Adjusting to and Accepting a change of pace.
It has taken a few weeks to really adapt and accept the change of pace that this journey has evolved into. Firstly it was all about actually leaving and getting on the road. Then we had to figure out how to balance the load we were carrying and tackle the continual rolling hills that is the FNQ Tablelands. Then we had to actually slow down and feel the countryside and its people communicating to us. And really when you're riding a loaded bike through hilly terrain at some point you stop and rest and thats pretty much what we've been doing. A little bit of riding and a lot of resting in between. And it's a hard thing to do, to actually slow down and adjust to that slower pace.
In a car it's very easy to travel the distances we have in just a couple of hours in relative comfort. By bicycle 30kms doesn't seem far on a map, however the 1 or 2 monumental hills or the gravel road can make that 30kms feel like 300kms. We look at our map and at our current location (Chillagoe) a mere 205kms from Cairns and wonder why would you want to drive it when you can see and experience what we've been able to. There is the amazing campsite by the Herbert River only 10kms from Innot Hot Springs, or the 3 other riverside camps between Mt Garnet and Almaden that we spent time exploring. Theres also all the roadside conversations with passing motorists sharing their astonishment and goodwill. And what about the water truck driver who suggested a better camp 2kms up the road with flowing water. At the time the 2kms felt like 20 however the pay off was worth it. And of course there was old Bill from Pinnacle Springs Station who invited us to call in and say hi! A round of homemade sangers and a couple of beers was sweet, although when we finally made our camp that night he turned up with food for Jazz, some food for us and more beers. These are a couple of the little moments that if we were just a regular couple in cars we would've missed.
So yeah slower is a touch harder however all the little moments in between and the chance meetings and diversions make slower travel in our eyes more rewarding. Aside from the free beer and free advice on campsites it has had its moments. Corrugations are one such moment. They turn up and seem to only be on a downhill run where you cant go too fast or be thrown from the bike or they are on an uphill where you can't get enough speed to get up the hill in comfort. Yes we knew they would be there and mostly you can pick a single line through them however yesterday all we could see was hard corrugations on one side of the road and soft boggy corrugations on the other, the only thing left to do was is to grind on through it. The hills have flattened out though. In the first 10 days we were traversing hills that were about 800-1000m high now they're a little subdued at rough 500-600m high, challenging yes although very little pushing of bikes has been required. Which is actually harder than riding the damn bike. Although when you find a little shade and rest the endless terrain that rolls out in front of you is breathtaking and forever changing and makes all the toil of everyday life fade into insignificance, because out here you are but a spec of dust in the big cosmic bowl of life.
Speaking of the cosmic bowl of life itself! The sunrises and sunsets are stunning and each one is superseded by the spectacular night sky that gets brighter the further west we head. Sitting at night by the fire and looking skyward you again get this feeling that not only are you a speck of dust by day, that by night that spec of cosmic dust makes you feel even smaller and more of the worlds issues slip into irrelevance. Since we left Innot Hot Springs we've been able to have a campfire every night and also cook a few meals on them as well. After a day of riding and a belly full of food its a very therapeutic moment sitting beside the fire and reflecting on both your day and your place in this crazy world.
So with all this in mind we sit here weighing up our options and the directions we may head towards. We are in the last town of size that has a pub, a general store, a hardware store and a servo so its time to stock up because after we leave the safety of Chillagoe and roll northwards toward Laura theres a lot of country that is fairly remote and rugged. Our intention is to head towards Wrotham Station then on towards Palmerville Station via the Mount Mulgrave road. Through this part of the journey are 3 big river systems that we need to navigate. The Walsh, Mitchell and Palmer rivers are all large waterways that get pretty full during the wet season and we are travelling through this area after a pretty substantial wet season so this will be fun and a little challenging. However what would life be like if we didn't constantly challenge ourselves to see what else is possible?