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What Do You Do on a Bike Friday -
What Do You Do on a Bike Friday
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Ron and Bev Lukin exploring the northernmost tip of Australia, 2008

WE HAD just arrived back from cycling over 3,000kms around Germany and the Czech Republic and decided it was time for an ‘outback fix.’

There was a window of opportunity in which we could fit in an unsupported ride from Cairns to Cape York in Queensland’s tropical north.

Our Bike Friday Gnus hardly had time to cool down and we were on a flight Sydney to Cairns. Cape York is a very challenging 4WD journey, with an amazing mixture of wild life, terrain, landscape fauna and flora. Our bike trip commenced in August during the dry season which made river crossings minimal and fun -– being very aware of possible sightings of saltwater crocodiles in some areas.

On this trip we decided on four panniers each instead of the suitcase trailer, because there would be many times we would be cycling in heavy sand, plus corrugation and anything the off-road could throw at us. We had to strap our panniers to the racks -- even the brand that claims their panniers are secure -- Ortleib did jump off, cable ties and straps were used to secure the panniers. It was important to check all screws, nuts and bolts during the trip, because everything was being tested to the limit.

A water filter was essential and also a good mosquito repellent. Day three had us grinding into a big climb up to Mt Alexandra to be rewarded with a spectacular view of the coast after which there was another big climb to Noah Creek.

By the fourth day Cape Tribulation to Ayton we were into the dirt and would sometimes only see minimal sections of bitumen near small townships. This was a day of many steep climbs; some being concreted to help with traction –- a very tough day.

Camping at Saltwater Creek we were nearly carried away by mosquitoes. Riding across Nilford Plains on dried clay made us think how lucky not to be doing this during the wet, as the track would be impassible. We saw a rare cassowarie bird and families of wild pigs during our journey.

There were days of very rough, sandy corrugated roads through out the trip. When riding into Cooktown one caravan park advised they didn’t have 'sand flies'. We had been crossing paths with a French family in a 4WD and they recommended the camp ground they were staying in. We had a well earned rest day in Cooktown -– taking in a great view from Grassy Hill.

Leaving Cooktown we cycled north through Lakefield National Park to the Normanby River, Laura River and Old Laura Station and had to negotiate a number of water crossings. Considerable time was spent most evenings and in the morning filtering water to fill our water bottles and for cooking.

This was essential because of the uncertainty of water availability. Kalpowar Crossing was the best organized camp ground run by Park Rangers, with toilets and cold showers otherwise for cyclists the trip is bush camping because of distance. We met a German couple at Hahn River who were having a great time in their 'Troupie' 4WD. Like us in Germany their sense of direction was reversed and it was easy to mistakenly start of in the wrong direction.

Camping at Saltwater Creek we were nearly carried away by mosquitoes. Riding across Nilford Plains on dried clay made us think how lucky not to be doing this during the wet, as the track would be impassible. We saw a rare cassowarie bird and families of wild pigs during our journey.

Before getting to the old Telegraph Station at Musgrave we had 8 km of heavy sand where we had to drag, push or cycle through the bush along the edge of the road to make any progress.

Musgrave to Coen was a big day –- 107 kms -- not a good idea with such bad roads and we had to do the last kilometers on lights into the small town of Coen. After a well earned rest day we cycled three days to Archer River, Rocky Creek and then over the new Wenlock River bridge to the old Moreton Telegraph station camp ground where a feed of barramundi and chips went down well. Prior to the new bridge you had to load one vehicle at a time on a log barge and winch yourself across the Wenlock River.

Some roads have been up graded since we did our trip in 2004. Between Dulhuntly River and Cockatoo Creek is the famous and very challenging 'Gunshot Creek' crossing where normally sane people winch their 4WDrives up a near vertical bank to continue their journey. There is an alternative bypass around this section of the track. We waited a couple of hours at the crossing hoping see what sort of people would do this to their vehicle, but no one came by. This was our hardest day because of heavy sand and we only managed to cover 27 kms.

At 4am three young Germans arrived in a small topless Suzuki 4WD. They had driven 800kms on the dreadful roads and they thought we were crazy?



Heading for Jardine River was a hot day. The road was being upgraded so we had lots of sandy corrugated patches. Ron had another puncture before we got to the camp at the Jardine River crossing. The store which is run by local Aborigines stayed open to allow us to buy 10cans of drinks that didn’t even touch the sides.

From Seisia we rode to the 'Tip' and made sure we dragged our fully packed bikes up to the lookout and down the other side to the edge of the sea…the most Northern point of the Australian Continent. We both felt fully satisfied and thrilled with our personnel challenge being accomplished.

From Seisia we took a ferry to Thursday Island in the Torres Straight where we had R & R for a couple of days. Then the ferry to Horn Island for a night and finally a flight back to Cairns then a flight to Sydney.

The Fridays traveled well – the Gnus being the mountain bike version of their range. Thank goodness for our 'Thudbuster' seat posts ...

When we took delivery of our Fridays in Eugene, Oregon in 2002, we then cycled Vancouver to San Francisco down the old Highway One, over 1,000 miles.More big trips on our Fridays have been to cycle Cairns to Katherine on the Savannah Way, then take a train to Adelaide (we had ridden this road before) a ferry to Kangaroo Island where we then spent a magical week cycling around the Island.

Other rides include 6,000km from Alice Springs to Darwin and down the coast to Perth - and also 3,000 kms in and around and out of France including 20km along the closed Tour De France route just before the riders came through.

In June of this year and at 65 years, we will of cycling 1,900 km from Brisbane to Cairns.

Ron & Bev Lukin
NSW, Australia.
ronlukin@shoalhaven.net.au
GNU Ron and Bev Lukin Cairns to Cape York 08

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