Week 7 | Day 46 – Wednesday 13th November 2013 My alarm sounds again, this time not quite so early due to our close proximity to The Tip. Although it’s still dark, a distinctive lack of stars in the sky tells me it is once again overcast. Hope of a sunrise over The Tip fades as I nestle into the swag and fall back to sleep. Not wanting to waste the morning Rah and I rise as soon as it is light enough to see where we’re walking, and head west along the empty beach toward a rocky point in the di ...
Week 7 | Day 45 – Tuesday 12th November 2013 For the first time in as long as I can recall my alarm sounds; initially soft though working its way up to a volume unpleasant enough to wake me from my precious sleep. I look at the time and realise it’s an ungodly 3:00am. I’d hazard a guess to say I’m the only living thing awake at this moment in time. As I transition from a state of dysfunction – drunk off sleep and unaware of my surroundings – to a state of semi-consciousness I remember that late ...
Week 7 | Day 44 – Monday 11th November 2013 That beautifully refreshing, soft patter of rain falling from the night sky as we slipped into bed early last night has transformed into what feels like the onset of the tropical wet season. Gusts of wind carry the rain horizontally in waves of noise and excitement; perhaps nature’s idea of a friendly reminder for us to keep moving so as to not get caught out when all hell inevitably breaks loose! There is no doubt about it, we are tempting fate trav ...
Week 7 | Day 43 – Sunday 10th November 2013 Sometimes words simply aren’t enough to convey certain emotions and our environment. For this reason, I’ve put together a little video of today’s adventure. There are no special effects and it’s very basic, though I hope you find something in there that wasn’t conveyed in The Old Telegraph Track: Palm Creek to Fruit Bat Falls. If nothing else, you can laugh at my supreme ability to spend more time falling off the motorbike than actually riding it! &n ...
Week 7 | Day 43 – Sunday 10th November 2013 It’s 5.30AM and nature’s alarm clock is rising up and over the horizon in a beautiful, warming array of soft pinks and yellows. With an uneasy sensation resonating throughout my tired and restless being, I decide it’s best to get up and utilise the early start on tackling today’s adventure: the Old Telegraph Track. I slip out of the swag and spend some quality time pacing the first challenge on foot whilst the others sleep for a while longer. I absor ...
I rise with the sun, finally mustering the courage to pull my exhausted body from the swag, only to fall back down again. My arms are hardly functioning. Picking up The DR over and over again has really rattled my under-prepared physique.
After failing repeatedly, I finally extract myself from the ever-heating swag to find complete and utter silence surrounding me. No wind, no birds, no noise from the ocean; it is dead-quiet. I take the opportunity to do some exploring, heading north along the oceanfront. I walk until I can walk no further. I reach a creek outlet. The water is obviously tidal, though by the looks of it even the lowest of tides won’t drain enough water from the soft sandy bank to allow us the privilege of riding across and continuing northward.
Although tidal, areas of the creek look to have sat stagnant for some time. The water is extremely discoloured and almost swamp-like in appearance. The colour reminds me of the tea tree waters of Lake Ainsworth – only riddled with endless sandflies and lacking the healing properties that Lake Ainsworth is renowned for.
I turn and head back down the beach, south toward camp. The sun is on the rise, as is the ambient temperature, though still Brogan is sleeping. Not wanting to disturb his recovery rest, I grab my book and find a nice spot along the high tide line, planting my rear right where the sand goes from hard to soft. I open ‘Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ to my bookmark and before long I am losing myself in the intense, philosophical paragraphs. It is a particularly hard-to-follow chapter, in which the narrator is passed seamlessly between tenses – recounting experiences of a past role as a university lecturer and how his current theories on past concepts he was teaching his students have advanced from his time teaching between the confines of the university.
I find myself so immersed in my book that a sudden jolt from behind startles me more than it probably should. I turn, expecting to see Brogs somewhere far away with a telling grin that he’d jokingly thrown something my way. Instead, I turn to find a dingo sprawled out in the sand behind me, staring deep into my soul. Its eyes are dark and glazed-over. I can see it breathing slowly and softly. Its gaze does not leave mine.
I am so taken back by its domestic-like nature that I honestly think about patting it – giving it a good scratch behind the ears and ruffling up its fur a little. Instead, after twenty seconds of silent eye-to-eye contact, I slowly rise to my feet. It rises with me, and as I ever-so-slowly make my way to the swag it follows my every move.
