The First Week

It was recently drawn to my attention that we should be providing “REGULAR” blogs to keep our loyal follower(s) appraised of our travel activities.  I must admit that I have been somewhat remiss in this regard. I guess a combination of lack of practice and some apathy on my part have led to this sorry state of affairs.  A case in point is the complete lack of any record of our April/May 2022 visit to Tasmania.  In my defence, this visit was to look at the possibility of living in the state and not a normal travel event.  Having been suitably chastised in CAPITALS, I have vowed to “do better” in future, as my teachers fervently hoped without any appreciable success, in my school years.

We had planned to visit family and friends in Europe at the end of March 2022 and had booked flights accordingly.  A trip around Europe with Streak and Storm was envisaged and I was pouring over maps when an email from Cathay Pacific dropped into my in-box cancelling our flight, courtesy of the Chinese governments approach to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in their country.

This spanner works led to a reappraisal of the timing of our first post COVID-19 trip from Australia and a rescheduled departure via Singapore as the risk of travelling via Hong Kong or China with repeated COVID-19 lockdowns was too high.

Now with a mid July departure, the grand European motorcycle tour was off the table for 2022, but while the primary reason for our visit to Europe is too see family and friends, whom we have not seen in person since 2019, Streak and Storm will, assuming they still want to work with us after this period of abandonment, have a brief outing scheduled in early August.

Our Taxi driver asked “Qantas or Virgin?” assuming we were taking a domestic flight from Brisbane. While domestic air travel numbers have rebounded, there was a two hour gap either side of our flights departure to Singapore.  This is due to international travel from Australia only operating at about 35% which made check-in, security and immigration a breeze.

We are on our way to Europe!

It did seem a little strange to be on such a large plane after more than two and a half years and I did have a little trepidation at what sort of “Gluten Free” meal might be served.  Travelling with Coeliac Disease for the first time, what sort of tasteless mush would I be served?

I was however pleasantly surprised. Most of my gluten free meals have been as good as I remember airline food and as an added bonus we get served first. The soups, noodles and other gluten free goodies we had packed in anticipation were not needed.

Gluten Free meal on Singapore Airlines

Our second leg from Singapore to London took us over some of the places that formed part of our first RTW in 2014.  As we gazed down at the lights of the towns and cities when had visited, memories came flooding back of people, places and experiences that make travelling such a joy for us.  

Life goes on below us, memories, memories.

The approach into London Heathrow in a clear morning gave us a magnificent view of the Thames, north Kent coast and parts of London.  As we touched down on Heathrow’s 27L runway, we were back.

Coming into London.

Neither my 9 year old British passport or Anne’s new British passport worked on the automatic gates at immigration. Many others had the same problem and since the electronic gates have been around for a number of years, they should work better.

Piles of suitcases abounded as we walked through Terminal 2 to the luggage reclaim area reminding us that there are still a few wrinkles in the travel process to be ironed out.  While I waited for our last bag to arrive, a quick look at the location of our newly acquired Apple Airtags showed that the recalcitrant bag was halfway between our arrival gate and the baggage hall. I think the Apple AirTags could prove to be a worthwhile investment at this time given the sometimes chaotic scenes involving bags at airports we all see on television.

Anne’s sister Diane was waiting for us and a joyful reunion took place. We also were able to finally remove our face-masks that had been an almost permanent feature, apart from meat times,  for over 30 hours. I can sympathise with those who have to wear them day in and day out as part of their job.

Back together in the UK after two and a half years.

The first couple of days had us recovering from jet-lag and making sure we had not picked up COVID-19 en-route that we could pass on to family members. We visited the outdoor historic  dockyard at Chatham, formally HMS Chatham, where we could wander outdoors and be exposed to lots of bright sunlight to aid our bodies’ timezone change.

Anne recovering from jet lag. Perhaps it could replace airline seats?

We were able to experience the UK’s hottest day ever, 40.3 degrees Celsius, on July 19th, warm even by our Brisbane standards and spent a pleasant few days in Canterbury catching up with Anne’s mum, enjoying her hospitality.

Anne and her mum in Canterbury.
View from our hotel room in Canterbury.

