Rob 'n BOB on the BNT


Stanthorpe, QLD - 26 January 2004

G'day Mates!

Rob 'n BOB have arrived in New South Wales, having crossed the border the day before yesterday, but we are temporarily back in Queensland, in Stanthorpe, a 15 km detour off the trail, to take in a few wineries!  A little more about that later - first things first.  My last update was from Toowoomba, where I ended up staying six days!  It rained andjust before MaMa Creek rained and rained, and I kept waiting for the weather to improve so I could attempt to bicycle the Ma Ma Creek section of the trail, which has some serious areas of the dreaded "black soil", which I know I cannot pass through in wet (= MUDDY!) conditions.  It wasn't meant to be, however, every time when I had half a day of dry weather it would be followed by more rain.  I grew tired of waiting and headed out anyway, only to find that even before descending down the valley I was already getting stuck in mud.  So I had to detour 50 kms to reach the same spot as where I would have ended up along Ma Ma Creek.  This darn creek had defeated me in 1998 and I really had wanted to do this section again, but alas!  The following couple of days it rained, no, it POURED, and I tried to wait it out, partly hidden away in my tent, partly by going into Gatton, and I ended up skipping the next couple of days of trail altogether and instead detoured along mostly little paved roads, which had so little traffic that it was actually quite enjoyable.  

ToowoombaThis update I really want to get into the generosity and helpfulness of many of the people I keep meeting along my journey.  Toowoomba is the halfway point of the trail, and Jenny Rushbrook is the BNT Director for Queensland - the ONLY BNT director for Qld I should add, all the others are from NSW and Victoria.  A little odd, since more than HALF of the trail runs through Queensland!  Jenny was an absolute angel!  From the day I arrived in Australia, and more intensely from the day we met at the Preston Peak Winery in Toowoomba, she has been there for me - helping out where she could, investigating things, driving me around, and generally helping me cope with the difficult time of waiting, waiting for the rain to stop.  Of course, I am thrilled for everybody here that there finally is rain!  But it did seriously impede my progress.  Another person in the Toowoomba area, who has been more than fantastic, is Lynne Anderson.  I didn't know Lynne at all - she runs a B&B just north of Toowoomba in Murphy's Creek, but she handed a care package to Jenny to give to me.  The package contained some delicious homemade dried meals, as well as some scrumptious fruitcake and fresh fruit as well.  I was floored by the generosity from somebody I'd never even met before!  While in Toowoomba I've met with Lynne a few times.  We went to a jazz concert together one evening, and for coffee a few times since.  She reproached me, however, for being the first BNT traveller who hasn't stayed at her place!  Next time Lynne!  BNT logbook at MaMa CreekAt the end of my Ma Ma Creek detour I ended up at the home of John and Bev Sutton, who were there also in 1998, to help Gwen cope with my very late arrival late at night, after I got stuck in sticky mud that time, as well as caught in thick lantana bush, a prickly shrub, noxious weed that grows prolific around here.  I camped in the paddock across the road from them, and they invited me over for tea (which is the common term here for evening meal).  We had a great visit, and it was great to see them again after more than five years!  The next, equally rainy, morning they drove me to Peter and Bev Ryan's, who were also part of the worried party in 1998.  I had breakfast with them, and Jenny showed a bit later as well, and took me into Gatton for some errands and to get a road map to get me through the next section of detours, since the next section of trail (Laidley Gap) would be impossible to get through anyway.  While in Gatton she ran into the editor of the Gatton newspaper, who decided they wanted to do an article on me.  We met the reporter, Rebecca, later at my campsite, where she interviewed me and took pictures for about a half hour.  pool at
        Hidden Vale ResortNext day, on my detour, the road took me right by the prestigious Peppers Hidden Vale - Lockyer Valley  (peppers.com.au), a five star homestead of individual cottages.  The owner of the resort is Graham (Skroo) Turner, who is the owner of the Flight Centre, which now has branches all over the world.  Skroo wasn't there, but he's a keen mountain biker himself and they organised mountain bike race this past October, from Preston Peak Winery to Hidden Vale.  It will be an annual event, but will be held in August in the future. It is called the Peppers Hidden Vale Cycle Epic.  When I phoned the resort before I got there, I spoke with David Jeffrey, the new manager, and they have been aware of my trek for months already (Jenny Rushbrook's actions).  He offered I could stay there for just their cost of food, a mere $30 instead of the normal rate of $200-ish!  A deal I couldn't refuse!  They have a fantastic outdoor pool, seemingly overflowing and plunging into the valley below, very impressive.  I stayed in this marvellous little cottage overlooking the valley, what luxury!  I enjoyed a great BBQ mixed grill dinner that evening and a fantastic buffet breakfast the following morning.  Buffet meals and hungry bike riders are a dangerous combination!  I had a number of very generous helpings - it really is astounding how much I am able to eat, just to keep up my weight without shrivelling away!
approaching
        Cunningham Gap
The following day I ended up at the Rosevale Retreat Hotel, a little gem in the middle of farming country.  It is quite a historic place, having been there since 1902.  I was first going to stay in their party hall, in my tent, out of the weather, but Frank McCann, the publican, upgraded me to a room later in the evening.  No charge!  Jenny and her friend Sue, who is the trail coordinator for the section through Cunningham Gap, dropped in for a surprise visit too!  The evening just flew by.  Rosevale HotelNext morning Frank prepared a delicious breakfast for me, again, no charge!  After Rosevale I stayed at the Moogerah Lake caravan park, where Colleen charged me about half the regular rate, and ended up driving me to Boonah the next morning, because on my ride to Moogerah I had blow the sidewall of my rear tire.  Since I won't get my next set of tires until I get to Glen Innis, more than a week away, I had to buy a tire here.  Also, I had managed to forget my prescription glasses at the Rosevale Hotel (that's a first!) and Frank dropped them off at the post office in Boonah the next morning, so I was able to collect them there.  The lengths that all these wonderful people go through to make my trip a success is absolutely heartwarming.  This is just a sample of generosities I've enjoyed over the past week or so.  There have been many more before that, but these recent ones really stand out!  Thank you all, I hope that one day I'll be able to return the favours!!!  

