Nigel says....... A slow start after a lie in. Both of us slept for about 10 hours so it probably did us some good. Departed at 0930hrs. It was overcast and quite humid. We sought local advice on routes to avoid the Bruce Highway. Gordon reckons the Highway south of Gympie is not good for cyclists.
The route taken was hilly in parts and we had one or two steep climbs, but overall a really pleasant route through green rolling countryside. The "off piste" route did add a few kilometers to the journey, but it was a small price to pay for being relatively traffic free with good views. Even Gordon secretly enjoyed it...marginally and begrudgingly.
Lots of different types of cattle (eg Brahmins, Dexter, Friesan etc), quite a few equine businesses and some houses perched on hillsides with great views across the valley.
The route ended with a few kilometers into Gympie on the Bruce Highway. It is a fast and busy highway. We were surprised when two eight year old boys on kid's scooters swept into the fast lane from the other side of the road and scooted along in the middle of the highway for about 200 meters before turning off. I think they were moving faster than us! Is this what Gympie is about?
Arrived at our accommodation at 1600 hrs. We bought the last room going at The Muster Inn Motel, conveniently situated on the Bruce Highway between a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet and Supercheap Auto...... However, the room is ok, and we have got to wash our kit. Today we cycled 95 kilometers (59 miles)
Thoughts and comments:
Saw a giant cow just north of Nambour today.
Tried to rain this afternoon, but held off.
Hills today were not a problem - must be getting used to it.
My bike is now officially named "Winona"!
Snack of the day: Ham and cheese sandwich - village shop Ridgewood
Tune of the day: Bob Dylan - Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
Fact of the day: Gympie is known as "The town that saved Queensland".
We go to Maryborough tomorrow where we will meet up with Alan (Gordon's brother) and his family. Both of us still going well. Looking forward to exploring Gympie by night.....
Gordon says ...
Not a bad day, all in all. It wasn't the little hop we had hoped for, as the decision to avoid the Bruce Highway cost us about 20 kms and a lot of hills. Probably the right decision, given the highway short of Gympie has a pretty bad reputation. Still, it was a fairly scenic sort of a ride, and even though I had next to nothing in my legs today, it all went OK.
We're heading out for a couple of beers shortly, and some Gympie food, whatever that might be. I hate to stereotype, of course, but Nigel failed to mention that the two charming 8 year olds on their scooters whizzing down a hill in the fast lane of the Bruce highway, appeared to be engaged in a spitting competition (yes, at each other). Jesus ...
As my friends will all attest, I hate to whinge about my health, but the numbness in my fingers appears to be getting worse - it like I've caught leprosy. I'm assuming it's just a reaction to the continual vibrations off the road, but I can't feel anything past the last joint on any of my fingers. After 10 days of this, it's starting to freak me out a little. At this rate, by the time we get to the Cape, I'll be completely numb from my elbows down.
Up and at 'em by 7.30 tomorrow. We're heading to Maryborough to see my brother and his lovely family. I always look forward to seeing Alan, as he makes me feel handsome.
29th June - Brisbane to Woombye
Nigel says......A slow start after the birthday party last night. We set off just after 0900 hrs after saying goodbye to Belinda and the children. Difficult to pedal so far, spend the night at home with the family, and then set off north for the second half.
We had a lumpy ride out of Brisbane heading north towards Strathpine and Caboolture. It was overcast and reasonably cool. We didn't see any sights worthy of any particular comment - a range of industrial units, electricity sub stations, and a giant scrap car site stick in the mind. We then joined the Bruce Highway - our new home for the next however many hundreds of kilometers.
The Bruce Highway was busy. Lots of fast moving lorries. There was a reasonable shoulder for most of the way, but we were buffeted quite a few times. Hopefully once we get further north the volume of traffic will reduce significantly. We had intended to get as far as Nambour today, but we decided that Woombye looked pleasant enough and Gordon was feeling his age and wanted to throw himself in front of the TV at the earliest point. We cycled 107 kms (67 miles)today.
Thoughts and comments:
Beautiful sunset this evening at Woombye
Gordon was wound up by the spelling mistakes on the wall of the Ettamogah Pub just off the Bruce Highway.
Saw the Big Pineapple just short of Woombye. Gordon gutted we just missed the plantation train ride.
Gordon's bike is officially named "Lay Down Sally" - thanks for the inspiration Amir.
Snack of the day: Bag of BBQ crisps at the Ettamogah Pub.
Slogan of the day: Butchers at Woombye -"We do private curing of pigs & cutting up of private body's"(sic)
Tune of the day: Kenny Loggins - Footloose
Slow day tomorrow - only going as far as Gympie.
Gordon says ...
Felt pretty miserable today. Enjoyed being back in Brisbane with family and friends. Did not enjoy peddling away from my children, for a further month apart - if I wasn't such a tough guy, I might've got a bit upset ... but I am, so I didn't.
The ride was OK today - tomorrow is quite a short day, so I'm now going to try to sleep for 12 hours - Nigel's mind-bending snoring permitting (how many earplugs can a man cram into one ear?). Nothing else to report really.
As you can see from the second photo above, I have limited patience today with Nigel's continual quest to find patronising, 'aren't Australians a pack of dim-wits', pictures of 'Big things'.
28th June - Broadbeach to Brisbane
Nigel says.....HAPPY BIRTHDAY GORDON!
We had a great birthday breakfast at Jan's in Broadbeach before pedalling north through Surfers Paradise and Paradise Point to find a route towards Brisbane. Thank you Jan for putting us up.
The route alongside the beach was really pleasant, the sun was shining and we made good progress. We were not completely sure of how to get into Brisbane as cyclists are barred from the Freeway and it was difficult to see a clear route on the map we had. We also had a big gap between one map finishing and the other starting.
However, we found a spare road which ran alongside the Freeway, not marked on the map and with relatively little traffic which carried us along quickly towards Brisbane. We then met up with a cyclist, Bevan, who was going our way who took us right where we needed to go and to the point where Gordon knew the way home. (About 2kms from Bardon as far as I could tell) It was great to be led directly towards Brisbane, but Bevan was on a road bike and so we had about 25kms of quite a fast and furious pace.
We had a really pleasant ride along the Brisbane River stopping for lunch with Amir before dropping our bikes off for a much needed service and arriving at Gordon's place at 1430hrs. We cycled exactly 100kms (63 miles) - a rest day!
It was great to get to Gordon's place where we could get at all the kit that had been sent home. Gordon's make up bag and platform shoe collection was waiting for him and needed to be seen to be believed - it dwarfed Buddy when he stood next to it. Buy shares in Australia Post if you can!!!
Ella has asked what our bikes are called - an important question given all that they have been through. Suggestions welcomed - names will be revealed in due course.
Thoughts and comments:
Saw a big mountain bike near Surfers Paradise and a big gun at Springwood. The collection is growing.
Still cannot understand how we missed an 11m long banana at Coffs Harbour.....
