April 2009

Apr 1 Bush Camp to Bush Camp 77.08 klms, Avg speed 12.2 kph, Cycling time 6.18 hrs; Total kms 8600.54

Just as we’re about to leave at 8.00am, a ute drove down the path to our camp & we chatted to a farmer & his wife.  Unbeknown to us we had been camping on their land, however, they didn’t mind & said quite a few people camp there.  30 mins later we were riding, yet again, through beautiful scenery, it reminded us of parts of NSW.  A helicopter hovered overhead, 2 trail bike riders greeted us downhill & we stopped to chat to a lady on a horse, she was part of the mustering gang waiting for the cattle to appear.  She offered us accommodation for the night a few klms down the road,  unfortunately we had to decline as we needed to push on.  We were now riding in sandy conditions & had reduced the pressure in our tyres yesterday, I seemed to be crawling along at a slow pace so increased the pressure again and yeehaaaa I galloped along doubling my speed.  In the distance I could see a dark object ahead of Greg & thought it must be another musterer, I turned the corner and Greg was standing next to his bike, the dark object had been a cow, was fed up being followed so turned, butted Greg then ran off into the bushes, what a pity I missed all this action.  As well as being attacked by a cow Greg said he’d also been attacked by a bird, not by a Magpie this time but by a Plover, it wasn’t his day.  We came across a “Road Closed” sign where the Gregory Springs had broken over the road from the heavy rainfall in February.  Not knowing what the condition of the road was like we pushed the bikes through the water, which luckily wasn’t that deep, parked them the other end and Greg took the opportunity to filter 20 litres of water for our camp that night.  It was now 5.00pm so a bush camp needed to be found and luckily a clearing appeared up the road with a water trough & water tank for cattle, the area wasn’t fenced off and we presumed it was part of a stock route, it was relatively open to the road however as it was getting late we set up camp.  During the night our slumber was disturbed by the sound of a vehicle which stopped at the T section close to where we were camped.  The vehicle swung around beamed it’s headlights on our tent, stayed there for what seemed like 5 mins (probably only 5 secs), went up the road then turned around again and returned before driving off.  Greg said the guy was probably checking his cattle fences, seemed like a strange time to check them, it felt like it was about 2am.

Apr 2 Bush Camp to Bush Camp 71.69 klms, Avg speed 13.2 kph, Cycling time 5.24 hrs; Total kms 8672.23

Good start to the morning with no bullet holes in the head!!  We were now cycling through rough, sandy conditions, conditions which mean you constantly need to look where you’re cycling with very little time to take in the green, surrounding scenery, with the heavy rains in Feb locals have said we’re seeing the countryside at its best for 20 years.  We climbed hills, free wheeled down the over side, crossed several creek crossings & had lunch by the Einsleigh River.  I’d earlier said to Greg I had a surprise for him for lunch, he guessed though, tinned ham masked with corn pickle on Salada biscuits.  The Einsleigh River spilled over the causeway, the water was cool & crystal clear, it was the perfect spot for lunch & a good opportunity to filter more water for our bush camp that night.  I took the opportunity to wash some clothes & 2 hours later we were heading to Bannock Creek 10 klms away where a farmer had suggested we set up camp for the night.  It was an idyllic spot, up high from the road with the sound of the creek splashing over the causeway.  With washing hanging out to dry we quenched our thirst with cups of tea taking in the surround views.  In the distance we saw a large black pig & baby cross the road & disappear into the bush.  I slept soundly that night, Greg heard a gun shot during the night followed by a ute travelling on the road below our camp, hopefully the pigs escaped the bullets, we did too.......