While staying at our hotel, the Thomas Ingoldsby in Canterbury, we had noticed that the pictures on the walls were done by local school children based on the Ingoldsby Legends – a collection of  myths, legends and ghost stories based in part  Kentish folklore written by Richard Harris Barham in the 1830’s under name of Thomas Ingoldsby. 

Drawing from Ingoldsby Legends “The Smugglers Leap” artist aged 10 commissioned by Wetherspoons.

We then noticed “The art beneath your feet” which explained that the carpets in the hotel were based on the illustrations from the books. I liked the fact that a large pub and hotel chain, Wetherspoons, can weave, pun intended,  local history into something so unnoticed as carpets. 

Even a carpet can be artwork.

Our first week is over, what will week 2 bring?

– Anthony

Getting back in the saddle

Well, after an absence of some six months from blogging, it seems that our handful of followers are looking for more.  We thank them for their dedication and positive comments.  Perhaps a short road trip to get the writing juices flowing again?

Anne has diligently packed the motorbike panniers over the last few days and we are ready for our first road trip in 2022. Little steps and with Easter approaching, we want to be back before the bulk of the holiday makers are out and about. Coffee at Boonah over Cunningham’s Gap and into the Granite Belt as the area is called, known for its fruit, national parks and wine.  Yes, we produce wine in Queensland.  It’s not all beaches and palm trees.

Boy that looks good. Suttons Juice Factory at Thulimbah.

As we approach Stanthorpe  I am struck by the golden colour of the leaves of the deciduous trees. For some reason I always think of April as the start of Autumn but it is in fact March I am reliably informed.   Without such trees around us in Manly, I am always about a month out on the seasons’ change each year.

Autumnal Tints near Stanthorpe.

Day 2: My iPhone’s weather app shows cloudy skies all morning but no rain. This is confirmed by the bureau of meteorology’s radar map but unfortunately this is in conflict with the sound of rain on the roof of the mostly waterproof tent. So much for relying on technology. I had used the weather forecasts before we left to determine what we brought with us, and rain gear was noticeably absent!   Jeans are not that waterproof but it is what we have.

Water has entered the tent overnight, puddles Anne calls them, but from my side of the tent just wet patches.  It is all in the perspective. Seems the waterproofing has not significantly improved since the last trip.  This is why from time to time, equipment needs replacing, but I, Anthony, do not like to throw anything out that has given good service which is why we still have tents going back to 1975!  I have been reliably informed on this trip that this tent will not be making the next motorcycle trip in Queensland. A replacement needs to be sought and this tent retired and donated as “dry weather only” tent for kids.

Camping near Storm King Dam near Stanthorpe.

Up and off to Stanthorpe in light rain heading for the Commercial Cafe, which we hear does great coffee, to meet up with a lovely couple we met the day before at a petrol/gas station where their young son got to sit on both our motorcycles. We really enjoy meeting locals and get their perspective on life and living. Breakfast at a non-gluten free establishment, in spite of their best efforts, does not treat me kindly later in the day. I will need to be more careful in future.

Stanthorpe Fire Station mural.
Another Stanthorpe Mural, go see them all.

A clearing sky tempts us to ride the 36 kilometres to Girraween National Park, a place we have loved to visit during our time in Queensland but have not been to for a dozen years or more. A brief rain shower tests our resolve and our jeans’ lack of waterproofing, but we push on and are able to hike partway up the Pyramid, a famous rock formation in the park. It is really good to be out in the country again.

On top of the world at Pyramid Rock, Giraween.
The water is flowing in Girraween National Park.

While having dinner, a cup of soup and a biscuit back at the campsite, we meet a group of families from Brisbane who were all originally from Kerala in India but only met when they moved to Australia. They invited us to join them for dinner with a range of mouthwatering curries on offer, but I realised I had to decline because of Coeliac Disease. What future culinary delights will I be denied?  Oh well, life goes on with nice dried biscuits. 

Our third day is still grey but with the promise of sunshine further west: we are headed for Texas, a small town of 900 people on the banks of the Dumaresq river which also forms the border between Queensland and New South Wales. Anne proposes we go via the Bruxner Highway so south we go, crossing a state border for the first time on our motorbikes in more than two years without fear of quarantine rules being suddenly changed.