Brisbane is a hilly place.
The performance of the England football team was a disgrace! I thought Buddy was having me on when he told me the score at 0630hrs this morning.
The weather in Brisbane was really good today - 21 degrees .... apparently it was a chilly start so people were wearing overcoats......
Tonight we wear underpants!!
Packing for the pedal north - complete sort out of kit tonight (in between partying)
Snack of the day: Tognini's - cheesy raviolli - thanks Amir.
Tune of the day: Happy Birthday To You
Morale sky high - tomorrow Nambour.
Gordon says ...
Well I'm shattered. It's been a long day - good cycling for the most part - a speedy 100 kms to Brisbane - followed by some bike repairs, and some organisational stuff at QUT. I'd like to thank John for getting our bikes back into good order at short notice, but most of all, I'd like to thank my colleagues at QUT for being so understanding about our revised schedule for the ride. Not only have I been given extra leave, but my work-mates have kindly taken on some of my workload until I'm back on deck. I can't thank them enough.
It's been a good birthday - got to see my family and friends (most importantly), but also got to see 'the dream' (see above picture) - the road bike I've wanted for about a decade. Thanks to Anthony for doing most of the arranging, Belinda for paying for it, Amir for telling me I'll still be a rubbish racer, even with a decent bike, Mary for putting up with Amir, and Debbie for ... well, I can't think of anything really (but that's just me), but thanks anyway.
I finally got my book from the publisher today. If you're having trouble sleeping "Philosophy, Behaviour Disorders and the School' by Gordon Tait. You'll be zzzing in no time (I'm very proud of it, actually).
There a rumour that a friend (Colin) may be driving up to the Cape with his brother at the same time we're cycling there - sort of watching over us, and keeping us company. While I know he's got a wrecked shoulder, and I don't want him to do any damage to himself, I'd feel a lot happier if he's there. Nigel says we'll be fine either way, but I don't think he necessarily grasps just how big and dangerous the Australian wilderness can be ... or maybe he does, but he's just an idiot.
OK - birthday over. Time for bed. We're heading north again tomorrow. Not looking forward to saying goodbye to the family for a month.
27th June - Lennox Head to Broadbeach
Nigel says...... An important day! Reached the most easterly point of mainland Australia and crossed from New South Wales to Queensland. Distance cycled 119 kms (74 miles)
This morning Jim treated us both to a great breakfast down by the beach at Lennox Head. Great beach and a really nice place to stay for a while longer. We saw some of the damage done by the tornado which struck. Interesting to see the random nature of the destruction. Shame we didn't see any whales. Thanks Jim for your hospitality - much appreciated.
We set of pedalling in the rain towards Byron Bay. We wanted to go to the eastern most point of mainland Australia on oiur journey north - silly not to. It involved quite a steep climb to the lighthouse, but well worth it for the fantastic views over the bay.
It was then back to the Pacific Highway (Mr Hotmix's natural home -where he is happiest). A good run through to Tweed Head, with the exception of an unpleasnt incident where some yobbos threw a sausage at me on the Freeway. Yes, a sausage - sounds amusing until you understood that it was a 60mph sausage which struck me on the arm - nearly had me off the bike and which I thought initially was a piece of wood thrown up from under the wheel of a lorry. The yobbos also had a go at Gordon but missed - he was moving too slowly.
We came off the Highway and had the obligatory photo call in Tweed Heads on the boundary between New South Wales and Queensland. The Sunshine State came up trumps, the rain stopped and the sun came out. We had a great ride along the seafront with the highrise skyline of Surfers Paradise standing proud across the bay with sandy beaches stretching for as far as could be seen - a special ride into Queensland.
Arrived at Jan's place for Gordon to be reunited with Buddy and Belinda. We have just had a great BBQ at Nikki and Sean's place where Gordon had an early celebration of his 50th birthday - big day tomorrow. Thanks Nikki and Sean - great evening.
Thoughts and comments:
Today we saw a giant avacado to add to our collection.
I am utterly gutted that I missed the giant banana in Coffs Harbour - which apparently cannot be missed! We also missed the giant oyster in Taree further south - must be more observant!
The road works around Tweed Heads are awful
Mr W (re: comment 26th June) - the reason my waist strap may appear to indicate that I have a beer belly is because it is so loose and it needs tightening - again! I am attempting to sample an array of Australia's finest ales to maintain my figure - but I am fighting a loosing battle!
The 20km (approx) we did today along the Gold Coast is a fantastic bike ride.
Snack of the day: Byron Bay Lighthouse - chocolate brownie looking out over the bay.
Tune of the day: Brotherhood of Man - Save All Your Kisses For Me (rock version)
Butt situation: no change
Morale status high. Tomorrow Gordon is officially a grumpy old man. We celebrate his birthday in Brisbane.
Gordon has asked me to say that because he has had a late night (9:00pm) and he wants to spend time with his wife, and he has a cough, he will be unable to complete his part of the blog tonight. He feels he needs his beauty sleep.........he will awake in 2016.
26th June - Grafton to Lennox Head
Nigel says.... Left the Bent Street Motel in Grafton early at 0700hrs following a breakfast in the room of oatibix in a mug (no bowls!) and banana. It was misty and surprisingly chilly - lights on. Followed the river east to Lawrence where we caught the ferry and continued our journey to Maclean.
It was a really pleasant ride of 45 kms which took us well away from the Pacific Highway- hurrah! Sun coming up, mist rising from the Clarence river, flat road, interesting countryside. We had a moment of wobble from Mr Hotmix when he was asked to ride down a road off the main route - but it was sealed and took us right alongside the river past a herd of alpaccas and lots of sugar cane.
We arrived in Maclean and had a break. It was a tidy, well kept and attractive town, but very jockenese. The lamposts all had a different tartan painted on them and there were murals with pipers and highland cattle etc. The Scottish element was obviously a major part of the town economy.
We then got back onto the grind of the Pacific Highway, which as in previous days, was mixed in its quality. We were passed en route to Woodburn by a chapter of about 20 of Australia's Hells Angels who took over the entire road. Gordon knows about these things and said that they were the Finks. I thought they were tossers. We found them parked up in Woodburn's main street in a perfect, almost military line, each bike with a helmet on the right hand handelbar. A more sinister and unpleasant bunch it would be hard to imagine.
We continued the ride through Ballina and turned onto the coast road towards Jim's place at Lennox Head. The views of the coast line just as the sun was starting to sink were stunning and well worth the couple of climbs to arrive here. Jim's apartment has great views looking out over the bay. Whales have been seen for the last couple of days, so fingers crossed we shall get to see them tomorrow. Total distance cycled today was 148kms (93 miles)
Thoughts and comments:
Saw the first sugar cane fields today
Collected a giant golf ball and an enormous prawn (both in Ballina) as part of our collection of outsized Australian objects.
