week 4...
best of times, worst of times

Airlie Beach to Townsville

Darling it's better down where it's wetter... under the sea! Sunday, Monday and Tuesday marked our long-awaited Whitsunday Islands cruise, where the two of us along with 42 backpackers climbed aboard the luxury yacht "Reality is..."

Actually, ask anyone else on board and they may not have used the adjective "luxury", but for us, there was food other than couscous, drink other than warm water, mattresses other than gravel, and fun other than playing Count the Power Poles. If that's not your idea of luxury, then come join us for a week. Then you won't be wingeing about how small your lasagna is.
day 1: the spandex stingers!
I did a little wingeing of my own on Sunday morning. Of all the nerve, telling us it was going to be an all-expense weekend, then they say, "Everybody go rent a stinger suit from the dive shop. Only $12 each! Can't scuba without 'em!" Finally we bit the bullet (albeit begrudgingly) and shelled out the 24 bucks. We sure were glad we did!

The scuba lesson was a mere fifteen minutes. We learned to breathe, and mess with the regulator, and paddle around; simple stuff. They could only take four scubees at a time, but we could snorkel around the same area while we waited. Well...

45 minutes of solid snorkel time was still not enough to satisfy Aimee. I mean, if you're going to snorkel anywhere, the Great Barrier Reef seems as good as any place, right? "My name's Aimee... paddle paddle paddle... point point point... oh, is it my turn? Okay five more minutes... paddle paddle paddle..."

Aimee's opinion: "If I had to choose between snorkelling and scuba, I'd take the snorkel. It's simple, lightweight, packs easy, and best of all, doesn't require a $600 certificate! Snorkel! Snorkel! S-N-O-R-K-L!"
Kevin's opinion: "Scuba showed the potential to be fun, and I'd definitely do it again. In this shallow water setting, I was too busy worrying about bumping the coral with all my gear to really get a good look around."
day 2: tell me more, tell me more...
It's Karaoke night at Club Crocodile! After a long day of swimming, sunning, swinging the cricket bat around (in Kev's case, not hitting a damn thing), and leaping from the top deck of the Reality like lemming gymnasts, we settled down with a beer in one hand and a camera in the other, as one brave soul after another took the mic and sang his way to glory.

It was a night of the classics... basically, if you've ever been to any karaoke bar anywhere in the world, it was the same songs (which always makes me wonder why they have a book of 10,000 to choose from). Summer of '69, Stuck in the Middle, Summer Lovin', the love theme from Dirty Dancing... you know them all. Believe it or not, Kevin actually stepped up to the mic and knocked out a rendition of Minnie the Moocher. Hi-dee ho!
Memorable Songs of the Evening:
My Delilah (Michael)
Summer Lovin' (G, Kim, Lina, Becky, Amber)
Suspicious Minds (Michael, Gethin, Adam)
Mambo No.5 (Kim)
I'm Gonna Be (The UK/Mann Contingent, G, Kevin)
Wonderwall (Everyone)

If karaoke did one thing for us, it gave us plenty of singalong material to belt out on the bikes during those long, boring stretches of lonely Australian highway.

By the way, the dude in the photo? He's Giuseppe (a.k.a. 'G'), the closest thing the Reality had to a mascot. He was our cheerleader, our morale officer, our motivational speaker, always cheerful, never dull, and in well over 75% of the photos on this trip.
day 3: i like the girls with the boom!
The last day: boomnetting. I'd never heard of boomnetting before, but everyone on the boat seemed game to try it. As you all know, I am easily swayed by trends and fads, and if someone else jumped off a bridge, I would soon follow. So, I went boomnetting.

Boomnetting consists of throwing a huge net out the back of the boat, throwing nine or ten people out the back of the boat, then hanging on for dear life to both the net and your swimsuit while still attempting to breathe. Everyone who comes back on the boat after boomnetting will say, "Oh, you gotta try it, man, it's so fun."

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! Though they may seem content after the fact, these photos should tell you the real story of how fun boomnetting can be...

the passengers
the crew
the group
wally's amazin' facts!
Though you may not believe it, the magpie is a pretty dumb bird. And cowardly! It's a big fat wuss of a bird! Ha ha! Magpies won't fight you face to face, so if you're travelling through magpie country, just stick your sunglasses on the back of your head. Stupid bird!

This week's Amazin' Fact: Ask a Canadian why Australian beaches provide vinegar for their patrons, and you'll get the same blank stare as when you ask an Australian why Canadian carparks provide power outlets. Why the vinegar? Vinegar is the quickest and easiest way to soothe a jellyfish sting! And you thought it was for the fish & chips!

