Hello to all from Cairns, Australia,
The last time we wrote we were in Brisbane enjoying the company of our friends Beryl & Peter Malcolm, now here we are in the heart of Barrier Reef country.
Our flight from Brisbane to Townsville was as uneventful as one could ask for, and the service provided to us by Ansett was superb. This was a leg we paid for personally as the group were coming direct from Sydney to Townsville on a Qantas charter. It was a welcome sight to be met at the Townsville airport by our friends Helen & Barb and we were whisked away to our accommodations which were just down the street from the campgrounds, which one of the riders described as ghetto camping.
While in Brisbane (actually Sydney) we were unlucky enough to pick up a nasty bug that made life miserable. Upon arrival at the motel in Townsville it was off to bed to see if I could break the fever that had decided to settle in my ageing body. The efforts were all for naught as the next morning I found it necessary to beg off riding and bum a ride with Doris Hammer who was over shadowing her daughter Helen with a rental car. My mother always said starve a fever and feed a cold, I guess Tim Kneeland believes in the same treatment as there was nothing for breakfast when we arrived at 7:25AM save buns leftover from the night before and cold water, not the most nourishing of meals for this fever racked body. Someone believes criminals in the US penal system get more nourishing meals, could this be so???
The drive up the coast to Cardwell was uneventful and we arrived at the motel where we were going to stay by mid afternoon. The countryside was to say the least very barren, with miles and miles of sugar cane and bananas. The weather was getting very hot and the riders had the benefit of a tailwind on what turned out to be a long 160+km day.
The motel where we stayed was in fact supposed to be the campgrounds where the group was to stay, at least according to the original route guide. We found out in the morning that this was no longer the case and obviously this begged the question why not? The owner of the facility was more than willing to bare his soul and basically it turns out that he was not willing or able to offer, dinner, breakfast and camping facilities for the meager $US 14.25 TK&A was willing to spend. As a result the group ended up camping in the local sports field and being fed by the local Lions club staff.
The next morning I was feeling better but was not up to a ride especially in light of the rising temperatures. We were once again forced to ride with Doris, this after a nice breakfast on the shores of the Coral Sea, not a hard way to spend one's morning.
The destination for the group this evening was a little spit of land called Flying Fish Point. The camping was once again extremely high density with guy wires and tents making for a bone breaking obstacle course. I guess by now you have the message we stay in motels etc. and we found a neat old place close by. The dinner, which we attended, was great. It was prepared by the CWA (Country Women's Assoc.) or (Chin Wagers Assoc.) This group raise money for charities, in particular the Flying Doctors of Australia. Had an interesting discussion with a number of the ladies, with one of the organizers hovering over my shoulder to make sure I did not say anything naughty. Great ladies, great food great community spirit.
The next morning Mary and I decided enough was enough and we would ride come hell or high water. What we had not counted on was, hills, flies, heat and more heat. The ride to lunch took a long 5+ hours up a hill than would not end. The heat was in the low 30's and we were treated to Australian phenomena, flies, flies, flies and many more flies. We are convinced they were having a conference to discuss the new meat we riders presented to their taste buds. A truly bitchy day.
Following lunch it was Doris to the rescue as my tummy and Mary's overheated body were in no shape to push on any further.
Tonight the group was treated to camping at its finest in a remote, facility deprived church campground on the banks, sort off to the Tinnaro Lake. In order to get to the dead-end road it was necessary to traverse some 1km of rock-strewn road, the same road that had to be retraced the next morning.
Tinnaro Falls to Cairns, 106km
The next morning we, along with a group of others, decided we would go direct to Cairns and bypass the ride to Wonnga and a layover day there. This proved to be a good choice as it allowed us some extra time in this resort town, home to many trips going to the barrier reef. We were not surprised to find there were many others who had done similar but these folks decided against the Tinnaro Falls, Wonnga bit and came direct from Flying Fish Point to Cairns. It seems more and more people are seeking alternate routes and are willing to do whatever to ensure they have not only a good riding experience but experience the sights and sounds tourism offers.
As we write this update we are getting ready to head off to Kyoto Japan where we are slated to begin the Asian portion of our adventure. There is a meeting slated for tonight and we are now being reminded on a daily basis we must be more flexible in Asia, many of the riders are asking just how flexible must we be?? Most have become double jointed in their efforts to make the trip work in spite of the many changes and lack of firm commitment to vendors along route.
What can we say about Australia?
Super, super, super people truly interested in what we are doing, and extremely anxious to please.
Not the best place to ride a bicycle. Narrow, rough roads with little shoulders in most areas.
Truck drivers from hell who drive at one speed, FAST.
No kangaroos visible from the road other than road kill.
Will close for now, stay tuned for our Asian update.
Dave & Mary
PS. Another rider has been asked to leave the trip for actions deemed disruptive to the group. Not sure what they were but I am sure we will find out in time, maybe.