Tag Archives: Australia

Changing routines: introducing siesta in Central Queensland

Waking up surrounded by palm trees

Today, I woke up, feeling well rested as there were no alarms disturbing my sleep prematurely. So after staying in bed a little while longer, I got up. Thinking it would already be quite late, I grabbed my phone to check the time. It was barely 8am. And I had slept IN!
I remember listening to my parents talking about their weekend routines and saying something about sleeping in. Meaning sleeping until 8 or 9am. This concept was incomprehensible to me as sleeping in meant sleeping until 10 or 11am at least! So here I was, feeling rested and ready to start the day at 8am. And thinking about changing routines.

Temperatures are rising

Some time back when we first started our tour I remember talking about how we should change our daily routine and get up earlier to have more time for cycling in daylight. Getting up early would be even more important once we’d be in areas too hot for cycling during the midday heat. I also remember thinking that all of this was still a very long time away.
Well, here we are now. Since we took a turn towards central Queensland (away from the coast) a few days ago, I changed into my lightest cycling shirt, applied 50+ sunscreen a couple of times per day and felt the distinct need of a nap during lunch time. It was just too hot to cycle.

Morning light

So, we had our first siesta that day and did actually manage to get up at around 6am the next day. As it still takes about 2 hours to have breakfast, pack our tent and all our panniers, we left at 8am. And the morning ride was quite enjoyable. Getting up early and being super productive right away is not the easiest thing to do for me – I like to start my days slowly, have a long breakfast, one or two coffees and maybe read a few pages in my book. But this doesn’t seem to be compatible with bicycle touring in a hot climate. Torsten suggested that I just have to switch that morning downtime to the lunch hours during our long break. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do and I guess it’s better than tackling hills and headwinds under a scaldering midday sun.

But, you know, this is why sleeping until 8am feels like sleeping in and being really lazy now. And don’t worry, that’ll change again.


Of inner monsters and lacking motivation

Beautiful empty road

Ever eager to get away from highways and traffic we took our future host Peter’s recommendation to cycle the old Marlborough-Sarina Road towards Mackay.

Dead snake

Over the course of three days we would cycle along the old highway, meet few cars but many kangaroos (which are always too quick for pictures though) and a snake and experience sun, lots of hills, rather strong headwinds and meet Bruce. And in the middle I would get a lesson in self motivation.

Setting out, we carried way too much food as there was only a small and expensive store in the middle of the highway. And as you know I’m a bit crazy when it comes to food.

Dry cattle paddocks

Still the first day was enjoyable, albeit the terrain started to get drier and we couldn’t find any of those waterholes Peter described to us. It hadn’t rained for a long time in this area. There was little shade and the sun was really strong. So while we were taking a little break someone stopped to have a chat and that’s how me met Bruce.

Us by Bruce

On his way to a work meeting he preferred the quiet road as well. And we couldn’t believe our luck when he opened his esky and gave us an iced coffee! Seriously, nothing is more amazing than an iced drink on a hot day like that! He even promised to meet up with us again the next day.

Bruce and Torsten

In the evening we made it to Clarke Creek, a small settlement in the middle of large pastures. The school principal allowed us to set up camp in the school yard – how very cool!

School yard camp site

The next day we tried to get up early to avoid the midday heat. Well, we left at 8am, that is something for us ;). The morning cycling was quite enjoyable as it wasn’t that hot yet. As the day progressed it got more and more exhausting though.

Hills in the distance

Somehow the mix of being really away from people, from water and constantly fighting with hills and headwinds in combination under the relentless sun got to me. I was grumpy, did not want to cycle anymore and let Torsten know how beat I was. Repeatedly.

Dry dry land

It was really bad until I realized something. It was not my body that couldn’t cope. Quite contrary to the beginning of this trip when I often had to stop during hills to rest my legs, my body wasn’t tired. Sure, the sun was exhausting but my legs were doing fine. It was me, my mind, my motivation that was lacking energy. And as all of Torsten’s attempts to better my mood weren’t really successfull, I realized that I will have to deal with self motivation in order to make this trip an enjoyable one.

And so I tried different strategies which I don’t remember in too much detail now. What had probably the most effect was the realization itself and thus the separation of my feelings from the conclusion. Before I felt bad because I thought I’m tired and this is too exhausting for my body and that’s why I can’t cycle any more. Later I was still tired from the sun but my muscles were fine and I realized I had to find ways to keep myself occupied. Thinking good thoughts rather than all the bad ones (this sucks, this is boring, I don’t want to). Usually this isn’t that big of a problem but with the scenery not changing much and hill after hill and constant headwinds it can get boring and frustrating.

