The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Millaa Millaa to Innisfail

Millaa Millaa to Innisfail = 65km
Cummulative total 4722km

We all had a good nights sleep last night and even Kouta settled down in the kitchen (we smuggled him in again!). So he was ready for the ride today but first he wanted to go a hunting - he was fascinated by these Bush Bustards that kept roaming around the campground!

If you can't see the bird it is in the top left corner and as you can see Kouta is getting ready to run!
We left our honeymoon suite at Millaa Millaa campground and everything is dry. We knew we would have 3 climbs before a longish down hill - so there was a short climb out of Millaa Millaa itself and another climb about 5km along. At the 8km mark you descend down to around 500m above sea level on a very steep descent (10%) and trucks are warned to descend down in low gears but most don't bother! It is hard on the brakes with the bike and your hands are hurting like hell from squeezing the levers! The down hill is around 5km long and you don't get to see much of the scenery for watching the road in front of you! Although we had a shoulder it was generally covered in a thin layer of mud and had green moss in it - the results of the roads not drying out and constant rain!!! At the bottom of the hill you immediately start on a 3km 8% climb - I thought that I might not make it but we both felt comfortable riding it - not too sure if we could do the 10%!

The above photo is taken on the flatter part of the 8% climb up and you can see Neil. At 16km you reach the top and there is a little scenic drive that is all over grown that you can take but we pulled in there for a small break and to take photos of something which we have never come across but is an excellent idea - they are animal (ie. possum, tree kangaroos, bandicoots etc) crossings!

The first one is an open ladder for the possums ...

and the second one is an enclosed on for the smaller animals ...

they swing across the road for a tree to a pole and if you look around the road there are no dead animals - so I assume they are used! Neat aye!
From the 16km mark you begin to go down, but the down hill is not exactly coasting - it is a series of 8% drops so you have to take it slowly and brake alot.

Some drops were 1.5km and others were 4km long and this continues to Henrietta creek which is at 23km from Millaa Millaa and from there you undulate up and down all the way to Innisfail.
Along the way there are lots of walking tracks and there was one look out and it gave a stunning view of the Johnstone River.

While we were taking the photo we came across this huge butterfly fluttering about and it was about the size of my hand and it wouldn't land to take a photo so Neil just pointed the camera and took photos as it flittered about - so the photo is a little blurry!

the butterfly is in the top left corner and I tried to bring it closer so you can see just how iridiscent the blue is on the butterfly -

sorry it isn't clear enough but it just wouldn't sit still!
After this you begin to hit the valley with heaps of farmland and it even had a tea plantation

Once in the valley the road becomes more rolling and the prevailing wind for here is a south easterly so we had it as a head wind and lately it has been strong so on some downhills we were actually pedalling! This coming weekend Innisfail is meant to have very strong winds - Saturday 35km per hour and Sunday reaching 40km per hour so it would be a good idea to go from Innisfail to Millaa Millaa on these days as the wind will definitely help you up the 10% hills!
Just before you get to Innisfail there is a suburb called O'Briens Hill so naturally I had to get my photo taken!

As you can see it is not raining - the other week when we came through Innisfail is was absolutely pouring with rain and even 15 years ago when I came through it was pouring with rain and even Neil thinks this is the first time he has come through Innisfail and it isn't raining!!!
So I was relieved to get to the campground and have a hot shower to get rid of all the road crap (I don't know how it got on me!) and sweat - you certainly notice the temperature and humidity now we are at sea level - it is about 25 degrees and humid! but I shall not complain because it isn't raining!!!
I am tired and shall sleep well tonight - although we came down hill today the up hills were tough and even the down hills were challenging but it took us 4 hours cycling to got 65km and you may think that isn't bad but when you consider we descended nearly 1000m it is slow!!!
Tomorrow we will make Bilyanna Rest Area which is 20km south of Tully as we need to get out of this area by the weekend to avoid the shocking wind that is meant to be coming and also to get out of the rain area!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rest day @ Millaa Millaa

