Out of the fog

Early morning fog swirls ahead of us, we can hear breaking of the waves, but they remain unseen as ghostly shapes fade in and out of vision. Then as the fog starts to clear, the waves come into view and the ghostly shapes solidify to become paddle-board riders cresting the swells.

Out of the fog, a magical experience

We are standing on Nelson’s Beach at Bargara enjoying the first day of spring, yes we are on the road again and on motorcycles, back to our roots. So how did we get here?

While Australia has been both extremely lucky and vigilant, Covid-19 still manages to get into our communities and cause lockdowns that make travel planning interstate problematic.  We were scheduled to spend two weeks in Tasmania a couple of months ago, but lockdowns and designated hotspots derailed our plans at the last minute.  Given that state borders are the new travel boundaries, we still have all of Queensland to explore and with the heat of summer fast approaching, it was time to get out and head north for a couple of weeks.  The only problem is that all our current travel gear is in the UK. Time to dig out all our old camping gear we have not used for decades and see what the moths have left us.

Fifteen year old kerosene, perished valves, decades old sleeping bags and a smelly leaky tent all challenged the preparation process. I did find during testing the stove that the home smoke detector works well!  With some judicious cleansing, a waterproof spray and a few parts replaced; note buy the spares pack at the same time as the stove because when you need them 20 years later they are long out of stock, we are good to go.

 

Just a little more WD40 and a hammer

With no Covid-19 cases in the community, we head off early so by the time the daily Queensland Government Covid-19 announcements are made we are outside of Brisbane and past Noosa. It feels so good to be loaded up and riding again, our smiles are wide as we head north.  

Given a lack of space and our confidence in weather forecasters, we are leaving waterproof outerwear behind.  If we get a rainy day we will just wait it out. No one told the rain gods and a cloudy start turns to rain outside Gympie, turn around and run for home? No, we are made of sterner stuff and ducking into a service station till the rain storm passes helps.

We just missed the oncoming storm

While this is a road trip will allow us to explore parts of the Queensland coast we have not seen before, we also want to revisit some of the places we have visited over the last few months looking for a quieter place to live. We have enjoyed Manly but it has grown busier over the last few years while we have been travelling overseas and we feel that somewhere smaller is what we are looking for.

Our first stop is Hervey Bay, where friends have just moved to and it gives us an opportunity to both catch up and also learn a little more about living in Hervey Bay. We are provided wonderful hospitality and our stay is over too quickly. We are moving on to Bagara next and into a tent for the first time since Iceland in 2019.  

With our dear friend Leanne in Hervey Bay

Caravan parks appear full, with NSW and Victorian number plated vehicles. Their owners are staying in Queensland rather than return to indefinite lockdown in their own states.  This does not affect us as we do not need a powered site. We get a lovely space looking into the forest with no one within 50 meters, how lucky can we be. 

Camping at Bagara

Happy we met 47 years ago

Anne is happy on this special beach

Mon Repos conservation park, Bargara


September 1 and the first day of spring and as the morning fog dissipates we notice patterns on the beach, have the local wildlife been busy overnight? No we meet locals Kay and Cynthia who are producing a range of what I would call “beach art”. They are here today to celebrate the first day of spring.  Their art puts a smile on our faces – it is bold and happy.   Kay and Cynthia were just as open and inviting as their art.

Kay and Cynthia’s mandala,Hello Spring, smiley and flower

 

Kay and Cynthia, beach artists

After chatting for a while we invite them for coffee – thinking about it now, we’re not sure if they were finished making beach art for the day but they graciously accepted.  This little coffee shop on the beach is full of regulars – surfers, paddle boarders, skate-boarders, business people, artists.  Having explained that we were considering Bargara as a possible retirement place, they introduce us to Bill, a local developer.  Our morning walk on a foggy beach suddenly turned into a whole day of connections.  Bill tells us we need to call Molly (his real name is really Grant – yes, there’s a story behind this).   And Cynthia invites us to afternoon tea followed by walk to a special place built by Bill in consultation with local Aboriginal artists and elders.  What a morning already and a what a day this promises to be.

Anthony having his Poppy nap in Bargara


Time for a late shower and lunch before meeting Molly who gives us a great tour of the development and explains Bill’s philosophy, environmental work, such as creating the smallest lighting footprint to prevent disorientation of Loggerhead turtles.  I (Anne) would move there now if I could!…  Time to head to Cynthia who has made a special orange and passion fruit cake to cater for my lactose intolerance!  We seem to have so many interests in common, such as travel, the arts, energy, nature.  We’d better stop before it gets too late for our walk!  Off we set with Cynthia, her husband Dave and a visiting friend Helen.  Remember our Carnavon bush trip where Anthony’s boots fell apart, this happened again!…  Lucky Dave had some strong glue.

At the yarning circle, we bump into Bill again who is there with photographers and artists who have been commissioned to create more mosaics along the paths in the estate.  Bill has built strong connections with the local Aboriginal people which means a lot to me.  What a day this has been with so many connections.

Dave and Cynthia at the new yarning circle in Innes Park

As always, I am the one driving a potential move (poor Anthony!)  and I have had a clear idea of what I would like from a potential move:   a small place with a soul and a vibrant community, and proximity to nature. And not too far from medical facilities.  Could Bargara be the place?…

– Anthony & Anne

38-22

Six months have elapsed since the last blog entry and my fingers feel a little rusty as a type away back home in Australia. While I was drafting this blog, Anne had a friend on Facebook ask what were were doing as they had not heard from us for months. So this is timely.

