2022 May Spinning through the Flinders Ranges

One hundred kms on gravel is a far harder push than bitumen. Thankfully there were sections of bitumen each day to allow my body to stop shaking. Some sections of corrugation left me unsure if my teeth would ever bite into a bread roll again. Worse was I didn’t have the skills to stop or ride over such a punishing track even if I’d wanted.

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2022 April Swimming with the Whale sharks of Ningaloo reef

I’d been told if possible to swim across onto the less crowded side of the whale shark to get a better view. All was going to plan until she slowed and I didn’t. Suddenly I was level with her face. Her mouth is over a metre wide and even though I know she only eats vegetation I’d like to see the full statistics. She turns to face me feeling I have partially trapped her in. She doesn’t read my apologetic bubbles very well and continues to face me.

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2001 September. Prague to Zakopane. Mostly by bicycle.

As much as I feel terrible, listening to a room full of very ill patients calling out, crying and groaning last night put it all in perspective. I was going to survive, mend and leave this hospital many of them wouldn’t. The surgeon comes around to visit and tells me in perfect English that I can leave. He had arranged for my bike to be taken to the basement after being told it was leaning against the front entrance. Robyn arrives and is happy to see me moving although slowly. We gather the bike and our bags and slowly work our way to the station.

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2021 Nov. Cycling the magical Murray River.

I am about to leave my motel when the owner asks which way I’m going. “Hard along the river” I reply. “Not sure you’ll get through due to recent rains.” I don’t want to double back when I have 100 kms to cover. “I was the local postman for 11 years.” He boasts. “Head towards Denny” he thinks aloud as he closes his eyes. “Just before you cross any bridges turn right. It’s dirt… is that ok ? Goes for 22 kms but lovely country. Turn right again when you come to Jungle lane. After that just follow your nose into Echuca” he gasps as his eyes reopened. He had revisited his postal route in his head.

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2021 May Cycling Noosa to Sydney

Kevin Ellwood another touring cyclist lives in Sydney. I met Kevin online when touring Taiwan a few years ago. We’d never met but today that will all change. His suggestion to catch a ferry from Ettalong Beach to Palm Beach wasn’t on my radar. Not only did I get a half hour reprieve on the local ferry but it left me on the much quieter North Shore beaches. I’m guided to Manly beach by a friend of Kevin’s strategically positioned along the way. We chew the fat on all things touring whilst sitting like lizards in the Winter sun at Manly.

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2021 March. Cycling the Great Ocean Road

I lift my bike over the threshold at the Vue Grand, the grandest old dame of a hotel in Queenscliff and ring the bell at reception. Sadly the receptionist didn’t say “Mr. Barnes we were expecting you, normal suite? “ instead she simply asked for my credit card without looking up. I celebrate by taking a large beer up to the turret deck high above the hotel and look out over the old town. I spot the ferry heading towards Sorrento, I’ll be on that in the morning.

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2005 December. Morocco & Majorca.

The guide has done a deal where the local baker cooks the camel patties and a nice burger bun. Meanwhile the group linger around a pokey tea house where locals sit in a cloud of smoke pulling hard on shisha pipes. Us out-of-towners cough and splutter like we know what we are doing ! Finally the camel burgers are ready. They aren’t bad or is it that what we are smoking clouds my judgement.

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2020 December. Mallee silo art trail

Over the next two days we roamed the Mallee region to photograph the old concrete wheat silos. The towering landmarks alongside the network of railway lines have been the collection point for grain for over one hundred years. No longer used for storage they now catch our eye as vast canvases depicting farm and country life over the years. Local and International artists are chosen after spending time immersing themselves in this unique rural life. Their finished work ranges from hard weathered faces to celebrations of the purple tinged skies.

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2020 March. Hiking the Three Capes. Tasmania, Australia.

In the camp kitchen people are busy boiling kettles of water. Bags of powdery substances, dehydrated roast lamb, spaghetti bolognese, even apricot crumble are magically transformed into tonight’s dinner. The packets should come with a blindfold as the flavours and texture are questionable. Nick reads the roast lamb packaging to find the same meals were used by NASA for their space exploration. If it’s good enough for them…. But a walker’s hunger is not up for discussion, the meals fill the hole in our stomachs, end of story.
The real problem was the satchels of red wine, they are simply too small. Next time we leave the first aid kit behind and replace it with more red body numbing lubricant. Sunset is barely over when I stumble to my bunk and fall asleep to the gentle rumble of the nearby sea. Others evidently fall asleep to the gentle rumble from my top bunk. Disposable earplugs in the kitchen.

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2018 September. Cycling to the Japanese mountains.

I washed as you do, like never before, then slipped into the steamy, cloudy water a haze hugging the surface from the heat and sulphur minerals. After a while you could hear girl’s giggling on the other side of the modesty screen and then through the haze comes a girl in her thirties with a washer as a headpiece and another wet washer in her hand. She glides through the cloudy water using her nipples as her bowline. The old men around me stirred restlessly, the younger ones stood and pretended to be getting out. She had a captive audience as she eased herself up onto the perimeter ledge flicking the wet towel casually over her body, she’d done this before. Ah she was enjoying herself.

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