July 21st: Rockhampton to Marmor – 47.7 km

Day 281

Leaving Rockhampton this morning we had to cross the river into town. Only after we rode onto the bridge in rush-hour traffic, did we see that there was a cycle lane, on the opposite side of a chain-link fence and 6 inch curb. Angry motorists began honking and a man in a pickup truck gave us the finger and yelled. I just waved and smiled. We only held up one lane of 2 for a whole 200 yards. We would have taken the bike path had there been any signs. We stopped to chat with a young local and shared our story, to which she responded that the same thing had happened to her until she figured out where to find the entrance and exits to the bike paths.

With a bike store close by we stopped to buy a couple of extra tubes and some chain lube. Patches are great if you can find the hole. Using your cheek or your ear to locate a hole isn’t always possible on a windy noisy highway. Much better to change the tube and fix the hole later when you have a sink full of water to check for holes.

Knowing that the next two days we would put in decent distances, we chose to have a short day today. Despite an overflowing septic tank and a swirling breeze that randomly wafted poo smells our way, we were won over by the prospect of free camping and showers at the local BP station. Not only did we find wonderful hot clean showers but we also were treated to free coffee and Australian hospitality. Fearing that we were usurping amenities meant for the truckers we made ourselves scarce and ducked in and out of the bathrooms quickly and quietly. Coming out for a smoke break the short order cook came out to have a chat and admitted that he was much too lazy to cycle and admired us for our commitment. He also invited us to help ourselves to much coffee as we needed.


The cook, a large ruddy-faced man whose personality would have never fit a skinny man went on to tell us about why people in the outback are friendlier than people on the coast and why army food is so bad. On the first it was because of the necessity of people to rely upon each other in such an inhospitable environment. He went on to recount a story of how he used a road kill kangaroo to fix the fan belt on a Mercedes. Complete with a description of how to plate, stretch and shrink the hide so it fits. Although fantastical, his story illustrates quite clearly many Aussies in the outback willingness to help despite differences that might leave others to turn a blind eye. On the second, his theory as to why army food is so bad, he reckons that with every injury a man is demoted. A pilot who can’t fly becomes a foot soldier and a foot soldier who looses a limb ends up in an office until eventually only the most lame become cooks. I believed him, as a beefy chef, he looked like a man who knows what good food is.


July 20th: Rest Day in Rockhampton

Day 280

Quite expensive for a caravan park, but close to the grocery store and with clean amenities including a kitchen, we decided to stay another day in Rockhampton Riverside Caravan Park. We have found that cheap wine in the bottle is a good value, and doesn’t necessarily taste like cheap wine. Whereas the box or crate wine, as they call it here, is more like drinking alcoholic grape juice.

Budget creep has not only happened in our drink choices but also in our grocery choices. No longer do we fret over a dollar here and a dollar there. Not that we are living extravagantly, but instead of plain oatmeal, we get muesli, and instead of pasta with a can of tinned fish, we get fresh meat. We haven’t succumbed to eating in a restaurant yet, but who knows what the future will bring.

We spent the remainder of the day truly resting. There would be no typing nor maintenance. Just pure rest and reading. We have recently become addicted to Colleen McCouloughs Master’s of Rome Series, after we serendipitously picked up the first book, The First Man In Rome, of the four-part series. This has filled the void nicely left by the end of Game of Thrones. We have to speculate that this period of history was an inspiration for George R.R. Martin, given the similarities in blood lust, corruption, and political intrigue.


July 19th: Yaamba to Rockhampton – 35.4 km

Day 279

Two things have become evident within the last week. One, that we are becoming used to the extra weight of our 15kg climbing gear, which we picked up in Townsville. We have covered 380 km in the last 5 days and our legs haven’t suffered. Two, we have either relaxed our budget or begun to adopt a local diet. Evident from our our the last several days which have included burgers, beers, fish and chips, and pies. Regardless we were ready for a rest and make it a point to do so whenever we reach a major town.


Our definition of a major town is one that has one or more large chain supermarkets. Rockhampton has 2 woolworths, which were both within walking distance. We now enjoy walking as a break from the trikes. For the last couple of weeks many of our camp sites have been near the highway so we are subjected to normal highway noise, and we were happy to find a spot on a river, with the highway at least a good several hundred meters away.


July 18th: Marlborough to Yaamba – 68.5km

Day 278

The patch worked and we were off for yet another great day of cycling. More rolling hills, and sunshine.

In Yaamba we stopped at another free rest area and took advantage of the fact that we have trikes and tent. Bordered by a low wooden gate to prevent cars from parking on the grass we had our pick of camping spots. However, after we set up our tent we realized that we were right next to two graves for two different dogs. It seems that this is a grey nomad tradition, seeing as this is public property.


We have also seen a number of memorials where grey nomads have died at the various free rest stops. Between the dogs and their owners we are always sure to sleep on hallowed grounds. Thanks to a pub that also has showers we were able to pay homage to the deceased by performing our ablutions followed by a toast in their honor with two cold beers.


