Archive for 'Australia'

We are getting hitched

PHILIP ISLAND  to  MELBOURNE

It is 33 515 kms from Ushuaia, Argentina to Beaumaris, Melbourne.  Why do we know this?  Because we have now cycled it!!  It has been an amazing 19 months, that has both challenged and tested us, but I am very pleased to say – it did not beat us.  We arrived home, unscathed and as expected, on the 3rd July and just in time for Jess’s mum’s birthday!!  In every way it was a success, and one we are both very proud of.

Saturday was an overwhelming and unforgettable day.  Family & friends turned out in droves, braving the Melbourne cold, to cheer us over the finish line.  It was the perfect homecoming, and just like what we had talked about so many times on the road.  We’d like to thank everyone for their support, especially, Rob & Jenny for hosting such a fantastic welcome, Luke & Carly for all the yummy food, and the Queensland contingent, including my parents, Frank, Ryan and Mel for coming all that way.  We loved and appreciated every single moment.

But there is more good news.  As one adventure ends, another begins – Jess & I are getting hitched!!  Woohoo!!  You learn a lot about a person, sharing a journey like the one we have just completed.  But keeping it simple, I can’t imagine or would want to live my life without her.  And luckily for me, she feels the same way too ;-) !!

So for the ride, that is it.  It has been a fantastic pleasure to share it with you all, and we thank everyone that has followed and enjoyed it.  Life is the adventure – so embrace the challenge, and make yours great, each and every day!!

Thankyou,

Jules & Jess

Our private celebration, on the beach at Beaumaris, before the big arrival

 

33 515 kms ... a challenge and a test, but it didn't beat us !!

 

We are getting hitched... but no one else know's yet

 

The final few pedals to the finish line

 

We are home - now the bikes go straight into the shed !!

 

Family & friends turned out in droves to cheer us over the finish line

 

An achievement we are very proud of

 

As one adventure ends, another begins.

 

Jess tells her Mum she's engaged... woohoo!!

 

A very happy man

 

Thanks Luke & Carly for the yummy food !!

 

Thanks everyone for being a part of it.

Four crazy campers

MERIMBULA  to PHILLIP ISLAND

I’m fairly certain there were only four people camping in Victoria this past week – Jess & I, plus Jess’s father, Rob, and family friend, Reese, who had joined us for the ride to Phillip Island from Seaspray.  Why are we so sure?  Because if you had any sense, you were curled up in front of a heater, or wrapped tightly in a doona (or duvet for those in the UK)!!  It was a bitterly cold few days…

Reeves Beach, right on the infamous Bass Coastline, was the low point – temperature wise – of the unfortunately timed ride.  After lying awake listening to gunfire through the night, and hoping the fox hunters weren’t aiming our way, we awoke to find our tents and everything else frozen solid.  There was enough ice to even make a snow man, albeit a small one!  If only Dave & Sue were here now, with the Nissan heater set to boost!!

When we did eventually thaw out, the scenery around us was stunning.  The endless eucalypt forests of East Gippsland had been replaced with lush green rolling dairy and sheep country.  It reminded you of Devon or Cornwell, not land you would expect to find in a “sunburnt country”!  What is more amazing though; is just how close this rural countryside is to the centre of Melbourne.  So shh – keep it a secret!!

But the cold didn’t beat us, and neither did the wind around Toora, or a persistent days rain heading into Cape Paterson.  With beaming smiles and under bright sunshine we rode into Phillip Island on time.  Had it been a good week, or were we just glad it was over?  It was probably a bit of both, but regardless, we had a lot of fun and very much enjoyed Rob & Reese’s company in our last week “on the bikes”.  Who else would have been crazy enough to join us in the middle of winter??!!

It really is the home stretch now.  We have only 100 kms to Melbourne and the finish.  We will be there this Saturday, then our amazing and incredible adventure will be over.  What seemed near impossible, in the howling wind of Patagonia, now seems very possible, and is literally just down the road.  Yeah baby!!

We hope you have enjoyed it, just as much as we have.

Jules & Jess

Stepping back in time - welcome to Victoria !!

 

Whale watching near Marlo (we actually did see a few!!)

 

The man, the horse, the river

 

Dave (L) handling logistics with the Nissan. Reese scared (R).

 

Four crazy campers. With Rob (foreground) and Reese (playing full back).

 

On the road. The Gippsland plains.

 

Reese and his super inflatable pillow (can be also used for body boarding!)

 

Geez, my tent is frozen! Rob early morning at Reeves Beach.

 

So are the bikes!!

 

"Frosty" the small but not insignificant Snow Man!!

 

Like father, like daughter. Jess and her dad.

 

Finally thawed out and surrounded by stunning lush green pasture!!

 

Riding single file. Jess setting a blistering pace towards Toora.

 

Rob, aka "billy the mountain goat", just loves the hills.

 

A brief rest stop. Jess organising the troops.

 

Cold, wind & rain - nothing will stop them! Rob and Reese racing to Cape Paterson.

 

All smiles. The sun is shining and Phillip Island is just up ahead.

 

It was alot of fun - thanks for joining us guys!!

Winter is here

SYDNEY  to MERIMBULA

Winter is here – it’s getting chilly and the days are much shorter.  It takes a super human effort, just to climb out of our warm sleeping bags in the morning.  We have to though, to cover the distance, and to make sure we get to Melbourne on time.  And it’s not a party we are going to be late for!

Aside from winter closing in, the past weeks cycling has actually been quite pleasant.  The Princes Highway is relatively quiet, and the coastal towns along the South Coast are incredibly quaint and picturesque.  You get the feeling nothing happens here quickly though, unless of course the fish are biting or the surf is up!