Apr 3 Bush Camp to The Lynd 37.70 klms, Avg speed 13.3 kph, Cycling time 2.49 hrs; Total kms 8709.93

A very pleasant ride today to The Lynd through rolling countryside, flowing creeks with sightings of emus, Brahman cattle, a goanna, kites, an eagle, big black snake, dead small brown snake and some large brown birds which we think were Australian Bustards.  A couple travelling in the opposite direction to go gem fossicking, stopped their ute to take our photos, they said we were marvellous what we were doing, in fact, loads of people say that, some think we’re mad.  At the same time the local mail man stopped his ute to say g’day. His mail run is 750 klms and his drives this twice a week road conditions permitting. The road we were on was, in theory, closed and has been since early January but he said he couldn’t make people wait over 4 months to get their mail. We arrived at The Lynd before midday and were greeted with a lush, green campsite, when we were here last October it was like a dust bowl and we both agreed after travelling down the dusty, gravel Hahn Highway it was a welcome sight. The 265 klms we’d just ridden covered every imaginable road condition, sand, bitumen, mud, dirt gravel, water crossings, concrete the lot, and we were well pleased with our efforts. We were the only travellers at the camp site and set up camp under a couple of trees next to a field with 2 Shetland ponies & a cheeky, 2 month old foal called “Rainman” born on 1 Feb when the rain started to fall.  We devoured hamburgers for lunch then didn’t stop for the rest of the afternoon, washing and oiling our filthy bikes, panniers & clothes.  After 3 night’s bush camping we finally relaxed later that evening sitting out the front of The Lynd Roadhouse watching the mine workers come & go & enjoying our beers & dinner.  We said how lucky we’d chosen to travel down the Hahn Highway instead of heading east to Townsville then north for Cairns.  Not only was the former shorter,  the scenery will remain a memorable trip. In the last 5 days we moved from hot flat treeless savannah plains to the more undulating forested foothills of the western side of the Great Dividing Range. Almost like clockwork on the 1st of April the night time temperatures have fallen to less than 20 degrees and for the 1st time in 6 months we wake up to dew on the tent. We must be heading towards winter, so we must head further north to hopefully escape its clutches.

Apr 4 The Lynd to Bush Camp 96.34 klms, Avg speed 13.0 kph, Cycling time 7.25 hrs; Total kms 8806.27

Another bush camp tonight so again we’re loaded with tons of water.  After breakfasting at the Roadhouse on bacon and eggs for me and toasted sandwiches for Greg we commenced our ride at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, even though we were riding on bitumen it was a long, hard ride, it felt like riding through sticky syrup and I thought there must be something wrong with my bike, luckily Greg felt the same.  We said it must be a combination of hills, carrying additional water & suffering the effects of the last 4 day’s riding.  We’re now heading back into territory we travelled through last October when we left Cairns heading down to Warwick.  The sky is no longer cloudless & we’re entering back into tropical North Queensland.  After cycling 96 klms in tough conditions it was getting late & found a bush camp close to the road but relatively well hidden.  Greg cooked delicious tuna patties and a very large amount of green peas, however the mozzies were quite ferocious so into the tent we disappeared to read.

Apr 5 Bush Camp to Mount Garnet 65.96 klms, Avg speed 14.6 kph, Cycling time 4.31 hrs; Total kms 8872.23

Our 6th consecutive day of riding & we’re heading for Mount Garnet where we celebrated Greg’s birthday 6 month’s ago, last Oct.  It was a good ride with long, steady climbs with a pleasant temp of 29C, a lovely change from temps being in the mid 30s over the past few weeks.  The wind was blustery and kept changing direction which was a pain, it even slowed us when free wheeling down the hills.  We passed a thin, brown dead snake & what looked like dark, brown wallabies, unfortunately road kill.   Mount Garnet is a small town, pop 400, & is on the edge of the Atherton Tablelands, 35% of the population is Aboriginal.  It was built in the 1800s for the mining boom which continues today 24 hours around the clock, we can hear the activity in the distance & road trains abound.  It’s a lovely town though, looking very lush & green & it’s really nice to be back. We rode straight to the BP Station for lunch (only place open) then rode to one of our favourite caravan parks, the Mt Garnet Travellers Park, with beautiful grounds & birdlife.  That night we rode to the “birthday” pub & sat outside under the 2 huge mango trees & celebrated riding 426 klms over the past 6 days, we’re now placed so close to Cairns we should be there by Friday & are on target to reach Cooktown by the beginning of May.  The pub doesn’t serve dinner on Sunday nights so we head back to the BP service station where under the glow of a thousand fluorescent tubes we dine on the service station forecourt. Really Greg does spoil me! After sitting in the dark being eaten by mosquitoes for most of the last week at dinner time this feels like luxury. We’ve given ourselves the day off tomorrow to rest, catch up on washing, web stuff & emails etc, we may even shout ourselves morning tea.  It’s a relief to have a day off as on riding days we’re moving from the start at 6.00am. Our schedule is like this;

