Theaussiechallenge Post # 116 In closing from Sandgate

Day 141 0 days to go. Distance today 0km Sunday 20kms GRAND TOTAL 13318km.

It’s 5.30am Thursday 29/12012 Sandgate. It’s early o’clock and I’m sitting outside at Ma and Pa’s on this still and stunning morning listening to the local birds and stirring ‘burb noises. It’s pretty cool how wildlife share residential with us. I had the same thought when I woke Sunday morning staying with Brendalee and Nicole in Newstead. Despite the dense inner city living, the birds were in full swing and song off to their next social event. The party life of inner city bird starts early and finishes late, or so it would seem 🙂 It also seems way more than 4 days ago when Rube and I peddled into Brissy via the Mt Lindsay H’way and Beaudesert/Ipswich Rds. Our first glimpse of Brisbane was from an elevated point where we could see the city skyline at a distance. It was a teary pinch moment knowing we were almost home. We stopped at the Kangaroo Point cliffs for a picky at my fav part of Brissy ‘yay us Rube.’ There’s a bird walking across the metal Pergola very much a tap dance stomp and making me smile. It rained last night while we were eating the falafal salad I cooked up for the fam. So all the gutters are drawing the birds in for a drink and they seem fresh and spritely like the morn. Clearly a lilt in the ‘two step’ that’s for sure!! Opsy, that’s an early butterfly moment even for me and one of a zillion the last few days. I’ve been in a daizy haze but a walking smile slowly coming down from the momentum and hype. Where was I…… more stomps more smiles…… Anyway Nicole was there to meet us in their glam magazine apartment which is a tasteful delish space. It was such a pamper to scrub up into something other than riding gear and settle in for the evening. But firstly I had to go get my phone that had fallen out of Rube’s handlebar bag on the bumpy shoulders near Annerly. I calthe number hoping someone someone would answer and they did…Bonus!!!!! Nicole drove me there to collect the Nokia, talk about a guest from hell!! We got back to find Brendalee home and into the cupcakes Nicole had baked. Smack naughtiness…not before the frosting and we sat and chatted chick stuff over coffee. Nicole cooked up the best falafal salad for dinner that I tried to recreate last night for the fam. So delish yum. The ladies are dear friends and I dearly loved our time together as a step back to Brisbane and home. They donated $50 so thankyou loves for your spoiling and generosity xx. I got up super early with good tips on a flat route to Virginia Maccas on Sandgate Rd where I was meeting Scotty. I went via Coronation Dr, and Nudgee /Toombull Rds. There were so many cyclists out enjoying the morn and waving us by. Oh I almost forgot, riding into Brissy I got a flat tyre can you believe it!!!!!! The last flat tyre was take 1 Day 1 on the Bruce highway just before BP Burpengary when I realized I didn’t have the teflon liners in Rube’s tyres. Soooooo long ago and kms in between. What’s a finale without a bit of drama hey? Back to Maccas and meeting Scotty who was all smiles and welcomes and hugs and lovely my dear dear friend!!! Rube and I were squealing and after lots of pickies and chats we moved the conversation inside over a couple of coffees. Who should walk in but Brendalle and Nicole on their way to Sandgate and our heads up to get peddling the last 5kms to the foreshore. We were so busy chatting it seemed a blink and we were there. Scotty went ahead to give the fam heads up were were coming. The next moment Rube and I are turning at the Baptist Church onto the bikepath and towards the crowd of family and friends who had come to welcome us home. It was such a delight to savor the approach with everyone waving and cheering and blowing blurters big big big bigtime yay indeed!! This is a total teary understatement and super spesh delish memories to be treasured to be sure!!!!!!!!! Channel 7 was there filming our squeals cross the finishing line of ‘white crape paper’ held by the local members. Nice touch Mops and Pops. Mother Nature treated us to a beautiful day on the waterfront and to share this celebration and event with loved ones meant so so much to both of us. The State member Kerry Millard donated the money for a cake which Mum had decorated with our logo. I so wanted to share my thankyous and the following is a copy of my speech.

I firstly want to acknowledge and thank State Member Kerry Millard MLA and Councillor for Deagon, Victoria Newton for coming along today to support our white ribbon event.
A couple of weeks back I stayed with new friends Peter and Phylis in Horsham Victoria. During my stay I met Peter’s daughter Bec. Bec is a sassy 20 year old who lives life to the max despite managing a neuro muscular condition. She has the words ‘My Strengths’ tattooed on her wrist and told me of her strengths amongst her challenges. Before leaving, Bec said that I was an inspiration for her and to hear these words from such a courageous young woman was a humbling experience. Bec has become one of my inspirations and like Bec my strengths are family, friends and loved ones. It’s in these strengths I have found incentive to keep peddling when we’ve flatlined and wanted out of the challenge. To have you hear today to share in our achievement means the world to me so thank you.
My Mum and Dad have been there every peddle of the way and we’ve shared many phone chats when Ive needed to debrief and regroup. They have helped us so much with the fundraising element and arranged the event today to welcome us home. Mum and Dad you gave me life so I could live it doing cool stuff like theaussiuechallenge. Thank you my Darlings.
What an incredible incredible experience its been with so many ‘steak knife’ stories we’ve shared with you through the shecyclesolo blog. Im officially in love with our country and its Aussie characters. We have experienced first hand the strength of kindness from so many folk. Some have opened their homes and spoilt us with overnight stays. Special thanks to Thea and Graham from Stanwell, Tish and Gary from Maroochydore, Bruce from Warwick, Sue and John from Geraldton, Peter and Phyllis from Horsham, Gary from Shepparton, Shane from Coonabarabran, Johnathon and Catherine from Narrabri, Dave from Woodhill, and Brendalee and Nicole from Newstead
Thank you to family, friends, and all the community and business folk who have generously donated to the white ribbon foundation.
We have scored countless free camp sites from Roadhouses and Campgrounds happy to support the cause and not let me get too stinky.
I especially want to thank the Sandgate business community members, Laurels Beauty Saloon, Sandbag, Terry Duffy Optomistrist, Dr Molesworth from the Sandgate medical centre and Hawgood Jewlers for their contributions. Also the Bayside Star for their commitment to promoting the foundation and our fundraising challenge.
I hope that the awareness and money raised through theaussiechallenge will help white ribbon continue their challenge to change a culture to one that respects women and protects us from violence.
There are so many men already living healthy relationships and who white ribbon asks to come forth and swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. White Ribbon Ambassadors lead the campaign by living these values and being a role model for others. The Ambassador supporting theaussiechallenge is world record holder and Qld police officer, David Alley who’s here with us today. Dave rode into Redcliffe on the 22/10/2011 after cycling around Australia in 37 days taking over 3 days off the previous record and raising $20,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Dave’s strength and character is recognized by the Courier Mail through nomination for the Community Spirit Medal in News Limited’s 2012 Pride of Australia Awards. You’re a jetstar Ambassador Dave and thank you being here today.
When I say ‘we’ I am referring to me and my bike Ruby. Rubes is my hero for Theaussiechallenge. She’s taken us across Qld, NT, WA, SA, Victoria , NSW and home. We’ve crossed semi deserts, mountain ranges, the Nullabor, sung tunes with birds, mood at cows, frightened sheep, shared a birthday, slept in bush camps, smelt the wildflowers, ran with emus, met cool folk, swore at headwinds, saw beautiful sunsets, squealed down descents, waved at truckees, spotted falling stars, posed for photos, laughed at bad jokes and shed many many good tears. I want to thank her for keeping us both safe, sound and sane and for sharing the last 13500km together.
We celebrate our achievement but know its only been met through the help and support of ‘My Strengths.’ “

On Sunday my Dad (being an ex-bankman so all over it) collected donations made on the day that totaled $583.25. (What a huge surprise bonus). The biggest of ta’s to Doug’s Seafood Cafe ($100), my Aunty Di and the Jayo/Moody Clan of John, Adrian, Ruthy, Benny, Lila and Harley ($150), Kris and Terry ($40), and Greg ($50).

Lastly but never ever leastly once home, Mum and Dad gave $300 from them and Nana, who passed away earlier this year but remains in ‘my strengths’ every peddle of the way.

Once everything came to a close on Sunday, Rube and I walked home with My sister Katie and her handsome lads Christoper and Ryan. We officially left Mum and Dad’s driveway back on the 9/7/12 so ‘the lap’ was complete wheeling Rube back into their drive….. Katie popped upstairs for a tick and back with a black t-shirt pressie from her and Janet with Janet’s logo on front how soooooooo jetstar cool my word indeed!!!! Katie intended to bring it down to the waterfront but I’m kinda thankful she didn’t in retrospect. I’m a little socially unsound at the best of times which is slightly turned up from recent events. Without a blink the shirt was off and the newbie one on. This was probably better shared with fam away from the Channel 7 cameraman and local supporters. What choo fink?????? Another inglorious aussiechallenge moment to add to the colorful list 🙂

We didn’t meet the fundraising target of raising the distance in dollars. I was originally disapointed whilst on route (At Ongerup SE WA to be precise) when I realised this was most likely. But that was one of those debriefing moment’s with Mum when I was given a loving upper cut and post it note from her. Mum reminded me that theaussiechallenge was about raising awareness just as much as the dollars, and to honour the folk who have donated through our cause. Since then our ride has been about just this. I happily concede that sometimes……only sometimes….. Mum’s do know best!!!! I have alsomore the wiser about fundraising and how to tackle it better next time round. Since coming home I have been able to get online and check donations as well as collect a couple more cheques that have come in from the business community. Extra thankyou’s to Charlie Jeays ($50), Jacqui ($100), John Decker ($50), Debra Griesheimer ($50), Bruce Brymer ($100), Fiona Brymer-Head $20, Victoria Newton ($100), Janine Batters ($25), East Timor supporters ($145), Ewa ($30), Rosalie ($40), Paul ($20), Nicole ($20) and Dianne ($20). Linda from Laurels, Laurels Salon, and Hawgoods Jeweler, supported us by having a donations tin that together totaled $142.25 (awesome xxx). My sisters and their families went with the cent per km idea (plus a bonus dollar or two 🙂 and together donated $295 (Bear hugs and butterfly kisses to Janny, Marcus, Evan, Katie, Werner, Christopher and Ryan xxxxxxxoooooo). Sooooo……

Donations for theaussiechallenge grand totaled at $5252.25

Awareness raising….Priceless!!!!

