03/07/2017 Townsville to Cairns

We are waking really early here as its light at 6:20-dark this far north in the evening at about 6ish.

We had breakfast in town this morning and a lovely walk along the esplanade that runs along the beach and marina area.  Such a pretty town with the most exotic park on the other side of the esplanade.  You know you’re in the tropics when the trees in the park are towering mango trees and massive Banyan trees.  They have a beautiful tree here that is the same as our Pohutukawa tree but has yellow flowers, and the bloom is bigger which is amazingly beautiful.  Added to that, it’s full of rainbow lorikeets hungry for the pollen.  We are not travelling with our good SLR camera, and with only our phones the birds were impossible to photograph.

 

We were on the road by 9:30 with about 400k’s to ride.  Again our only option on this leg was the A1.  Once out of Townsville the skies clouded over and took on an ominous darkness.  We had to stop a number of times at road works, sometimes for as long as 15 minutes which was a nuisance but at least here they don’t have vehicles driving over the unfinished road.  I didn’t mind the stops as it was a short break-switch the engine off and stand up and stretch.

An hour into the ride we got into the rain, and it was really heavy and constant.  At some stage along the way we caught up to another Harley rider.  He was a bit of a tough guy with no gloves and an open face helmet-imagine that in the driving rain!  We stayed in behind him for about an hour.  He rode at the same speed as us and I think he enjoyed the company.  At one set of lights I was behind him.  He didn’t look around to acknowledge me but we made eye contact in his rear view mirror-he gave me the slightest nod, which I returned.  I think we were friends after that!  At one point Stuart and he were a few cars ahead of me and Stuart said this guy slowed down to wait, which was really nice.

At times the rain was torrential and it makes riding a bit stressful.  In rain that heavy our waterproof leathers start to leak at the seams and the bucket seat lives up to its name.  Its warm here though so I wasn’t bothered by it.  But the concentration becomes significantly increased.  A lady at the gas station the other day was amazed that we have no windscreen wiper on our helmet visor!  Yep it’s hard to see out-poor visibility and fast cars.  You have to stay alert.

When the rain did ease off the scenery was very impressive.  We are in the dry tropics (and this is the dry season!) where banana plantations are all around, as are fields of mango trees, pineapples, coconut palms and of course sugar cane.  All the vegetation, which is like our bush is covered in vines and creepers-it really does look like jungle.

We had lunch in Innisfail-known for the massive damage it took from cyclone Larry in 2006 which was a category 5.  There are cyclone shelters all around the town.

A 100 k’s later and more heavy rain we arrived at Cairns.  We haven’t seen much of it yet as it was after 4 by the time we got to our apartment.  What I have seen looks really nice.  Interestingly, there is a huge chinese population here.  When gold and other precious and semi precious gems were found in the tablelands out the back of Cairns around 1890, the Chinese came over here, just as they did to the South Island of NZ.  They worked the goldfields and then became respected market gardeners and ended up being the biggest producers of fresh produce here, so while lots of chinese here are tourists, many are also 3rd/4th generation Aussies.  Apparently the Chinese love Cairns and can fly here directly from Shanghai.

We are staying in a lovely apartment.  I found this place on the internet-I think the wrong price was displayed so I booked it and we are here for 2 nights.  It’s fully self contained so we can have a rest and eat some healthy home cooked meals.

The weather for the next 10 days looks good.