We woke this morning and it was heavy rain and the forecast was that it was going to clear in a couple of hours ... but we still decided to stay as usually their forecasts were wrong when it came to clearing of rain.
Below is a photo of a Bush Bustard and it was taken this morning ... you can almost see what it is thinking ... "I'm sick of this rain"

As you can see it was pretty miserable this morning but funny enough it did clear by 10am and we have only had a few showers since then and we even saw the blue sky! But we had already decided to stay and so we managed to get the tent and fly dry as well as the bags. So it was a very productive day for us and everything is now dry!
We did pop into town to pick up some dinner and on our way way back we both nearly had heart attacks - about 3m infront of us was a small black snake with a red belly and Neil said "oh a snake" oh my god it frightened the hell out of us and so we walked around it and it was still alive but it looked like something had run over its' tail. The funny thing was we walked down that road earlier and it wasn't there so it must have come out to warm itself on the road since it wasn't raining and it was sunny!
This afternoon we just chilled out reading books and listening to the radio. Below is a photo of the donga we were in - our door is the one on the left, the room is about 2.5m x 5m but enough for us. Kouta was a little funny last night with sleeping and we did smuggle him in to sleep in the kitchen but even then he was still unsettled but today he seem right a home so hopefully we will all be able to get a good nights sleep.

Tomorrow we head for Innisfail.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Malanda to Millaa Millaa

Malanda to Millaa Millaa = 24km
Cummulative total = 4657km
Our days are getting smaller and smaller!
We woke this morning hoping the showers and rain would break and there was promising signs of it lifting this morning but alas it was short lived and the heavy rain showers descended on Malanda and the Atherton Tablelands. We had to make a decision on whether or not to leave Malanda and head for Millaa Millaa which would be just as wet and rainy but we were hopin the caravan park wasn't as boggy as what the Malanda caravan park was becoming - around our tent is now just boggy red mud and it is beginning to splash up and onto the inner tent so we made the decision to go to Millaa Millaa.
We took care to pack up and tried to keep everything as dry as possible and I even sort of shower proofed Koutas basket and little trailer hut...

...but it wasn't too successful the days rain was just too much for my makeshift rainwear for the basket! Even Kouta was trying to keep try as we packed up and found a very warm dry spot behind Neils front wheel!

and there is laid until we were ready to go at 10am (we waited for a heavy shower to pass). We got about 4km up the road and the heavy rain showers became more frequent and by 10km everything was saturated even Kouta! and he was not happy!
It is very hilly terrain and the undulations were longer and steeper. We only had a small shoulder to cycle in and it was very dangerous the conditions to cycle in and in hindsight we thought it was a bad idea to move and should have stayed at Malanda ... the weather report to say the rain showers would ease by the afternoon but they didn't let up at all the the rain that did come was alot heavier than what we thought.
I struggled with todays conditions they were atrocious for us especially the trucks which don't seem to slow down in wet conditions! and the heavy rain showers limited my vision with my glasses and at times I couldn't cycle on as I couldn't see for all the raindrops on my glasses so we had to pull over until it eased and poor ole Kouta tried to see shelter during the heavy rain!
We got to Millaa Millaa and Neil decided to ask if we could have a cabin as it wasn't exactly camping conditions up in Millaa Millaa either! Lucky for us he let us have a cabin ... actually more like a worker donga - it is tiny and has a small kitchen/dining area and a small bedroom with bunks - off which I have to sleep on the top one! but at least it is dry and warm and sure beats a tent - actually the donga is quite big compared to a tent!

here I am chatting to NZ on skype.
Just outside the donga is a huge carport so Kouta has to sleep out there tonight and he can't come inside and he is not exactly happy about it but at least he will be dry.

as you can see when this photo was taken there was a light drizzly shower passing through.

