Killarney Overnightah — NIGHT 1, DAY 2

A Thing From DAY 1 (see it here) I Forgot To Mention:

At maybe the 4th or 5th Condamine river crossing we see this 4WD waiting for us to finish crossing. It’s completely stopped at the other side. In no time we get out of the river and then the car sets off and just starts gunning it across the river as fast as it could go — so unnecessarily. It was bouncing all over the place and making such a racket. We all just lol’d. That’s not how you do it. Duggie said (like he was talking to the driver), “Dude, the river isn’t that deep. If I dipped my dick in the water I wouldn’t even get my balls wet.” TRUE STORY. 


So it was about 3:30pm when we got to the pub. Killarney Hotel is definitely a country pub. Lining up at the bar was a genuine cowgirl in boots with spurs. Later Scott was like, “I only thought that stuff existed in old movies.” Dan went inside to sort out the rooms but then he was back saying they didn’t have my booking for the motel section. Argh! But they did have a room upstairs and so I took that. We all paid upfront and I was desperate to get outta my kit so I raced upstairs with my bike. Then I hear this, “Excuse me love…” And it was one of the hotel workers telling me to put my bike in the shed out the back. “Is it secure?” I said and she said it would get locked later. Last time we were here we got to put our bikes in our rooms. Oh well.

After I had changed Scott and I went out to the shed to check it out. There were kegs and cartons of beer and hay bails so we figured there’d be no way they’d leave it unlocked overnight.

20160521_193556_zpstmd9tqs0Later in the night Dan took this shot. Someone had hidden or secured or just dumped some hay in front of our rigs. Hmm


Just after we had arrived in town we had convened at the local Foodworks and I had scoffed down 2 of their rather dated-looking sausage rolls (plus an ice-coffee and a coke) and then after my first beer once we got to the pub it all felt super-tight in my stomach and I had to go for a bit of a walk to get things loosened up again. So I was a couple of beers behind when I got back. We were all camped out in the smokers section on the front deck.

I went inside and found a spare form-guide and stuffed my Condamine-soaked-through shoes with the scrunched up paper. Later I found more newspaper and did the same to everyone else’s shoes. They would thank me later for that bit of genius.

Some locals started talking to us — a little patronisingly it should be said. But we didn’t care. We were on our best behaviour and having a good time. There was a lot of hi-fiving and back slapping and talk of how tough the day had been. I asked Duggie if he would have included that first detour loop if he knew how epic the ride would be and he said, “No…I wouldn’t…but I’m glad we did it. You know?” And I totally understood what he meant and agreed. It hurt, but it really gave the ride something special.

IMG_0003Here’s Scott getting acquainted with the pub-dog.


After a tag-team system we were soon all showered and changed and the pub was now getting pretty busy. Lots of guys in cowboy hats. Lots of kids in cowboy hats. Heaps of people wearing sleeveless puffy jackets. To order food you lined up at a section of the bar. We let the line-up get a little shorter and then jumped on it. Most of us ordered this steak sandwich and James Squire combo deal for $15. Bargain. But the barman looked a bit perplexed at this fancy city-beer and had a bit of trouble finding them.

After hoofing down all our meals and sides (I think Scott had two mains) Duggie then spied the jukebox and as we all had unwanted coins weighing down our kit we all pooled our resources. And Duggie set about queuing up the next 50 or so songs. (Only a slight exaggeration). He said there was a LOT of Pantera. Thankfully he didn’t select any of those tracks.



20160521_213222_zpssog75ay6Photos by Dan!

Suddenly we were back in the smoker’s lounge opposite a group of three women. Gradually we all got talking. I think the two pub puppies facilitated things. (They belonged to the pub but the two cats were strays they said). We were all having a good time but it seems there was some politics going on that we weren’t aware of. Suddenly that famed “country hospitality” wasn’t as forthcoming. Some of the staff seemed to be a little upset. Agitated even. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t get to witness much of this as I crashed into bed at 9:30 well before stuff escalated. So what follows is sometimes what I remember, and sometimes what I was told the next day.

I’m gonna try and be impartial here. So I will just point out the case against us and you can decide.

1) We drank everyone under the table. I certainly thought I might get refused service when I started buying rumbos. Scott said exactly the same thing.

2) We were eating some snackfood (like nuts and chips) from the Foodworks. And I guess that is a bit uncool seeing as they were selling that sort of stuff too.

3) I bet the tracks Duggie picked on the jukebox hadn’t been ever, ever been played in that place.

4) We were just being friendly with some local ladies and how were we to know their facebook status might have been set to “It’s Complicated”.

5) And I guess we were charming and funny and super cool. I can understand our awesomeness was a bit confronting.

6) We were a pack of blow-ins on push bikes for Christ sake. How offensive can you get?

7) And yes, we did stay up a bit late… More on that later.

According to Scott the staff suddenly called last drinks just before 11pm while there was still 20 people about. The 4 crew remaining went upstairs to the back balcony with some takeaways. Some of you may have seen *that* Instagram pic of Duggie. Here it is in case you missed it:

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.37.55 pm

I think Dan wandered off to bed next. Then Duggie. But Scott and Wookie were still socialising.


At about 1:30am I drifted out of sleep. My room was at the farthest end of the hall — next to the bathroom. All of us had been put in the southern wing of the hotel in rooms 1 to 5. I think I heard the lady that organised our rooms saying that she had put us all together and kinda implied that we were away from other guests.

IMG_0005This was my bed BTW. My feet went way over the end.

And by the sound coming from across the hall I just prayed that was the case. By “sound” I mean a woman giggling and then a voice I kinda recognised as maybe Scott delivering another zinger — then more giggling. The walls of this place were paper thin. Ancient VJs. And Scott seemed to have a lot of zingers up his sleeve. Far more than Bill Shorten.

Eventually I drifted back to sleep praying we wouldn’t get in trouble. Then at approximately 2:15am I woke up busting for a pee. Just as I stood up out of bed I hear this BANG and then a bit of muffled commotion, the toilet being used (rather noisily) and definitely no more zingers. Then silence. But by then I had dived back into bed and folded my legs together and willed myself back into slumber. At dawn I was woken by cows bleating and then bizarrely a voice coming from a loud speaker quite a long distance away. The Country is weird.

I went to the bathroom and then as I came out this random guy was coming in through the still dark hall and I said, “G’Day” but he just kinda gruffed at me.

“Oh man.” I thought. He must hate me (us). I looked up the hall and the only open door was only metres away from what I assumed was the centre of all that partying just 4 hours ago.

By 6:30 I was downstairs and made myself a coffee (I didn’t realise they still sold International Roast) and read the paper — which incredibly was the Sunday edition: pretty civilised for the Country. Then that guy from before was there. I said hello again as warmly as I could manage expecting some more grief, but he must have mellowed after his shower and he said “Hi”. I waited a minute then asked him what he was up to today. He was doing the 10k fun-run up to Queen Mary Falls which started at 7:15. Right! Duggie had warned me about this. One of his mates was doing it too. We caught up with her later.

It took quite a while for anyone else to join me. Eventually Wookie was down and I set about getting the bikes out of the shed. The air was pretty crisp but it wasn’t brutally cold. I was comfortable in my kicks with arm and leg warmers to cover almost every other bit of my appendages. I guessed it was just above 10 degrees. (No where near as cold as last time we were here).

Soon Duggie was down and then Dan looking far more rested than anyone. When I brought up the delicate details of what happened last night it seemed Dan was even more oblivious than me – having slept like a log the whole night through. Jelly.





So then I quizzed Wookie and Duggie about just what had gone down last night. And we all had to be very quiet cause it was so early and we had some controversial subjects to discuss. But I slowly pieced together what that commotion just after 2PM was all about. I can’t really explain it, but all I can say is that Wookie had had enough and banged on Scott’s door demanding the partying ended and that led to some guests leaving and the hotel being dead-quiet again. As far as I know everyone got home safely.


So for the second time in two days I was the designated “get Scott outta bed” guy. My first strategy was creeping up the creaky stairs and quietly knocking on his door. Unfortunately no one knew the exact number of his room. So I ended up knocking on this door and an old guy emerged looking entirely mystified. At least he was dressed I thought.

I apologised as profusely (and as silently) as I could manage and then knocked on the door next. No answer. Not even any stirring.

