1st December 2003

Still battling into a headwind and roads boring. Most of the time there is a
reasonable hard shoulder on the bigger roads and the surface is similar to that in England. Stopped at a large run-down caravan site that was obviously once prosperous, but not anymore. The site had a 15 acre lake of which only a couple of acres were left due to the drought. On this small area there were thousands of birds of all sorts including spoonbills, ducks, geese, pelicans etc etc. Last year, it had a 18ft crocodile in the lake but unfortunately as it tried to cross a nearby railway line was killed by a train. The owner had a newspaper cutting with a picture of the croc. being lifted off the line with a crane.

At night, we were again surrounded by curious wallabies. The next day, having somehow missed our intended turn-off to a camp-site, we came across a site behind a roadhouse store. When we enquired "how much?" the owner told us we could stay free. Not bad for a grassy, shady site with a swimming pool! Campsites in Queensland are generally of a high standard and most have a camp kitchen with fridge and cooking facilities. Gas fired coin-in-slot barbecues are common as are swimming pools. Only half though have tables to sit at. Charges are between 4 and 8 pounds for an unserviced site although we often found we had electric if we wanted it.

Rest day at Bowen on two different sites. David still catching small fish from the beach but not edible size.  Still into a headwind we found a nice place near the main road but on a lovely river. Our tent overlooked the river and a sign warning of crocodiles! At last David caught a decent sized fish called a Barramundi. It was about 6 pounds in weight but not big enough to keep according to the rules. It was put back. These fish are the most prized eating for local anglers and are caught up to 100 pounds in weight. When we told the site owners they said they would have had it and nobody else obeys the rules.

Good news. The wind has changed around completely and in the morning we found a strong back wind for the first time. We had a short ride to a nice beach called Midge Point and decided to lounge around and take advantage of the wind from now on. This beach had very shallow water and it disappeared about a mile out at low tide. David at last caught a fish good enough for breakfast. Joan had weetabix. Next morning - bad news. The wind has changed back again to a head wind. An opportunity to loop inland and escape the main road took us to a town called Marian which had the biggest sugar factory we have ever seen. Lorries leaving the factory loaded with molasses or crude sugar syrup were not all leakproof and tended to dump trails of thick sticky syrup along tghe roads. We could not avoid going through this and it coated our tyres and us. Stones and dust stuck to it and the only way to remove it was a good hose down. Almost like being tarred and feathered.
Several times we had been advised to avoid a particulary boring and desolate stretch of road between Sarina and Rockhampton and decided to do this bit, about 150 miles by train. On the way to Sarina, for the first time, we met an Australian touring cyclist. Who was changing a tyre at the side of the road. His bike was ancient and nearly falling to pieces. It was loaded with large bags tied on with string and he wore an industrial hard hat over a cap. The tyre he was putting on was probably more doubtful than the tyre he was replacing but he didn't care. With his funny headware, shorts, long socks and boots he reminded us of Spike Milligan as he also looked like him.

We booked our train by telephone and arrived at Sarina bout midday with 11 hours to go to catch our train at 11.30p.m. Sarina being a fairly small town had nothing for us to do and so we cycled about a 20 mile round trip to a beach where David once again caught several brightly coloured small fish. Back at the station, the office was closed but the toilets open and the platform well lit. This proved to be ideal for the four hour wait as we were the only ones on the station and had a good wash with plenty of hot water. Dinner was cooked on the platform and we laid full length on the seats to wait for the train.


Dave and Joan