07.07.2011 - 12.07.2011
Taroom - first fishing success of the trip so far and not a photo to prove it...!! Juicy three pound yellow-belly (maybe 2 1/2 pound, but definitely at least 2). It was either that or another HALF portion of rump @ 350g and a the look from the barman that said 'only half a rump... don't be a girl!!' Caught in the Dawson River which claims it's fame by being one of the only easterly flowing rivers that boasts Red River Gums lining it's banks. Running way behind schedule, we resisted the urge to stay another day or two and headed for the hills. Well, not really the hills, but the gorge...
En route we were treated to a close-up sighting of a family of Brolgas (for the record: not that I have become a birdwatcher or anything, but Ang was really excited about this...)
and stopped in at Lake Murphy for a quick look.. A beautiful spot that could easily have justified a few days, however we're on a tight schedule now to be in Emerald in a few days to meet Leshe and Terry who are joining us for a week.
Ang, not to be trusted (for obvious reasons) changing a wheel, undergoes supervised training in tyre deflation for the rougher roads
Why would you choose to travel through some of the world's most sparsely populated countryside, with huge distances not only between towns, but between roads and... well anything really? Then when selecting a method of transport, you choose... a bicycle! Oh, and then when selecting the bike, you choose a 1980's model steel frame something with no suspension - anywhere!! ..and just to make it really interesting, opt for no chammy either...
After three hours of kidney loosening bumping along a dirt road/track scarred by the recent QLD floods, trying to match maps and GPS to detours and temporary tracks (while roads are being repaired), we finally crossed the creek that brought us to our overnight stop in the Expedition National Park about 3 hrs south of Emerald (where??). Already there, were two unlikey travellers for this terrain, Stuart and Thomas. No high-clearance 4x4 as suggested on the websites, just two bicycles as described above.
After agreeing to share a fire for the night, Ang set off in true 'Ang fashion' to cook for our newest friends. While the lamb curry in the camp-oven (or potjie if you prefer..) simmered over the fire, we set about finding out what makes these to 'weirdo's' tick. I say 'weirdo' in the nicest possible way having spent a truly memorable evening with two truly inspiring individuals and feeling confident they would not take offence to the stereotypically placed label. (We are mindful that we did email the link to this blog to our new friends).
It turns out this trip is nothing abnormal to these guys, but rather, being from Melbourne and Hobart and not very partial to the winters back home, embark on an annual winter bike tour around the warmer latitudes covering off three or four thousand kms each time. The distance or destination however seems irrelevant as is the achievement or accomplishment. Is it just the hours spent submerged in one's own thoughts? Is it to get in touch with ones environment? Who knows, but it does seem like it will all happen again next year.
Thomas spends the lonely hours on the bike devising new ideas and goes back home to Melbourne with new ways to minimise his environmental impact. Already he has disconnected himself from the power grid - his fridge runs 9 minutes in the hour at 60 watts, lights are at a minimum and it all runs off three solar panels - everything else runs on natural gas... but stay tuned... TV has long been thrown out, replaced with radio, podcasts and online to remain informed. When not riding his bike he runs a tile roof refurbishment business - 'but who wants to be on a roof during the Melbourne winter...?'. We loved the story of goat hunting by bicycle on a lonely QLD dusty track somewhere..
Stuart, a retired parks ranger, and trip navigator now devotes much of his time searching for older Aussies with a history of folk music and arranges festivals to show off these hidden talents in our our older citizens, hoping to ensure this culture is not lost forever. At 60-something still finds the energy for cross country skiing, digging snow caves for overnight shelter and generally putting all us younger (kids) to varying degrees of shame. Ang is still to try the recipe for the date & coffee damper.
So it leaves us wondering who is weirder (if there is such a word) - these guys or the rest of us spending the best years of your life being a cog in the almighty wheel, chasing all the goals society has carefully placed in our peripheral sights that - lets be honest - we are never going to fully achieve.
We hope to bump into these two nomads somewhere along the way and get the latest update of their adventure... and also to have dubious pleasure of meeting Rob, the third member of the team (not currently present), we got the feeling he was the instigator of all this and the true hardcore traveller.
Robinson Gorge in the park offered some spectacular views of sandstone formations, especially the aptly called 'Cattle Dip'. The mountain bikes were put to great use as the walking trails to all the sights turned out to be great bike tracks too.
The campsite - Starkvale in Expedition NP (I guess 'Starkvale' was the inspiration...)
note to self: when roasting peanuts, one should not engage in any other activities, especially distracting ones such as tea-brewing.
2nd note to self: when running out of diesel, simply fill tank with raw peanuts
'when jumping, please do so head first..' (possibly a diagonal line through this would reduce accidental suicide)
Its ok, we have 000 on speed dial
Ang actually riding the bike...
We've grown the M7, Pacific Hwy (apologies for the damn M4 - we had a malfunction that day..)
Now off to Emerald airport to fetch Leshe and Terry for a week in Carnarvon Gorge - should be fun! (Well, blog is late to be posted, so Leshe and Terry have come and gone... but that's another story)