Snack of the day: Vanilla slice sitting by the river at Woodburn
Slogan of the day: Garage forecourt Woodburn - "Dont want to cook? Pick up a chook" (sensible) and Ballina Turf Farm - "For all your turf needs"......
Tune of the day: Chumbawumba - Tubthumping
Butt status: sound
Tomorrow Queensland and the Gold Coast. Morale high.
Gordon says ...
All in all, a good day. A pleasant day's cycling, some fine scenery, we stayed pretty much on the main drag, and Nigel kept his yap shut. Perfect
Regarding the evening's relaxation, Jim took us out to a local Thai restaurant - great food, and I think I've overdone the red wine again. Jim had two thirds of a glass and is loooking distinctly worse for wear. Nigel always looks a bit drunk, so who'd know how he is. What's really disturbing is that Jim - a lifelong socialist - and Nigel - a gibbering fascist - have got on well, and even agreed on a bunch of stuff. Jeez, I must be hammered.
We're having breakfast with Jim tomorrow, then off to stay with my mother-in-law at Broadbeach. Actually, I quite like seeing the old bag ... and my sister-in-law, who makes Belinda look like she's taken a vow of silence. I hate to say it, but while I was sat in motel rooms in Victoria by myself, sick as a dog, Nikki's nightly supportive phone calls helped keep me afloat.
Obvious, I'm very much looking forward to seeing Belinda and Buddy tomorrow.
OK, I'll download some pictures and hit the sack. Jim and Nigel are talking over the other side of the room, and they're agreeing again. I can't stand it.
25th June - Urunga to Grafton
Nigel says....... Woke up late, had a good cooked breakfast at the pub and started to pedal at 0830hrs. We both slept really well and welcomed the late start.
Mr Hotmix was happy, as the whole day was spent on the Pacific Highway. For most of the way the road was good, but there were sections where the shoulder was badly maintained and narrow, if not non existent. It is surprising how the quality of the road can vary so considerably.
We covered 111kms (69 miles) today with some climbing as we approached Grafton.
Thoughts and comments:
Passed a giant beehive yesterday in Urunga and a giant bunch of bananas in Coffs Harbour today. We shall start a collection!
Possums seem to be the main animal casualty on the roads.
There is a new and very shiny Sikh temple on the hill at Woolgoolga.
Snack of the day: Chicken Caesar Salad at Woolgoolga watching Italy's exit from the World Cup.
Tune of the day: The Band of The Coldstream Guards - The Rockafeller Skank March (arrangement by Lieutenant Colonel FB Slim MBE) (Also a tune for Gordon - OK Go - Get Over It)
Some"off piste" work tomorrow. Yihaa! (Gordon anxious). Tomorrow Ballina.
Just read Gordon's blog yesterday - he needs to improve the dramatic dialogue to be believable!
Gordon says ...
"Off piste' my arse. Nigel can peddle down whatever rat-hole he wants .... I won't be following him. 'Fat Boy Slim' my arse. Nigel's idea of edgy music is Brotherhood of Man. As for me ... I had a Nick Cave and a Tom Waits day on my Ipod ... speaks for itself really ...
After a good day's riding we went to the pub, had a Thai meal, and a bit of a laugh - mostly at Nigel.
Staying with another academic friend of mine tomorrow - the great Dr Jim McKay. Looking forward to it.
24th June - Port Macquarie to Urunga
Nigel says.....Today we pedalled 142 kms (89miles). Set off from the motel early at 0700hrs to the ferry at Settlement Point. The original plan was to avoid the Highway as much as possible, and the route from the ferry up towards Kempsey enabled us to avoid retracing our steps into town and cut out a good stretch of Highway.
Pleasant ride to the ferry and a flat gentle ride down towards Maria River Road which would take us north towards Kempsey. I think I realised first between us that the road north was unsealed and braced myself for Gordon's reaction. As expected - teddy out of the cot, f'ing and blinding, blah, blah, winge, moan etc. But we went up it - Gordon reluctantly.
The road was council maintained, and actually had a better surface than expected, although there were some rough patches. It was not a struggle, and very flat. I enjoyed it, hardly any traffic, kangaroos bouncing up the road in front of me, sun shining, nice countryside, birds singing, and having to think a bit about the cycling instead of flogging up the Highway. Gordon's reaction was the polar opposite to mine. Gordon is "Mr Hotmix" I am sure he actually goes to bed dreaming of the Highway and smooth road surfaces.
My opinion is that we will see more than enough of the Pacific Highway during the trip, and where the opportunity arises to get off the Highway we should take it. It may mean Gordon sticking to the Highway and I will branch off and meet up with him later. Anyway - please nobody say "unsealed road" or "dirt track" to him otherwise he may faint!
We made it to Kempsey for an early lunch and continued along the Pacific Highway making really good time. The Highway was not as good as yesterday's stretch with some very narrow/non existent shoulders at a number of points. We arrived at about 1630hrs at the Ocean View Hotel - a pub. I have never stayed in an Australian Pub before - it is an interesting experience, but has everything we need, if a little communal.
Unfortunately folks - the batteries in my camera expired this morning so no photos until this afternoon when I could replenish.
Thoughts and comments:
Cycled in shorts again today
Getting a touch humid over the last couple of days.
Spots of drizzly rain this afternoon, and overcast.
Saw a sign for Brisbane yesterday which said 599kms and today a sign saying 499kms.
Snack of the day: Foot long grilled chicken subway with all the trimmings in Kempsey listening to Kevin Rudd's resignation blubber.
Slogan of the day: Urunga where the riverS meet the sea.............
Tune of the day: Fatboy Slim - Rockafeller Skank (Right about now, the funk soul brother......)
Both of us feeling good, if a little tired. Hopefully, a decent night's sleep tonight and a bit of a later start tomorrow. Next stop Grafton.
Gordon says ...
Christ, it's not that complicated. You pick a road heading north and you peddle up it. Yesterday was a great day, and we increased our average speed from 14 kms/hr to 23 kms/hr - well, I did. Nigel got up to about 14.5. So I said to Nigel - no more crappy cattle tracks for us - it's smooth sailing northwards. He appeared to be nodding. Twenty minutes into today's ride, he steers us towards some potholed mud path to nowhere. The conversation went something like this:
G: What the freaking hell is that? (I didn't actually say freaking)
N: It's a road.
G: That's not a road.
N: Yes it is. It's an Australian road.
G: What! You pompous English git! This isn't Mozambique .... we have electricity and everything down here, you know. We even have cars, and we don't drive them up anything that freaking well looks like that.
N: Yes you do. I know all about Australia ... the outback, billabongs, didgeridoos ...
G: Well, you can jam that list up your ...
N: Time to peddle
And with that, he took off, looking like a cross between Livingston of the Jungle and the cat who got the cream. Almost needless to say, the 'shortcut' was 6 kms longer than if we had stayed on the road, and it took 2 hours longer - with my average speed dropping from 25kms/her to 8 ... yes 8 kms/hr - and I got covering mud - again.