And then we met Bruce again who gave us chilled yoghurt (oh, so good!!) and isotonic drinks out of the freezer. Thank you so much, Bruce!!

In the evening, after a long hard day, we met two fellow campers who were on the lookout for rare birds and we enjoyed talking, laughing and sharing stories. And I realized one more thing. People just make everything so much better. And my lack of motivation had a lot to do with being away from people, too. As beautiful as being alone in nature is, sharing that with someone and connecting with people really is a gift.

Bicycle touring, the full time job

As much as I like riding my bike – and I enjoy travelling by bike immensely – sometimes this bicycle tour feels like a full time job with unpaid extra hours. Lately it seems to me that I’m always busy.
So usually we get up by 7 or 8 am, have breakfast and pack up our gear. That can be a quick affair when we are staying at a someone’s house and haven’t spread our stuff too much or a slightly longer affair when we have to break camp.

Our already deflated tent between lots of campervans on the Marlborough Hotel Grounds
Breaking camp on the Marlborough Hotel Grounds

Most days we are on the road between 9 and 10am. We then cycle for about 30k and have our lunch break. After that we cycle some more (between 30 and 80k) until we reach some sort of destination or are just too tired to continue or it gets dark. In between we usually take more breaks, to eat, to take pictures or have some juice or other rather unhealthy drinks. When we reach our destination for the day we settle in to talk to our hosts or set up camp and make ourselves at home. Mostly we’re hungry at that point so dinner or afternoon tea is quite important then.

Making coffee. We do use our stove for cooking as well, though ;).

To facilitate these days with all the riding we usually do lots of things in between: Finding supermarkets and grocery shopping being high on the list. Our favourites for fruit and vegetables are roadside stalls selling local produce.

Road side stall

We also have to find water mostly daily as we can only carry so much. Sometimes that’s an easy affair as there may be public toilets with drinking water or just water taps on the beach. Sometimes there is just nothing around only dry land and a farmhouse with a rainwater tank is our only option.

Our camp stoves run with gas canisters or white gas / petrol, so once we are low we have to find fuel. Other errands include finding a bike store selling the brake pads we need, going to the Poste Restante Office to pick up a parcel, bike maintenance like cleaning and lubing the chain and cassette, fixing flats, changing tyres and so on.

And of course we usually dedicate some part of our day to the task of route planning (see where we are in our world map). That is usually done in several stages: Now for example we talk about which islands of Indonesia we want to visit as it is still very far away. Regarding Australia we decided today which road we are going to take for the next four days (this was an easy one as there are basically only two options to reach Mackay) and sometimes we only decide in the morning which small roads we are going to take exactly. Or while standing at an intersection. But still, this is quite an important part.

Another part of the day is taken up by long term planning like how to leave Australia (boat / flight) and which type of visa would be the best for Indonesia. And once every few days we talk about areas that lie even further in the future (mostly SE Asia at the moment).

All in all that is a LOT to do and think about. One of the hardest parts is for me, that very rarely we manage to check these things of our lists in a straight forward kind of manner. Mostly something unexpected happens or we can’t find what we want / need or we just run out of time. It’s not like at home where you find out once where you buy food or sporting equipment or where the water tap is.

One of the easier found water sources at Tom’s beautiful house in Rockhampton.

We are finding out about these things all the time every day. And that can go smoothly sometimes and be incredibly exhausting other times. Just like a full time job with lots and lots of overtime. What I miss is time to just be and not have anything planned. Time without errands but time to read and write. Time to get to know someone or time to be alone.

I very often relax once I’m sitting on my bike because then I have time to let my thoughts wander a bit or just concentrate on riding. And for the rest we decided that we need to give ourselves more time and take more rest days (that’s what we call the days when we don’t ride but have time for work and errands) and manage to have some down time as well. In that spirit – I’m off!


Festival and Freakouts – on leaving that comfort zone

When we asked Tom for a place to stay in Rockhampton, he replied inviting us to come along to the Yeppoon Village Festival where he would be staying that weekend or just come to his house and make ourselves at home. Wow, I like those options!

As we would arrive in Rockhampton rather late we opted to stay a night at his house and then meet him at the festival the day after. After our longest day so far (111km) we were blown away when we saw Tom’s house. Built some time ago in a typical Queenslander fashion on poles, he renovated it and I’m in love with the toilet and bathroom:


p1110745After our first tour of the house Torsten cycled off to do some grocery shopping for dinner and breakfast. We had already seen the supermarket on our way in but wanted to get settled first. About an hour later he returned with cider and beer but no groceries. Well it seems that Rockhampton’s supermarkets close at 5pm on Sundays. And suddenly I’m just utterly exhausted and disappointed by not getting the food I’m craving. I feel like a 4 year old being denied something and not being able to understand why. It’s not that we’re going to starve – we still have enough and Tom generously invited us to his fridge as well – but somehow I’m well out of my comfort zone food wise lately.