We have certainly spread out under the carport trying to dry things out. We managed to do our laundry and had to use the drier to get them dry.
There are 2 other bigger dongas next to this one and there are 2 families in them doing the same as us - sleeping inside as it is too wet to camp.
Throughout the afternoon the rain continued and it doesn't seem to be clearing. In fact talking to the locals in Malanda and Millaa Millaa - it has been like this the past 6 weeks! so much for their dry season! In fact the caravan park owner said that so far this year Millaa Millaa has had 3.5meters of rain so far and will have more to come with the oncoming wet season!
I tell you I can't wait to get out of the tablelands - I haven't enjoyed this part (north of Townsville) at all - it is very dangerous cycling up here (even if it is dry) and with the wet conditions lately it is near impossible to enjoy the cycling up here. I am hoping things will change south of Townsville.
Looked at the radar and weather forecast and tomorrow is isolated showers so we are not too sure if we will move - I am reluctant to go down the Palmerston highway to Innisfail in such wet conditions - it is the B double truck route and they make it obviously clear that they don't want cyclists on the road up here and in wet conditions is might be a little dangerous for us to make our way down.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lake Tinaroo Falls to Malanda

Tinaroo Falls Dam to Malanda = 31km
Cummulative total = 4633km

While we were at Lake Tinaroo Falls we went for a walk to view the dam - Neil I am sure got us lost while all the time proclaiming that he knew where he was going!!!

I think they are doing construction work on the dam. While walking back Neil came across some mushrooms just growing on the side of the road and all the way back we began plucking these mushrooms so we had them for dinner along with our bacon, eggs and avocado!

We reckon we got around 1kg worth but once you cook them they reduce to next to nothing! but they were absolutely delicious.

but before cooking them we had to painstakingly peel them as they were dirty and had grass on them.
Lake Tinaroo to Malanda - 31km
I know you are looking at the distance today and thought that it is hardly worth cycling ... well let me tell you 31km in The Atherton Tablelands is the equivalent to about a 80km day!!! I forgot just how hilly it is up here ... or maybe I was alot younger and stupider 15 years ago when we were last here and the hills were nothing! To add to our woes we are having very strong headwinds (around 25-30km per hour rates) and on the exposed parts of the tablelands it is relentless!
There was very little rain last night only a very misty rain for a bit and again this morning it wasn't too bad when we started out but by the time we got to Malanda it was a slightly heavier mist!
But first let me tell you about our morning - we got a rather late start due to a guy coming over to chat to us ... he remembered us from Charters Towers and he asked if we remembered him and off course we couldn't but he said that he met us as we were coming into Charters Towers and then I remembered it was the guy we chatted to outside the IGA! He said he only knew we were here because he went out to dinner last night with another couple that were a few sites down from us and this guy mentioned that 2 cyclists pulled up earlier on and the guy chatting to us asked his friend were the cyclists a young man with a beard and a young woman with a very nice tan ... Neil and I both laughed at our descriptions (I was laughing more at the fact that Neil was labelled a "young" man and I think Neil was as well!!!). Anyway his friend said yes and the man chatting to us asked if the cyclists were towing a dog and his friend said yes and that is when he knew it was us as we are the only ones around this area towing a dog! So we chatted to him for around 3/4 of an hour. We got some useful information from him - we found out the bowls season starts in September so basically there will be a mass departure of people within the next 3 weeks from Queensland! So there hopefully won't be some many people on the road soon!
Once we finished chatting to him we continued on packing and when we got to the gates of the caravan park we were ascounded by a Chinese family and they were so impressed by us and our cycling that they took a video of us! The man was Australian and his wife was Chinese and her parents were over from China visiting and they were fascinated by us cycling all the way from Melbourne! His wife was fascinated with the fact that we were in a tent and wanted to know if I missed the comforts of a home and was it easy in a tent ... all I could say (as no one has ever asked me that!) was that you sort of adapt to life on the road in a tent!
So we managed to get away around 9.15am - quite late considering we got up early.
The ride back to Kairi was up and down and we knew that - but there is one mother of a steep hill just past the campground and I tell you there was an elderly couple walking up the hill and they were marginally slower than us riding our bikes!!!

