Tuesday, April 28, 2015

End of the Line

The road I had intended to take from Pittsworth to Clifton had a bridge out, but fortunately there was a fairly low-traffic alternate which wasn't much further.  There were hills, but it was a short ride and nice day.  Both Pittsworth and Clifton are fairly high, 400-500 meters, on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range.  The nights there were quite cool.

Just outside of Clifton I came upon a small airfield, where a whole bunch of WWI airplanes were parked, no doubt in celebration of ANZAC Day.

Clifton Airfield

The farm land was looking more productive as I traveled east, and Clifton was the most prosperous looking town I'd seen in a while.  Clifton has a nice camping area at the showgrounds.  There was a great oboe spot next to the basketball courts, so I decided to spend the next day there.  That day turned out to be very windy and cool, so I actually ended up practicing and working on reeds in the sun in the grandstand, but that was fine.

The camping area at the Clifton showgrounds is surrounded by the horse track, with rails on each side.  While I was packing up early Monday morning, a single horse went by twice.  When I went to leave, I found the rails across the road closed and locked.  As the horse was nowhere in sight, I slid my bike under the rails on its side, and was on my way, the left panniers just a little dustier.

Not far from Clifton, I came to the "Darling Downs Zoo".  I didn't have time to tour the zoo, but they had some snacks, and I had a chat with the young woman running the shop.  I also met a baby red kangaroo, rescued after its mother had been hit by a car.

The ride to Laidley crosses the Great Dividing Range, though there aren't any really big climbs.  Along the way, I saw some trees I mistook for exotic maples, making a half-hearted effort to show some fall colors.  Peter, an  expert on trees, tells me they are Brachychitons (coral trees), a native tree.  Once across the Range, the road drops several hundred meters to the Lockyer Valley, some of the richest farmland in Australia, though it's small.  Unfortunately, the traffic makes the ride down the valley less pleasant than it might be.  There was a little store at Ma Ma Creek, time for another snack.

Brachychitons Masquerading as Maples

Traffic reached truly unpleasant levels going through the town of Gatton, and was pretty heavy the rest of the way to Laidley.  I got into Laidley about an hour before sunset, so I went right to the caravan park.

My last day on the road was the short 26 km ride to Rosewood, the end of the railway line from Brisbane, and the end of the road for me.

Rosewood Railway Station

I wheeled my bike right onto the train, and a bit over an hour later got off in Brisbane, where my friend Peter met me at the station.  He led me through the maze and hills of Brisbane to his house a few km away, the real end of the road for me.  We plan to drive a few hours north to visit a mutual cyclist friend in Hervey Bay, then back to Brisbane where I'll pack up my bike for the long trip home.  The most remarkable thing about this bicycle tour, I can now safely say, is that in over 3 months on the road I never once had to ride in the rain.   This is a dry country, but that's amazing.

At Peter's in Brisbane

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