As expected, I leave Biggenden late. I could not finish updating the blog in the evening with so much chatting. I do that instead in the morning, getting impatient with the slow internet.
One of the ladies from the bush walking group gives me the contact details of some friends who happen to live by the trail further north. That will come handy. I think there is always something good coming out of discussions with people who share the same interests. It could be a shelter, a map, some food or even a new friendship.
I take the easy road this morning. It’s already late and if I get lost or progress too slowly in high grass, I think my day would be ruined. I prefer to stay off the trail for a while until I’m away from town. By riding on the main road I ensure that I cover some ground in the morning and can decide how far I want to go in the afternoon.
The first stop is called Paradise Dam. On this overcast day, it looks nothing like paradise. I haven’t put a foot on the ground before someone starts talking to me. I suspect I must know this person, maybe they are one of the bush walkers from the previous caravan park. Obviously he was expecting me. After a little while I realise that he is the manager of the Caravan park. Tim, a fellow trekker travelling on foot, has warned them I will be coming soon. And the bush walkers have confirmed the same. He goes on about me being slower than Tim despite being on a bike. It is the second time I get that comment. Apparently word is spreading that we are in some sort of competition against each other. It’s very surprising to me and a bit of a shock. For the next hour I’m thinking what to do about that. I have nothing to do with any form of competition and I don’t want to be part of it. This is the opposite of what I want. It is a coincidence we are both travelling at more or less the same pace, in the same direction at the same time. That is all there is in common.
Soon I have to deal with a river crossing where the stones at the bottom of the river bed are very slippery, and I’ll have to climb up to get out of it. At the top I’m thinking there seems to be two ways to go about. One is by following the trail, the other by taking a shortcut. I take a right turn but once again the route notes are not accurate and I’m going the wrong way. I backtrack. Finally the two options, the short or the long one are presented to me. It’s already past midday so I take the short one, not knowing exactly what to expect. It starts well with a few kilometres of fun double track.
But at the next junction I can’t find the right track. I go back and forth on the main one, hoping to find the turn off. Until I see some form of track in the cattle yard. I get through the gate and proceed. At this point I have no idea what I’m doing, I just know that I more or less have the bearing right. I spend a couple of hours travelling on stock tracks, going from one yard to another, through high grass and over logs. I eventually get back on the official track. I can thank google maps satellite for that one. My trekking Gps hasn’t been helpful so far in Queensland.
At 4pm I estimate I have two more hours of riding on difficult track ahead of me. It’s a lot of undulations and unpredictable surfaces. I push as hard as I can in the hope of making it to the next town and enjoying a warm shower. The sun is going down when I reach a wider track. And later, it’s pitch-black when I reach a road that is mostly gravel with patches of bitumen. I fall over in the dark as the gravel is too soft at times. I get back on the bike and keep riding, slowing down for the first time today, trying to gauge the quality of the surface using a headtorch. I ride past a mine and I expect a fair bit of traffic with miners finishing their days. A few cars and buses full of miners, staring at me while I ride fully loaded in the dark, far from anything.
After an hour of riding in complete darkness, I arrive at the Caravan park. A lady looks after me and decides she can’t ask me to pay as I’m staying only for a short night. And I’m on such a long trip she figures I must not have much money left. She is very sweet to me. She brings me dinner and bread. All ready not even 5 minutes after I arrive. This is exactly what I needed after 9 hours ride over 90km, a lot of bush bashing, getting lost and dirt road riding.