Once at Kairi the road flattens out a bit and you go through farms that we think are growing corn but not corn on the cob more for maize (I am not too sure on that) as the corn plants are all dry so I am not sure if they dry the plant and corn cobs before they cut them and then grind the corn kernels down to maize or some sort of flour. But there are heaps. Once we got to the main road between Yungaburra and Atherton we crossed over and took a small road to meet up with the main road between Malanda and Atherton. Cycling the small roads was alot better than going on the main roads! although the roads we did take are actually the roads for the B Double truck route but there were none today being a Sunday and a long weekend. Once we joined the Malanda-Atherton road it became very undulating and the hills were just so steep and only a very thin shoulder but all the cars today were really good to us and gave us plenty of room ... maybe they felt sorry for us!
So up and down, up and down, up and down and all the while I am saying 'man I hate this place'!!! I am never coming back here on the bike! Malanda is up in the hills and so it is continually in cloud and I think that is what we were cycling in most of the day thinking it was a misty rain but as we got closer to Malanda the road became wetter and the mist became heavier and you could say it was a gentle drizzle. We got here just on lunch time and the campground is wet to say the least. Our campspot is a little muddy around the door but it is on high ground in case it does pour and we then have good drainage but nevertheless due to the rain the roads around the parks a soggy with mud and although I have had a shower my feet are wet and a bit muddy!

There are not too many camping - one other group in tents and another lady in a converted van. There is a kitchen (sort of!) with a fridge, cooktop and sink with hot water and a sheltered roof and table. So at least we can come here to a dry spot.
Tomorrow is another really short day to Millaa Millaa but it is another 200m higher than Malanda and so that will also be wet! not too mention there is one hell of a climb to get to it and from Millaa Millaa standing at 910m above sea level we will descend to Innisfail which is at sea level on Tuesday!
One of the sites at Malanda are the Malanda falls ...

... I remember last time Neil and I were here at Malanda falls (ah the memories are flooding back now!) we had the same sort of wet weather and got stuck here and had to see the falls between showers!
We woke this morning to find the weather really hasn't changed that much and listened to the local weather and it should begin to start clearing this afternoon so we will stay here today (it is a sense of "deja vu" as exactly the same thing happened last time we were here!) and hopefully move on tomorrow.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mareeba to Lake Tinaroo Falls

Mareeba to Lake Tinaroo Falls = 43km
Cummulative total = 4602km

We managed to make a move today and got out of the campground as we didn't really want to stay there. Neil looked at the weather radar and there was only showers at Cairns and along the coast there so we headed off after stocking up on a little food incase we get stuck in a small town over the weekend.
We blew the budget yesterday and bought Kouta a new basket as his one was becoming very smelly in the tent and was beginning to get holes in it. We also decided that we would buy 2 flouro vests to cycle in - Neils blue shirt is about to fall apart and he will use his black shirt so it is important that cars can see us so we got a flouro vest for that and I got myself one as once we start hitting the cold weather I will end up cycling in the black thermal and so I will need a flouro shirt while cycling and also it is rather grey weather sometimes up here so at least they can see us in our bright orange flouros! The funny thing is Neil decides this morning that he will cycle without a shirt so he stripped off and wore his flouro vest only! ... take a look ...

... no Mum Neil is NOT wearing a white t shirt under the flouro vest!!! and he rode all the way to Lake Tinaroo falls without a shirt! and below is a photo of Kouta in his new basket!

it is not exactly the best for putting in the trailer but it is all they had! but as you can see he loves it!
So todays cycling was hard - It was a slow constant grind to get here with very strong headwinds and the road is a gentle incline to Tolga basically we went from 300m to 770m before coming down a little bit to the lake. It was a cloudy day but dry and still no rain so far. The locals say it will be here this evening and tomorrow.
The traffic was very constant today (all local traffic) and there was no shoulder in places - at one point we had 2 trucks in a row that didn't slow down at all and on the second truck Neil yells out to get off the road ... so we quickly got off even thou there was a 10cm drop off the bitumen! but as Neil came off the road he ran over a piece of discarded truck tyre and that got caught up in the back wheel and gear clusters. So he had to unload the bike and untangle it - he was not happy!
Along the way we stocked up on bananas again and even a bag of avocados ... yummy!
I was relieved to get to Tolga and we decided to go to Lake Tinaroo Falls campground to sit out the rain if it ever gets here. We checked when we got here on the weather radar and the rain amount is less than what they predicted.
The campground is crowded, as I think a few people from Cairns have come up here to fish in the Dam since it is a 3 day weekend for them and it is part of the Top Tourist group and we have decided to get a powered site so we can sit here in the tent to plan our route down south as I need structure in my day to day cycling! and not like Neil who is rather nonchalant when it come to day to day cycling!!!
After this we will go for a walk to see the Falls hopefully but there is an abundant of bird life here and they are very friendly.

