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Diurnal dreamings and cold mornings (from Gladstone to Rockhampton)

We left Mike’s on the outskirts of Gladstone and rode to Calliope where we lunched near this Georg Baselitz inspired nudist colony.

We were approached at this raucus place by a local journalist and our story was scribbled down beneath the utter screeching. We republished it in our last post. From there we had just enough daylight to ride to a free camp site on the Calliope River.

The gradual emergence of crocodile warning signs is certainly imprinting as we move north, but the locals don’t seem that bothered.

The Bruce Highway was just far enough away from our camp that it wouldn’t disturb our sleep, the ice however did.

So, on the coldest night in Queensland for 100 years, we camped beside this very minor crocodile haven and shivered like all good mammals to generate enough heat in our down to 0 degrees sleeping bags.

For the first time in his life Woody experienced the pain of cold fingers.

We stayed a few days at this beautiful spot. Collecting firewood and keeping the home fire burning was a serious preoccupation of the evenings and mornings. Woody practiced new skills. As the old saying goes – chopping wood keeps you warm twice.

Our second morning was just as cool and we wore our entire wardrobes to keep warm around the morning’s porridge.

While his parents packed up camp and dried out the tents, Woody fished for bream and catfish, which are apparently in the river.

Needless to say we went away fishless from this spot, possibly due to the sudden dive in temperature. We left with other catches though. One significant fortune was a morning of quietness on the Bruce, sadly at others’ expense. The highway had produced yet another stunning truck and car accident just south of us, and as a consequence we had the shoulder and the northbound lane completely to ourselves while the road was closed for several hours. It was enjoyable riding,

and we got dreaming again about an achievable utopia,

that is until a coal train ran paralell and more roadkill woke us from our fantasy.

Another useful edible that we have followed along the roads through many climate regions is prickly pear (Opuntia stricta), and although not currently in fruit it is worth noting the places it keeps cropping up.

Just north of Raglan, after passing four car-struck grass owls (Tyto capensis) within 15 kms,

this striking survivalist,

this overgrown side lane,

and this intriguing weed (does anyone know what it is?) [Thanks for the answer Diane Warman, see comments]

we stopped under the Bruce, which we have started to call the Road of Death. We thought it lacked some structural and spiritual integrity so we performed a little healing ceremony,

and went to investigate the water lillies (Nymphaea gigantea) that we had initially stopped for. According to Lenore Lindsay, ‘Water lilies yield edible pods, seeds, celery-like stalks and tubers‘. We weren’t about to taste these particular ones growing in the toxic runoff from the Road of Death, but these autonomous edibles are just beginning to become common south of Rockhampton, and so we begin to build our knowledge of these age-old popular foods of the Darumbal people.

Rockhampton, more or less, is situated on the latitudinal circle-line of the Tropic of Capricorn, a line that is supposed to signal our departure from temperate to tropical climates.

But life is more nuanced than a line, even if this line is supposedly moving north at a rate of 15m per year. We have been passing through many subtle climate changes over the past eight months, each triggering transformations in the biosphere. A little exhuasted and in need of an extended rest from the road (and our performances upon and beside it) we have stopped here, in this motel on a weekly rate, to recharge and take a look around Rockhampton.

See you in a week!

Yarramundi to Wisemans

We were only going to spend a night or two at Yarramundi Reserve, but it was difficult to leave, partly because of the swimming, 

and partly because of the local people. This is Kate, a community nurse who walks her dogs at Yarramundi, (which is named after the respected Indigenous doctor sometimes referred to as Yellomundee). Each morning we would greet Kate on the beach, and one morning she brought us a box of chocolates. Thanks Kate!

While camped at Yarramundi we rode into Richmond and found a shop that sold Australian organic produce in bulk. We met the owners, Theresa and Yves,

who generously invited us to visit their home garden to pick as many white figs as we wished.

Edible fruiting figs (Ficus carica) belong to the mulberry family (Moraceae). They contain fiber, anti-oxidants and minerals including potassium, manganese, calcium, copper, selenium, iron and zinc. They also contain B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, niacin, pyridoxine and pantothenic acid. These vitamins help metabolise proteins, carbohydrates and fats. What a blessing from the gods.

We also discovered a considerable Prickly Pear (Opuntia stricta) patch in Theresa and Yves’ backyard. This is a fruit we’ve read was good eating in Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland’s fantastic The Weed Forager’s Handbook, but had never tried it.

We made the stupid mistake of handling the fruit without first rubbing off the fine prickles. Ouch! So after tweezing them out we cut the fruit in situ and scooped out some watery flesh to try. It was delicious; a combination of pomegranate and watermelon, and another species to add to our list of desirable drought-hardy weeds.

Theresa also gave us the number of Danielle Wheeler, a local permaculture teacher, Greens candidate and home-schooling mum. Zeph has been a little wanting of his own peers of late and Theresa told us that Danielle and her partner Mark have a boy slightly older than him. G’day Patrick! We organised a play for the boys at Yarramundi Reserve where they swam, played with a small dinghy (we’d found and repaired) and cooked campfire damper.

While the boys played we adults talked all things weeds, plant sucession, permaculture, raising boys and home-educating.

We asked Danielle about a few local weeds that we haven’t seen before, such as this plant,

the Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis). Traditionally castor oil has been used as a remedy for constipation and child birthing, although more recently as a non-freezing lubricant for machinery. But beware, the seeds from which the relatively harmless oil is made can be fatal. The seeds bear the potent toxin riciniii that if ingested will kill the ribosomes of your cells. Eating only a few could be fatal!

This knowledge reminds us just how important it is to be vigilant when there are little foragers around who are enthusiastic experimenters.

We finally left our Yarramundi utopia,

and headed for Wilberforce, passing numerous turf farms that were mining fertile river flats and river water to grow ridiculously unsustainable and unnecessary lawn product.

Danielle, Mark and Patrick had invited us to camp in their permie garden at Wilberforce and do some washing.

So we returned their kind hospitality with a blogging lesson. Danielle cooked us some beautiful meals and even though Zeph and Patrick hit it off, Patrick and Woody also got along.

It was sadly only a short stay, but very nourishing. Thank you Mark, Danielle, Patrick and Rory!

We rode up to Sackville and caught our first ferry for the day, crossing the Hawkesbury underneath its sandstone cliffs,

and near Maroota bought a watermelon direct from the grower for a mere $1 a kilo.

We did a fair bit of climbing on our ride but eventually descended to Wisemans Ferry, where we joined Stretch and a number of other bikies, who were out on a charity ride, for a beer.

While we waited for the day’s second ferry we demolished six kilos of watermelon, and boy, did it taste good.

Simple pleasures, simple travel. We hope your life has plenty of simplicity too.