I know that every bit will help white ribbon towards meeting their challenge to change a culture to one that respects women and protects us from violence.

The next stage of our adventure is treasured time out with loved ones over Christmas and early New Year. I am also so excited about writing book 1 of 3 from our 1080 days around the world as shecyclesolo. It’s almost a year to the day since we started the epic adventure and what a mind blowing experience of safe and sound steak knives it’s been. Lots lots more of this to come. We’re off line now but will be back before you know it. Thank you for all the emails, texts and blog comments wishing us well and home safe and sharing. Its very cool indeedy to share this time as we have loved sharing the last 141 days of theaussiechallenge with you. Be safe and sound and happy during this Christmas, and pamper the heart with loved ones. I’ll always remember what Anne said to us leaving the billabong camp at Camooweal….. “make someone else’s day….. have fun doing it…… and always show that you’re listening…….” I know the world is what we make it so be what you want to be part of now and into 2013. Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 114 Woodhill

Day 139 2 days to go. Distance today 73km total 13248km. It’s 4.30pm Friday 23/12/2012 Woodhill. I haven’t been out this way for such a long time and had forgotten or probably never really appreciated what a pretty part of the world the Fassifern Valley is. The stretch between the Boonah turnoff and Beaudesert is particularly beautiful rolling valley hills intermittent with lakes with a backdrop of mountains from the Peaks, Mt Barney, Border Ranges, Lamington and Mt Tamborine National Parks to name a few. I passed Mt French and Frog Buttress after the turnoff to Lake Moogerah which are well renowned natural rock climbing spots and they both looked so handsome and brought back great memories climbing there with my partner some years back. It was overcast today and made for cooler cycling through the hills and enhanced the lighting variations for some great pickies along the way. We stopped off in Boonah to check out the info centre if they had any ideas for camping tonight and to check out the town. The lady at the info centre was really helpful but a bit short of options for us so we had to play it by ear for the afternoon. I did meet a very cool lad riding his bright yellow sports bike and matching leathers. He had also stopped at the info centre for some riding route tips. He called his bike ‘his girl’ and we both shared a laugh at how similar our relationships were with our Bikes. He met Rube and thought her pretty spesh which of course she is and congratulated us on our adventure and cause. Boonah township was full of locals all out on a Friday doing their weekend shop and catch up chats. Most folk were surprised but friendly when they saw us. Further along the Boonah Beaudesert Rd we stopped at en elevated point overlooking a lake and hillscape and savored a cuppa and break. About halfway between Beaudesert and Jimboomba we peddled through Woodhill where there’s just a handful of homes, a hall and a park area with a water tank. Mmmmmm looked like a good spot for a camp to check out further. I was mindful that although still quite rural, we’re now in Logan city and its a pretty busy thoroughfare for city commuters. I wasn’t too sure how safe it was to camp near the hall and park so popped into one of the residents to ask more. His name is Dave who ironically works for a support service for ‘Dads in Distress.’ The service is linked to the Family Relationships Centre in Logan and Dave has a strong commitment to preventing domestic violence and providing family support particularly to single dads. He’s a single dad himself raising a 15 year old daughter who’s having a handful of friends over tonight for a sleep over. He’s very excited cooking up roast chook for the girls and taking them camping to the Glasshouse Mountains for the weekend. He called the coordinator of the FRC to let them know about us and I spoke to Di from the centre. They are all dressed in Black and White today to support White Ribbon Day this weekend. She as so excited to find out about our fundraising challenge and wished us well for Sunday. We have exchanged details so I hope to hear from Di, Dave and the FRC folk down the track. After pitching Buddy I got a visit from one of the local school bus drivers who have their depot in the attached property. I met ‘Ruddy’ who was quite mind blown how far we’ve come. We shared some interesting chats about Religion and some of his experiences in Russia in 2005 when he taught English over there. Fascinating stuff. Ruddy donated $10 before heading and again wished us well for Sunday. This is officially our last camp out as I’ll be staying with friends tomorrow night who live in Newstead, Brisbane. I’m feeling a little shellshocked mixed with a whole bunch of other emotions at the thought of Theassiechallenge coming to an end. What an incredible incredible experience its been with so many steak knife stories that we’ve shared along the way. Im officially in love with our country and its enticing characters of folk, flaura and fauna. Foremost we’ve managed to keep ourselves safe and sound each day with 2 more left crazy nutty stuff hey? Equally as crazy is how excited I am to be seeing family and friends in Sandgate come Sunday morning. For those of you who don’t know, we have a White Ribbon event planned on the foreshores of Sandgate where my folk live and where Rube and I left from on the 9/7/2012 a zillion years ago. if you can make it, please come down to support us ride in at 10am, Sunday 25/11/2012 Flinders Parade opposite Doug’s Cafe near the pool and Baptist Church end. We are being wonderfully supported by the local member, paper and business community. Of course my family will be there including my big sister and her boys from Germany. This is so nutty exciting it’s hard to contain so I’m not going to YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA!!! My parents have done so much stuff to bring this together to welcome us home and acknowledge white ribbon day xx. The ambassador for Theaussiechallenge Dave Alley will also be there. I have only spoken to dave on the phone so I’m really excited to finally meet him. Dave broke the world record back in Oct2011 cycling round Aus in 37 days and raising $20 000 for the flying doctors. I have thought about his mind blowing achievement soo many times along our travels and have used his pure courage and determination as my inspiration when we were flatlining. Scotty is going to meet Rube and I and cycle in with us to share the excitement with one of my BFs which is sooo special can’t wait to see ya mate bigtime yay. I got an email before from Katie and she boards soon. She’s so excited it was a LOL email sharing her squeal factor and countdown to touchdown in Brissie Saturday night. I’ll be seeing you soon sfessie Brisbane hear we both come!!!!!! Cash donations $2621.20 Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 113 Fassifern

