Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cairns to Kurumba

Friday 1st July 2011

From Cairns I caught the 8:32 am Trans North bus from the Cairns Central shopping centre to Mareeba (up the Kuranda range). It cost me $17.50 but the guy didn't charge for the bicycle because they weren't busy.

I spent the bus trip trying to get one of my tent poles to fold. I'd been in Cairns during a few days of downpour and it seems my tent pole connectors had decided to rust together. I managed to get all but one to disconnect (with a lot of elbow grease and methylated spirits). I did eventually get the thing to fold. While I was packing my tent up earlier I snapped one of the tent poles (similar to how Adam's tent poles are faring).

Then I chilled out in Mareeba for a while eating and reading in the library (my latest venture is to hunt down Harry Harrison 'Steel Rat' books).

I also went to the hardware to find a solution for the tent pole that was snapped. I ended up buying two dynabolts (bolts used in concrete, with a bolt wrapped in a strong-ish metal cuff), and two metal hose clamps. This solution actually works. (Use the dynabolt cuff as a cuff for the tent pole and hose clamps to secure it).

I spoke to a nice lady (didn't ask her name) from Victoria who was asking me about the bike and touring. She said she owns a Cannondale but doesn't get to ride it as much as she'd like.

After doing some shopping at the Woolies and speaking to a couple of grey nomads in a motorhome I keep catching up with ever since Daintree, I left Mareeba aroun 2 pm and rode 23 kilometres to the Rocky Creek War Memorial rest area. This place was packed with motorhomes and caravans, but I managed to find a patch of grass away from most of the gensets and well back from the road.

Saturday 2nd July 2011

Rode 80 km to the Archer Creek rest area, which is 16 km west of Ravenshoe (pronounced Ravens-hoe). First up was a fairly easy ride to Atherton where I visited the woolies, had some McDonald's hotcakes (damnit) and asked at the info centre for a decent map of Savannah Way (they were useless).

Leaving Atherton you have to ride over some stupid hills through a rainforesty range. And it was raining. And there were headwinds. And it went on forever. Eventually you get to a flatter bit but there is still headwinds. You can't see a lot of the terrain because its "Misty Mountains" so its just fog. The parts of the rainforest you can see are really nice and lush, such a pity they are on stupid hills.

As you approach Ravenshoe you see some wind turbines, and if you're me, you get happy. Windy Hill wind farm is a VERY windy location indeed (I could hardly ride through here on the day I travelled). There are twenty wind turbine generators (WTGs, the correct term for the wind turbines). They generate 12 megawatts of power and were commissed in 2000.

I got to Ravenshoe and changed my shirt as I was riding without a raincoat (too stuffy when riding up the hills) and was saturated and shivering when I stopped riding. It had stopped raining now. I went into the info centre and had a look around, filled up my water bottles and took off about 4pm for the rest area, 16 kms on. Ravenshoe is probably the start of the Savannah Way for me. Thankfully this was 16 k to the rest area is a flat or downhill ride on an excellent straight road, with a bit of a 8% decline just before the rest area itself.

At the rest area (Archer Creek that is) I caught up with the two grey nomads I was talking to at Mareeba. A few other people came up to tell me they "passed me on the road" which is getting rediculous because OF COURSE YOU BLOODY DID YOU DICKHEADS THERE IS ONLY ONE ROAD HERE.

Sunday 3rd July 2011

More drizzle rain on the way to Mt Garnet. After Mt Garnet it stops raining, as you leave the ranges to head to the tableland parts. Once you leave Mt Garnet the road is mostly quite, although there isn't always a shoulder. But the road was really nice compared to hills, and you're starting to get out west where the sky is amazing and the colours are amazing and its just amazing.

At Mt Garnet I filled up with water and bought some $7.50 metho for my stove. It had finally stopped raining while I was at Mt Garnet.

I think about 20 k from the rest area I was headed to at "40 Mile" there was a road accident involving a caravan. The road was blocked off as a chopper was landing to take the critical condition people away to hospital. A bunch of people got out of their cars to wander up to stare at the car accident. I stayed where I was as I have an inch of empathy for my fellow man (well, sometimes). One guy actually got his telephoto lens camera out to take photos, I kid you not. I just glared at him, and took a photo of him. Reports back where that there was one dead and two critical. I had to wait about an hour, sitting on the road, lying on the road, taking photos of the road while lying on the road, before the road was re-opened.