Whe I finally caught up to Nigel, I gave in a brief tour of some of Australia's best adjectives, and headed for the highway. I surmised - correctly - that if I stayed 20 minutes ahead of him, he couldn't suddenly gesticulate towards some cow paddock, and start cycling through it. Even then, with one hour to go before we reached Urunga, after I waited for him to catch up, he turned up with some new marks on his sodding map, indicating our next 'shortcut' to the hotel.
The guy's skin is made of concrete.
PS. Nigel is a liar. He spends most of his time listening to military marching music. He has no idea who most of the names he drops each night are.
23rd June - Elizabeth Beach to Port Macquarie
Nigel says ...We have had a good day today cycling 135kms (84 miles). Good roads, quick progress and into the motel by 1630hrs. We both feel like we have had a day off!
We departed "Brigadoon" at 0730hrs and headed towards Forster. The Pacific Palms Resort were really good to open up for us out of hours last night and it looked like a nice place to stay. We were eating bacon and egg mcmuffins in Forster by 0830hrs.
We then headed north towards the Pacific Highway (approx 30kms) where the plan was to cut across country to avoid the highway. We started the route, but Gordon overshot a junction and ended up at the Pacific Highway. When the correct track was pointed out to Gordon he started twitching, flinching and foaming at the mouth as it had some gravel on it. To avoid a total collapse in morale and further bruising to our backsides, we decided to stay on the Pacific Highway - which in retrospect was exactly the right decision. The Highway has wide shoulders for cyclists nost of the way, the road surface in this stretch was mostly excellent and we were able to get up some real speed. The prospect of an early finish was very attractive, and we pedalled hard to arrive in time for tea at port Macquarie.
The smooth road conditions today have certainly contributed to a stabilisation of the "Butt Situation". An uneven road surface increases the refrain "Oh my arse" exponentially. Gordon and I have an unspoken competition as to who will complain about his sore backside first in the day. Gordon broke this morning at 0830hrs whilst eating his Mcmuffin.
The Butt Situation will become an area of increasing importance and significance in the days to come. My "Butt Management Strategy" has the following elements:
Decent saddle - measured to fit my butt.
The best padded cycling shorts money can buy - My Sugoi shorts protect the parts other shorts don't protect as well.
Soothing Balm applied each morning.
Tomorrow we go to Urunga (approx 130kms) Morale good - Japanese meal tonight I think.
Gordon says ...
The first days cycling I've really enjoyed to date - I think I'm finally completely over the virus. We scuttled our way across a variety of Nigel's 'shortcuts' in the morning, running parallel to the Pacifiic Highway. I was told to turn right at a particular point, but as I was some distance in front, when I noticed it was some gravel/mud shit track again, I just peddled past it (for God's sake, wasn't yesterday enough?) In spite of Nigel's quivering bottom lips (he loves his little off road adventures - '... if was just cut our way throught his bush, I'm sure there's a track here somewhere ...') I set us out on the main highway - bliss - wide cycle lane, hot mix surface - I felt right at home. Without pushing very hard at all, I could sit on 25 kms/hr, and for once the kms just whizzed by (Yes ... as a roadie, I know that's still crap, but the bike weighs 20+ kgs, and the tyres are knobbly ... and I'm tired). Even Nigel got his bike up to about 16 kms/hr - for short bursts.
Most importantly, for me anyway, my arse immediately stopped hurting. I didn't realise how much the road surface was related to the pain-levels. I was finally able to zen-out, and think of more important things - like how much I'm already missing my family and friends. Long distance cycling is an inherently lonely business - you don't get to chat while peddling - and even when you stop, you're normally too shagged to engage in small talk. Nigel is lucky, he doesn't seem to get down - probably because he seems to have no inner mental life at all. Actually, I tell a lie, he been a bit miserable because his attempts to get Louise (his wife) Wimbledon tickets for her fiftieth have just fallen in a hole. I told him he should get her what she really wants - a divorce.
Got some good news from Belinda at our midday stop - apparently we got an ARC grant - which should allow me to go for promotion next year, thereby breathing a small bit of life into an otherwise utterly stalled and largely insignificant academic career. Needless to say, fate doesn't allow you to be happy for too long - we also got our reviewers comments for a larger discovery grant, which were startlingly average.
I spent the next 30 kms contemplating the hideous process of applying for promotion - by the time we got near Port Macquarie, if felt like spewing again at the thought of the whole grotesque, self-aggrandising nightmare ahead. Eventually, I figured ... sod it, I'll worry about all that next year ... and thought about unit planning instead. What a small life I lead.
22nd June - Newcastle to Elizabeth Beach
Nigel says.... Set off from Jenny's place at 0730hrs smelling 'lemon fresh' in our clean kit. The forecast was for light showers. Thank you Jenny for feeding us so well and for the bottles of excellent wine.
We followed Jenny's directions to the Stockton ferry and crossed the river heading north east towards Nelson Bay. The plan was to catch the 1200hrs ferry (one of 3 per day) from Nelson Bay across to Tea Gardens and then on to another ferry at a place called Mungo Brush before rejoining the Pacific Highway and cycling ontowards Forster. By using the ferries we could keep off the Pacific Highway and also save some miles.
Everything went really well as we pedalled along the good flat road towards Nelson Bay. Then, because Nigel and Gordon are on a bike ride with clean kit on, it started to rain.....and rain and pour. It rained all the 40kms to Nelson Bay. Still we arrived in good time and were able to have an early lunch and catch the 1200hrs ferry. The crossing takes an hour, so it was good to have an enforced rest. Got to see a dolphin off the side of the boat which was good too.
We then had a dry flat run along the coast through the National Park towards the ferry at Mungo Brush. About 5 cars passed us the whole time. When we got to the ferry the ferryman firmly directed us to use a bush track which would enable us to save about 20kms by cutting out the Pacific Highway. The track was approximately 20kms long. It started so well......
We cycled quite briskly along a good track. It was wet, so the going was not as quick as it would normally be. Then we got into a whole stretch of sand which was a pain. The we got into a whole long stretch of....mud. I decided to cycle on ahead as I could not bear to hear Gordon complaining about the lack of tarmac. We trudged on....and on....and on. It was a good test of self confidence, as questions were raised by Gordon around "Are you sure this is the right road?" Are we nearly there yet?" "Was the ferryman taking the piss?" etc. Then it got dark.... This was Gordon's introductory familiarisation to travelling at night in the bush. He scored 6/10 - let down by attitude!
We eventually got to the end of the track and Gordon kissed the tarmac. It was now 1800hrs so we decided to cycle towards Forster and stay in the first place that didn't look like it belonged in a scene from "Deliverance". We got as far as Elizabeth Beach (15kms short of Forster) and have been accommodated in a lodge in the smart Pacific Palms Resort. It is raining hard again. We have been to the local club for athelete's food and beer
Thoughts and comments:
It is surprising how quickly the hands go crinkly in the rain.
