Posts Tagged ‘Cycling’


It’s the end of the road. The road from Cairns has led here, and has now stopped. The land ends at this remote ‘Outback by the Sea’ town. People sip their drinks under the palm trees watching the sun turn to orange and then red over the sea, the mangroves and the emerging sand bars. The end of the world vibe. I love it.

Sunset at Karumba

The road here saw the vegetation slowly disappear as I pedalled through low grasslands and then salt pans.

50km to Karumba
The final approach

And then the road rises and I pop out to a view of the sea.

The Gulf of Carpentaria

The cycling day was short, but my body decided it was time to be lazy. And what a chill place to be lazy.

Sunset at Karumba
Sunset at Karumba

“They sun themselves on the salt flats. Massive things. As big as the statue. If you stay more than 50m away you’ll be fine. And stay away from the water.” I contemplate my stay in croc territory as I watch the sunset from the bridge over the Norman River. I’m excited.

Life size, so they say

Today was a perfect cycling day. An ever so gradual slope downwards and a handy tailwind. I left at 5:15am in the dark and glided along through the dark, watching the sky turn pink and then orange before the direct sunbeams poked out between the trees.

Early morning on the road

The Gulflander train stops at Blackbull siding at 10:15am on Thursdays. I was there at 9 for a snack and photos.

Blackbull Siding
Blackbull Siding

I waited for the train 105km from Croydon, waving as it passed.

A snack stop at Leichardt Lake before on to the big smoke – Normanton.

Leichardt Lake
Leichardt Lake
The famous Purple Pub in Normanton

Out of Normanton is a pedestrian bridge over the Norman River. Its quite an impressive waterway. I spent an hour looking for crocs and watching the sky turn amazing colours.

The GoPro is capturing the sunset
Norman River at sunset
Norman River at sunset

I was watching the sunrise when my phone pinged. It was a photo of a positive RAT test. My friend Elizabeth, who I was here to visit, just tested positive for COVID.

Socially distancing in Croydon

We had spent the evening together (in the open air) and I had slept on her living room floor. I had 2 days visiting the poorly Elizabeth and testing myself for COVID.

Watching sunsets is a favourite pasttime in Croydon. I let the GoPro capture it while I consumed dinner at the pub.

The GoPro captured sunset
Watching from the pub
Watching from the pub

I passed 84,000km on the bike doing errands around Croydon. I celebrated it, socially distanced, with Elizabeth and a banana cake.

84,000km

An evening sunset train ride was a highlight as a German guy walked past with a trolley he has pulled all the way from Germany. I met the same guy in 2018 walking up Khardung La high pass at around 5000m altitude. This time he was circumnavigating Australia.

The Gulflander train
On the train with Elizabeth’s friend Sarah
Meeting the German walker
Meeting the German walker

All is set for my onward journey to Normanton and Karumba. Without Elizabeth. Sorry that she will miss out on our luxury shoreline apartment and our luxury sunset boat trip.

I am still COVID negative. Let’s hope it stays that way.

COVID negative

Going to bed at 7.30pm means you get up at 3.30am and start riding at 5. It’s beautiful gliding along the outback road at night under the starry heavens. Slowly the horizon turns a firey orange, the birds explode in a chorus, and the day begins.

The day begins

The sun still had it’s morning orange glow when I arrived at the sandy Gilbert River.

Gilbert River
Gilbert River
Gilbert River
Gilbert River

I reached Croydon by 2.30 – the goal of the trip. My friend Elizabeth has moved here and I wanted to see her new home. I love these outback towns – a few rows of streets, a pub, a shop and a service station. And a long way to the next town. Its time for a rest. My body is tired.

Croydon

He ran to me – the long bearded road worker – waving me to stop. ‘Take this!’ He gave me a Red Bull. ”You’ll need this as you’re going out into f*ing nowhere.”

Red Bull for f*ing nowhere

Today started early with sunrise at the river and then a leisurely tour of the Tarloo Hot Springs with our aboriginal guide Evine. She told the history of the springs, including the multiple times the white fellas promoted it’s healing waters. The springs were rearranged with concrete to show for it. Now the Aboriginal traditional owners are back in control and are aiming for sustainable tourism.

Sunrise at the river
Sunrise at the river
Tarloo Hot Springs
Tarloo Hot Springs
Tarloo Hot Springs

Trying to book my tour at Cobbold Gorge, I was told they were booked out. I soon realised I actually liked this and felt relieved I didn’t need to make a mad dash to see them and be in Croydon on time. When Cobbold Gorge rang back to say they had a cancellation and that I should come, I declined. I’m up for a rest day in Croydon.

Road to Georgetown
Road to Georgetown
Not far to Croydon now

I’m staying at a lovely dam filled with birds. I’m not the only one here, though. Its pretty busy..

Cumberland Chimney
Cumberland Chimney

Plans change, and I am surprised I ended in Mount Surprise. Tours to the lava tubes only run out of Mount Surprise, so I put my foot on the accelerator and was blown by a tailwind downhill to Mount Surprise.

My surprise welcome at Mount Surprise

It was slow going in the overcast weather, undulating landscape and headwind to Mount Garnet and then Pinnarendi Station.

New information. I don’t want to cycle to Einasleigh due to horrible corrigations. I do want to go to Mount Surprise tonight so I can join a tour to the lava tubes tomorrow morning. This required a speedy 71km which I did in under 3 hours. Thank you tailwind (after the road changed direction) and gradual downhill slope.