Back downstairs we collectively decided I should try calling him. Ring. Ring. And then, “…Hello.” Thankfully he sounded quite composed. “Time to get up Scotty,” I said. “Ok.” he replied. And though it took him a lot longer to get ready this time, he was downstairs and eating breakfast and looking quite decent. I gave him the sliver of Panadol I had left after me and Duggie had got stuck into it. He was very excited about that.

The dude who I had just met upstairs (and his mate) were now downstairs in the backyard area with us having a durrie. They didn’t seem to have noticed (or cared) about all that nocturnal partying.

IMG_0292Scott eating his breakfast at the kids table. Deservedly it should be said.


So that part of the adventure over and we were rolling again. About 7ks in and we were starting that climb up to Queen Mary Falls. Immediately we saw the straggling runners on the road from that running thing. I felt I needed to say hi to all of them I was passing but after about 50 I just kept rolling and minded my own business. Most of them looked like they were cooked and didn’t really mind having to make an extra effort of saying “Hi” back at me.




20160522_0821010_zpsalrhfkzrThis was a thing. At least twice up the climb. (photo by Dan)

20160522_081427_zpscvxm9dtfThe runner’s sag-wagon. (Photo by Dan)

We stripped off all our extra layers only about 600m into the climb. Just above where this Dan’s pic was taken. It was getting warm. Duggie got to say HI to his pal and at the top it was madness with runners and buses and cars everywhere. But the climb wasn’t over and we headed up to the Carr’s lookout about 15ks from the bottom.


A quick stop at the lookout and we were into that first crazy downhill. (3km of nuts-berg) I warned everyone as much as I could about how steep it was and how it had this left-hand hairpin which had almost been my undoing last time I was here.

We made it down safely and the cows on the verge at the plateau didn’t mind us (unlike last time). I forgot to tell you that on Saturday we had to deal this massive cow chewing the grass on the verge half on the road and seemingly oblivious to us. I was leading and came to a complete stop about 30 metres away. Despite it being midway through a downhill section I signalled to everyone to stop and while everyone skidded to a halt Scotty did a big “WHOOP!” and the cow freaked out and charged away — we resumed rolling.

The next descent was steeper and longer and there were bunches of motorbikes coming up at the same time. When I saw the first bunch I was so freaked out I did a few skids in my attempt to lock-off some speed. (Last time we had this road to ourselves cause of that fallen tree blocking all traffic right at the bottom.) So I was at least 200 metres behind everyone else. The disc brakes on this rigs were now whining and sounded like they were rubbing the pads. Scott explained that when they get that cooked they can get warped by the heat.


So I had missed this IN-JOKE about spotting windmills that Duggie and Wookie had designed. Anytime you called out a windmill you got a point. So at the end of this ride the stakes were high. Everyone except me and Scott were on almost equal points — at about 4 each. So there was a bit of competition happening. Anytime a ridge was looming it was best to be in front just in case you got the first to spot one. And Scott was now in on it too after getting a single point on the board and thinking with just 20ks to go he was still a chance. It took a bit of getting used to when someone would SCREAM and POINT and I thought the world was coming to an end — but it was just another one calling out a windmill.


Naturally Scott the most enthusiastic. I tried to get on board but the only contribution I made it was a tie with Duggie. Oh well. At a few points right in the death the crew was swaggering all over the road not concentrating at all on the conditions desperately looking at the country on either side like a new-age Don Quixote. At a few points I almost ran up the back of someone who just decided to stall while they scanned the horizon or wondered if a car smashing over a crest would wipe someone out because they were drunkenly taking up all sides of the bitumen.

So the tally was:



ME — (1)

image1Photo by Wookie


I was really suffering in the last bit. It was hot and I wasn’t getting enough food or water in me. My kit had that halo of extreme salt-sweat. I had really underestimated how brutal this section was. Exposed to the sun and a lot of shitty little climbs right at the end. I had no chance of spotting windmills let alone keeping my shit together. Thankfully Wookie got a flat (sorry Brad) and I got a decent rest and a chance to stock up on fluids and food.

But then we were back at Mt Alford and the windmill prize was divided equally. Thankfully the cars were just as we had left them. The pub was open and we packed up our gear and I was first to stumble inside — I was so cooked. I started looking around a little bleary from all that previous effort. The place looked kinda nice. I found my way to a menu sitting on the bar with a sign saying “Order All Food Here”. And then I hear this rather annoyed voice saying, “Kitchen doesn’t open until 12”. It came from a woman sitting at a table all by herself who just might have looked related to that grumpy staffer back at Killarney. “What time is it?” I ask. No answer.

I ask Scott who has just joined me. It was 11:20. We can get lunch at Boonah I say. Scott agrees but then looks like he is on a mission. He disappears deeper into the bar. I walk outside into the hot glare and heat and break the news to the rest. Everyone agrees at my suggestion to go to the cafe at Boonah — the one from the Boonah breakfast. “But do they have beer?” everyone asks. “Yes they do. Totally.” I say. I was only about 50% sure I remembered that. But thankfully I was right.

Then I was in the car cranking the aircon and Scott eventually emerges carrying a 6-pack of VB. Oh right — that’s what he was doing.

On the way to Boonah Dan was pointing out windmills from his car. Unfortunately they didn’t count. Soz.

At Boonah most of us got chicken burgers and then it was another all-over-hi-five and we were separately heading home — adventure done!

There was talk of a new one on July 9. JUST SAYING.






IMG_0311 Another one of those 12% bullshit signs. UGH!





Killarney Overnightah (pt 1)


Although this ride was fucking awesome and epic and beautiful and a bunch of other superlatives — ultimately it ended up being a much tougher ride than anyone expected. Like much, much tougher. Both days. There were moments when I thought this was a bridge too far. I couldn’t help but compare it to the Boonah Ovanightah from April which was another gravel adventure in a similar direction and over pretty much the same distance. But this ride was twice as tough as that. More hills. Much, much more gravel and a real remoteness. For instance if disaster struck in the 35k section around White Swamp there would be real, real trouble. Plus there was the absence of any opportunity to replenish water, which led to (in my opinion) desperate measures. More on that later.

80% gravel and hills and hills and more hills

I don’t think it is much of an exaggeration to say Day 1 was about 80% gravel. I kinda fucked up here. I really didn’t do enough research to work that out. I just saw road on the map and assumed it would be a bit of gravel, then a bit of bitumen. Stuff would even out. I did a bit of google street view exploration and of course that stuff just cannot accurately detail what the practical conditions are. It’s all lies. The severity of any steepness is entirely under-represented and any gravel looks smooth and inviting.


So I was being a conscientious Di2 rider and put my bike’s battery on charge on Thursday night. Friday morning I attempted to plug that battery back in but the lever that secured it suddenly snapped. Disaster. I rode it over to Scott at Velo in the Valley single-speed-style for rescue but the whole system was fucked. I would need a new bike. I thought this adventure was all over for me. Luckily Scott had his Specialized Crux. But it had no wheels. Then Jesse, god bless him, donated his wheels to complete the ensemble and I was back in business. But in my heart of hearts I was super glad to ride a cross-bike — a bike much more suited to these conditions. It would be far more comfortable and ideal for the hardest part: the 20ks and 14 river crossings at the end. But I was wrong.

WAKE UP SCOTTY! (part 1)

So I was picking Scott up in a car and ferrying him to the meet point at a place called Mt Alford, just south of Boonah. I rock up only about 10 minutes early and there is zero sound emanating from his flat. I can see into the living areas (which are empty) so I knock on the window I assume belongs to the bedroom. Something stirs. Suddenly the front door opens and here is Scott in some flesh-coloured jocks and my reflexes kicked in. It takes me a micro-second to spin away (hoping they were in fact flesh-coloured jocks and not a completely-naked-just-woken-man) and I start dragging the bikes to the car. Thankfully they were on the deck and I could get busy without actually entering the flat with this possible naked person lumbering about attempting to get ready.

Only about 5 minutes later and Scott appears at the car fully dressed and carrying his panniers looking almost completely composed. Well done. Soon we are heading south and although Scott has not had a chance at his morning poo, I assure him there is a public toilet at the ride start that will suit this necessity.

At Boonah we get pastries and pull into the Mt Alford Hotel’s carpark only just a bit late. Us parking here didn’t seem like an issue, but we got some grief for it later as you shall see. Duggie (AKA Cameron) and Wookie (AKA Brad) were setting up. A minute or two later Dan arrived — making our full crew of 5 complete.

Of note, Duggie and me (et al) had done a trip to Killarney back in 2014. That was a super-tough ride too, but a road-bike and bitumen thing. That standard route to Killarney.


Duggie and I had collaborated on this ride — both of us being such fans of the country out here and that first adventure. We were both super-enthused. And Duggie wanted to put in the Condamine River Road, while I was all about adding this White Swamp arc. Then Duggie included an extension at the start — just to make the final tally of kilometres respectable at about 82. This excursion out to Moogerah Dam was super-beautiful but pretty bumpy. 20ks later at its end I could feel that it had taken a big chunk out of my overall awesomeness. In other words, my legs were starting to whinge a bit.

So the route when viewed from above looked like a figure 8 with an extra circle attached. On the map Duggie layed-out — and stuck to the pannier on the front of his bike — it looked beautiful. There wasn’t much overlap between Day 1 and Day 2. Maybe only 4ks.



So it took us about 20 mins to get all our shit together and just about 100ms after we started rolling I remembered my wallet was still in the car. Bullet-dodged we were properly off. Then I said to Scott, “Oh yeah, how do you change gears on this thing?” (I wasn’t used to a SRAM gear-setup.) It turned out to be pretty cool. You only had to use your right hand and it was a half-click to go down to a tougher gear and a full-click to hit the granny-gears. Loved it. But in saying that, my hills-gear only went to 40-28, which meant a lot of grinding while everyone else got to spin almost twice as much. But beggars can’t choosey.


Around the dam we hit an amazing road that skirted the Main Range peaks south of Cunningham’s Gap. It was so “Australia”. There was even a flock of gallahs and occasionally we saw kangaroos leaping out of sight.





30ks in and we passed the “Head Road”: the route up from that 2014 ride. Duggie shuddered when he contemplated what we did that day. “That climb gives me shivers,” he said. And so we committed ourselves to a new way up. It turned to gravel almost immediately and it was pleasant for about 5ks and then it started getting shitty. By now the sun was getting near it’s peak and my jersey was saturated. Despite it being deep into May, the humidity was nuts and I knew exactly then that water, or lack thereof, was going to be an issue. We stopped for a break just as the first 12% hill loomed. We could literally see it snake it’s way up. In my head I was like, “Yeah, once that’s over that’s the worst of it.” I definitely even said that. So up we went and at the point where it looked too epic to waste blowing up my legs I got off the bike and walked. And Wookie instantly reciprocated. He was so appreciative. Wookie had been off the bike for 5 weeks due to life-stuff and needed to take it gentle. I have a philosophy of no-shame-walking. When it’s so steep there’s no need destroying your legs when you can get up that bullshit by walking. And especially when you get to the top only about 30% later than riding up.


IMG_0138Me! taken by Duggie.


That pinch done we rolled on expecting things to get civil, but then bang! Another sign saying “12%”. Ugh. Once again me and wookie did a bit of walking. I kept telling everyone, “I think this is the worst of it over”. But sure enough I was proven utterly wrong and everyone started cursing any optimism I tried to put down. Quite rightly it should be said. The third time the sign came about (this time 13%) Duggie and Dan started walking. By the 4th, another one of those evil 13% fuckstains, Scott had succumbed too and we five were all trudging up the road on foot.







Eventually at the top was the NSW border and we rested for a bit and then thankfully we did get some relief — in the sense that is was more down than up for 10ks. But there were a few shitty little hills randomly biting us whenever they felt like it. The terrain was just so random it just didn’t make sense. There were super-crazy descents but then another pinch straight away. We’d get a sudden burst of bitumen on a downhill only to find that at the very bottom, where you were travelling so fucking fast, was a point where it changed to gravel.


Another random section was a super-incredible descent (on bitumen) which Wookie nailed — he is one of those fearless downhill riders and has a bunch of KOMs or near KOMs to prove it. At the bottom in a dip was a dodgy culvert and Scott got a flat. But it was a beautiful place to change a tube under this big ancient gum tree with Mt Wilson looming over us.


A bit later, at White Swamp proper, we were turning right and it was up and up again. There was more walking and it was now super-warm. Touching on 28 degrees and super-humidity. Meanwhile Scott decided he had to roll. He explained that with the panniers at the back of his bike it was just fucked to walk his rig. Every step and your calf would bang into the rear bag. So as he struggled ahead we 4 just sauntered up. Everyone was really, really feeling the intensity of this adventure.

At the dilapidated border crossing where we went back into Queensland again we could see our next target: the Condamine River Road. But then everyone was like, “I’ve got no water left.” I had about 600mls (some of which was still frozen) sitting in my backpack. Everyone was too polite to drink more than a mouthful and thus was determined to drink the water from the creek. I was mortified. “Dudes, there’s houses down there. I will knock on a door and see if we can get some.” Implying there was no need to drink untreated river-water from country surrounded by cattle. But no one listened. It seemed like a challenge. Something primal. Meanwhile I just thought of how Bart dared Lisa to drink the water in that episode of the Simpsons. EEK.






We slid down and turned left onto a brief section of bitumen (the same bitumen as from 2014) and then right onto white gravel. According to my Garmin we had 21ks to go. But seeing as the last 60ks had taken well over 4 hours I was starting to wonder if I would start suffering soon. Like “Suffering” in the EVIL sense. There was no question that I was suffering in a GENERAL sense, I just feared that situation escalating. And confronting us now was all dirt and 14 points where the road crossed the river. After a particularly brutal pinch Wookie looked in trouble. We stopped and assessed the situation. He ate some more food and drank some of my water, but he was struggling. I really wondered how brutal this next section would be.


me_duggiePhoto by Dan!

As it turned out, this period was incredible: beautiful and awesome and all our spirits were lifted. I would almost rate this section as a “breeze”. But just quietly.

See we got to stop and get our feet wet. Like saturated. Some of us (not me) tried to smash through and ford the crossings. It should be said the other four got quite good at it towards the end. Me: I managed to only cross the river once in a very easy section. (I made a promise to Jesse that I would walk the bike over all the river — so as not to potentially damage the wheels).

But back to the third crossing, where the river suddenly didn’t look as muddy from all the 4WD activity. Here is where the crew started filling up their water-bottles and drinking the water. Gulping it down. They said it tasted amazing and was clear and cool. I was horrified, but I was in no position to argue. We were desperate and everyone was sick of my optimism.





Onwards and it was actually really fun every time a crossing came up. It was like a computer game working out where to cross and there were 4WDs around either being dickheads or gawking at us. At one point we passed an honesty-system stall where you could pay $5 to get to feed some horses. As awesome as that looked, we really had to roll on. Everyone agreed this section had really made the ride exponentially special.



IMG_0244In most crossings you had no idea what the bottom looked like cause the water was so muddy.



IMG_0246I think Dan was the first to successfully get across without stepping down. Kudos.



IMG_0241Pic by Duggie!


And then we were back on sealed roads and in Killarney central and at the Foodworks buying all the hot baked-savories they hadn’t sold yet before they were due to be thrown out.



1) Too much baked-savories
2) Room booking fail and your bikes are not welcome here
3) Locals only!
4) Friends are made
5) “You outta towners stealing our sheilas!”
6) A definitive list of things you can literally get away with at a country pub (some of which are awesome and some of which are not that.)
7) Drama with barman
8) More “Friends!”
9) 2:30am and some of us are still awake
10) Wookie takes a stand



Boonah Overnightah — DAY TWO


After getting up way, way too early I killed some time by walking up to the lookout. Boonah was covered in thick mist and looked spectacular.


Next I dragged Scott outta bed, ate one of his bananas and we headed over to the camp grounds. Everyone was taking their time packing up, but the café didn’t open until 7 so that was cool.

Then Bennett was doing a test of his rig when he was like, “Oh shit”. His rear tyre was flat. “At least that will take the heat off me when I start multi-flatting,” I thought. It had been a minor miracle that my tubes weren’t compromised over the 80ks of day 1 but I knew that my luck just had to run out — right?


There’s good and bad things about having three mechanics in your crew. Any issues beyond a busted tube or a broken spoke just might be fixable. And they will be experts at helping you repair even those things. You can learn a lot.