Why are there so many retirement / easy living complexes for the over 50's?(Over 65s - I can understand)
Why did Gordon want to take up residence in an easy living complex for the over 50s this afternoon?
Snack of the day: Chicken, bacon and avacado wrapped in filou pastry (posh pie) - Nelson Bay
Tune of the day: Anything by the Bueno Vista Social Club
Fact of the day: It takes a long time to cross dirt tracks after it has been raining.
Tomorrow Port Macquarie - should be a shorter than normal day.......?
Gordon asleep - photos tomorrow.
Gordon says ...
So normally, after Nigel has finished writing his nightly masterpiece, it's so late that I'm either half asleep, or already gone. Today was no different ...
A long day, good in parts, awful in others. We made some good time early, then we (read Nigel) decided to go 'off road' on a long shortcut. It turned into a predictable nightmare, where, three and a half hours later, we we wandering through bush in the dark, by now utterly unsure that we were going in the right direction. When we eventually emerged covered in mud, we decided to go to the nearest motel - of which there were none, of course. Two hours laters, we finally found this one - with no idea of where were are. All in all, quite a masterpiece of miliitary planning. (Nigel's planning score: 6/10 - let down by that innate attitude lots of British senior army officers seem to have - that since they thought of it, it must be right)
A shortish day tomorrow - only about 130 kms. Hooraaah (irony) ...
21st June - Sydney to Newcastle
Nigel says.....Had a few beers and athelete's pizzas in the Rocks last night. The full show is firmly back on the road which is great. We decided to put in another big day and get from Sydney to Newcastle in one hop. We figured the terrain would be better than down south and the distance manageable. Today was 160 kms (100 miles)
It was quite an experience cycling over the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 0630hrs. We knew the way to the bridge, but did not know how to get onto the cycleway. Fortunately a bloke on a bike happened to be passing and we followed him.
We travelled very quickly along the Pacific Highway and we were heading north out of the northern suburbs by 0830hrs and onto Route 83. All the traffic north and south into and out of Sydney travels on the Freeway. We cycled for approx 60kms and only about 20 vehicles passed us in either direction. It is like a "spare road" which nobody uses. There were 3 very big climbs en route, but equally there were some terrific "yihaaa" downnhills to have some fun with.
Because Gordon has "gone commando" and only exists with a bar bag - he was moving quicker than I was. We decided to strip my kit down in Gosford and send stuff back to Brisbane. I got rid of cold weather gear used at Wilson's Prom, shoes, pharmacy stuff, a good water bottle I had found on the floor en route, etc and yes - underpants. Its official - I am also now going commando! I would like to assure you all, however, that I am still able to dress decently for dinner, unlike Gordon who looks like Max Wall in his leggings.
After Gosford we made very quick progress. The bike was 5.25kg lighter, the terrain was flat and the roads/cycleways were good. We took the coast road up through The Entrance and Budgewoi and rejoined the Pacific Highway just as it started to rain. We cycled in quite heavy rain all the way to Newcastle. (Where is this drought we have all been hearing about - or is it raining because Gordon and Nigel are doing a bike ride?)
We have been really well looked after by Jenny who has fed and watered us here in Newcastle. Thanks Jenny. We have been given advice on the route tomorrow which should keep us of the Pacific Highway for most of the day.
Thoughts and comments:
I am banned from shouting "Yihaa" until I am in front of Gordon going downhill.
Mudguards do keep you that little bit drier.
Slogan of the Day: Aged Care Services - Taking care of tomorrow...............?(Shouldn't that read today? Ed)
Snack of the day: Double bacon and egg McMuffin prior to heading north out of Sydney - no really it was good.
Tune of the day:Ain't No Stoppin Us Now.
Thanks for all the offline messages of support received. Much appreciated. We have been taking photos. Planning a big upload tomorrow.
Have thought about the route tomorrow - not that many good alternatives, so Plan A is to get to Forster - terrain allowing. It is absolutely chucking it down as I write this. We have warm,clean dry kit as well. Ho Hum!
Gordon says ...
Sorry I've only just got to add a bit to this blog, two main reasons;
It was a really hard ride - the Horsnby to Gosford bit of the Pacific Highway was a monster - nothing as horrid as the Orbost to Eden hell-ride, but very unpleasant nevertheless - so I was completely buggered by the time we got to Jenny's in Newcastle.
By the way - big thanks to my academic friends who've been incredibly kind and hospitable to us so far - Denise Meredyth and Jenny Gore - I owe you both one ... actually more than one, since I have been deftly plagiarising your excellent intellectual ideas for years.
The second reason I didn't write anything was because Jenny brought out two 28 year old bottles of Lake's Folly Cabernets. Almost needless to say, I hoovered far more than my fair share of what is one of my favourite wines, and quickly tottered off to bed in a gibbbering stupor. Back to feeling awful again next day - for once on this ride, all my own fault.
20th June - North Wollongong to Sydney
Nigel says.......Today has been an excellent day in all respects. We had some of the most pleasant cycling so far in Australia, the weather was perfect, the scenery along the coast and in the Royal National Park was outstanding, my children wished me a happy Father's day and yes...Gordon caught up after a monster ride.
The day did not start auspiciously. Whilst I was cycling past a "young man" at 0730hrs he said "You look pretty this morning!" I pedalled fast out of Wollongong towards the sea - watching my back!
The ride along the coast was flat. A good cycle track for a large part of it. People were surfing, cycling, jogging etc. Perfect. I stopped at Thirroul beach to watch people surf where I got chatting to another cyclist. Chris gave me good advice about the route and bought me a cup of tea once he found out what we were doing. Thanks for the tea Chris much appreciated.
The route climbed gradually and culminated in a shocker hill to get over at Stafford Park to get in to the National Park. Prior to that,however, was one of the most spectacular downhills (possibly in the world?)across the Sea Cliff Bridge which hugs the cliff face for approx 1km giving fantastic views of the ocean and the coastline. A fantastic piece of architecture. Once in the Park I turned of the road and along a rocky track through the rainforest to Audley . The rainforest was great, although the route was much slower. Audley in the sunshine is also a special place.
I then had to brave the Highway to start my journey into Sydney - negotiating the horrendous traffic, but seeing regular glimpses of the Sydney skyline.
I need to tell you that arriving at Sydney Opera House after the journey from Wilson's Prom just as the sun was beginning to set was special. Then to hear Gordon was an hour away was tremendous news.
We met up again in the Rocks with much back slapping. Ben, one of my son Marcus', friends took photos and showed us where the nearest hotel was and joined us for several beers at the Gordon/Nigel reunion.
Some thoughts and comments:
Today I cycled in shorts for the first day.
My iPod is now charged.
The Stafford Park Hill was probably the steepest we have done so far with loads of switchbacks.
Sydney does not appear as well organised as Melbourne for cycling.
The traffic is really heavy!
