With the wind behind us
We awoke to a glorious day. The bunk beds were surprisingly comfortable, and the room surprisingly quiet except for a group of drunken locals returning to the house next door around 3:30am. The view from the hostel was completely different in the morning, as the tide had come in. Once breakfast was done, we split the chores. Our decision to head to St Helens via Gladstone, meant that we had extra shopping to do before we could leave. Jonno and I headed to the supermarket, whilst Simon and Georgia stayed behind to make the lunches. It was lovely to hop on a bike with no extra gear, but we knew that the pleasure would be short lived.
Morning view from the hostel
Back at the hostel, we shared out the supplies, and loaded the bikes. We headed out of town around 10am to a beautiful, almost windless day. It was easy riding towards Gladstone, largely flat through farmland with distant views of sand dunes. There were a few cars on the road, but they gave us lots of room as they passed. Jonno was using his bluetooth speaker to listen to the Great Gatsby, a compulsory school text. Georgia listened to music until her phone fell out. I was listening to The Animators, a story on Audible, so we were all happy as we cycled along.
Overlooking Bridport as we ride out
Distant sand dunes
Flat farm land
We had given Jonno instructions to find somewhere to stop around 11am, but it was 11:30 before we found him, some 27kms later. He had stopped at a road junction near a Telstra station, where the mesh wire provided a convenient resting spot for our bikes. We set up our chairs and boiled the kettle for a well-earned morning cuppa. We had also set ourselves up on the busiest intersection of the day as cars laden with boats, quad-bikes, motorbikes, trailers and caravans came and went, together with the Tasmanian National Parks cleaning crew. Clearly the Waterhouse Conservation Area was the place to be.
Having a cuppa on our chairs
We made the decision to continue on and have lunch at Tomahawk Bay, rather than find another spot along the road. When we reached the intersection, we discovered it was an extra 7 kilometres each way. We decided that it would be worth it, and headed off. We also discovered that it was not a windless day after all. We had been riding with the wind, and as we turned into it, the cross-wind was ferocious and made for slow going. It was worth it though, as the views from our lunch spot were amazing, with the sea an incredible turquoise blue.
Our lunch spot and view at Tomahawk Bay
Our return trip was much faster except for the last kilometre, when we again felt the full brunt of the cross wind. Once back on the main road, the wind was behind us again, and we made good time. Then we hit the gravel, and the hills. It was a real roller coaster ride for the next 20 kilometres into Gladstone. We were relieved after 15 kilometres to be back on the tarmac, but the hills kept going.
Back together at the junction after the cross winds
Another long climb almost done
Georgia gasping at the top of a long grind
We had booked accommodation at the Gladstone Central apartments, rather than free-camp, which was the only alternative. The need for a hot shower was the decision-making factor. We had booked through hotels.com the night before, but I had somehow managed to book for next month instead. Fortunately, the apartment was vacant, and we were able to sort our the booking, and let ourselves in. It turned out that the three-bed apartment actually had four beds, so that was a bonus. Another night without needing to break out the camping gear.
Whilst the kids showered, Simon and I wandered over to the petrol station/local store, in search of milk and advice as to the best route to St Helens, our destination tomorrow. We decided to seek a second opinion, whilst waiting for the shower to free up, so headed to the nearby pub, for a Boags on tap. We ran into Rob, from the hostel the night before, upon whose advice we had taken this route. We shouted him a beer, and approached the locals for their view on the best route. The feedback was non-committal, with both options being about the same. We will probably go with the slightly more sealed route, after today's dirt road roller coaster.
Back at the apartment we enjoyed massaman chicken for dinner, accompanied by another Tasmanian pinot noir. It was a tiring day of cycling, so I think we will all be in bed early tonight.