Until the next upload, ponder this puzzle: Canadians are from Canada. Chinese are from China. Swiss are from Switzerland. But what do you call someone from the Isle of Mann?

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 286kmDistance since Day 1: 1511km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 23: Hat's All, Folks
no strings attached
My hat. It's gone. I can't believe it.
   The memories, the times we've had. Why, I remember when I bought you. It was at the Beer Store on Memorial Avenue, just before we all left for our American adventure. You were so crisp and clean, so blue. Your embroidered "I Am Canadian" shone brilliantly, red and candy-like. You were perfect.
   And now -- sigh -- you've left me. You leapt from the top of the boat on a strong gust of wind and sailed away into the sea. I watched as you floated farther and farther from the boat, swept away by the current. I knew I'd never see you again, and shed a quiet tear as you vanished into the distance.
   Goodbye, hat. You were a part of me. I'll never forget you.
Giuseppe: "We're you here for the Dirty Dancing song?"
Kevin: "Dude, I lifted you."
Day 24: Mann-tastic!
the kindness of strangers
It just goes to show you, it doesn't matter how many great people you meet on a vacation, it only takes one asswipe to make you have a crappy day.
   Oh, I wasn't talking about the guy in the picture. That's Andy. He's actually the guy that turned our crappy day back around to a happy day, and restored our faith in humans again. Let me start way back...
   We had just returned from the last day of the cruise, ending with a huge cheer and a bunch of hugs and a guarantee to get together later that night at Reefo's, a backpackers' just outside of Airlie Beach. A fantastic trip, great memories, and 45 new friends to add to the email list.
   We arrived at our accommodation for the evening, took our bikes out of the lockup, parked next to our little cabin and headed for the kitchen to cook up the last of our perishable food. When we returned to our bikes, our tent and sleeping bags had walked off, presumably not by themselves.
   Stolen! Can you believe that? I mean, this tent was our home for the last half of the America trip, and our intended home for the rest of this one. And what happens? Some asswipe walks off with them, probably to cash them in for $25 at the local pawn shop to pay his bar tab. Did he think he needed them more than us? We just couldn't fathom it. Kevin went on a door to door mission to see if the stuff had remained in the compound... maybe someone stole it, stashed it in their own room and went out for a beer. No luck, but worth a try.
   After a fruitless search, we knew we needed a new tent and sleeping bags, but we also knew there was no way we could afford them. In the end, we went to the one place where we knew we could find a large group of friendly, honest people... Reefo's. The Reality. They were all there, and as luck would have it, Andy and Lizzie came to our aid. Andy had a two man tent he'd been carrying with him since the trip began, and Lizzie had a sleeping bag she was willing to part with. Hooray! The trip can continue! Whoooooa Reality!

"I've had more fun vomitting."
- Lina, on boomnetting.
Day 25: A Butterfly Emerges
Distance Travelled: 73.9km Temperature: 27
Time on Trikes: 8.5h Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Flat
End Location: Bowen
stuck in the middle with you
Moving from our old Canadian tent into the new one is equivalent to moving from Los Angeles to New York City without increasing your rent. In the old one, we could spread out, contain all the gear, stretch before biking, prepare meals, and sprawl in all directions in the style only a good sleep can provide. Now, only half the gear comes inside (the expensive half), stashed and stacked above the pillows, butting slightly into the sleeping space. You're right, Smackers... I wouldn't exactly call it a two-man tent. It's more of a one-man-one-lady-who-like-each-other-very-much tent.
   But we're not complaining, merely commenting on the dimensions. Never have we been so grateful for a tent. Without it, we would have been lost and shelterless. Thanks again Andy and Lizzie!
   By the way, isn't there a country song about love growing in small spaces? Our new tent will be bringing us closer together than ever before. If that's even possible!

"I see a sign for Petrol and Diesel. That means milk!"
- Aimee.
Day 26: CAPTION
Distance Travelled: 79.6km Temperature: 27
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 10L
Terrain: Flat, Bad wind
End Location: New Rest Area (38km S of Ayr)
life's the pits
It had to happen. Today Kevin raised his fist to the skies and cursed the heavens for giving us such bad luck with our tire tubes.
   In one day we've had three punctures (two of those on the lead wheel), which has caused us to go through all of our supply tubes and even open up our spare patch kit. If things keep up like this, we'll have to start stuffing dried snakes into our tubes.
   Not that I mind. I'm still in that early "look at me, I'm a bike geek" phase where I'm thrilled to know how to change my own tube; Justin would be so proud.

