Saturday, December 29, 2012


We're in a touristic region here, they call it the Highlands. There are rolling hills, fortunately not as steep as the undulating roads in New South Wales. In the short history as a modern country of this continent many things have been built up and also abandoned again. I find it amazing that in remote areas as these once there were railways being built. Used for the transportation of agricultural produce and timber. Now these railway tracks are not being used any more and some of them have been or are in the proces of being transformed to cycle routes, so-called railtrails. From Tallangatta there is one to Wodonga. We rode on that one for some time until we took a left for Yackandandah, where we camped in a lovely little caravanpark on the edge of the town along the creek. The name of the town is an English version of the original Aboriginal name of the place. We see many of those, as you may have concluded yourself.
The town is one 300 meter long shopping street and some side streets, some shops, 2 pubs (many!), a park and a museum. We would call it a small village, it was cosy and there were tourists around.
The next stop was Beechworth. A touristic place, several times bigger than the latter. A beautiful old post office building, a museum, a nationally known bakery and a small roundabout in the middle.
There's also prison here, big, old and still in use, and also famous in the whole of Australia. It was here that Ned Kelly was hanged. He has become a legend. He was an Irish immigrant son in the nineteenth century who became a bushranger. Other words for that would be highwayman or bandit. He was from a poor family, and he and his brothers had been involved in petty crimes before. The police was harrassing the family more than would be proper. The police being mainly English, the poor families mostly Irish, this was not unusual in those days they say. When a policeman would have raped a sister of his Ned truned into a bushranger. Living in the bush with a gang of four, holding up stage coaches, robbing banks, killing a policeman and that kind of thing. He would wear a iron mask and iron cladding over his body. When the police set out a complete force to arrest him there was a shoot out not far from here and all of them except Ned were killed. He was severely wounded and taken to hospital, first in Melbourne, later in Beechworth. Then he was tried and sentenced to death for several murders and hanged in this prison at the age of 25. You can buy plastic copies of his armour and other gadgets here now.
This little history is being romanticised by many people here. But besides that, generally speaking there is a great interest in the history of the country. Every little town has its historic museum, showing artefacts, documents and photographs of the past, their first settlers and development. Older buildings are being preserved and marked as historic, though not many have the age of one hundred years. There are war monuments everywhere. It might be that the Australians, all of them being immigrants or descendants of immigrants, need a more than average historic awareness in order to be able to feel one nation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In Victoria

We left Canberra the day before Christmas. After careful planning we agreed on being taken over the Snowy Mountains by car. Jeff and Gerda were so kind as to offer this to us and we gladly accepted it. The alternative was a riding highways for a couple of days, either north – northwest or south and west. It was a long drive, well over 200 ks. The highest pass we crossed was 1500 altitude. In wintertime these mountains are covered with snow and there is a lot of cross-country-skiing going on. Now it was striking to see the results of the fierce bushfire that had struck the mountainrange in 2003, almost ten years ago. As far as the eye could see there were slopes completely covered with the white-grey trunks of dead eucalyptus trees. An eerie sight.
They dropped us off one good hour's ride from Corryong in Victoria. There we stayed on a bit shabby caravanpark, where we were the only guests. We had just put up the tent and were finishing our shower, when an enormous thunderstorm raged over the site. Very strong winds broke thick branches from the poplar trees, dustbins rolled over the site and the rain swept in curtains. From the door of the amenities building we could not but watch our tent bending and shaking in this ordeal. It held! After maybe 10 or 15 minutres it was over. Streams of muddy water over the site, rubbish everywhere. The manager with a group of helpers, a chain saw and a UT (utility vehicle, a pick up truck) got to work at once. We just cleaned away some small branches from our tent, got dressed and hurried to the shop. It was Christmas eve and shops were closing early, we had to buy for two days. On Christmasday itself we had planned to stay at a forest camp in a place where there are no shops at all. Everything would be closed anyway. We were in time.
The next day we rode up a new mountain range and found ourselves again the only campers in this deserted place. A very special Christmas day. There was no phone coverage, so no contact possible with the home front. Sorry for that.
Now we're in Tallangatta. A sleepy little town along an artificial lake, for which it was replaced in the fifties. Many new campers arriving, all with speedboats on a trailer. On the lake there are already a number of these boats active, pulling water skiers. We will be gone tomorrow morning early, before they all start enjoying their noisy hobby again.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


A strange city. Actually an urban area. In 1913 the place was chosen to be the capital of the newly formed federal state called Australia (1901). It was just a sheep station at the time. Designers were put to work and they shaped the new capital. They built a damm in the river, so that there was a lake dividing the place in two parts. They picked three hills and made them the corners of the parlementary triangle. In short, the result is a city of a good 350.000 inhabitants, grouped around this triangle in, again, an enormous area of suburbs with one- and two-storey houses. What you see is vast open spaces, wide motorways, hardly any people. The suburbs are hidden between the parks and the trees. If you want to go somewhere you need a car. Some people use their bikes. This is made a good way of transport here by the efforts of a group of enthousiastic bike-riders, called PedalPower, of which our hosts are prominent members. They have been very succesful in their lobbies for seperate bikepaths and more of the kind. There is no tangible city-centre. There is something what they call city: it's just an enormous shopping mall where one gets lost, at least we did. We couldn't find our bikes back!!
Parliament house (old and new) is impressive and makes you think of the need and valueof democracy. We were so lucky as to see one of the few copies of the Magna Carta, the document considered to be the base of British democracy and of great significance for the development of the devision of power and human rights for all the western world, as well as the UN. The war memorial is another highlight. The Australians, in their 100 year history as a state, appear to have been involved in many global conflicts. This involvement is often explained by the eagerness of the new nation to be seen as an active member of the world community.
Then there is the National Gallery of Australia. There was a special exhibition of Toulouse Lautrec going on. Great. Also the rest of the collection, Aboriginal, Australian, Asian and European art is worth a visit. It took us 3 visits indeed to see everything. All in all we had to pedal away about 75 k in this “city” to see the things mentioned.  

To Canberra

It was another 3 days before we made the call. We climbed out of Kangaroo Valley towards Moss Vale in the rain, it was cold. Again some 20˚C difference within 24 hours. We stayed in a motel in Moss Vale and rode on to Goulburn the next day. We had coffee after 15 k in Ye Old Bike Shoppe, an old café/bikeshop in Bundanoon. Beautiful and easy riding, but for the last 30 k, which we rode on the Hume Highway under very hot temperatures again. That day we rode 87 k, including the shopping ride to the centre and back. Enough. The next day was extremely hot again, and we finished the 75 k to Bungendore in the early afternoon. There was one service station, Tarago, in the middle, for the rest there was nothing than dry-brown paddocks and in the end a range to be crossed, over 800 altitude.
Bungendore is an old little town with an old little railway station, some crafts shops and two pubs, in one of which we stayed, The Royal Hotel. Really vintage. Old and a bit shabby, but very nice. Not everything worked as it should, the carpets had holes here and there, but the beer was cold and the restaurant, The Royal Chinese, was run by a Chinese couple and served the food that you would expect from such a couple, Chinese, taste- and plentiful.
We rested well in this place and the next morning at 07.30 Jeff and Gerda arrived by train with their BikeFridays and picked us up for a 56 k ride to their home in Canberra.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kangaroo Valley