Day 138 3 days to go. Distance yesterday 165km today 70km total 13175km. It’s 6pm Thursday 22/11/2012 Fassifern. Hiiiiiiiiiii from the rest area at the Boonah turn off from The Cunningham Highway. Sorry we didn’t get to post last night ’cause WE WERE HAVING TOO MUCH DELISH TIME!!!!!!!!! How good was it to arrive safe and sound all smiles in warwick yesterday. Huge effort after a 6am start with lots of inclines up to the darling downs country. I didn’t realize how elevated the downs are at about 1600 feet according to Bruce. And I got to see and appreciate how the area is like a ribcage stretching off the Great Dividing Range this morning. Bruce topped off an awesome 24hrs of spoiling by taking me up in his Cessna for an hours flight around the area for one hell of a beautiful different perspective. What a fabulous treat and experience Mate we’re still squealing how magical and special it was to have this opportunity. You are a jet star man opening your home and heart to make us feel so welcomed and spoilt. Your place is a haven and we loved every bit of its treasures you shared with us thank you!!!!! Bruce loves his plane and has set his property up with 2 landing strips to manage the wind conditions for taking of and landing perfectly. The property is about 25kms out of warrick and Bruce met us in town and took us on a trip round to see the sights of Warwick. I so loved the Sandstone buildings and old homesteads and it was totally interesting to hear how the towns developed into the big dot place it is today. It’s got a very pretty layout set around the Condamine River which meanders through the valleys in and about the township and valleys. It continues out through the property line to Bruce’s place and provides the major water source for the area. It’s pretty dry with many of the cattle properties now having to by feed to fill the bellies of their cattle including Bruce. Farmer’s continue to astound me how they have to work with the unpredictability of mother nature to make a living albeit crop or livestock. They’re tough to be sure and I can understand why so many in the last generation have sold up for an alternative more reliable and much less stressful means of living. Bruce still keeps his property more as a place to enjoy nowadays after working so hard over the years to develop his land and sell it at the right time/price to set himself up well now in retirement. His place is on a higher area with beautiful views out towards Stanthorpe, Cunningham’s Gap and back over Warwick. The sunset yesterday afternoon was stunning and we got to share the colors and great chats sitting on his top landing strip over sundowners drinks and nibblies. I got to meet his Partner and some friends in town which I had heard so much about and it was lovely to put a face to the names. They’ll be down in Brissy for Sunday to welcome us in which is just awesome yay!!!! He dropped Rube and I back onto the highway late this morning and waved us off for our last leg of Theassiechallenge. We stopped just short of Cunningham’s Gap to sort through the gear and have a cull of stuff I no longer need so to lighten the load for the weee hill ahead. While stopped I heard this gruff voice say, ‘You can’t stop here!!!!!’ and looked up to see my police friend John who works State Traffic. OMG!!!!!!!! John’s been following our trip and been an awesome support keeping email contact the whole time. He’s been on a 5 day work trip out to Gundawindi and was hoping to come across us on our our way in!!!! I so wasn’t expecting to see him and soooo good to have big cuddles and chats with a handsome man in uniform and a dear friend. We got some cool pickies with Rube in front of his racing car yellow Police Car and she was extra chuffed and excited and still puffed out grinning with her collection of new boyfriends this trip!!! She’s such a flirt love love love it!!!! She absolutely kicked ar$e working up the range today and continues to astound how well her bits and bobs have kept in good order for the work they’ve done the last 13500kms darling Rube and my hero buddy soul mate without a doubt. Love my Girl!!! There were some wicked storms brewing as we came over the range but aside for a few big drops we managed to avoid the downpour and arrived at the rest area happy to have the hills behind us and Boonah ahead tomorrow. The bell birds loved the overcast weather and were ‘belling’ in numbers through the National Park. The smells were exquisite and views out over the Lockyer and Fassifern Valleys amazing especially with the horizon of storms out Toowoomba way. We got some cool pickies to savor the views before loooooooving the 10km of descent into Aratula. What a perfect example of ‘what goes up must come down!!!’ Ive driven over the Gap countless times but never appreciated it more than with Rube up close and personal with the contours of the Main Range National Park. Very cool indeedy. Ive got a phone chat date with Ma and Pa at 7pm so I might end it there and set up buddy before our call. John donated $30 darling man before heading back on the road and home for five days off. Enjoy mate and hope to see you on Sunday or very soon. I also got an email from Dennis who’s with the Maleny cycle group called the Lycra Lzards cool name!!! They’re keen to catch up on our return and I’m very excited and look forward to when that can be arranged. I’ll leave you with a copy of his email. Cash donations $2611.20 Talk soon x

