First 10 days
Well it has been 10 days since we left Cairns and headed west over the range for greener pastures. And in that 10 days we have certainly learned some things about ourselves and the whole bicycle touring lifestyle. The main one we learnt on day 1 was balance. balancing the load on a bike whilst maintaining upright forward movement, Shell learnt that lesson late on day 1 with a fall that wasn't pretty and still 10 days later is affecting her ability to ride, although she is one tough cookie that won't let a small fall interrupt her mojo. It has taken 10 days though to really get the bikes loaded evenly so that they are easier to ride.
Hills! Did someone mention hills? I reckon the bulk of our first 220kms has been up one hill after another, mostly pushing the bikes. The biggest effort was the Herberton range that took 2.5hrs to cover 2.5kms, in drizzly rain and cold winds. Wasn't particularly pleasant although at the top we had a great sense of achievement and a great night sleep by the side of the road. Even though that was a fair effort the hills that are harder and more challenging have been the back roads and tracks that just rise up instantaneously out of nowhere, and with no traction to push a loaded bike it takes the two of us to push up to the top, only to find another one on the other side or one that just keeps on going up. Silver Valley rd between Herberton and Innot Hot Springs was a two day effort that didn't feel like it was going to end.
Speaking of Silver Valley! The riding was challenging however only seeing 8 cars in two days was a real treat. And of them 8 cars only one was a lunatic, and not surprisingly he was from WA! The camping along the wild river was beautiful and quiet and the silence at times was almost deafening, mind you the parrots had the same effect early in the morning. And on the subject of camping we have been blessed with some pretty awesome locations in this first 10 days. First night on the banks of the Clohesy River near the fig tree was a very pretty rainforest camp that was set up for us by our gorgeous friend Emma who bought our gear over the range on that first day. We sure are glad she helped us out as the track from Copperlode Dam was so steep that pushing an unloaded bike up was hard work, I don't think we would have got two fully loaded bikes up there in a day.
In 10 days we have managed to free camp 5 nights and paid campsites the rest so its been a good balance. And of those paid nights we discovered some real gems. Birds on Barron in Bibhoora was a real delight and we spent two nights camped by the Barron River only 8kms north of Mareeba. Granite Gorge Nature Park where we camped with our friends Emma and Sam was a relief after some pretty steep hills along Chewko rd sapped what energy we had left. The cool waters, although not as pristine as Clohesy river were very refreshing. After a wet cold push up the Herberton range and some disagreement about whether to stop in Herberton or push on to Silver Valley the Wild River Caravan Park was a welcome stop. Shell made the correct call and thankfully we wound up dry and warm in a real quirky camp kitchen. And finally sitting here writing this we are soaking up the warm waters of Innot Hot Springs and releasing some tension in our muscles in the hot springs. And lucky for us last night was wood fired pizza night at the pub. With the regulation country crooner in the corner singing his uplifting country classics from Don Mclean to Slim Dusty and a touch of Elvis whilst watching all the grey nomads relive their youth, wow what a night...and what a start to this journey!