But then again — it can be a little intimidating — something I am sure Bennett felt. Ha! And I am pretty used to the fact that I was reminded by these experts every now and again how shit I am at looking after my bike. My motto is simply this: the sooner you ride the bike into the ground the sooner you can justify a brand new one.

Soon we were all munching on stuff at the café and I got a bit of grief for ordering a can of soft drink with my breakfast. Agreed. It’s not very grown up.



“Puttin’ some gravel in our travel” — Wise words.


There was an epic side-drama to this trip. Battery or lack thereof. I really don’t know how these guys could chew through so much batt. Everyone was complaining about their percentages. Ryan had bought (and brought) one of those portable phone chargers just for this trip. So he was sorted. But Scott was on Tinder so much his poor phone was literally dead by the end of Saturday night. Bennett was all about the instagram. I had wisely brought an iPhone charger and though I gave it some extra juice while I napped at the motel — I didn’t even need it. My phone never dipped below 85%. I even brought a cable to charge the Garmin but that went unused.

So at the cafe everyone was scrambling to use this spare powerpoint they had sussed out while all the staff weren’t looking. Because I was the only one who had brought one of those little bricks that convert the AC powerpoint to the end of a USB cable they all had to share — so it got a bit “suspicious” around this tiny power outlet.



IMG_0270.JPGI had this idea to document everyone’s rig in profile but I only got around to doing my own. Soz.

Eventually everyone was satisfied they had enough charge (and a few had done a sneaky number two) and we got rolling. Finally!

It was now 8am and I did the maths and we had plenty of time to make the 11:05am train from Rosewood back to Brisbane. If we missed that train it was another hour to wait for the next, and then another hour for the one after that.

After a slight route-fail we realised the way home led straight up that 20% hill to the lookout. Again, I chose to walk the bike when it got nuts rather than cook my legs so early in the day. I had no trouble keeping up with Scott.

IMG_0271.JPGThis picture does no justice to the extreme gradient ahead.

The sign at the bottom had said “No Through Road” and I was starting to get a bad feeling when the road ahead really did just end at some bushes and what looked like a fence. There seemed to be no way through. But then a gate became clear and the terrain beyond it was long, dewy grass and a stupid snake-ish semi-path down losing all that altitude we had just battled to attain. I knew it would be suicidal for me to attempt this riding so I jogged the bike down only arriving at the bottom just a few seconds behind. Now the path looked more legit but it was so overgrown that the big rocks were virtually invisible. I somehow managed a few pics, but then tucked the camera away knowing that would only end in tears.


Here’s Scott starting that decent. Ryan just ahead. I h=was completely stationary — ready to run down after this bullshit was documented.


Meanwhile, despite the very audible rumble of jumping up and down this path, I heard and felt this creak, which was more like a “CRACK” and I knew this was my seat-tube topper slipping again. I forgot to tell you all in the Day 1 section that that had happened three times that day while tackling the more crazy terrain. But on inspection the saddle didn’t seem to have moved so I just crossed my fingers and ignored it. Again I had to just plow on. I didn’t think a roadside tightening of the bolts with a dodgy multi-tool would be wise.

Ahead all these dogs started barking. Like maybe 20 or so and on the left it was apparent we had stumbled on some puppy farm. But this was Boonah — so maybe these all belonged to one crazy dog person. Who knows. I heard a woman’s voice trying to calm everything down but 5 bike riders crunching past must be a novelty to these animals.

IMG_0273.JPGAll those dogs were just beyond this mesh. I could not help but think they were all so nuts just one might just need to get out and attack us. But I worry a lot.



IMG_0279.JPGHands were shaking/jumping-around too much to get this shot in focus

IMG_0276.JPGGlad of the gate so I could catch-up.

IMG_0281.JPGHere’s Bennett taking a photo of me taking a photo of him

IMG_0283.JPGRyan smashing it

After two gates — like the gates on the Brisbane Valley rail trail — (see above) we were uphill on brown dirt and then on bitumen up the Hoya climb — the longest climb of the day. Halfway up Bennett signalled that his rear tyre was flat again and we stopped in the shade in someone’s driveway. After changing the tube and zapping it with CO2 it immediately went down again. The mechanics all chimed in. “Take the tyre off and check the inside.”

Sure enough there was a bit of the wire bead that was loose and once that was removed another CO2 zap and then bang. It went down again. Now the mechanics were like, “Just use a hand pump.” And that got the tyre to a pretty decent stiffness. Thinking the drama was over Scott and I pushed on and at the top turned around and Bennett and Gypsy and Ryan were no where to be seen. We waited in the shade and about 5 minutes later they came through. It seems Bennett had tried to put a bit more CO2 in and that had failed.  Oh dear.

IMG_0285.JPGA three person effort just to get this tube change under control

Having spent about 30 minutes now on repairs that 11:05 train looked impossible. Ryan joked that the 1:05 was looking more realistic.

But the next 10ks were on rolling bitumen and our average speed improved. Which wasn’t hard. After 10ks I looked down and the Garmin said our average was just over 12ks/hr. Ha! Smashing it!

IMG_0289.JPGThat’s Bennett well ahead of me smashing these rollers. 

So we’d go down this long straight stretch and then only have to really push once we were fairly high up the next hill. A bit more gravel heading west and then more rolling gravel heading north again. In this section there was one climb (on gravel) that got quite steep and we had a 1 minute rest at the top. More calculations were done and we started to think we were back on track. It would be tight but.


Here’s Bennet and his stupidly excessive, or stupidly inspired rear cassette. Wow. Meanwhile my camera had got this bit of dirt right in the middle of the lens. Sorry about that.

Gypsy had forgotten to fill up his water bottles so we had to detour to a park in Harrisville to fill them up.

IMG_0295.JPGSpot the super-smudge on the lens. (HINT: it’s not Scott’s filthy second-day shirt.)

IMG_0297.JPGDid I tell you that Dan/Gypsy didn’t wear a helmet the entire trip? With his washing-basket at the front and his ghetto-rig underneath he looked like a homeless person we had picked up on the way.

And Gypsy-Dan did look just a bit like Dicky-Knee. See if you can tell the difference:



Just saying. 🙂

IMG_0301.JPGHere’s where my camera succumbed to sweat and all the road-grime. I was trying to get one of those LOL pics. oh well. FAIL!


And then it was a short 1km smash along the Cunningham highway (thankfully only one big truck whooshed past giving us plenty of room).

Then we had one final section of gravel. At this gully and dry creek crossing the road became a rocky sandpit and I emergency unclipped and went, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” as I desperately tried to stop as the bike got dangerously close to washing out. But I made it and then walked a bit to avoid all that rubbish. Back on bitumen and the sun was really baking us now. I could tell the humidity was far worse than on Saturday cause I was super drenched in sweat. I could feel all this chafing in my thighs too. Yuck.

This section was turning out to be the toughest. I’d take a drink but the feeling of dryness in my mouth just wouldn’t go away.



So I thought everyone was on-board with the plan to smash it a bit at the end if we had a chance of getting that 11:05. See I was keen to get home cause I had so much work to do to get the blog sorted — it takes hours and hours. But everyone else (except for my co-conspirator Gypsy/Dan) were keen to take it easy. And I secretly thought that this would make a great end to the blog story. Maybe like this:

We were all super-suffering, the heat was intense, the weight of not just our bikes but the whole two-day-adventure suddenly became oppressive. But we dug deep. The passion flowed and we pulled out all stops just to make it to Rosewood in time. And we had exactly seven minutes before it left. Just enough time to grab supplies at the IGA and bolt back into the carriage just as the doors were finally closing. (Like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy scrambles under the stone door.)

And it did go almost exactly like that — except that wasn’t the vibe of the trip. Not in tune with the slow and easy and “take it all in”. This wasn’t a credit-card-tour. Those guys had stupidly heavy bikes and were too polite to call me out on my shit.

I get it now, but at the time I just got a bit excited. A bit selfish. I am so sorry guys.

IMG_0307.JPGThis is where Ryan and Bennett are “Lathering up” with moisturiser just to soothe their epic skin damage. It was only about -10% sexual. 

IMG_0308.JPGRyan’s “speed-sleeve” now matched his skin. Kudos. 


