December 26, 2016

Do you ever bump into any ”funny” animals? 
A fairly common question the group gets from the people we meet on the road.
It would be awesome to give the answer in style with; Oh yes, yesterday we fought against a clan of crocodiles and today we have been surrounded by super dangerous snakes no less than three times.
But then we would simultaneously lie. 
The truth is that we see a lot of animals but then it’s mainly kangaroos, cows, horses and birds of various kinds. Many of them, especially the kangaroos and cows are unfortunately very dead because of the heavy traffic. When you see all these dead animals and feel the horrible smell it reminds you of the most dangerous thing we pose ourself for, which is the fact that we spend a lot of time on the same roads as these animals spent their last seconds of life at. We just have to be more careful than the poor kangaroos. Which I think we are.
Then we have the flies. Australia is not that populated in terms of people, but it’s the opposite when it comes to flies. Small, stubborn, extremely annoying and many they are. Sometimes it is impossible to even try to count how many of them are free-riding on our bodies when riding and when we stop for lunch it’s usually at its worst.
In Sweden we all know how “hard” it can be to have one fly that refuses to give up. Here we have at least 15 of them that are constantly buzzing around your head and want nothing more than to get into your eyes, nose, ears or mouth. Not quite optimal when the food should be consumed. But somehow you get used to it, believe it or not. I mean; what can you really do about it? 
Some people say it would have got even worse if we had continued south instead of going east. So we’ll just be happy for that fact!

We have stayed a month in Australia as we speak where the majority of the day consisted of cycling in the wilderness where few things have been especially stimulating for the senses. But sometimes things that usually would not mean very much suddenly means everything. 
For example; after having cycled 120 km we realize that the water is about to run out, the fatigue starts to creep in, and we are literally “in the middle of nowhere”. A quick look at the map shows that there are a few buildings 15 kilometers ahead. We have no idea if these buildings even exists and what they have to offer if thats the case. The only thing we know is that we are thirsty, hungry and tired. We decided to go for it!
 Soon after, we have the largest field we’ve ever seen on either side of us and later we could actually see something ahead of us that actually looked like some kind of civilization, a very small one. The closer we get the more confident we become that this can actually be a place where water is to be found. A few kilometers more and suddenly we see a group of horses. Horses have to drink water!?
It could have been a mirage but that is not the case this time when we realize that we have come to a farm. When we arrive at the gate we immediately get greeted by Sarah, who runs the place.
Obviously, we can fill up how much water we want and just there tears of happiness are about to fall. 
A few minutes later this wonderful woman invited us to camp on the farm, offer us a shower and invite us to attend at the dinner that is served an hour later. Without hardly understood how this came to a sudden we sit with a group of her staff who work on the farm and eat marinade steak, potato and a lovely salad. 
The body and especially our minds are filled with pleasure. 
To also get to camp on a nice field of grass was a bonus worth celebrating!
How did this actually happen!?

Of course events such as these are not happening every day. That would have been to easy, wouldn’t it? 
It would also be impossible because we simply do not pass places like these very often. Instead we where surrounded of nothing most of the time in the outback.
But all too often when we encounter people in this country we are faced with an incredible hospitality and willingness to take care of us in the best way.
Usually it just happens by coincidence and it does not seem to have any intention of abandon us. This turned out very clear a few weeks ago when we stopped at one of the rest areas aside the road. Filling up water and hitting the toilet was our mission (as usual) but this time we were not alone on the site. At a table a bunch of men in orange clothes were sitting. Men who turned out to be road workers who where out on a job for a few days now waiting for the road to dry up after a very local rain that had fallen hours before.
They, like most people we meet, wondering what on earth we where doing out there in the heat.
We began to explain and we had a fun time together and of course they gave us something cold to drink. 
It turned out that they would spend the night in the same town as us and we decided to try to meet up in the afternoon in the town named Longreach.
Said and done. It all ended up with these amazing people inviting us and paid for a hotel room and dinner in the evening where we had an amazing time together, laughing, eating and drinking. 
It also turned out that we probably would bump into each other the next day when they were heading in the same direction as us. 
And guess who welcomes us in the town of Barcaldine later in the afternoon…

Everyone in the group came from the region around Rockhampton, same city as we were aiming for to reach the east coast.
Matt, one of the gentlemen, lived in Yeppoon. Yeppoon is a small but oh so beautiful coastal town located about 40 km northeast of Rockhampton and has a very enchanting coastline with mountains, hills and an incredibly large beach.
The hospitality in this country is just amazing and a few days after we said good bye for the second time we got a text message from Matt saying that he will be at home when we were supposed to reach the coast and therefore telling us that we were more than welcome to spend a couple of nights with him and his family.
Easy decision; Yeppoon it is!
We had a great time in this cozy little town just at the ocean and got some rest that we all needed.
And it’s a bit funny when you think about it; if it hadn’t been for that extremely local rain that forced them to stop their work for a while and instead wait at that rest area for the road to dry we would probably just said ”hi” to them when passing them by while they were doing their job and we ours and never met each other again.
Fate wanted something else and we are very happy of that.

We have now left “The outback of Australia” and instead become a part of civilization.
This has it’s advantages. Not least in terms of temperature and climate that make cycling easier. Add to this that it’s much more beautiful wherever we look thanks to the ocean, mountains and rocks at our side and suddenly it doesn’t feel that hard to cycle 100 km a day.
We don’t have to think about water and food then this is to be found more or less everywhere which means we can relax more and not feel stress or concern that this will run out.

And last but definitely not least, we will now surely run into a lot more people along the way, which of course makes the trip even more interesting and exciting when these meetings are something of a signature for a trip like this.

I’m personally incredibly pleased and happy that we done these almost 3 000 km in the Australien outback and got to see this part of Australia that many may not be done or will do. Not even the Australien people!
It has been interesting in its own way, not least to see these incredibly small communities and its people as we passed by. This is something we didn’t know much about before but that will remain long in us.
Mentally it’s also nice to know that we did it. And if we could do this, what can stop us?
It may sound like the mission is completed which of course is not the case. We have a lot of kilometers to cover (in a positive way). I mean we have beautiful New Zealand days away, we have the United States waiting for us (which means roughly the same distance as Australia), we have the mountains in southern Europe to take on and later the challenge of Central Asia before China with its 5 500 km to cycle before we start to look towards our final destination, The orphanage of Muang Mai, Phuket.

But to constantly keep this in mind, that we managed the wilderness of Australia without a major disaster, will probably serve as a good fuel if any of us would begin to hesitate.
That’s at least what I think. 
And to always be able to say that we hung out with camels a few hours in the ”village” of Banka – Banka feels quite fun in it’s own way!