I walk, turning only to ensure it is keeping its distance, and every time I do so it growls and makes a terrifying hissing sound. I finally reach my swag and I’m unsure whether to grab my camera or my knife! I am sure glad I didn’t pat the unassumingly fierce beast!
I grab my camera and snap away as it settles into a nice sunny spot amongst the patchy shade, where it stays for a short while before making a break for the rubbish bag containing meaty food scraps that we tied up into a tree late last night. I spot a sword made from two sticks and a few lengths of hundred-mile-an-hour tape, picking it up from the leaves on which it is resting and using it to chase the dingo away from the rubbish bag, but it is too late. It snatches the bag of scraps and runs with a tightly clenched jaw at god-speed for the safety of the dense bushland.
Brogan pops his head from his swag just as I return. We discuss tides, tired bodies and my dingo encounter while packing up our gear, loading the bikes with too much gear and dreading every second of the morning ride ahead of us.
Before we know it, we’re retracing our route back out along the same road we travelled in on late yesterday afternoon, again, dodging the sandy sections, though this time trying to relearn how to ride a heavy motorbike on sand; the minor inputs that have a major effect on my general safety and wellbeing.
We finally reach the little green wooden sign that says ‘Barge 1200m’. I know that at least fifty percent of that is going to be sand – maybe more. The thought alone of riding along the beach makes me a little ill in the stomach, as my arms turn to jelly and my mind digs itself into a deeper hole of denial.
We turn right, and after riding no more than 50 metres the hard packed dirt below my tyres turns into fine mix of sand and dirt. I kill the engine and can hear Brogan struggling in the distance. I’ve left a gap to try and minimise my consumption of dust kicked up by the high rpm and low gearing. I psych myself up; start the motorbike back up and push on, wobbling more than I had anticipated. My arms are completely exhausted as a result of both the day prior and the thought of more sandy riding.
Before too long, I breach the dense forest canopy crowding the view above, as the safety buffer around me is stripped away and I’m spewed out onto the softest sand Australia has to offer once again. Without warning, I’m forced to make a break for it. I can see Brogs struggling about 100m metres up the beach – a 2metre rooster tail of sand spraying up from his rear tyre! I take a big breath and throttle into it, trying as hard as humanly possible to keep from eating mouthfuls of sand.
The barge is fast-approaching the shore, lowering the entry platform in preparation. We are still a fair distance from where it is to pull up, so I twist more throttle into the equation; the front wheel violently spearing into the edges of the 4x4s tyre tracks that fish-tail the entire way to the barge landing!
There are about six 4x4s waiting for the barge to arrive, all effortlessly arranged in a nice tidy line. Then there is us, struggling for traction in pure fear of missing the barge back to the mainland. I make a break for a fine slither of harder sand that as being lapped by the salt water of the ocean. I make the split second decision to sacrifice The DR to the evil salt water in exchange for an easier run to the barge landing; an option Brogan has obviously overseen.
Within seconds, I am overtaking him; the look on his face as I catch the corner of his eye is priceless. He then looks again as I fly past him on the hard sand! I pull-up on the high tide mark, almost dropping The DR in front of all the smug 4x4’ers. I take a quick look in my mirror just in time to see Brogan cut across the 4x4 tracks and make a break for the hard sand – our saving grace!
I cautiously navigate my way onto the barge, feeling every single dint of the battered ramp beneath my tyres – the first rock-hard surface I’ve ridden on in what fells like weeks. I navigate to the right, out of the way of the other vehicles. The ride back across to the mainland is dead-silent. I am just glad to have made the barge without coming unstuck again.
As we urge everyone to drive off before us, I prepare for the dash back to tarmac. This sand is by far the driest and finest we’ve come across yet; mixed with that grey dusty dirt that sticks to everything and is impossible to clean off. It makes for near-impossible riding conditions. I grab a calculated handful of throttle and chose my line carefully. I take the right-hand route, up the same side we rode down on yesterday. I know the line, and fell it is best to take this route even if it is the equivalent of riding on the wrong side of the road!
