Theaussiechallenge Post # 107 Bush camp 2km south of Tomingley

Day 131 10 days to go. Distance today 127km total 12335km. It’s 6pm Thursday 15/11/2012 Bush camp 2km south of Tomingley 55km south of Dubbo. There’s sheep grazing 20m away by a dam, a crow calls and flies overhead, 2 Gallahs go join the sheep by the dam, tweet tweet birds are so busy behind me in the scrub, I’m sitting by a huge white ants nest inside a 6m dead tree stump, a duck skids onto the water and shares a quack about his day, high clouds creep over with a shadow and sweet breeze to cool the day, 2 top knot pigeons coo and gar over each other in the branches overhead, a yellow butterfly, bumble bee and an eco world of bugs cruise past on route to elsewhere, worker ants are on duty industriously doing their dusk hunt, a lady bug lands on my soda water bottle, the late sun peeps under the clouds stretching shadows over the field. These are some of the simple delights I enjoy when I stop at a bush camp and have time out while the spot message sends. Im sitting on buddy’s dry sack, and soaking it in of what’s become my favorite time of day celebrating safe and sound and one day closer to home. It’s an ironic feeling because I’ll soon miss these times along with multi layers of Theaussiechallenge. It’s this feeling that will kick start the next adventure plans when the time is right back home. Home yay. I just thought I’d share this time and glimpse into one little thing big in our day to day. Time to set up camp and my evening routine to settle in for the night. It’s been another awesome day but more about that soon…..
It’s 9pm and the evening has so quickly slipped away doing some other stuff. But back to the day!!! Today I felt like for the first time in ages, a traveller taking the time to smell the roses in the beautiful towns and countryside we’ve peddled and stopped along the way. We first came to Forbes, beautiful town full of heritage buildings and great pickies. I found this awesome coffee shop in an old building refurbished inside into a funky mezzanine style cafe full of artwork and corners to sit and enjoy what was a delish coffee break. All charged up we headed onwards to Parkes, a bigger town with more modern services but still with that same heritage feel. We found a woolies for a top up shop fix then onwards to Peak Hill. On the way out of Parkes we saw in the distance the famous dish which looked wonderful with the foreground of wheat fields and blue blue skies again. The countryside changed to rolling hills as we entered the Goobang National Park with it’s ranges and escarpment that ran parallel at a distance to the road and made the most beautiful backdrop to the continuing fields of wheat and pastures. Peak Hill was a smaller dot town but with beautiful old buildings and parklands manicured and loved and perfect for a break and water up, Along the roadside we found a plastic lay of yellow flowers which Rube squealed for me to pick up and wrap round her trailer. It looks awesome and the girl feels all girly with her new accessory. For now it’s a bit passed dinner o’clock and I have the starvs up big time so I’ll post this, pig out and pass out in the handsome buddy. A really cool day with hopefully more of the same and surprises along the way tomorrow. By the way I passed a sign today out of Parkes that said Brisbane 973km Yeeeehaaaaaa here we come !!!!!! I also heard back from Bruce and he’ll be home when Rube and I pass through Warwick yay so I get to see him again big yay. Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 106 Bush camp 15km south of Forbes

