It is very tempting to go all the way to Rockhampton today. I picture a nice city with a lot of green parks and I’m looking forward to a bit of comfort. It will be nice not having to put up my tent, and also to have some company. The thing I need most is people to talk to.
Cedric informs me that I will have to go over the range and it will be a steady climb. I realised that I could bypass the trail, ride along the highway and head straight to Rockhampton. But from experience I know that this is not enjoyable. It’s early in the morning and I want to stay in the bush for as long as can before deviating to the city.
As expected, the climb up the range is a tough one. When someone tells me a climb is hard based on horse riding experience, I have to believe them. It’s a lot worse on a bike. The track is very muddy and made of clay. Soon my front wheel is stuck, there is too much mud and clay between the wheel and the front rack. It’s my mistake for not giving it enough clearance when I set it up. I spend a lot of time clearing the mud out of the wheel which makes the process of climbing this steep hill even slower.
On the way down the other side of the range, things don’t get much easier. The steepness and narrowness of the track make it impossible to ride. The void is not far on my left and I need to pay attention to what I’m doing. At one point I hear a limb falling from a tree behind me. I’m lucky I was not underneath.
I reach the town of Bouldercombe at the bottom of a hill near the highway. After a long overdue lunch, I hit the trail again, this time going across yards and gates. The track is barely visible and the grass is slowing me down a lot, but I make it through.
I’m about to reach Kabra, the last location of this National Trail section. Two kilometres before that, I take a turn off towards Rockhampton, and try to avoid the busy highway as much as possible.
On my way I get myself an ice cream. This is my way to celebrate the completion of this section. A small indulgence that I believe I deserve.
In Rockhampton, I’m a little bit confused and disappointed. The city does not look like how I imagined it, very different from Brisbane. There is not much green, no parks, no bike lanes, and the buildings look sad with so much concrete everywhere.
Now I have to figure out where I’m going to sleep tonight. The Caravan park is not inviting at all, as often in major cities. I contact a few people but by the time they answer I’m already sold on the local backpackers. For a small price, I get to sleep in a bed. I just really hope my dorm mates will be quiet, or, that I won’t have any. The room is empty when I arrive and I’m ‘touching wood’ so far. I come back later after dinner and the room is filled with suitcases. I make it clear that I’m here to sleep and I want a quiet room. They respect that and I pass out very quickly in this warm room filled with four guys, one bushman and three English tourists.
Brad, one of my contacts, gets back to me. He is going to an indigenous community to maintain the computers at the school. He says the kids would love to hear my stories. I offer to come along for the drive the next day to make up for the initial disappointment of Rockhampton and do something different. Besides it will be raining tomorrow so that’s a good thing to do. We are leaving at 6am.