5.45am wake up and listen to Fran Kelly on ABC radio national if we can get radio reception. Sometimes not at all.

6.00am out of bed, rollup sleeping mats, inner sheets, sleeping bags, get dressed in those bloody cycle nics again.

6.30am pack up stuff into panniers take down the tent & fold ground sheets, fill water bottles for days ride.

7.00am Breaky ( muesli, tinned peaches, cuppa tea), clean fangs finish packing.

7.30am approx Onya bike mate! Start riding.

10.30am approx stop riding get off ya bike and have half an apple each and maybe a snack bar. Then back onya bike mate.

1.30pm approx Get oorrff ya bike and have lunch. Salada biscuits, tomato, Kraft cheese, pickles, tinned ham, half an apple.

2.15pm Onya bike mate! Ride until about 4.00 and start looking for a camp.

4.30-5.00pm Orrff ya bike mate! Unpack stuff, get water, filter drinking water, set up stove put billy on for tea (2 cups each, essential) set up tent, unroll sleeping gear, put up bush shower and get into some clean undies (also essential) prepare dinner stuff.

6.00pm Enjoy cups of tea and listen to world news if we have radio reception.

6.15pm Greg usually starts cooking.

7.00pm Eat and eat and eat, maybe more tea.

7.20pm wash up, clean fangs, one last pee before bed.

7.30pm into bed, Greg sometimes reads for 2 maybe 3 minutes.

7.45pm lights out.

7.45.30pm Greg is asleep, I nod off about 5 minutes later and we both sleep the sleep of the dead.

No wonder we’re both losing weight...

Apr 7 Mount Garnet to Innot Hot Springs 17.26 klms, Avg speed 12.0 kph, Cycling time 1.26 hrs; Total kms 8889.49

A short, hilly ride, overcast skies & blustery winds, a slight drizzle came down while setting up camp.  We’re back at Innot Hot Springs where the Park has swimming pools filled with Thermal Mineral Water from the Hot Spring of Nettle Creek.  We sat by the pool all afternoon & read, a rare occurrence as, we usually have little spare time for such luxuries.  Later we crossed Nettle Creek and returned to the Innot Hot Springs Hotel where we sadly learned that the publican had died since our last visit.  We met the owners for the past 20 years & they were filling in for their daughter who now runs the place, she’d gone to Cairns for the night.  We sat outside chatting to locals & had a delicious meal of spag bol & chicken schnitzel.

Apr 8 Innot Hot Springs to Ravenshoe 29.62 klms, Avg speed 10.9 kph, Cycling time 2.42 hrs; Total kms 8919.11

Huff Puff Huff Puff we’re making our way to Ravenshoe (pop 1000), Queensland’s highest town at 920 metres where, again, we stayed last year.  My log last year for the reverse journey said it was a flat journey (!!!), where the heck did I get that from.  Luckily it was only a short trip with headwinds & cloudy skies looming ahead, by the time we were having coffee the rain started pouring down, the sort of rain that looks as if it’s here to stay, of course, it’s Easter in a couple of days when it always rains.  Ideally we wanted to arrive in Cairns by Friday but with more heavy rain forecast over the next couple of days, Greg disappeared up the road to enquire about accommodation at a couple of the local pubs.  He found a bargain at the Hotel Tully Falls, Queensland’s Highest Pub at 913 metres, a very pleasant corner room opening onto a huge balcony for the price of $42pn.  We’re staying for 2, possibly 3 nights, and as the rain continues to pour down it’s the perfect place to be.