The Bruxner highway from Tenterfield to Texas was a joy to ride: undulations, twists and turns great views and little traffic. Stopping at a river crossing, we enjoy a leisurely break on the banks of the Dumaresq river, which had been in flood only days earlier as evidenced by damage to trees and bushes along the riverbank.

On the banks of the Dumaresq River
Please hold onto the handrail while crossing the bridge.
Texas, a small part of Queensland.

The Texas Railway Museum is our third night’s camping spot. Located just  outside Texas Queensland, not the US TX, a band of intrepid volunteers are working to restore part of what was a 54km branch line to  sleeper by sleeper.

We get to meet Dave, a railway museum volunteer, who comes to check on us  after a concerned resident seeing a couple of dangerous looking bikers just ride up to the station and setup camp calls him! We explain that we are expecting Robert and Kelvin to turn up for the week end.  Dave shows us around the facilities and it is impressive what they have achieved. Worth a visit if you are in the area.

Looking West in Texas on the rail line to Inglewood.
Station Camping in Texas
Intrepid Volunteers Robert and Kelvin, not me, at the Texas Railway museum.
The name says it all.

At Millmerran, we stop for coffee and I am finding that most Gluten free pastries I have eaten so far seem to be a combination of concrete for strength and cardboard for taste. I need to loose my taste memory of tasty flakey pastry.  I am starting to think that gluten free pastry will not form part of my ongoing food consumption. Anyone found an edible version?

Our direct route to our overnight destination of Dalby is closed due to the effects of the recent flooding locals inform us. The damage to bridges and other infrastructure will take some time to repair. 

The Bunya Mountains is the last stop on this little adventure. The mountains rise from the surrounding plain and are visible from Dalby some 50km away.  Crossing the farmland and floodplain crossings as we travel north, the mountains always seem far away. We enjoy seeing deep blue skies finally.  As we start to climb, farmland gives way to scattered temperate forest, then, suddenly it seems, we are enveloped by massive bunya and hoop pines touching above our heads as we enter the real forest. The area was heavily logged.  We are just too late for the Bunya nut season and can only see the remnants on the forest floor, however not a bad thing since the nuts are the size of small pineapples – being hit by one could be very painful.  

While we are still camping, there is a fine restaurant and even finer whiskey/whisky bar with a large section of Scottish and other work. The hearty meal and accompanying drinks are balanced by a couple of brisk walks exploring parts of this unique landscape. 

Last night in the leaky tent in the Bunya Mountains campsite
Fungi in Bunya Mountains National Park.
Bunya pines standing tall
Local wildlife in Bunya Mountains National Park.
Anne sampling the Whisky from the wrong side of the bar.

Back via the Exchange Hotel in Kilkoy, a favourite stop of ours on northern motorcycle loops from Brisbane, for a steak lunch and then after six days and 1158km, we are safely back in Manly.

The only dirt section on the entire trip

While many of our blog entries are from far flung places, for us anyway, there is much to be seen locally everywhere, So while we are all looking at testing our travel wings, why not start with a local trip first?

– Anthony

PS. Storm has a new front (fully round) wheel and has passed the MOT. Ready for the road later this year.

The road ahead in 2022

April fools day (1st April) was the perfect riding day in SE Queensland, warm, 28 degrees celsius, but with the air feeling cool on our faces as we rode south west towards Boonah for brunch.  Once out of the city, the country roads were clear, the landscape so green from the recent floods and the mountains of the Great Dividing range were beckoning in the distance.  What could be better?  We rounded off the afternoon with a movie at the French film festival, subtitles for me, and as we rode back from the city we realised that this was the first time we had ridden together in Brisbane’s CBD (Central Business District)!  Having ridden together on Streak and Storm in city centres as far apart as London, Santiago, Tehran, New York and Bangkok it was a little strange that we had not done so at home, but then we have no reason to ride into our local CBD, we prefer the open road.

Has it really been six months since our fingers skipped across the keyboard of the blog? Sadly yes. I am not sure where the time has gone but it has. We have been riding locally, going to the beach, windsurfing again for the first time in 10 years and I have joined the Brisbane Bayside Steam Railway (BBSR) which offers rides twice a month for big and little kids. I have a lot to learn but everyone is happy to share their knowledge with me.