New York seems a distant memory as all our adventures do with the passage of time. So what have we been doing you may ask, planning the next trip, writing our book, sadly not, but our time has been filled with other activities.

My first act upon returning was to seek an eye examination. It had become apparent to me that towards the end of our travels in 2017 my eyesight was deteriorating, especially in low light conditions. Tests revealed that cataracts were the cause and while we all get them gradually, in some cases like mine, the change can come on more quickly. With each eye needing about four weeks’ recovery time after surgery, the whole process would take over three months. We also had our niece, Deanna, coming to visit in July from the UK. The decision was then made that it would be nice to spend the rest of 2018 at home here in Brisbane.

Anthony making friends with the nurse before his op!

Right eye first


Anthony’s cousin Inger and niece Deanna meet for the first time

One must remember that it has been five years since we set off for Europe in September 2013 for what we thought was a nine month stay in Europe, to spend more time visiting our families. We calculated that in those five years we spent 38 months overseas in Europe and travelling on Streak and Storm and only 22 months in Australia, hence the title of this blog.

Since we were to stay in Brisbane for an extended period, we cast an eye over our home and found that a refresh was in order. We had not undertaken any such activity in the 20 years we have owned the place. My pathetic attempts at painting made the decision to bring in the professionals that much easier. Electricians, painters, carpet layers and window shutter fitters have transformed our home and we are very happy with the outcome and completed in a very short timeframe allowing us to enjoy the results so much sooner. Another reason to bring in the professionals.

Renovating called for more decluttering!


I guess by this time you are falling asleep, not a motorcycle or travel adventure in sight – have the 2slowspeeds become domesticated and settling into their couch and hanging up their helmets and leathers? Well, no not quite. As we do not ride pillion with each other and only have one motorcycle, the 2010 Triumph Thunderbird, riding options for both of us were limited. Anne had also found that while riding the Thunderbird was fine, the weight of the motorcycle while parking and manoeuvring a 350 kg/770 lb motorcycle on gravel less than enjoyable. A second motorcycle was needed. With Anne looking for an upright riding position similar to ‘Streak’s’ and after much due diligence, Anne whittled it down to a few interesting choices to test ride. With the BMW F700GS in runout and not available in Australia ahead of the introduction of its replacement early in 2019, the shortlist consisted of the:

– Royal Enfield Himalayan,

– BMWR1200R,

– Honda CB500X and the

– Moto Guzzi V7.

Quite a mixture. We both test rode the Royal Enfield Himalayan and while the bike was fun, the buzz at highway speeds and service intervals concerned us. With my first eye operation taking place, my test riding days were over. Anne found the Moto Guzzi V7 was too front heavy thus eliminating it. Anne enjoyed the BMWR1200R with all the high tech features that she tried but at three times the price of the Honda CB500X, so the decision was made. Anne describes the CB500X as a “Sweet Ride”, and nicknamed it “The Bee” due to the grey and yellow paint scheme. Over a couple of thousand kilometres have been ridden since purchase and the smile on Anne’s face is barely contained in her new Shoei Neotec1 helmet.

Anne riding off with her new Bee


The Bird and The Bee in northern NSW

Carr’s Lookout


Lesson: don’t ride behind a sugar cane truck!


Had a great ride to Tyalgum


Celebrating our anniversary outside Ballandean – it is cold donw there in the middle of winter

Our little cottage for our anniversary – decided it was too cold to camp

Girraween National Park

Girraween National Park


So are we off across Australia next week? Well, no, not quite, Anne has returned to full time employment! Well that was a surprise to both of us. After looking for a little part time work at the local hardware chain “Bunnings”, Anne saw an opportunity to apply for a Project Management role at Queensland Health for a eight month contract. Anne had to dust off her CV which had lain unused for 18 years and undertake a gruelling series of interviews and personality tests over a six week period. The result of which was a job offer as a Project Manager at Queensland health. The end of August saw a boost in business clothing sales in Brisbane as Anne realised the her previous business outfits purchased in the last century were a little dated. With her fashion adviser, me, alongside, we have Anne looking professional and business like.

Anne started work in mid September and will finish the contract in April 2019. She is very brave after being retired for five years and working for herself for the 12 years prior to that with the art business. I do not think that I could go back and work full time with all that it entails, I am very proud of her. I have my own list of tasks that seems to hover in the mid 20’s regardless of how many I complete. Hopefully the list will be finished before the end of Anne’s contract and I can just relax with my feet up.

Had a trip to Alice Springs before Anne started work


Enjoying being home in Manly

Sun going down in Manly

Same time looking the other way in Manly


Our focus for travel has now moved on to 2019. Streak and Storm are sitting in the UK waiting for us. They will need a little work after the exertions of 2017, new tyres are probably just the start. We have a number of ideas but nothing that has coalesced into a trip we want to undertake yet. For now we will just enjoy being in our refurbished home catching up with friends and refilling the coffers with Anne’s hard work for the rest of the year. Let’s see what 2019 will bring, the call of the road for both of us is still out there and will likely only grow stronger with the passage of time.

– Anthony