“I have contacted you before and have been following your progress with interest. I ride in Maleny with a group who call themselves The Lycra Lizards ( not sure where the name came from ). I have mentioned this to you previously that our group would like to catch up with you in Maleny on your return. I see that you are returning to Sandgate but feel sure you will be in Maleny not long after that. We are suggesting a morning tea or similar at the Up Front Club where we expect to have an interview with the Hinterland Times ( and photo ) if that is ok with you. We have a number of women riders who are keen to meet with you.
If you are Ok with this could you let me know a day and time that would be suitable so I can organise it.” Dennis

Theaussiechallenge Post # 112 165km west of Warwick

Day 136 5 days to go. Distance today 125km total 12940km. It’s 8pm Tuesday 20/11/2012 165km west of Warwick. Hi there from sunny Qld yayyaayayaya. We’re bushed camped about 15km short of Yelabon along highway 42 to Warwick. We ran out of light this arv and are having a cheeky camp on a property about 500m off the highway down a no through dirt road. There was a gate leading into the huge corn field so we’ve come in through there and camped alongside the field. It’s not my preferred style but there’s no farm house I can see or lights in the distance so it was a toss up decision to tuck ourselves away for the night and with an early start in the morning no one should be none the wiser. Our camp spots are always left exactly as found them so sorry Mr Farmer whoever you are for pitching on your land but we were a bit stuck tonight and don’t think you would mind given the circumstances. All that aside its a beautiful spot under the stars and smiling moon. He’s sharing our joy and excitement being back in Qld crossing the border into Goondawindi this arv. We arrived a bit later than planned as we were stopped along the highway a couple of times by some gentlemen wanting a chat. Firstly John from Moree pulled up ahead of us and jumped out all smiles and happiness coming across us on the road. He had been to Narrabri earlier and was talking to a lady who works in the Salvation Army store there. She was telling him all about us right down to BD Boy and Bruce who we’re hooking up with again in Warwick. I couldn’t initially work out who he was talking to then the penny dropped when he described the woman and it was Catherine from our farm stay a couple of nights back. What a crazy tiny small world. He was so excited to see us after talking to her and was buying himself a Lotto ticket in Goondawindi with the good vibes. He was such an endearing man retired now and travelling to every country in the world as part his bucket list. He has only Greenland and Iceland left on his itinerary. I told him about my friend John who has recently been to Iceland with another couple and how their wives ran in the Iceland Marathon. John described in an email to me when they got home how amazing the country is so I passed on what I knew and he’s all excited about his travels plans come next year. A bit further along the road and we were again stopped by Peter from New Zealand. He’s working in Australia driving headers and following the harvesting season from Emerald to the Bite in SA. He’s a real adventurer and loved hearing some our stories full of compliment for our own adventures. He was a very interesting man and was telling me about how there’s many who believe the road transport industry will see a massive decline in the next five years as US relations deteriorate in the Middle East. According to some our industries that rely on oil prices will suffer and our exports will drop off considerably with oil prices projected to triple in this time. Some big transport companies like Linfox are apparently already management planning ahead for this impact. What truth there is to this I don’t know but it was very interesting talking to Peter about this and other relative stuff. He reckons self producing,sustaining and alternative natural energies will have a massive spike and we’ll see folk commuting on the smaller CC motorcycles and mopeds. Lets see what the next few years bring hey and how the US relations develop over this time. All interesting stuff. Rube and I took a picky naturally coming across the McIntyre River with the Qld State border sign. It was a very cool moment for us to share. We stopped in at Coles for a drink and Madeira Cake to treat ourselves to something sweet delish for dinner. We then found Maccas on the highway out of town and celebrated with our last freebie coffee voucher checking emails and recharging the Ipod. I then watered up and headed out for our afternoon ride to as far as we got this arv. The highway 42 is a bit rougher than the Newell but manageable just a bit slower so I’m happy with the kms we’ve managed today. I’d love to make it to Warick by tomorrow to have some qual time with Bruce so with an early start and weather permiting we’ll give it a good crack. Its forecast clear at least but there’s a tricky headwind and inclines that will make it a tough day. All totally worth the effort the manage the 165 odd km if we can so here’s hoping. That means an early night tonight and with the clock turned back an hour we should get our backsides up and back on the road at early o’clock in the morn. Eeeeeeek time to set the alarm again bugga Ive been endulging getting up later but again all worth it to see the Bruce man. On that note its time to make a sweet tea and enjoy some cake yum. I’ll end off with a copy of an email from Janet my sister who’s been loving the spotmessender and checking out our camping possies each day. It’s nice to be back in the home State. We’re sharing smiles with the moon this evening 🙂 Talk soon x