Condomine River GorgeFrom Lake Moogerah the trail followed Teviot Brook up the Main Range, a stiff climb, which I remembered from 1998,  However, this time I did it with BOB in tow, and it didn't seem any tougher than last time!  I must be in pretty good shape.  Once over the range, I followed the Condamine River through Condamine Gorge to Killarney.  This was a very enjoyable ride on a DRY road, as opposed to 1998 when it had been mud, mud, mud!  The creek was quite high though and the road was officially closed, but BOB "floated" through the river crossings without taking in too much water.  I crossed the border after Killarney, but as I mentioned earlier, made a detour to Stanthorpe to be able to visit a few wineries.  Stanthorpe has a climate not unlike that in the Okanagan, with average winter lows of -5C.  Verdelho is an increasingly popular varietal grown around here, and I tasted a few of them today, as well as the necessary Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I took a little organized tour, although I was the only passenger, so I received top attention.  Kominos WinesWe visited Kominos, Jester Hill, Felsberg, Rumbalara, Granite Ridge, and Ballandean Estate, as well as as the Bramble Patch, more a fruit winery.  I was impressed with the quality of the red wines, the Shiraz from here is probably more spicy and peppery than anywhere else in Australia, and in general, the reds were lush and full bodied.  Their harvest is a much more drawn out procedure than ours: February through May!  

The internet cafe here is about to close, so I'm having to call it quits.  Still have to a bit of grocery shopping, because I am starting out on a number of river sections, where I won't be able to buy food for a week or more at a time!  It requires very careful purchasing, not too much (too heavy), but certainly not too little either (hungry)!  I am not sure when I'll be able to send an update next, since I won't be going into Glen Innis after all - my care package there will be delivered to me on the trail.  It might not be until I get to Aberdeen, almost a month from now.  

So, hooroo again Mates!  See ya later!
Rob 'n BOB

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