Breakfast consisted of eggs on toast and coffee at the BP Roadhouse. It was only necessary of course, seeing I had not had to pay for the campsite. Then it was off, up and over the big hill that was Mount Garnet’s main street and on towards Herberton, about 85km away.
There really are benefits to riding through hills and mountains. The scenery is ever changing, the headwinds can’t bite as much and your legs get a rest when you’re descending. The road had some sort of shoulder nearly the whole way and there wasn’t really enough traffic to worry about it anyway.
Ravenshoe was the first stop, Queensland’s highest town at 920m, according to the sign, and about 35km from Mount Garnet. That deserved a pie and coke and I rested outside the Highland Bakery for a while. This cycle tour had quickly gone from remote and bush cooking to cafe luxury, all in a couple of days!The benefit of reaching the highest town is there has to be some downhill involved to get to the next town…at some point.
Rather than take the main car route to Herberton, I decided to follow Google Maps bicycle route. About 10kms out of Herberton, this meant turning left onto Kaban Rd and following the signs to Herberton. This road became Old Kaban Rd and changed to gravel. I was grateful to have phone reception to check the map when I hit a fork in the road with dirt road stretching either way. The left fork it was, and after that there was only one direction.
The dirt road was in fairly good condition most of the time, and reminiscent of Dotswood Rd on Hervey Range in other parts. It was narrow and occasionally a car would zoom past in a gravel road kind of way. Old Kaban Road lasted for about 12km, with a mostly gentle downhill…apart from the gentle uphills.There was still some climbing to do to reach Herberton. When I finally pushed into the town at the top of the hill, I went to the visitor’s centre to check where the caravan park was. There was no way I was pedalling down that big hill just to have to come back up it!
The man in the visitor’s centre took me outside the building from where you could see a grand vista of steep hills, farmland and trees.
“See that patch of green across the valley there level with us?” he said, nodding sagely, “the one that looks like a mown lawn? That’s the caravan park.” All I had to do was descend sharply for about 100m, then ascend just as sharply to the other side of the town. We stood there together for a moment looking across the valley.
“I better get my supplies before I head up there…”
I bought a couple of things from the grocery store for dinner, then sped down the sharp descent. The corresponding ascent was my steepest on the whole trip. I was down to 6km an hour and wondering if I was going to have to stop and walk, although I think pushing my loaded bike up the hill would have been harder! Some youths were walking down the hill towards me so I pretended I was fine and continued on.
The Wild River Caravan Park was casual and friendly in a lovely bush setting. Sally the host was kind and helpful and the $10 camp fee per person felt very reasonable. I got to huddle in next to a vacant caravan for wind protection, which was great.
Carol and Bill were set up in their caravan near the camp kitchen. It didn’t take long and this tired and lonely cycle tourist was enjoying tea and biscuits under their annex along with Shumba the dog. The invitation was extended to dinner with this happy couple later that evening. My paltry offering of strawberries and Jatz was declined and we feasted on BBQ fare and wine as we chatted on into the night.
The wind was blowing as Carol walked me to my tent by torchlight that night. I looked forward to a dry tent in the morning for once, and a lazy start to the day.