July 17th: Waverley River Rest Area to Marlborough – 68 km

Day 277

We woke up to yet another flat tire. Chopper’s back tire just wouldn’t hold air. But suspecting a slow leak Chopper pumped it up, and we started the day. 15 km later, we had to make a pit stop to pump it up again – it went soft almost immediately. Another 15 km down the road, Chopper could no longer tolerate the incompetent performance of the semi soft tire anymore, so we decided to fix it up once for all. Chopper was using self-adhesive patches and he noticed that it was an earlier patch that was failing. Suspecting either that the tube wasn’t clean enough or the patch was old he mended both. First he removed the old patch and cleaned the glue off with naphtha, also called white-gas from our stove, then to be thorough cleaned off that with soap and then water, then he applied a new patch we purchased in Townsville.

Only 30 km in we stopped for lunch. I had a handful of pretzels dipped in honey, and Chopper had the 5 pieces of bread left, made into 2 and half peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


Thankfully the rest of the ride was splendid culminating with the ride into Marlborough, which is nestled in among the mountains along a long sweeping road. Still hungry after our paltry lunch, we arrived in Marlborough, we were gorging down burgers by 3:30pm.



We chose to stay at the Marlborough Hotel Grounds, and although we didn’t take advantage of the free stay with a meal we did take advantage of cheap ice-cold beers. We found a shady spot under a large tree to avoid the morning dew that has been plaguing us and hoped to wake up with all of our tire still filled with air.


July 16th: Carmila to Waverley River Rest Area – 65 km

Day 276

We were rewarded by the cycling gods once again today. The road conditions were good, and finally we had a calm day without wind.


We passed by Clairview before lunch time, and it offered a lovely view of the ocean. The free rest areas looked fantastic, but it was too early for us to call it a day.


We did not regret going all the way to the Waverley River Rest Area though. It was a brand new facility, with plenty of grassy spots to set up our tent on, and a dozen water spigots placed at regular intervals around the perimeter of the park. We took advantage of the easy access to water and took a hobo shower. It was the best free rest stop we have been to so far. The only downside was the water. We treated the tap water, which was obviously rain water however it tasted pretty awful, but it was definitely better than being thirsty.


July 15th: Sarina to Carmila – 65 km

Day 275

It was surprising that both of us got up early and felt like we were ready to peddle again today after the long trying day yesterday. We quickly packed, and thanks to the roof our tent stayed completely dry despite the rain. But we were doomed to have a late start today – Chopper’s back tire was completely flat. 40 minutes later, we were ready to go, yet still had grocery shopping to do. We decided to stay on the Bruce Highway. The back road is said to be scenic and quiet but it would be a long stretch without food and water so we braced ourselves for the killer highway.


We were indeed punished for the route choice. Crossing a narrow bridge, we had a 20 cm wide shoulder to ride on. We saw a big truck was going to pass us and a car coming in the other lane. Neither of the vehicles showed any sign of slowing down, so we tried our best to hug the wall. Chopper came too close that his quick release handle on the front wheel crashed into the concrete wall. I was anxiously watching the truck missing us by less than half meter in the rear view mirror, till I crashed into his rear at full speed. We came out in one piece, but nevertheless terrified. The quick release was reduced to the bolt in the middle, but luckily the wheel held up so we were able to ride on. We rode in and out of rain patches and eventually the sky cleared up. When we reached Carmila, even though it was just a short 65km day, we were exhausted.


July 14th: Calen to Sarina – 114 km

Day 274

We took the back road today. According to Google Maps, it would be 78 km to Sarina. Thinking it would be a long day, we got on the road early. 7km south of Calen, we took Mirani Mount Ossa Road. By going through Marian we would be able to completely bypass Mackay, and take a break from the Bruce Highway.

It was a mixed blessing. The hills didn’t spare us with the steep climbs and the weather was quite changeable. We could feel the cold front rolling in, our faces and fingers frozen in the icy cold wind.


However, we were rewarded with stunning views the entire ride, and there was very little traffic. The road surface was much smoother than the highway, and the hills protected us from the head winds. And after every steep uphill, there is always a thrilling downhill waiting. It was around 30km of hilly terrain, and just before Marian, we had a 5 km long downhill which lead us to a very flat sugar cane plain.


As soon as we got out of the hills, we were hindered by a strong head wind, which didn’t lighten up for the rest of the ride. And after we reached 80 km, we realized that we still have at least 20 km to go. We were desperate to cut the ride short by taking a short cut on a dirt road, Google Maps again failed us – the dirt road turned into impassable sugar cane fields.


We rode into Sarina in the dusk. An 80 km day turned into a 114 km day. We stopped at Sarina Palms Caravan Village because it has good reviews on Wiki Camps. It was indeed a good choice, we were given a discounted price for an un-powered site, despite the fact that they don’t have un-powered sites. The owner directed us to put up our tent on the concrete slab under the roof between two cabins, so we could stay out of the rain that night. We couldn’t thank him enough for his generosity. However, we learned later that he was a bit of a lawn nazi – he would evict guests just because they were ruining his lawn by driving or putting up awnings on his beloved grass. For a person who loves his grass so much, why would he choose to run a caravan park? It is like a marine conservationist opening up a sushi shop.


