Sunday, April 27, 2008

DAY 182: Herberton to Innot Hot Springs

Weds 23rd April 2008
71 km @ 15.4 km/hr
Sunny intervals, 22 deg C
Elevation of destination 641m
Distance to date 10663 km (6664 miles)

Perfect peace and 9 hours unbroken sleep = happy disposition this morning. Except for the saddle sores that is, which are pretty inflamed, and I have a bad case of the runs too somehow. The too complaints clearly don't mix - is this too much information? Maybe the river water I drank the other day contained a good measure of cow poo he he..
Only 2km along the road is the village of Herberton itself - a nice back-country, sleepy little place where everyone probably knows everyone else and exactly what they're doing at any given moment. Pity the CP wasn’t nearer the town though as I had planned to eat out here last night and have a look around, but couldn’t be bothered with 4km of Tobleroning after feeling so tired. The newsagent has internet so I decided to get that done, however nothing went right and I wasn’t able to upload the pics.
The road from Herberton to Ravenshoe is also very pleasant despite many steep hills - tree-lined, shady, quiet etc. I still hadn’t gone 20km after 2 hours - that’s how hilly - height gained was 237m from 920 to 1157. The ride further lifted my spirits and I didn’t mind the climbing at all with the road being so quiet - I definitely think I chose the best route for cycling from Mareeba to Ravenshoe. I stopped for a snack under a shady tree and watched the lizards playing around at my feet, and the Corellas screaming wildly around the tall treetops. Wonderful Australia!
After 19km the main, busy (and very horrible) Atherton - Ravenshoe road is reached, and a long climb for 2 or 3 km to a crossroads where there is a choice of 2 routes to Ravenshoe, and I chose the right-hand one - “The highest road to the highest town in Queensland”. This road continues to climb up to 1157m then there is a gradual, straightish and exhillirating fast descent through dairy farm land for some 15km - whheeee! And then there’s a shorter hill up to the town, which is at 924m ASL.
There was no shoulder for most of today’s ride, but as it was so quiet that was ok.
Ravenshoe is also my idea of an unspoilt country town - nice wide streets, traditional buildings and very clean-looking. I spent a good while at a nice shady table outside the bakery eating one of the best apple pies I’ve ever, ever had, and going over all the info I had about the next few days ride through to Normanton, 548km away. Ravenshoe is the ‘last outpost’ in the east as I now ‘turn right’ to head west into The Outback - woohoo! I can’t wait to take advantage of the prevailing SE-erly again (I hope lol), although I know there will be many long days in the saddle with nothing much to see. I will probably listen to music or the radio at these times, if safe enough to do so, or otherwiuse just go into a trance as usual.
Having made notes of where camping, water, food etc. could be had up the road I did a big shop at IGA, spending some time choosing the best stuff to carry that will give me some variety, which was quite enjoyable. I also replaced the battered 1.5 litre PET bottle for a new one in case the former were to burst on me. Finally I called in at the VIC where a very friendly and helpful guy, David, chatted about what was in store for me over the next few days. I now feel quite prepared for the next week’s riding. Hats off to the VIC people once more. .they're great.
Once on the road out of Ravenshoe the wind was on my left shoulder and I was fairly bowling along. I considered going to have a look at Millstream Falls but it was down a loose gravel road and I couldn’t be bothered to be honest - I’ve seen lots of falls and they aren’t always much to look at. In no time at all (17km from Ravenshoe) I was at Archer Creek Rest Area (a free overnighter) but although it looked very decent and tidy it was only 1530 and the afternoon was still young. I also knew that Innot Hot Springs was only another 13km, and I really wanted to check the place out; haven't had a bath for ages...
There was more climbing than I expected but I was soon at IHS and after having a look around definitely decided to camp here ($15). It was a good decision; I have acres of space to myself so peace and quiet guaranteed; and the swimming / bathing pools (there are 7!) are wonderful. After showering I was straight in, trying every pool out. Each pool is a different temperature, the hottest being around 55 I think - just as hot as a very hot bath - down to a cold plunge pool, and a range of different temperatures in between. Some are quite small, but it’s quite a novelty swimming in the larger hot pools; something you can’t do in your bath! Everyone was chatting away in the most popular hot pool so it was all very pleasant indeed. There is also a hot spa outside. It’s so good I feel a rest day coming on tomorrow - I want to do some work on the bike too such as cleaning and retensioning the chain, which has gone loose and came off again today when quickly changing down. I may fit my new spare chain so the 2 chains wear evenly.
After all this I went down to the nearby pub for a beer with the locals, picking up some more local info that may be of use to me, as well as shooting the breeze generally. The bike attracts a lot of attention, and I particularly get questions about the ‘big fat hubs’ i.e. front dynamo and rear internal gearbox, that most people are unfamiliar with.
There was a sad moment today when out in the back of beyond there was a dog sat quietly at the side of the road, and though I was wary as I approached him he ran to me wagging his tail - it seemed to me that he was lost or even abandoned - I hope I’m wrong, and that he gets found by someone. He looked like he needed some TLC.........don’t we all!

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