Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DAY 151: Bush camp to Bowen

47 km at 14.9 km/hr
Sun 223rd March 2008
Distance to date 9112 km (5695 miles)
Very warm / sunny

My bush camp proved a good choice - quiet, undisturbed, but also beautiful - I didn’t fit the outer tent so could see the stars and moon through the inner’s mesh; moreover the full moon lit the surrounding area so that the lake and trees all showed up with a silver hue all night (there was no cloud cover). I woke up a few times briefly and noted that the moon was moving in line with the axis of the tent (east to west), as was the constellation Orion. It was all very pleasant.
Packing up was quick as I hadn’t got much stuff out last night, so I was away or 7. The road was pretty quiet and it was mostly just me and a few Black Cockatoos and raptors that might be Black Kites - clearly not the Wedge-Tailed Eagles I thought they were at first. The eagle is surely much bigger?!
The wind had dropped for the time being and it was a little uphill so I had to work harder, and even when I started to come into Bowen the road turned to the east, into the rising SE-er. It was still only a little after 8 so I spent the morning touring around the very nice beaches around the Bowen coast. I took a pic of the roadside billboard stating what the penalties were for vandalism and graffiti - interesting.
First of all I had a look at Queen’s Beach, which has a stinger net fitted - this is a net designed to excluse stingers - several different species of poisonous jellyfish - so that you can swim in safety. I watched a lady with three dogs as she turned a blind eye to the largest of the dogs defecating in the sand of this netted section, and I pointed to where the dog had done this when she turned around but she ignored me, and left the poo for some child to wallow in. I’m surprised dogs are even allowed on this section of beach, as they are banned from most bathing beaches at risk of heavy fines. I noted 2 caravan parks in this area, and not least a pub that sells draught Guinness - mmm! Maybe later. Next I rode the 4km around Queen’s Bay to Gray’s Bay and Horseshoe Bay - the latter is shown in the pic(s) and is beautiful. I dived in for a swim with cycling shorts and long-sleeved top on as there was no stinger net, although there were many people in there with less on than me. I thing the stinger risk is decreasing as summer comes to an end and the water cools a little (from 25 to 20 deg C lol), but I wasn’t taking unnecessary risks - the stings are supposed to be excrutiatingly painful. Vinegar is the best pain killer apparently (applied to the site of injury; not drank!). I also had a look at Rose Bay - up a steep hill and down again - before heading back to Queen’s Beach to check in at the Wangaratta CP (opposite the pub with the Guinness lol).
Having seen most of the delights of Bowen I spent the afternoon doing washing and servicing the transmission i.e. Washing the chain, adjusting chain tension etc. A couple came over to speak about the ride - the lady was a keen cyclist and wanted to do a big ride like this so was interested in all the relevant issues. The guy gave me a hand to try and undo one of the 5 chainring screws which was all turniung, but to no avail - there must be a special tool for this, and I’ll get a bikeshop to undo for me - I want to turn the ring around so it wears evenly and lasts longer.
Around 6 I went over for my Guinness treat, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) as I started my second pint they started to close the place so I had to rush it a bit - hmmmm - still, it was very well kept and tasted just as good as at home. I decided to have dinner at the cafe next door, and did a bit of e-mailing whilst at it. Later whilst talking to some neighbours I got badly bitten by mozzies on the foot - that’ll teach me to remember to put repellent on every night.
All in all a very enjoyable and productive day; tomorrow it’s back onto the Bruce Highway and a 2-day ride to Townsville. I’m told this is a very industrial place and not very interesting, so I may not stay there long, but I’ll see.

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