We were out of grocery and energy to cook dinner, so we treated ourselves to take away fish and chips. While we were eating, a possum was watching us from the roof railing. However we left no food for this cute little kitchen raider.

July 13th: Rest Day in Calen

Day 273

We woke up naturally at sun rise, and had the luxury to read in bed till the sun came up and warmed up the temperature a bit. After a pancake breakfast, I set off typing and Chopper did maintenance – cleaning the chains and fixing all the squeaking here and there.



As usual, a rest day rarely gets to be restful. It was almost dark when we got everything in order. It was then that we realized we had a very limited food supply, however we did manage to forage enough from our bags to make a balanced meal – cous cous with a can of tuna, with four fried eggs on top.

July 12th: Proserpine to Calen – 78 km

Day 272

According to the map, the destination for today – St. Helen’s Gardens Caravan Park was only 60 km or so away. We had a leisurely morning, also because the temperature dropped to the lowest since we started in Australia. It was only 1 degree this morning. A caravaner greeted us with “aren’t’ you cold in your little tent?” Luckily, we were more prepared than he could imagine. Out little flimsy tent did a good job at keeping in our body heat, and our down sleeping bags and ground mats ensure that we can stay warm in below zero weather. We also have down jackets, wool long underwear and shirts, winter hats, gloves and thick wool socks. So Chopper proudly (probably too proudly) announced that we were quite warm and cozy in this temperature. Who needs to tow a house around to keep warm these days? It was just a waste of energy and fuel.

But we did get out of bed a bit later this morning, waiting for the sun to heat up a little bit. Thanks to the possum raid, we have no lunch and had to stop at Proserpine 10 km away to get grocery. Our budget has long exceeded the 20 dollar per day limit, and we also realized cycling with a minimum amount of poor quality food was not fun at all, so we are fairly generous to give in to our cravings from time to time. We felt like royalty to be able to have a cup of wine at the end of the day.

The weather was cool and the distance was relatively short, so we took our time to enjoy slow traveling. We found a great lunch spot on top of a hill, overlooking miles of blossoming sugar cane fields. By then, we realized that it would be a long day.


The flat terrain turned into gentle hills, which stretched out the distance between the two points. Our map only gives us distances as the crow flies so it was 78 km instead of 60 km that we set up camp at St. Helen’s Gardens Caravan Park. We were overjoyed to find a very functional and clean camp kitchen, which has always been a deciding factor for where we take our rest days. Our new chains were also overdue for a thorough cleaning.

July 11th: Bowen to Proserpine – 63.2 km

Day 271

We had a bumpy day today.

The road surface was unprecedentedly coarse, and having 3 wheels we could feel the resistance. At 20 km Chopper’s tire was punctured by a quill from an echidna. We stopped, found a hole on the tube and patched it up. As soon as the tire was put together, it went soft again, there was still yet another puncture that we missed. So Chopper got to perform the procedure all over again. 50 minutes later, we were finally back on the road again, thanks to the echidna quill which fell so perfectly erect between the crevices of the rough road surface.



It was also a windy day, and unfortunately we had it blowing against us. It was almost like traveling in the desert again, where the endless strong headwind limited us to 10 kph. Approaching Proserpine, we started to see huge advertisement boards for Airlie Beach – mega resorts, jet skis, sky diving, EXTREME! ect. Many caravaners suggested that we visit Airlie Beach, but maybe they mistook us the young backpacker types who have endless energy and cash to seek out adventurous activities after driving all day in their van. We try to avoid touristy spots at all costs, so Airlie Beach was quickly crossed off as a destination.


We stopped at Gunna Go Caravan Park 10 km away from Proserpine, and found it to be a very quiet and lovely place to set up camp.


In the middle of the night, we had an unexpected visitor – a possum found our bread left out on Chopper’s seat, and treated himself to whatever was left in the bag. Blinded by Chopper’s headlamp and thrilled by the free calories, the possum shamelessly and fearlessly sat on Chopper’s seat and devoured the bread, while Chopper was trying his best to scare him away with little success. Only after Chopper was chased by the curious possum, he realized that the only way to get rid of the possum was tossing the bread far away from the tent, hoping the possum would find the booty and never come back.


July 10th: Guthalungra to Bowen – 55 km

Day 270

We had a late start this morning. As any traveling couples, we have fought over trivial things, and made up and moved on once we were fed and well rested. Today was one of those days.

Luckily, our destination for today – Bowen was not too far away, and it has the best pie in the universe as Mick strongly recommended. The pies from the local bakery called Jochheim’s Pies were indeed the best of all pies that we have ever had so far – wholesome fillings enveloped in flaky pie crust. 4 pies later, we agreed on finding a caravan park in town and calling it a day.


After we set up camp at Wangaratta Caravan Park, we had a lovely walk on the beach with a cup of ginger ale, our new favorite drink by mixing water and ginger cordial. The sand had a metallic shine under the setting sun, and there were many sand dollars to be collected. Why did we even start the quarrel? At this point, after yet another glorious day riding around, neither of us could remember.


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