July 2008

 

 

July 1 Biloela to Jambin 31.86 klms, Avg speed 18.7 kph, Cycling time 1.42 hrs; Total kms 2881.0

We rode along the Burnett Highway to Jambin (Aborigine for Echidna), quiet road and great rural scenery albeit very dry.  Jambin, pop 40, was originally set up as a supply depot for the railways and now forms an intricate part of the rich agricultural area.  Apparently a visit to the Jambin Hotel is a “must”, and they also advertised free camping—what a bonus! However, the landlady directed us to the park across the road as their camping ground had lots of thorns however we could use their showers.  The tent is set up in the park, there is water, a BBQ and shelter, electricity we can plug into and the Jambin Hall/Country Women’s Association (CWA) next door and....we’ve just been given a plate of cakes from the CWA ladies..what more could you want.  The lady from the CWA said the trains run once in a blue moon, about every 6 months.  We trotted back to the Hotel for our dinner and Greg wanted some red wine  and the conversation went like this..

Greg; “Do you have any red wine?”

Barman; ( looks to the ceiling while scratching his gut)“What sort of wine do you want?”

Greg; “What have you got?”

Barman; “Well... We don’t have much.”

Greg; “ah ha...”

Barman: “We’ve got a Dolcetto (a sweet Italian wine).”

Greg; “O.K. Do you have any dry reds?”

Barman; “We’ve got another red, it comes in a box, but I think that’s even sweeter. Or you could have the house wine ( called Jambin Piss on the label) but I think that’s sweet too.”

Greg; “Nah, I think I’ll pass on that.”

This was hilarious stuff.  At this stage Greg was invited out the back and came back armed with a 2006 Quaff Winery of Year Queen Adelaide (absolute crap) Merlot!!  He handed it to the landlord to uncork at which the barman commented “I do hate these plastic corks”.  While this was going on the rest of the bar ( the other four patrons) started to discuss how the pub actually made Jambin Piss. One conjectured that it was made from crushed Echidna’s, but the barman was adamant that he actually milked the Echidnas and didn’t crush them. Thankfully we’ll never know. Dinner was steak for Greg and lamb chops for me, all served with veg and chips. For $12.00 it was in the same league as the wine, be we enjoyed it never the less.

July 2 Jambin to Dululu 45.52 klms, Avg speed 19.7 kph, Cycling time 2.10 hrs; Total kms 2926.6

Still riding on the Burnett Highway, as highways go it’s quiet with a great shoulder and flat and with the wind behind us we arrived in Dululu just before lunch.  It’s a small town and 60 years ago was a lively township, everyone brought their cream to the Railway Station 3 times a week to go to Wowan Butter Factory. We went in search of our campsite and started chatting to a couple from South Australia, Judy and Jim Edwards, making their way to Yappoon to celebrate their daughter’s 40th birthday.  It wasn’t long before the conversation turned to wine and it turned out that Judy and Jim have a winery in the Coonawarra, a wine region we had visited the year before.  We all went to the corner store for lunch and they kindly gave us a bottle from their winery—Edwards Family, Coonawarra, Totally Red Cabernet Sauvignon 2003. We exchanged contact details and said we’d contact them when we got to Yappoon and thanked them for their kind gift.  As the campsite looked to have problems with their loos/showers I called into the Dululu Hotel and the owner, Debbie, let us camp out in their back garden free of charge with their 2 beautiful dogs, Holly and Paris, keeping us company.  I hopped on my bike in search of Mandarins/Oranges advertised 3 klms down the road.  As I turned into the entrance my bike skidded on the gravel and off I came, as well as my chain and my seat went sideways.  I hobbled into where the oranges were for sale, it was an honesty system so no one was around, dusted myself off and its amazing how quickly, or slowly in my case, you learn how to fix the chain, couldn’t fix the seat though.  I picked up a mandarins and rode side saddle back to Greg telling my him my woes.  He said he’d treat me to dinner at the Hotel and we had an interesting time meeting some of the locals. Their wine selection was only marginally better than the night before and in the end the daughter of the publican, Julie, showed Greg to the boot of her car where she had a case of some non descript Cabernet which she sold for $10.00, none of which went into the till. We sat at the bar, again with about 5 locals, had our steak and veg and watched the State of Origin rugby league. By 9.30 p.m we were tired and bored with the game so we went to bed at half time. NSW lost to Qld ho hum....