In between the towns, and backing right onto the coast, are state forests, national parks and rural farmland.  Here, the cows have the best views!  Maybe that is why the cheese is so good?  Or maybe it is all the exercise they get, catching waves and running along the beach, while we are not looking??

Just north of Narooma, we saw our first road sign to “Melbourne”.  It was a very special moment.  For over 17 months Melbourne has been our unseen destination – now it is right in front of us, in reflective silver and green.  It’s hard to believe, but we have only two more weeks to go!!

From here we leave NSW, and ride through the East Gippsland region of Victoria.  We’ve given up saying “It’s all downhill from here”, it never is, but at least we are getting closer.

Enjoy the ride

Jules & Jess

On the Manly ferry, bound for Circular Quay

No fireworks, but still impressive. The Opera House and Sydney CBD.

2 bikes, 2 Aussies, with 2 "famous" Aussies in the background

Coastline south of Sydney. Views from the cliff not good enough - get a parasail!

Sea Cliff Bridge just north of Wollongong. We rode along it... Woohoo!!

Picnic lunch in picturesque Kiama. The start of the South Coast (sort of).

Its getting chilly in the mornings. Lake Burrill, just near Ulladulla.

"Melbourne", we are getting close!

Sleepy Narooma, on a bright and sunny winters day

Cows with views. Stunning rural coastline near Tilba Tilba.

Severe weather warning

TAMWORTH  to SYDNEY

The absolute worst weather for cycling – is rain.  Water has a knack of finding its way in everywhere, plus the constant damp will eventually test even the toughest resolve.  Hmm, Frank arrives by train from Sydney tonight, there is a severe weather warning issued for the Hunter Valley, and rain is forecast all week – let’s just hope he is still talking to us by the end of it!!

Pleasingly, we made it through the stormy night, but as expected, it was a rather wet tour around the Hunter Valley wineries.  It didn’t matter though, our spirits were high, and a bit of rain wasn’t going to spoil the party – even if we had to roll our pants up, to cross the flood waters, getting to the toilet block in the Cessnock caravan park!!

The ride down to Lake Macquarie was a lot more pleasant, and gave us a chance to dry out.  Jess’s friends Megan & Matt were waiting for us, and we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon, before sitting down to feast fit for a hundred kings!!  Thanks folks – it couldn’t have been more perfect!

It was then a long and hilly ride along the Central Coast to Bouddi National Park.  Unfortunately, it rained again, but camping right on the beach, we were all amazed to think, this “wild and rugged” place was only a stone’s throw from the CBD!!

Forget the Harbour Bridge Walk, if you want the ultimate adrenalin experience in Sydney – catch the Wagstaff to Palm Beach ferry.  For under $10, they’ll take you in a small catamaran, out over the bar and through the rolling Pittwater swell – even Frank was glad to get back on his bike!

A short ride along the Northern Beaches, then one last hill, that was so steep it nearly claimed us all, and we were home, at Frank’s place in Fairlight.  Well done mate, against the odds you proved yourself and surpassed all expectations.  Again, top effort!!

From here, after a short break, we push out alone for the final run down to Melbourne.  It’s all getting very, very exciting now!

Enjoy the (last of the) ride!

Jules & Jess

Jess roo spotting, enroute to the rendevous with Frank

 

Camping out in the Branxton Rodeo Grounds, preparing for Frank's arrival and a night of wild weather.

 

Frank and I, soaked to the bone amongst the Hunter Valley vines.

 

Spirits were high - a little rain wasn't going to spoil the party. De Illuis winery.

 

Drying out on Lake Macquarie.

 

Compliments to the chef! Dinner with Matt & Meaghan

 

No rest for the wicked - saying goodbye 7.30am Sunday morning!!

 

Frank, settling in and enjoying the hills

 

Once perilous, now safe! Norah Head Lighthouse c1903

 

Enjoying a short sunny break...

 

...before a tough afternoon - lots of hills

 

Little Beach, Bouddi NP - wild & rugged but only a stones throw from the CBD!!

 

Bit chilly this morning - Jess & I delaying the inevitable...

 

The adrenalin ride - Wagstaff to Palm Beach ferry

 

Yeah baby! Frank, home in Fairlight, Sydney.

A long hard week

DAYBORO  to TAMWORTH

We’ll be honest with you – it has been a long hard week.  Plenty of hills, cold, wet, and to top things off, a persistent head wind too.  Tamworth had never looked brighter – even when it was the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to get street lighting!!  Luckily, we were not alone, and had someone to share our discomfort with…

Ryan, the lean, mean, PT machine, joined us for the ride out of Brisbane to Bangalow.  Crossing into NSW via the infamous Lions Rd, we then passed over the range four times in a single day, from Kyogle to Bangalow – you couldn’t have dreamed up a tougher introduction to cycle touring.  Ryan, you road like a champ, and it was great having you along mate – but are you really sure you don’t want to keep going??

Our relatively flat ride, along the north coast and rich farmland of the Clarence Valley, was plagued by wind and rain.  Did we do something wrong to deserve this??  The low point was reached, changing a flat tyre on the side of the Pacific Highway, in pouring rain, getting drenched by passing trucks.  Maybe we should have gone with Ryan??!!

From Grafton, it was a sneaky 90km climb up the Great Dividing Range to Ebor at 1350m.  Cold and wet, we crashed through the doors of the local coffee shop.  We’re not sure exactly what the startled staff thought, but thank you anyway – that hot drink saved us folks.  Looking back, it was an incredible ride, and rivaled anything we’d ridden in the Alps – just next time, we’ll remember to pick a sunny day, and go in the opposite direction!!