we think the above bird is a Dusky Honeyeater. It makes a lovely chirp - a bit like the NZ bird the Tui.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Yungaburra to Mareeba

Yungaburra to Mareeba = 50km
Cummulative total = 4559km

The day started with very grey clouds that were threatening to just pour down ... instead they just let out a slight drizzle all the way to the town of Atherton. It was a narrow and busy road to Atherton and there was no shoulder for us to ride in and again there was a series of undulations but you could feel that you were generally climbing. It was very difficult riding.
The township of Atherton is a very busy place and we only passed through it and didn't really stop there to have a look ... but the funny thing about this place is that it is a town of 2 halves - the south half which is were we approached it from is grey and drizzly and the north half which is were we headed for to go Mareeba is grey and dry!!! It was like crossing some sort of freaky weather zone!
On the way to Tolga the road even becomes different - wider and with a shoulder and most of the way to Tolga (which is about 8km away) you are riding through a very dense bush either side of the road - it was lovely - a bit like the Waitakeres!

Beyond Tolga to Walkamin which is about 15km from Atherton you are just going on a very gentle decline from the hills - Atherton is about 800m above sea level while Tolga is about 700m and Mareeba is about 400m above sea level. So the down hill is spread out over the 35km to Mareeba so it was great cycling and coupled with a very strong tail wind we hardly had to pedal at all ... but we go back that way early next week!
As you a cycling down you can see it is so different between the South tablelands which are very green and wet while North of Atherton it is drier.
there are heaps of avocado, banana and fruit farms around here and we stopped at a roadside stall to pick up 7 bananas for $1.50 lucky Neil found $2!!!
At this point we were excited about getting to Mareeba - the place where Neil and I met 15 years ago.

As you can see from the above photos Neil and Kouta are both smiling away ... but this is short lived - I suppose Neil and I thought the place would be like it was 15 years ago - small but now the township of Mareeba is huge and the population is alot bigger and crowded and to make matters worse the campground where we first met is a real dump! It is very run down and we have decided that we are very disheartened with the Tablelands - I suppose it has just grown to accomodate the expansion of Cairns.
We are at the Riverside caravan park and below is a view from the camp kitchen ... but don't be fooled by this view ...

... as fantastic as it is it ends there!
There are alot of permanents here and seasonal workers - at least the lady didn't put us in the general unpowered section which is full of backpacker seasonal workers and instead she gave us an unpowered site between 2 caravans away from the seasonal workers ... instead of listening to the backpackers we got to listen to 2 disgruntled seasonal workers living in a caravan!
It is a public holiday today here in the Tablelands and Cairns due to their show day and we are hoping to move tomorrow to a campground that (hopefully is better!) is about 10km out of town - but there is forecasted heavy rain for Sunday and more than likely the rain will begin tomorrow.
So this is how far we go North and now we start to head back down South.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mission Beach to Yungaburra

Mission Beach to Yungaburra = 168km (Mission beach to Innisfail = 58km, Innisfail to Gordonvale = 62km, Gordonvale to Yungaburra = 48km)
Cummulative total = 4509km

Our plans have constantly changed since being here on the coast - I am finding that there is ALOT of misinformation around here especially when it comes to the internet - caravan parks no longer exist, rest areas are not what they say they are and basically we a going from day to day with no sure plans and I hate that way of travelling! I know that while cycling here to Yungburra I had the dreaded fear that the caravan park is no longer there!!! (although our source of information said there was a caravan park there is always that thought in the back of my mind that it is no longer there!).
Anyway I shall start way back at Mission Beach and I have to say we have had quite a time since then!
On our last rest day at Mission Beach Neil decided that despite (what I thought was) the coolish overcast day that he would go swimming ...