July 3 Dululu to Mount Morgan 34.36 klms, Avg speed 15.9 kph, Cycling time 2.09 hrs; Total kms 2961.0

We ate breakfast on the steps of the Dululu Hotel, sitting in the sunshine and chatting to Debbie, husband Ian, Julie and boyfriend Russell.  We bade them farewell and headed to Mount Morgan, preparing for a hilly ride, it wasn’t as bad as we expected though.  Julie told us a bit about Mount Morgan, wasn’t all that complimentary, and told us to stay at the Mt Morgan Motel & Van Park and to avoid certain Hotels.  130 years ago Mount Morgan boasted being the richest gold mine in the world creating one of the biggest bustling towns outside Brisbane.  The mine produced 225 tonnes of gold, 50 tonnes of silver and 360,000 tonnes of copper mined for over 100 years. The mine closed in 1981 and Mount Morgan today is a quaint small historic town of around 3000 population, nestled in the foot of the Dee Ranges situated 40 klms south west from Rockhampton.  We really liked the place however it apparently still has pollution problems from the previous mining activity.  Our caravan park was a delight and the owner placed us next to the BBQ that had plenty of pre cut firewood.  Greg was in his element and we had our pre dinner drinks huddled around the fire smelling the delicious pasta sauce he was cooking on the BBQ.  That night was freezing, so too the morning so the fire was lit again and we huddled around eating breakfast.

July 4 Mt Morgan to Rockhampton 43.88 klms, Avg speed 17.8 kph, Cycling time 2.27 hrs; Total kms 3005.0

Tough climb over the Mt Morgan range however at the top the view to Rockhampton was stunning and then we had a long winding ride all the way down to the bottom.  We rode into the Riverside Caravan Park having now cycled over 3000 klms.  Rockhampton or “Rocky”  (pop 60,000) is situated on the Fitzroy River and is renowned for its elegant streetscapes with majestic sandstone buildings and the iconic life=sized bull statues scattered around town that represents the country roots of the city and its status as the “Beef Capital of Australia”.  Just before reaching Rocky we passed the Tropic of Capricorn, approx 23.5 degrees south of the equator this marks the split between the “Tropics”, a region of consistently warm climate (they lie), and the ‘Southern Temperate Zone’.  We also called into the Visitor’s centre asking for cycle shop locations.  A family in the centre heard our request and went to fetch Dad sitting in the car as he was a cyclist.  Michael recommended City Centre Cycles and our bikes are booked in there next Tuesday to deal with the recurring spoke breaking problem.  So...that means we’ll be in Rocky until Wed/Thursday of next week.

July 5—9 Rockhampton

We were at the Riverside Caravan Park for 6 nights so got to see the floating population come and go. People seem quite intent on setting up the TV aerial as soon as the car has stopped. Electric frying pans are all the go and if you’ve got a fancy new round one you’re at the cutting edge of frying technology and fashion. We’re certainly mixing it amongst the “grey gonads/nomads”. Greg found himself the only one cleaning his teeth whilst they were still in his mouth.

Caught up with Denise and David, a couple from Tasmania who we met at Maryborough Caravan Park and who recommended Riverside to us.

Our tent arrived back from Melbourne all repaired, replacement one posted to Robin, back wheels re-spoked, will see if this fixes the problem, rode up to Botanical Gardens, lovely houses around that area, rained for couple of days, last time we had rain whilst camping was 2nd June so can’t complain, luckily discovered one very good coffee shop in Rocky—The Coffee House—good lunch there too, very cold couple of nights/mornings, about 5 degrees, hopefully this cold weather will end soon now we’re in the tropics!