Torsten carries our food panniers and as eating out is quite expensive in Australia, we usually cook ourselves. We normally stock up in bigger supermarkets (cheaper) and buy fruit and vegetables in roadside stalls and a few little things we need in smaller shops. Usually that works fine and we both do enjoy cooking and being able to cook as we like it. But: The things we’re able to carry in our panniers are limited after all. That means that sometimes our food choices are limited as well. At home I used to live 5 minutes away from a supermarket and if I had any craving I would just pop over. That system really doesn’t work with bicycle touring. Sometimes we’re in luck and the next supermarket isn’t too far away or we just bought the item I want but sometimes you have to suck it up and settle for what you have.

To my own surprise that hasn’t always been easy for me. Now I could come to all sort of conclusions why that is – being spoilt with too many choices is one of them. But my likeliest conclusion is that food and (known) food choices provide some sort of security. Being able to satisfy my needs with something I know and knowing how to do that can provide a feeling of security and comfort. And sometimes that is very important especially after a day of cycling and being confronted with all sorts of new things and people.

p1110730_v1When we went to the festival the next day it took us a while to orientate ourselves, to find places and the music we like. In the end we did and it was really enjoyable. There was this one singer, Sahara Beck, who has an amazingly powerful voice and it was a gift listening to her. And we finally met Tom and his friends and I really enjoyed talking to him and finding out about his job protecting the Great Barrier Reef from agricultural soil washouts.

In the end I believe it’s always going to be worth it. There is always going to be good food – it might just be different from what I’m expecting. And there is always going to be those wonderful gifts of listening to a new singer or meeting inspiring people. Sometimes it might take longer or you may have to take a different approach. And you never really know how it’ll turn out. That is a whole lot of what travelling is about. Being okay with the unexpected, dealing with new things, leaving that comfort zone. And then finding comfort in unexpected ways, over and over again.


Rest days and rain

Today is all about rest. Yesterday was too exhausting and I need a day or two off the bike. So our goal for today is to cycle to the camp site that we wanted to be at yesterday and do nothing for the remainder of the day. Of course my tyre is flat, so after patching up some tubes and getting more food, we’re on our way at the not so early hour of 11am. But I don’t mind at all, we only have to cycle 13k today. And so we do. It’s wonderfully flat and we arrive at Bush Chooks Travellers Village in no time. And from now on all is good. Chris, the owner welcomes us with the warmest smile and lots of laughs and I feel immediately at home and very comfortable.

Tent Area with pool

We set up our tent and I just love the setting of the camp site. It’s indeed a little village with a grassy area for tents and caravans in the middle and some cabins around. And last but not least there is a perfectly stocked camp kitchen which is an awesome change to our camp stove! I think we need about 5 minutes to decide to stay for two nights ;).

p1110703And then Chris and his wife make us the best present ever: They upgrade us from our tent site to a cabin! With our own attached bathroom!

Best relaxing stay at Bush Chooks Travellers Village with Free Upgrade from Tent to a comfortable bed with...
Best relaxing stay at Bush Chooks Travellers Village with free Upgrade from Tent to a comfortable bed with…
... our own bathroom!!!
… our own bathroom!!!

Seriously, at this point of our trip this feels like heaven. And so we spend the next days with doing a lot of nothing, eating and some blogging, working and more eating. This is all we need right now! Thank you so so much, Chris!

The next two days are easy because there are almost no hills. We cycle about a 100k to Gladstone where we learn about Trivia Games to stay awake on the road:

p1110707I didn’t really have problems with staying awake on the bicycle so far but you never know :). Apart from that we cycle on the highway and there is not much happening except for… rain! It hasn’t really been raining since we started in Sydney so this is quite new and actually very refreshing. It’s a light and warm but very dense rain so over the course of the day we get drenched a few times and then completely dry again and so on. But I’m really grateful for a break of the sun!

In Gladstone we meet our host Stephen who has a big house and hosts lots of couchsurfers. We enjoy talking with him, eating together and trying some of his home made alcohol ;). The only shame is that we didn’t get to enjoy his very own outdoor movie theater which is seriously very cool and I so want to have one when I live in one place some time in the future! Thanks for sharing your home with us Stephen!