Windsurfing again in Manly Qld
Driving the works loco hauling ballast on the BB.
Approach road to Binna Burra Lodge in Lamington National Park

Over Christmas I reflected that two years ago we were in Hua Hin in Thailand planing to head to Bangkok to meet up with friends Dave and Sky and celebrate the New Year together.  Little did we, or most people, know that in a couple of months a pandemic named COVID-19 would be upon us and that we would spend the best part of two years with significant travel restrictions and, for many, endless lockdowns, that fortunately we avoided in Queensland. I felt optimistic about 2022 that the world would start to open up for all of us to travel.

Restrictions in Queensland have fallen away as we moved towards living with the COVID-19 in Australia having abandoned our ‘Fortress’ approach of last two years. Single digit COVID numbers that used to take centre stage on the news every day now seem to be just a footnote even though they number in the thousands daily.  The vaccinations seem to have done the trick in reducing hospitalisations and deaths. I am about to get my fourth jab in 10 days or so.  I just have to decide which flavour.

We had planned to return to Europe at the end of March but this was scuppered with Hong Kong banning flights from Australia in January due to increased COVID-19 numbers here so Cathay Pacific cancelled our Brisbane to Hong Kong flight.  Looking at the options we decided that we would spend the rest of the summer and autumn here.   We have rebooked via Singapore in mid July which will allow us to arrive in the summer rather than the end of the northern hemisphere winter.

In December 2021, a final visit to the ophthalmic surgeon allowed me to close off my detached retina saga, leaving me free to start a new medical journey on the 31st of January: Coeliac Disease.  Blood tests had both markers tested strongly indicated the diagnosis.  I understood that a result below 7 was no Coeliac Disease , mine was over 300!  A followup endoscopy and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. It did explain my lack of energy, due to an iron deficiency, and constant hunger yet weight loss which, along other symptoms of Coeliac Disease, had been affecting me increasingly over the last 12 -18 months. 

Some people will do anything for a sleep. Another operating theatre photo
Iron Infusion while you wait.

I tried to find a little wriggle room with our doctor, but sadly there is none. “Gluten Free” is the new black for me.  Gone are croissants and baguettes in Paris cafes, Cadbury chocolate fingers with tea and occasional visits to McDonald’s. Don’t tell my cardiac specialist about the last one. Anne is trying to convince me that Single “Malt” Scotch contains gluten, but I think there is an ulterior motive as she eyes our/her Isla Scotch Collection.

Alas none for Anthony anymore and these are the best in Brisbane

It was an interesting 24 hours following diagnosis.  After dropping Anne at the Endodontist,  lucky her, I entered the Indooroopilly shopping centre and I see this:

First shop after Celiac Disease diagnosis.

I just burst out laughing.  Of all the things I could have seen this was the best and yes every food item they sell is gluten free.  While Anne suffered in the chair, I perused the health food section at Woolworths and selected a range of gluten free products to try, including chocolate.  Anne’s sister very kindly arranged a couple of wonderful gluten free care packages which I have been working my way through. Life goes on, now with renewed energy.

Over a year ago, I proposed to write a retrospective of our first RTW journey from way back in 1982. All the ingredients are there, the cook just needs to step up to the stove and start cooking. This project has languished in part due to my inability to decide how to approach telling from either a historical only or retrospective viewpoint. I now plan to push ahead with a hybrid model so who knows what we will end up with.

Finally the road ahead beckons us and either here or overseas we will tour on motorbikes again this year.  Streak and Storm are being serviced and have to pass a UK roadworthy (MOT) and will be waiting for us in July.

Only a small ding, no reason to fail an MOT in my view.

The desire to travel and see family and friends is too strong and regardless of COVID we will be out there in 2022. Stay safe and travel well. 

– Anthony

Inland Run

The maps have been refolded, the tent packed and we are ready to depart Airlie Beach, but where to? We have decided that with the strong 40km/hr winds scheduled for the next few days and approaching school holidays that Cairns and the Daintree will have to wait until another day. Inland and south it is. To head south on our planned route, we must first head north 80km/50ml before we can turn inland.

