Beyond Bananas – April Ride 1 – 3 gaps and a million corrugations

15-17 April 2022

120 kms (75 miles)

Daryl Brathwaite and John Farnham are like Vegemite – to be able to stomach them you need to have grown up with them. Otherwise, you just can’t understand what all the fuss is about.

While I’ve been hanging around Australia now for around 24 years, I still don’t like Vegemite. Or lamb. Or cricket or any code of footy.

But I do agree on one thing that is very Australian. Easter is for camping. Yes, Australians go camping en masse over Easter. The cities empty out and the people who may only use their caravan twice a year hit the road for the bush.

Read more

Beyond Bananas – March Ride 1 – Days 2-4

DAY 2 – 0 kms

The support acts start around 5am. It’s just a drop or two of rain at the start – the kind that makes you think: oh, man, did a bird just crap on the tent?

There are light showers that follow – spritzes of water thrown against the tent like someone flicking a paint brush to dry it. Steadier, light rain commences, a light drumming on the tent that sounds more like fizz popping than splats.

Read more

Beyond Bananas – Feb Ride 1 – Day 1

4-6 February

Day 1 – 35 kms (22 miles)

The cicadas are playing their abdominal tymbals. It’s a high shrill waxing and waning of an insect orchestra with first, second and third trees instead of chairs. I imagine an unknown conductor coordinating the crescendo over in the iron bark tree just as she instructs the cicadas in the box tree to quiet down until the next rising chorus. They play for hours, a rise and fall from tree to tree, over and over until darkness falls.

The start of the cicadas always heralded the end of summer in my hometown. When the cicadas started up, you knew you would lose all your summer freedom and be relegated to the classroom soon. Therefore, I always hated cicadas as a kid because they heralded the end of the long summer nights and carefree days.

Read more

Beyond Bananas – Introduction

I could see that he was curious. He was looking over at me with one eyebrow raised and the opposite eye all squinty. It was as if he had picked up an odd insect to study that he’d never seen before in his garden. Hmmm… is it poisonous? Is it eating my plants?

I was filling my water bottles from the tap outside of the public toilet block. He was standing nearby. As I moved back toward my bike… there he came, standard six questions in tow.

Read more

The Waiting – Strenuous Activity – Day 6

Day 6 – 86 kms (54 miles)

“It’s time to go home, when you start to smell the donuts.”

It is my favourite quote from two of my favourite friends’ adventure stories. It was Day 13 of a 14-day backpacking trip. Dan was trudging along, pretty hungry and not all that excited about the food rations left in his pack that late in the trip. As he hiked further along, he thought he started to smell donuts. He didn’t eat them on a normal basis so he wondered why all of a sudden he’d be smelling and craving donuts.

He hiked further. He then came to the realization that it was his long hair next to his face that smelled like donuts. He stopped and put a strand of hair to his nose. Yeah, his hair smelled like donut fryer oil. He called out to his friend. “Smell my hair. Does it smell like donuts to you?”

His friend sniffed. He replied, “Yeah, you smell a bit like an apple fritter.”

Back around Day 7, Dan had washed his hair with a travel-size bottle of shampoo left over from a motel visit. He looked through the rubbish he was carrying in his pack. Yep, the shampoo had an apple fragrance. So the remnants of the apple shampoo combined with all of his built-up hair oil had made his hair smell like an apple fritter.

To this day, Evan jokingly still refers to Dan as ‘my little apple fritter’.

Since then, those guys always say that it’s time to hit town, clean up and resupply or go home when your hair starts to smell like donuts.

Read more

The Waiting – Strenuous Activity – Days 3-5

Sometimes there are voices in the night. They sound like human voices sometimes. But they are not. They are forest voices. The murmurs are rocks shifting in the creek. The groans are distant trees rubbing branches. Or sometimes the click and squeak is an echo-locating bat flying nearby. Sometimes the sound plays out as the gentle clack of a twig submitting to gravity as it falls to earth on top of another stick that fell some time before.

You can lie in your tent and listen to the conversation. Nocturnal dialogue is often quieter but carries further. Diurnal dither is more constant and punctuated by bird call and the buzz of flies, bees and other insects.

Read more