After a rather comfortable night camping at the golf club we were up before the dawn to make a good start. A short push to Moree for second breakfast and then we got stuck in.
Flat terrain and cross head/tailwinds continued to make the road conditions more interesting and it began to heat up too. Apologies to Australia but Laura got her pasty hairy legs out! He flies were back too and made for a miserable lunch stop and hitchhiked on Stevie’s back for the rest of the day.
With crop planes and Galahs overhead it was steady progress to Queensland. We’d already prebooked the motel and arrived in time for sunset (yet another spectacular Australian sunset…) and the Queen’s funeral.
While the UK has had a day off today we have soldiered on, but duty and dedication were traits of our late monarch so hopefully an appropriate tribute to maintain our goal towards Brisbane.
You just can’t take your eye off the ball for a minute this trip…
Having spotted a shorter route to Pittsworth on Google maps and feeling tired after the past few long days, Laura neglected to double check it on a routing app. Starting out from Goondiwindi, we ignored signs to Brisbane hoping to get off the highway.
Stevie started to get suspicious when the next turn said “no through road” but we were soon distracted by kangaroos in the bushes.
Then the road ran out and we were on track.
Squinting at the faint lines on Google we decided to push on rather than backtrack to almost the start of the day.
Then the track ran out.
There was nothing for it but to retrace to the main road and try and get back to the highway. Finding another road linking up Laura prayed it would be paved, otherwise she was a risk of being sacked as chief navigator. We were also now low on water too after the unexpected delays. A ute pulled up and a man asked the usual questions about where we were from and going but when we asked where the next stop for water was he offered to leave some out a the end of his drive!
The road was thankfully tarmaced, and also wonderfully quiet. We approached the point we though the man had described to find nothing apart from mozzies so vicious they pierced pur thick jerseys. Feeling disheartened we rode on only to have a chain suck and then gear problems due a slipped cable. Stevie went to work fixing it all whilst Laura tried to keep the insects at bay…rather in vain, we’re both covered in bites!
After all that excitement we had barely gone another mile before we spotted the water container! Just in the nick of time and we’d got thirstier standing I the heat and there were Tim tams too!
Back on the main road we needed to put the foot down and stopped briefly at a rest stop (with a shallows nest) before carrying on. The miles were clocking up and we knew it would be a long one so we’re releived to have prebooked a motel and even more relieved when they were still serving food- Laura’s last chance for a “chicken parmi” before we get to Brisbane tomorrow to fly the New Zealand the following day!
And what feels like against all the odds…we are in Brisbane! 🥳👊💪
It was a block headwind start and piling into McDonald’s again after 18 miles but much needed fuel for the road.
The main road was rolling and got busier and busier as we headed towards the city and we were glad to finally turn off into suburbia. Start to pick up cycle lanes we would our way towards the centre following some fantastic off road routes. The rain cane down though which was the last thing we needed before packing the bike up this evening.
The navigation got more intricate as we approached the centre and we followed the river for a bit as city commuters flew by on lightweight bikes.
Finally making it through to the other side of the city after dusk it had been a real big last push… and we were delighted to have a welcome party in the form of Matt and his daughter. He’d sourced everything we needed to pack the bike and hung around to wait for our arrival- we are tremendously grateful!!
And not having ridden 118 miles into a headwind we need to box the bike tonight to get a taxi early tomorrow to fly in the morning to…. New Zealand!!
You would think a whole day off the bike would be a good chance to rest…but ìt never goes that way with flights!
Having got to bed at around midnight the alarm went off at 5am to get a shuttle to departures for 6am. There was already a queue for check in and it’s always more complicated because of the bike boxes which inevitably need to be dropped at the other end of departures from whichever check in desk were at. Then a miriade of security and border control checks which are different at every airport and this time Stevie got held up as the automated camera barriers didn’t like his beard and then we were finally through the scans and checks. Time for some breakfast and we were soon boarding our flight to Wellington. Better than the last flight we had managed to get exit row seats for Stevie’s long legs and had some films to watch.
Unfortunately at the other end we had to collect the boxes and check them in again before our connecting flight to Dunedin. It was a bit weird knowing we’d be riding back here in afew days but weren’t leaving the airport this time. We collected the boxes from oversized luggage to find one of the handles ripped off and needing repair before the next flight, luckily nothing had fallen out! Having gotten Stevie’s beard through passport control this time we still had our covid travel declarations checked and then customs where all food had to declared and the bike and tent had us diverted down a seperate lane.