“Agriculture is incredible…looking at the “findmespot” the height that we look down on you Ree as you squat, shows us that you are surrounded by an incredible pattern of geometric squares and rectangles of every shade of green…amazing! But you’re both amazing…look at the kms you’ve covered!!! Keep peddling…the seafront is waiting. XXx

Theaussiechallenge Post # 111 75km south of Gundawindi

Day 135 6 days to go. Distance today 125km total 12815km. It’s 8.30pm Monday 20/11/2012 75km south of Gundawindi. For our last night in NSW we have found ourselves the most beautiful bush camp. It’s seriously tucked away about a km down a freshly cut dirt road then I spotted a kangaroo who lead us into a clearing which is perfect thanks mate. He hopped off and left us to set up camp over sunset. The night is totally clear with just me, Rubes, Buddy and BD Boy with noone or nothing about except for wheat farms and low lying Australian bushland with all its delights. The highways a fair way off and the trucks are a distant rumble to the crickets, gecko squeaks and evening tweets as they settle in for the night. So it’s just us under the evening sky with the crescent moon smiling on his side like in a kid’s picture book. The stars are growing in numbers and the sensation of our bush camp is beautiful. Ive really discovered the treat of this style of camping and it always reminds me of Igor the fellow cyclist I met way back along the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory. I think allot about him still and he must be home now back on Sydney. I hope your travels went well mate and that we get to reconnect again in the future as I loved our time spent over those days. There’s fresh emu and roo footprints on the dirt road and scat about on the ground so it would be awesome to spot a few more critters tonight or in the morn. While looking for our camp for the night there were eagles low flying along the roadside chasing prey in the grasses. They were so busy and focused they didn’t hear us peddle alongside and we got up up close and personal before they’d take off to find a feed elsewhere. It was fabulous to watch them head height in hunting action. I woke this morning to a party of Gallahs woddling and chatting past buddy and feeding in the grass. Pretty soon I heard Johnathon the farmer outside seeing if I was awake with a cuppa for him and me to share a morning chat. What a darling man and a coffee brought to bed what a spoiling. He was telling me about his wheat farm and family farming lifestyle. They are second generation wheat farmers. His brother sold out a few years back and as a lifestyle choice they decided not to buy his share but work his half making do. He reckons it was the best decision he made knowing his health has benefitted from the slower pace. They still get good return for their wheat as it’s high in protein and sold for export. He can still well support his family of 2 girls, 16 and 17, 3 cats, a dog, 2 horses and and wife Katherine. Mostly he can manage the farm by himself but needs help during harvest time when all the family chip in. Emma the eldest has been operating the ‘header’ harvester for a couple of years now and I was laughing as he was telling me about their latest harvest. She was getting ready for her formal and had to have breaks from harvesting to get her nails and hair done in the last week. He ws showing me photos of her all glammed up but back on the header finishing the last of the harvest farm business as usual. Johnathon invited me in to have breaky with the fam so I packed up camp and joined him, Emma, and Katherine for more cool chats over toast and coffee. The other daughter had already left for school and the rest of the family were in monday morning ‘slow mo’ so we took our time over breaky sharing more farm, pet and travel stories and an awesome way to start the day. It was so special to hear snippets of a farming family’s everyday life so totally different to city life. Emma’s alrady been accepted into Paramedics at the Bathurst university and is now looking into accomodation and preparations for the move. They introduced me to their horses on the way out and I got to pat and cuddle them yay I love the smell of horses. We got some group photos and Rube was in her prime getting fussed over in the centre. They waved us off wishing us safe travels for our last days and have our details to keep in touch. I invited them to stay in Maleny if ever they’re in Qld but Jonathan and Katherine aren’t much into traveling apart from the beloved family waterskiing holidays to a a lake in nearby Wee Waa National Park. They were telling me stories from their last family holiday there and it so reminded me of “bonnydoon’ from the movie “The Castle.’ They are such contented, happy and fun folk. Emma was telling me how her dad bought her a bunch of roses for her graduation and that he’s always doing this sort of stuff and how lucky she is to have such a great bloke as a dad. It was really cool to share space with them and an awesome local family to meet for what is our last full day in central country NSW. We should be crossing the border at Gundawindi early afternoon tomorrow and ‘BACK INTO QLD!!!!!!’ yayayayayayaya. Needless to say the spirits were soaring as we peddled the 80kms to Moree. It’s a pretty big dot country town set on the river with a very big Indigenous population by all accounts. I parked Rube outaide the local Woolies and we were swomped by local folk checking her out and wanting to know more about our travels and white ribbon. I met Shaun, an Aboriginal man who has worked there collecting trollies for years. He was calling over the local kids riding their bikes around the carpark and showing them Rube and the map of where we’ve been. It was very nice indeedy being treated like visiting celebreties by the kids full of ‘cools’ and ‘sweet’ approvals !!!! It was an easy 45km ride further on this arv in the afternoon light and stretching shadows over the wheat feilds. It’s a beautiful time to cycle and the conditions are delish for now and being savored. We’ll see what the next days bring as we get ever so closer to home and the 25th. I think about peddling into Sandgate so much during the day and seeing my family and friends again. It’s such a great distraction and literally just around the corner bigtime yay. Time for dinner and to enjoy the rest of our bush camp evening. Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 110 20km north of Narrabri