"Hey, crap chocolate is at least better than actual crap, and if I hadn't bought the crap chocolate THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU'D BE EATING!"
- Aimee.
Day 27: Smilin' Lyle
Distance Travelled: 49.3km Temperature: 30
Time on Trikes: 3.5h Water Left: 7.2L
Terrain: Careful on the Burdekin Bridge!
End Location: Backyard at the Burtenshaws'
kindness of strangers, pt. 2
We met Dawn and her mom Rose (from Cooktown) in the parking lot outside of Dick Smith's in downtown Ayr. She needed a computer fixed and we needed a place to pitch our tent for the night, so we made an even trade. When she offered dinner, we couldn't pass it up.
   Needless to say, after the theft of our tent four days ago, the Burtenshaw family fully restored our faith in Australians. We were greeted at the house with a glass of cold beer from Graham & Eddie, a hug from Ariana and Lyle, a sniff from Bobbie the dog, and a classic Aussie tea of meat and veggies.
   Side note: Dawn's husband Graham, works at the local sugar mill, and explained to us the process of making sugar. It seems like something we would normally pass on to you as an edutainment delight, but the process is so complicated that it would take a phonebook-sized manual to explain it. Just trust us that the price you're paying for sugar is well worth the work that goes into it.

"Oh, not that story. Graham, do you have to tell that story? Does anyone want to play cards?"
- Dawn.
Day 28: Goat Assed
Distance Travelled: 63.7km Temperature: 28
Time on Trikes: 7.0h Water Left: 9.2L
Terrain: Long ups, Short downs
End Location: Townsville Caltex
got my goat
Holy Frickin' Frack in Tubeland!!!
   So, we found out what was the story with our constantly-deflating tubes, but only after five more punctures with brand new tubes. Our pleasure at finding out the problem was dimmed by the fifty bucks we had just spent on those tubes.
   You see, here in Queensland, there are these little nasties called "goatheads" that look like tiny four-pronged bayonets. These buggers snap their pricklies into your tire and stay there until you pry them out with a knife. If you don't remove them right away, they'll just keep on popping your tube over and over again. This is what happened to us. Luckily, we had thorn-resistant tubes. It takes about five goatheads to pop a thorn-resistant tube, as opposed to the one goathead it would take to puncture a normal tube. Not lucky for us, we had about fifty goatheads per tread.
   A particularly inspiring moment today was when I pried one out of Kev's front wheel and heard the air begin to sizzle its way to freedom. The goathead in this case was holding in the air. You just can't win with goatheads.

"Good thing we've got these bikes, because I wouldn't want to walk around Australia carrying this bin."
- Aimee.
Day 29: Where's Fozzie?
Distance Travelled: 19.4km Temperature: 31
Time on Trikes: 1.5h Water Left: 3.2L
Terrain: Short, but hilly
End Location: Townsville Big4
national geofrogger
In nearly every National Geographic, you'll find a photo of a tiny green treefrog clinging to a branch. A couple of months ago we heard that the rainforests of North Queensland was the home to tree frogs and so, with Aimee's obsession with cuteness, we began to search for them.
   Just like the elusive Cassowary, our search was fruitless. We weren't so hard on ourselves, since finding a two-inch green frog in a tropical rainforest is a bit more challenging than finding a six-foot purple-headed bird. But we still went frogless.
   Two months older and wiser, we've learned the secret of frog spotting. You want frogs, you don't go to the rainforest. Go to the petrol station. Yup. The environment may not fit into your romantic ideal of stumbling through a lush forest, glancing up and having one of these cuties hop onto a leaf right at camera level, but at least you'll see them.

"Cutest thing in the whole world, eh? Even cuter than a baby horse? Oh, even cuter than a baby Willy Wagtail?"
- Kevin.

Gethin thought his tattoo said "Happiness". He just found out from Kim that it actually reads "Spicy". Oops!

nick: (v.) like stealing, only cuter. If something gets stolen, you'd feel crummy, but if it just got nicked, it's just hard luck.
"Shout me a middie, Jacko. The missus nicked me change for Pokies."


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We've got mail...
You guys are the BEST!! We love ya and we are fully behind ya, as i'm sure you pray for the wind to be each time, wish we were as mad and as able as you guys, still green with envy, life here is same old thang etc... but we are sooo excited for you and sooo proud, bring it on chaps, Huge love and hugs and kisses and ihop pancakes xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Mikki & Charlie, Fareham England

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© 2002 Kevin Beimers & Aimee Lingman. In loving memory. 08/08/01 - 10/14/02