June 02, 2006 GMT
Things that go Grunt in the Night

Just as I finished writing yesterday Hame appeared with a mended bike, thanks to those lovely guys at the BM Shop. Sharon, Steve's partner, had kindly let me use an office computer to write up the blog so Hame picked me up from there and off we went for camping supplies, before heading off up into the hills.

Steve had suggested a route to us which took us out of Brisbane and up and over Mount Glorious; the views certainly were glorious. The road was twisty and steep, and at the foot of a hill was a sign which said something like "Really really twisty roads ahead, careful!". Hamish's eyes gleamed; I smiled indulgently and glued my hands to the grabrail.

We rode through more stunning scenery with hardly anyone about. Just as it was getting towards dusk we thought about finding a rough camp, but rounded a corner and found ourselves in Someret Dam, with a fab camping spot next to the river and a general store which sold wine. Perfect!

It was a chilly night (below zero), but the new thermals (I dragged Hame round a camping store on the way out of Brisbane to emerge with a warm jacket, warm socks and another thermal!) kept me warm.

Sometime in the middle of the night though I awoke to hear this strange grunting just next to my right ear, outside the tent. Hame was snoring gently on my left side so I woke him with a nudge and whispered very very quietly, "There's something outside!"

In the middle of the night all kinds of thoughts go through your head with just a flimsy bit of canvas between you and a grunting thing. I haven't read "Things in Australia that can kill you" but I thought I'd heard of them all; lying there I began to wonder what I'd overlooked. The grunting went on and on. Hame said very unconvincingly "Do you want me to have a look?" but thoughts of him being eaten made me ask him to stay with me. Eventually it stopped but returned several times, so I was sandwiched between two snoring /grunting things all night.

In the morning I asked the very friendly lady in the general store what it may have been and she said probably a koala! Now I wish we had had a look.

Australia is full of BIG stuff. Big hospitality, big views, big fields, big meals - Hame ordered a rump steak in a pub a few nights ago and got THREE huge steaks on as plate (he couldn't manage the third!).

There are also huge trucks - called Road Trains. They are massive, long and fast. To go past one Hame and sort of huddle together in "road train position" (this is on the bike, not in the tent) and brace ourselves for the wall of air which slams into us. It was funny the first few times, but got quite tedious very quickly. We'll soon be on roads which won't have so many as anything which isn't tarmacked seems to be on Hame's ideal route, and I'm happy to go anywhere. After Fraser Island any roads should be a piece of cake (Yeah I know, I'll be chowing down on those words soon).

The land we're riding through at present, although stunning in a very big way, is also incredibly brown and dry. This area of Queensland is in the grip of a drought so severe that there are children aged 5 or 6 in some towns who've never seen 'real' rain. Apparently the last time there was rain enough to fill Somerset dam was back in 1999.

We are planning to spend the next few nights camping and will be in pretty rural areas so I don't expect to be near a computer for a while - we just happened to pass a town with a library so while H is doing bank stuff I've popped in to use the internet facilities. We're both enjoying ourselves so much, Australia is like home enough to be familiar and full of things we missed in Asia, but different enough to be explored with great excitement.

Thanks for all the e mails, keep 'em coming!


Posted by Emma Myatt at June 02, 2006 02:56 AM GMT

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