Fact of the Day: DH Lawrence wrote poetry and is reputed to have written some chapters of 'Sons and Lovers' at Thirroul.
Tune of the day: Dire Straits -Brothers in Arms
Snack of the day: Big Mac meal at the Rockvale drive thru en route City (I was starving - sorry Piers)
A big day to Newcastle tomorrow - early start. We are both up for it.
Gordon says ...
Well ... I still feel like shit, but at least I'm back in the game. I think the virus is on its way out - hopefully.
Got up early, after yet another bad night's sleep, and peddled all day - probably the first days peddling I've actually enjoyed - maybe because it was fairly flat, and I wasn't weak as a kitten.
I've stayed in some real crap-holes over the last few days, the one exception being with the lovely people who put me up at the exclusive Gypsy Point Lodge, and looked after me, when I was at my lowest - Ian and Libby Mitchell - an incredibly beautiful place, for which they charged me absolutely nothing. My thanks again. I would probably have quit if it wasn't for you.
19th June - Ulladulla to North Wollongong
Nigel says....Had hoped to reach Miranda tonight, but got as far as North Wollongong before darkness and traffic called a halt to proceedings. I would like to clarify that I was going to stay at Miranda and not with Miranda as some had been suggesting! I would also like to point out that the straight yellow line on the tracking map does not mean we are cycling through people's gardens!
Am staying in the Flinders Budget Motel - nice! However, the man on the desk comes from Malton, North Yorks and was treated as a child by my Uncle Owen - got a reduced room rate and a free breakfast. Thanks for that work in 1968 Owen!
Set off this morning at 0630hrs and pretty much kept on pedalling all day with breaks at Nowra, Gerroa and Shellharbour. Covered 152 Kms (95 miles). The terrain is becoming more manageable and there was even quite long flat stretches around Shoalhaven Heads. Inevitably there were some hills en route with a particular shocker at Kiama.
Thoughts and observations for today:
Cycling from the south to the north of mainland Australia is a good way of avoiding having to watch the pitiful England Football Team performance in the World Cup.
Cycling from the south to the north of mainland Australia is a good way of watching England beat Australia at rugby 20 - 21!
The traffic is far far heavier up here - no safe night riding opportunities.
It is staying light for longer and the weather is warmer.
The Princes Highway between Nowra and Kiama is shocking for cyclists. After Kiama it improves.
Wollongong is a charming part of New South Wales. I'm guessing it is twinned with Middlesbrough?
Fact of the day: Shoalhaven is Australia's home for speciality papers........
Tune of the day: Queen - Don't stop me now.
Snack of the day: Chicken curry pie (My first Aussie pie! - lifted morale enormously - get the Wallabies to eat some!)
NEWS FROM GORDON.....NEWS FROM GORDON......NEWS FROM GORDON....
Gordon is in good shape, pedalling hard and making good progress. He does notice an improvement in speed with carrying no kit. He has reached Nowra tonight and will be setting off early in the morning going for somewhere north of Wollongong. We aim to meet up in Newcastle on 22nd June with a revised schedule and itinerary to enable us to complete the journey together. It is no fun travelling alone.....think of the professional and incisive sporting discussions we could have had about today's rugby match for instance? I must make sure Gordon knows the result.... I don't want him to feel left out.
Gordon has been receiving telephone calls of disbelief from UK regarding his current commando status!
18th June - Narooma - Ulladulla
Nigel says....Chilly 0730hrs start as the sun was rising. Still plenty of hills, but not of the scale of the previous two days....or am I getting used to them? Once the sun was up it was great, nice and sunny, like a pleasant English summer day. Got to Moruya in time for an early lunch. If Greg is reading this, your town is probably the nicest place I have stopped so far. The Moruya Cycles are an excellent bike shop. I stopped to buy a bike lock, as Gordon has the team lock. They gave me an old one which is perfect. Not only that, they gave me a cup of coffee and advice on the route. Thank you to Mark and the team at Moruya Cycles. Your assistance was much appreciated.
After lunch I had to make a decision to either go for a route round the coast which is approx 8km longer with hills or to stick with the Princes Highway and brace myself for an infamous 8km climb in addition to "ordinary" hills. I went with the advice from the bike shop and took the longer coastal route which was hilly but pleasant.
It may be useful if I try to describe the ground we have been over since leaving Orbost. For those in the York area, imagine cycling over a piece of ground where there is a Garrowby Hill, Terrington Bank, or Whitwell Hill every 3-4 miles for miles and miles on end. It is either up or down, not flat. However, I hope we may be over the most challenging bit..............?
Managed to make it to Ulladulla in good order by 1745 hrs thus avoiding much night riding. The Highway seems much busier here. Will set off earlier in the morning to try and catch up on the schedule. Travelled 129 kms (81 miles)today.
Have spoken to Gordon today. He is cheerful, but still suffering and has been told by the doctor to keep pedalling but take it steady. He is somewhere between Moruya and Batemans Bay... he is not sure where. We are putting together a plan to reunite the team next week in Newcastle and to revise the routing based on our experience so far. I hope it comes off.......Gordon has the iPod charger.
Tomorrow the little yellow line should be nudging the southern suburbs of Sydney.
BREAKING NEWS.......BREAKING NEWS......BREAKING NEWS.........BREAKING NEWS.....
Gordon has gone commando! I never thought I would see the complete abandonment of the makeup bag, but it has happened! He now has no underpants, no panniers, and pretty much only what he stands up in. Because of the hills he is unsure if he is going any faster or not! Well done Gordo..."going commando" in these circumstances is a state of mind and not just a physical condition.
17th June - Eden to Narooma
Nigel says....Departed late at 0830 hrs from Eden after speaking to various people in UK and Oz to see what new arrangements could be made. Sound comments on the blog..thank you for all the support, and I know Gordon feels the same. Have spoken to him tonight and he sounded in good spirits. He has been to the doctor for his feet and is now pedalling his way north. Today he made it to Bega, so he is not that far behind me. We hope to meet up again soon. Watch this space for developments.
Mark, you were right, the second hill outside Eden on the Princes Highway is a real shocker! I turned off the Highway at Perimbula expecting a nice seaside route, but it was uphill and downdale, albeit the views and countryside were great. It was quite uplifting cycling along the seashore seeing the breakers. The upside to the hills is that there have been some absolutely tremendous downhill sections where I have been able to get up a really good speed. For most sections - no brakes and pedalling full way down the slope. I wish I knew my speed.. it must have been well above the 30mph level. It was nice weather for the most part and the hottest day I have had in Australia. My conclusion is that whilst the highway is boring, it is faster, and because there is usually a hard shoulder, it is reasonably safe. So far my experience of the logging lorries is reasonably positive, unlike the milk tanker drivers.