Sometimes you can ride in a way to appease the fact it will be a tiny bit “public” — whether it be by Strava or Instagram or by a blog like this. And that’s rather than just ride naturally and anonymously and savour these bestest times with a bunch of the bestest people who will only know the detail and the minutiae and the very authenticity of this true story. This is a story only we will remember and we will remember it well into our old age — but everyone else who wasn’t there will have long forgotten.

I asked everyone to tell me their highs and lows and everyone was too excited about the adventure to really pin down any specific low. Ryan said it best when he said he thought the whole deal was a highlight and I agree. There was this article by Andy White in RIDE MAGAZINE just last month or two and his riding partner said something like, “A ride doesn’t need to be fun to BE FUN.” And I think what that means is that all the challenges, all the suffering, and all the unexpected, and even all the absolute bullshit, just makes it so perfect. I reckon if everything went to exactly to plan I would be super-disappointed. And you know what — so would our ghost-rider Brad! Hi Brad!


So at work today I was asked about the toughness of this ride — mostly cause I had to remind everyone I had just survived this Boonah adventure. And everyone pretended to remember what this was all about. All Friday I was fretting so much making sure everyone knew how EPIC I thought this weekend would be. Ugh.

Well personally this ride was easier than I thought in some aspects, but tougher in others.

1) I certainly expected to get at least one puncture. I certainly have super-faith in the Maxxis-Re-Fuse. It seems to be a very, very tough tyre. I put those two bad-boys through hell.

2) I didn’t anticipate the agony in my hands. And I underestimated how the gravel could tire you out and be so evil, but be so fucking beautiful at the same time. That 6.8k stretch was actually so painful but so amazing in exactly equal parts.

3) But then on even the shittest bitumen I could recover. At least give my brain a break from super-concentrating on the terrain. (I cannot tell you how bullshit it is evaluating and judging every single metre of the road ahead). And I have crashed about a dozen times on a bike and I don’t want to do it again.


I cannot really speak for everyone but I will just try to assume:

The guys with panniers found climbing when out of the saddle impossible (for Scott) and super-challenging (for Ryan and Bennett). Ryan said he had perfected this technique which involved a “straightness” when out of the saddle. You can’t throw the bike from side to side. You gotta be aware exactly where the weight is distributed. But if Scott left the saddle the entire backwheel would lose traction.

They obviously found smashing in a paceline ridiculous. See above.

And I would imagine any hills would have been rubbish with all that extra weight. I have never ridden a bike so laden with stuff so I wouldn’t know — but I can imagine it meant a lot more planning when a hill came up. A lot more dedication to the momentum you get from a downhill when you are faced with a serious uphill on the other side.


And you know what? I bet the balance of the bike would have taken some getting used to. It would be like getting used to a wheelchair for the first time.

BONUS PICS (courtesy of Ryan)



To the east


No one really knows much about cramping. One of the reasons for this is that research into the topic is rare because cramps are notoriously random and apparently there are many different types of cramps and also it will take a brave cyclist to allow a researcher to stick some medical probe into a muscle that’s experiencing one.

All I can say is that I generally know what causes them in me. It’s usually a very hot day, I’ve been riding over around 100ks and I also suspect one can be triggered by moving a muscle in a slightly different manner to the default motions of cycling. It’s like your body gets so used to that zone it gets upset if you alter it.

That last point becomes more acute post-ride when I try to bend over to take my shoes off or I am lying in bed trying to sleep and a foot — so used to having to push against something (and slightly bent towards my shin when riding) — starts cramping cause it’s free and can now “relax”.

Anyway — more on all that later.


We had 6 of us today which is pretty much a proper crew. At the meet-up point at Planet Cycles there was me, then Dayne, then Jesse arrived. Then Scott, Tom and finally Shirts.

The day started on a downer — I quickly discovered trying to take a snap of the sunrise that it seems not only my Garmin, but also my camera was a casualty of that wet ride last Saturday. The back display screen wasn’t functioning — which bizarrely echoed what had happened to my Garmin. So my photos will be a bit more shit than usual cause I couldn’t see the shot I was composing and I couldn’t even be sure the shot was taken. Ugh.


Dee will be grateful Scott has shaved the mo and is working on a new beard.

Scott was rocking his fixed wheel with TT bars — the rest of us were on gears, though of course Shirts was also avec TT bars.

Originally the plan was to head towards West Mt Cotton Road and then hit Serpentine Road in Redland Bay and then swing home via Cleveland. But while we were mashing the plans got altered. First we hit Mt Petrie Road which gave Scotty a bit of a workout. So I said, “We’ll cut out West Mt Cotton Road” — which is pretty brutally steep and not very much fun if you just have one gear.

“Don’t alter the plans for me!” he said.



But before all that Tom randomly said, “Take this right”. And we all obeyed and it was firstly down Rochedale Road and then into Ford Road through Sheldon. I’ve never been on these roads but it was amazing. Really pretty, quiet and packed with stuff to gawk at like transmission dishes, weird houses, horses and a place that had it’s very own half-sized rugby league field.


I caught Scott instagraming on-the-bike. So I had to get into his photo:



Another shot by Scott.



It was fun to watch Scott climbing with his two water-bottles in the back of his jersey bobbing around. Tom thought it was “mesmerising”.




Then the troop headed towards the West Mt Cotton summit. It was doubly complicated for Scott. Because he was brakeless, he had to somehow slow down during the initial 20% drop which has a potentially nasty corner at the bottom, and then he had to dig himself out of that gully. Ow. We all went first but Dayne stuck with Scott just for the LOLz and to document his suffering. Dayne is such a good mate!

This is Dayne’s pic — which I think is fucking amazing!

And I think I captured the very moment Dayne took this shot:
Dayne’s selfie to celebrate!
“That wasn’t much fun,” Scott said at the top.
So we made our way down and then on Beenleigh-Redland Bay Road Shirts led us and time-trialled all the way along. It was absolute mashing and things went by so fast I had to take Dayne’s word for the fact we narrowly avoided two squashed turtles in our line. We consistently held the speed above 45 and Scott had to pull out cause he just couldn’t consistently spin that fast. I needed an excuse to rest so I dropped off the back too — ostensibly to keep Scott company.
We were now about 65 kms into the ride and I still hadn’t refilled my water bottles. And there were no places to fill up so I had to steal some of Shirts’ water. Eventually we got to stop at civilisation — a servo somewhere near Victoria Point. Dayne demonstrated how spraying yourself — when you are all sweaty — with compressed air was amazing. He was right. Even in your shoes apparently!
So thankfully we made it to Cleveland and had a chance to eat and rest. I was so desperate for food I dived into the cafe and ordered the first thing on the menu. Our table was so crowded Jesse managed to tip his whole meal all into his lap. We laughed so hard I got the first of my many cramps for the day — in my chest.
Scott took this sneaky pic!
On our way again and naturally Shirts became — THE SHIRTS. Everyone was getting quiet. There was just suffering and I was in too much pain to take many photos.
For some reason we took this scenic route and around Wynnum I was just over it and feeling tweaks and twinges of an epic cramp about to wave over me. I was also starving again and so sick of drinking water that felt like it had just been boiled. It was around 115km from home for me at this point and I don’t think there is much point riding when it sucks and you’re gonna pay for it for days later.
So I bailed and Dayne decided that was a good idea too. And below is what remained of the crew saying goodbye and heading home.
On the train there was an empty VB can and I couldn’t resist posing for a photo which Dayne took.
So I got off at Park Road and slowly hit those last 10ks. My legs were a mess and cramping and I was so, so hungry. I made it to the fish n chip shop at the Baroona Road shops and ordered my lunch — I was craving salt and more salt. Then as I was riding down Baroona with that meal swinging from a plastic bag from my bars — I heard this, “DAVE!” And turning around it was Jesse. RANDOM!
After devouring my lunch I had a massive dual-leg cramp in the living room which locked my legs straight — like they were suddenly in full length casts. I could feel myself getting dizzy and sick with pain. Luckily it faded. See I need to keep my legs moving post-ride when I am susceptible to cramps. I have learnt that if you jiggle them around — kinda simulating the motions of the bike — that seems to help. If you get sedentary — that’s when they arc up.
ImageBy Scott
ImageBy Scott!

The Flood — 2 years on PT 2


That Wednesday the sky eventually turned a brilliant blue which apparently was the same thing that happened back in 1974. It was eerie how the rain had stopped overnight but the water crept up and stuck around like a ghost.