Day 130 11 days to go. Distance today 137km total 12208km. It’s 8.30pm Wednesday 14/11/2012 Bush camp 15km south of Forbes. We’ve found ourselves the best bushcamp just out of Forbes as the rest area in town is for self contained vehicles only so this works a treat. We’re joined this beautiful evening over sunset by a pack of ‘Happy Jacks.’ They’re a strange type of bird that hang out in groups of 12 so otherwise know as Apostle birds. There about the size of a magpie but deep grey with black circles round their eyes. They’re so busy and bossy and squark amongst themselves and at anyone they decide is disturbing their space. Not us thankfully, they seem pretty happy to share their bush with us which is kinda cool being able to sit and enjoy their shananaghans without being on the receiving end. Another stunning sunset of pink and orange streaks and nows my favorite time in the twilight with the deepening blue sky and stars trying to peep out for the night. Bush camps have become one of my favs, the sounds are exquisite and really amplified by the senses taking in the Aussie bush at its best. Kookaburras are singing their evening laugh to end what’s been a good day all round yay. I was chatting to Rubes after Shepparrton about our video collection and which ones we’re going to savor when home. Julia and Julia was right up there so today when we road passed a string of pearls Rube let out the biggest squeal for me to stop……”just like Julias!!!!!’ was the girls comment as we rode off again with her very fake but very smart string strung round her front light, nice!!!!! We had a few stops with roadworks and was talking to this young roadsign lad sho’s having a gap year after school saving up for some traveling before he decides what to study. He’s from Dubbo and was such an excitable little man he made me smile and his enthusiasm was contagious. he cracked me up saying that ‘everything in these parts have attitude’ animals, birds, people, and snakes especially the tigers which will ‘come after ya’ according to his story. I was telling hime that even the sprinklers system at Mirool had attitude as it came on this morning about 3am with such volume I think it equalled Mirool’s annual rainfall in one dowse. Unfortunately all over Buddy so we had to dry out this morning before packing up and getting into our day. The lad found this totally amusing and so do I now that there’s a few hours and kms since then to see the funny side. We stopped at West Wyalong for a break and it was a country hick town 101 with all the locals seemingly born and breed in their beloved town. I sat outside the IGA munching on a granny smith and loved the people watching. This middle aged lady came out of the shops in her indoor netball gear and I was admiring her Mummy skills with a couple of little ones in tow with the shopping trolly heading out to the car. She popped back with a donation while I was chatting on the phone so I didn’t get to talk to her as she smiled and hurried off. But thankyou West Wyalong lady for your $5. The day’s been so clear and fresh blue skies again but there’s a forecast change for some rain on the weekend. So we savored the fine day and awesome road conditions and the kms passed pretty easily with a few rests and pickies along the way. It’s still very wheat field country with the harvesters busy at work clearing the fields in a dust cloud that looks so cool against the yellow and blue sky. I’m really enjoying the ride but must admit am a bit tired tonight after having a pretty broken sleep with the sprinkler downpour debacle. No wonder the area I camped on was so grassy and comfy for buddy 🙂 A far cry tonight in a clearing amongst the grasses with the ground quite hard and covered in eucalyptus bark bits. When we stopped I had to find a possie for a serious toilet visit. Unfortunately it ended up being on a nest of descendants from the dinosaur ants and one bit my foot mid business. Oh my deary the ants too have attitude in these parts like seriously but given the situation he could have bitten me elsewhere that would have been a bit more tricky. Rube thought the whole episode was hysterical and is still chuckling cracking ‘dead ant’ jokes. Ive double checked the kms to home and we’re all good and can’t believe its nearly single figures in days left yayayayayayayayayayayayaya homeward bound big time big. Every day still safe and sound first but jees louise the thought of home and loved ones is pretty dam nice. Good note to finish up on. There’s sheep bleating somewhere nearby awesome background to the waking crickets!!! I love bush camping!! Cash donations $2581.20. Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 105 Mirool

Day 129 12 days to go. Distance today 137km total 12071km. It’s 8.30pm Tuesday 13/11/2012 Mirool. If you’re ever traveling these parts and go past Mirool….dont’t!!!! Stop!!! It’s a hidden treasure. There’s a free camp in the grounds by the pub which the tiniest of dot towns functions around. I’ve met half of the town folk population of 20 with a greater population of 150 including the neighboring wheat farmers. Mirool is home of the annual ‘Silo Kick’ held on the 2nd Saturday each October. Folks compete to kick a football over the 30m wheat silos across the road from the pub. The finalists have to clear the silos using their best Aussie rules style on the day. What an incredibly cool NSW country town event. The pub is an old time red brick classic, two story with white iron gable verandahs, high ornate plaster ceilings, green ceramic tiling inside, baker lights and dark stained oak trims. It will have it’s 100 year birthday in 2014. Here’s how much the locals love their pub…. In 2000 the then owners sold out and 13 of the local folk all pitched in to buy it so they didn’t loose their license. New owners bought it in 2003 but it’s again up for sale if anyone’s interested. I met Clara who works behind the bar and had cool chats with her over a diet coke along with a handful of locals having their daily bar stool chats. I loved it!!! The pub dog barked at me walking in ’cause I still had my helmet on but we soon became buddies when I took it off and compared our scruffy dreads. Clara charged all my IT stuff and there’s free hot showers. So me and the riding gear are all squeaky clean and good to see us through to Warwick hopefully. Mother nature was in the bestest mood today swinging a gentle wind round to our tails. The countryside is stunning with the wheat fields all ready for harvest and glowing yellow seed heads against the blue skies. The fields are intermittent with sheep and dairy pastures and there’s a sense of rolling hills and central NSW country at it’s best. We had an early stop at the country town of Narrangera. The main street runs parallel to the highway and is a turn of the century style heritage town so well maintained and pampered by the locals like many of the places we’ve seen in central Vic/NSW. I was stopped by a local ol’ gent who couldn’t quite figure us out or why we’d be doing our thing. We chatted for a bit about our travels. I tried to help him understand that it’s not about a fun holiday but moreso an amazing experience. He eventually got the idea and appeal as I shared with him some of the highlights and challenges. He was all approving smiles and full of encouragement waving us out of town and back to the Newell. It’s about 145kms to Forbes so conditions permitting, I hope to camp at the rest area in town tomorrow. I got some great pickies today and just checked them out including the streaks of pink sunset silhouetting the pub and silos this evening. Beautiful!!! The town’s already asleep and I’ll join them soon so I’ll sign off there any enjoy some dinner before zzzzz’s. Awesome end to an awesome day!!!! Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 104 Rest Area 40km south of Narrangera

