In the summer of 2000, we left the boat on the hard in New Zealand and flew to Australia for some land travel. We decided it would be fun to do an extended bicycle trip, so we had our tandem bicycle shipped over from Texas.
The tandem bike trip started in Brisbane, headed inland to the fringes of the Outback, then went south all the way to Sydney. We stopped in Sydney for about a month to attend the 2000 Olympics in a rented flat a few blocks from Bondi Beach. Then after the Olympics, we resumed the tandem bike trip along the southern coast of Australia to Melbourne. All in all, we biked about 1600 miles in two stages of about a month each.
Oh my gosh the stories. We pulled a trailer with gear and clothing, etc. And behind the trailer we flew a Texas flag. We were our own little parade. Australians having a highly developed sense of the absurd, they invited us places and bought our drinks everywhere we went. It was a complete and total hoot.
A couple of highlights involved lodging. Southwest of Brisbane, we stopped at a little town for the night. When we had called the Tourist Information Center about reservations, they said ahh right, plenty of room. However, after a delay of several days, when we did finally arrive, “Crocodile Dundee III” was filming there, and all the rooms were taken. All except a bed & breakfast on the outskirts of town. I suspected from the look on the Tourist Information guy’s face that there was probably a reason why this particular place had a vacancy. But beggars can’t be choosers, and we had ridden 50+ very hilly miles that day and were beat. So we memorized the directions and headed off.
It was a rat and mouse farm. We slept in shifts.
A few days later, having enjoyed a series of cute inns and some spectacular biking scenery, we stopped for the night on the edge of the Outback, at a crossroads with a pub, a cafe, and a gas station. We checked into a room above the pub and wandered across to the cafe. It was packed! But it was silent. What the? Upon closer inspection, the patrons were all mannequins, fully dressed, sitting at the tables as if in mid-meal and mid-conversation. The proprietor emerged from the kitchen with a bloody apron and a kitchen knife and said in a monotone that sorry, there might be a bit of a wait for a table. We backed out the door and stumbled back across the street to the pub, where everyone was having a nice guffaw at our expense. But again, drinks were on them.
I loved Australia. They are a lot like Texans (loud and fun and authentic), and they even have kind of an Alamo mentality. An Australian becomes a state hero not by being victorious at something, but rather by gallantly trying and failing — the more dramatic the defeat the better. And if he or she can manage to die in the attempt . . . well, it’s icon status for sure.
In any event, we had a wonderful few months. Here are some photos.