One of the major benefits of riding a bike as we travel the globe is that we meet a lot of people. Not being shut away means folk chat to us – cyclists, cafe owners, other campers. Some are intrigued by the “one year, five continents, twenty thousand kilometres” on the back of my cycle top and there are some take pity on us - unsure of why on earth we are doing this but keen to know more. It’s always much easier to converse when language is common yet, despite occasional difficulties, these interactions often make our journey.
Regardless of which country we are in the knowledge of the folks who live there is always the best. They will always be able to share thoughts, comments and information that it is impossible to get from maps and guidebooks and this has certainly been the case once again as we started our trip through Australia.
Large towns and cities are often the most difficult to navigate but we were fortunate to be able to follow Kev out of Brisbane. His knowledge of bike lanes was brilliant but even better, arm signals and hill warnings meant we were never caught off guard as John and I followed through rush hour traffic. That day we finished our ride just as it was getting dark. We had reached Burleigh Heads …. the seaside. Fantastic.
The following day it would be Chris, at the local bike shop, who told us about a great route off the highway. Despite some decent climbing this was a much better option and we had been warned about the steep climb (14%) as we made our way to Murlingarhh. Our final destination that day was Byron Bay, a hippie place again next to the sea. Despite having never been here before I had happy memories. Many years ago one of my best friends called me from here to announce her engagement…, well, I had to send them a postcard eh?
Sadly our run on happy locals had an intermediate blip. As one car sped past screaming so as to make me jump they were followed just a few seconds later by a second car. This time it was a young girl shouting “fuck cyclists” (sorry folks) as she passed. While one can only assume she was trying to impress friends I can only wish her the best of luck…… with friends like these…?
Fortunately these folk are few and far between and it was only the next day when our faith in humanity was restored. Having stopped for a wee cheap meal at a local bistro we only asked about local campgrounds and then the invite came. Before we knew it we had a place to stay, steak on the barbie and bacon and egg for breakfast. Having arrived as strangers we left Maria and Richards place as friends.
It’s funny. As we travel people often ask whether we are worried about meeting the bad guys. So far….it’s only great hospitality that blows us away.
I’ve often said 98% of folk are good and we just need to avoid the remainder. So far we’ve done pretty well. Here’s to the locals…where ever they may be.