Armidale sits at around 1100m and is bone chillingly cold in winter.  With chimneys smoking, and leaveless trees lining the streets, it’s no wonder this region is called “New England”.   But pleasingly, what goes up must come down – and the steep descent off the Moonbi Range into Tamworth was a welcome relief – even if our faces were too cold to form a smile.

Next, we team up with Frank, our good friend and website king, for the ride down the Hunter Valley and into Sydney.  Don’t be scared Frank – be very scared!!

Enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

Final preparations. Ryan with his parents in Browns Plains shopping centre carpark.

Easing into things. The infamous Lions Rd to Kyogle.

You've got to be kidding - is that the road ??!!

A good but tough day. Camping out in Wiangaree.

Looking back over Kyogle. All downhill hill from here apparantly...

Apparantly NOT, still climbing. Jess & Ryan, just outside of Nimbin.

Northern NSW - very hilly but great cycling!

Second breakfast on the beach at Byron Bay

Tez and Matilda enjoying the views and having a rest too!

Goodbye Sunshine. View north from Lennox Head.

Clarence Valley. Just past the quaint scottish town of Maclean.

No more smiles. On the 90km climb from Grafton to Ebor.

No comment. Cold & wet at 1350m.

Riding into Armidale. Scenery is different on this side of the divide.

Golden grassy, sheep country.

A cold New England morning on the highway.

Morale food. What to do in Uralla? Hey look, a bakery!!

The Queensland Finish

GYMPIE  to  DAYBORO

There were no challenges, milestones, or hardships this week.  Instead, it was a celebration –the “Queensland Finish” of our ride – spent at Jules’ parent’s farm in Dayboro.  It might be a little hard to leave come Sunday…

From Gympie, we had a spectacular ride along the Sunshine Coast.  This is where Jules’ spent his holidays growing up, so for the first time we didn’t need our map!  Between sunny weather and sea views, we delighted in visiting “locals”, Bill & Nance, Chris & Jenny, Pete & June and Ryan, on our sojourn along the coast.

Arriving at Jules’ parent’s farm was a special moment.  All those Kms, and now we are here?  It is hard to believe really – but it does feel great!!  Family and friends turned out in droves for the “Welcome Home BBQ” on the Saturday.  As usual, there was plenty of friendly banter, good food and desert for a small army!!  Perfectly, it felt as though we had never left – and I guess this is why “home” is called home.

We’d like to say a BIG THANKYOU, to Jules’ parents Terry & Elaine for tirelessly organising everything and putting on such a great week.   Also, to Jess’ parents, Jenny & Rob, for flying up from Melbourne and joining in the party!  And lastly, to everyone else that was a part of it, and made it such a memorable occasion.  Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!

2,500 kms to go – Melbourne here we come!!

Jules & Jess

The Sunshine Coast. One of the best drives in Australia!

It doesn't get any better than this - Point Arkwright, Sunshine Coast.

Aunty Nancy putting in a few Kms with us on her exercise bike

Pete & June - world travellers long before travelling was cool !!

Tez & Matilda having a rest at Jules' parents farm in Dayboro

Blair & Kelly made a fantastic banner for the BBQ

Party time !!

Terry doing the honors at the barbie !!

It's great to be home

3 stunning ladies - Abby, Jess & Zo

With Paul & Jan - Jules's grandparents who travelled down from Yarraman

Walking off desert - the Macaulays and Coopers climbing Mt Beerburrum

The hound dogs - on Bribie Island with Woody, Sooty and Dusty

Dinner with Zo at Kookaburra Cafe - best pizza in Brisbane !!

Our parents - we missed you all, and its great to be home !!

Houston, we have a problem!

ROCKHAMPTON  to GYMPIE

Just outside Calliope, pedaling uphill early morning, something just wasn’t right…?  Staring at Jules’ broken pedal on the roadside a metre behind him it clicked – the crank arm had sheared off the bottom bracket!!  We both looked at each other, “Houston, we have a problem!”

Luckily, Graeme & Cass lived nearby, and were able to take us into Gladstone to get “Tez” fixed up.  By mid morning, we were back at the scene of the crime, and ready to go again.  Thanks a million, you’re lifesavers!!

Shortly after, we ran into Sarah Mycroft and her family in Miriam Vale.  Sarah is attempting to be the first woman to run around Australia!!  It’s a huge effort and we wish her every success.  Go, Sarah!!  You can follow her trip online at www.onelapnoexcuses.com

It was time for a rest, and what better place than Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island.  We met up with Jules’ parents, Terry & Elaine, and headed over to test out their new 4WD and catch up on all the missed moments of the last 18 months.  It was simply, the ‘perfect’ weekend.

Returning to Gympie, where Jules’ had spent some years growing up, we stopped in at the Woodworks Museum to see the tools & techniques used by our early timber cutters.  Colin gave us a superb run through and demonstration, leaving us both in awe of these hard working men & women.

Last but not least, we visited Jules’ old school, St Patrick’s College where we presented to the year 5, 6 & 7 classes.  It was fantastic afternoon, and we very much thank the teachers and students for having us along.  That familiar school bell rang, and we were dismissed – with no homework this time!!

From here, we weave through the Sunshine Coast, catching up with family & friends along the way, before arriving at Jules’ parents place in Dayboro.  We are not so far from “home” anymore!

Enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess      

"Houston, we have a problem!"

Jess patiently waiting while we are in Gladstone fixing Tez!

Graeme & Cass - Thanks a million, your lifesavers!!

Sarah Mycroft & her family. Huge effort - Go, Sarah !!

