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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Horseshoe Bay to Balgal Beach via Fairfield Shopping Centre Townsville. Thurs. July 27th

Dawn at Horseshoe Bay. Early start to get out of the way of returning tradies. A day spent on the Bruce Highway except for the last couple of kms from Rollingstone into our free campsite. An easy 274 km all up.
Fortunately the state of the highway improved and apart from a delay at roadworks leaving Bowen, even the traffic was manageable. A brief stop at the Inkerman Pub for second breakfast and our own brewed coffee.

The Bruce Highway bypass avoiding Townsville took us right past a brand spanking new shopping  centre at Fairfield, allowing us an easy stop for the days provisions. Australian suburban shopping centres are the new Universal Constant. You could be dropped into any one anywhere in Australia and have no idea where on the continent you were. The sameness is reasuring in its familiarity, but at the same time distressing in its lack of locality or originality.

Lunch north of Townsville at the Bluewaters Rest area. Already by 1pm crawling with Grey Nomads. Nevertheless a very pretty park just off the highway. Here we met a lady cyclist from NZ, heading for the same campground. Karen it turns out has sold up everything in NZ, come to Australia to visit her daughter and new grandchild, bought a bike and some camping gear, and is doing a training run up and down the east coast, before heading to south america....


The Balgal South free campsite is right on the beach well off the highway. Water, toilet and a cold shower - quiet and perfect for 1 night.

Tomorrow we head for Murray Falls, another favourite stop from 2012 and an easy 120km.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Seaforth to Horseshoe Bay. Wed 26th July.

Its always good to get back on the road after a rest day. The rhythm of  touring on a motorcycle (for those of us seduced by its siren song) has its own innate and irresistible attraction.

Back to the "Highway" and on to Airlie Beach for the ritual supermarket snatch and grab. The Bruce "Highway" is a joke. Even to those of us from down south who've put up with the perils of the Pacific Highway find it totally appalling. Mostly single lane with the odd infrequent overtaking section, it is a stunning indictment of the gross incompetence of state and federal powers and their inability to build essential infrastructure.

The sheer volume of heavy interstate transport, combined with the plague of Grey Nomads & their damned caravan/RV's results in extremely hazardous conditions. At one point we were stuck behind a string of trucks and caravans that seemed endless. Fortunately on a bike it is easy to work your way past slow traffic, picking your moment to zip past individual vehicles. I stopped counting after 20 separate trucks and caravans, and that was less than half way past. Although the speed limit was 100km/hr, the traffic was continually slowing to a crawl as the chain of vehicles yo-yoed its way along.
Solid concentration and seizing the moment was the name of the game.
Finally at Proserpine the turn off to Airlie  Beach and a more leisurely ride to the shopping centre at Cannonvale.

After coffee and a successful supermarket foray we adjurned to a nearby park for a lunch of sushi. Almost without fail, wherever we stop, someone will engage us in conversation. Something about 3 senior motorcyclists, their bikes loaded with camping gear having a roadside brew-up will trigger the urge to interrogate us. Where are we going? Where have we been? How lucky we are to be able to do it. Often we are approached by people interested in the bikes. Because they ride, because they used to ride, because they would like to ride. Today it was a park worker who wanted to tell us all about the bike he currently had, but was thinking of swapping for something else.

The back road out of Airlie to rejoin the highway again. We were aiming for Horseshoe Bay outside of Bowen and on the beach. Picked at random from the map and Google, we took a punt that it would be ok.

North of Bowen is a rocky granite headland. Bowen itself is on the tidal flats, but Horseshoe Bay turned out to be quite spectacular with views inland over the bay to the west and out to the Whitsunday Islands on the east.

A minor hitch when reception at the caravan park inform us that they are quite full. Only 2:30 in the afternoon and already the place is overrun by those damned Grey Nomads. They know all the best places! Turning on the charm and indicating that "all we needed was a quiet corner somewhere out of the way for 2 small tents and 3 very well behaved motorcyclists" appeared to work. There was a small separate area, close to the beach that was currently out of commission due to post-cyclone renovations and provided we didn't mind the presence of a couple of tradies working on the small cabins, we could pitch our tents there. We would be close to the beach, have the place to ourselves and not have to share the small ablution block! The downside was having to wait for the tradies to pack up and leave. Also put up with them arriving early in the am to resume work. Not a problem!

So, park the bikes, check out the beach, explore the headland, have a swim, say cheerio to the tradies, pitch the tents, climb up to the viewing platform on the hill bend the campsite, enjoy the sunset, climb back down, adjourn to the cafe for sunset beer. Back to our campsite for our evening meal, blog.






Day done - to bed to listen to radio and sleep. Tomorrow north beyond Townsville where hopefully a lot of the heavy traffic will turn west on the Mt Isa road.