(written by Nancy – updated 17 May 2011)
Wow, what a good night’s sleep for both of us! We woke to clear skies but it was very moist so lots of condensation in the tent. We are getting the routine down pretty good in the mornings so we had packed and had our oatmeal and coffee for breakfast before hitting the road by 8.
We had another full day on the Bruce Hwy to get to Rockhampton. I think the plan to ride the highway on Saturday and Sunday was a good idea, as traffic again was relatively light. Only one slightly pushy truckie and a couple more wide loads, but the shoulder was still relatively good and we had a bit of a tailwind so we were doing okay.
We stopped for morning tea at the service station at Marmor – muffins and another litre of milk. Seems like a long time since we had a muffin so it tasted pretty good! We always feel a bit like animals in the zoo when we stop at servos as everyone stares at us and the bikes as they walk by. It was a bit chilly in the shade but nice and warm in the sun.
We met two southbound touring cyclists – Frenchmen Jean and Francois – who started riding up north in Innisfail and were heading to Bundaberg to try to get some work to earn some more money. They were bemoaning their gear, as it was a bit of stuff they purchased when they arrived in Australia and cobbled together (backpacks strapped onto back racks, a wire basket on the back of one with bags stuffed in it), and were looking at our bikes with envy. Particularly the tires, as they were riding mountain bike tires, which is a bit slower on the road. I think they were riding pretty much on a shoestring budget, bush camping as much as they could – felt a bit sorry for them with the A$ being so high. Plus they were riding into a headwind going south – they looked a bit worn out. I hope they get some work and some rest as they head south.
While we had a tailwind it was wearing being on the Bruce Hwy most of the day. We had to be vigilant about checking our mirrors all the time to make sure we were aware of traffic coming up behind us while also paying attention to the shoulder in front of us as it appeared, disappeared and reappeared over and over. Pretty wearing on the nerves. We finally got to a road Dave had found that appeared to go from the Bruce Highway right into Rockhampton and took it – Roope Road. It was a lovely quiet road – once you got by the deadly train tracks at the beginning of it. It went through farmland, over the Roope River with lovely water lilies everywhere. It was quite flat so I am sure it would flood easily if it rained much. It was so nice not to have to be on guard all the time for cars and other obstacles.
Roope Road dropped us into Rockhampton right at the information centre where the monument for the Tropic of Capricorn is located. That isn’t really the location of the actual line, but for some reason they stuck it there – probably too dangerous to have it out on the Bruce Hwy! Anyway, we have officially reached the tropics – pretty exciting! We took the obligatory pictures and got some great information from the guys at the centre. We rode into the city centre and came upon a Sexie Coffee coffee shop, so stopped for some lunch and a good coffee before heading toward the YHA.
We made it to the YHA and checked into our ‘cabin’ for four whole nights! The cabin is actually one of the athletes’ residences from the Sydney Olympics that they moved up here. Dave thinks he can feel the spirit of an Ethopian distance runner – perhaps because he is starting to look like one! Anyway, it is nice to have our own little room with an ensuite and a little refrigerator. Very restful and surprisingly private. We unpacked, took our showers and rode down to the nearest grocery store to get some supplies for the next couple of days. Always a bit dangerous to go grocery shopping when you are hungry and we broke the bank a bit but oh well, we will eat good for the next few days.
Rockhampton advertises itself as the ‘Beef Capital of Australia’ so we headed out for a steak at the Bush Inn to celebrate our arrival. Tasted great, with chips and salad to boot.
The first priority for tomorrow is to try to sort out the computer. There appear to be several repair shops and major department and electronic stores here so we should be able to work something out.