Day 128 13 days to go. Distance today 122km total 11934km. It’s 6.30pm Monday 12/11/2012 Rest Area 40km south of Narrangera. Tricky tricky day today for us but we made it to our plan B rest area bout 6pm yayyayayayayayay Right up there with the one hand hardies with a headwind northerly as we peddled the Newell highway. Mother nature definitely had a bad hair Monday poor love so I’m hoping her moods better tomorrow but we’ll see. She continues to teach me tolerance that’s for sure!!!The highways good so far as far as traffic and shoulders so it all helps and did so to get us here very chuffed with the effort yay us. Before I get into the post I got an email from my sister Janet and she’s desiignned a logo for Theaussiechallenge which is just awesome. Her hubby Marcus has attached it to last nights post so check it out it’s pretty smick moo she’s one clever sfessie and we’re spoilt rotton thx Janny Love and for the beautiful email which I have enclosed below to share it with followers. You have been and continue to be such a support sooo many thanyous for the amazing logo and your love. Love ya right back!!!!! It’s so weird being in the middle of nowhere or at least feeling like it and having the best reception. Ive just got off the phone talking to the fam. I love our chats, they’re such a great moral boost and perfect to end a crapola day. But this time of night is my fav. It’s now just after dusk o’clock and the sunset was delish highlighting across the grasses and fields. There are sheep in the nearby paddock and they’re having the best chats amongst themselves which sounds so great. This is very much sheep and cattle country with the landscape becoming more open stretches perfect for grazing. Most flocks of sheep have a lama amongst them and my thoughts go to something Ive read that they’re great watch dogs keeping the foxes and wild dogs at bay. Has anyone else heard this???? Anyway their long necks and little heads stick up and check us out along with the rest of the herd as we’ve passed during our travels. The open grass plains means lots of tumble weeds and they have been blowing in mass numbers across the road. It was such a sight I stopped and got a video of it as it highlighted just how wild the day was across the open plains. The tumbleweeds kept getting caught up in Rube’s spokes and she was calling them all sorts of special words until I’d stopped and clear her wheels of the ting ting noise. Poor darling, she worked so hard today as she does everyday and continues to come up trumps with her mechanics. She’s got a few clunks starting which I’ll keep an eye on but have given her a well earnt oil and pamper tonight so she’s happy with her bits running as smooth as they can with so many miles under her belt. Over dusk I was sitting enjoying the wildlife all so active and wonderful spectator sport. Eagles were swooping the fields for prey and magpies were singing their beautiful song. There are an abundance of tiny rabbits all nibbling on the grass, then they get startled and their little white bottoms scamper off temporarily until they nose themselves out again and continue their nibbling. Soooo cute. It’s getting onto 9pm now, the winds easing off and perfect time to cook up the last of the eggs for dinner. It’s a starry clear night but balmy after a pretty hot day in the late 30s with the hot wind. Hopefully I’ll spot some more shooting stars. Evan I spotted three last night before bed and they always make me think of you little mate. Talk soon x

“Hi my darling sister, 2 weeks!!! Isn’t this just mind blowing after 127 days of sitting in the saddle. I have just loved, since the Flinder’s Rangers, your descriptions about and connection to the landscape, people and animals of Australia as you peddle on towards home. And another border crossing! I can remember when I lived in Sydney we called it “crossing the border” just when we crossed the main street out of Balmain! And look, this is your 4th real border crossing in the last 2 weeks on Ruby…you girls are just so disciplined!! The weather has been so cold and rainy and grey here in Wasserburg…not alot of enthusiasm for a daily run! But I think of you both and it’s like: “Janet, if Ree can cycle in hell conditions, not for an hour, but for at least 9……get your butt out that door! Thanks! As everyone writes you: “you are an inspiration”! And sport is always a big push on the “don’t you just feel so much better” button.
It’s all such a coincidence…there’s where you are tonight, Tocumwal, in the latest Aust Geo about cast iron bridges along the Murray. Love it!!
Safe cycling now into NSW. It’s so funny to see how the borders are divided on the “findmespot”….the Murray is a divided treasure! Can’t wait to hear what awaits you in this next stretch of Australia.
Kisses from us and thinking of you every day. XXx”