July 10 Rockhampton to Emu Park 45.38 klms, Avg speed 18.7 kph, Cycling time 2.25 hrs; Total kms 3050.4

Another very cold morning as we farewelled Denise and also Linda, our very kind neighbour for the past 6 nights, for our short ride to Emu Park.  Finally the sun was out as we meandered through the peaceful settlements of Mulambin and Kinka Beaches  arriving at the charming and friendly village of Emu Park on the ocean. We checked into the Bell Park Caravan Park then hopped on our bikes to explore and visit the Singing Ship Monument to honour Captain James Cook 1728—1779 who discovered nearby Keppel Bay on 26-28 May 1770.  With a gentle breeze the monument produced a musical sound.  Cooked dinner of Wellsy’s beautiful broccoli pasta, at 5.00pm, our coldest night yet. Greg couldn’t wait to finish the wine and we were in bed before the 7 o’clock news.

July 11 Emu Park to Yeppoon 26.0 klms, Avg speed 17.9 kph, Cycling time 1.27 hrs; Total kms 3076.4

Yeppoon is the gateway to the Capricorn Coast with a picturesque esplanade with a backdrop of off shore islands, sparkling azure sea and clear blue skies, it does take your breath away and everyone’s else's, you can tell by the over development, we much preferred Emu Park which will soon follow along the same lines.  The Poinciana Caravan Park was 2 klms out of town and had all the signs of a Park having being sold and waiting to be redeveloped into a housing estate.  Still we had a good camp site and spent the next couple of days using the cycle ways and watching the thousands of Black and Little Red flying foxes heading to their feeding grounds at sunset.

We ate a couple of times at the Clubhouse, a very pleasant Sailing Club overlooking the water. Usual fare, steak, salad, veges and the obligatory chips.

July 12—13 Yeppoon

Cycled out to Rydges Resort, about 5 klms out of Yeppoon, then rode back along the esplanade.  Ate that night at The Shore Thing, good food, coffee and service.  The next day we caught up with Jim and Judy Edwards, the couple from Coonawarra, South Australia who we met at Dululu.  They were staying just down the road in a super spot, right on the beach and with great views of Great Keppel Island.  The day went like this—coffee and muffins at their place, bike ride, fish and chips , bike ride, back to their place for more coffee and muffins!  After some minor repairs to Jim’s folding Bike Friday (which they both have) we bade them farewell and went back to our camp to research for our Townsville trip.  Our friends Chris and Julia (from Riverview B&B fame) are flying up so we can all celebrate Julia’s birthday in style in August.

July 14 Yeppoon to The Caves 52.79 klms, Avg speed 17.1 kph, Cycling time 3.05 hrs; Total kms 3129.4O

We’re making our way to Mackay this week, 400 klms away, a trip that wont have as many services along the way so we’ve stocked up on 5 day’s worth of food, an amount we haven’t carried before.  As we were stuffing it all in our panniers, Graeme came to speak to us.  He’s cycling around Australia for a year and set off from Tamworth a month ago.  He said he’d meet us at The Caves tonight, our first stop.  We didn’t get away from Yeppoon until after midday, late for us, had to call into the Post Office to collect some mail, it hadn’t arrived so we requested it be redirected to Mackay, we paid a last visit to The Shore Thing for our coffee fix and whilst there bumped into Barry and Cynthia who we met at Rocky then Emu Park, after chatting to them called in on Jim and Judy to thank them for yesterday’s lunch.   Finally hitting the road we cycled on the Yeppoon-Rockhampton road and after a short ride hit a dirt road that took us down to The Caves.  These ancient caves honeycomb a limestone ridge and have a natural beauty different to that of deep underground caves, unfortunately the tour had finished by the time we arrived, however the campsite was pleasant surrounded by thick bush, basic facilities and “George” Bush turkeys one who tried to take off with our pasta.  Another couple camping gave us some hot water for a cup of tea which we always enjoy after a ride.  Graeme arrived shortly afterwards and by early evening we’d all been fed and watered and retired early leaving Graeme to sit around the fire he’d lit.

July 15 The Caves to Marlborough 88.06 klms, Avg speed 18.0 kph, Cycling time 4.54 hrs; Total kms 3217.6

Graeme rode with us today and what an adventurous day it turned out to be.  Turning off the Bruce Highway down Atkinson Road, a good dirt rode, we rode for 29 klms then the road stopped and we found ourselves on a private property.  Greg went to speak to the farmer and his wife who explained the road on the map was a survey road and crossed private properties to get to Marlborough...oooops!  After making a couple of calls the farmer generously gained permission for us to cross his son’s property and another neighbour’s to rejoin the Bruce Highway, 18 klms away.  It was a bumpy farm track through clay creek crossing and through cattle yards and lots of cow poo but the scenery was stunning.  How lucky we were to seek his advice, if we’d turned left we would have come to a river where a 20 foot “salty” croc lived. Crickey!!  For once we were relieved to be on the Bruce Highway and we sailed into Marlborough camping in the pub’s very pleasant camping ground, only charging $2 for a shower.  Needless to say we all ate at the pub that night recounting our adventurous day.

July 16 Marlborough to St. Lawrence 85.12 klms, Avg speed 19.3 kph, Cycling time 4.25 hrs; Total kms 3302.6

The publican advised us against going on a back road to Mackay, not much shoulder and lots of cattle trucks, he said the Bruce Highway would be wider and safer.  Greg and I decided to heed his advice with Graeme deciding to take the back road.  We said goodbye and said we’d catch up in Mackay.  The Bruce Highway wasn’t as bad as we thought, good shoulder with the traffic coming in spurts, there were times when we were the only ones on the road then we’d hear the rumble of trucks in the distance.  St. Lawrence was 6 klms off the Bruce Highway and is a “free” campsite.  There are quite a few of these “free” sites especially in Queensland and this was the first we’d used.  It was in a super spot overlooking a mountain range with the St. Lawrence Wetlands in the distance.  The Wetlands support nationally threatened waterbirds and is home to over 55 waterbirds with 92 bird species recorded in total.  We walked to a grassy spot to have drinks and nibbles watching the magnificent sunset, the peace being shattered by noisy generators being run so the tele can be watched no doubt.  Incredibly, while a beautiful sunset was going on, there were camper vans with closed windows and doors, blinds drawn, air conditioning on, while these bloody portable generators droned on. We’re not actually sure why these people are travelling. St Lawrence town has a varying population of approx. 150 and we met a couple with a magnificent garden in full bloom.  Basil, the owner and named after the herb, and Wayne. Greg got speaking to Wayne who in 2 minutes advised him the he was recovering from throat cancer as a result of a 50 a day habit he has now dropped, and is also a recovering alcoholic who makes his own spirits in his still. He has now turned his addictive personality to gardening with impressive results in such a tough climate. Dinner was pasta (again) with a pretty good packet sauce and de-hy veges.

July 17 St. Lawrence to Carmila 65.86 klms, Avg speed 18.5 kph, Cycling time 3.33 hrs; Total kms 3368.3

Lovely scenery albeit from the Bruce Highway, at least the truckies do give us space when they can.  We’re really enjoying our cycling and feel that we’re getting in pretty good nic. Radio National is a good companion for both of us when we can get reception and the scenery is beginning to change, showing its tropical climes. We’re beginning to see more ten gallon hats on two pint heads, so we must  be in the heart of Queensland. Carmila township is located at the foot of the Connors Range some 4 klms inland from the coast, which we didn’t get to see, and is a cane growing area.  In a usual year the sugar harvest generally begins in May and continues to Nov and we’ve already seen some harvesting activity going on.  Before cane farming the Carmila ranges held the most unique rainforest in the world.  Today it nurses remnants pockets of rainforest and Carmila was also once a major railway town.  The Carmila Caravan Park and Motel bordered sugar cane fields with more “George” Bush turkeys roaming around.  A quick shower and a load of washing in the machine and we’re ready for, yes, more bloody pasta and de-hy veges.

July 18 Carmila to Mackay 111.28 klms, Avg speed 19.2 kph, Cycling time 5.47 hrs; Total kms 3480.0

Our 5th day of constant riding so our plan was to ride 65 klms to Sarina and camp the night.  Sarina also lies in the foothills of the Connors Range in an area noted for its unspoilt beauty, mountain scenery, country hospitality and prime fishing and prawning.  We arrived at lunchtime and had lunch in the park being overlooked by “Buffy” a huge statue of a Cane Toad-a sign of things to come—yuk!  A consignment of Cane Toads from Hawaii was released here in 1935 to eradicate Frenchi and Greyback beetles attacking the sugar cane.  By 1941 the plan was not successful however favourable environmental conditions allowed prolific breeding into Northern Territory and Queensland.  “Buffy” was constructed in 1983 and is a tourist attraction.  We rode to our caravan park and it was full, no room for our tent.  We rode to the other caravan park and they had one tent site left so the choice was either stay there or ride another 41 klms to Mackay.  As it was just before 3pm and looking at the condition of the park we were both prepared for the latter.  A couple of hours later after battling heavy afternoon traffic and a head wind we arrived at the Andergrove Caravan Park after riding our longest distance in one day, 111 klms.  After 5 days of constant riding and covering 400 klms we felt remarkably fit, quickly put the tent up, had a cup of tea and rode to the local Bowling Club for a celebratory dinner where we devoured lots of salad followed by hearty food but wait, the evening wasn’t finished yet, we were entertained by bloke who looked like the Fijian Indian golfer VJ Singh. Some one had obviously told this bloke he could sing. Whoever that was, was stone deaf. He stood on a step, and with  electric accompaniment, sang one song after another. When he finished one song, he said “thankyou” even when no one was clapping and then went promptly onto the next. At one stage the public address system sprang to life to ask the patrons to give the guy a clap. They were too busy playing poker machines to notice. So undeterred, he soldiered on. Amazingly, he had some CD’s to sell and I’d like to think that people bought them, just in the hope he would fall into a big black hole and die. These purchases only stirred him on. His equivalent of an encore. We sat there stupefied, by cycling, food, and O.K a bit of wine, watching what could possibly have been the worst performance we’ve ever seen. Greg said he sang with all the emotion of an autistic and was the only upright corpse he’d seen sing. We rode back to the camp site still laughing and wondering what other kulturual treats Mackay has in store.

July 19—21 Mackay

Mackay’s population is around 75,000 and is expected to increase by another 20,000 by 2011, so it’s a big city.  Often known as the River City it is said to be vibrant and exciting (yet to see after our experience last night)  making it a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  Its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and some of Queensland’s most beautiful rainforests make it a popular destination for many holidaymakers each year.  Palms and tropical plants line the city’s streets and beaches however we don’t find it cycle friendly, cycle paths tend to lead nowhere, very few exist but it could be a great cycling city with wide and flat roads.  The ride out to Mackay’s Marina was relatively quiet, awful architectural residential designs though, however it does have a very good Thai restaurant, George’s Thai On The Marina, where we enjoyed dinner on Saturday.  Monday morning our mail hadn’t been received at Mackay from Yeppoon Post Office, a call to the latter confirmed they hadn’t received anything for us anyway, luckily what was being posted to us can be replaced so we’ll go through the process again allowing more time for postage.  We met our fellow cyclist, Graeme, for a coffee as he was also staying in Mackay.  We mentioned we were hopping on a bus to the Northern Beaches (Blacks Beach) then having lunch at Eimeo Pub, a local landmark perched high above the Coral Sea.  Graeme joined us and very kindly drove us there after borrowing his friend’s car.  The Pub had lots of character but needed a really good clean, the garden littered with smashed glass and lots of butt ends...what a shame. The weather forecast is not looking good for us.

July 22 Mackay to Cape Hillsborough 61.07 klms, Avg speed 18.0 kph, Cycling time 3.23 hrs; Total kms 3541.8

Grey skies loomed ahead and the weather forecast is predicting wind and heavy rain over the next few days.  We avoided the Bruce Highway and rode inland via Habana and Yakapari passing lots of sugar cane fields, apparently we’ll see these all the way up to Cairns.  We had company for about 12 klms, a kelpie cross appeared from the side of the road and had lots of fun running  with us.  We believe he was lost, was wearing a collar but unfortunately no contact details, we tried to shoo him away and managed to lose him on a downhill.  He was such a lovely dog and we hoped he’d be picked up by some kind person.  Before our turn off to Cape Hillsborough we rode another 4 klms to Seaforth, to pick up supplies at the general store and have a coffee.  Whilst there who did we bump into? —Cynthia!

We’d last seen Cynthia and Barry at Yeppoon and they were heading further north however wet weather changed their plans and they were camping at Seaforth!!  We took our coffees over to their van, unfortunately Barry wasn’t there, he was exploring on his kayak.  After saying goodbye once more we rode in the rain into the Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort, they didn’t have any units/cabins available so we pitched the tent.  Luckily they had a great lounge/BBQ area so at least we had somewhere dry to eat and read. 

July 23—25 Cape Hillsborough

Wind and rain, it didn’t stop during the night so at lunchtime we moved into a beach hut for the next 3 nights to dry out—yippee!  This is luxury, a stove, fridge, tele, proper bed and our own bathroom, no more trecking across the camp site to go to the loo in the early hours of the morning!!  Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort fronts Casuarina Bay with National Park on the other 3 sides creating a secluded environment to relax, fish, walk or do nothing.  There are lots of wallabies/kangaroos around the resort and also on Wedge Island which can be reached at low tide.  Mackay had 5 inches of rain over the last couple of days and as it poured all day on our first day in the hut we relaxed and read, a luxury for us.  We received a threatening email from Greg’s brother, Stu, asking us to leave the State asap, he’s fed up with all the rain we’ve  brought to Queensland—that’s family for you!!  We decided to invite Cynthia and Barry over to lunch however I couldn’t find their contact details so rode 14 klms with an invitation.  I also wanted to call into the Service Station where this delightful lady cooks amazing food, wonderful pies and take away dinners eg. Chicken with sherry and cream.  Luckily Cynthia was home, Barry kayaking again, so lunch is organised for tomorrow.  I picked up a couple of pies from the Service Station and saw a notice that a brown kelpie cross with collar, had been found on the Seaforth Range so fingers crossed he’ll find a new home.  On our final day at Cape Hillsborough the sun finally appeared so we walked along the palm fringed beach and over to Wedge Island at low tide.  Cynthia and Barry arrived for lunch greeting us with fresh cooked crab, caught by Barry, accompanied with fresh pineapple.  It certainly was delicious, they probably eat that most nights!!  It was so nice to entertain again, something we miss, and we had a fun afternoon. Greg had done his best with the limited ingredients we had and we ate

( would you believe it) spag boll and salad followed by little tubs of ice cream with grapefruit. Finally in the afternoon the sun appeared and we walked the three metres to the beach to drink our coffee.

July 26 Cape Hillsborough to Midge Point 100.26 klms, Avg speed 17.2 kph, Cycling time 5.49 hrs; Total kms 3642.00

The sun is out, our stuff is dry and we’re ready to get on the road again. We hadn’t intended to ride 100klms today, it should have been around 80 klms, however a dirt road marked on the map to the Bruce Highway, didn’t in fact go that way.  Luckily a farmer asked where we were heading and turned us around to the Mount Ossa Road where we joined the Highway.  Luckily the Highway doesn’t seem as busy heading North, if the planned 2 week truck strike goes ahead, it will be even quieter.  We could see lots of rain/wind damage on the sugar cane, wouldn’t make the farmers happy as some harvesting has begun., We stopped for a break at a tiny town called Calun, it had the most amazing general store with locally grown organic fruit and veges and inside a maze of books and food stuff displayed in old open fridges.  The owner herself had an interest in locally produced food and frustratedly spoke of the locals eating rubbish and leaving fresh fruit to rot on their trees, something we see all the time especially with citrus fruit.  Midge Point, 18 klms from the Bruce Highway, is a small community overlooking the southern Whitsunday Islands.  Luckily “Midge” doesn’t mean midge or sandfly, Midge was named after a pinnace (usually 2 masted 8 oared boat) that did survey work in the early 1800s.  By the time we arrived at The Travellers Rest Caravan and Camping Park we were tired after a long riding day topped off with a head wind to Midge Point.  The Park is on 68 hectares of semi tropical rainforest with direct beach access offering again fishing, crabbing, walking or just fossicking around, it was a lovely spot.  We rode to the local Tavern, listened to Dennis Morgan who sang a variety of 60s and 70s song (perhaps he could give VJ Singh at Mackay some lessons), ate an enjoyable meal and watched the Wallabies thrash the All Blacks 34 to 19, we seemed to be the only ones cheering, most were dancing outside enjoying Dennis’ performance. Denis had a pretty ordinary voice but it didn’t seem to bother the locals and by the end of our meal and with some wines tucked under our belts we thought his performance had improved. We rode back to camp in the cold dewy night and slept very soundly until the kookaburras did their thing at about 5.45 in the morning.

July 27 Midge Point to Airlie Beach 59.12 klms, Avg speed 17.7 kph, Cycling time 3.19 hrs; Total kms 3701.12

Another windy riding day, we stopped at Proserpine and had a ride around the town which is rich in history with many reminders of its pioneering days, it also has an operational sugar mill.  We’ve now arrived at the Whitsundays, the world’s largest coral reef, untouched tropical islands and stunning beaches.  The Whitsundays lie midway along the Queensland coast, a group of 74 islands bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and cradled by the calm and sheltered waters of the Coral Sea.  Greg’s eyes lit up when the owner of the previous caravan park said it was a backpackers haven with lots of young people running around, then said you’ had to be 26 to fit in!!  We’re staying a few klms out of town at the Adventure Whitsunday Resort Caravan Park for 3 nights, the Park does say in it’s welcome pack that they do have Cane Toads and if you catch one to take it to reception, not sure what they do with it then.  Luckily no Cane Toads have been sighted yet!!

July 28—29

We hopped on our bikes and rode into town, part of the way along the Bicentennial Walk/Cycle Way which wound itself around the coast for 3 klms from Cannonvale Beach, past Abel Point Marine, Airlie Lagoon and finishing at Airlie Sailing Club.  We had a coffee (rubbish) and obtained some info about going out to some of the islands on Tuesday.  The only one that appealed to us, which wasn’t too touristy, was aboard the Maxi Yacht, Ragamuffin, however it didn’t sail on Tuesday so we decided to save a visit to the Islands at a future date.  We lunched at the Sailing Club which had stunning views of sparkling turquoise waters, distant islands and of course lots and lots of yachts moored in Pioneer Bay.  It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon lunching and drinking Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, so perfect we stayed there all afternoon watching the magnificent sun set at the end of the day.  Tuesday—it’s web update time, can’t complain though as our office today is poolside, we’re lounging around the pool, sun is out and books by our side.  This is the first time we’ve lazed by a pool since on our trip,  we set off tomorrow making our way to Townsville to be there by 15th August to meet Chris and Julia.

July 30 Airlie Beach to Hydeaway Bay 53.10 klms, Avg speed 19.0 kph, Cycling time 2.47 hrs; Total kms 3754.22

Hydeaway Bay and Dingo Beach are tucked away in the hidden northern reaches of the Whitsundays and apparently one of the best places to take in a sunset.  Being relatively close to Airlie Beach, these 2 spots were a delight for us, not overdeveloped (yet), not touristy, just very laid back and quiet.  We cycled along Dingo Beach Road to reach them picking up freshly picked juicy oranges along the way and had a coffee at the Dingo Beach cafe/pub (free instant coffee and tea, rubbish).  Dugongs live at Dingo Beach & it houses the Edgecombe up to 300 kg.  The numbers have dropped in the South Great Barrier Reef over last 10 years, threats include mesh netting, seagrass decline & boat strikes.  No dugongs to be seen whilst we were there.  We cycled into the Hydeaway Bay Caravan Park, located in a natural bush setting with abundant bird life, kangaroos and the beach 250 metres away, needless to say we’re here for 2 nights. 

July 31—Hydeaway Bay

Exhausting day of walk along the beach, reading, afternoon nap, another walk down to the beach. The owners of the Caravan Park—Roz, Paul and Charlie have worked hard over the last 5 years to create a Park you don’t want to leave, we voted it one of our favourites and lovely people too.  Paul’s woodwork skill is evident around the Park and he’s built a great BBQ area that draws people to sit around the fire and chat.  We were doing this when Crayfish Kev arrived on his motor bike through the sand dunes with an old esky strapped on the back selling freshly caught Coral Trout and enormous Crayfish.  Forget what we were going to have for dinner, who doesn’t like Crayfish but we didn’t have a big pot to cook it in. We bought the smaller 1.5 kilo Cray Charlie kindly cooked it so we dined under the stars eating the freshest Crayfish which we finished off at breakfast and lunch the following day!