14th November 2003


A story about aircraft security and hand-baggage x-rays.

Our hand baggage was x-rayed and searched at least six times between Heathrow, Singapore and Brisbane. On leaving brisbane for Cairns, Joans bag was taken through the x-ray again. This time, the security pointed out that she had two nail files in her bag and confiscated them. They had been there all the time from Heathrow. 

"Take me to Iran or I'll file your nails".

On the 4th November we left Cairns and climbed 2500ft in the heat up to the tablelands via the Gillies highway. Although the road was reasonably graded the heat and humidity, not to mention jetlag and having to wear helmets, made the going very tough. Eventually arrived after a welcome tropical thunderstorm to a camp-site at Lake Eacham in the cloud forest.

Plenty of kangaroos road kills, but have not seen a live one yet! This is the area to see platypus but we don't expect to see one as they are very elusive. Very many different birds to identify.

The campgrounds are usually very well equipt with camp-kitchens containing fridge-freezer and all cooking gear so we don't need to use our stove that much. After a few unsuccessful platypus spotting sessions, we made our way down towards the coast.

As we cycled in to a National Park camp-ground a voice called out "would you like a cup of tea". It belonged to a young couple from Brisbane with their daughters Miranda and Josie. David and kate both lived and studied in Cambridge about five years ago and were keen cyclists. That is not all. They knew John and Greta Lumbers and cycled regularly with Sue and Neil Taylor of the CTC. Joan also remembered him coming out on some club runs. Mirands's favourite phrase before everything was "D'yer know what?"

The park warden was an aborigine called Philip, the first aborigine we have
spoken to.
( Ed: I'm not sure, but shouldn't it be "Native Australian"???)

We all went down to the river for a welcome swim before parting. But, at the next wite at Mission Beach we met them again!

The cycling down the coast road is very hot, the road is fairly boring and to cap it all, there is a stiff head wind. Hope it turns before we get to brisbane. This has the effect of limiting us to about 50 miles a day as by lunch time we feel like stopping and having a swim.

Other cyclists: It is extremely rare to see any locals on bikes, even in town. Maybe the helmet law has something to do with it. We have been informed that there are two Dutch cycle tourists about 2 days in front of us on the same route and time schedule. We may meet them one day. Two Canadian cyclists we met cycling the other way, with the wind behind them, were hoping to get work to pay for the trip. Banana picking can be hot and exhausting.

Two Japanese youths bought bikes in Cairns and intended to cycle to Sydney! We met them very tired and saddlesore after a couple of days in the saddle. They couldn't believe that at our age they couldn't keep up with us!

The beaches are hot and sandy and the water inviting. But, nobody swims in the sea here. Firstly there are very poisonous box jellyfish which give extremely painfull stings and can be lethal in ten minutes. Some beaches have jellyfish nets and you can swim in a jelly-proof suit, but that wouldn't do you much good if the second problem, a saltwater crocodile took a fancy to you. There are signs everywhere warning about both. Also, don't stand or sit too close to the water when fishing in the estuaries. A large croc can be very fast!

David has had a dabble at fishing but caught nothing yet.

At Townsville, we decided that as we had missed quite a few sights because they were of side roads up to 20km and were a bit fed up with the constant headwind, we would have a break for a week and rent a car. The bikes were left at the car rental place and off we went in a Ford Fiesta equivalent to sample the Australian bush and see some of the places we couldn't visit on our bikes.

Regards,

Dave and Joan Wooldridge