Theaussiechallenge Post # 103 Tocumwal

Day 127 14 days to go. Distance today 90km total 11812. It’s 9pm Sunday 11/11/2012 Murray River Tocumwal. OK so let me share this spot with you because it’s a bit sharable and delish indeedy!!!! We’re camped along the Murray just a few kms before Tocumwal. There’s noone about just the crazy crew and an abundance of River life. There’s koalas nearby shagging their fury ears off making that exceptionally bad grunting growly sound but awesome to know their prolific in these parts. Ducks and water fowl are busy sorting their evening choirs and having a quack about it over dinner time. Magpies and Galas are roosted along the river bank still singing their evening song and squarks with beep beep birds and swallows joining in for their say. They’re quieting down now after enjoying a dusk feed in flocks swooping above the water line filling their bellies with bugs. There’s a constant ‘bloop bloop’ in the water with underewater life also busy down there and breaking the surface catching their fair share of bugs sitting on the water surface. There’s a growing chill bill air moving gently but it’s stunningly fresh. The sky is now deep blue with the stars growing in numbers and welcoming us to their playground of delights. I’m sooo happy to be here and breathing in the enticing smells of water and eucalyptus. I know I’m not doing it justice but know it’s a beautiful corner of the world we’re sitting in right now and how special it is for me to experience and share with you. I love continuing to share our adventure. There’s surprises in the everyday and this is one pointy perfect one to add to the list. I hadn’t planned to stay here but was late leaving Shepparton as I gotto chatting with Sonya, Greg’s neighbor’s daughter who lives there with Cheryl along with her two boys. She’s 40 years old and 3 years separated from her partner but tackling life head on maintaining a beautiful balance and outlook amongst the challenge of being a single working and studying mum . She’s on my list of inspirations which has grown in quality numbers during this trip. We chatted for about 3 hours about lifelong learning and facilitating change in the workplace. Sonya and I share a love for some fundamental principles in life and it was an interesting and wonderful experience talking with her about some of this stuff. Greg had said to her that we would get on if ever we met and he was pretty spot on indeed. We’ve exchanged details and I know will be in touch as our own challenges and adventures continue. ‘See you in Brisbane’ was her parting words and I so hope that’s the case and how genuine that invite is to sonya, Cheryl and greg if ever you’re in our part of the world. Our home is yours as you have opened yours to me. Sooooo special and sooo right back at you loving that I have met and crossed paths with such beautiful hearts and souls. Jetstar folk indeed and I’m richer for meeting you!!!!!! The ride here was headwind hard with a feisty northerly keeping the legs challenged for the 90kms. Aparently it’s the usual this time of year coming into summer but honestly it’s not bothering Rube and I so much nowadays and we’re more resigned to just chip away at it. There’s a constant beautiful scenery and towns to break up the slog which is a far cry from the remote Nullabor straights of the same. So all good!!! Plus 14 sleeps to home has a special pull and momentum to keep the positives up and smiling. I had to laugh this morning when I was packing up our gear and Brown dog who had been washed with my blue towel, had flecks of blue tints in his fur. Poor bugga. Rube smashed him saying he had a ‘blue rinse in his hair.’ So it was on between them and they had their first tiff. I’m glad they got that out of their systems as it’s all buddies now and ‘love you man!!!’ Awesome…. the crazy crew are tight and ready for tomorrow. Time for dinner and bedtime under the Murray stars which are now brilliant and at their twinkling best. The crickets have woken up and busy rubbing their legs as are the frogs by the riverside. A beautiful beautiful night. But definitely time for the grape brrrrrrrrrrrr. Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 102 Shepparton

Day 126 15 days to go. Distance today 110km total 11722km. It’s 8.15pm Saturday 10/2012 Shepparton. Oh my goodness indeedy!!!! Greg’s home is like a resort. It’s in a very exclusive area on the Kialla Lakes and just stunning. Mate wow!!!!! Crazy pampering being here and with all my heart thank you x I was met and warmly welcomed by his neighbors who showed me about and made me feel totally welcomed. I’ve been able to sort and clean the gear and am squeaky roses myself. What a treat!! I’m currently sitting on the floor in front of the wide screen TV with ‘doesn’t matter’ as background noise and happy as a piggy. We arrived at about 5pm this arv after a later start this morning not stirring until 8am. I loooove my new style of ‘no alarm’ wake up and it’s a great way to start the last of our aussiehcallenge days. Tomorrow Rube and I will be waving goodbye to Victoria and crossing into NSW along the Murray River. The area reads really beautiful so it should be a good ride about 130km up to Finley and onto a rest area about 8km north of there. The neighbors have invited me to Breaky so that’ll be a great way to start our day. The countryside was more delish today very similar to yesterday but crossing more waterways during the peddle. We were stopped soon out of Huntley by Elicia from Bendigo who was heading up for the Echuca show. She was so lovely and keen for a chat about our travels and stories. Ive given her our blog details and received a $5 donation
before we both got back into our days. Thankyou Elicia for stopping and for your donation. it was nice to meet you and I hope you enjoyed the E show. About 5km out of Shepparton I stopped at a Woollies to pick up ingredients for a TV dinner of nachos yuuuuuummmyyy!!! I found the Info centre in town and they showed me where to find Gregs so it all worked out nice and easy to get ourselves here safe and sound and all smiles. I got an email today from Helena who I met in Beijing for those who were following our tripping through China in March/April this year. It was so great to hear from you Helena, I still think about you and our Beijing time together so often. I hope you and the family are well and the Mandarin classes are still in full steam. Lucky students to have you as their teacher and inspiration. We have a new member to our traveling circus. Yesterday coming out of St Arnaud I spotted a little stuffed brown dog who has obviously been loved to the max but somehow ended up out the window and on the roadside. He’s got one ear missing and been through lots of adventures with bits of fur and stitching missing. But little BD man (Brown Dog) has had a wash now this arv and is good to go in his next adventure with us nutters. It’s nice to have him on board and he’s sitting on the front penniers with his one ear blowing in the breeze. Cool dude and Rube and I like him allot. Time for Nachos. Cash donations $2576.20. Talk soon x

