Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sapphire to Mt Garnett

Ralph & Outbike

I met Ralph Jackson very early in my chess career when I was just starting out and Ralph was already a strong Junior having significant results under his belt including an Albury open. My first memory is hitching a ride with Ralph to Albury in 1979 (i think) when I was rated 1560, my first rating. I had the cheek to beat him early but he was just one of my victims. Others were Phil Viner, Colin Morris. I also drew IM's Ian Rogers, Guy West and one other losing just one game to Craig Laird. A fantastic result considering my rating and experience.

Anyway, Ralph went on to found the Wayward bus company while I continued with chess. We ran into each other sporadically since then, more often since I moved back to OZ a few years ago. When I met Ralph a few weeks ago and told him of my travel plans he mentioned he had a bike tour in the same area and invited us to join him for a few days. After this long introduction here are some pictures.

We were support vehicle 2 and our mission was to stay behind the riders with a sign to alert motorists to the bikers ahead.

Our first stop outside Charters towers was Balfes creek. Francoise and I had a quick beer and chat with innkeeper John Smith (his real name)  

One of John's artistic creations.

Homestead? Not sure, some of the "towns" along this road are just a tree, a dunny and a sign.

This creek has been waiting for water for a while.

When we got to Prairie Ralph pointed out a chess set he had noticed driving by. Keen eyesight is all I could say.

There are a lot of windmills drawing water up from the bores in this area. Our esteemed leader Mr Babblealot considers them eyesores but I'm not sure the people who depend on the hopefully still unfracked bore water would agree.

Wow! Good luck catching all that while driving by.

Prairie was the most interesting stop on this two day journey. Next time through I would like to saty at this pub.

Just one of the old exhibits lining the side of the pub

No less interesting inside.

It soon got less interesting.

We camped in Hughenden on the second night. The bikers who were not spring chickens anymore (one lady was 70) had done nearly 300km on their own steam in two days and deserved a rest. On Sunday we accompanied them to Porcupine Gorge which is 63km from Hughenden going north. For their rest day these "silvertops" hiked a few hours down to the bottom and back up. I am impressed

This is the view from the first lookout. 

The Pyramid Rock. No explanation needed. the stream was cool and crystal clear before i got in and stirred up the algae

Ralph and I playing dueling mobiles.

If you want to join one of Ralph's tours go to Some like this one are not too tough and others...well look for yourself.

We said our goodbyes and continued our journey north with a view to visit the Undara Lava Caves. After a long day driving mainly on an unpaved road while concentrating on not hitting Roos we somehow missed the sign. Oh well, maybe on the way back.

We got to Mt Garnett and checked into the local Hotel. The food is great but give the rooms a miss if you require a modicum of hygiene. Finally after three days my phone has reception again so i can bring you this enthralling report. If you plan to go anywhere west of the Great Dividing Range get a Telstra chip. Nothing else works. 

I actually did buy one in Hughenden but haven't gotten it to work yet. sigh....

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