Mount Surprise

Today caution won. I didn’t risk the slippery ledge alongside the waterfall, to the leech filled caves at Souita Falls. I didn’t try to sit on a mossy ledge in the middle of Pepina Falls. I did, however, find a very photogenic Little Millstream Falls, and am happy.

Little Millstream Falls

Today is the last of the low km days, meandering around looking at the sights. With only 50km to my next camp, I took some side trips.

Souita Falls was at the end of a dead end road, and right off the tourist radar. It is meant to be unspectacular unless you jump over the railing and make your way upstream to the upper of the two falls. With caves surrounding the pool under the waterfall, I was prepared to risk the leech infested waters to take some amazing photos. When I got there, I realised that the first 10m after jumping the railing was along a mossy, narrow ledge directly above the waterfall. This looked too risky, so I headed back.

Souita Falls
Souita Falls

The next waterfall was Pepina Falls. I have found a cool picture with a guy sitting on a ledge in the middle of the falls. I wanted to try that. Arriving there, I found the only way to get there was to scale the slippery rocks from below, or clamber down from the top of the falls through the tumbling water. I decided not to. I did get a leech attached to my foot for the effort.

Pepina Falls

The final falls were Little Millstream Falls near Ravenshoe. The little brother of Big Millstream Falls, unlike the brother, you can access the falls and the water for a swim. You can actually get close to the falls and sit and watch the water tumble down.

Little Millstream Falls

I’m camping at a beautiful spot on a river at Woodleigh Station near Innot Hot Springs. With a massive lawn under some gum trees, it’s a beautiful, quiet spot.

Woodleigh Station

A quick late afternoon swim in the hot spring pools was pleasant.

Innot Hot Springs
Innot Hot Springs

Tomorrow more haste than today.


The sun was rising behind the thick cloud layer and the world slowly came to light. Noone around as I stared at the base of these amazing waterfalls. Today was waterfall day, and I ticked them off – Ellinjaa, Zillie, Millaa Millaa and Nandroya.

With tripod and phone I potter around at the base of the falls. Its a solitary and very satisfying activity, trying to get the best photo. Ellinjaa Waterfall is right in your face – very close. The spray envelopes the space at the bottom of the falls. The dim light meant for a longer exposure and a beautiful effect on the water gushing down to the pool below.

Ellinjaa Falls

Zillie Falls is my favourite – and amazing. A huge rush of water behind a line of massive boulders. Again, the air was swirling with spray.

Zillie Falls

Cross Millaa Millaa Falls off your to do list. It is the most popular and well known waterfall in the area, but I thought it was very underwhelming. Why is it popular? Near the main road. Easy access. Can’t think of any more reasons.

Millaa Millaa Falls

A big concrete slab in front of the pool is ideal for setting up tripods for photos. My phone suffered from this concrete slab. The tripod lost balance and came crashing down, causing the phone screen to hit the concrete.

The road to Nandroya Falls was a longer one. The falls are 500m below Millaa Millaa and the road had some long steep descents (which were ascents on the way home). The path to the falls goes through some beautiful lush rainforest, and, to my surprise, was perfect for cycling on.

Nandroya Falls
Nandroya Falls
Lower Nandroya Falls

A few more falls tomorrow and then its into the outback, and more kms to be covered in a day.


“You can’t go there. Forensic are there laying tags. They took out a body.”

Road block

Usually you can cycle or at least push your bike through road closures. This time it wasn’t happening. This was a crime scene – a nasty car accident. It just meant turning around, going back where I had come from, and riding further up and down and up and down through the (beautiful) hills.

Millaa Millaa is really not very far from Atherton, and I wanted to stay overnight in Millaa Millaa. Soooo, I had lots of time on my hands today. This meant I followed signs to things that sounded interesting as well as taking a beeline to Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine – two volcanic crater lakes.

I did some bird watching at Hasties Swamp.

Hasties Swamp
Hasties Swamp

I marvelled at the curtain fig tree.

Curtain Fig Tree
Curtain Fig Tree
Curtain Fig Tree

And I swam in the (rather pleasantly warm) waters of Lake Eacham, followed by a loop of the lake.

Lake Eacham
Lake Eacham
Around Lake Eacham

I had Devonshire Tea at the famous tea house looking out over Lake Barrine. I sat perched on a beautiful balcony looking out over the glistening waters of the lake.

Lake Barrine
Lake Barrine

I was glad when I arrived at Millaa Millaa Hotel. I was knackered.


Today was snake day. I passed a snake lying on the road, warming itself in the sun. Another slithered away from the side as I passed. From then on I heard rustles of leaves everywhere. It’s good having snakes around. It means the road is not busy. Quaid Road from the coast up to the tablelands was closed to traffic, and I was the only one there, cycling through the forest.

Snake number 1
Cycling through the forest

Thanks to the Cairns Cycling Group Rides Facebook group for recommending Quaid Road to climb out from the coast. It was a beautiful bitumen road passing through the dense rain forest which, over time, opened out into savannah landscape.

It joined the main road at a beautiful swampy lake, and from there was a rather uninspiring main road.

Quaids Dam

Five km out of Atherton I was looking at my map when a young lady came up to me and said she was also a cyclist. She recommended I take the Atherton Rail Trail into Atherton which followed an old train line. It was much quieter and pleasant.

Atherton Rail Trail

At dinner I met some more people that like cycling. I have a nice lunch option for the day after tomorrow at a bio dairy.