Theaussiechallenge Post # 101 Huntly

Day 125 16 days to go. Distance today 120km total 11612km. It’s 8.15pm Friday 9/11/2012 Huntly. Hi from downtown Huntly 120km west of tomorrow’s ride to Shepparton. I got a text and spoke to Greg today who has arranged for me to stay at his place even though he’s in Melbourne. His neighbor will let me when I arrive hopefully mid afternoon. Thank you mate this is sooo awesome and appreciated and all the best with your family stuff in Melbourne, stay strong and hope it goes as well as can be expected during tough times for you all. It’s an excellent rest area here with good facilities in the Lion’s Park just outside of town. We’re set up on a grassy patch under the eucalyptus enjoying the fading sunset of pinks and orange just stunning. The wind’s got a wicked chill to it so I’m all rugged up in the grape and looking forward to dinner and snuggling into Buddy. The night’s clear much like last so there will be a sky of stars again to enjoy before bed. Last night’s bush camp was amazing with a zillion stars to gaze at with Buddy’s tent sides rolled up. I slept in this morning after a latish night and eventually got moving into St Arnaud mid morning. The town was all heritage with red brick classic buildings beautifully maintained from the early 1900s. Many townsfolk were also doing a shop at the local IGA and I met some warm and friendly people so wanting to have a chat and know more about this nutty cyclist visiting their corner of the world. I spoke for ages with Ian an elderly gent who was a shearer in his working days. He now enjoys an active life walking and savoring the recreational areas. We spoke about looking after the mind, body and soul and despite having little formal education, he is a well read man and sooo incredibly interesting an insightful. Ian was saying how the elderly should be more active and the youth should be more connected to community and heritage. We shared an interest in Buddhism and stories from India and Asia. He gave me the biggest of hugs goodbye after our formal handshake hello and I know we both enjoyed our time spent. Wonderful to meet such a beautiful soul and interesting man. Ian donated $10 before getting back into his day thank you mate for the dollars and wonderful company!!!! I then did a shop chatting to heaps of locals in each Isle and loving every moment. I came outside to find Ruby all a glow having her picture taken by a local Journalist who’s name I can’t remember bugga. She’s a local girl who left St Arnaud to study in Melbourne but returned to work for the local paper realizing what a community treasure the town and folk are. She interviewed me for ages and took heaps of pickies and loved the story of our challenge. She’s incredibly supportive of the white ribbon cause and we exchanged details so she can forward on her article and picks for our keepsake awesome. She got one last picky as we rode out of town and I so look forward to hearing from her again and reading her article. It was afternoon o’clock before we got into our ride and already a wicked wind had picked up. So Rube and I worked pretty hard for the afternoon but the scenery was something quite special. The road followed the goldfields tourist route and meandered through the pastural hills with sheep and wheat fields. It felt like something straight out of a Banjo Patterson poem so classic Australian bushland. The hills were dotted with eucalypts and the smell and sounds were exquisite. The birdlife kept us entertained with white cockatoos, pink gallahs, and magpies in huge numbers and performing an orchestra of songs to peddle to. I was totally captivated and the afternoon passed easily with such delights. It was later o’clock when we arrived in Huntly bypassing Bendigo central with the help of some awesome directions from local folk. My mind’s wondering to dinner so I might end it there to feed the starvs and climb into Buddy out of the chill bill night air. Cash donations $2571.20. Here’s a copy of the email from Mum sharing her Melbourne cup ´excitement backing Green moon enjoy!!! Talk soon x

