A couple of days after the wedding and laden with left over baked tea part treats, we farewelled family and caught the train to Ipswich to launch off on our trusty bikes (well, mine was trusty and well-tested and Gilbert became acquainted with Dad's) beyond the urban sprawl of greater Brisbane.
Over the next 9.5 days (we didn't get going from Ipswich until well after midday) and almost 600km, we cycle southwest, over several mountain ranges and through vegetation which started out agricultural, briefly became wet rainforest and lush pastures and gradually dried out to the almost desert of the Pilaga Scrub, with faded colours of cypress, wattle, ironbark and brigalow. We passed through ghost towns, dying towns, vibrant regional hubs with all the culinary delights hungry cyclists could wish for (especially vegetarian ones). We hit one unwelcoming town where heads turned and stared silently (I could almost hear the slow slide guitar of a western movie) and the cafe woman greeted us with as much interest as she showed in her figure. The highlight town was a stunning, restored Art Deco gem, Bingara, that we already have plans to return to.
Names we pedalled through included many aboriginal:
- Boonah - Bloodwood tree
- Bingara (?) - creek or shallow water
- Narrabri - forked waters
And then drove (yes, we cheated at the end due to lack of time) through:
- Piliga (or Billarga) - swamp oak
- Bugaldie - Blossoms destroyed by opossums
- Coonabarabran- Inquisitive person (that was the town with the head-turners and the more polite definition) or more directly translated from poo - an earlier meaning "bowdlerised" to peculiar odour
- Warrumbungle - crooked mountains
Thanks to generous wedding gifts from our family and friends, we were, at times, able to indulge in real beds, decadent breakfasts, cakes and thickshakes, posh dinners, siesta-inducing lunches and a bus home at the end. The ability to have frills on our otherwise down-to-earth honeymoon made it all the more special.
For more photos, visit:
Stage 1 - Brisbane to Amiens
Stage 2 - Amiens to Inverell
A summary of our route:
Day 1 - train to Ipswich and 55km ride to and around Boonah (stayed in Motel)
Day 2 - Wild Camp on start of climb to Carr's Lookout (with cows)
Day 3 - 44/66km to east of Stanthorpe (stayed with friend Jonathan)
Day 4 - Rest day and fine tuning of gear and bikes in Stanthorpe and exhibition opening at art gallery
Day 5 - 18km - to Dragonweyr via winery to stay with friends Adrian and Esme
Day 6 - 88km to Glenlyon Lake - campground
Day 7 - 81.5km to Ashford to take over the hotel
Day 8 - 56 km to Inverell through rain (motel)
Day 9 - 113.3km to Glacial Valley near Rocky Creek (camped)
Day 10 - 74.5km to Narrabri (campground)
Total 580km (8.5 riding days)
Day 11 - Narrabri errands and drive to Warrumbungles through Pillaga Scrub
Day 12 - Drive and walk through Warrumbungles, aboriginal relics in Pillaga and stayed at Pillaga Pottery
Day 13 - Drive to Moree to catch bus home -
Total driving in 2 days 500km - does that undo all the good of our riding from Brisbane?