I had hoped to reach Moruya today, but it quickly became apparent that the late start and progress over the coast road meant that this would not be achieved without another monster night ride. I did quite enjoy last night's night ride in a perverse sort of way - especially the fast downhill sections as the traffic was extremely light, but I'm not sure my family would approve of the practice. I intend to avoid night riding and just stay at the nearest place when darkness falls - if possible in a planned location, but that may not always be possible.
I decided to get to Narooma and try to make up ground tomorrow. Getting advice from taxi drivers on the routes. There is an 8km climb near Bateman's Bay tomorrow... ho hum!
16th June - Orbost - Eden
Gordon says ...
Well, this isn't how things were planned but so be it.
I looks like we're going to go our separate ways - at least for the while. It has become very clear to me that the distances we are attempting each day are utterly unrealistic - given the terrain, and the weight of the bikes - we are currently averaging 12-13 kms/hour and today was supposed to be a 185 km day - you do the maths. It's nearly 4.30, we've been cycling since 5.30 in the morning, and there's still 5 hours of peddling to go, not counting rests. I just don't think 30 more days of that is do-able. Nigel disagrees, and wants to continue with the current schedule. I guess I wanted an adventure - not an ordeal.
I have suggested that we modify our targets and cycle 100 kms per day, (and ask for an extra week's leave), or if we can't get the leave, finish our ride in Townsville or Cairns. Understandably, given he's come half way around the world, Nigel wants to try and press on. If it doesn't work, he will wait for me further up the track.
I'm going to keep going doing 100 kms per day and still hopefully making it. It's only fair I'm giving Nigel the laptop. Hopefully I'll see him in a couple of days.
Nigel says....Today has been a difficult and testing day for us both physically and mentally. The distance between Orbost and Eden is 185 kms (116 miles) The terrain was much more demanding than anticipated and took us much longer to travel across, but it was always going to be one of the most difficult days. There were plenty of morale sapping false summits and some very big hills. There is not much else down here to give many alternatives to the plan which also didn't help the situation. Gordon and I discussed what those options might be, but the option of me taking more time off is a non starter. I have been planning for two years on reaching the Cape and I still believe it can be achieved, although I accept, and have always accepted, it will not be easy. People have sponsored me and are supporting me on this basis, so I feel it is important for me to continue. I am also enjoying myself in a perverse sort of way and thrive on the challenge presented. This was a difficult decision for both of us. I would far rather be completing this challenge with my mate Gordon than by myself, but equally I think it is important to be true to oneself.
Tomorrow I will press on towards Sydney.
15th June - Bengworden to Oborst
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LULEY!!!!!!!!!
We were royally looked after by Mark and Lindy. Thank you again to both of you. I had the best breakfast I have had since arriving in Australia which set us up for the day.
Shock horror ...there was a frost. It was parky, but soon warmed up and we arrived in Bairnsdale just before 0900hrs. There then followed a period of admin where Gordon sent his makeup bag weighing 14kg back to Brisbane. Ella - as I said you were way out with your earlier guess!! Gordon is now an apostle of the "one pair of underpants philosophy". Beware kids - he could become stinky at times!!
Unfortunately we set off late from Bairnsdale and on the advice of the man in the bike shop we travelled along the East Gippsland Rail Trail. This was great until we hit a section where there had been rain and our progress slowed right down. We also hit a section where Gordon fell off trying to get up a steep slope. He's not badly hurt, and it was quite funny...We got back onto the Princess Highway at Nowa Nowa and had a reasonably tough ride into Oborst arriving just after dark. Distance travelled was 134 kms (84 miles) We will get to see Lakes Entrance another time.
LATE NEWS.....LATE NEWS.....LATE NEWS......LATE NEWS
Gordon is sending the manbag back to Brisbane in a second consignement!!!!
Gordon says ...
Nigel fails to mention, we spent 2 hours in Bairnsdale paying a second visit to the dentist. Will it ever end.
I finally gave in to the inevitable, and sent a bunch of stuff home. It does appear to make the hills easier. I am still refusing to go the whole 'filthy pig' route - I have my pride.
I'm very tired, and I've been vomiting all day - not easy off the side of a bike. A huge day tomorrow - peddling by 5.30. Tomorrow, I'll put up some photos from yesterday and today.
14th June - Foster to Bengworden
Set off from Foster on our first full days cycling. Anticipating a 163 km (100 miler). It was a cold start at 0730 hrs. I had to put on my Cardinal Wolsey hat to keep warm, but the sun rose really quickly and we generally had a really good flat run through. Gordon suffered because he was not able to send his make up and platform shoe collection back to Brisbane, it being a public holiday here in Australia and had to work hard to drag it along. We did meander along, eating carrot cake in Yarrum etc, with the result we found ourselves underestimating the distance to be covered and cycling in the dark to reach Mark and Lindy's place in Bengworden. I thought we did ok and rather enjoyed the adventure. The advantage is that we covered 177 kms (111 miles), in theory making tomorrow shorter.
We were really well looked after by Mark and Lindy - thanks to both of them for their hospitality, advice and support. Mark came out to look for us in the dark and marked the end of his drive so we would not cycle past it. Gordon's sense of humour would not have appreciated that!!
A few thoughts and impressions:
Cycling at dawn in Australia is the best time to be on the road.
Australia appears to have quite a number of very long straight roads.
There are a lot of milk tankers - some are not well driven.
Three most useful pieces of kit today were: head torch, camelback, ipod.
Tune of the day: Mambo No 5!!!
Gordon says ...
Jesus Christ! We set off nearly two hours late from the Motel - Nigel wanted a cooked breakfast - and then it turns out Captain Map has miscalculated the distance we have to peddle - so we ended up plodding through the dark for hours, in the middle of nowhere - whereupon my torch failed, which didn't seem to stop Nigel disappearing off into the darkness. (Nigel did bring a GSP, after much nagging from me, but he appears to be using it as a door-stop).
Trust me, that wasn't the worst of it. Nigel 'sang' for much of the day. Imagine a tone-deaf sergeant-major yelling random lines from bad songs (... footloose .... footloose ...). Several times, I felt like peddling under a truck.
Wonderful hospitality when we finally arrived (see above)
13th June - Wilson's Prom Lighthouse to Foster
Gordon was still packing his makeup bag at 0530hrs so we set off at 0545hrs. Outside, it was pitch black with no ambient light at all. I put on a headtorch and led Gordon down the steep track and along the cliffs. I'm not sure in normal circumstances that I would welcome Gordon invading my personal space like he did this morning!
The early start was well worth it, not only because it enabled us to finish the day on schedule and in daylight but we saw dawn in the National Park with all the attendant wildlife and noises and the sight of the sun rising. The route was hard work, however, and very undulating. After 26 kms (16+ miles) we reached Tidal River both nursing blisters, but happy to be there. The ice cold cokes and large bowls of chicken soup were very welcome. We walked a total of 49 Kms (31 miles) over the two days. It was definately more demanding than we had anticipated.
We sorted our kit and set off on the 60 kms (38 mile) ride to Foster. We were boosted by our 'cottage mates' stopping by the road to cheer us on . Thanks guys, much appreciated. If the photos are any good, please can you send one?