Back with my parents after 18 mths and 30 000 Kms

Sand dune right up to the waters edge. Lake Wabby, Fraser Island.

You can even see the fish swimming!!

Like father, like son...

Testing out the new 4WD. All the roads are made of sand!!

Terry - our fearless driver

Elaine & Jess - the fearless passengers !!

The main beach is the quickest way around - it even has a 80km/hr speed limit !!

4WD's aren't the only things you have to watch out for!!

The Maheno Wreck. The ship that never made it to Japan!!

It was once 4 decks high, but now getting consumed by the sea & sand!

The "coolest" way to see Eli Creek, is wading through it!

With Colin & a 600 yo slice of Kauri Pine at the Woodworks Museum in Gympie

Colin, hard at work, demonstrating the tools & techniques of our early timber cutters

Back in school. Presenting to year 5, 6 & 7 at St Patricks College, Gympie

A fantastic afternoon. Thanks everyone for having us along.

TOWNSVILLE to ROCKHAMPTON

Why do we always seem to be going the wrong way??  In South America, battling 100km/hr headwinds we were constantly being told this.  Now in Australia, we find ourselves in the same situation – but thankfully, the conditions are much less severe.  If you are ever going to cycle the world, definitely do not follow us, unless of course, you enjoy pedaling into the wind!!

As we pushed south, the scenery gradually changed – endless expanses of sugar cane, gave way to rolling cattle country, which at the moment, was lush, green and bursting with life.  We stopped briefly in Bowen for Anzac Day, then again in Eton, to visit Graeme and Robyn on their deer farm.  The land around Mackay is some of the most stunning we’ve seen along the coast.

The famously “boring” stretch between Sarina and Rockhampton passed by relatively quickly – although, it still took 3 days, so keep that in mind next time you drive it.  On the whole, we are finding coastal drivers considerate, with the biggest hassle being an inconsistent road shoulder.  Where do all our tax dollars go…??

Coming into Rocky, Jules got to reminisce about his army days – passing by that familiar turn off to Shoalwater Bay, and looking rather pleased to be keeping going!  Rockhampton is known as the “Beef Capital” and we visited the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange (CQLX) to get the real auction experience.  It was fast paced and exciting – but just don’t scratch your nose, or you will end up with a pen full of steers!!

We took a few days R&R in Yeppoon, catching up with Frank, who was in town from Sydney, and staying with his parents on their avocado farm.  It was a real treat, soothing wind worn muscles and catching up with missed mates. Thanks folks, it couldn’t have been better!!

We’re also up to 30 000 Kms now – which while we can’t be sure, is looking like being one of the longest continuous cycle journeys ever undertaken by an Aussie couple.  No wonder we were feeling a little tired…

From here, we have a quick stop on Fraser Island, then onto Brisbane and Jules’s home town. We are definitely getting excited now!!

Enjoy the ride

Jules & Jess

PS – The “Long Way Home” is no longer a secret – you can check out the newspapers that have been writing about our journey here;  

http://www.julesandjess.com/media/

Anzac Day in Bowen. Lest We Forget.

 

Bowen is home to the world's most consumed tropical fruit - the Mango, Man!

 

Stunning views around Mackay

 

Robyn Jackson on the farm in Eton

 

Didn't get to see a real Cane burn - but cheated instead with this pic!!

 

Lunch on the road - food is our fuel

The famously boring "Sarina to Rocky" stretch

 

Only in Australia would you get a sign like this

 

Even when there is a shoulder - we have the rumble strip to avoid

 

Jess cool calm and collected - while being passed at close range at 110km/hr

 

30 000 Kms - possibly the longest continuous cycle ride by an Aussie couple ??!!

 

Army Days. The familiar Shoalwater Bay turn off.

 

Sunset on the Edwards' Avocado Farm

 

No visit to Yeppoon is complete, without indulging in a chocolate at the famous Kaboozies!!

 

Live auction action at CQLX. Don't rub your nose!!

 

Moo-ve over and give me some room, please !!

 

With Gary Wendt, showing us around CQLX

 

Jess and Frank (aka Eddie) enjoying a dip at Stoney Creek

 

Resting and catching up with missed mates!!

CAIRNS to TOWNSVILLE

It doesn’t just rain in Nth Qld, so much water falls, it is like someone is throwing a bucket of water at you, over and over again. In fact, Tully gets so much water, they have built a 7.9 m “Golden Gumboot” in the main street – incredibly, its height is equal to the amount of rain recorded here in 1950, and is an Australian record! So now that we know all this, it comes as no surprise that our ride south from Cairns was a little damp…

But it began with a fantastic send off, from Anne-Marie, Bryce and Portia, who joined us on their bikes for the ride to Edmonton. There were possibly a few sore bums the next day, but judging by the smiles before we left them, I think you could safely say it was worth it. Great effort folks!

Just north of Innisfail, we bumped into Link from St Kilda. Now if you think we are crazy, he is walking from Cairns to Melbourne – slowly, of course! You can check his facebook page here.

If you ever visit Nth Qld, you simply can’t miss the Great Barrier Reef. For a start, it’s 2 300 km long, the same size as Germany, and the largest living thing visible from space! It’s also really, really cool too – so you just have to see it!!

First, we hopped on board with the friendly crew at Sunlover Cruises for a trip to Moore Reef, just off the coast of Cairns. It was a great day, a wonderful experience, and we even got to pat a giant fish!

Next, we visited the Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, where you can see all the amazing stuff the reef has to offer – but not get wet!! They even have a Turtle Hospital, where sick and injured turtles are cared for and rehabilitated. Simply, awesome, dude!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Graeme and Charlie from the Coral Coast Caravan Park, in Townsville, amazed us by organising a fundraising BBQ on our behalf. It was a great night, we got to meet lots of people, talk about all the good stuff Ardoch is doing, and share a bit of our journey.