Day 134 7 days to go. Distance today 135km total 12690km. It’s 8.30pm Sunday 19/11/2012 20km north of Narrabri. Oh my deary what an amazing day and we’ve landed on our feet again as far as camp spots. Rube and I came into Narrabri around 5pm this arv hit woolies to pick up a couple of things then cashed in on one of our freebie coffees at Maccas yummmmm. Then we watered up and decided to enjoy a few more kms as it was a stunning afternoon with still a good hour of light left before finding a bush camp. The sun was setting and we rode across a wheat farm where the family have graciously let us pitch buddy on their grassed lawn. Now I’m sitting loving up the end of the day’s light with the crescent moon and stars smiling down on us on a clear stunning evening. I set up camp over sunset and the farmer came for a visit to check we’re ok. They have just harvested their fields in the next door paddock and he was telling me it took 4 days to do with 20 odd trips to the local silo about 10km away over the days. He’s got a backpacker from South Africa here helping out for his keep and we chatted about his travels over the last four years mostly through Europe. He’s been in Australia now for a couple of months and will move on in the next days to continue his working holiday. It was very special for me to share some of my stories from the route we’ve been and to hear my clear love for the country and it’s folk. How special for me being the first time Ive heard myself talk so endearing of our country’s treasures so fresh and raw and real yay!!!! They’ve invited me to join them for breaky which is lovely!!! It was a later start this morning chatting with Shane for a couple of hours before setting off on our days ride. We shared a couple of plunger coffees and he made me a fresh juice of apples, carrots, oranges and grapes which was so delish and a kick start for our peddle. The ride was fabulous through the Pillinga Nature Reserve where Shane does most of his trail bike riding. He was telling me there are such treasures in the reserve best explored by trail bike. His favorite spot is a hidden elevated area where there is a bolder the size of a 20 000 litre water tank with a fresh spring flowing from the top. It is a sacred spot of the local Indigenous whom he has much contact with and speaks of highly. We exchanged details and he’s going to be in contact which I so hope as he’s a special soul and I’ve loved meeting him and our time spent. He’s written on the notice board on his fridge to make a coffee at 10am next Sunday to toast our finish and share in the moment. What a darling man!!!! The ride was undulating but with an excellent road and shoulder to manage the passing tonkers who have all been very respectful giving us wide berths or toot toots to move over as needed. I have an affinity with these lads and ladies and genuinely feel that mutual respect sharing the highway with them. It’s one of the zillion elements of theaussiechallenge I’ll miss and isn’t that wonderful to have so much heart felt connection to our day to day travels. We continue to feel the essence of each day safe and sound and savor the steak knives to share with you each night. Today’s one more on the list of awesomes. I was thinking before that this time next week we’ll be home with the dust and distances of our Australian route behind us. It’s an amazing and odd thought as I’m so into this trip, into our country, the people we continue to meet and into the thought of home just a wee bit more north. A couple more days and we’ll be crossing into Qld crazy thought and a beautiful way to end tonights post. Fabulous day and I’m feeling so content and contemplative tonight with the curtain drawing closer. I’m really taking stock of our stock take over the last months doing lots of reflection and it’s a wonderful space that I’m savoring. The crescent moon says ‘hi’ along with the abundance of crickets rubbing their legs on this balmy Sunday night. Talk soon x PS Last night I got to watch the electrical storm that passed over the northern horizon. It was a fabulous display of deep purple flashes and crackling lightning and such a beautiful wild show to appreciate especially at a distance. I also spotted 2 falling stars just for you Evan x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 109 Coonabarabran

Day 133 8 days to go. Distance today 110km total 12555km. It’s 8pm Saturday 17/11/2012 Coonabarabran. An awesome end to a hard but amazing day’s ride entering the Warambungles National Park from Gilgandra to Coonabarabran. Apparently this area features in the works of Banjo Patterson according to ‘Shane’ who has let me camp on his property how awesome!!! I was aiming for a rest area on the other side of town but was quite shattered crossing the ranges and working hard for the money honey for the 100km mountainous stretch between towns. It’s taken us all afternoon but it was such an equisite ride through the hillscape with the Warambungles ever present towering deep blues to the west. Their such a handsome range and must be great for exploring. Shane’s been telling it’s a mecca area for motor cross and mountain biking which him and his family endulge when they can. He loves his trailbikes and is currnetly in the back shed working on a few side projects doing the repairs for decent pocket money. He’s a paramatic by trade but suffers PTSD nowadays. Him and his partner are moving soon to Taree and will miss this area which he clearly loves. He was telling me it has an underground basin the size of Sydney harbour and the water quality is the best around. I spotted his property coming into town and it was an impulse to check in to see if we could pitch our tent on his grounds. So glad we did. He couldn’t be more supportive and obliging and I was so happy to stop. So we’ve set up bud and looking forward to a huge sleep after a huge delish day. We’ve shared cool chats over a coffee and muscle car stories which he’s a total fan . I was telling him about the Ford XT club I saw travelling the Nullabor and that started him on his love for American muscle cars. I love listening to anyone talk pationately about their passion and Shane’s no exception. He loves working on mechanics all self taught out of manuals. He says it’s the best therapy for him and he can always walk away when he’s had enough unlike patients. I totally admire people who can work on engines and I reckon in the next life I’ll be more into the mechanical side of life and endulge in a muscle car or two of my own yay. We woke this morning at 9am to blue skies and a totally fantastic sleep in. With the sun shining, it gave me a chance to dry the rest of the gearfrom the wet day prior. So it was a later start but all the gears been aired to ontinue our travels stinky free. Today was a real surprise as I hadn’t noticed the approaching Warambungles National Park on the map so what a treat and treasure in these parts. Tomorrow’s onto Narrabri and we’ve got an increasing excitement building knowing the days are counting down so close to home. I love that the trips still very much to be enjoyed with fabulous countryside and folk being savored. We have one big beautiful country. Time for dinner and pass out o’clock. Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 108 Bush camp 13km south of Gilgandra

