Posts Tagged ‘Queensland’


The grass was crackeling as the smoke billowed up and was blown away by the wind. The eagles and hawks circled and dived in a mad feeding frenzy. They were feeding on grasshoppers fleeing the flames. It felt like a special moment in this beautiful, barren landscape.

The birds circled in a feeding frenzy

Looking at the landscape on Google Maps gets me excited. White plains with fingers of green in a fractal pattern as the rivers meander to the sea. I asked around how to get to this landscape. Many roads were blocked, but I could go to the Mutton Hole Wetlands. I’m glad I did.

Mutton Hole Wetlands
Mutton Hole Wetlands

It is a maze of tracks criss-crossing the landscape. Some ended in dead ends. Some ended at water that I didn’t dare to explore (because of crocs).

Dotted across the horizon were burns with smoke billowing out. I finally went to explore, and was amazed by the feeding spectacle.

Feeding frenzy

The sandy track followed the beach on the other side of a sandhill. I was exploring in the dark as the sun was just becoming a pink glow on the horizon. The sea began to be studded with little mangrove bushes. They became more dense. Finally they opened out into a mangrove swamp the other side of the beach. Dead trees stood high in the mud, with birds perched on their tips. It was a beautiful sight. Silence broken by bird calls. And this was all for me.

The mangrove beach
The mangrove beach
The mangrove beach

This beautiful place I visited for two sunrises. It was my favourite, secret place. On the second morning I made a pire from the dead wood.

My very own pire

My second sunset at Karumba was on a sand bar 7km out to see. A boat took me and the other visitors out to have a meal and drinks. It was a beautiful, surreal place.

Arrival at the sand bank
7km off shore on the sand bank
The sun sets
The sun sets
Our return ride arrives

All of this was on my day off pottering around Karumba. The return trip to Normanton was a bit of a slog. I have grown accustomed to a tailwind. Heading east, my friend became my enemy, and I had to remember how it is slowly counting down the kms into the wind. Tomorrow is another rest day in Normanton.


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

“Dettol will kill them. Knocks ’em over.” He then got up and slapped it with his thong. And then again. Picking it up from by the hind leg, he lay it on some flat ground and gave it one final deadly blow. I had just witnessed the death of my first cane toad.

The road to Talaroo Hot Springs

Today started with a bus ride back to where I had ridden yesterday. I joined the tour group as they scaled a volcanic crater with a nice view over the surrounding landscape.

The view from the crater rim

The group then gingerly made its way into an amazing network of cylindrical tunnels formed by lava. There are over 150km of these tubes. We had a quick glimpse of them.

Entering into the lava tube
Inside the lava tube
Inside the lava tube

These are the sort of places I would love to fossick around by myself. A huge network of tunnels to explore. As part of a group, our hour walking around the tubes was enough.

Back in Mount Surprise, after a quick lunch of their famous vanilla slice (raved about by many) and a sandwich, I was off again on my bike into the Australian bush.

The main road
Einasleigh River
Einasleigh River
Einasleigh River

Destination was Talaroo Hot Springs. I have only heard good things about them. It is an immaculate, new setup. I only had time for a glimpse of the river tonight. Tomorrow I’ll have more time as well as a tour of the springs.


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.