(written by Dave)
ANZAC day here in Australia. I heard the bugler and bagpipes from the tent at 5:45 – they started 15 minutes early with the dawn ceremony in town. Nancy somehow slept through it. Not to worry about getting up on time though as the birds were particularly active even before sun-up. We wanted an early start today to again get off the road early, but also because I convinced Nancy to take an alternative route today, off the highway. It was pretty cloudy in the morning but mist/rain held off while we packed and at brekkie.
We left the caravan park around eight, about the time that folks were coming back from the services and/or just getting out of bed if they missed the service. I don’t think that the average punter here in the parks get us and this biking thing. They are all very friendly but you can only guess what they say to their spouse/kids as we roll out. I’d put us somewhere between weird Americans and aliens from another planet. Some of the kids at least think we are cool. And now finally since we’ve made some credible distance from Sydney, we are feeling less dubious telling folks of our bigger plans.
As for the ride, it started dry but almost as soon as we hit the alternative turn off, it started to mist quite heavily. Rain coats on, not a good sign as we had some unsealed roads today – anywhere from 12k to 17k to 15 miles, depending on which local to believe when we inquired about the route – fairly typical random responses with this sort of question.
We had a bit of up and down and pretty quite roads. The signs were interesting, ranging from old England to Aboriginal – there seemed to be a mix of both. And of course, we had one more Captain Thunderbolt sighting as well. While hilly, we made it to the end of the 30k sealed road without much issue. It stopped raining along the way and we were able to take off our raincoats. That is until we reached the unsealed road, where it started to rain again, coats back on. The sign indicated 12ks so we were both a little relieved. Eventually, the rain slowed enough for coats off again – one of those days. Both of us had minor front wheel spin outs in the sand. The rain made things firmer, but there were places where it was quite deep. We both managed to stay upright – bonus no skin loss and improved bike handling skills to boot. Don’t worry, we took it slow, and it was not that dangerous. Rain commenced again just as we finished the 12k – nice timing.
We had 24k to go, all on sealed roads. We stopped once to remove rain coats (again) and clean our glasses. Somehow, I left the camera on top of my bag as we took off. 100 meters later, it fell off. Nancy was behind me and did not run it over. We both held our breath as we tried to use it. Good news, it seems fine, dodged a bullet there. No guesses for the content of the lecture I received (all merited of course!) [editor’s note – it was not a lecture, just pointed out that in fact I was not a nervous Nelly for checking my bags regularly and that, see, it was important to check all bags before setting off]. Lucky the camera worked as a few k out of Stanthorpe we crossed our first state line – welcome to Queensland everyone!
We rolled into town around 1PM and hit the information centre. They had an up market café were we both had some sort of fancy shamcy filo baked thing. It was good, but I’m afraid we are egg and bacon roll folk at heart – value for money.
Eventually we found our way through town and the biggest caravan park we’ve every stayed in – “Top of the Town”. There are something like 10 shower stalls in the amenities block and the park is pretty full. We are near the apple picking season so we have holiday folks, plus some pickers. Most of the latter are young kids travelling. Makes us feel young hanging in the camp kitchen. Lots of birds in the park, plus some interesting “modified” rocks near our site.
Tomorrow we are off to Warwick, again via alternative route. A little more dirt but the way to go on a long weekend when lots of folks will be travelling. Unfortunately the weather looks a bit suspect for the next few days – we may be in for some more rain. We’ll try to keep our spirits up despite the drips.
Off to a few more rounds of gin rummy – I have pulled ahead in the points game so must try to keep it going.