It'll be after the climb over the mountain range that we'll meet up again with Jeff and Gerda.
Crossing through Sydney from north to south was easy. We rode from the house where we stayed for over a week to Manly, the south side of the peninsula. From there we took the ferry that took us straight to Circular Quay again, right in the middle of Sydney's highlights. Maybe the most beautiful way to reach Sydney. We hang out for a while and then boarded a train on the railway station there. We changed at Central station and travelled straight on to Sutherland, a suburb in the south. We had booked a room there. A trip of app. 70 k in half a day.
From Sutherland we cycled back to the coast through a national park. We took a 10 k dirt road (track is a better word) with the poetic name of Lady Carrington's Drive and after having reached a sealed road (Lady wakehurst Drive) we got to a fantastic ocean-lookout that is famous as a hanggliding spot, but only when a southerly wind blows. Fortunately for us this was not the case this day, we had it in our backs. The route along the coast was scenic, with a ocean bridge as a remarkable part of it. We stopped in Bulli in a beachfront caravan park. The next day we continued to Kiama. Scenic by all means, but always undulating. In the end this made us very tired again. Then the next day was supposed to be a quiet one. But a serious accident had happened on the highway and all the traffic was rerouted along the small road where we were riding. Close to a nightmare, but we reached Bomaderry safely and whole.
From there there are two climbs to be done to reach the altitude of Canberra. From Bomaderry we did the first one today, app. 500 altimeters. But, for us no surprise, we dealt with this steep slope much more easily than with the endless undulating roads elsewhere in New South Wales. It was hard work, but the distance was limited and known by us. And once on the pass it was down towards the pleasant little town of Kangaroo Valley. We have made camp at a quiet caravan park just past the town, along the river and next to the medieval, for the looks, famous Hampden Bridge, built in 1898. On the other side of the river is the Pioneer Settlers' museum, an open air museum where some settlers' houses, a bush school, tools, carriages and the like are exhibited. Very interesting. In town there are some small shops, restaurants and cafés, in one of which Jack roasts his own coffee and makes the nicest mochas. And there is a pub, annex bottle shop. It was a hot afternoon, but we spent it pleasantly.
Tomorrow there is another climb, a bit higher and longer, but we are confident that we'll conquer it. So it'll be some days before we will make the call to Jeff and Gerda.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


There's a lot to say about Sydney. Big, over 3.5 million inhabitants spread out over an immense area. Exactly on the place where captain Cook moored his ship in 1770, Sydney Cove, sits now Circular Quay, right in between the two icons of this city: the Opera House to the east and the Harbour Bridge to the west. An impressive site.
It's the point where streams of moving people meet. Ferries from all parts of the city, that is separated in many parts by large fjord-like bays that go deep inland, come and go here, city busses stop, a railway station is over the quay and on top of that there is a highway.
A pity that gigantic cruiseships moore here (one at a time) as well and by their unbelieveable size they block the view of the western part of this cove and the historic quarter there, The Rocks, can't be seen.
We spent a couple of days in this central area of the city. Strolling along the quays, the botanic garden, sitting on a terrace and drink or eat something, we were not the only ones enjoying this place. We went into the historic national library and visited a couple of musea, of which the most impressive one was the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It is situated on the edge of the botanic gardens, on walking distance from Opera House and the other highlights of the city. It is a large museum. There was an exhibition on Francis Bacon going on, nice. But the own collection and exhibitions of Asian art we found even more interesting and beautiful. We spent half a day in it, until we were completely saturated.
Certainly there are many more things to be seen, visited and done in this vibrant place. We decided to have another day of relaxing in our comfortable lodgings in Palm Beach and prepare ourselves for the next stage in our tour: south through the city by ferry and train, then riding along the coast for a couple of days and after that heading west, inland towards Canberra. Somewhere after or before the climb over the mountain range we will meet up with Gerda and Jeff again.

Broken spokes

Have been very disappointed! For the third time during this tour a spoke broke in my rear wheel. The first one I had repaired in northern Queensland, where I bought some spares to be prepared just in case. So the second one I repaired myself in Newcastle, just a week ago and on our way to Palm Beach another one snapped. How can this happen to a bike like ours.
With the help of our warmshowers host I found a bike shop where they re-spoked the wheel completely. Most of the spokes were rusted. It seems that some years ago a batch of bad spokes has been sold all over the world. According to the bike shop owner it has happened to all bike manufactures and brands, so the manufacturer of our bikes is not to blame. But still.......

Palm Beach

The ride from Newcastle was not a nice one. We had to be on the Pacific Highway, no alternative. Very busy, sometimes 6 lanes, very hilly and there was a head wind as an extra. We stopped at Budgewoi on a beautiful caravan park. From there we continued on a smaller but still quite busy coastal highway towards our next stop. As it was raining we decided to continue to Ettalong, take the ferry to Palm Beach there and join up with Jeff and Gerda. They were our Warmshowers' guests in August, now we are theirs. They have a lovely cottage on this peninsula, which is a northern suburb of Sydney. Mind, Sydney is so widely spread out that the centre is still 45 k to go. There is the ocean on the east side, with beautiful beaches and a nice surf, on the west side there is the bay, Pittwater, on which we have a view from the veranda. Hundreds of yaughts lie anchored here.
We have been in this house for some days now, taking a break in our tour. We have been riding over 2 months now, done over 2800 k and need some time without for a while.
Our hosts were so kind as to take us to the Blue Mountains for a couple of days. It's a good 100 k inland, 1000 meters altitude and a landscape with canyons, marvoullous views and some old nice little towns. We stayed the night in a cabin in the gum forest and made some amazing walks along the cliffs and into the 'Grand Canyon'. Now we are on our own in the house, have paid a first visit to the centre of this big city and will go there once more. After that we'll cross through the city by ferry and train, for the roads and the traffic here are so busy that not many people want to ride a bike here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three ferries to Newcastle

When we approached Bulahdelah we had to go on the Pacific Highway again. They were constructing a bypass, it was raining and there was very much traffic. Not nice to be on that road at all. The weather was so gloomy and wet and the caravan park was not any better, so we stayed in a motel. Nice and comfortable.
In the Visitors Information Centre we were given an advice for an alternative route. So the next day we rode in the direction of the coast again over the Boombah road. Some 10 k dirt (gravel) road. Eveline is, to say it mildly, not fond of such roads. But it appeared to be not bad at all and at the end of it there was a restaurant where we had a coffee and cake. We had to wait for the ferry anyway, it went every 30 minutes for a 5 minute crossing. Then a long and absolutely quiet road followed for 25 k to Tea Gardens, a nice little place on a big bay. There we boarded a ferry boat that was built in 1940 and still was in its original state. The crossing of the bay took nearly an hour and was a comfortable and nostalgic cruise across beautiful water, for some time accompanied by dolphins that were playing in the wave made by the boat. Nelson Bay, on the other side of the water, is a beautiful seaside resort with all the amenities coming with it. A nice conclusion of a beautiful and sunny day.
The day after that we rode to Stockton. Again a place on a river- and sea front. Quite different from Nelson Bay though. The road to get there was busy again and the thermometer read 38˚C. Fortunately we had a rear wind, so it took us not too long to do the good 50 k. Stockton lies on the north bank of a big river, that is the big coal port of Newcastle. There is a passenger ferry from Stockton to his “old” harbour city. In the river's mouth you see big see ships manouvering in and out, always assisted by 3 pushing and pulling tugboats. Newcastle has changed its waterfront from an industrial area into a area where it is nice to walk around, sit on a terrace of one of the many cafés, bars and restaurants and watch the traffic on the river. The industrial past is nicely altered in a modern and pleasant environment. We spent a nice day here in this second oldest city of Australia.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Had a tick surgically removed from my armpit last Monday morning. It had been there for some time without me noticing it until it grew big. It was my first and a really obese one, huge (4 - 5 mm).
Now I'll have to take a strong antibiotic for 4 weeks.  Hopefully that'll be it then.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Macksville to Pacific Palms

In order to avoid the pacific highway and have nicer and quieter roads to cycle on we had planned to go a bit inland. But we soon experienced again that, especially inland, every day would be a mountain stage. It is so hilly, so undulating, that after a day in which you haven't gained any height at all, you appear to have climbed many hundereds of meters. For instance, from Bellingen we tried a route a bit inland. After app. 10 k the road appeared to have ruined by a storm some years ago and we had to return to the highway. It was a 22 k detour and we stayed on the the same altitude, never higher than 60 meters above sea level. Still we had climbed more than 600 meters. Imagine this and the loaded bikes.
There was a moment that we decided to avoid mountains for a while. That's why we are now following a route very close to the coast. Sometimes we are on the Pacific Highway, which is 4-lane now. Apart from the noise (not too bad) the riding on this road has been good. Rear wind, perfect bitumen and low hills. Temperatures have been high, but so was our speed. So far so good. We are in Pacific Palms now on a clean and silent caravan park and we still have 3 or 4 days to go before we will reach Palm Beach. Or Palmie as our Warmshowers-friends seem to call it.
The caravan park is so quiet that a kookaburra is sitting 2 meters from our tent and even on my bike!

Bellingen to a yellow and black pole

For a moment or two I thought that we were going to repeat last year's scenario. We were riding on a cycle lane, separated from the highway. Luxury. In order to prevent cars from using the lane there were poles put in the middle at some places. After having passed several of them Eveline smashed into one and crashed on the pavenment. Initially it didn't look good at all. She had much pain in the lower back and in her upper left leg. Couldn't stand at all. A man who lived there had called 000, and so an ambulance and a police car arrived at the scene. By that time Eveline could more or less stand again. The medics and the police officers were very professional and service oriented. After a check they were confident no bones were broken. Relief. In the end they decided that they'd better take Eveline to the caravan park in Macksville that we had in mind, another 10 k. The police car took her bike, which had hardly any damage. I raced behind them and found Eveline waiting for me at the caravan park, still a bit shaky, but alright.
We rented a cabin, she was too stiff and too sore to go in a tent that night. The receptionist of the park offered to take us to the shopping centre, as we still had to buy our food etc. Such a friendly gesture, it took at least 45 minutes going up and down, but she simply did it and wanted nothing in return. Would we find this in Europe? I wonder. In the end we had a nice and comfortable night in this park.
The next day Eveline appeared to be able to ride her bike again and after a couple of days it was all over and almost forgotten.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Found in a Macksville bottle shop:

Breda used to have a breweries for centuries. The last one was closed not so many years ago, Breda bier was one of the last brands they made. The beer in this picture was specially brewed to raise money for the (everlasting) restoration of the Onze Lieve Vrouwe kerk, the over 600 year old gothic cathedral in the centre of our city. You see the 96 meter high church tower in the image on the can. 
And this I find in a small town in Australia. Amazing!

Bellingen and BBQ-Jazz

After the Rappville experience we got very wet in the morning and dry again during the second half of the day. We stayed on a Caravan Park in South Grafton, continued to another one in Coffs Harbour, on the coast where they have a giant banana. They seem to like big things here.

Then we continued to Bellingen. It's not so far south of Coffs Harbour and some 11 kms inland. We were told many times to go there. It was supposed to be historic, calm and an old hippie place. We were not disappointed. There were buildings from almost a century ago, it was beautiful, it had a small museum and it was calm indeed. As we had been riding for over a week and every day had been a mountain stage with endless ups and downs we decided to have a day off there. It was raining when we arrived, so we took the Diggers Tavern as our domicile.
The day was spent by defining the route for the coming week, where to ride, where to stay and when to arrive at the gates of Sydney, as we have an appointment there. Eveline made a walk to the old butter factory, we had a leisurely lunch together and so on.
In the evening we had a choice: a blues band was playing in our tavern, a jazz band in the federal hotel, the old pub. We decided for the latter, wasn't difficult.
It was great. We had our food and drinks on the veranda and at 19.00 hrs the Roger Burke Quartet started to play. We had a fantastic evening, the band, saxophone, guitar, bass and drums, was wonderful. The musicians were really communicating with each other, they lived through their instruments. The audience was never bigger than 15 or 20, there were some guest players and singers, marvoullous. A thing to remember from our many travels.
If you would like to know more about the RBQ (not BBQ) Jazz band, click here and go to their website, with a demo.

Magpie again

There was a nice and comic reaction on our blog named “Every day”. In this blog we related once more about the continous attacks by violent and mean magpies. In the reaction a couple of links were included to videos that show how some students experimentally try out what methods of defence against magpie-attacks are effective. One of these videos is included on our website. Just click on the “Videos” button on the right to go to our video page and watch it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A night in a pub

We have developed a liking for those traditional Australian pubs. They have a special atmosphere, not so easy to compare with any European venue. Very often they are a hotel as well, and often they have the same name: The Commercial Hotel. Now it happens that somewhere in the nowhereland between Casino and Grafton there is one. In the tiny little hamlet of Rappville. We think that the only reason it's there is the railway, that must have had a station over there. Nowadays only a couple of trains pass there, mostly at night. The pub was built in 1911 and is still very much in original state, and condition. Paul, our host in Kyogle, found their telephone number and we booked a room. Good, for the distance between the towns is over 100 kms and nothing in between than Rappville. We had to make a 7 kms detour to get there. We didn't regret it for several reasons. We were the only boarders and as far as we saw only three guests visited the pub in the evening. The owner was recovering from a stroke, his wife ran the business. Therefore there was no cooked breakfast. And as for dinner, we were lucky that it was Saturday, since they only serve dinners in the weekend. The beer and the wine were good, the steak also and so was our room. A high spacious room with a fine queen-size bed. The bathroom was basic and the toilet likewise. Only one of those available for all 4 or 5 rooms. We were most lucky to be there because in the evening and night a severe storm came over and a huge amount of rain and hail fell. Didn't harm us in our warm historic and cosy bed. In the morning we made us our coffee and toasts ourselves and, without having seen a single soul, we sneaked out and took off for Grafton, still 85 kms to go. After 5 minutes the rain started to last until midday.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New South Wales

Today we passed the border between Queensland and New South Wales. We had left Brisbane via Ipswich towards the south and spent a quiet night on the show grounds of Boonah. After that we rode on to Rathdowney, a town of just a couple of houses, a pub and show grounds. All the time we had admirable scenery and undulating quiet roads. From Rathdowney we only rode 19 kms to Andrew Drynan Park, a campground along the Lion's road leading to the border. There were only two small tents there, ours and one belonging to a German couple on motorbikes (traveling round the world). There were only some toilets and a creek. BYO water (BYO=bring your own). So we carried 6 extra liters of water, altogether almost 9. A very nice and quiet day.
The next day we had to go to the border, a pass at only 366 alt. just 4 kms further. Slopes of 19%. We had to walk and push our bikes up for over a kilometer. The border was just a gate and some signs. There are more differences between the Australian states then we as Europeans would think. For one thing, we had to put our watches one hour ahead. So we are now 10 hours ahead of the Netherlands.
It took us 2000 kms of pedaling to get in this new state. We descended through a beautiful green valley to Kyogle, where we are now staying with Paul, Elizabeth and their sons Ruben and Isaac and little daughter Olivia.

Things happen

As you will have noticed the design of the blog has changed. I did this myself, but not on purpose. Must have overlooked something, clicked on the wrong button and the old design was replaced. Also gone are the links in the right column. I will try to restore it asap, since I don't like it the way it looks now. Am not sure if I remember how it all works though.

Then both our much appreciated Monarch chairs got broken. The first one two days ago, the other one yesterday. Amazing, so immediately after each other. The design of these chairs is such that there is a lot of tension on the tubes that hold the canvas seat in its shape. On both chairs one tube snapped at a connection point with another tube. I managed to make one whole chair by using a tube from the other one. But we feel very deprived now, not being able to sit properly when camping. I'm already in touch with Alite, the Californian maker of the chairs and they are suggesting a solution that I'm not yet happy with. We keep working on it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Every day

When we're riding it happens every day. It has to do with the breeding season. Some of the males are loaded with testosteron and they become extremely territorial. It seems that their testes grow enormously, though they will still have a diameter of less than 1 cm. For a bird that should be a lot though. I'm talking of the magpie. Don't think of the European species with the same name. The only likeness is the black and white colouring. And maybe the size. Their silhouet though, and their flight are completely different.
They come from behind, sometimes shrieking, sometimes by complete surprise. They swoop over your head and scratch the helmet, compulsary here fortunately, or even your ears or neck.
You cannot do much about it, they will attack walkers and cyclists. Some cyclists have a number of cable ties (tie wraps) fixed on their helmets, with the ends up in the air. It seems to help, but I don't want to be seen like that. People say that you should stick images of eyes on the helmet, that would make them stay away. I have not seen many shops in Queensland so far that I suspect would be selling such stuff. So we ride totally unprotected and when it happens we wave our hands above our heads and hope the best of it. I even tried once to explain that I have a visa, pay my taxes in time and thus that I'm fully entitled to be there, but they don't seem to be interested. Until now nothing serious has happened.
Yesterday though, we were close to Boonah, we were vigorously attacked. This was a serious one. It hit Eveline on the helmet and it managed to scratch my right ear. Klerevogel! When all this happened a young woman on a bike (an exception as such) came towards us from the opposite direction. She saw it all and she was laughing. She waved at us from the other side of the road and shouted: “He attacks me every day!”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The beach wedding that wasn't on the beach

On Friday we cycled to South Brisbane station and there we took a train to Lota, the suburb where Tim and Angela live. They were going to marry on the beach of Coochiemudlo island (shoes optional). Tim owns a 40-foot sailing yacht and he had asked us to come to their house and to sail with him from the marina near it to the island.
Brisbane weather is very steady and always nice, warm and calm. But not this weekend. We sailed out and it was not long before I became seasick. There was a much stronger wind than expected, the boat was leaning over strongly, the sea was rough. Eveline had no problem. After a good three hours I was glad to be allowed in the dingi first to go on the beach.
On the island a number of wedding guests had already arrived, coming from various places in the country. We were staying with Michael and Shannon, a cousin of the bride, in the house they had rented for a week. Staying with them was very pleasant, we got on very well and we talked for hours and hours.
On Saturday it rained almost all day. On Sunday there was such a hard wind that the ceremony had to be held inside, in the small community hall on the island. A pity, but the wedding ceremony and the party afterwards didn't suffer from it. It went on till late in the evening.
The next day the sun was shining, the sea was calm and the boat trip home was agreeable. We pitched our tent in the garden and on Tuesday morning we said goodbye and took off. On our own again after a whole week. We travelled by train back to Ipswich in the western parts of Brisbane and from there we rode a good 50 k south through beautiful scenery to Boonah. A quiet country town with a quiet campsite on the showgrounds. We are travelling again.


is a big city, 2.6 million inhabitants. The central business district (CBD) has highrise buildings, the rest of the city consists of single two story houses on their own plot of land. As a consequence the city is spread out over a vast area, like most Australian cities are. There is space enough, so suburbia is enormous. On the seaside it's flat, the norhtern and western parts are very hilly, with uncyclable steep hills.
We found it a pleasant city, busy shopping streets, only for pedestrians and nicely laid out, some beautiful old buildings, nice parks,  a botanic garden, several university campuses, several modern art musea in beautiful modern architecture and a lively and busy atmosphere. With Gilbert we cycled the so-called Brisbane Loop, a cycle route that goes along the Brisbane river on both sides, with some spectacular views and dito constructions over the water.
Emma and Gilbert also took us up the look out point on Mount Coot-tha, not far from their home, where we enjoyed the sunset over the city with a beer in our hands. With Emma and Gilbert's home as our base we enjoyed our 4-day visit.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Witta to Brisbane

Having said goodbye to Daveid and Sue we rode 11 kms to Maleny, where we enjoyed a coffee. That is: a long black for me (an Italian would call it café americano) and a café latte for Eveline. They cannot pronounce it correctly, they call it “lattey” or something, but mostly it is correctly made and the taste is perfect.
Then we continued south to Woodford through wonderful sceneries with wide views and some stangely shaped mountains. In Woodford we had our lunch break, there was nothing in between. Woodford sits on the most northern point of Lake Somerset, an artificial reservoir that lies just above another one, Lake Wivenhoe. We rode on till Kilcoy, where after 76 kms we pitched our tent on a small rest area next to the little town. Toilet ans hot shower open for all public, pub and some shops at app. 100 mtrs. A beautiful riding day.
The next day we did some 54 kms along Lake Somerset, nice weather and environment, up and down all the time though. In Esk we camped at a beautiful and well equipped caravan park. It happened that a caravan club from Brisbane gathered there that day. Some of them were very interested in us and one of them bestowed us with a number of maps of New South Wales. He had them for free, he said, and since we have had difficulty with finding maps until now, this was very handy.
Next stage was Ipswich, the most western suburb of Brisbane. Big city environment. We stayed in a lousy caravan park and the next day we got on a train to the centre of Brisbane. We got of two station before the real centre (CBD) at Auchenflower station and ten minutes later we were at the house of Emma and Gilbert, who would be our hosts for the next 4 nights.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wifi again!

We're in Brisbane. More about how we got here later. We are staying with Emma and Gilbert, our Warmshowers-hosts. Very agreeable.
Since we have wifi now I've been able to upload photos ( one album per month) and some short videos as well. If interested use the links in the column on the right.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


From Gympie we continued our ride south. The scenery stayed beautiful. Hilly, green, cattle in the pastures, jacarandas, birds. The contrast with the coastal area is big. First to Kenilworth, where we camped at the local Showgrounds. This is an area, this time owned by volunteers, often by the town council, where there are sports grounds and facilities, a community hall, a swimming pool and the like. Sometimes they advertise these showgrounds as campsites. There are toilets and warm and cold showers, that's it. The town (very small) was close, there were some shops and a pub.
From there we rode up a range to a height of 460 meters to an area called Witta, 11 kms north of Maleny. There we were expected in a very beautiful big queenslander house, or maybe mansion is a better word. This house, seated on a big property at the end of a dirt road belongs to David and Sue. The latter is the sister of Jen, who was our host a good 3 weeks ago in Atherton. She suggested us going there. The region is very pretty, the house overlooked a valley. David and Sue call their house a farm. A large portion of land belongs to it. Mainly paddocks, meadows for cattle. They are (semi) retired and bought the property not so long ago. It had been left empty and unused for three years. Now they are working hard to bring the overgrown paddocks back in order and they think they might have some 50 cattle in the the end. We saw the results so far and it was their own paradise. Here we also stayed two nights and had a lovely stay with a breakfast in Maleny, a walk over the property and nice evenings together.
Melany used to be a hippie-town. Still you can see women in colourfull skirts and leggings and the atmosphere is relaxed, calm and nice.

By the way: the last posts have been upladed using the personal hotpsot function of our smartphone. Works pretty well, not slow at all. Uploading pictures will cost too many MBs, will be done when there is wifi.


is a town a bit inland, half a day's ride from Tin Can Bay. The coastal area is flat and has a sandy soil, which is very poor and nearly all that is grown there is pine trees. Some kilometers before Gympie this changed. It became hilly and the flora became very diverse. Reason for this is that we entered a former volcanic area, so a much richer soil. Many jacaranda trees here and, we're lucky to be here just now, all in full bloom. From a crest looking on Gympie gives a wonderful panorama of wooded hills with houses and everywhere the purple crowns of the jacaranda. A magnificent view.
We arrived pretty early at our WarmShowers address. The house belonged to Andy and his wife Clair and their two young children, Rosie of 4 years and Hamish of 4 months. They live in an old Queenslander house which they have very nicely modernised. We stayed two nights and enjoyed it greatly. We should especially mention the very observant and inquisitive Rosie, who contributed a lot to our conversations and made our stay the more interesting and enjoyable. Another wonderful WarmShowers experience.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Once upon a time in Tin Can Bay

there was a dolphin swimming in the estuarium. It was injured and very ill. It came so close to the shore that some people saw it and tried to help it by offering food like fish and little crabs. The dolphin took it and it stayed at this place for over a week. The people stayed with it all the time and after this good week the animal was well again and took off into the river mouth and the Great Sandy Straits between Fraser Island and the main land. But not for long. Just a few days later the people on the shore were surprised to see the same dolphin again, this time accompanied by members of the group it lived with. That's why you can now go to the very end of the little peninsula every morning at 07.00 hrs, because then the dolphins will appear and if you pay 5 dollars you may even feed one of them.

This is not a fairy tale but a true story. The first dolphin in the story came in in the early nineteenfifties and now the alpha male of the group is the third generation. His name is Mystique. Volunteers run the small organisation and take care of it that the animals are approached in a proper way and that nothing happens that could harm their health and natural behaviour. It's no big touristic event and very charming to be witnessed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Internet in Australia

Until now we have found it hard to use internet. When we stay in peoples' homes, and fortunately we are so lucky as to do that regularly, it's fine. Like home. But on caravan parks or places likes bars, restaurants it's bad. Last year, when we cycled through Europe, there was wifi on every campsite and mostly free. We never had a problem to do our thing on the world wide web.
On my iPhone I currently have an Australian subscription that works very good. I have 500MBs per month plus a lot of minutes for calls for 19,90 Australian dollars per month. Until now this appears to do fine, and it works very well. Not so as to wifi, on caravan parks they easily charge 7 dollars per hour. Even then you are not sure if it works.
Since yesterday I have configured my Iphone in such a way that it can serve as a personal hotspot for the Mac. I needed to call the provider for that, they needed to do something with my settings. It means that I can now use my Mac a lot more, but it is not fast, to say it mildly. So if no photos or videos are being uploaded for a long time, you know why.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island

We spent a whole day on Fraser Island and it really was an adventure. We were in a group of 2 Toyota Landcruisers (4.7 liter engines) with a total of 16 people. Two of them were drivers and guides of course and there was also Goomblar, a big Aboriginal man with an enormous hairy head. We were picked up and a ferry took us on the island (120 kms long, various widths from app. 10-20 kms). Nothing but sand, like the Dutch will know from the dunes. There are enormous beaches and some sand roads, rather tracks, through the rainforest that covers the entire island.
As it hadn't rained for a very long time the sand was very dry and soft, Fritz, our 66-year old driver, had to sprint through many stretches. Imagine the big Landcruiser at high speed and roaring motor racing, bumping and skidding through a narrow lane in the forest and on the beach. It took some time to come at ease in the skidding, jumping and roaring car. It seems to be neccessary to take very soft spots with high speed in order not to get stuck. I think our son Teunis had this experience himself with a rented Landcruiser in Oman once. To make it more spectacular, after a short time one of the mufflers of our car became loose, imagine the roar.
But the island is beautiful and it was all very worth while. We drove over the beach, many other 4WDs around, many kilometers, saw an old shipwreck and beautifully coloured sand cliffs. Because of a gale warning, the wind was already very strong and so was the surf, we had to return earlier than planned. As a matter of fact we were experiencing the two most windy days of the whole year.
Then, driving back over the beach, imagine our surprise, when right in front of us a 4WD-bus caught fire. A little plume of smoke initially and then suddenly the vehicle was totally ablaze. Fortunately all passengers could get out in time. A frightening sight.
Later, on a quiet spot in the bush, we had lunch with beer and champagne even, and Goomblar gave a performance in which he told about his culture, played the didgeridoo and had us do some traditional dances. Quite amusing, funny but also very seriously meant and instructive. One wouldn't be surprised to learn that one of the basis of the Aboriginal culture is “respect”.
The group we were with, Australians, Dutch, Belgians, Americans, was very agreeable and after we had roared and bounced back off the island we were all very satisfied with this special day.


Hervey Bay is the name of this town and it's named after the real bay where it sits on, between the mainland and the north part of Fraser Island. In the afternoon after we arrived in Hervey Bay we got on a boat with 13 other passengers and sailed out in the bay to spot whales. The whales that can be spotted here are humpbacks and they can be seen here in them months of July until mid-Nov. First the young males come and later the mothers with their calves. They come here while the bay is shallow and safe for the young ones. They tend to stay here for a number of weeks, in which the calves drink 600 liters of the mother's very fat and rich milk every day. When they have grown enough and stored enough energy they will leave for the rich feeding grounds near Antarctica, where there is plenty of krill to feed on and to get ready for the next migration cycle. It is very remarkable to realize that the mother doesn't feed herself during the whole migration.
After having sailed out into the windy and a bit rough bay for an hour, during which I was kind of seasick, I was totally wet from my own perspiration and didn't feel well at all, we spotted our first mother and calf. Later we saw more, spouting, splashing their tails on the water and sometimes jumping. Impressive. Eveline, who had hesitated to go on this excursion first, was totally enthousiastic. Making a photo of such gentle giants appeared to be very difficult, but I got some that can give evidence of this particular experience.

Greyhound Australia

We had preferred to go by train from Mackay, but it was fully booked. The next train only came two days later. So we had to go by bus. We were not very much in favour of travelling by bus, as it is much less comfortable than a train. Greyhound appeared to be the easiest as to taking bikes on the bus, so we booked for Sunday night 21.10 from Mackay to Maryborough, arrival there at 08.10 in the morning. Peter guided us from his home to the tankstation/busstop. We had to make makeshift lights, since our sophisticated machines don't have them. (An omission? Tend to think it is by now.)
The bus appeared to be quite comfortable and spacious. The bikes could easily stand (!) in the cargo hold and we had comfortable seats ourselves. Before leaving the driver told me everything about the sugar cane industry and about his vehicle. An interesting man with knowledge of matters that a busdriver is not necessarily expected to have.
As a matter of fact he told me that almost half of the sugar produced here is used for the production of fertilizer. The bus we were travelling on was 12 years old and “she” was still doing fine, which we later could only confirm. We slept most of the time during the ride and were not tired after it. To our surprise we learned that the bus would stop in Hervey Bay before stopping in Maryborough, so we decided to get off there. We had planned to come there anyway for a whale watching boat excursion and an excursion on Fraser Island. The latter is the largest sand-island in the world an it is covered by rainforest, which is exceptional. So in the morning we could quietly look for the nicest campsite in town and we ended up in Torquay Caravan Park, on the beachfront with shops, restaurants and even a pub at the other side of the street. Exceptional as well, everything so close.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Ploughing against the wind we have reached Mackay. A not unpretty place where we are staying with Jacki and Peter MCCallum in their old queenslander house. A very hospitable couple and very cycle-minded. Peter is in the Audax rides organization. Last year he did Paris-Brest-Paris in only 88 hours and 16 minutes. Not bad for such a short distance of 1230 kms.
Many people have adviced us not to ride the stretch south of Mackay; very long distances with nothing. As the wind is still blowing in the opposite direction we have decided to follow up this advice and tonight we will board a Geyhound bus for a night ride to Maryborough, over 600 kms south of Mackay. Brisbane won't be far any more then, but there are things we would like to visit in between.


The North Queensland coast has to deal with cyclones now and then. They do a lot of damage. The restoration of Innisfail after the 2006 one took 3 years. Further along the coast we would see the trees in the rainforest without their tops, bare dead trees among them. They occur regularly and only last year Jeff and Jane's house in Mission Beach only miraculously survived one. Since then they can see the river through the trees of the forest, the cyclone has thinned it out.
Weather conditions and its consequences here appear to be more extreme than we are used to. In summer is so hot and humid that you can hardly do anything. Then sometimes so much rain falls that there are floods, sometimes catastrophic ones. You see flood warnings near many bridges, with indicators how high the water is over the road. Then there can be dramatic draughts. Not to mention the bush fires that cause victims every year again. A harsh country.

Sugar cane

By now we have been cycling over a 1000 kms between sugar cane fields. It's cane everywhere. Cane farmers with hats on, wearing shorts and high boots. Cane trucks, trucks carrying sugar syrup, sugar cane trains, sugar cane train railway crossings, sugar cane factories. Endless fields for over a 1000 mms, and still not over.
Who in the world is needing all this sugar and what for?
Viva obesitas?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Townsville, Ayr and Bowen

We spent a day of leisure in Townsville. The town is the third biggest of Queensland, but don't think of hundreds of thousands. It has a nice center area with a beautiful museum, an art gallery, a reef aquarium, a marina etc. The museum mainly shows the history of the Pandora. This was the ship that the British admiralty sent out in the late 17-hundreds to capture the mutineers of the Bounty. This partly succeeded but the ship ran on a reef and sunk. This is all well documented and the artefacts that have been recovered by diving expeditions are exhibited and they have managed to bring a quite interesting story to life. The art gallery had a travelling exhibition of modern Australian artists and was not bad either. On the Sunday morning there was the weekly market, all kinds of stuff, bric à brac. It was a lively and agreeable place to be.
The caravan park where we were camping was the most expensive one until now and the worst. In the kitchen the fridge was the only working device. No cookers or anything that was not broken and extremely dirty. Not very satisfactory.
After Townsville we rode on. First to Ayr, 90 kms with a very strong headwind. No fun at all. These are the days that I wish I was doing something else. But in the nice caravan park in Ayr we met 2 young Dutch guys, 22 and 30, who both were spending a year on a work/tourist visa in this country and who had had several jobs. The most interesting, worst circumstances and best paid jobs had been in the mines in Port Hedland in the north west. Working 60 hours per week for 2000 dollar per week. Only work, eat, sleep. They both had bought a second hand station car and lived in it during all the time. Now they had saved enough money to be able to travel around (one of them had already over 25000 kms in his car) and to bring money back home to the Netherlands as well.
Then to Bowen, 115 kms. Again there is this headwind. After 50 kms we see a caravan park. It is very dirty, not maintained at all, far worse than the one in Townsville. It seems it has become a haven for dropouts and this kind of people. The good thing though is that they are “fully licensed”, thus the small shop (too big a word for the dump it was) sells, next to simple groceries and cold drinks, cold beer. Fortunately we were prepared for a stop like this, meaning we had bought our food before, so we decided to stop our battle against the wind here. Our speed until then had been so low that we wouldn't have made it till Bowen before dark. So Bowen was postponed for the next day.
Now in Bowen, another too spacious town with too few people in the streets. We bought our food in a supermarket and now, 3 kms out of town, we're in a Caravan Park, in NL we would say a “camping”, that is neat and tidy and where there is wifi. An exception. We found that the internet-infrastructure for tourists is not as well developed here as in Europe.
By the way, today our odometers, giving the total number of kilometers done in this tour, showed more than 1000 kms. On the “Route” page of our homepage I placed a map of the route done so far.


In former blog I mentioned that we had not seen any of the well known Australian wildlife species, as there are crocodiles, kangaroos, wallabies, cassowary, big snakes and dito spiders.
This was true ntil we were sitting on the veranda of Jeff and Jane's house in Mission Beach. We were just discussing this subject and as his contribution Jeff said: “Well, if you just turn your head, you will see some 50 or so wallabies”. I looked behind me and indeed, the slope where there house is sitting on was full of them, and the number of 50 was not exaggerated. When I went up to the railing one or two of them would look up at me, but then all of them continued doing what they did: grazing and hopping around a bit. The house is on th edge of the sea and the jungle.
In the morning at breakfast something likewise happened: “Cassowary”, Jeff said, pointing to the edge of the forest. And indeed, there it was: a bird as tall as a man walking quietly and looking for fruit. Secretly they left remains of fruit near their yard, so the bird was a regular visitor. They also knew another one, a father who always was in the company of a young one. Cassowary females see their motherly tasks as very limited, she lays the egg and that's it. Fathers rear the offspring.
So in one place we spotted 2 important species. We also see very many different species of birds, which I will not try to describe, but there are really very many and most of them make a lot of noise. The last couple of days when we were attacked a dozen times by white and black birds the size of a magpie. They tend to keep on swooping over our heads and touching our bike helmets with their paws. Imagine Eveline totally scared, shouting my name (oh gallantry). It is annoying but also a bit funny; stupid birds.
Then we had three possums coming to visit us in the camp kitchen. Big eyed, cat sized furry animals. They were very much interested in the dustbin. I find them kind of cute. They looked clean and showed no fear of humans at all, even walked under our table between our legs. This is something that struck us before, wild animals seem to be not very shy.
I also mentioned the roadkills we see every day. Most of them are wallaby, and there really are dozens of them each day. Other species like possums or similar animals, but also a snake now and then, even a very long and thick (a man's arm) one. Sometimes a dead bird of prey, buzzard size. Often with beautifully coloured breast feathers. Most likely killed by a car when scavaging on dead prey on the road. A dog now and then (dingo?) and even a pig-like animal. All in all very many wildlife killed in the traffic, it's said to see. It also makes me understand why so many cars have this metal frame in front, some call it a bull bar. The chance to get involved in a animal-car accident is not only imaginary.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Safety mania

This continent was colonized and shaped by people who had the courage to leave their original environment and start an unknown and unpredictable adventure, a new life in a strange and much still to be developed country. So the daring kind of people. Now what has happened to them? They seem to have become extremely cautious and afraid of risks. You see all too many signs and texts like: "Beware..., Mind..., Don't do this and don't do that". "Roadworks ahead, starting on Oct. 14th, expect minor delays", "Clean after use", "Flush after using the toilet", etc, etc. Even in obvious situations you will find warnings, sometimes even a bit silly ones. In the Australia Sept-Oct2012 album I inserted some photos to illustrate. Click in the right column.
By the way, recently 2 new videos have been uploaded. Click in the right column for that too.

Community socializing

After Mission Beach we rode to Cardwell, after that to Ingham and then to Bluewater. Here we stopped at a rest area. Not a well facilitated Caravan Park, as we usually do, but a place where campers, mostly caravans, can stay overnight and where there are minimal facilities like a toilet, a wash basin, an outside coldwater shower and taps that give drinking water. Because of the great distances here and the few possibilities along the road, we more or less were confined to make this choice. Among the app. 15 campers we were the only one on bikes of course and the only ones with a tent. Ooohs and Aaahs. I took a bath in the creek with our neighbor and we had an interesting conversation while sitting in the quiet water. He was a retired man, his marriage had broken up a long time ago and now, as very many retired Aussies do, he had sold his house and everything and bought a big Toyota Landcruiser and a caravan and he lived in it. He had travelled around Australia and now he went up north to go fishing, then he would visit a cousin, then his children etc. When I asked him about his social life, he said that he missed that, but on the other hand, back where he had lived everybody had also gone somewhere else. And in the various places he would tend to visit he would often meet up with the same people and they would sit together and have a couple of beers and so on, so there was more or less a social life after all. We concluded that such a thing is not easily to be compared with what we as Europeans feel and need, Australians are more mobile anyway. Indeed, it seems to us that things that Eveline and I value so much, like the rich cultural environment of the immediate presence of theatres, musea, interesting places and events, family and friends etc. are much less available here and that people here have settled to that.
As said, the rest area had minimal facilities, but it was a nicely laid out park. No shops, no houses, a closed tank station on the otherside of Bruce Highway, that was all. Since we are cyclists and cannot carry large quantities of food and drinks, let alone cold ones, we had settled to the idea of a quiet evening without our so much liked cold beer and glass of wine.
But there was a community center, a small building owned by the city government (Townsville) on the other side of the field. And it happened to be Friday night. And that's the night that the people of Bluewater, a vast region, come together to socialize. This evening a band came playing, country and western, and we saw people coming in and enjoying themselves. So why not try and join them. Some minutes later we were signed in as members of the evening and we were among the locals enjoying their company and the beer and the wine. It became a very nice evening. Many people present appeared to be singers. In turn they would appear on stage, hand out their written music to the musicians of the band and sing three songs. We heard very good amateurs and not so good amateurs, but we enjoyed it a lot. There was some dancing and we watched how a group of people who mostly live miles apart from each other on their farms and only see other people if they get in their cars to go shopping or collect their mails at the tank station make a community.   

Observations 1

When one visits another country for the first time, there will always be some things that strike you. That you find strange, awkward, silly or simply that you don't understand. It's all a matter of culture of course and to be taken relatively, but in my case, some things stick in my mind.
The first thing that I noticed during the first days of my Australian life was... the toilet paper. Not a minor thing, though it may seem so. We use it every day and we like it to serve its purpose without complications. Well, during the first weeks here we were confronted on each toilet with toilet paper that was so thin that just touching it was complicated, it would tear to pieces immediately. It was so thin that it was hardly possible to get a complete piece from the roll or container. You need to use the whole hand and very gently pull the paper out and if you were lucky you would have an unshredded piece of paper in the hand. So very carefully pull out a long stretch fold it many times and then use it for its purpose without risking nasty consequences.
I could not stop of thinking of all those tough sugar cane workers and those Landcruisers and pick-up drivers with their big and calloused workmens' hands carefully fumbling in the toilet.
How would they do that. Fortunately, I still wonder why, since Atherton it is better.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mission Beach

Down from Millaa Millaa to the coast was fantastic. The weather was perfect, no wind and the scenery beautiful. Rolling green dairy land. The Palmerston highway led us over 800 meters down to the coast and just a few kms later we hit Innisfail, where we stopped at a neat and tidy caravan park with the best equipped camp kitchen ever. Everything a cook would need was there and in multiple. A grassy spot for the tent and mind: don't get too close to the river, there are saltwater crocodiles.
Innisfail is the Art Deco capital of Queensland and it was worth while a visit. The town, in our view more a village (sorry, we're Dutch) indeed had a number of buildings that referred to the Art Deco style of the interbellum period. Shocking though to see that the fronts of some of the historic buildings were distorted by cheap-material verandas and those huge billboards that are so characteristic for this country. I have started to think that all Australians have very bad eye sight. Why else should they need those huge ill-coloured billboards for. Ugly, I'm sorry.
The next day ride south was on the Bruce Highway. We have been warned that this road, that we will have to follow all the way to Brisbane, is supposed to be busy, sometimes narrow and dangerous. Today it was not so bad. A rear wind blew us forward and we reached the road to Mission Beach quite soon. We had to make this detour because we had an appointment with Jeff and Jane, another Warmshowers couple. We found their beautiful house on a hill, overlooking the jungle and the sea and with scores of wild walibi grazing right in front of their veranda.
After a very agreeable evening together we went to bed as, like a Tilburger would say: “a contented man”. (Suggestions for a better translations welcome).

What do you want?

Several times in this blog we have referred to the kindness of the people we meet. “Hi mate, how are you doing?” is somewhat a standard greeting and people seem to mean it. On the other hand we sometimes are amazed by the bluntness of shop- or barkeepers. Entering a café and having to wait for too long a time while being totally ignored by the barpeople who seem to have more important things to do, then a grunt for your order. First have to proof that you are a client before being shown the toilets.
In Millaa Millaa I went to the pub to buy a sixpack of beer. The pub also is the local “bottleshop”. In this state (or the whole country?) you can only buy alcoholic drinks in such a shop, nowhere else. When I entered this pub and the barman, a big midle aged man with shortcut hair and a moustache, asked me what I wanted? I told him that it was beer that I wanted. Then he more or less shouted: “What do you want?” As I'm not familiar with the kinds of beer in these regions I thought it might be a good idea to ask him if there was any special beer he could offer. Before I was finished he roared again: “What do you want? I'm not a mind reader”. At that moment I thought that this was perfectly true and that he was certainly much less than that and I just mentioned a brand that I saw on a bottle in the fridge. Settled. Imagine such a guy running a shop or pub in a bigger town. No clients returning the second time.
But to be honest, most experiences are the opposite. Maybe that's why these occurences are so striking.

Leaving the Tablelands

Saying goodbye to Jen and Tony was hard. We had had such a good time with them. But a traveller has to travel, so the inevitable has to happen. Tony guided us out of the town and there we were on our own again. Beautiful weather and beautiful environment, no wind. We rode to Millaa Millaa, a small town at the south side of the high lands. It was only 43 kms, easy. Less easy than you would think, the road is undulating and we hate that. It goes up and you have to work hard, only to race down to the same altitude as before, and continuously so. So tiring. So these few kms appeared to be enough. We ended the day on a beautiful caravan park at our highest point until now: 869 absl, right after a “pass” of even 925.
Millaa Millaa, what's in a name, is a junction where there are some small shops and a pub and only some houses in the neighbourhood. We, citydwellers, wonder how people can live and feel well in this, what we find, solitude.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


The ride up to Cape Tribulation was long and had some hard hills in it, 85 kms. After 40 kms we had to cross the Daintree river with the ferry and then we were totally enclosed in the tropical rainforest. The road ofter ran close to the marvoullous beaches of North Queensland, but we didn't see much of them as the dense trees blocked the view. The cape is a very quiet and lonely place in the rain- and mangrove forest, some campsites and small shops, that's it. The sealed road ends here and those who want to continue further north, to Cooktown, need 4-wheel drives.
For us it is the most northern point of our Australia-tour. From here it'll be southbound only.
The next day we first rode the same road back, but after the ferry we took a right and arrived in the Daintree village. There Dean and Anja run their Crocodile Express river cruises. We were offered a one hour cruise, the last one of that day. Though during all other cruises that day 4 big salt water crocodiles were spotted we didn't see any. As a matter of fact, apart from lots of birds, we have not seen any  living specimen of the typical Australian wildlife until now. We did see many roadkills though.
The next days we rode south and just after Mossman we left the coast and got on to the Atherton Tablelands. Atherton, a rather pretty town, is situated on an altitude of app. 800 meters. So it was real climbing, made tough by a very strong headwind. The town fortunately has a good bikeshop. I needed one, as I had a broken spoke in my rear wheel. It was caused by a rock flicked up from under a car tyre. Robbert of the Northern Bikeshop could repair it and to be sure we bought some spares as well.

There is an active cycle group in Atherton and we found refuge at the house of two of its members, Jen and Tony, Warmshowers hosts as Warmshowers hosts are meant to be. We stayed 2 nights with them, they gave us an extensive excursion on the tablelands, with the rainforest, dairy fields, volcanic craters and a woodcarving exhibition as an extra.

After Atherton we will leave the Tablelands in two days and reach the coast again. We have to head south in order to reach Brisbane in time, still quite a distance to go.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Port Douglas

We left Cairns on Friday at about 14.00 hrs. The road runs mainly directly along the coast, which provided us many times with splendid views of the Pacific Ocean. But the road appeared to be rather busy, with cars sometimes passing very closely, there mostly was no cycle lane, sometimes hardly any shoulder.
Night falls quite suddenly here and at 18.00 you definitely need lights. Alas we don't have them on our sophisticated riding machines. So in the end we had to race in order to reach our destination in time. It was after 65 kms that we pitched our tent in the dusk at Pandanus Caravan Park. Good facilities, comparable to Europe, but strikingly many caravans towed by 4-wheel drives. It was to be our first night in a tent after last year's unfortunate events.
As we couldn't get on a boat for a visit to the Great Barrier Reef on Saturday, we hung out in the pretty and very well kept touristic centre of the village. Shops, bars, restaurants, terraces. Full with people watching the Grand final of “Australian rules”, a kind of rugby I would say. Someone told us that the significance can be compared with the Champions League final in Europe.
On Sunday we snorkled on the reef. The cliché is true: it is magnificent. We sailed out to the outer reef, that is about 60 kms out in the ocean. We visited three locations and really saw species of coral and fish that we could not have imagined if we tried. It is an expensive excursion, but once here you cannot let this pass unseen. And the services provided by the staff on board are boundless. They provide everything, gear, food, a helping hand and explanation of the eco-system. Well guys, great job!
Tomorrow we'll head for Cape Tribulation, the most northern point of this trip. If all goes as expected we'll pitch our tent in the middle of the tropical rainforest just a few meters from the white beach.

A picture of the route our boat made to the outer reef:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cairns, Qld, Australia

From door to door it took us 33 hours. That is from our frontdoor in Breda to the door of Dean and Anja's house in Cairns. We survived it relatively fresh. We were very well taken care of in the aircrafts of Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia. Our bikes came out intact as well, though in Sydney the cardboard boxes appeared to be in a very bad shape, as if they had been out in the rain. The Australian customs people showed that the general cliché that says that Aussies are laidback and friendly people is true, they taped the boxes up for us, so that we could continue to the next flight.
In Cairns Dean and Anja stood waiting for us and drove us to their tropical home close to the small airport. We got in touch with these very kind people and experienced cyclists through Warmshowers.
The next day we spent with activities like putting the bikes together again and do some shopping: getting Australian simcards, buying a gascontainer for the stove and what took most of the time, finding a replacement for Eveline's Kobo-ereader. The device was a present given to her at her retirement. It should make the next bike tours lighter, as it would save the weight of one pannierfull of books. To our disappointment the thing appeared to be dead when Eveline wanted to use it in the plane. Helpdesks and all the rest that we tried didn't solve the problem, so in the end we bought a replacemnt. This was not easy, since there are not many bookshops here, and ereaders appear not to be sold there, but only in electronics shops and then it's only Kindle. At last the adequate young lady of the information desk in the public library knew a shop where they had Kobo. This appeared to be true and the people there were so pleased to be able to get Eveline back to reading again that they gave a 20 dollar discount as an extra. How about nice Aussies?
Tomorrow Dean will take us on a small tour to the Esplenada, the beach-boulevard and most likely we'll head north after that to Port Douglas. One of the things to be done there is an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef; glass bottom boat, submarine or just snorkling, we're going to see what will happen.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Back on our wheels again

We had a good “summer of recovery”. Now we have said goodbye to neighbours, friends and family. Our house is spic and span and we emptied some wardrobes, so that the new temporary inhabitants will feel OK. We are reading our beloved newspaper NRC for the last time and we have nothing more to do than wait for tomorrow morning 07.00 hrs for a taxi mini-van to pick us up and take us to Schiphol airport. Then, after 27 hours, we hope to make a safe landing in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, where we will be picked up by our new warmshowers hosts. They have already biked a large part of the route we want to do, so there will be a lot of information exchanging. All in all, we're back on our wheels again.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Renewed plans

As you may have read in About us our perspectives have now, spring 2012, turned positive again. We feel very happy. We want to use this summer to get our physical condition back into the old shape again.
Meanwhile we received an invitation to attend a wedding in November. We know the bridegroom from Cambodia, as we have spent a few days riding together in December 2008. A year later he stayed with us in Breda for a week. He is Australian and lives in Brisbane and there the wedding will take place.
We plan to go there by bike.The first part of this journey, to Cairns, we'll do by plane though :-). Our departure is scheduled sometime in late September.
So check the blog around that time. Until then.