... what a slim body that is!!! He did inform me that the water was warm once you got in!
While at the caravan park there was a few Kookaburras flying about feeding on insects from the ground and there was 2 flittering about and when they stopped to watch us one let me go up quite close to them to take a photo (I was about 1 meter from the Kookaburra!).

This is a Laughing Kookaburra and the one that you tend to hear either just at the break of day
or when you have just done something stupid in public and you think that no one has seen you but you will always hear that laugh somewhere in the distance and you know the Kookaburra has seen you!!!
On our day of departure from Mission Beach we woke nice and early and although there we thick grey clouds Neil informs me that he looked up the internet on the Elders weather site and Innisfail was to have a few showers and that we should be okay ... well let me tell you if Elders weather sites' idea of just a few showers is a continuous torrential down pour from 8.30am to 2pm is a 'few showers' ... I would hate to see what they call 'heavy rain'!!! So it rained for the entire 58km to Innisfail and we all looked like drowned rats in the end ... and let me tell you Kouta was not impressed at all!
Just out of Mission Beach we met a German touring cyclist - Uwe (pronounced U-ver) and he was just popping in to have a look at Mission Beach and then continuing north. He is a very strong cyclist and caught up to us about an hour later.
The road back to the Bruce highway was narrow, hilly and windy and the rain by now was teaming down and at times it was difficult as do you think the cars slowed down their speed in these conditions for them? ... no! I was relieved to get to the Bruce Highway and we had an early coffee break at El Arish and Uwe joined us, we then continued on and said to Uwe that we will be staying at Innisfail and he said he wasn't sure how far he will get as his average daily ride is about 130km ... these Germans are just so crazy when it comes to cycle touring it is absolutely mad the distances they cover!
Now I thought that riding along the Bruce highway would be good on a Sunday - thinking there would be not much traffic ... well how wrong were we ... it was constant! so I said to Neil I think we should try to avoid riding on the weekends while we are in areas along the coast as the general traffic is really heavy!
We got to Innisfail and found that only the supa IGA is open on the Sunday so we picked up supplies and continued for another 4km just out of town to the rest area at the corner of the Palmerston and Bruce Highways - well that was a crappy rest area and Neil wanted to continue on but I said that it was already 2pm and the next rest area is another 25km away so that meant that we wouldn't get there until around 3.30pm and that was al ittle late for the current wet rainy conditions. So we decided to stay put.
Uwe decided to join us at the rest area and there were quite a few other vans there as well. The rest areas we have found are very popular with the overseas backpackers in their wicked, spaceship and a green and purple vans that can be rented out.

