Monday, February 04, 2008

DAY 120: Point Plomer Campsite to Stuart’s Point

Sat 2nd February 2008
83 km @ 14.3 km/hr
Distance to date 7303 km (4564 miles)
Cloudy, humid, rain in afternoon

Not a good night’s sleep due to my young and carefree neighbours. I did ask them to pipe down, and they did for a while, but the consumption of further alcohol raised the volume again. I felt very annoyed, but powerless to do anything - pushing it further or reporting them might have brought reprisals, and I didn’t want to risk anything like the bike or tent damaged. The 4 girls weren’t so bad but the boys were utterly obnoxious.
I was awake early so got up and got going before 8, feeling quite fed up, however this started to wear off as the morning wore on. I saw a dingo near the tent after dark last night - apparently they are common here and a nuisance due to their occasional aggression, caused by people feeding them (signs at the campsite always say not to feed the animals). I also saw 2 more this morning, an adult and cub, but unlike the one on the Nullabor that followed me, these 2 couldn’t get away from me fast enough.
There was another 6km of VERY corrugated gravel road to contend with, then 2km of tarmac, then back to gravel for another 4km. The first 6km took nearly an hour and it was hard work to keep the bike upright, although I didn’t have to get off and push. The best place i.e. least corrugated, seems to be around a third of the way across the road from the left, but at times the whole width was deeply corrugated. The route was mostly flat but with one steepish climb for 1km or so.
I stopped at Crescent Head to put the billy on and have some rolls, then took Tourist Route 12, the Loftus Road to Gladstone. Gentle undulations mostly here, then dead flat once you come to the Belmore River. This part of the route, along the east bank of the river (there’s a road both sides) is very pleasant - little beef and dairy farms, pleasant little cottages with lovely flowery and colourful gardens, nice smells from all the flowers. There is also a good range of wild flowers in the verge, mostly purple in colour. It is noticeable that there are more fruit and veg being sold at the roadside these past few days - I understand as I get into Queensland you can get plenty of fruit this way cheaply. And I saw the first local bananas and sugar cane growing. A lot of these little farms are run by what locals call “Hobby farmers”, where people have other jobs but keep a few animals or grow a few fields of crop.
Gladstone is a small place with a cafe and a few shops - I bought a couple of peaches from a fruit and veg shop; I’m trying (not very succesfully) to eat more fruit rather than biscuits and cakes. Just north of here I crossed over the river bridge to Smithstown (an even smaller place) and rather than get back on the Pacific Highway undertook the extra few km by taking the Summer Island Road to the NW of the much wider River Macleay, and completed Tourist Route 12 onto the Pacific Highway again; there is no other option at this point. The Highway mostly has a shoulder and in the next 17km or so it went from 2m to 1m to under 300mm, which is hardly enough. It also started to rain heavily on this section and within 15 minutes I was soaked, but hey, I’m resilient; I live in the North of Scotland, and anyway I wasn’t cold as it was in the mid-20’s still. Traffic actually wasn’t that heavy on the PH, oddly; still it is Saturday. However it got increasingly hillier with some quite steep but mercifully short climbs.
I turned off right onto Tourist Route 14, Stuart’s Point Road, This was deeply undulating with many triangular hills which had me puffing down in 1st gear a couple of times, until I reached Stuart’s Point itself, a small town with 5 or 6 shops, library and Caravan Park ($14) by the lake and around 1km from the surf (Pacific) beach. Just as I checked in at the CP the heavens opened and I went to the Camper’s Kitchen for a cuppa to see if it was going to stop, but it didn’t, so I left the bike under cover and went to put up the tent outside in. I was already soaked so no matter about the rain. I then went for a shower and did a pile of handwashing before sticking it in the tumble drier.
I was feeling quite tired so got a bottle of lager and sat around at my picnic table and read today’s Australian (mega-jumbo edition).
People are very friendly here and I’ve spoken to quite a few residents and campers. I cooked a really nice pasta meal - I’ve started using fresh garlic in it and it does taste better - and I also saw this guy doing toast on the gas barbie hot plate, which I tried with a (bread) muffin sliced in half and drizzled with olive oil - it was very tasty. A very friendly Willie Wagtail (small black and white bird with a big waggly tail - they are pretty aggressive like most birds of that colour) came to watch me; don’t know what he wanted but it wasn’t scraps and crumbs. Another person told me to go to Fraser Island, north of Brisbane; apparently it’s full of wildlife being a large National Park and the biggest sand island in the world.

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