Lake Cressbrook
December 2011
Day 1

Day 1 - Approximate Distance: 35 kilometres

I'd been wanting to do a ride with my kids for ages and by the time he was nine and half I thought Alex was right to go and he was certainly keen - so we planned a short 100 or so K's in the gap between Christmas and New Years, up around my home town of Toowoomba.

I asked him to keep a diary of the trip and reading it was a complete crack up - he did one entry per day and I'll include them on each page. Reading them later was a bit of an eye-opener - you really see it through the eyes of a nine year old!

I also had recently bought a Canon HF11 Camcorder and took that on the trip as well - to capture a lot of video and stills.

So on the morning of the 27th we drove up from Brisbane to my parent's house in Toowoomba - about 2 hours - and then we set out from my parents house on the western side of town. The plan was to ride north - mainly on quiet country roads - and and make our way to Lake Perserverance via Cooby Dam with bush camping all the way, and then my parents would pick me up in my car that morning.

There was a few hills as soon as we left, which made it a bit of a tough initiation for Alex, but the whole point of the trip was for him to enjoy it and we did it at a pace that he could handle. I soon worked out it was best to have him riding in front of me - that way I could keep any eye on his speed (anything over 30 kmh was banned!) and his line - so he wouldn't accidentally verge out on to the road. I also made him carry all his gear (it wasn't as heavy as it looked!) - but I think it was important that he knew he was carrying his weight and contributing ~ so he had his clothing and bedding, and I had the food and tent and my things. We put a pack rack on the back of his bike and the two red panniers were actually Jenny's front paniers, which she used around Tasmania and New Zealand.

The weather was a bit overcast as we headed off, but it wasn't a problem as it was really blowing over - I think the change in wind and the storm blowing over made these horses a bit frisky

We stopped at Gowrie Junction for lunch - after riding around 12 kilometres. It was great being out on the road, and the riding was very pleasant - crossing the Warrego Highway was the only bit that felt a little worrying, but we did that sucessfully and rolled into Gowrie Junction and bought some drinks, and had packed sandwhiches for lunch. There was a group of Apostle Birds in the tree behind us - which outside are probably the funniest and most gregarious birds we've got, even rivalling parrots. There was also some honey-eaters which Alex filmed with varying success!!

We cycled on and the day was starting to warm up a bit I could see Alex didn't quite have the knack of gear selection and hills so we worked on that a bit - but he was giving 100% the whole time and it was great seeing someone so committed. The traffic was fantastic too - and this characterised the whole trip - not one single vehicle got too close - everyone gave us heaps of room - sometimes too much room and I was worried for the safety of the drivers in the cars getting so far onto the otherside of the road!

We went through Meringandan and filled up our water bottles at the great Meringandan Hotel and then cycled on to Cooby - part of which was on a dirt road.

We rested by the shores of the dam for a bit, and got a few interested questions from people, and then went on to select a campsite. We wanted to free camp so disappeared into the bush not far from the dam and set up


With the camp set up there were plenty of interesting things to look at - including an ant nest that even Indiana Jones would be proud of! Have a look at it in the video below!

Unfortunately I can't say I provided the best tucker for dinner - snags! But there was method to my madness - we cooked the whole lot and the extra ones were for breakfast the next day.

So day one ended as a pretty happy and sucessful day - but it was only to get better! At about 9pm we heard this terribly loud RAWK! RAWK! RAWK! GROOAAAAAOOOAAAAN!

Alex jumped bolt upright out of bed 'Dad what's that?!' - I said relax, it's just a koala - and we went out and had a look - he was about 5 metres away from our tent - up in a tree - and had probably been there the whole afternoon watching us and we hadn't even noticed him. It really was a memorable end to the day.

If you've never heard the sound of a koala calling out in the bush have a listen to this one I recorded at Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville in 2002

And so here's Alex's diary entry for the day.......priceless :-)

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