Monday, 9 April 2012

Bargara to Seventeen Seventy

Whilst enjoying a fry-up, I learned that the lovely Kim had grown up on a sheep station eight hours west of Brisbane. How could someone so pale and flawless have been reared in such a place? Her parents' farm specializes in merino wool and the dryness of the environment adds to the quality. Mercifully cloudy, but still humid, as my T shirt testifies. Last night David had said I needed a shower. I replied that although I might need one, I wasn't having one. I was so exhausted and hungry I might have fainted if food wasn't administered immediately. A few minutes after stopping to take a drink, I want to stop again, such is my thirst - yesterday I had five litres - and that was just during the ride.

Back to Bundaberg and then headed north once more. Tired and sore between my legs, but the next rest day is the other side of three more days of riding. Some of the countryside here reeks of urine (or is it me?) Maybe it's the humidity that gives rise to the stench of piss, pickles and fags; then at other times, especially when the sun goes down, or during rain, heady aromas of eucalyptus, Thai Green Curry and a woman's skin after a bath, are released. The cars are up their usual tricks and my mantra has become, "How close do you have to go, you fucking arsehole?" There's no excuse for not slowing down by one iota and missing me by six inches, because there's a vehicle on the other side of the road. Can't you wait for one goddamn second? They all go as fast as each other and don't question it, the metal sheep. "There goes another kangaroo. You should have seen the dent it made in my $60,000 Land Rover!"

Rosedale looked like a film set, but not in a good way, such was its backwoods, desultory air. No food in the hotel and the cafe was closed, so had to make do with the concrete-floored shed that called itself a grocery. The lady who served me a microwaved, frozen chicken roll, had a T shirt even sweatier than mine. I imagine that most of the tinned provisions had lain on those dusty shelves for many a year. So many campervans on the road. Yeah, but what a cool, individual thing to do. Drive around a huge country and only talk to the people you're with. Far out!
Upon entering Seventeen Seventy (named after the date Captain Cook landed here) things took a turn for the worst. I cycled between there and Agnes Water, three miles away, about five times, searching for (a) my Couchsurfing domicile, (b) a restaurant and (c) a motel. I found (a) but there was no answer at the door or on the mobile. As for (b), I eventually feasted on a mouthwatering, thick, juicy hamburger and the crispiest chips in the world, at a service station, of all places. Not so easy to satisfy (c) becasue the accommodation of these neighbouring resorts was all full, due to the popularity of this location and it being Easter weekend. I even lowered my standards at a backpackers' hostel, which was littered with morose-looking young people, mostly watching a film on a wide-screen TV. The man I was directed to was too engrossed in the entertainment to get up from the sofa and without displaying the merest hint of service skills, told me reception was now closed. I had tried everywhere and reached the end of the peninsula (sleeping with the fishes lay ahead) when I enquired at the 'Beach Shacks' - only for help - as a sign read 'no vacancies. The live-in managers, Corry and his wife, could not have been more helpful and it was such a relief to meet them after all the aforementioned miserable experiences. They phoned every establishment in the phone book (yielding nothing) and even offered me their tent (but they'd left it at his parents'). By now it was 10.30 and Corry drove me back to the Couchsurfer's house, just in case he'd returned. As when arriving there previously, lights were on and the door was open. I knocked and shouted again. He was in! Problem solved. Rodney is a baker and goes to work at midnight. I had woken him up and he sleepily showed me a spare room before returning to bed. I was afraid to establish which room was the bathroom, as all the other doors were closed. Another 100 mile ride and I still didn't sleep very well.

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