Friday 29 Jan
Difficulty – Shanna 5 (morning) 9 (afternoon), Sam 3 (morning) 8 (afternoon).
Distance – 119km
Weather – overcast, sticky and warm
Dealing with now being homeless people, wandering from place to place, we rode away from Woomba woods with tired legs, wondering if it was soon time to have a rest day.
At around 9 in the morning as we rode into Broadwater, we received a call from the agent who handled the sale of our house to say that the money from the sale would be in our account in the afternoon. All of a sudden it seemed as though, we had left our former lives behind. (Thanks so much to Steve, dad, mum, Pete, Derek and Corey for all of your help, it means so much to us!) We talked about the relief that it was all over and how, despite all the work Sam had done, he wouldn’t really miss the house. We talked about being homeless, as officially we were now and decided that we kind of like wandering for the moment (although we aren’t really wandering and we do have a purpose.) And then, as though nothing had really changed, we hopped on our bikes and continued riding.
The road continued to follow the wide expanses of the river and as we rode on we decided that rather than stopping for the night in Wardell, as we had originally planned, we would ride on to Ballina. Eighty kilometers later, some amazingly dangerous roads littered with pot holes and with no shoulder, and we had arrived in Ballina. As we usually do (if there is one in the town) we stopped at maccas at 12.30 to grab some lunch and get on the free but very slow internet to write a journal entry. About this time we had an email from our conveyancer saying we urgently needed to call them, as settlement had been delayed. Shanny called and they said the purchaser had stuffed up the signatures on their paperwork and had to do it all again – and we were told that ‘it would be at least another week before settlement.’ So it turned out we still had a home after all, well for another week at least...
We left maccas, a little tired and exhausted, and ready to settle down for the night with the plan that we would stop at the next caravan park we saw, so we could have a cold shower to wash all the grime and grease from our bodies, and try and get a good sleep. We pulled into a park as we were leaving Ballina but apparently there was not a single place left for us to pitch our tent (unusual considering school holidays were over) and we were told the next one was 40km away in Brunswick Heads, but that he had a cabin he would ‘let us stay in’ for only $80 for the night. We didn’t believe him (we’ve been told all kinds of things by people with agendas so far) and so we decided to keep going, figuring we would find somewhere along the way, as we have managed to do so far.
At the 90km mark the mostly flat road ran out and we began climbing. If we had of known just how long we would be climbing up hill we might have just stopped on the side of the road somewhere and given up for the day. But as it was we didn’t know and so we went over some massive hills. But just as we thought we were at the top, the hills would keep on going up! In total, the next 35km was a challenging series of up, up, up, down, up, up, up and up, up and then one big down. It was hard to keep going and we were both incredibly exhausted, but the view from the summit of the penultimate hill was amazing, and the ride down was even better.
Finally, after almost 120km we turned off the Pacific Highway towards Brunswick Heads about 7pm. We were exhausted and Shanny desperately needed a good sleep while Sam was looking forward to a ‘mosquito bite free night,’ so we decided to splurge on a motel for the night. We pulled into the first one that looked cheap were Sam bargained the guy down to $80 for the room, dumped our gear and bags on the ground and went to get some dinner. Almost instantly Sam was greeted by one of the colourful locals, the first a man with no shirt, flowers in his dyed long hair, some tiny shorts and gumboots said he’d done drugs for 30 years (and his appearance and behaviour reflected that) but now he loved bikes and admired ours (we silently hoped not too much…) Another crazy old man who wanted to just talk to us about how he was a sook and had been thinking about his mum and nan, and about his years in the army fighting the Americans (not sure when that might have been)… and who was promptly shooed off by the kebab store owner.
When our kebabs were ready we went back to the motel. A quick swim in the refreshingly frigid water, some food, a long shower and Shanna was asleep in bed while Sam watched the cricket. We slept well as once again it poured down all night and was still raining when we left in the morning!!
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia