22nd December 2003

Earlier, we mentioned watermelons. Pineapples are also very cheap and for 50p we can buy a large pineapple which is very juicy and has no hint of acidity. For the first time yet we have had a back wind . This is a result of the weather change. It is much cooler and more pleasant.

A lunch stop in Maryborough found us in a cafe by the river. Ducks were swimming around and we threw a few pieces of bread. Immediately the water boiled with large catfish that grabbed the bread before the ducks had a chance. At any one time, there were at least a dozen fish half out of the water.

About 5 miles down a side road we stopped at Boonooroo (a place with 6 'o's') a very small fishing village. David had another go at fishing in the estuary. For the fishmen readers, Chris and Adam, he used 9lb line and frozen prawn for bait. Long casting is not necessary as the fish come close in.

A couple of good sand whiting and a flathead make a good breakfast. But, as had happened before there was the one that got away! In these waters there are huge fish which on normal gear are unstoppable. This one went straight out like a steam train and after 100 yds of line finally proved too much and disappeared into the ocean. We wouldn 't know what to do with a very large fish, but it would be nice to see it before it got away!

By the way, we are not out of crocodile and stinging jellyfish territory, and swimming in the sea is ok. However there are stonefish, similar to our Weever which sit just under the sand with very sharp poisonours spines sticking upwards. If trodden on, the excruciating pain can be relieved by immersing the foot in very hot water.

After a very short ride to Poona we headed towards Tin Can Bay on a nice quiet forrested road to arrive in pouring rain. To play safe we treated ourselves for two nights to a Motel type room overlooking the harbour. This only cost 20 pounds a night with kitchen facilities included. The owners were concerned about local development plans to replace the shallow water at the back of the rooms with a car park and a marina for 400 boats. This would completely ruin the outlook from their house and the rooms and we signed an objection petition in sympathy.

With the change in the weather, jthe wind has now changed round and is mostly a gentle tail wind, but we must pay with the occasional shower which is no problem with temperatures in the high twenties centigrade.

Heading inland to Gympie through pleasant green countryside with many ups and downs we cycled towards Maleny to stay with the Australian couple we met earlier.
A phone call confirmed that they would be in and they seemed genuinely keen to put us up. David aranged to be there on Friday (the next day). After camping that night by a reservoir in a national park, we started uphill 1,500ft to finally arrive at Maleny in the mountains. We were a bit early as we said we wouldn't be there until 6 o,clock and so sat in a cafe in town for an hour before turning up at their house.

Nobody was at home. After waiting until 6.30 it was getting dark and David suddenly realised that last night at the camp, the warden had corrected us when we said it was thursday - it was actually friday yesterday. Today was Saturday and we said we would arrive on friday. We were a day late and they were not expecting us! The nearest Hotel was full and we ended up cycling in the dark to stay at an expensive camp site. Our apologies were telephoned the next day.

All down hill from maleny to a resort called Scarborough in the northern suburbs of Brisbane (Scarbough is near Clacton and Margate in Queensland).  This left us two days to get the 30 miles to the airport in Brisbane and as the heavens opened in a thunderstorm we moved into a static caravan. Two inches of rain fell that night but it was all dry by the next morning.

Our flight to Auckland was 12.15 on the 17th December and we started off soon after breakfast at 7am. David had a rear wheel puncture on the way and arrived at the airport with greasy hands. Quantas insists on bike boxes which they supply at about eight pounds each and we packed a bike in each one but also some heavier luggage including the tent in one of them.

At the check in desk they do not always weigh the bikes as they are not easy to get on the scales. Sometimes they ask us the weight and we say "ten kilos" which is somewhat of an under-estimate. Other times we offer to help them weight one of them and they double it. This time we offered to help them weight the lightest one and they happily accepted that the other box was about the same weight. This ruse has worked several times. However, they are never really strict on the weight limits, anyway and we could aways carry on the heavy stuff if necessary.

It is still very important to make sure that carry-ons have no banned articles though. Of-course, our petrol container and stove were carefull cleaned so that no trace of fuel was evident. The fuel bottle was filled with water and carried on just in case.
After several delays, the flight took off an hour late and arrived in Auckland.

New Zealand is very strict on importation of food and organic material. Our bikes were inspected to make sure that we had imported no dirt on the tyres and Joan declared some tea bags, sugar, milkpowder and a tin of sardines. The milk powder was confiscated. Afterwards we found we also had a garlic and an onion!

Interestingly they also ban the import of feathers and we decided to forget that our sleeping bag contained nearly two kilos of duck down in order to save an argument.
In the dark, we checked in to a very nice motel room with kitchen for an exhorbitant 80 dollars which is about 30 pounds.


Dave and Joan Wooldridge