And then there was an overwhelming stillness about the world which defied the vibe I felt — which was essentially that this was the most profound thing that has happened to Brisbane in my living memory.

When I got back home, it was still quite early and as I casually posted these pictures on FB — I didn’t realise how shocking this might be to wake up to for a few of my friends:




But it was also shocking to the Brisbane people not living anywhere near the River. To them Brisbane must have seemed entirely normal, but perhaps just a bit quieter than usual. And so I think some people actually felt a bit left-out or a bit detached from this situation — which they perhaps overcompensated for later — something I will examine soon.

Anyway I soon went riding again and arrived at a deserted Coronation Drive which was already covered in leaf littler — a state that might appear quite normal — but to me it was stupidly bizarre. And it was also obvious all the residents of the buildings around had been evacuated.


Heading towards the city with all six lanes to myself I felt a bit like the last person on Earth. At Hale Street I was stopped by flood water but a cop was posted here for some reason and instead of sending me back — he directed me up the flyover (and on what normally would have been the wrong side). Then as I was mashing up a policeman on a motorbike seemed to be giving me an escort over. Soon I was on the expressway at North Quay and through to the city.

I remember savouring the experience, riding slow and sucking everything I could in telling myself this could well be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Around the city was more sandbagging — as far as the Queen Street Mall. But to me it seemed only Charlotte Street was seriously flooded. On the way home I saw that Suncorp was under water and so was the adjacent part of Milton Road.





Back at home I expected the power to be gone but all our stuff still had juice. But our internet connection dropped out and our mobile phone coverage was limited to a spot in the back corner of the garden which made things a little awkward.

And this being exacerbated by the fact relatives were trying to call us to see what was happening.

Around midday we were starting to think maybe we should try and find some food, just in case, and we found a shop open just off Milton Road and paid about 5 times as much for a very dodgy looking piece of pumpkin. This profiteering was really appalling and I haven’t been back to that shop.

By the afternoon we went for a wander on foot and on the way home noticed the water had entered our street and had flooded the underneath of the first 4 or 5 houses on the odd side of the road.


I should note the TV coverage of this spectacle. You could tell everyone was throwing all their resources at it as there were helicopters in the sky as soon as it got light and they only landed to re-fuel or when it got dark.

Dee was so glued to the TV she developed a slight crush on Karl Stefanovic.

But then there was reports like Suncorp Stadium was on fire, or the entire riverside restaurant had floated away and most incredibly — there was a crocodile in the River. All nonsense.

But there was real, real drama which was utterly gobsmacking to watch: like the Riverwalk breaking-up and the boats smashing into various bridges. Another. And this view where someone is applauding it.


That Wednesday afternoon at around 4 I went for a quick look to assess where the levels were at. I was riding up a tiny street called Thomas and a car started smashing down towards me giving me no room when it’s side of the road was blocked and therefore it should be giving way to me. I had to stop because it would be dangerous to keep riding as we passed and I was just so pissed off I blocked the car’s path.

I shouted at the driver that he had given me no room which was met by the driver laughing at me like I had no issue. It was then I noticed his car was stuffed with at least 5 people. I instantly realised what these people were up to and I wasn’t feeling too diplomatic.

“Who the fuck are you?” I said. “You know what? You’re just fucking tourists. Now fuck off!”

There was a look in his eye of shock like I had somehow read his mind and all he could stammer was “You’ve lost it”. At that point I rode on.

I was just getting so sick of all the useless traffic up our street. I was also worried about the cat getting hit by a car. And I was just generally over all the noise and the selfishness of people who come from the other side of Brisbane just to gander at misery. I know I was guilty of a little voyeurism, but this was my neighbourhood and a substantial part of these tours was just working out if we would be affected. The only other area I gawked at was the city — and I did it by bike, which is hardly as intrusive as doing so by car.


Maybe I was also a tiny bit worried about the looming high tide which was due to peak at 4am. We went to sleep exhausted with the drama but at 2:45 I found myself wide awake. So I just jumped out of bed and grabbed my bike and disappeared into the gloom. Dee didn’t even realise I had gone. I headed straight for Haig Road because that would be a good indicator of how high the water was going to get. A woman was already there silently watching the water rise. She pointed at a house and said she lived there and she couldn’t sleep. We both noted it hadn’t got that much higher since this afternoon. I stuck around for about 5 minutes and then headed for the River.

I went up Milton, down Ridley and across the train station overpass. At Chasely Street beside the Wesley Hospital I started riding slowly as there were no street lights or lights of any kind. The road here dips down into Coronation Drive quite excitedly but despite the blackness I could see where the water began. This was new flooding — I hadn’t seen it here the day before. At the edge I looked up and saw that the water here had come from under the road — not across it. There was no way to get to the Drive without jumping a fence into the Wesley carpark and then I was over another fence and dropping my bike from a wall at the road side and hoping I didn’t scratch it. I jumped after it and then I realised how alone I was here.

It was so dark, but not so quiet. The sound of water was incredible. And mixed into that roar was the sound of metal and other flotsam and jetsam randomly banging against eachother.

Down at the Drift Floating Restaurant the sound got even worse. This time it was timber creaking and wincing under the strain of the torrent. Although there had been news reports of the entire restaurant breaking away — it was only a pontoon at the back that had in fact been swept away. But still — the owner had had to smash all the windows to let the water it to try and save his structure. I am not sure it made a difference. Two-years-on the building is still derelict and getting more and more decrepit.

As I rode on towards the city in that scary, scary gloom I saw the water was over the road in four sections: the biggest around the Regatta Hotel and Land street, then a tiny bit at Lang Parade near the floating restaurant, then a bit more at Cribb Street and then another lake at Hale Street. These sections were once natural creeks and you can read all about them on the “Once was a Creek” blog.

When there was not much else to see I headed back the way I had come and talked to the security guard at the train station who was having quite a lonely night protecting the trains that were being warehoused here. Apparently it was because the Bowen hills railyard was in too much danger of flooding — which seems anti-intuitive now I think about it.

It was now raining again, but not very heavily. Next I wanted to see how Toowong was faring, thinking maybe the real danger was from water backing up through drains, but it didn’t seem to be suffering as badly as the predictions warned.

And so I headed home and crashed into bed.

Thursday was another brilliantly sunny day and I went out riding again, this time attempting a trip to new farm to see how some friends were doing. They weren’t home but I got to enjoy all those car-free roads and expressways and this time there weren’t just bikes around, people were walking here too.

Later that day we went down to the Rosalie shops and just near the school some cops told-off a group of five kids for swimming in what was essentially shit. The kids obediently left the water but then followed us over the rise towards the strangler fig. At the fig a news crew was filming and interviewing people. When they saw the kids coming I saw one of them asking the group to jump into the flood water just near the Frew Street drain so they could get some footage. The kids happily obliged. I was shocked and was working up the gall to say something — knowing Dee hates it when I get righteous — but some old ladies beat me to it. They forced the kids out pointing out they could get sucked into the drain and drown.




ImageThis is the intersection of Milton Road and Torwood St. You could hear the emergency siren in the distance.






That night the water disappeared and all that was left was mud.

I got up and grabbed an old broom and headed over to a house in Aldridge Street where friends of friends needed help cleaning up. I arrived early so just volunteered to help at the house next door. Soon I was carting out all sorts of personal items which I was told to chuck. And this just might have included a stash of pornography, but I shouldn’t confirm, nor deny this story.

But then I was expected to trash some important looking papers and I thought I should check with the owner but it turned out he didn’t care. So I heaved them on the increasingly huge pile of shit across the road but it nagged me a bit cause it seemed like he was in a daze — and not really capable of rational thinking. And then deeper into his under-house-tip I also had to lug stuff that looked suspiciously like asbestos sheeting — which thankfully was wet, but still broken and fibrous and I just had to pray it was something benign like plasterboard.

In that vein it should be said that in Torwood Street over-zealous “helpers” had chucked out someone’s perfectly salvageable kitchen while the owner was absent.

An hour or so later, car after car started arriving with people enthusiastically offering help — but we had to turn them away as the area was already choked with volunteers. And one group were distinctly “Aussie” and were already on the turps and concerned they would get breathalysed on the way home. It seemed this was a party to them.