Above is at the rest area just out of Innisfail and Uwe is putting his tent up. As you can see the rain has stopped for a very brief while so we managed to put our tents up - as Neil said this is the fastest he has seen me help put the tent up ... I was determined that not a drop of rain hit the inner part of the tent!
We managed to get Kouta dry and banned him from leaving the inner dry sanctum of the tent ... do you think he listened to us? ... no! he was in and out, in and out all afternoon.
It was nice chatting with Uwe and later on in the evening as we sat on 2 tables under a big shelter we were joined by a Swiss guy and a French couple and that was really enjoyable and the Swiss guy was quite funny ... even Uwe had a laid back sense of humour for a German (who tend to be very serious and straight!).
Later on in the night when everyone had gone to bed a group of guys turned up at the rest area and sat at the tables right near where we were pitched and decided to have a rather loud conversation from 11pm to 2am so not much sleep during the night ... and I was too scared to get up and have a go at them!
In the morning we said goodbye to Uwe as he was going to cycle to Cairns (90kms) and he probably would get there around lunchtime and we were only going to Gordonvale (which is 23km south of Cairns) and we probably wouldn't get there until around 1pm!!! He cycles fast!
So at least the day was fine and it stayed fine for nearly all day ... but it was very humid and in the end it was a hot sweaty day to ride. The road was busy and was undulating a bit at times and unfortunately we didn't have a great shoulder - it is very inconsistent along this Bruce highway - sometimes our shoulder is massive and sometimes there is no shoulder! and in general the width of the car lanes can only JUST fit a small truck so in developing and rebuilding the Bruce highway they sort of didn't allow for the wider vans and trucks and so it is very difficult with a pushbike as we all know that most drivers think we shouldn't use the road at all!
We saw a snake today and it was in the shoulder of the road and when I saw it I thought it was a piece of tyre and then realised that it was a snake so we popped out onto the road to go around it and as we passed it I saw it was a big snake coiled up in itself and to me it looked alive and shiny and just warming itself up but Neil thought it was dead but I couldn't see any marks or squashed parts to it and it really did look like it had the 'living' shine to it!
We passed by Babinda and I looked down the mainstreet and could see the pub ... now for those that don't know the story I have a real aversion for Babinda - I cycled through here 15 years ago and went to visit the Boulders and on that day it was just pouring with rain absolutely belting down and I was a drowned rat and I decided that I would stay in a backpackers that night as it was too wet to camp ... well I saw that this pub here at Babinda had backpackers so I went in and asked if I could have a room ... well the guy (who was about ... and I am putting this nicely ... 15 months pregnant and clearly over weight) just looked me up and down and said that there was no vacancies! So I had to go back about 8km to a small town (forgotten the name) and I managed to get a room at some cheap hotel. I suppose you are wondering about why I am peeved that there was no vacancies at Babinda? ... well I know for a fact that the guy was lying about no vacancies as 15 years ago no one was going to this town and I could clearly see that it wasn't full (or else he would have put up a no vacancy sign if it was) so I just think that in my drowned wet state he didn't want me there dripping water everywhere with all my wet bags etc. So that is why I don't like Babinda ... and as I cycled past it the other day I wondered just what the 15 month pregnant guy is doing now ... or if he is still alive!
Anyway we got to Gordonvale just after 12.30pm and found that the caravan park had closed down 8 years ago but just before the town we saw a heap of vans in a rest area so we went back there and looked up on the internet and the 2 caravan parks that takes dogs are all in Cairns and we didn't want to go in there as our road was right opposite us to go up in the tablelands. So Neil sat down stated that he hated far North Queensland, had a little hissy fit and sulked a bit ... so I slapped him around a bit told him to pull himself together, get over it and said that we will stay here at the rest area and go up into the tablelands tomorrow and have a rest day at Yungaburra if the campground is nice .... (I didn't really slap him about!!!). Well he perked up at that so we set about to choose our campsite in the corner and over the course of the day and evening we were joined by at least 50 other groups ... now this rest area in the Camp 5 book is only a picnic area and since everything is booked out or just inconvenient for everyone it has now become a major camping one ... and it only has 1 toilet! at least it has drinking water! so we managed to get everything dried and I did a fair bit of hand washing in my folding bucket since all my clothes were wet from the ride to Innisfail.

As you can see from the photo above we are not far from the bridge which is the Bruce highway and all night you could here cars and trucks go over the bridge which is made up of sections and between the sections is a gap that makes a loud noise whenever a tyre hits it ... great a 2nd night a disturbed sleep!
We left early on our third morning knowing that we had short but tough day ahead of us with going up the Gillies ranges.

this is the ranges we have to go over - you climb to around 875m above sea level and I have always thought that it is harder to cycle the dividing range from east to west as you are starting from absolutely sea level and cycling the full 875m up, whereas when you cycle from west to east you may be starting from 200m above sea level so you are only climing 675m get my drift?!!!
Anyway at least it is a lovely sunny day, hot as well which meant the sweat was going to pour of me so we took extra water. Usually these ranges are covered in clouds and are absolutely miserable when it rains!

This first 10km to the base of the ranges is flattish and the bulk of the traffic was coming from the tablelands and going to Cairns so that was good.

