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Australia

The Last Leg!

New South Wales was to be our last leg of riding in Australia and as such also the finale of our Grand Cycle Honeymoon!

The gorgeous winter sunshine smiled on us as we explored the jungles, meadows and beaches of this amazingly varied coastline.

As ever our plans stayed loose and, as it turned out, would change at the drop of a hat when we went to stay with old friends, Kate and Leif, in their wonderful ‘home-made home’ at the head of the stunning Tweed Valley. We were made to feel so welcome in this beautiful space these guys have literally carved out of the bush for their (growing) family that an invitation to stay longer just couldn’t be passed up (a pretty deep hole in Pete’s foot did contribute to this decision!)

After being truly inspired by this glimpse into another (more settled) life we pressed on, making up for lost time in a borrowed ‘Ute’ and finally pedalling the last few days into Sydney from where we’d fly to New Zealand and finally reach our destination…

Changing times are on the horizon ­čÖé

In catching that first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean it dawned on us that we’d actually done it… We’d cycled across Australia!

Since crossing the Queensland border over a month previously and finding a pretty fatal crack in our rear wheel had appeared way out in the outback it seemed that at times the odds may have been stacked against us. We’d have to get to The Gold Coast (2000kms away) to have it fixed & at the time riding the distance seemed pretty damn unlikely.

We pressed on though and somehow in the end that extraordinary ‘mcneilsonwheels’ providence (and quite a few zip ties) won through.

And aren’t we glad it did because it’s given us some incredible experiences & adventures along our way… Witnessing the beautiful, harsh and at times bizarre natural phenomenon that is the Australian Outback; riding through the historical time-warp of Queensland’s bush towns, and all the while marvelling at the consistency with which the our ranks of ‘Road Angels’ keep on swelling (keep an eye out for the upcoming, well overdue, updates) – from being gifted a homemade trailer, to some very timely dental treatment; being allowed to excavate real dinosaur bones to getting bought a few rounds in Crocodile Dundee’s Walkabout Creek Pub, the Aussies have proved themselves to be absolutely ‘golden’ time and time again.

Now, with Telia the Tandem back on track, we’ll turn our wheels to the South for what is (with our flights booked to NZ in a few weeks) really the final straight down to Sydney.

 

Arriving in Australia it felt somewhat like we’d embarked on the final leg of our journey. But as we pulled South from Darwin we realised that this was a big country… a really big country and, as was repeatedly pointed out by every Aussie we met, we were ‘stupidly’ trying to CYCLE across it!

As it turns out though, despite it’s vastness, Oz is surprisingly manageable to the cycle tourist. Regular free camping grounds with water tanks (and sometimes even toilets!) scatter the highways, as do a nation of elderly camping enthusiasts – the widely-spotted ‘Grey Nomad’ – who are always on hand in their swanky RVs to swap info & to donate food, water or even the odd cold beer! We continue to be consistently amazed to see how the ranks of our ‘Road Angels’ swell!

The space and lack of population is certainly in stark contrast to our last year in Asia, as are the prices of food and accommodation (we’ve paid up to AUS$6 just for a loaf of bread!) but the change in style has been welcome and the ability to converse freely with everyone we meet has allowed us to get a closer understanding of the NT’s distinctive ‘bush’ culture and history.

Not so welcome, aside from the copious amount of flies, has been the steady South Easterly. Known innocently as the ‘Barkley Breeze’, this energy sapping morale killer that we’ve had directly┬áin our faces for nearly 1000kms since turning left onto the Barkley Highway will, we’re assured by sadistically grinning locals, continue to haunt us until the Queensland coast. We fear, with a recently read quote is left ringing in our ears, that they might just be right:

“the disintegrating power of a great wind: it isolates one from one’s kind. An earthquake, a landslip, an avalanche, overtake a man incidentally, as it were – without passion. A furious gale attacks him like a personal enemy, tries to grasp his limbs, fastens upon his mind, seeks to rout his very spirit out of him.”

Joseph Conrad – Typhoon