Apr 11 Ravenshoe to Yungaburra 60.0 klms, Avg speed 13.5 kph, Cycling time 4.26 hrs; Total kms 8979.11

We left Ravenshoe early & rode up & down green dales, through dairy country riding through  fog, rain & sunshine.  The road to Yungaburra wasn’t pleasant, it was wet, winding, busy with little shoulder, however, it was a nice change to see fields of corn, sugar beet, oranges, lemons & avocados.  Due to the continued rain we’re staying the night in the Lake Eacham Hotel which is based in Yungaburra, a small touristy town, the sort of place we try & avoid however there was one bonus, we had an excellent dinner at Flynn’s Restaurant serving French & Italian food.  They were full however squeezed us in & our delicious meals of Duck Confit & Pork were washed down with a very good bottle of Pinot Noir.  Flynn’s has been there for 8 years, the kitchen was spotless, the owner/chef relaxed & the floor staff knew their stuff—we highly recommend it. Less appealing is the pub we’re staying in. The only natural light comes from a louver in the bathroom and the room smells musty. The only thing that stops you hitting the floor when you lie on the saggy bed is the dirty carpet below and, because it’s a wet school holiday week, there are noisy bloody kids running around everywhere. Still we had a reasonable cup of coffee across the road at the cafe and a nice walk around when the weather let up a little.

Apr 12 Yungaburra to Cairns 65.79 klms, Avg speed 16.9 kph, Cycling time 3.52 hrs; Total kms 9044.90

Over the past week we’d slowing been cycling up to the Atherton Tablelands, a fertile plateau forming part of the Great Dividing Range in Qld.  We were now going to ride down the other side via the Gillies Range, should I have been concerned when several people said “hope yer brakes are good!”.  Again it was drizzling, not the perfect time to be riding down a range that is 19 klms long with over 200 turns with a fair bit of traffic, and the odd wrecked car seen over the edge, but the ride through the luscious Wet (very) Tropics rainforest with spectacular lookouts along the way was worth it especially all that free wheeling.  It took us about 40 mins to descend the range into Gordonvale then straight up the busy Bruce Highway into Cairns.   From our previous stay in Cairns last Sept, we knew Cairns does cater for cyclists well and we started to encounter the cycle lanes as far away as Gordonvale so it was an easy ride to the Youth Hostel where we’re staying for the next week.  The long range weather forecast indicated thunderstorms & rain for the week so we didn’t need much convincing to look for alternative accommodation rather than camp in damp conditions.  Our one & only experience staying at a Youth Hostel was in Belligen where we shared a room with 2 young lovers.  This Hostel is right in the heart of the city, has a swimming pool, huge commercial kitchen & we have our own room with air conditioning too—what luxury.  We’re staying a week to research further our trek up to Cooktown & Cape York & organise a change of tyres for our bikes as we’ll be riding on tough, sandy roads.

