Five Days Is Better Than None

By: Ian Stapleton
Childers, Queensland Australia

I headed off from Childers with the intention of redoing and beating the Kullogum Killer. That was the ride where I ended up badly dehydrated whilst still in the midst of Wongi State Forest.

I had planned better and was prepared better. I had more supplies and was able to carry more water due to the fact that I was towing my Extrawheel trailer.

The first day was simple, it was around 2.00 pm when I left Childers. I was planning on camping in one of the local parks or rest areas, but being a long weekend there was just too much traffic. So I decided to ride out of town along Rainbows Rd until it got closer to nightfall. It was around 16 km when I finally found a nice area to camp.

I got set up, this was going to be the first night in the new Burrow Bivvy Tent. I set it up, found some rocks and made a fire pit, and gathered some firewood.

Dark came soon enough and with a cozy small fire going I set about getting some dinner on. Tonight’s specialty was spaghetti bolognese. 

I hadn’t seen a car, or another person since I had left the small town. It was quiet, and it didn’t take long for the serenity to start soaking in. This is what I love, in the middle of nowhere, a small fire and not a sound except the crickets and night birds. I turned in shortly after and it didn’t take long to fall asleep.

Morning came around after a mixed night’s sleep. Changing between hot and cold in the new bivvy made it uncomfortable at times. It held some condensation over the course of the night, although not to the point where it was dripping on me.

Up and with some porridge and coffee on my stomach it was time to get packed up and on the road. I will say that the new bivvy made for a quick pack up. I left my sleeping mat and pillow inside it when rolling it up.

Off on the new route now, it seemed so much easier than the previous time I went through Wongi. The road was much smoother, with fewer ruts and washouts that made it easier to ride loaded. The trailer in tow seemed to help with less weight directly on the bike.

Continuing along Rainbows Rd it wasn’t long before I was Agnesvale Rd. The road narrowed but was still a joy to ride in. It was also signed along the way making it more comfortable knowing I was on the right track. Something that caused me a lot of questions about my prior trip.

My plan was to head down these roads and join onto the beginning of Old Coach Rd, but this didn’t happen. I followed the signs and my route on Komoot but ended up on some of the old routes that I had done. It was good though, this was the better section of the forestry roads.

I started noticing familiar sights, like bridges, clearings, and a particular creek crossing that I collected water from. I came out right where I had camped before. This was good, I knew where I was. That’s always a good feeling.

On Old Coach Rd now I was making my way to Kullogum Rd. There was evidence of four-wheel drives and some of the roads had been chopped up. Uphill and down I continued and onto Kullogum.

It was still a challenge and I was tiring. I was also getting low on water, again. This was all good though. I wasn’t aiming for Brooweena, I was only aiming for North Aramara, which is much closer.

I soon found my spot where I had collapsed last time. I was so excited to make it past here. One more hill and I was on a downhill run. I finished the last of my water at the top of this hill as a celebration. Downhill for the most part now to North Aramara.

I came into the small village just prior to 5.00 pm. I was told I could get water at the town hall on the other side of the township, but I needed somewhere to camp. As I came into town I saw the old Armara North State School that was now closed. This was now a recreation area cared for by Fraser Coast Council. There was a weather shed at the rear and a tank of crystal clear water, just what I needed.

Set up for the night under the shelter I had no phone service to check-in. My wife is getting accustomed to this, but it did make me think of the importance of a satellite messenger. With dinner done I turned in watching the lightning show coming up on the horizon. Then it was time to listen to some heavy rain as I drifted off to sleep.

After a good night’s sleep, I was woken by some nearby roadworks machinery. Up, packed, and coffeed up it was time to hit the road for Memorial Bridge. Not an overly long day, but I was ignorant of what may lay ahead.

It didn’t take long to ride the remainder of North Aramara Rd. With just a short pedal along Maryborough Biggenden Rd, I was on Glenbar Rd which was much, much quieter.

It wasn’t long before I was on gravel, Walkers Flat Rd, and enjoying the scenery, and the serenity. Again, back on roads devoid of cars I was in my happy place. After a few more bends I was on Gigoogman Rd, and much more open country. Tucked on behind trees I hadn’t noticed the very strong westerly that had formed. I was now facing it head-on, and it wasn’t kind at all.

After many stops, I turned onto Bullocky Rd still facing my fierce nemesis, the headwind. I was extremely close to finding a campsite along this stretch. But I pushed on and finally made Brooweena Woolooga Rd, and now only had a short distance to Memorial Bridge. 

I made it and enjoyed such a pleasant break. It had cooled down significantly since I had hit the headwinds. Earlier in the day, I had changed from a long sleeve shirt to a short sleeve. But now at Memorial Bridge, I was clammering for something warm to put on. The westerly wind changed and coming now more from the south brought a very cool change indeed.

Warmed up and coffee I was settled in. I set up the bivvy under the picnic shelter and tied off both ends to the posts of the structure. Night settled in as the sun dove down over the horizon. I set in to have some dinner and turn in for the night.

It was a cool night and I was met with a cool morning when I awoke. Up and porridge with coffee, I set about getting things packed up. Some workmen had turned up earlier to do some painting repairs to the Bridge, which is the only privately owned War Memorial in Queensland.

I was on my way and enjoying the morning. Vehicle traffic was higher on this road but they were all friendly and courteous. I stopped a few times to snack and catch my breath, and once on Running Creek Rd I was hoping the creek had water…and it did.

I stopped for a while, filtered some water, and enjoyed a cool drink before heading on up the hill. This second hill is the steepest and longest along this road, and I walked it pushing the bike. But I love this road and find it as enjoyable as the tail trails.

It was late afternoon and I wasn’t feeling the best. I was still in a bit of a recovery mode from the previous two days of hard yakka. About ten kilometers from Kilkivan I decided to call it a night.  On the side of the road, the tarp was strewn between two trees and the bivvy under it.

A farmer came by later in the evening with her four dogs, one I aptly named Psycho…it was, in a funny l, loving kind of way. After our chat, she left with her dogs behind and I settled down for some dinner. I ran out of water at the end of the night but wasn’t too concerned as it was only a short, mostly downhill run into Kilkivan.

Up, packed, and on my way skipping breakfast I was pedaling to town. I decided to get an egg and bacon roll with a couple of hash browns and coffee at one of the local establishments. I also decided that I would only ride to Kilkivan and camp for the night. I thought that a good rest might help recharge the batteries a bit.

It was here I started having issues with my colostomy again. Bugger this, I was over it. This is where I decided to call it quits for the trip. I probably overreacted too much too soon now in hindsight. But I’m still getting used to this colostomy whilst bike touring.

I had a great time, five days of glorious riding in some scenic and beautiful country. I met some characters along the way, enjoyed some serenity, and felt a little like old me again. But most of all I was able to extend my trip a little further than the last one. I also managed to learn and gain some experience in regards to managing myself on a trip.

Five days and two hundred kilometers, what’s next? Well, stay tuned for that…

Cheers, and ride safe out there.