The customs officer wanted to check the bike abd the tent for dirt and seeds which involved opening and unpacking both boxes and digging out the tent from the bottom and unpacking it. We were pretty horrified by this idea but the officer was so friendly the process was actually relatively painless and ment we could use his official tape to repair the damage.
Checking the boxes back in again we at least didn’t have to worry about passport control as this was a domestic flight and went to while away the 5 hour layover. A good chunk of time for Laura to catch up on admin but we were both tired and keen to get the travelling over and down with so we’re rather disappointed when the flight was delayed but almost an hour. Finally getting on it was too short to rest properly and we touched down in Dunedin close to 10pm.
It wasn’t over yet though! Dunedin a tiny airport out of the city there was no accommodation nearby so we needed to build the bike to get to some. Reassembling as fast as we could: frame together, seats back on, pedals on, gear reconnected, brake back on, stoker bars on and front bars turned and aerobars reset, racks back on etc. the kind security guard kept the lights on for us but we hadn’t quite finished by the time the airport so finished off in the cold and misty with cows bellowing in the dark as if just to prove we were in an isolated spot. Finally assembled close to midnight we rode towards civilisation and got our first last if New Zealand hills- some sharp gradients we were genuworried we might not get the laden bike up! Finally rocking up at our accommodation close to 2am we were very grateful for some home cooked food after a day of airport sustainence and winding down it was 3am New Zealand time before we were tucked up in bed.
After the long day flying and a late night (well early morning ) after the delayed flight we had a bit of a lie in until 8am (equivalent to 6am Oz time).
We had been hosted by an old school friend of Laura’s and although she was away we still felt completely saved by a warm house, homecooked food and a comfy bed.
The morning sun revealed what we had missed in the dark last night riding from the airport: the bay in Dunedin, blue and with waves lapping the shore. A great cycle way out if the city along the railway and we soaked up the views of mountains and sea. After 10 miles we were climbing…and climbing hard. A long time with no serious gradients and we had forgotten what it is to have to winch uphill! As we gained altitude we rode into the mist, surrounded by sheep and lambs in the New Zealand spring. A descent down to get a sandwich and a cuppa at the village store.
We diverted off the main road for most of the rest of the day with some steep rolling hills and frequently rolling along the beach. The scenery was stunning.
After out later start we rode past dusk to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach in the dark a friendly motel for the night and we’re ready to catch up on sleep.
A rather cold and misty start to the morning had us in down jackets and the views not quite so amamas yesterday. Feeling tired and groggy the big day flying was catching up with us too and it was a weary slog to the first cafe stop.
The sun did break through briefly though and Stevie seemed surprised every time he took his eyes of the road to see dusky mountains or beautiful beaches.
It all seems so strangley famiher compared to Australia: the soil, the grass, the plants and we even saw a hedgehog last night and heard skylarks today!
We had a tailwind which was just as well and we soon began to flag again with the ongoing weariness that is a permanent feature at the moment and flew past more cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions. A few of you followers have kindly suggested restaurants or attractions but we just don’t have tike to stop: missing the famous boulders on the beach and blue penguins yesterday.
But pushing on Today has got us what we need moat: an early finish in a wonderful motel room! With time to recuperate and get an early night.
We made a mistake…
Now, we knew the clocks went forward here for Spring time and had planned accordingly, not wanting to lose another hours sleep had set the alarm for the usual time of 5am and left Stevie’s phone on airplane mode so it didn’t update overnight.
We still felt groggy when the alarm went off and it took us a good 20minutes to realise by some kind of strange magic Stevie’s phone had updated so it was what would have been 4am and we had lost and hour of precious sleep.
It made for a good early start though and it was cold again on the road. Glimpsing snow covered peaks in the distance did little to warm us up as we veered off the main road to take to back roads to Christchurch. It was remarkably quiet and we barely knew we were passing the big city with mountains in the background and nice suburban parks and cycleways. A brief stint along the beach at the front and we headed inland again.
The main road got busier and we passed vineyards following the railway line toward Waipara where we have some very interesting railway themed accommodation (again!)
Weekly distance 667.75 miles
Total distance 10,935.21 miles
Pizzas: 2 (rubbish shop bought ones…)