April 13—21—Cairns

We’re enjoying our time here again in the place they call the ‘Reef & Rainforest Coast’ of Tropical North Queensland.  We have had a set back though, when we went to collect our bikes from the Bicycle Centre Cairns, Stewart the mechanic advised us both rear wheel rims had cracks around the diameter, in fact Greg’s had come apart, and Greg’s bottom bracket had done a bearing which needed to be replaced.  We think it was the high pressure in the tyres that got Greg safely down the Gillies Range!  As replacement rims (another warranty claim) had to be sent from Brisbane this delayed our departure from Cairns for a few more days until Thursday 23/4.  Not that we’re complaining as the rain has stopped & the days are sunny & warm, we’ve had BBQ’s & picnics along the Esplanade & daily visits to our favourite cafe, Perrotta’s at the Gallery, drinking excellent coffee & reading the newspapers.  It’s been a joy to visit the local food markets “Rustys” & have access to a kitchen to cook meals.  It’s been interesting living at the Hostel, you learn to start cooking around 5pm while the kitchen is relatively quiet & clean as by 7pm it’s bedlam with 2 Minute Noodles, Spag Bol & Baked Beans on Toast flying out the kitchen as pots pile high in the sink with posters being ignored about “washing your dishes”.  Apart from the rubbish food most of the backpackers eat is the rubbish booze they drink. I think we’re the only ones with bottles on our table, the tourists consume a variety of pre mixed drinks usually rum and cola. It’s that great Australian invention that’s still doing well though, the wine cask. Boxes labelled Dry White or worse Fruity Lexia but certainly nothing that might identify a grape variety and the only clue of it’s region possibly given as South Eastern Australia guzzled with gay a reckless abandon.   Boy, do we remember the headaches. Greg is suffering optical RSI as at least half the inhabitants of the hostel are at least 25 years younger than us, tall, blonde, blue eyed beauties. Of course they all think he’s slightly retarded as he walks around with a leery grin and dribbles a lot. Still it can’t hurt him to have his dreams, apart from my obvious embarrassment. Greg is still battling Netti over the warranty claim following our puncture, he may have concluded it and we will not find out until we get to Cooktown as this is where we’ve asked them to send the replacement inner tube. This claim has only taken just over a month, half a dozen phone calls and about the same number of emails, all over a $20.00 inner tube. He is nothing if not persistent, but you do wonder why these companies persist in providing warranties they have little or no intention of honouring.  For those wondering, Greg has an update on his theory on navigation by condom machines in men's toilets. The story so far is that as we moved further away from the relative civilisation of south eastern Queensland the various vending machines plastered on the walls of male toilets changed, and Greg believes that within 100 klms you can pretty well tell where you are. Well now he’s stumped because the vending machines here in Cairns are not labelled as you might expect “Afternoon Delight”, “Pash Rush”, “Tropical Itch” or “Good Morning Sunshine”, or even as they are in the west of the state, “Savage Bliss”, Rib Tickler” or “Rough Rider”. No here in Cairns they’re called “Protection Packs” which Greg reckons could describe anything from home and contents insurance to breath freshener and bathroom cleaners. So he’s back to the drawing board on his theory, but you can be sure his beady little mind will be working on it. Stay tuned....

I have developed the symptoms of a Cold, much to Greg’s delight as it’s usually him that gets sick. I’m sure with some good healthy food, plenty or rest and a reasonable bottle of wine or so I’ll be fine. In the meantime we’ve got plenty of planning and preparation to do.

We leave Cairns on Thursday making our way along the coast through beautiful tropical rainforests to Cape Tribulation & onto Cooktown via the Bloomfield Track.  The controversial & famous Bloomfield Track was literally bulldozed straight over large rainforest mountains leaving a very rough 4WD track with amazingly steep hills, some resembling walls as they are approached.  We’ve seen photos and read recent articles (worth a read) of cyclists (male ones too) pushing their bikes up some of these hills, we know it will be tough so carrying a lighter load will help so we’ve organised storage for 3 months for items we wont be needing eg. Sleeping bags, winter clothes, excess spare parts, tools etc.  We’ll pick these up again in July when we return to Cairns via the regular supply ship from the top of Cape York.

Apr 23 Cairns to Ellis Beach 29.63 klms, Avg speed 18.1 kph, Cycling time 1.38 hrs; Total kms 9074.53

Before we left Cairns, we had coffee with a fellow cyclist from Manly in Sydney, Dave, who’d just cycled 2520 klms in 22 days through remote desert areas of the Australian outback, an amazing journey.  His cycling is done at a far more rapid pace than ours but it’s funny how many experiences we share. His blog is well worth a look. We headed to the Captain Cook Highway with some reservation, cycling research advising “it was a busy & narrow highway that requires close attention especially on bends & with tour buses” so instead of riding 75klms to Mossman, we’d decided to break the journey at 30 klms & stay at Ellis Beach.  We left Cairns at 10am to give the workers & tour buses time to reach their destinations, the scenery offering fantastic coastal views on the right & rainforest hills on the left & for a change a 20kph SE wind in our favour.  The traffic wasn’t too heavy & with a reasonable shoulder most of the way we arrived at Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows by midday.  What a perfect spot, absolute beachfront camping overlooking a palm fringed beach to the Coral Sea with views of Double Island, can’t we stay for a week?.  I headed to the swimming pool for the afternoon, Greg had a rest & we cooked our pasta dinner listening to the sounds of the waves.  We slept well that night.