“Checked out the horses in the race this morning and looked for inspiration….found it in GREEN MOON and LIGHTS OF HEAVEN. Ree, I was looking for some name that had some significance from your experiences on thechallenge!!!!!!!!!!!! I know you loved The Blue Moon and the stairway to the moon experience and decided the Green Moon was the next best thing!!!!!!!!!!!!! Decided then that Lights of Heaven could have reflected back to those beautiful light shows you have been experiencing in the wake of the storms. Good enough for this bigtime horse backer… dad put $1 each way on the two horses for me. Guess what??????? Lights of Heaven ran in second place for the first half of the race and Green Moon came up through the pack and WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How good was that???????????Am donating my winnings $29.10 to theaussiechallenge XXXXXXXXXXX”

Theaussiechallenge Post # 100 St Arnaud

Day 124 17 days to go. Distance today 110km total 11492km. It’s 9pm Thursday 8/11/2012 St Arnaud. Rube and I have found the best Bush Camp just outside of St Arnaud after what has been the most awesome, beautiful, delish, bestest company everest 24hours in Horsham. Peter and Phyllis spoilt me 101 and then some, and I have soaked up their beautiful company and conversation since arriving midday Wednesday. Phyllis came out to the road into Horsham and was parked about 10km out to welcome Rube and I into town. Rube let out the biggest squeal when she saw it was Phyllis and i followed suit. We had big roadside cuddles and pickies then I peddled the rest of the kms all smiles and Peter met me on his bike at the first set of lights to lead us to their place. The chat chat chats started then and didn’t stop pretty much ’til they waved us off after lunchtime today. I also got to meet Peter’s daughter Bec. She’s 20 and the coolest chickadee and is an inspiration to me with how she lives life to the fullest despite some health challenges. Bec’s also fabulous company and has a heart of gold as does her family and we’ve enjoyed heaps of cuppas and wonderful wonderful time spent. I have loved getting to know these folk and they’re so worth getting to know. Phyllis works at the local radio station and we even did an interview in the studio yesterday arv which was received really well by local listeners calling in to say it was awesome yay!!!!! I was able to talk about Theaussiechallenge and give white ribbon a huge plug plus share some fav stories and highlights. We’re going to do a follow up interview via the phone when I arrive back home so that’s super awesome and we’re both really excited about that after this one went so well yay!!! Afterwards we all went out to dinner at the local RSL and continued chatting in between mouthfuls of delish homestyle tucker. On the way home, we dropped into friends of there’s who are very much into camping an cycling and more fabulous company with really interesting folk, big giggles and chats to late o’clock. I was a huge smile with legs tucking myself into bed last night and slept like a contented baby until 8.30am this morning. Peter treated me to coffee and toast and we picked up the conversation where we left it over breaky until Phylis had to go to work. Meanwhile Peter and I pawed over maps and sorted a route home combining ideas from emails I have received (Thanks Jenny and Pops xx). Bec came over again and Phylis arrived home from work and they all waved us off all smiles and sooooo happy with our time together. “’til next time fine fine fine folk.” I have onboard a huge bag of Hedgehog slices yum homemade by Phyliss and the left overs of a box of chockies they had sitting on my bed welcoming me to their home. Phyliss has also given me a hand made cup cover to keep the bugs out of my cuppas during our bush camping nights. Thank you darling woman xxxxxxxx Needless to say the spirits are up and I rode on those wonderful warm and fuzzies through awesome farming land from Horsham to St Arnaud. I still have both Optus and Telstra reception so was able to have chats with the folks this evening which was great. Mum had the best news about the Melbourne Cup. She was inspired by our ‘Stairway to the Moon’ from Broome and picked Green moon coming up trumps and scoring $29.90 for her dollar each way. Mum has put the winnings aside to go towards our fundraising which is just the bestest thank you Mops. xxxxxxxxx I also got an email from Jenny ‘the scramble egg lady’ as she calls herself. We met Jenny and her hubby way back in Duringa. They are from south of Adelaide and she has kept email contact following our blog since. You’re such a caring and fun lady Jenny, so supportive for Rube and I and thank you for keeping in touch and for your tips along our travels. I’ll finish up tonight with a copy of her last email. Talks soon x
“I was thinking of you out in that storm last night, it was the worst we have seen. I was looking back on photos of our trip to Qld and noted that we met you on 17th July, and wow what a fantastic trip you have since had, so enjoy reading your blogs and how you describe our great country. Have safe and happy travels on your homeward run. Cheers Jenny”