Speaking of which, it’s scary to think, that that “journey” is getting closer to the end. With now 29 000 km under our belts, there is only 10 weeks to go before Melbourne… Aaargh!!!

But it is not over yet. Our next stop will be Rockhampton on the Central Qld Coast.

Enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

Hey Kids, the factsheet is coming, but in the meantime check out the following Great Barrier Reef links below;

Reef HQ

http://www.reefhq.com.au/

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

 http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/

With Anne-Marie, having brekkie on the Esplanade in Cairns

 

View of Cairns from the Red Arrow lookout

 

Great sunset shot, if only that bloke didn't get in the way!!

 

With Teaghan Maitland from Sunlover Cruises

 

Sunlovers' reef pontoon at Moore Reef

 

They just don't stop smiling! The friendly Sunlover crew waving goodbye.

 

Ready to roll! With Anne-Marie, Bryce and Portia.

 

Sore bums and smiles. In Edmonton 20 kms south of Cairns.

 

With Link, who is walking to Melbourne - slowly, of course!!

 

Tully, home of the Golden Gumboot and lots of rain!!

 

Anyone want a banana? There are plenty around here !!

 

We've found the perfect beach. Wongaling, Mission Beach.

 

You don't get more "Queensland" than this!

 

All downhill from Cairns, hey?! Except for the Cardwell Range!!

 

By popular demand - another jumping shot!! How's the helmet !!

 

Laura Dunstan from Reef HQ, showing us around the Turtle Hospital

 

How many different corals can you see here ?

 

Want a good reason to take climate change seriously? If the ocean heats up, only females turtle are born, which = extinction !

 

Not all sharks are dangerous - this Tawny Nurse shark likes lots of cuddles!!

 

On The Strand in Townsville - Melbourne and the end is getting close now!

ATHERTON to CAIRNS

How far can you ride on a tyre stitched together with fishing line?  Unfortunately a badly split sidewall, which required this innovative roadside repair, meant we were going to find out…

But fortunately, well sort of, this incident happened outside the Mount Molloy Café – home of the world’s best hamburgers.  Fate had brought us together, so we treated ourselves with two of Rudy & Angela’s masterpieces. Truly, inspirational stuff!

Dropping off the Tablelands, we then entered the breathtaking Daintree National Park – the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest on earth!  All that huffing and puffing up the Alexandra Range was worth it, on the other side, pristine rainforest, white sandy beaches and fringing reefs along the shoreline.  We visited the Daintree Discovery Centre to learn more, and get a unique perspective on the rainforest – seeing it from the top of their 23m canopy tower!  Tyre a little wobbly, but still ok.

While continuing our ride onto Cape Tribulation – the most northerly point on our journey through Queensland – we were lucky enough to see a male Cassowary and chic crossing the road.  There are only about 1,200 of these ancient birds left in Australia – proof that you really do see more travelling by bike!  That tyre looks like it might just make it (we hope) ?

We then did an about face, and headed to Port Douglas and then beyond to Cairns.  The ride along the Pacific Highway that links the two cities was spectacular, winding its way right along the coast.

You wouldn’t believe it, but that dodgy tyre got us there – almost 300 kms!  But we were sure pleased to see Anne-Marie, whom we stayed with in Cairns, and our new tyres that were there waiting for us!

From here – now finally heading in the right direction for Melbourne – we head for Townsville.   It’s the home stretch now.

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

Kids, check out the Daintree factsheet below;

Introduction To The Daintree Rainforest

O-Oh trouble, a badly split sidewall

 

Our innovative fishing line repair job. Will it hold to Cairns?

 

Mount Molloy Cafe. Rudy & Angela with their masterpieces!

 

Truly inspirational stuff!

 

First, you have to catch a ferry before you start toward Cape Trib

 

Your not really there though, till you cross the Alexandra Range

 

This is sweat, not rain!

 

But the top is always worth it, especially here

 

With Peter and Kass from the award winning Daintree Discovery Centre

 

A rainforest has many levels

 

And you get to see them all on the 23m canopy tower

 

What do you mean, LOOKOUT SNAKE ??!!

 

You can't ride past ice-cream this good!! Aneysha (L) and Abi (R) from the Daintree Ice-Cream Company.

 

Slow down and be Cass-o-wary! But as if we will see one...

 

Cooper Creek, Daintree NP (really, that is what it's called!)

 

Oh what a feeling! Thornton Beach, Daintree NP

 

Why did the Cassowary cross the road...? What a moment!

 

Jess on Cape Trib beach, both stunning views

 

The Daintree. A fantastic few days (that's tea in the background!)

 

Jess, cooling off in Mossman Gorge

 

We really liked Port Douglas

 

The Pacific Highway to Cairns winds right along the coast

Say ‘cheese’ everyone!

NORMANTON to ATHERTON

“So, where do we start climbing from?”  This is what we’ve been asking, literally anyone that will listen, to better understand our route from Normanton to Ravenshoe, which sits at 920m and at the very top of the Great Dividing Range.  Right from the start, was the correct answer!

Unlike the mountain ranges we’ve crossed in South America and Europe, here they are deceptive.  You think its flat, but in reality you are slowly grinding your way uphill.  Combine that with a stiff breeze, which constantly blows right up your nose, and you really do earn your tea and fruit cake!