At the base of the range it warns you that the next 19km is winding and I remember at this point where the above photo is taken we probably had our first bad encounter with a truck - we had just come around a corner and the truck came round and realised we were there and gave us 2 very abrupt toots on the horn and had to grind down in his gears ... he over took and his second trailer came very close to me at the front when he cut back in ... a deliberate ploy to try to intimidate us ... funny thing is it doesn't work ... what he doesn't realise is that we are quite competent on the roads with all the traffic and are not easily intimidated by their stupid dangerous tactics ... I even had the nerve to give him the finger! I said to Neil why would the idiot be coming up this winding road with a full heavy load knowing full well that it is full of switch backs and then expect to be able to go up this road without having to change speed and gears? I think we saw this same truck on its' way back down and I think it came back again and encountered us on one of the steep undulations after the main climb ... but Neil doesn't think so but I am sure it is the same truck as when he came across us in one of the undulations he did the same thing again left it to the last minute to over take us and had to virtually stop behind us as there was oncoming traffic ... somehow I don't think this driver is to competent when it comes to judging something he has to overtake - everyother truck driver has pre - empted us and tooted to warn us that he can't fit through and so get of the the road!
Anyway back to the climb ... the traffic was generally okay but one driver did decide to overtake on a blind corner and she got stuck in the middle of the road as there was another car coming in the opposite direction! Crazy people!!! But otherwise the 19km was mostly at the 4-5% grade which is really nice to cycle up and very easy to get in low gears and just continually grind away for the full 19km at around 7km per hour! It was beautiful riding up the hill a bit like riding from Forrest to Apollo Bay (minus the down hill!) in the Ottways in Victoria very bushy and scenic. Like I said this climb has heaps of twists, turns and switchbacks which suits us fine as it allows for a less gradient than some of the other mountains around Australia which go straight up and over at very steep almost unridable gradients!
On our way up well take a brief rest in a car pull over and Neil finds a pair of Nike size 12 (mens) jandals just lying there so he picks them up.

This photo was take about a quarter of the way up and you can see the flat lands below where they grow alot of turf grass.

the above photos were taken about 3 quarters of the way up at Heales lookout

and here I am at Heales Lookout and at this point I am just soaked through with sweat and I am feeling a little gunky since it has been 3 days since I have had a hot shower! But I am okay with the hill climb and I am having no problems whatsoever. I feel strong and I am saying I think I can ride up is Mt Kosciuskzo! LOL

And here is Neil at this point he is okay cycling up the hill but is finding that at the rest points he is a little dizzy so we assume that it may have something to do with the blood pressure tablets and maybe his pressure is getting a wee bit too low at times!
But we are both beginning to feel it in the legs after nearly 2 and 1/2 hours in the saddle the butts are sore and the quads a beginning to become a little bit fatigued.
At the top of the climb the road begins to be less steep and we are able to change into higher gears finally and there is no recognition at the top that you are actually at the top - you only know because at the 19km mark there is another sign saying that the winding road finishes in another 3km which means that you go down and up a bit again before hitting the tablelands.

Relieved to get to the top we pulled over to have a cuppa and food (we snacked a bit on the way up at times) and it was around 20km to Yungaburra where we hoped that the caravan park exists! It was a tough 20km very undulating and the road is very narrow with no shoulder and since the roads are not great my descent on these undulations were very cautious (as pot holes seem to pop up at you at the last moment!) and so I lost a great deal of speed going down to get up the hilly part - and some where steep and at this point in time my legs felt like lead!
We managed to get to Yungaburra and were able to pick up supplies from the local store and to our relief the campground was there and it is a lovley spot on Lake Tinaroo and what is even better the powered part of the campground is not as good as the unpowered section - we are virtually right on the lake whereas the powered section have to stand on their caravan roofs to actually see the lake!!!

It is a fabulous spot and on a day like yesterday when the above photo was taken it is absolutely beautiful in the sun ... don't know if I would like it if it was raining!!! The jandals Neil finds on the way up over the Gillies Ranges fits him well and he loves them so much that they won't leave his feet ... even when he sleeps!
And as I sit on my chair drinking my cup of tea this is my view ...

... I love it and so we are staying here for a well earned rest today and the legs this morning were a little stiff from the mountain ride. The tablelands are a bit like the North Island in NZ - hilly and so green that it hurts your eyes! It is generally raining up here but it is forecasted fine for the next few days - but today on our rest day it is very overcast and grey!
We have looked up the weather forecast and there is forecasted rain for this weekend so we are due to ride to Mareeba tomorrow so we may get stuck there over the weekend!