As we approach Bowen, the ocean comes into view again. It is interesting to note that while travelling up the Queensland coast on the Bruce Highway glimpses of the ocean are few and far between until you are north of Cairns. 

Another large Queensland sculpture – the Bowen mango

Cane train crossing.

As we progress away from Bowen the strong winds are abating and the landscape changes. We leave behind the green sugar cane fields and cane train crossings and are moving in cattle and coal country. We have decided to take a route that keeps us parallel to the coast but on roads we have not travelled before. Our planned route will take us to Collinsville, Nebo, Dingo, Banana, Mount Morgan, Monto and back to Brisbane. We also realise that the clouds and rain that seemed to have followed us up the coast have dissipated and we are now riding blue sky days, perfect!

And then we finally got blue skies and funny clouds

Our first stop in Collinsville for morning coffee. We were lucky to spend an engaging hour talking to a local cattle farmer Stephen about his property on the Burdekin river and also the barramundi and crocodiles that inhabit the river. I was not expecting crocodiles to be so far inland.  I think I will keep my toes out of the water should the opportunity arise.

Burdekin cattle farmer Stephen.

Commemorating the Collinsville “pit pony”

In the Wikipedia entry on Collinsville, it talks about coal being discovered in 1866, but in the next sentence mentions that the aboriginal name of the town was “Moongunya” which means “place of coal”! How often do we see the term “discovered” used when the locals knew always where it was, perhaps we should use “discovered by …” instead for accuracy.

Unlike the coast, road traffic is light, however in this coal mining region oversize loads seem fairly common and, unlike the oversize signed loads we see in and around Brisbane, these are wider than 50% of the road. Locals just pull over when they see a pilot vehicle approaching. We did find that the trailing vehicle was helpful in getting us safely past these mammoth loads on numerous occasions.

Fair warning

No overtaking yet

I think we can call this an oversize load(s).

Oh no, we stopped too long, will have to get past them a 3rd time!

That’s why we don’t ride at dawn or dusk – too many kangaroos

An overnight stay in Nebo took us back to the same pub we had lunch at last year while in the camper van.  This is the only time that our paths crossed with last years trip. We get talking to a couple of people who were from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and lo and behold were friends with Katie who was expecting the baby in Rockhampton, small world.

We had been puzzled since our trip last year by a shrub we had seen planted in well spaced rows in cattle country. Again we are seeing the same plant. We did not understand what this was. It turns out to be Leucaena, which is a legume fodder crop, that originated in the Americas, that used as a cattle feed supplement. Always something new to learn when travelling.

Nebo pub

Lunch is taken at Kell’s Snack Shack, parked at a road junction off the Fitzroy Developmental Rd near Middlemout. This enterprising person has a mobile kitchen with its own truck mounted generator providing meals and coffee to passing motorists. A steady stream of road trains, trucks and service vehicles arrive and depart while we are there, a testament to the service provided and a CB radio to take orders in advance is a smart move.  

Kell’s Snack Shack mobile van in Middlemount

Popular Kell’s Snack Shack mobile van in Middlemount

Must be the town of Dingo

We return to Rockhampton to see new Harry and proud parents Katie and Gus. While we had missed Harry on the northward trek, he arrived in time for us to see him on the way back.  We will also get to see his new home as we are invited to spend Friday night with the new parents and Harry at their home, on a cattle property, outside Banana.

Katie, Gus and baby Harry

We dine that night at TruFusion, an Indian restaurant on the riverfront in Rockhampton. The food was fantastic, but do not order as much tasty nan bread as we did! 

Archer Park train station in Rockhampton is now a museum

Heading for Banana gave us an opportunity to take the Burnett Highway to Mount Morgan, a wonderful twisty motorcycle road. The fun of riding at its best but curves are tight and any overspeed and you could be on the wrong side of the road. A visit to the railway museum which was on the now abandoned Moura to Rockhampton rail line gave us the history of the area based around the Mt Morgan Mine which operated for almost a century extracting gold and copper.  At one time it was one of the largest gold mines in the world.

