Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Gladstone to Rockhampton

Luckily I didn't have to rise as early as Lynda, who chooses to work from 7 to 3.30, when she could work later! I lingered over my regular dose of Vegemite on toast and then headed for the library. En route I thought I'd ridden over a thin rope, but then realised it was moving. On closer inspection it was a cohort of thick, furry caterpillars, nose to tail, coursing out from thick undergrowth, down the kerb and straight across a busy road, where, of course they were splattered. I began to throw them back to whence they came, yet there were hundreds, and lemming-like, they were hell-bent on this self-destructive course. Bloody cars! I, myself, was hell-bent on Coles licorice allsorts later on, and took a five mile detour to satisfy this biological need. When returning along the same stretch of highway, much to my relief, I noticed the caterpillars had learned the error of their ways and were heading off to pupate, or whatever, in a different direction. Good to be out on the open road and away from the screaming children in Maccas. The terrain was flat and dull, and the only interesting things were of an industrial nature - the enormous alumina plant and rumbling goods trains, their hundred cars brimming over with coal (reminiscent of the caterpillars).
Listened to the radio on my MP3 player and it was uniformly awful (nauseatingly nice presenters and hard sell ads) until I settled on a light music station who played an instrumental version of Waltzing Matilda. The jazz and classical tunes calmed my nerves when I returned to Brucey. Nasty to see you, to see you... When approaching dusk I look left, to the setting sun, and right, to the dwindling post-rush-hour traffic, and breathe a sigh of relief; I've survived another day. It's pretty good doing what I'm doing, but it could be so much more pleasant with less heat and vehicles.

I'd sustained my first puncture yesterday and replaced the innertube with my one spare. Now I got my second. Together with laziness, the encroaching darkness and closeness to the next port of call in Rockhampton, I decided to ride on an increasingly flat tyre for the last 10 kms. I phoned Wayne and he came out to escort me on his motorbike. By now the tyre was airless and I bumped along slowly for another 10 kms through the vast suburbs of a town with a population a tenth of Glasgow but surely bigger in area. So relieved to arrive at tonight's address, where a luxurious rest day sprawled out in front of me. I said before, that Chris in Port McQuarry was a professional Couchsurfer, but even he is small beer compared to Wayne and Margot. During my initial search for couches in Oz, I'd alighted on a photo of a mature couple beaming from a motorbike and sidecar, and thought, "I want to stay with those people!" Their status as the Daddy and Mummy of traveller hosting is boosted by their retirement, their worldwide tours (even by Antipodean standards) and the time they share with their guests. I saw their guestbooks (they're halfway through the second) full of smiling faces, names, addresses and thank you cards. They even went on a European tour, where they stayed exclusively with people who they'd hosted. There was boxes of subject-indexed brochures, maps, etc, a section of toiletries for common use in the bathroom, a feminine hygiene plastic tub in the toilet marked 'women' and boxes of tissues on tables either side of the bed I slept in.

After showering (like a good boy) Wayne said there were only two rules, "1. Relax and 2. Enjoy yourself". During a dinner of pasta, meat and other tasty things, lubricated with beer and wine, this lovely couple related their six years unrivalled experiences as hosts and travellers. They were so easy going and open, that they had got on with just about everybody and welcomed all age groups, including teenagers. They took people around, had helped youngsters in all kinds of fixes and kept in touch with many of them. The only thing Wayne was not keen on was picking up stranded travellers off a Greyhound bus in the middle of the night (between 12 and 6) so in that department Chris reigns supreme. Oh, and Rocky doesn't have a koala hospital.


  1. Hilarious reading, I can totally envision your frenzied efforts to save the caterpillars!

  2. I would never get much done if I lived here - through trying to save all the critters!