Day 132 9 days to go. Distance today 110km total 12445km. It’s 9pm Friday 16/11/2012 Bush camp 13km south of Gilgandra. It’s a beautiful evening I can’t believe it, the stars and crescent moon are out over our fabulous grassy bush camp we found by a creek along a side road off the highway. Tonight epitomizes the highs and lows which have been our constant through theaussiechallenge. Last night we were wished goodnight by the biggest black hairy spider Ive ever seen. Thanks for the wishes mate but you can stay on the outside of buddy if you don’t mind. I took a picky of him at a distance of course and was reminded of the other side of wild camping along with all the creepy crawlies that come out to play at night. The forecast rain hit during the night a day earlier than forecast so I had to jump out of bed and set bud up for the downpour that continued into the most part of today. But we managed beautifully packing up this morning as best we could ensuring all essentials were kept dry yay us. We hit the road fully wet weathered up and chipped through the hilly 55kms to Dubbo. We must have looked a sad and sorry sight dripping into Dubbo Maccas for a well earnt McCafe. It was a haven to get out of the gear and into some warm dry ones to sit out the next couple of rainy hours pottering on email and recharching the IT. I read a CC email from Mum who had contacted white ribbon checking up on some logistics for the 25th. What a darling woman and shed a tear over just how amazing they have been providing home support around fundraising and the welcome home. I sent her a reply saying as much and she soon called for a chat which was awesome awesome xxxxxxx One of the many moral boosters for the day yay. The community centre in sandgate called Sandbag has been soo supportive profiling ourChallenge on their Facebook page and have raised $300 amazing thankyou!!!!! The receptionist at the local dentist was so excited by our challenge when speaking to Mum she donated $50 fabulous darling wan thankyou too. The crescent moons resting on his back and smiling at us and so lovely to glance at while I type. Mum reminded me how much we’re helping with raising awareness for white ribbon and it was good for me to acknowledge this stuff alongside the fundraising. I told her about arriving in Forbes yesterday, about talking to an ol’ gent and his pooch in the parklands about white ribbon. There were also a handful of lads up scaffolding busy repainting the town hall. I called out to them ‘you mist have the best views in town.’ They too wanted to know what white ribbon was about and wished us well and safe cycling for our last days to Brissie. A handful of customers and staff at the cafe were also intrigued about the ‘why’ factor to our challenge and now know more about the intent of white ribbon. The lady who made the best coffee at Maccas today knew about white ribbon day and was so supportive for our efforts. She gave me a frequent coffee card with 2 free coffees punched out to ‘enjoy a couple of cuppas when we get the chance on the way home.’ How lovely and I’ll be sure to cash in on those freebies yayayayaya. I watered up before leaving and took a deep breath getting back into the wet gear eeeeeeek and we set off for the next 55kms just short of Gilgandra. We’re well on track doing our 100+ kms per day to get us to Brissie via Warwick to see Bruce and home by the 25th. The distances are totally manageable with whatever Mother Nature wants to throw out there for the next 9 days. We’re into single figures now and it’s a countdown big time. I’m so proud of ourselves staying focused and doing everything we can to stay safe and sound each day despite feeling pretty mentally and emotionally weary by this stage. We passed our first live and very big brown snake today by the roadside. We must have given him a frighties as he was coiled and head up as we peddled past. I love critters and Australia has some pretty awesome ones but this one can be enjoyed at a passing distance I be thinking. It cleared about 10kms out this arv so we savored being out of the heavy wet gear and to be able to turn the legs over a bit better. A good dose of happy hormones to finish the day out. All the birdlife came to life and the gallahs and cockatoos especially were going off showing off their vocals as we peddled past. The air was crisp and clean and the aromas of the fields and pine trees after the rain were the best bush scents. We arrived with a couple hours of clear skies to set buddy up and hang the gear out to de drip and dry out as best it could so the days finished up comparably well compared to the start. Highs and lows I love it!!!!!! Good note to finish up on. A minutes silence for my socks that have been binned tonight due to their unrecoverable wet stench. They were getting holes in their holes so it was time and they’ve done us such a service since being purchased in Ulanbaatar. Time for dinner and beddy byes in bud.Single figure days left yayayayayaya. Talk soon x