Lovely road to Mount Morgan

Mount Morgan Station

Banana was named after a yellowish bullock

A night on a cattle property. A first for us although there are no cattle at present. Katie and Gus are excellent hosts and give us a tour of the property the next morning.  I should not have offered to open and close gates as I did not realise how many there were!

Little Harry is now home

The property outside Banana

Proud grandma Catherine

Anne loving her baby cuddles

Sunset in Banana

We take the Burnett Highway (A3) from Biloela to it’s southern end at Nanango. We had never ridden this route before even though it is not that far from Brisbane and were pleasantly surprised by both the twists and turns and the change in elevation along parts of the route.  In addition, traffic was light which made it all the more enjoyable. We will ride this route again one day.

Painted grain silo by Drapl and The Zookeeper in Monto, Qld

With the new locally acquired COVID cases in Brisbane is a lockdown looming? Breakfast is taken at the Goomeri Bakery, a French style bakery with a well deserved reputation in Goomeri while we wait for the 10am Queensland COVID update. We have been on the road for 14 days so are now outside any historic quarantine rules. We have decided that if a lockdown is declared for Brisbane and SE Queensland we will turn around and head north again. 

Enjoying a rest and oversized croissant at Goomeri

No new COVID cases and no lockdown, so we are off to Montville to spend a night with friends Pam and Jim who have a wonderful country retreat overlooking Lake Baroon. Great to catch up.

The scenery quickly changed from this…

… to that. Good to see green again, approaching Maleny

Great to spend a night with Pam’nJim.

A short run back to Brisbane and we are home.  Our first proper motorcycle adventure since 2019 is sadly over. It also our first in Australia since we tried to ride to Melbourne for Christmas 2012 and I ended up being airlifted to John Hunter hospital in Newcastle NSW. 

We took only 15 days and covered just over  3,100km / 1,900 ml. but we have not lost our  passion of this type of adventure.  While we are restricted now, I think that 2022 will open up more opportunities for travel, so hopefully we can be “back on the road again” as Anne likes to sing as we depart in the morning. 

But for now, it’s been back to reality, trying to turn our backyard wasteland into something more presentable.

We moved these 5 cubic metres of soil by hand – good exercise!

– Anthony

Mission Accomplished!

We have done it.  Negotiated over 1400 km from Brisbane to Airlie Beach in the last 8 days, coping with roadworks, rain and gusty winds.  All this to deliver a birthday card! With Australia Post cutting back on postal deliveries, we thought we should hand deliver the card for our friend Jane’s birthday. I have to advise that this is not a cost effective way of delivering mail, but is a lot of fun to do.  We will probably stick to Australia Post in future – or maybe not says Anne.

We are delivering a birthday card.

Having dragged Anne away from Bargara we head north.  Anne is happy as there is a new red dot on a Bargara coastal development plan. No commitment from us for a while yet but it does give us a placeholder in an area that we have both come to enjoy being in. The only slightly worrying event is that the sole of one of my motorcycle boots came off in a similar fashion to my hiking boot last year in Carnarvon Gorge, just before my eye problem, hopefully no more repeats!

We lunch at Tannum Sands, a coastal community outside Gladstone that I, Anthony, used to head to for a fish and chip lunch at when I visited Gladstone for business about 20 years ago. Most of my potential industrial customers for natural gas were in Yarwin to the north of Gladstone so we ride through there for old times’ sake. The three Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plants built over the last 10 years on Curtis Island are sadly not easily visible from the road. It has been interesting to see the huge expansion of an industry that I was in. Interestingly, the experimental plant looking to produce oil from shale is now repurposed as an environmental fuels plant and a site developing bio fuels has also been built.  A sign of the times.

Gladstone power station, supplying power to local industries.

Rockhampton is where a friend Katie is expecting her first child. We had hoped our arrival would spur on the birth, but alas we do not have such powers, and will have to wait to meet the new arrival on our return journey. While exploring the town, we visit to the Rockhampton Railway station which is impressive with five platforms, reminding me of the stations in France which have more than the three trains a day scheduled. 

Rockhampton Station, platforms galore.
Where to put a electricity sub-station if you are short of space in Rockhampton.