But lucky for us, this gently sloping country has created one of the rarest and most fascinating volcanic phenomena on earth – the Undara Lava Tubes.  Here, 190,000 years ago, a massive eruption caused a lava flow over 160km – which is the longest flow originating from a single volcano anywhere in the world!  As the lava cooled, it left tunnels (or lava tubes) which you can now walk through.  It is quite amazing and our guide Andrew Sturges from Undara Experience really made it come alive.  It’s a good thing we are not cycling back then!!

On the Atherton Tablelands, the scenery changes very quickly – which says a lot going at cycling speed.  The scrub and grasslands disappear, and are instantly replaced with rolling green hills, misty waterfalls and lots of dairy cows!  We visited Gallo’s Dairyland to learn more about the dairy industry and see how one of my favourite foods is made – say ‘cheese’ everyone!

From here, we go a little further north to Cape Tribulation and the incredible Daintree National Park, before turning around and heading for Cairns.  It is then all downhill to Melbourne, or so we are told… ?

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

PS:  Hey kids, check out the factsheets below;

How Does A Cow Turn Grass Into Milk

The Undara Lava Tubes

The Gilbert River stunningly cutting through the savannah grasslands

 

Do they calls these "development roads" because they need it, or create it?

 

Jess doing her best "pot of gold" impression !

 

Routh Creek, a great camping spot if your ever passing by

 

Jess slogging her way up the Newcastle Range

 

Where is this Turtle Rock thingy, we are meant to see ?

 

Happy Easter! Sunday morning at the top of the Newcastle Range

 

The Undara Lava tubes. You get inside through the collapsed roof.

 

Andrew Sturges from Undara Experience making it come alive !

 

The best bit is walking inside. Geez, this water is cold!!

 

Evidence of our "early ancestors" perhaps?

 

No flies on me, mate!

 

Amazing how quick the scenery changes

 

Millstream Falls, reputedly Australia's widest single drop falls !

 

And lots of dairy of cows!

 

Must be why they call this "windy hill" ?

 

Yet another shot of Jess pedalling uphill and into the wind (NB i'm on the bus...)

 

The photo I've always wanted - aka the pioneering timber cutter!

 

Something smells good? Gallo's Dairyland on the Atherton Tablelands

 

Everyone say cheese! Watching the good stuff get made!

Nothing like what you expect

MOUNT ISA   to NORMANTON

So how do you prepare for a 550 km, 5 day bike ride in Australia’s outback?  First, you break the ride into roughly equal sections, hopefully taking in a few rest areas, or at least somewhere to get water, for your overnight stops.  Next you pack your food; 5x spam, 5x tuna, 2kg rice, 2kg oats, 24x pita bread, 3x fruit cake, 3x Allen’s snakes, 5x dehydrated peas, 24x muesli bars, tomato sauce, 1kg Gatorade powder and plenty of tea!  When that’s loaded, and your bike now weighs 50-60kg, you can sit back and relax, rest assured the next 5 days will turn out nothing like what you expect.  This is cycle touring!

The ride to Normanton, promised to be the least exciting leg of our Oz trip – we were only going this way, for the sealed road to Cairns, and to avoid back tracking up the coast road.  But along this lonely stretch of highway, with only one town and a roadhouse, we met so many colourful characters, that the time and the kms just seemed to fly by.

In Cloncurry, we met an English builder who had seen our article in the Mount Isa paper.  Then Peter & Cheryl, who put us up at the Gilbert Park caravan park.  Then we accidently woke the staff at the Quamby Hotel – it was 10am, but seems it had been a big night at this “pub in the scrub”!  Then it was Lyle, travelling in his home-made camper, and Kurt returning from a holiday in Tasmania, at a roadside rest area.  Then Kevin & Vicky, the friendly managers at the Burke & Wills Roadhouse, who did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable.  Then Wendy, who invited us to stay at Waren Vale Station while filling up her 4WD.  Then at Waren Vale, it was Delia, the manager, and the work crew including, Luke, Joog, Digs and Jo. Amazingly, these folk didn’t even grumble when at 6am they had to take us, and our bikes, to the highway on quad bikes, as overnight rain had made the road impossible to cycle!  Finally, in Normanton, there was Patricia from the Gulfland Caravan Park, and literally taking the cake, Deb from the Purple Pub, who had baked Jess a surprise birthday cake!!  It’s an exhausting list; that really does show “outback” hospitality is hard to beat!!

For our rest day in Normanton, we did what everyone else does – fish.  With a new hand reel, a pack lunch and a lot of hope, we dangled our line of the Norman River bridge.  There were only two winners this day – Jess who hauled in 2 mighty cat fish; and that lucky “barra” that somehow managed to get away… he was this big – honest!!
We now head east, across the bottom of the Gulf Penninsula to Cairns – from the outback to the reef, and crossing over the Great Divide – it is sure to be a great ride.

Stay tuned and we wish a wonderful and safe Easter to you all!

Jules & Jess

The stunning Mount Isa to Cloncurry ride at sunrise

 

Graham the toilet frog in Cloncurry

 

The only thing in Quamby - is a pub!

 

Gulf Savannah is not the most exciting country

 

But this was interesting - termite mounds that look like a cemetery

 

The Burke & Wills - unfortunately not there when those chaps passed through

 

The view, when the stony country drops into the black soil plains (100km from the Gulf)

 

Luke and Joog on Waren Vale Station - getting our bikes back to the highway

 

Incredible how quickly the roads get flooded up here

 

The birthday girl, enjoying a meal (not out of a tin) !

 

Deb even baked a suprise birthday cake !!

 

Jess the winner - hauling in her catfish!

 

A replica of the largest croc ever shot... and by a lady too!

 

The barra that got away. He was this big - honest !