Apr 24 Ellis Beach to Mossman 48.39 klms, Avg speed 17.3 kph, Cycling time 2.47 hrs; Total kms 9122.92

A longer ride to tackle on the Captain Cook Highway today so delayed our start until 9.30am, the shoulder disappearing in some places so we rode further out in the road than we normally would forcing traffic to overtake on the other side of the road rather than squeeze past us.  Again the scenery was just as breathtaking, we waved as we rode past Oak Beach (5klms south from the Port Douglass turnoff) where we spent 10 glorious days for Greg’s 40th living in a simple fisherman’s cottage.  It’s one of those locations/cottages that you’d love to buy, as we rode by Greg was thinking how we’d achieve this....keep peddling Greg!  The road widened & the traffic reduced as we rode into the region’s sugar capital, Mossman, a picturesque little township nestled at the foot of mist topped mountains among bright green fields of sugar cane.  It’s the main service town before travelling to Daintree, Cape Tribulation & onto Cooktown via the coastal road, where we’re heading next.  We checked into Mossman Riverside Leisure Park for 3 nights, a great spot & enjoyed an excellent dinner that night at The Junction Cafe.

April 25-26—Mossman

Greg lazed in bed while I attended the 5.30am Anzac Day Dawn Service which is a day of remembrance for the Australian & New Zealand Army Core who died, originally, in the First World War & subsequently in Wars following.  We then rode 5 klms to Mossman Gorge, a scenic section of the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park where the Mossman River tumbles its way over & around huge granite boulders that line the gorge creating cool clear freshwater swimming pools surrounded by stunning scenery.  Back in town having coffee, Greg really upset one of the locals (of aboriginal decent), he heard Greg laughing and thought he was laughing at him, he also thought Greg was a foreigner & not an Aussie.  This chappie staggered back & forth (he’d had a liquid breakfast) verbally abusing him & making impressions he’d like to spear him.  Offers to call the police were made by the cafe staff which we declined as we were trying to ignore the fella.  A cafe patron, an ex journalist from Thursday Island, came to sit with us to deflect the situation which worked as our “friend” disappeared down the street.  There was a plus though, we did learn a lot about Thursday Island which we’ll visit from Cape York.  Back at the camp that night, we had drinks with Krystine & Noel, fellow travellers & regaled them with our adventurous day. We have been keeping an eye on the weather forecasts particularly a few days ahead as we’ll be attempting what will be probably the toughest part of our trip soon. A road that joins Cape Tribulation with Cooktown called the Bloomfield Track has a reputation amongst 4 wheel drivers and cyclists alike for being tough, extremely steep (30 percent inclines), oh yeah, and all the creeks and rivers have crocodiles living in them and there are no bridges. The forecast is not good with flash flooding predicted for the very day we’ll be at the toughest part of the track. With some trepidation we decide to leave Mossman and see how we go, we can always stop at Cape Trib, where the bitumen stops, if the weather turns sour.

Apr 27 Mossman to Wonga Beach 25.44 klms, Avg speed 16.1 kph, Cycling time 1.34 hrs; Total kms 9148.36

Short ride to The Pinnacle Village Holiday Park at Wonga Beach, Krystine & Noel had mentioned there were large bush rats at this camp, luckily we didn’t see any. This Park was littered with more “park rules” than the norm.  The first one that usually greets you on arrival is ‘STOP’ to ensure you check in then scattered around the pool, kitchen & amenities block is a list of the “DON’Ts”- all welcoming stuff.  This park had the usual plus one I hadn’t seen before “IF YOU MUST REMOVE THE CHAIRS FROM THE KITCHEN, PLEASE RETURN THEM”.  We had contemplated staying 2 nights but only stayed for 1.

