Thursday, February 4, 2010

first few days on the road in Australia.

We would like to thank Tan Chong Wee for his generous donation in our fund.

From last blog....
Adrian shouted at Greg: 'Hey Greg, what are you doing here?'
It happened that Adrian and Greg were colleagues. What a small world.

Can't remember where was this place. it was a nice lunch stop for us.

Sydney was hell a non systematic English style road which doesn’t make any sense. Luckily we had Kennie to lead us out of this maze and direct to the highway. Our first day rest was at Barrington Tops National park, 400km away from where we stayed. The smell of country road was lovely. The narrow road that leads us up the park was unpaved. It had been a long time that Hope Too had not footed on dirt.

When we left Singapore on 1st January 2008, the odometer on Hope Too was about 10000km. (For a 9 years old bike at that time, it must have had rounded the odometer many times.) Halfway to the park, we stopped and took a picture on the odometer that reads 99999.9 and 00000.0km, which means that we had traveled about 90000km so far. Was it a lot? Not at all! 2 years = 365 days x 2 = 730days for 90000km. That means on average Hope Too worked 123km daily. Any taxi driver in Singapore would work twice as much than Hope Too.
At about 5pm, we approached a gate that reads: please close after entering. Sam got down and operated the gate for me and Hope Too. The road became worst, to slack gravel. It was approaching dusk and it was our first night by ourselves in Australia. We were looking for a place to camp as early as possible as we did not know how the ‘camping system’ works here.

Battling the loose gravel, we were accompanied by nice vegetation. Altitude was about 1400m above sea level, as compared to Sydney, 22m, which was very much cooler. The flora was very green and cool, which can be found only on highland. It was so different with Sydney, where we had stayed for 2 weeks under shelter and lights.

Far away on the left side, I saw few brown rats standing, When we rode closer, it happened to be our very first sighting of kangaroos in our life, other than in picture or behind the computer screen.

We had never been so close to the nature after this long break. Setting up the tent again made us felt alive. Sam and I had our privacy time.

Barrington Tops.

The mission for day 2 was to look for Mathias. The Swiss rider we met in the crazy biker’s meeting in Argentina during November 2008. He left Latin America towards down south under 1 year ago and had been traveling in New Zealand and Australia 1 year before us. The place that Mathias was staying had no actual address. By giving us the traditional way of direction, we managed to meet up with him again. We were so overwhelmed and gave each other big hugs.
Mathias had traveled intensively around the world, solo. He used to own a bike mechanical shop in Switzerland. He sold the business and decided to pursue his dream. We had a good dinner with his host, named Mother Nature.

Mathia's room.

Me, Mother Nature and Mathias.

We had about 1 week to reach Sunshine coast from Sydney. After a night with Mathias, we took some minor dirt road to the main highway to get a feel of Aussie’s back road, which I would categorized as good dirt, sharp curved, steep slope and shady.

Day 3 was a lazy day. About 120km in 4hours, we reached Uranga. This seaside town was breezy. It was not an intended stop for us but we just wanted to check out what was happening around. We saw a caravan park and Sam went in to check out the price and happened to be $20 for both of us, with full facilities. It had been about 3 days that we have not had a proper shower and this will be the best option. We compared this caravan park’s price with the first day camping at the national park, both same price but at the national park, only table and bench was provided. At this caravan park, grassy site, free internet, full kitchen, hot shower, nice sea view and only located 1 minute walk from supermarket! The location: S30 29.786 E153 01.331. Both of us had a good peaceful rest in this place. Highly recommended!


Day 4, we visited 2 famous sites nearby. A waterfall and a nature reserved. They were those sites that you will take 2 pictures and leave. It would be also hard for us to walk down with the rest of the visitors to ‘feel’ the actual water due to our gear and a gamble to leave Hope Too at the carparks unattended. I definitely know how it felt like when the bike was not there after leaving it for a few minutes.

Danger Falls

We travel further north along the coast to a world heritage site, Iluka. We went to the park entrance, being disappointed to know that Bukit Timah Hill of Singapore would be a much better place to visit than here. We were a little tired after few hours of riding to this over advertised place, we went around looking for a campsite to stay for a night. After surveying 5 campgrounds, they were either out of our budget or fully occupied with families in caravan.

We were tired, it’s near dusk, and we had to move on. We do not want to give in to such places, spending our money in these expensive areas. We are actually risking by riding at the peak of the day, peak of kangaroo appearing on the road. Hope Too would sure lose to those jumping rats in sumo wrestling.