While we like Bargara, we also wanted to see Yeppoon and the surrounding area which so we head to Emu park just 50kms from Rockhampton for a quick look and end up spending a night there!  Beaches with rocky headlands and a campsite with beach access draw us in.  The place is pretty full but we are lucky/unlucky? We get an unpowered site although the neighbours are noisey and a little messy.

Looking out over the Whitsunday’s at Emu Park headland.
Flying foxes, our noisy neighbours at Fishermans Beach Holiday Park.

We discover a beautiful ANZAC centennial memorial with a coastal walk highlighting not only the contributions of the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force in WW1 but local individuals who served as well. A nice touch and fabulous location.  

Part of the ANZAC memorial at Emu Park based on a 1917 Western front photograph.
Brothers from Emu Park who served in WW1, part of the ANZAC memorial.

A leisurely lunch with the weekend papers and then back to our neighbourhood bats for a raucous early evening departures and an equally loud early morning return.

Given the thousands of bats roosting next to us, the clean of motorbikes and tent was surprisingly quick. We were told that it all depends on which direction they return from.  I think that next time we will try to avoid such close proximity.   The rain overnight confirmed our reconditioned tent is now a dry-weather only tent – the rain even came from the ground up so in addition to cleaning the bat poo, we had some drying to do also before we could move on.

A gentle Sunday morning ride up to Yeppoon gives us ocean views and a chance to think about this area as a possible place to live. It does seem busier than Bargarra and will be warmer in summer being that much further north. Yeppoon will also be in the Cyclone belt, something to consider when moving.

Here, as elsewhere in Australia, property prices have soared in the last 12 months. Low interest rates, negative gearing and the desire of many people to leave the large cities for a quieter rural life have supercharged the property market.  We catch up with Brett and Yvonne for coffee, who followed a similar route to us from Vladivostok in 2018. It is always nice to catch with fellow travellers and exchange experiences, especially when we have covered the same ground although their trip was far more challenging with Yvonne having a major accident and still continuing – tougher than I am (Anne disagrees again and reminds me of having a heart attack while riding in Bhutan and carrying on for another week).

Drying the sleeping bags at the BarraCrab caravan park Clairview, Qld.

The name “Laguna Quays” in the 1990’s was synonymous with boundless tourism development in coastal Queensland. Laguna Quays in the Whitsundays was planned to have its own international airport to enable visitors from Japan primarily to fly direct to the Resort. The project floundered after some initial development and the runway is just a faded image on Goole Maps. Since Laguna Quays rise and fall was in the 1990’s, little can be found on the internet. Revised development plans are announced and then fade into nothing.  No signage exists to say the development was ever there and at the abandoned security building at the entrance “Keep Out Residents only” signs abound.  I was expecting to find an overgrown jungle out of an “Indiana Jones’ movie set, but no, well kept lawns and fairways on the golf course abound. We could only assume that those who purchased all those years ago are still on the hook for maintenance fees and rates.

The unfinished runway, partially built resort and derelict harbour

Arriving at Airlie Beach we head for the campground where Anne has booked an en-suite campsite. A first for us and I have to say that we really enjoyed having our own shower and toilet a few steps away. Great for storage of the motorbikes’s gear as well as recharging phones, iPads, cameras, helmet intercoms etc. No more cramped tent at night with all our gear.  Unlike our Streak and Storm based adventures with a three person tent, our Australian tent is definitely a two person only model. 

Camping with an en-suite at Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, Airlie Beach.

It is great to catch up with Jane and Paul over a couple of days but any thoughts of sailing whisked away by strong winds forecast to last all week.  We hand delivered our birthday card and had an early celebratory dinner with the best Roederer champagne!

Us with Paul and Jane celebrating the successful birthday card delivery

We enjoy walking on the foreshore although entry into the inviting blue sea is tempered somewhat by the signs posted along the beach.  Our glorious Queensland coastline come with a couple of unwelcome additions, just add water.

Let’s head to the water
But remember to wear your stinger suit.
The stinger suit does not help with these.

Our last night in the tent is taken up pouring over maps, which way next, North to Cairns, or inland and back south. We decide to sleep on it and see what tomorrow brings.  Will the 40km/hr winds forecast for the coming days continue?

– Anthony