Cycling out of Gladstone we have a strange encounter: While we stop on the shoulder of a not too busy road to take a picture, a man in a car stops on the road behind us. We continue taking pictures and he continues to wait. We consider that a little strange and move our bikes on to the grass thinking that he might be bothered by us taking pictures on the shoulder. He drives past us and stops a few meters down the road. He gets out of the car and then the following dialogue occurs:

He: “Do you know that I can’t overtake you when you are an the shoulder like that as there is a line in the middle of the road that I’m not allowed to cross and I have to give you a meter space?”

I say: “I’m sorry but that is not true as we just looked that up on the Queensland Government Page. You are allowed to cross single and even double lines on the road to give cyclists the necessary space of a meter.”

He: “No, that’s not right. You’re wrong.”

Me: “We really just looked that up on the Government Homepage.”

He: “No, that’s not…

You get the gist. While the conversation went on like that for a little while, Torsten looked it up again and showed it to him.

He: “Oh really, oh I didn’t know that. Well then I guess we all learned something today.”

Eerm, sure.

p1110716For the rest of the day the road and the weather looks approximately like in the picture above. I still enjoy the occasional rain but am also grateful for a petrol station with some shelter to eat and have coffee. And we are blessed with a tailwind that blows us right into Rockhampton. Here we are going to stop for a few days again as the Yeppoon Village Festival is not too far away but more on that next time!


In the woods

p1110619A new day on the bike begins and it’s a quiet day on back roads. Soon after leaving Rae and Bob’s house we stop and Torsten fixes his wobbling front rack. After that I’m lost in my own thoughts while peacefully cycling over hills and gravel roads. I feel a bit sad, too. Meeting Rae and Bob was just wonderful: I haven’t laughed that much in a long time and we connected really quickly. So leaving was hard and I miss them.

p1110621During our lunch break two farmers stop to inquire if we saw some of their fugitive cows. We decline and talkĀ  bit about our trip. Apart from that not much happens today and we find a place to camp when it gets dark.

p1110631_v1I stomp around loudly to scare snakes away and then we each have a half-bottle shower. Not the most fun thing to do but water is scarce here and our supplies are low.

So our first mission for the next morning is to cycle to a nearby village where we find a kind lady who lets us fill our water bottles on her tank. We chat a little bit and then cycle on to have breakfast on the beach. I could get used to this:


p1110649 Later in the day while cycling into Maryborough we discover this awesome bat colony:

p1110660After resupplying in Maryborough our rather long hunt for a place to sleep begins. We mostly use On- and Offline Navigation on our phones and so far that has worked quite well. But today Google Maps suggests a route that just doesn’t exist. So we end up between pineapple fields and forests instead of a place with a shower. But oh well, we manage to find a well enough hidden clearing in the woods and make camp, yet again. In the morning we have a beautiful breakfast next to a small lake…

p1110662 and a pineapple field.

p1110668After that another beautiful cycling day begins. I just love the light and the colours in Australia which makes picture taking very easy: Land and Sky:

p1110669Sugar cane fields aplenty:

p1110675And sugar cane fires (courtesy of sugar mills) to go with that:

p1110680Today, in dire need of a shower, we end up camping next to Avondale Tavern. One of many taverns / pubs which offer a place to camp in exchange for your patronage. Right before the last hill I suddenly find it very exhausting to cycle and feel almost as slow as I was in the beginning when cycling uphill. That is disappointing on a whole new level until I look down and discover my very first flat of the tour. Oh well, it couldn’t have come at a better time! I pump up the tyre quickly, climb up the hill and decide to fix the tyre in the morning. For now we enjoy a couple of beers and even more so the shower in the portable loo / shower / sink block. What a combination ;)!

The next day is a hard one. We found a nice camp site in a small village but will have to cycle about 110km to get there. That alone would be enough but we haven’t factored in the hills and – of course – the headwinds that come on rather strong today as well. At some point it gets quite clear that pushing on is getting more and more exhausting for me and it’s getting dark as well. We considerate finding a free camp but have no such luck as all of the land is either fenced off or otherwise not accessible. Torsten is not too bothered as he has still energy aplenty but when we only have about 10k to go I just want to be done cycling. As we also don’t have enough food for tomorrow, we soon decide to stay in a nearby caravan park next to a Caltex station. It’s basically one caravan next to another right next to a gas station meaning right next to the road.

p1110696This must be the most uninspired place we have stayed so far and I don’t really like it but at least they have fries and we don’t have to cook tonight. So we’re off to bed with a TV show and tomorrow is another day.