Theaussiechallenge Post # 99 Kiata Victoria

Day 122 19 days to go. Distance today 135km total 11 382km. It’s 7.30pm Tuesday 6/11/2012 Kiata. It turned out a stunning day today after a very wild and rainy night in keith. This morning everything was covered in orange myrtle blossom which I had tucked Buddy under to get some protection from the weather. The boy was definitely in touch with his feminine side and Rube and I shared giggles as we dried and dusted the yellow blossom bits off the boy. I’m still dusting orange blossom off our camp gear tonight with a smile. We pulled up stumps at a tiny tiny tiny dot town called Kiata about 60km west of Horsham. There’s nothing much in the town bar a rest area, wheat silos and the cutest of pubs called the ‘Little Desert Hotel’. I popped inside to check where I could camp for the night and found about a dozen local farming folk dressed in their springtime carnival best enjoying Melbourne Cup day. I think they were a bit surprised to see me walk in but quickly warmed and chatted about their day and our cycle tripping. They were all very merry and still enjoying a champagne or ten to toast what is a public holiday in Victoria. Hence the road was really quiet today which was awesome and made for a fabulous ride and Sunday feel to the country roads. We stopped at 3 cute towns, firstly Bordertown still in SA, then Kaniva and Nhill in Victoria. They were very heritage and kept beautifully with flowering trees and manicured gardens. All very springtime and with a country festival feel. The locals I met had a friendly charm and seemed very town proud and welcoming. They were very blown away with how far we have travelled and couldn’t quite digest the concept of cycling that distance. They agreed we were a bit nuts and they’re probably right at this stage of our travels 🙂 I stopped in at the Information centre in Nhill to ask if I could fill my water bottles and the lady there was very glam and a little Tom snobberish. The whites of her eyes when she saw me walk in, were bigger than the emu I frightened on the roadside and I couldn’t help but giggle out loud at her reaction. But she was happy to help albeit happier to see the back of my reflective vest out her shop door. I suspect she was a little conservative so at least we added some color to her otherwise beige day and something out of the ordinary to discuss around the dinner table. The pub owners have let me camp in the back paddock which is awesome and a tucked away spot to enjoy the chilly evening. The grape is back on tonight despite the gigantor ants and mozzies trying to lift him off me. Dye trying guys…. the grape is part of the sacred kit and I’ll protect it swinging if I must. I had a quick looky at the motor way situation on the Western highway into Melborne, and on the Hume and A1. There’s allot of green motorway sections far too many for my keeness to continue on that route. So I think I’m going to opt for the country A roads through Victoria, NSW and Qld. This’ll mean less kms which gives us a chance to enjoy as many stops as we want to savor the scenery and take lots of pickies. Doing less Kms also means I can start cutting down on the carbs and deal with the crazy withdrawals ‘on the road’ as opposed to at home. That’s something that’s probably best dealt with in the company of Rubes and not the beloved family. We can easily add the experience to our inglorious list I like it!!! Best of all less kms means I can get up when I wake and put an end to the morning fights with the alarm. This is awesome!!!! Tomorrow morning we should arrive in Horsham later morning and hanging out to spend some qual time with qual folk. See you soon P&P. I also emailed Bertha the mexican lady to find out how she’s travelling and faring after the Nullabor. So far I haven’t heard anything back so hopefully she’s ok and got her sights set on Sydney. Huge achievement girl and not far now!!! I’ll share an email I got from Katie to end the post tonight. Time for dinner and zzzz’s all cosy on this chill bill but very clear and stary first night in country Vic. Talk soon x

“Dearest Re, Sounds like Mother Nature is enjoying getting a mention on your blogs and going all out to show off her multi-faceted personality 🙂 She`s on your side just the same!!!!!! 19 sleeps to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XO”