Piece of advice: if you hear other folks telling you that bush camp is easy in Australia, that would not be along this highway. We tried turning off into minor roads that leads to farms and less populated, the chance of bush camping would be the same as spotting a kangaroo in Singapore (not in the zoo).

Finally, another national park with a tent signage appeared. We turned in. There was no signage of campground after that. We just try our luck by going further and further into an unknown place, with no human and signage spotted along this dirt road. We were so happy to see a campground sign and we turn of into a sandy road. I had to put my feet down in order to know how soft the sand was that Hope Too would wheel on. The owner of this campground came to us and said that this place wasn’t ready to receive any guest. We had to go out and continue going further and further to an unknown destination. At the same time, we have to look out for those blind folded jumping rats that might sumo Hope Too.

‘Human! Caravan!” I told myself after 40km of dirt road. The sighting of them made camping possible. Again, it was a site with tables and bench provided. You might ask me what about water supply and toilet? Well, it would be perfect to have these provided in this place. We have to do our toilet business after the sun sets and rise. We had to bring our water supplies. It was a A$25 campsite. Looking at the situation, I felt like pointing middle finger (both hands if possible) if anyone would collect the money from us.

We left early in the morning of day 5. On the way out from this $25 campground, we realized that the flora around were very beautiful. It was one of the growing grounds for the famous Australia Black Boy, some named it as the grass trees.

Knowing that we would reach the number one Singaporean’s dream holiday destination, Gold Coast, we were on high spirit. We crossed the state border towards Queensland and became 1 hour younger than before. Knowing that there were a lot of campgrounds along the Gold Coast highway, we simply choose one. As usual, Sam would be the one enquiring about the price. ‘A$45 for us sleeping in our tent on their grass?’ I told same when she came out from the reception. I reckon that there will be cheaper campground. After checking 2-3 others, we gave up because they were about $2-$5 cheaper than the first one.

It was a hot and sunny day. We had no place to stay for the night. I parked under a small tree that barely enough to give shade for Hope Too. Sitting by the roadside, Sam went to the beach and had a look at this number one dream destination for Singaporeans. She came back and told me, ‘what so special about this place’. Neither do I know what was happening that everyone wanted to come to visit Gold Coast.

The aim of the day had changed. We need to look for a place to sleep. Again, we rode around, to the nearest national park, which was 50km away. The campground available had to be booked thro internet on the day before. We decided to cook our dinner first, wait till sunset, set our tent and leave very early on the next day, hoping no one would come and check on us. Else, we had to pack up everything in the night and leave to nowhere. That happened once when we were in Argentina, Neuquén.

Day 6: it was early and we did execute our packing skills fast. We left to the nearest town urgently as I needed to look for my usual morning business meeting with toilet roll as the agenda. We treated ourselves with a lovely club sandwich and 2 cups of coffee at a local café. That was a good pat on the shoulder after being ‘homeless’ for 2 days. The breaky (Aussie language for breakfast) brighten our day and we wanted to attack Gold Coast again.
Riding thro the streets filled with all nationality, it felt like the street in Orchard road of Singapore, minus the nice trees, 4 lane road and cramped buildings. The beach was the highlight of this place. We found a good shady lot, slotted coins into the machine, took our important gear and chain up Hope Too. Passer by were amused to see bikers in full gear going onto the beach. We changed up into our beach wear and did the usual beach activities, like putting on lotion, putting ground sheet, laying on the sand and enjoy the strong UV of this beach that might dissolved our healthy skin cells.

I did go into the water and get myself cool down and feel the strong wave. We had enough after 2 hours of it and got back to Hope Too to say hello. 2 slender ladies, in their golden color bikinis, high heels, cowboy hat and a bag, came walking towards the parking payment machine which Sam was trying to renew the time for our slot. These 2 sexy ladies bought some parking lot tickets and walked away. We later get to know about their jobs thro George. The council of Gold Coast put in a lot of money for marketing and advertising the whole place that attracted so many people around the world to visit this city by the beach. The 2 sexy ladies’ job was to buy parking ticket, walk around the carpark and help those car users to extend their parking time in order to prevent them for fine.

After all, 2 hours at Gold Coast was a nice and enjoyable experience.
I must keep reminding myself that we are on the other side of the road and had to always keep to the left.

Gold Coast, Surfer's Paradise.

Local post man.

Can someone teach this Koala how to use a middle finger?

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