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September 25th, 2000 · No Comments

Sydney to Townsville (flight)

Day 269

Airplane flight #10 this year was a short and sweet one. We boarded late morning and within two hours landed in Townsville which is in Queensland, north of Sydney along the beginning of the Great Barrier Reef.

Al the Alien got to sit up in first class since there was no room for him in coach. I really didn’t care for the smug grin on his face as the flight attendant carried him up to the front of the plane. It was rather annoying to have to sit there in coach, squished in the middle. I guess it helps being cute!

Getting off the plane the difference in temperature was noticed immediately. It was tinderbox dry, the area was parched brown from the sun. Unlike Sydney where it rained a little everyday, here I could tell it had not rained in a long time. Off came a few layers of clothing, summer was back! Actually it’s only spring here, but to me it felt like summer.

In Townsville we stayed at the Sun City Caravan Park. It was small and rather inadequate for the group. There were tents littered everywhere, between the RV’s already in the park and lined along the road going in. Many riders opted for a hotel room, they just weren’t ready to get back with the program. Besides, the Olympics are still on it’s hard to unplug from civilization just yet.

I was a good girl and put the tent up, figuring “cold turkey” was the way to get back into the grind. It had been 16 days of sleeping in real beds from Amsterdam, Cologne, Canberra to Wollongong. Now we were in for a long stretch of camping for the rest of Australia and the duration of Japan. After this we ship our camping stuff to New Zealand and sleep in beds throughout Southeast Asia.

Day 270

Long flat roadBack on the road again” kept spinning through my head as I rode the route today. It was a long, monotonous ride of 167 kilometers through nothing but sugar cane fields and forest. The road was flat, Florida flat with so little interest, I became fascinated with the road kill. What I could identify was so unusual, reptilian type baby dinosaurs, Wylie Coyotes and the Roadrunner squashed flat just like in the cartoon and tons of snakes, big long nasty snakes. The land must have been full of live animals to have this many dead ones on the road. Looking as hard as I could, I never got to see them.

Aussie road killInteresting road kill…what is it?

The locals are interesting. Australians drive like maniacs with a mission. It is such a paradox because when they get out of the car, they are the nicest, friendliest people you ever want to meet and they love Americans. Why they drive as aggressively as they do, I can only surmise. The roads here are so incredibly boring. There are signs all along the road to “break up your drive, rest” and “stop for free coffee.”

I was riding through a small town when a lady came running out to me to ask me what we were doing. She was overwhelmed with excitement to hear our story. She then proceeded to tell me about the big mountain range we would be passing over. Great.

Later I had a truck driver at the filling station ask me if I was ready to “climb the pass?” Of course I told him yes, while thinking all the time, I wasn’t looking forward to it.

The road we were on was headed north. Looking at a map would show it was the closest road to the ocean, but it was so far from shore due to the jagged coastline of Australia. It’s such a shame that the road cannot follow the water, but then the mileage would probably triple or worse, because it doesn’t go straight. To the west, the road was lined with mountains stretching as far as the eye can see. I didn’t think we would have to cross a mountain pass, since we were headed due north up the coast. As least we wouldn’t be crossing one today. But when another person mentioned “the Pass”, I began to believe them.

At about 129 kilometers into the day, I came upon “the Pass”. It was funny because even though I knew I was climbing, it was such a gradual climb, an annoyance. At the last point, maybe 200 meters from the “summit” the climb got steep, I downshifted. Before I knew it, I was on the summit. Looking behind me, I could tell we were high, but it wasn’t that high. To the locals who ride the Florida flat road then have to slow down because the 18 wheelers creep up the hill, it must seem like a big deal. To me after riding over some of the most significant “passes” in the world, this was merely a ride back home to the top of my street in Highlands Ranch.

Once again proving, “everything is relative!”

I loved this sign, it got my attention on a hot day! Frosty mango sign

Tags: Australia