Theaussiechallenge Post # 98 Keith

Day 121 20 days to go. Distance today 135km total 11 247km. It’s 6.45pm Monday 5/11/2012 Keith. Oh my deary can you hear the storm blowing attitude outside? We pulled up just in time to find a place to stay, set up Buddy and now tucked away with a cracker jack storm hitting downtown Keith. I’m not surprised as it’s been super muggy all day despite intermittent rain that was refreshing as opposed to a hassle but it didn’t cool down things. Now however the temps dropped a wee bit and by the color of the clouds there’s hail in there somewhere. It put the rumbles of last nights storm to shame. It’s been overcast with rain today as forecasted and full on windy. The gusts were from the side and behind for the most part which is good but tricky with the trucks. I was warned that the Duke Highway is a Truckee mecca being the main route from Adelaide to Melbourne and they were pretty spot on. So the Rubes and I have worked hard riding the smoother shoulder then moving over to the bumpy breakdown lane when we hear the big tonkers approaching. It’s worked out well as we’re safe and sound and managed good kms in the conditions. We’re on track to be in Horsham at a reasonable time in the afternoon on Wednesday so I’m happy. Happier still knowing we’ll see P&P soon for some quality company. I had a crapola sleep last night for whatever reason just couldn’t turn off. I need a crash course in meditiation to blank the mind as it runs like an emu making good zzzzz’s a bit hard until early hours of the morn. This means lots of snooze buttons and craving sleeping in but not long now, 20 sleeps in fact and Rube and I can enjoy some home R&R. It’ll be nice to rest the brain from theaussiechallenge. The cycling’s the easier part, it’s keeping safe and sound and managing the unsupported elements that is the trick that’s for sure. All very good indeedy as I’m learning so much about our country, it’s folk and more about what makes me tick as we continue. 15 minutes later and the storm has passed over elsewhere leaving a freshness in the air and the birds going nuts. Buddy’s so well tied down I think he’s bordering on category 5 cyclone proof but I’m happy not to test that theory. I got an email from Sue and John in Geraldton and they said that the weather over there is very unsettled and unseasonable with storms and hail. Some of that might be finding it’s way across the bite and the SA/Vic border which I heard is on that weather path. But I’m pretty relaxed to deal with what Mother N wants to chuck at us between now and the 25/11. We’re both so focused on home now and seeing out each day safe and sound so I can enjoy my family time which I’m crazy hanging out for bigtime yay big. Today was hard work especially after a lack of zzzzz’s and tidy wide legs from yesterday’s hills. But we chipped through the weather and kms with lots of breaks. I even treated myself to a custard slice at a bakery in the small dot town of Culburra. We passed through a handful of towns today which I love as it breaks up the day and a far cry from the long stretches we’ve known through WA. This SA stretch must be one of Australia’s major wheat industry areas as the fields have been the main feature for days now. The wind blows allot of fine dust and bitey bugs off the fields that’s been playing havoc with the sinus. I’m such a snotty monster each night with a socially unsound routine of clearing the nostrils ready to face it again the next day. You probably don’t need to know that but hey it’s all part of the day and it’s the inglorious bits that keep it colorful and me and Rube giggling at each other as we bumble through. Thank goodness for a sense of humor which I think has been the essential ingredient to manage the lows and groans. I think about Dave Alley allot during the days for inspiration. Do you know he would have completed 3 laps to our 1 when we finish on the 25th. The man’s a super hero jet start freek and I take my camo cappy off to you mate for being a stand alone Ambassador amongst white ribbon ambassadors. It’s wonderful to know you’ll be there in Sandgate when we peddle in on the Sunday so thankyou for making the effort to be there to support us yay you!!!. . There’s two roadhouses in the town of Keith (bad name for a town by the way!!!!) one at each end. We asked at the first one if there was a freebie camp spot tucked away somewhere and the man was so friendly and said we could camp in parklands in town. But when we got there it felt so open and I was a bit uncomfortable so we asked at the next raodhouse that has a handful of cabins attached. They let me pitch buddy on a grassed area which is awesome and it gives me a chance to turn off for the night knowing we’re tucked away safe. I’m very happy we’re not at a rest area with the weather being so unpredictable tonight but tomorrow is forecast clear again hopefully for a good run over the border into Victoria. We should get close to the town of Nhill tomorrow leaving 80 odd kms to Horsham for Wednesday. I’m loving having both Telstra and Optus service over the last days. I checked emails this morning before heading and there were a handful of emails from new friends. I’ll include a few snippets to finish the post for this evening. Ohh I nearly forgot, I scored a handful of donations when I first arrived at the Keith roadhouse. Thank you Jill ($17) and Deb ($12) and a gent who didn’t hang round but emptied his coin pocket ($2.20). Cash donations $2561.20 Talk soon x

“What a beautiful post…… nicely written, I felt that me and my lovely labrador were with you and Rube whilst you were writing …………..thankyou !! Ricky”

“G’day Maree, just been catching up with your blog and awesome photos so thought to send you this email. Really felt for you when reading the Nullabour posts, even though you didn’t say much about how hard it was we can imagine how tough it was. When we drove along there we had the luxury of waiting out the head-winds!! You and Rube are doing amazingly well and meeting so many great people. Glad to hear that the gortex jacket has been useful, stay safe. With our warmest wishes, Graham & Thea”

“Hi Maree, We,ve been reading your blogs since your cycle across the Nullabor, and thoroughly enjoying them.. Well done you clever girl. What a great achievement & not that long for you & Rube! now! You sound like your having the time of your lives & we,re still in awe of you. Sue and John”

“Hi Maree,Good to see you are doing so well,I’m the guy you first met near Nanutarra then at Donnybrook.It’s great to follow your adventure.I don’t know if you remember me telling you about the Balladonia Straight 90 miles it’s a cracker AY, I saw the photo you took near Ongerup and noticed my old cycling buddy Greg Pye.Gee what a small world.good luck mate keep safe and keep smiling chat again soon Ben”

“You girls are really chalking up the kms…well done and in that heat!! Take care and drink lots and then lots more and keep ticking those kms off. 21 days to go..amazing!!! XX Janet”