a tree whilst the locals had a real good gawp at us.

Paul - nicest guy in Marlborough

Despite having only done 30kms by lunchtime, we ended up clocking 100 kms that day arriving later at Waverley Creek rest area, a really nice stop by the highway with toilets and drinking water. The weather all week has been sweltering and the humidity that everyone kept talking about, unbearable. We are constantly dripping with sweat.

As we sat the next morning eating breakfast, a man walked over to us pushing a buggy loaded with his belongings. On the side of the buggy was a plaque reading, "Jean Beliveau, walking round the world from Canada." We sat open-mouthed as Jean, a french canadian from Montreal told us he had been walking round the world for the last 10 years and had clocked up 65,000kms. He started in Canada, walked the East Coast of North America, the length of South America, then to the UK, through Europe then into Africa to walk all the way to Capetown. He walked through South-East Asia and when we met him, he'd just walked from Darwin to Mackay and was on his way to Sydney. After Australia, he'll walk the length of NZ, then flies to Vancouver to walk through Canada to his hometown of Montreal where the journey will end. The man is an absolute hero and we were honoured to spend a wonderful two hours in his company. His walk is to promote world peace and help people realise that anything is possible. We marvelled at the dedication it must take to do what he has done and to be honest, our own voyage paled in comparison. Jean is a saintly man and completely modest about his achievements. He showed us a book full of pictures and newspapers articles of his trip. One picture was of him and some apparently famous guy called Nelson Mandela! As we said our goodbyes and watched him walk off in the direction we had just come from, we both had a lump in our throats. Please have a look at Jean's website If you need some inspiration, you'll find it here. He spoke and looked and acted just like our friend John Klimitz from Glasgow which made us think maybe John should get walking too. He could start off small, maybe Byres Road to Sighthill for world peace then see where it goes from there.

Jean Beliveau

Jean's route

Jean walking off towards Sydney

We cycled off, comforted in a strange way by knowing that Jean had walked this path before us. We cycled up the Highway with a tailwind to help us. At Clairview, we got our first glimpse of the sea in ages as the Highway hugs the coast here briefly before turning inland again. Trevor, with a truck full of fresh milk filled a bottle for us with the creamy goodness and popped a few ice cubes in our drink. Ah, these little things make all the difference.

Sugar cane

We cycled on and slept at a free campsite at Carmila beach. This was undoubtedly the worst nights sleep we've had so far as we lay in pools of sweat, unable to open the door due to the amount of mosquitos ever present in Australia. Tempers flared as we realised we had also camped on a load of spiky plants. As if things weren't bad enough already!

Next morning, I literally ran in to the sea and out again. This area of Queensland is teeming with stingers(jellyfish) at this time of year, many of which can be deadly so it's just not worth the risk. That morning in Carmila, we bumped into some more cycle tourists for the first time in Australia. Like wild animals, we all sniffed round each others bikes, checking out who had what, how heavy it was etc. This merry bunch were Ken from Japan, cycling Cairns to Melbourne then onto NZ and a couple, Lynn and David taking a year off work to cycle round Australia. We set off North being pushed by a tailwind leaving poor Ken, heading South to battle the winds on his own.

Ben, David, Lynn and Ken

We enjoyed the cycling that day and I finally realised that I had been holding loads of tension in my shoulders resulting in my right shoulder sitting higher than the left. I trained myself to let them drop back into a relaxed, natural position and before long my back was pain-free again. " I'm back" I whooped and cheered as I sprinted on ahead of Ben. My back has been fine ever since and if that right shoulder starts sneaking up again I chastise it and tell it to get back where it belongs. I'm still going to get a check-up at the chiropractor though just to be on the safe side.

We were now in rainforest country, surrounded by lush green hills and steaming hot weather. The landscape here is very beautiful. Yesterday, we stopped in Ilbilbie and used the free showers at the truck stop. Outdoor living is really easy in Australia. Speaking of trucks, the truck drivers here are extremely considerate when passing cyclists and give us loads of room. Truck drivers, we salute you. You are a fine bunch and always up for a chat and a laugh at the rest areas. That night we cycled on to Sarina where we stayed at the Tropicana campsite. The wonderful Elsa let us stay for $10 and we miraculously had our first good nights sleep in ages. Next day, we woke up and had a relaxing morning swimming in the pool and eating breakfast. You can find the park at 1 Range Road, Sarina and call Elsa on 07 4956 1480. Definetely worth a visit.

Golden orb weaver - can catch small birds in their webs

This area is famous for sugar cane and there are fields and fields of the stuff everywhere you go. We then cycled 50 kms through Homebush to arrive at another warm showers house. The cycle through the back country was great with stunning scenery, quiet roads and another tail-wind. I felt back on form for the first time in ages and absolutely loved the cycling.

We have stayed just one night with Lynton, Kaye and their daughters Tiffany and Lenitia but is was really nice to be here. Thanks for the warm welcome. We're now off to Mackay town centre where we will stay the night with another warm showers host Peter. Then it's off to Townsville. We are getting there......slowly!