|Saturday 24nd to Maidenwell via Tanga Hoop Pine Forest. 28ks 2:45 ride time Average 10.5kph Woke at 5, sky still grey and overcast , felt like rain. Packed up by 8 and sat in laundry out of the wind to do 5 hrs of blog and route planning, we had only a short day ride planned and got away at 2pm. Big day yesterday, no aches or pains but just overall a big fatigued. Not doing the big kms we had planned cos the roads are rollercoasters…no such road engineering as cuttings through hills or bridges across gullies, we joke that the road would be paved over a termite hill or fallen koala, if they happened to be in the way. The road surface generally is very smooth, smaller chip than NZ roads, many are bitumen. Feels like we are doing many “ohope hills” in one day. The little black flies are getting more annoying, locals saying that numbers have doubled just this week. A smear of 80% Deet on our cheeks and ears, taking great care not to get on sunglasses or anything plastic that would melt with contact with it, helps a little. Nickie covers her ears with her neck wrap but hasn’t yet figured out a way to keep them from crawling on the inside of her glasses as she rides. With a slight breeze they disappear, great going downhill….but they flock especially when we are down to 5kph huffing up a steep hill,.. so we breathe in through barely open mouth and breathe out forcefully to blow them off our faces. Great way to hyperventilate!! Had a couple of ways to get to Maidenwell via the road but we chose to ride through the Hoop pine forest. Lost our way in the maze of 4WD tracks when the trees blocked out google coverage…knew for sure we had taken a wrong turn when we came upon the open pit coal mine..watched the oversize Tonka trucks working. Lots of climbing and great relief when we came up on top among some new pines. Overcast but 29C. Came out of the forest and onto a farm road, the view was something like the one from the top of the kaimais to the Waikato. The earth changed from red clay/ sand to granite boulders , sandy roads and many more eucalypts. Most little roads had “creek” in the name…guess in this climate you need to know where the creeks are ! Calendar scenery the last 8 ks , cattle and horses grazing under the eucalypts, well- kept ranch style properties. Cockatoos, rosellas, galahs, magpies, and crows being startled by us riding by. Got excited to see a road sign that Koalas are about, but too difficult to look up to find them, really had to have eyes on the road, soft sandy patches can turn the front wheel and then you are off!! Sun was casting a soft rose-gold glow at 5:30pm.. Stopped for a drink after yet another steep hill and realised a farm dog was barrelling down the drive way toward Nickie...the farmer yelled out some unprintable words.. the dog stopped in his tracks ! Phew…so another lesson learned, don’t stop in front of an open farm gate. Maidenwell is tiny…. 8 houses, the 101yr old pub on one side of the road, and the dairy/café opposite. Got the tent up in the free camp area behind the pub, in record time as the sun went down. Cold shower at the very new amenities block on the cricket grounds. Met a family of 2 boys, 2 girls, mum Shelly and dad Jeff, living in a huge bus, towing a combi van and travelling in the surrounding areas where Jeff can get work as a roofer and handyman. Happy kids, home schooled and so friendly. Watched the fruit bats in the red blossom trees as we ate delicious vege pizza at the pub with a glass of Nothern Bitter. Great day.