Every day is a long straight road

 

TENNANT CREEK to MOUNT ISA

The only good thing about getting up at 4 AM is that you get to see the sunrise, and over the grassy plains of the Barkly Tableland – that’s magical!  We are up this early to beat the wind.  The riding here is hard enough – six days of dead straight road, unbearable heat, flies that are even worse, and only one roadhouse and town along the way to keep you motivated.  If you can get a few hours “wind free” it is worth it.  After that experience, it’s no wonder we liked Mount Isa!

Mount Isa is ‘real’ mining town – you can’t forget it either, as the mine is right in the centre!  The Mount Isa Mine is like an ‘iceberg’ what you can see on the surface, is only a small part – it goes down 2 km and has a tunnel network stretching over 1,000 kms – that is 10 days cycling for us !!!

It feels like a mining town too – prosperous, hard working and welcoming to all.  It’s been over 80 years since, John Campbell Miles, found lead in the surrounding ochre-red hills, but I reckon, he’d be proud to see that the pioneering spirit is still alive and well here today!  It’s a hard place not to like.

Did you know, Mount Isa is one of the biggest cities in the world? Well, sort of… Camooweal, 188km to the west, is administered by the Mount Isa City Council, which technically makes the city area 41,000 sq kms and the stretch of the Barkly Highway between the two, the longest main street!

It’s no surprise that such a ‘big’ town should have a ‘big’ school.  We visited the Mount Isa School of the Air to learn how kids on remote stations receive an education.  Imagine your teacher giving lessons over the radio, while you and your class mates sit scattered hundreds of kms away!  The school has 220 children enrolled, from 150 families in Prep to year 10, and covers roughly a quarter of QLD!  It’s proof, there are no problems in life, only challenges – and the School of the Air, is a great example of overcoming the challenge of making education a reality for isolated kids!

Now what happens if you get sick on a remote outback station? Thankfully, there is the Royal Flying Doctor Service and we gave the Mount Isa base a visit to learn more.  These doctors are busy – doing 15,000 visits a year, across 550,000 sq kms – now that really is flying!  Imagine, if you’re hurt, and in the middle of nowhere, then the lights of the Flying Doctor plane appearing over the horizon, must surely feel like an angel has arrived.  It’s a wonderful service, an Aussie icon, and another great example of over coming the challenge of isolation.  The live up to their motto – The Furthest Corner.  The Finest Care!

We’d also like to thank Neil, Billy & Jenny at the Moondarra Campground for putting us up while in town, and being the perfect hosts.  It’s been great having a real bed for a few nights!

From Mount Isa, we now cycle through the hills to Cloncurry, then north to Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria.  It’ll be more straight roads, plenty of flies, one road house and one town.  Are we there yet??

Enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

Kids, check out the following websites to learn more;

http://www.mtisasde.eq.edu.au/touristInfo.html

http://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/About-Us/Our-History/

Cycling from 4 AM to beat the wind

 

You get to see the sun rise

 

And on the Barkly - that's magical!

 

Then the head winds start (we wish they were cross winds!)

 

The mental challenge of 6 days of this, is the hardest part

 

A shady rest stop (can you count the flies? - about 1 million!)

 

A windmill means water, and is always a good thing to see

 

Dinner time ... hmm looks alot like last night?

 

Our camp for the night, luckily sheltered from the rain

 

Are we there yet?

 

Yeah baby! Back in QLD ... a long way from Argentina !!

 

Mount Isa a real mining town - and there it is, right in the middle!

 

With Tim Moes (Principal) chatting with the School of the Air kids about our ride

 

With Royal Flying Doctors, Capt Martin Hurst and Jeni Sloan from the Mount Isa base

 

Getting a closer look at mining life on the Hard Time mine tour

The long paddock

 

KATHERINE to TENNANT CREEK

There is not much, except for cattle stations and the occasional roadhouse on the 660km stretch of highway between Katherine and Tennant Creek.  It truly feels, just like one “long” paddock !

To get a closer look at station life, we caught up with Danie Luttig who showed us around Mataranka Cattle Station.  Mataranka is no hobby farm – it 770 sq km and holds up to 5,000 head of cattle.  That’s bigger than some of the countries we cycled in Europe!!

The station is managed by Charles Darwin University, and is where young stock men and women come to hone their skills before moving onto other stations.  Being a “jack (or jill) -aroo” is a hard but rewarding job.  In the dry season, when the mustering is done, you can be out for weeks rounding up the cattle! But it’s a lot of fun too – everyone lives together on the station, and “Chook” (the station cook) make sure no one goes hungry!

The Stuart Highway (the road we followed from Katherine), roughly traces the route John McDouall Stuart took in the late 1850s, when he trekked up from Adelaide, surveying a path for the Overland Telegraph Line.

We think travelling by bike, is about as close as you can get to being an overland explorer today.  You can easily relate to the hardships they must have faced –heat, flies, monotony of the scenery, and the constant search for water etc.  Riding along, we could almost hear one of Stuart’s men saying “John, we haven’t seen anyone for days, we are hungry and our feet hurt –are we there yet !?”

But like Stuart and his men, we got there eventually…

From Tennant Creek, we now turn east, across the Barkly Tablelands to Mount Isa.  It is 600 km away, we’ll have a strong headwind, and there will be only two opportunities for a cold drink along the way.  We’d love to say it will be fun – but that would be a lie.  Wish us luck.

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

With Danie Luttig and "the boys". Mataranka Station.

 

Cattle in the yards

 

Station camp at sunset

 

"Chook" the station cook

 

Look no hook! Ella hand feeding barramundi, Mataranka.

 

My favourite pastime - fixing punctures roadside.

 

40 degress and rising - even the roadmarkers are starting to melt!