Moving at less than a walking pace and axle-deep in sand, I stand with a foot on either side of my motorbike and my rear end slightly above the seat, pushing the motorbike along with all my might. I eventually get enough speed to ride without a foot on the ground, but with more speed the motorbike is harder to control and moments later the front wheel spears off to the side almost resulting in an accident. It’s every man for himself out here. I can’t see Brogan, but I can see the fear in the 4x4 drivers face as he passes by barely in control of his big beast, hands flailing every-which way!
I am first to make it to tarmac, and I feel as though I may just cry tears of joy. Every negative thought from the days just been disappear, and I truly appreciated the position I am now in. I pull up under the shade of a paperbark and damn-near dismount The DR simply to kiss that sandy tarmac. Brogs pulls up not long after and says something about being cut-off, but I can’t hear him. I am just too busy smiling like a fool as I scratch the hard surface beneath my boots.
After a quick rest, we jump back on the bikes – first stop is the carwash that is conveniently placed on the only road out from the barge. We coin up, unpack the bikes, and take turns spraying the heck out of our bikes.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of sand that falls from the motorbikes, or the impossible to reach places it falls from. The motorbikes will need to be dismantled and cleaned properly at some stage as the car wash simply isn’t thorough enough to cleanse the metal of all the salt. Just to top-off the good times experienced over the past couple of days, I hit the motorbike with a large dose of power from the spray-gun and the force is great enough to knock the beast over once again. This time I’m not so lucky, with the right-hand mirror and pannier rack falling victim to the hard concrete surface. The mirror perch has bent and will never be the same again, while the rack has bent and also snapped clean as a whistle, rendering it barely useable with all the weight it needs to carry.
Still on a hard-ground high and not letting the drop faze me, I pack the motorbike back up and think myself lucky to have only damaged that, given the number of times I have come off over the last two days. We ride into Rainbow Beach and park up under the same shady tree as the day prior, and then head off in search of some much-needed lunch!
After a quick pie and chocolate milk, we are back on the road. We ride for a short while, aiming to stop in around Poona National Park, but instead we end up in the town of Poona itself; quiet, modest suburbia without a gutter in sight, or a resident for that matter. A quick toilet stop and stretch then back on the road, heading north-west into Maryborough. Another short stop off to pick up supplies and then we continue north towards Hervey Bay; a beautiful town on the coast, full of fishing boats and very merry people.
We swing by a bottle-o, grabbing a six pack of ice-cold ciders, and then make our way to a camp ground which is listed as free on the Wiki Camper app. We pull up to find a couple of camper vans already set up. We say a quick hello and then unpack our gear and setup the swags for the night.
As Brogs cooks dinner, I decide it is a good time to give Rah a quick call in response to a text I received earlier but hadn’t read until now. “Hey, I was just having a think about it all, and I was wondering if you’re serious about me joining you for a while? Because I’m in a position right now where I could actually do it. Anyway, have a sleep on it if you need to and let me know xx”
We’ve only spent 48 hours together, yet there has been a lingering feeling of comfort and trust; the kind of comfort and trust that is usually associated with great lengths of time spent side-by-side. Maybe these feelings stem from the knowledge that we’re sure to cross paths again? Maybe we have met before, unknowingly? There is every chance that we’ve been in the same place at the same time given our intertwined mutual friend groups. It feels as though we already knew each other before we spoke at the Sardine Tin. I crack a cider and inhale it so fast that it hardly wets my mouth. The second goes down a treat, though a damn-sight slower than the first! I call and we chat until the sun sets, making transparent all potential options ahead of us. Nothing is locked it in, though the tone in each other’s voice lets us know that we’ll be seeing one another sooner rather than later. It would be a shame to waste such an epic opportunity to travel together and to further get to know each other.
“Hot showers”, the app says. Well that’s a lie! They are ice cold, though I make the most of the running fresh water and scrub the dirt, sweat and dried salt from almost unrecognisable skin.
We finish cooking dinner whilst sipping yet another cider. We speak fondly of the relatively easy day of riding we have just experienced, but the conversation is muffled by extreme exhaustion. I quickly clean up and slip into bed – exhausted though not feeling sleepy. I use it to my advantage, plugging my earphones in and listening to some music whilst catching up on the writing I have neglected.
As my muscles reluctantly let go and I begin to drift off to sleep, I quietly revel in the fact that Fraser Island seems a hazy, distant memory (perhaps my mind protecting me from the extreme effects it has had on my body?) and already I feel ready for the next leg of the journey!