At the 40 Mile creek rest area the ground was hard and the ants were plentiful. I put my swag under the picnic shelter instead. There were a bunch of stupid grey nomads well into happy hour there, really loud. I say stupid because one of them had a stuffed dog that sings songs or something equally irritating when you touch it. And they were all for touching this dog. And laughing histerically every time it made a noise.

Eventually the drunkards went to bed so I could have some peace.

Monday 4th July 2011

Rode 51 k to Mt Suprise and the road was fucking amazing. It was sunny and the colours out here are breathtaking. You have the wide blue sky, the different greens of the vegetation to contrast, the red soil. Wattles in bloom. Even the bitumen looks great. Early morning you have wallabies hopping across the road, wedgetail eagles soaring overhead, peregrine falcons, apostlebirds everywhere. You've got cows on the road to muster. Snakes slithering off in the grassy verge. Evidence of monitor lizards and more large snakes as roadkill.

At Mt Suprise I had a kangaroo burger and went to one of the caravan parks just to use their slow satellite internet. According to an information brochure at Mt Suprise it is home to Green Possums (what the f?), leaf tailed geckos, peregrine falcons (I've seen about 20 of these now on this road), and buff-breasted paradise kingfishers.

At about 2pm I left to head to Einsleigh River to freecamp. I though it was 20 something k but it ended up being 43 k to the river. The afternoon was really quite hot. I kept looking around for other freecamps incase I couldn't make it to the river.

Finally making it to the Einsleigh River around 5pm (the river is amazing by the way), there was a caravan parked on the causeway under the bridge. I decided to hide in the bush above the river bank as I didn't know whether the river comes up to the causeway so wasn't game to camp there. I found a relatively flat spot hidden well away from the road and the bush tracks. Just before sunset a tribe of trailbikes showed up and camped down by the river. I was glad I didn't camp down there myself now.

The sunset was awesome. The stars were brilliant. I was just laying in my swag watching it all thinking this is the best and grinning ear to ear and hugging myself in sheer bliss of watching it all.

Tuesday 5th July 2011

60 k to Georgetown. The road was again really nice and I was loving it. I bought a Telstra three gee phone (with blue tick for better reception) in Georgetown as my GSM nokia with Virgin mobile is useless out here, and had been no bars for days. I fill up with 14 litres of water as the afternoons are really hot and the land is parched. I ride a further 20 k to the Cumberland historic site with its chimney and its billabong and its amazing sunset. The billabong has water birds and waterlillies and also attracts apostlebirds and black cockatoos. I keep to myself and don't get asked too many questions. Cook a meal and hit the hay pretty early.

Wednesday 6th July 2011

Watched an amazing sunrise over the billabong.

In a 2 km stretch of road that morning I saw 1 emu (crossed road, did some crazy running, squeezed under barbed wire fence eventually), 2 brolgas, many many apostlebirds, 2 jaybirds, lots of galahs, cockatoos, 10 black cockatoos, and at least 20 wallabies.

It was 38 degrees after midday. The road was hot and dry and mostly flat. I rode the 130 k to Croydon, staying at the caravan park $18 p/n unpowered. It was state of origin night. I went to the pub for a well earned beer and there were half the patrons wearing blue and half wearing maroon and both yelling at each other. The pub had about 6 large screen tvs. I drank my beer and went back to the tent. I had no trouble sleeping despite the noise from the pub.

Thursday 7th July 2011

I slept in and left at 9am. Here the road goes alongside the Gulflander railway line. It was really quite hot and I was drinking plenty of water. I ended up riding until sunset (with lots of wallabies threatening to jump out at me) and turned down a road for "Shady Lagoon" which is actually a closed camp area, and wildcamped on a side road. The sunset was amazing again. I set up tent in the dark, using panniers as pegs as the ground is too hard, and have a quite night without a meal.

Friday 8th July 2011

I ride 30 k to Normanton. I have some late breakfast and shortly after that some lunch. I visit the Gulflander museum where there is a great 1980s video showing, where some guy is interviewing the train driver who has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and you can't understand a word he's saying because of it. The interviewer asks him how fast can this train go with the track in the condition its in and the guy thinks about it for about a minute and says maybe 40 km/h. Back when you could smoke in a train and you didn't have mandatory speed limits for safety I guess.

Had lunch at the boatramp and spoke to a friendly chap for a while. Then headed on the 70 k to Kurumba. The road was hot, dry, and there was no shade. I made it to the caravan park around 6pm. Had some fish and chips at the seafood place and had a chat to Col, a guy who works in the zinc processing 'big shed' at Kurumba.

Photo album: Cairns to Kurumba

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