On the way home I noticed an important-looking heavy vehicle was trapped in a side street. So I held up my broom and the cars stopped and the truck could escape. But then I didn’t get a thank-you wave. UGH!

Then I went over to South Brisbane to help another mate at his home on Cordelia St and got to ride in mud at least 3 or 4 inches deep. Crazy.

That afternoon after deciding the shoes I had worn all day weren’t salvageable I went for a lazy ride over to the western freeway bikepath. I did some laps and then on the way home I decided Milton Road was too chaotic so I headed up past the Botanical Gardens thinking I would go home via Birdwood Terrace.

Unbeknownst to me, the police had issued a request to cyclists to avoid the area as the quarry was being used to dump flood clean-up waste. In any case I cruised through and was waved through by a stop/go person and just as I was past the quarry turnoff — without disturbing any trucks I should say — suddenly this TV cameraman from Channel 7 leapt at me from across the road and got right up in my grill filming everything I did like I was famous. I was rattled so I stopped the bike and asked what was going on. The cameraman just said, “Oh, my boss just asked me to film bikes here.”

Then the stop-and-go guy was shouting at me that I was blocking the road — which I wasn’t — and so I turned around and headed home the shitty way, not really sure what had just happened. At home I realised that the news was going to attempt to pillory cyclists again and this time it was going to be me as their poster-boy of nastiness.


Thankfully there was nothing on the news about me, but that’s the power of the media. I was just finding a safe route home yet they could paint me as some kind of demon. And I later thought, “Why didn’t I just show him the address on my ID?” Or point out all the caked-on mud all over me. UGH.

All that “flood-hero” nonsense really annoyed me. People were just doing their duty, but many it seemed walked around like getting a broom out made them superior.


New Year’s and our new Ladies

So we have/have had visitors. Wintah has stayed with us the last two nights and Laura K arrived yesterday and will be staying here about a week.

This is Wintah playing us his new song:


And this is Laura who is visiting from the Old Country:Image


So after a big night where Sarah also visited and we finally got to meet one of Wintah’s many half-siblings (Bridget — who dropped him off) we woke up incredibly, incredibly dusty.

But I had a plan. Wintah didn’t realise it, but he was going to help me finish the chook-pen. When this was announced he looked bewildered, but not incredulous because I think he is used to the fact I get crazy ideas sometimes.

As we inspected the site of the proposed enclosure (which Dad and I had half-made about a year ago) he said, “Have you got the wood?” Yes. And then, “Do you have screws and stuff?” Totally.

“Do you have a measuring tape?”

I fucking do! And I am totally down with all the sweet adages: “Measure twice, cut once”. And “Hold a beer by the neck, a woman by the waist and a hammer at the end.”

Wintah seemed just a bit impressed by this. But just as he was starting to come around he said — “Do you have any tools?” To which I replied, “YES! Except…well…I don’t have a drill. I was thinking we would just use nails and hand drill stuff. Yeah.”

“I think we need a drill,” Wintah said, quite soberly and authoritatively. I thought about this for a moment and decided he was right:

“OK! New plan: road trip: get booze, get tools.”

So I bought the cheapest drill available at Paddington Hardware and Wintah bought some French champagne for later which was an insight into how sophisticated Wintah has become!


And so Wintah and I made a door! A fucking DOOR! It totally works and everything!

Previously to this I had thought house building was pretty basic. I mean — back in the early days of Brisbane — people would regularly build their own houses. But yeah — I think I have a new appreciation for carpentry. So yeah — I am FUCKING glad Wintah made me get that drill. Oh yeah.


Here’s the drill in action! And below — all finished!


Then Laura arrived while Wintah and me were being all manly and soon we were finished and went off to Brookfield Produce store to get some hens. We decided on Bantams cause they are apparently good pets, affectionate and we don’t need a shit-load of eggs. Even though I really do like eggs.

So we chose a black-one and a white-one to match Sasha. Here is Dee “Releasing the hens!”



Dee named one “Freddie” (Fredericka) after Freddie Mercury. And I named the white one “Yoko” cause I wanted to name her after a woman I respected. Then I accidentally realised that it was also a pun on “yolk”. So if anyone asks — the official story is she is like “Yolk-o”.


Then we got the BBQ running and bonded with the chooks. They are really cute and friendly and I am pretty sure I love them already. I was quite surprised birds could elicit this reaction in me. I assumed I was a bit like Dale Cooper who dislikes birds. But I loved how they seemed to be losing their shit just wandering about the garden — just like when the cat got to play outside for the first time. It was like they were saying, “OMG! Grass!” or “HOLY SHIT — real dirt!”

And they sat on my lap and they had incredible warmness. Amazing.



Ok. After that we got a bit adventurous and went to a house party in Morningside. On the way there the taxi was driving across the riverside expressway just as the 9pm fireworks were going off — fucking incredible.





Then I got a bit drunky and needed a walk — so Craig led me to the Southside Tea Room where Dee and Loz were reunited with Kristie.



11:58pm NEW YEAR’S EVE

So in order to get home safely we got a cab at 5 minutes to midnight. But that meant we got to see the fireworks again on the way home. Wintah, sadly, missed everything.


I checked on the chooks when I got home and they looked like this:


Then, at about 6am, I woke up and fed the cat and let the chooks out to play and the cat was completely fine. Indeed she was secretly terrified of them. When they got close to her you could see her heart leaping out of her chest and when an Indian Minor bird swooped and both chickens flapped and made a fuss, the cat ran away in terror. Cute.Image



My week away. (Canberra and Melbourne)


So it’s been over a week since you’ve heard from me – but I have been busy.

Essentially I’ve spent the week in Canberra and in Melbourne.


A decade ago I kinda worked at Parliament House, in the sense that I worked for a Queensland MP and would visit there occasionally during sitting weeks. I had a very important looking pass with my picture on it and I got to go anywhere I wanted, except through doors that said “Members Only”. If I had a suit (you need to wear a jacket in there) I could have ducked into the Reps chamber too.

But the reason I was in Canberra this time was because I was part of a delegation lobbying for a parliamentary inquiry into public sector job security. We had meetings with Adam Bandt from the Greens, Bob Katter, Peter Slipper, Tony Windsor’s Chief of Staff and finally Kevin Rudd. But along the way we also met with Larissa Waters and a few other politicians.

I think it is safe to say that it was quite a “through the rabbit hole” experience — but dear readers — unfortunately I really can’t provide any more detail.


Parliament House predominately has these hard-wood floors — saturated with the pock marks of high-heels. And so all the while you walk around it, making so much noise — you actually get this vibe that you are in the corridors of power.


But I can say that Dee was giving me points for political celebrities I spotted. So here is the washup:

1) 2 minutes after entering the House I was walking through one of the big, heavy doors and realised someone was behind so I held it open for that person — who turned out to be Andrew Wilkie. At that point I was not sure how many points he was worth — but it felt like I should get a bonus.

2) Bill Shorten just buying tea at the Aussie’s cafe/store.

3) Tony Abbott jogging (in t-shirt and jogging shoes etc just seconds after Question Time finished) through the corridors of Parliament House. I suspect he wears his jogging attire underneath his suit. That’s the only way I can explain such a quick costume-change.

4) As Joe Hockey walked passed he recognised my boss and then shook his head in disgust and because I was the only one looking at him — he had to direct that silent rant at me. I am pretty sure I was flattered by someone who is so much part of the problem thinking we were scum. LOL.


Beautiful art-deco light fixture. I fucking love almost every bit of the design of Parliament House. It is inspired.Image

PH has real art everywhere — like sourced from the National Gallery. It is quite surreal to casually wander past a Brett Whiteley (above) or notice an Albert Tucker hanging on the wall behind you — and you only notice as you get up to leave a meeting.

5) Talking to Kevin Rudd about Lego. We walked into this big, important meeting with Kevin and bizarrely he had a Lego set on the coffee table he was building. And he had meticulously separated all the little pieces into tea cups and the big bits into breakfast bowls. Upon seeing this I couldn’t help myself but exclaim, “OMG! I have this set too — it’s AWESOME!” He explained that it was a recent gift and made a joke about how it was a barometer about how his meetings were going — if everything was getting too boring and people started playing with the Lego things were not going so well.

I then went into great detail about the specifics of the build and followed that up with an epic story of how Wintah had recently broken it. Eventually I suspected I was getting close to freaking Kevin out and being quietly ejected so I shut up and let the business stuff continue. But if you are reading Kev, any help on Lego you need — just let me know.

As the meeting closed and I was doing a video I said to Kevin that my beyonce used to work at Riverbend Cafe and was a big fan. It was then Kevin finally actually warmed to me and kinda blushed. I could see him thinking, “Maybe this crazy lego-nerd ain’t so bad”.

6) I got big points for Insiders regulars — but I only saw Peter Coorey, Laura Tingle and that gangly photographer that appears on Michael Bower’s “Talking Pictures” segment (my favourite part of Insiders). I did see a lot of First Dog pictures.

Others: Peter Garratt, Chris Evans, Darryl Melham, Ian McFarlane, Jenny Macklin, Tanya Plibersek, Craig Emerson, Peter Dutton, Wyatt Roy, Joel Fitzgibbon.

Unfortunately I didn’t see Annabel Crabb or Julia Gilliard or Chris Pyne or First Dog on the Moon which would have sent the points system in meltdown. Oh well.


Me in business-mode waiting for the lift.



Look at this crazy-cat



There are over 2500 of these exact clocks all over the House. The ticking they make is unbelievably loud. “You get used to it,” Adam explained. Periodically these bad-boys go nuts for ages to indicate divisions and other important stuff. The two squares at the bottom are lights that indicate Senate or Reps divisions. 


So then I was off to Melbourne for the FWD2012 conference on online campaigning.

After the first night of ‘enjoying’ the very basic facilities at Queen’s College — shared toilets and showers — I decided to stay at mum’s house. Apart from that fact I am getting a bit snobby in my old age — I really have trouble using public facilities. That’s just how I roll.

Anyway. Mum had a new edition to her pad. This dollhouse — Villa Sibi — based on the Philip Norman house. It comes from Germany. Mum had even made little magazines for the Ken and Barbie occupants inside.


Here’s some pics of mum’s house and Melbz.Image

The view from Mum’s balcony. At dusk it is like a painting that gets better every minute.

ImageA rare Tretchikoff. Image

Those three bowls and stand are apparently extremely desirable. Mum paid 400 euros for them.Image


Hi mum!Image


Mum’s spare room — where I slept — is like an old-school kid’s room. Complete with these amazing original children’s books from ages ago.Image





Adam is super-cool! When Alex makes a joke he gets it!




I bet you didn’t know that Brisbane is the only (major) city in the world named after an astronomer. Maybe you did already, so good on you. But personally I was pretty excited by this revelation.

I first discovered Brisbane was named after an actual person — Sir Thomas Brisbane — when my year 10 history teacher (Mr Hannon) made us memorise the first ten Governors of NSW, and New South Wales almost equated to the whole of white-occupied Australia in those days. To this day I can roll them off without even thinking:

Phillip, Hunter, King, Bligh, Macquarie, Brisbane, Darling, Bourke, Gipps, Fitzroy.

So Mr Hannon, who is still teaching at Sydney Boy’s High, made us get into groups of three and assigned each group one of those ten Governors and told us to spruke his exploits to a class presentation, and then do our best to denegrate all the other 9 governors — no holds barred. He even encouraged gutter tactics, epic sensationalism and Today Tonight style journalism, (though of course TT didn’t exist back then).

It was an exceedingly inspired display of educating. And to this day if anyone asks me who my favourite teacher is — it would be Tony Hannon.


Anyway, today we had a date with Sir Thomas and the Planetarium named after him. This little Brisbane treasure is located in the botanic gardens near Mt Coot-tha and the last time I had been here was back when I was maybe 5ish. And I LOVED it then but never really thought to go back until today. And our other date was Tegan who had just finished her exams and is moving house and needed some celebrations! Yes. We arrived just as it was about to storm — again! It has been an epic weekend of precipitation and atmospheric drama.

The garden got a bit more chewed up than usual yesterday and last night, after another epic slow-storm rolled over, we lost power for a few hours — the first time we’ve experienced here.

The cat has been a bit mental but not as bad as I have seen her when she has been trapped by Queensland’s summer wet-weather.

And just now another big storm is bearing down upon us.

But, back to today.

The Planetarium is a big round building and we all know round buildings are cool – right?



All along the curved outer shell is a gallery of cosmic wonders.

Some — like the view of “Brisbane From Space” are not quite worthy of being displayed so prominently — now that Google is around. LOL.





Meanwhile outside it all got nasty and rainy.

This is the view through the porthole windows. I remember these windows from my visit as a kid. I also remember they obviously didn’t have modern projectors back in that day. Instead they had this weird contraption in the centre of the room that looked so freakishly sci-fi.

In fact you can see it in the background of the picture below. I expect the display back then was no where near as impressive as today — but I still miss that bad guy spinning away in the centre of the room.


ImageThe amazing trippy roof design!


So the actual show — we saw “Cosmic Collisions” narrated by Robert Redford — was fucking amazing. Like I got a few tears in my eyes thinking about how epic it was. It was really, really cool and seeing it on the massive ceiling and having to look around all the time just like you would in real life. Dee and I even banged heads at one stage looking at random views on the edge. LOL.


Then after a cool demonstration of our Brisbane celestiality (I made that word up) where a very nice presenter talked us through what we would see at night time if we looked up, we emerged to clear skies and epic, intense sunshine. BIZARRE!


So then we settled down for Mexican and booze.

But then another storm came.

Dee made me put the car under the house as hail was due. And literally 2 minutes later the maelstrom hit. We’ve never had hail here.











The cat suddenly decided the floor tom was a good place to sleep. She’s never, ever slept here before.


Then it got sunny again and she was here.


This is late last night (Saturday) and so we sat on the deck and brought out a mat for the cat. It was nice.

My Weekend

After an awesome Friday night boozy chat with Sarah, Saturday began with that fuzziness but it was exacerbated by the drizzle and gloom of constant rain and the sense of entrapment. Bike riding seemed too messy and could be saved for later when it was more civil outside.

So Dee and I eventually headed off to visit Claire — who is studying photography — and she needed a model (me) for some kinda assignment. Essentially she needed to replicate this photo by Alfred Eisenstardt.


I got all dressed up and looked a bit of a goob trying to be so important and worthy of photography.


I know this is silly, and it is another thing that could only happen to me, but when I was getting all scrubbed up for the shoot I attempted to clean out my ears and I must have got a bit too excited cause I pulled a muscle or some other bit of painful matter in that region and the pain just behind my right ear steadily grew and grew. It eventually became a deathstar of agony and so fucking concentrated. As we drove there I even tried putting a coin behind my ear (cause the metal was cold) in a vain attempt to dull the pain. It was intense. The first thing I did when I got to Claire’s place was ask for panadol.

Anyway – so this is what Claire took:


Good job Claire making me look less like a deadshit. Thanks!

After that we went to Dee’s folk’s place in Ormiston and I was still struggling with the pain so I had a nap (which I knew would be the only thing that could kill the pain) in a side room just on the rug on the floor. I literally can sleep anywhere. I slept for almost 1.5 hours and was a bit stiff and sore in other areas, but that stupid ear-pain was gone.

That night I got a lift from Ali (and Scott) over to Highgate Hill for a home-screening of the Premium Rush movie. I tried my best to interest Ali and Scott with my epic ear-pian story but kinda failed. Oh well.


To my surprise the movie was kinda decent. Cheesy, but entertaining.

After telling my “Cowboy Joke” I thought it best to retreat before I embarrassed myself further. So I put my headphones on and started shuffling the initial stages of my eventual 8km walk home. Gradually my gait got more controlled. But of course I had to do something silly.

So my bladder was screaming at me and I saw this vacant lot in West End and it looked private and like no one would care if I did a tiny little bush-pee.

But in climbing the fence in the dark I didn’t spy this extra wire and so I dug a big fat line of cuts in my leg. It looks cool so NBD.


Today I went for a big 90k ride out to Nudgee Beach and around the crit track and kinda felt OK. Then we went for dinner at Kate and Anna’ place and I played with my nephews which was fun but very, very tiring and then I managed to bang Hugo’s head into the floor trying to teach him some breakdance moves. And he cried and cried and I felt terrible but he was apparently very tired from spending all day up at the coast with no nap. Oh dear.