After extracting Basil from the gate and making sure that everyone was okay, we continued onto the Munna Creek Hall, an alternative campsite a few hundred metres off the official BNT. We set up camp round the back of the hall, and to my delight-there was power AND reception! Which meant….. MUSIC !!(Pandora). Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, in my efforts to upload the Queensland topographic maps onto my GPS unit, I lost my mini SD card somewhere in the paddock at camp. I didn’t even bother to look for it- those things are a ridiculously small size.
Anyway, it had all my music on it. Well, that is, except for Z’s Taylor Swift album, which as Murphy’s Law would have it, happened to be the ONLY album on the hard drive of my phone. So much to Z’s delight and my chagrin, we had been listening to it on repeat as of late in order to get our music fix.
As a result, I can now proudly confess to knowing ALL the lyrics to ‘Blank Space‘, as well as having the ability to mindlessly mumble ‘shake it off, shake, shake, shake it ‘ about a million times over while we trudge through the kilometres of our day. As you can imagine, after a week I was LITERALLY going insane. With all due respect, Taylor Swift, I need some space. So how awesome to be able to hear Melissa belting it out on Pandora while I cooked up some vegetarian spag-bol, the bubs grazing contentedly and the lavender sunset slipping quietly away behind the green of the sportsground.
The following day’s ride would probably rate as on of our more challenging days on the BNT. I think if I had confronted a day like this in the early days of our trek, I probably would’ve turned around and gone back. But the longer you are on the trail, the tougher and more confident both humans and animals seem to become. After you’ve conquered a few seemingly insurmountable challenges, you just know that somehow, you’ll get through okay. And so we did!
But first, we lost the trail….
After a pleasant and uneventful 10 kilometres or so, we lost the trail. It had pointed us into a paddock of overgrown grass, so out came the GPS and eventually it led us to a creek I knew we were supposed to cross. So far, so good. Sometimes I still feel ‘naughty’ for barreling straight through long grass, and boy can it get long in Queensland. After years of being told to NEVER walk through long grass, I had well and truly broken every rule in the snake-safety-for-kids book by now. Sorry, mum! Truth be told, we hadn’t even seen a snake for months.
So anyway, the creek crossing. We couldn’t find it. Z let the bubs graze while I paced back and forth along the bank, or shall I say, cliff. The creek was flowing through an eroded gully, which seemed far too steep and dense with vegetation to get down safely. I wasn’t even sure if I was on the trail, after all. Another 10 mins or so of pacing, and Z yelled out ‘marker!’. There really is nothing like those reassuring little red and yellow triangles to quell your anxieties!
But to my disappointment, the creek crossing was followed by a myriad of steep hills and gullies, covered in blackberries, lantana, cacti and other pricklyish, grabby things which Queensland does best (along with long grass and good beer, of course). After lots of to-ing and fro-ing, saddle panniers getting stuck between trees, and GPS-button pushing, we reached a gate with another absolutely GORGEOUS marker on it. Phew!!! With our bubs now far away on holiday as I write this, my heart swells remembering how brave, tough and totally unquestioning of our leadership they were on that day.
Onwards and Upwards….
Travelling parallel to the Mary River (which represented the beginnings of having to be mindful of crocs), we passed through a mob of horses running wild, had afternoon tea with a man who was living in a treehouse cabin overlooking the river, and met a man on a Harley who was absolutely beside himself with excitement at seeing the donkeys. Such is life on the BNT- never a dull moment. Well, except when you’re on the road out of Elgin Vale, but that’s another story…
This week was first for us in many ways- the first time we got out of a sticky situation without one of us five losing our cool or getting scared, the first time we saw sugarcane growing, and the first time we passed beehives. There were heaps of them along the side of the road, and how incredible the smell was! Like bush perfume… Later on that day, the farmer who owned all the hives in the area invited us to camp in his sheep paddock, which was also full of beehives. I was a little concerned, given the donkeys’ investigative ways, but it turned out to be a wonderful, relaxing night for all of us.
The next day brought us to yet another fantastic camp at the Sandy Creek Forestry Station, a forestry camp/ outdoor education centre, now rather dilapidated, but full of character nonetheless. We were hoping to give the bubs a rest day there, but the lack of feed meant that we pushed on to Musket FLat instead, where friendly locals Sharon and Len made us feel welcome.
The Resurgence of the Dreaded Red-Belly
Did I just say earlier that we hadn’t seen a snake for months? Well, over the next two days, we saw three, with me just about stepping on one. Eeek! Luckily they tend to get out of the way and aren’t really a major concern for me. After all, how many people do you know of who have died of snakebite?
Two days later, we arrived in Biggenden. Little did I know we would be there for two weeks, organising logistics for the cycling leg of our trip and getting our bubs trucked off. The blokes who ran the showground were true gentleman and couldn’t possibly have been more hospitable. And just like, the bubs were off and gone on holiday, and we were off on the bus to Bundaberg to become, well, cyclists I guess…