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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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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2019 November. Cycle Chiang Rai to Hanoi

Eventually I make it into the large town of Dien Bien Phu. I’ve spotted a home stay and Mrs. Google weaves me through a maze of tiny back streets to a palatial home. My host, Yen shows me to my room and I ask about places for dinner. Come down at 7pm She suggests. I wash away the day’s road grime and front at 7pm. I’m expecting to be pointed towards a nearby cafe or restaurant but instead Yen walks me through town to her favourite noodle shop. We slurp away as she explains that her family like to have foreign visitors stay and expand their world. We sip a beer then walk some more before stopping at a modern coffee shop. This is my family’s coffee shop, she explains, we have a coffee plantation in the mountains. I nod like everyone at home has one too. When we get home Yen pours me a whiskey and announces that her mother makes the whiskey in the building next door.

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2019 September. Cycling U.K and Europe.

The day’s fall into a pattern. A hot shower to loosen the body especially my legs and shoulders which tighten after long days on the bike. A few stretches but never really enough then down into the breakfast room to fill the petrol tank for the day. Repack my few precious items and then give the room a last sweep of my eye. My bike is usually in a garage locked to an old bed, a fridge handle or a disused cooker. It says nothing as I load the pannier bags fill my water bottles and clip on my handlebar bag. But like myself I know my bike is happiest when it is freewheeling down a hill or spinning silently next to a river.

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