Apr 28 Wonga Beach to Daintree 31.30 klms, Avg speed 13.7 kph, Cycling time 2.16 hrs; Total kms 9179.66

We caught the Daintree Ferry entering the Daintree World Heritage area, one of the largest rainforest wilderness areas in Australia.  From the ferry it was a long & steady 2.8 klm climb over the scenic Alexandra Ranges to the Walu Wugirriga Lookout with great views back to Cairns.  A tour operator at the Lookout told me his passengers cheered me on as I panted up the hill.  Greg said he had to stop twice, unusual for him.  We rode to The Daintree Discovery Centre with its guided rainforest boardwalks, Canopy Tower & mozzies.  Despite the latter it was an excellent rainforest experience.  We camped & had dinner at Lync Haven Rainforest Retreat, that was full of mozzies  and strangely enough Belgians too. We’ve come across many Germans, Dutch, English etc, but not many Belgians and here we are with two separate groups of Belgians camped on each side of us.

Apr 29 Daintree to Cape Tribulation 20.84 klms, Avg speed 14.0 kph, Cycling time 1.29 hrs; Total kms 9200.50

“I named the north point Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles” wrote Lt. James Cook in 1770 after his ship, the Bark Endeavour, foundered on a reef.  We wove our way to Cape Trib through thick rainforest following the coast, on quiet roads, crossing clear creeks & crocodile infested rivers, luckily none seen to date nor that elusive Cassowary bird. This really is where the rainforest meets the sea.  We camped the night at PK’s Jungle Village, and as the name may suggest, it’s really backpacker accommodation with dormitories and a camp ground. They had strange and draconian liquor rules and a very perplexing $20 deposit required when booking in that nobody could explain what it was for, and you can be sure that Greg asked as he does. Let’s just say it wasn’t our favourite place and we wouldn’t be returning. Returning from a boardwalk we met Bernhard, from Munich, who’d cycled 6000 klms in 3 months from Tasmania to Cape Trib & was returning home in a couple of days.  We chatted about our adventures on the road & it was a delight meeting him. Bernhard joined us for dinner in the somewhat tatty camp kitchen before we went to be for an early night in preparation for our first day on he Bloomfield.

Apr 30 Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield 42.29 klms, Avg speed 9.2 kph, Cycling time 4.34 hrs; Total kms 9242.79

I had a restless night thinking about our challenging riding to Cooktown along the coastal road covering 106 klms, the first 79 klms unsealed & for 4WDs only, we were taking 3 day’s to cover this ride as there is so much to see along the way.  Today’s ride would cover 32 klms on the Bloomfield Track which links Cape Trip to the Bloomfield River, a Track which became famous in 1983 when the Council controversially bulldozed through the rainforest straight up & over steep mountains rather than around them. There was a huge public outcry bringing Daintree Rainforest to world attention & leading to the World Heritage Listing.  Today would see us tackling 4 of the 6 major hills, the Donovan & Cowie Ranges are so steep they look like walls (known as jump ups), they had to be concreted to prevent erosion & give traction to 4WDs. The weather was perfect, not too hot and not much rain forecast, as we rode through pristine, dense rainforest passing waterfalls & crossing crystal clear creeks.  The first hill I pushed my bike up, Greg rode, the Donovan & Cowie ranges we both pushed slowly with many breaks on the way up. We developed a system of pushing about 10 metres, having a rest and then setting a target to aim for another 10 metres up the road. We felt a great achievement as we pushed up the last hill of the day & rode over the Bloomfield River stopping for lunch on the other side.  This river has to be crossed at low tide as its full of crocs, we were amazed to see 3 aboriginal ladies & a baby wading through the river!  They obviously know something we don’t. We rode to the Ayton Store & celebrated our day with coke & chocolate then camped at Hayley’s Cabins & Camping, a wonderful camp ground that greeting you with a “Welcome” sign—a nice change.  With Greg’s salmon patties for dinner, cold beer to drink, a very comfortable camp kitchen to sit in, bird life to listen to, we felt we’d arrived in paradise.