Most of the ride was flat and really good, but there were two very steep hills early on which tested us both and has resulted in Gordon re-appraising his 'Christmas Tree' approach to equipment carriage. It looks like he is going over to the dark side and adopting my 'one pair of underpants only' approach! So that you understand what I mean, this brief comparison may make thinks clearer:
Panniers: Nigel x 2 Gordon x 4
Underpants: Nigel: x 1 Gordon x 4
Platform shoes and flares: Nigel x 0 Gordon x lots
Manbag: Nigel x 0 Gordon x 1
Nail Varnish: Nigel x 0 Gordon x what colour?
Result - Gordon is sending 2 x panniers of kit back to Brisbane.
We start tomorrow at 0730hrs - a lie in!
Gordon says ...
Only three points to make here
1) Nigel's frenzied yomping through the Prom has resulted in us both having huge blisters - I've even lost three toenails. In spite of my natural courage, I don't think the military would have been for me.
2) I am starting to think I've got way too much stuff. My bike is almost unpeddlable - but am wary of following Nigel down the 'filthy pig' route. Hmm - decisions, decisions ... Nigel genuinely only has one pair of underpants, and they are the same ones he took on the John O'Groats ride, and I'm fairly sure he hasn't washed them since then. Unlike Nigel, I do not consider basic hygiene a sign of effeminacy.
3) Having wandered around the Prom with my little video camera - like a half-assed Tarrantino - I have since found out that the tiny little computer I've brought along isn't even remotely up to the job of processing the data. What a waste of time. I guess it's a written blog for me.
12th June - Melbourne to Wilson's Promontory Lighthouse
Nigel says ...
Today was the day we started the trip! Thank you to Denise and Mark for putting us both up, and for getting up at a ridiculous hour to drive us down to the Prom. Denise and Mark dropped us off at the car park and waved us off on a 19km hike to South Point. Bikes are not permitted in the Park, so we had to leave them at Tidal River, stored away by a kind Park Ranger.
We set a brisk pace, passing en route a number of Aussies suitably equipped for the Cairngorms. (It is mid winter here, and whilst it was at times a bit chilly and blustery, it was much the same as a British summer day!) We reached South Point after about 3 1/2 hours of walking on undulating and rocky tracks - it would not be practicable to ride a bike there in any event.
South Point is a pretty windswept and bleak place as you might imagine. We found a suitable rock and started the satellite tracker. The tracker links to a page where you can zoom in and monitor our progress. We have dipped our hands in the ocean - no turning back now. Backbones inserted and we are both up for the challenge.
We left South Point and had to walk briskly to the lighthouse where our accommodation was to get there before dark. We just made it. The cottage was great - clean, well equipped, warm and comfortable. We also met up with a fun set of people from Melbourne who were also trecking. We dried out, ate our athelete's meal of steak and kidney pie and beans and went to bed.
As a result of the experience today, we have had to revise our programme for tomorrow or we will not make Foster before dark. Reveille will be 0500hrs and we depart in darkness at 0530hrs. It will be a demanding day and may be dependant on Gordon being able to pack his make up away in time to get a good start. I think we will have a discussion about kit tomorrow!
Gordon says ...
Interesting place, Wilson's Promontary - very beautiful, but smacks a little too much of the Blair Witch for my liking. After Denise and Mark dropped us off (many thanks again), we plodded off into the wilderness with a spring in our step - which lasted all of about 20 minutes. Nigel has a military approach to walking/marching, which involves lots of anecdotes about Marines on the Falklands, and continual questions about my morale - which continued to sink every time he asked. Actually, I didn't even realise I had a morale ...
South Point is an impressive place - we wandered around there for a while, took some pictures for posterity, and then realised we probably weren't going to make it back to the lighthouse before dark, which was about 10 kms away. I followed the General as best I could, but he's as nimble as a mountain goat - which, given his 'one underpant/optional shower' policy, he is also starting to smell like.
We got to the lighthouse in time - just - got showered and ate, and met some fun hikers, who were trying to set a world red wine drinking record. Then off to bed for an early night. Apparently, 'reveille' is at 5am - reveille? - it seems I went to sleep and woke up in an episode of Sergeant Bilko.
11th June - Melbourne
Nigel says ... Thank you to the team at the Peter MacCallum Centre for hosting us this morning. We had a really interesting visit to the research labs and some useful carb loading at lunch. It was great to meet the people involved in the research. We both now have a better understanding of the important work that is going on. For those who have not yet donated, please be generous.
We then started to pedal - so it started to pour with rain. Tomorrow we head to Wilson's Prom. A small detour via a dentist to sort out my cracked tooth will hopefully put off the requirement for root canal work!
Quiz question for all of you out there - guess the weight of Gordon's make up and pampering bag!
Enjoyed a turkish meal this evening - carb loading is important...Thanks to Denise and Mark for putting us up and taking us down to the Prom at a ridiculous hour tomorrow.
Gordon says ...
I'm tired, it's late and we have a very long day tomorrow.
The picture left is of Nigel posing at the MCG - only fitting Dennis Lillie has his foot on the head of another Pom.
Spent two hours sat in a hire truck waiting for Nigel to have his tooth fixed - I would take the piss, but I don't exactly have a reputation for dealing with pain that stoically myself.
Sod it - I'm off to bed - 3 hours driving and 5 hour walking tomorrow, and the forecast is rain.
10th June - Melbourne Bike Assembly
G'day - WELCOME TO AUSTRALIA.
I arrive yesterday after a LONG flight from the UK. Thank you to the nice Greek lady from the hospital in the queue for customs who offered to sponsor us.
Best film on the flight was the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - spooky and a bit weird.....Gordon arrived lunchtime today. Shopping for supplies completed. Bikes assembled and tested riding back to the hotel through central Melbourne and alongside the Yarra River. Melbourne is great for cycling.
Quote of the day was the pharmacist I was buying Immodiom from: " Do you know that all of Australia looks the same!" Thanks mate!
Carb loading tonight together with a quiet beer and a couple of noisy ones. Tomorrow we visit AICR research facilities in Melbourne before braving the traffic on a 20km ride to the airport to the Ute hire shop.
We are ready to rock and roll!
Well, here we go then ...
Sometimes I'll write a bit of a blog, and some days I'll put together some video clips from the day. Nothing worth recording today, so -
Good news: -my bike has been put back together and appears to work - Nigel has arrived looking quite fit, so no worry about having to ship him back to Louise in a body bag then - and one last night not sharing a room with a 50 year old man.
Bad news: - Australia post won't ship our bike boxes to Bamaga, we'll try some couriers tomorrow - when loaded, my bike weighs more than the centre of the earth - most of my closest friends still haven't coughed up (cheap bastards) - and my knee hurts already, and so far I've only cycled 3.5 kms back to the hotel from the bike shop.