 

Jess cooling off in the Daly Waters Roadhouse Pub

 

This is what it's like - for 660 kms !

 

Our camp at sunset, just off the Stuart Highway

 

Early morning road train thundering down the Barkly Stock Route.

 

Cyclists - all the way out here? These German guys must be crazy!

 

Views across the Barkly Tableland - this is our next challenge!

 

Are we there yet ? Tennant Creek, 50kms to go.

 

The Threeways - turn left if your a Queenslander !!

Dreamin’ country

DARWIN to KATHERINE (via KAKADU NATIONAL PARK)

It’s when you start “doing” something that you realise just how hot it is up here. Your sweat even sweats when you’re cycling! For six days, there hasn’t been a moment when we’ve been dry – now that’s gross, huh?

Leaving Darwin, it didn’t take long to work out the “road train” is king of the highway and you had better give them plenty of room. Towing four trailers, these trucks roar past, and if you get too close – suck you in towards them! It definitely keeps you on your toes.

By chance, while looking for a place to put up our tent, we bumped into territory legend, Terry Baldwin. He has lived around here for over 50 years and is about as “fair dinkum” as you’ll ever get. We spent a memorable night, sitting around the table in his “bush camp” style home, listening to tales of crocodiles, buffalo, cattle and adventure. Terry, you are what makes our country great – good luck with the Buffalo Industry Hall of Fame!

Kakadu National Park is wild and stunning. For three days, we cycled through its wetlands – over rivers filled with crocs, past sacred aboriginal sites, all the while, listening to the constant call of birds, swatting flies by day and mozzies by night. If there is ever a reason to take climate change seriously – then the risk of losing a place like this must surely be it.

After Kakadu, we passed through the historic gold mining town of Pine Creek. There is still gold to be found here, as we discovered, finding a half buried $2 coin on the roadside out of town!

Now in Katherine, we are having a rest day before we continue south along the Stuart Highway to Tennant Creek.

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

 

Want to learn more? Then check out the link below;

http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/kakadu/

On the road to Kakadu !

 

Most roads close up here in the Wet Season

 

Now that's a big croc !!

 

Road Trains. When they pass you - get out of their way !

 

Heading into the "wetlands"

 

View from Beatrice Hill. See the rain falling in the distance.

 

With Territory legend, Terry Baldwin

 

You can't swim in the water here !

 

Tammy "in her office" ! The Bark Hutt Inn, Arnhem Highway.

 

Welcome to Kakadu !!

 

Stunning wetlands

 

Nice but deadly rivers

 

Nouralangie Rock. A sacred aboriginal site and art gallery.

 

Immitating the rock art

 

This is Australia and we love it !

 

A "classic" billabong

 

Jess enjoying "a very small" bit of shade

 

Termites the "carpet cleaners" of the bush

 

An historic outback windmill in Pine Creek

 

Sunrise at our campsite on the Copperfield Dam

 

Cattle Country. Katherine, NT

“This is Darwin, luv!”

DARWIN

Dazed and bleary eyed, we passed through the terminal and began building our bikes outside.  The air smells familiar – it’s good to be back in Australia. Twice we have locals approach us, and offer a place for us to stay.  It’s the wet season, and it’s pouring so we take up the offer.  Welcome to Darwin!

Darwin is an interesting mix and grows on you easily.  It is a modern capital, but with a distinctive frontier feel about it.  Twice it has been flattened – first by the Japanese in WWII, then by Cyclone Tracey in 1974.  Combine that with suffocating heat, waterways filled with crocs, and the constant reminder of isolation and you can start to appreciate how resilient and independent the locals are.  They also tell it like it is.  As we found out, fumbling around trying to insert our credit card in the machine at the supermarket. “This is Darwin, luv – swipe it”.

After a brief tour of the major sites, we headed to the ABC radio station to share our story.  A word of advice, you will never win trying to introduce your partner “boxing style”!  Jokes aside, it was a great experience and we thank Leon Compton for having us on his show.  You can listen to the reply on our Media page if you are interested.

Next we met crocodile guru, Tom Nichols, of Darwin’s Crocodile Management Program.  His team keep troublesome crocs out of Darwin’s waterways and teach locals how to be “Croc Safe”.  They trapped and removed over 250 crocodiles last year!  We patted a recently caught “saltie” and secretly hoped this would be as close as we ever come to one again.

We rounded out our stay, having dinner with Greg & Kathy, whom we met while fixing a puncture in Mitchell Street.  A retired couple they have cycled to Darwin from Sydney, and are now making preparations for the journey on to Western Australia!  It was a great dinner, and nice to realise we aren’t the only crazy people up here on bikes!

From Darwin, we head across to Kakadu National Park, then down the Stuart Highway to Katherine.

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

 

Want to learn more?  Then check out the link below;

http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/becrocwise/index.html

4 AM putting the bikes together outside Darwin airport

 

Welcome to Darwin!

 

Thanks for letting us stay in your shop Phil !

 

Darwin - an interesting mix of capital and frontier town

 

Surf's Up! Darwin waterfront precinct

 

"The Wet Season" Storm clouds brewing over Darwin Harbour

 

"Sweetheart" The heavy weight king of the billabong!

 

Up close, with 5.1m and 780kg of crocodile!

 

Invasion fears, after the bombing of Darwin during WWII

 

A WWII gun embattlement on Darwin's shorefront

 

Jess "live" on ABC Radio Darwin

 

With Tom Nichols and a "croc trap"

 

Jess patting a "Saltie" !

 

Sunsets here are amazing!

 

Magnum's for dessert !! Dinner with Greg & Kathy before leaving.