Photos of the last leg of the Aussie tour
Photos of the last leg of the Aussie tour
We met Jess and Duncan in the summer of 2013, after the first leg of our Pacific sailing trip, in the French Polynesian Marquesas islands. They hail from Falmouth, England, one of my favorite places I’ve ever been! For months we sailed near and around them, often anchoring right next to each other, Alliance and Portal keeping each other safe(mostly Alliance rescuing Portal actually). And their crews became great friends!
Now they are living on the mighty S/V Alliance, in the gorgeous Pittwater Bay, North of Sydney. Obviously that made the perfect destination for my bike tour!
Once again, I’ll let the photos tell their own stories! Enjoy!
I got to Canberra early enough to make a detour to the Green Shed, a side business attached to the local rubbish dump. I appreciate that they save them from the landfill, but most of the bikes in there were crap. I found one wheel, though, whose rim might replace mine. I bought it for five bucks and strapped it down on top of the pile.
I’ve been right into Australian bushcraft since I first set foot on the cattle property out back in Queensland. There’s still a lively remnant of the old homesteaders and cattle ranchers out there, a tradition of making do with what you’ve got. I love the practicality of it, the improvised craftsmanship. It’s impressive, the sheer resourcefulness of old timers like Keith, who keeps his property running “on nothing but the smell of an oily rag.”
One bushie trick in particular was floating around in my head as I lifted my gear over a barbed wire fence that evening. It’s a fencing join called the figure eight, really just a reef knot, assembled from two ends of wire and secured tighter the more the fence is “strained.”
I tried to tell myself it would be okay. Half-heartedly I gripped the spokes, testing their tension. Maybe it will be fine how it is; after all, it made it over the mountains under rigorous torque. The rim had cracked in four more places since then, but five missing spokes can’t slow me down that much, can it?
The wheel wobbled alarmingly as I coasted down from camp into the town of Cooma. It was weak beneath the punishing weight of rider and rig. At the slightest lean it flexed dangerously, promising to fold in half at any moment. Then I noticed the tire was hitting the frame, once every revolution.
It was like a manacle clapping closed around my mind. The inevitable encircled me.
I would not be able to ignore this all the way to Canberra.
Two hundred meters up the road, my chain broke.
Was it a sign?
I believe it’s an omen when coincidence strikes, and your heart speaks up.
But there was no foreboding in my heart that morning, despite the grave warnings I’d received.
I pulled over, removed the bad link, reconnected the chain, and pedalled on. Simple as that, ready for the Australian Alps.
Everything was wet.
Some things less than others, but my gear was all just damp. My poor shoes, my poor feet! I had basically camped in a puddle last night — talk about getting a soggy bottom!
But at least it wasn’t raining again, at least not right now.
I left the highway for the relative peace of the side road, heading to find a campsite in Murray Valley. Around a bend I noticed an entry into an apparent campground, and a sign that said “Poet’s Paradise.”
This gave me pause.
Earlier, in the midst of misery, when it was raining and hailing and then raining some more, I had fantasized briefly about buying a warm, dry motel room. But then the rain had stopped, and the sun came out a bit, and, escaping oppression, my spirit felt strong enough to ditch camp again. I could dry things by the fire.
So I gave it a miss, and pedaled into the gathering dusk.
But only for about 100 meters.
A town called Healesville. The tourist info center.
Always a fount of useful knowledge.
Just not so nice when it sprays you in the face.
Leaving Crunchytown was not easy.
I had so much fun there. I became such good friends with the whole crazy bunch: Sam and Shath and Charlene and Kenza and Matt and Mehdi and Jonathan. I could easily envision myself taking a spare room there and staying in Melbourne. It’s a pretty happening place.
But of course, there’s a tour on. And no matter what excuses I can come up with, be it “not enough writings been done,” or “new bikes just arrived that need tune-ups,” or “the fellas need more instruction on the fine points of Dungeons & Dragons,” or “I’ve got the sniffles”… there comes a day when you’ve just got to leave, as painful as it may be. You know how it is. (more…)
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