June 20-23

What a crazy last couple of days of travel it's been! On the 20th, it was time to leave the hostel I'd been at for three nights, bike functional or not. My destination had been the Gold Coast, rumored to contain some of the country's (and world's) best beaches. I figured I'd have some train time to make up for "lost time" (although definitely not time wasted). I decided to check flights just for fun and noticed there was one cheap flight running each afternoon from Newcastle, where I'd come from Sydney a few days earlier, to Gold Coast Airport in Coolangatta. Strangely, in Australia, pricing of flights tend to be on par with trains, despite taking something like 10 hours less (in this case). Acting on it quickly, I jumped a train back to the Newcastle airport, booked my flight, boxed my bike, and took off.

After some hostel research while on the plane, I decided the one with free airport pickup would be the night's winner. It was the old upstairs of a hotel and they were nice enough to give me my own 4-bed dorm room with enough space to put together my bike. Not the most interesting or exciting hostel, but at least I was ready to go the next morning (the 21st).

I walked up the coast about 3 miles, mostly on walking paths overlooking phenomenal white sand beaches, to the nearest bike shop and finally bought a new chain! Getting back in the saddle felt great as I aimed myself at Brisbane, about a day and a half's ride. All was beautiful and scenic on that end of the gold coast.

Reminders of home

Around 3 pm I conducted my accommodation search with very little promising results. I've learned from every major city I've biked through that the 50 miles leading into a city are generally nothing special. Upon remembering this principle, I hopped on a train into Brisbane so I'd have more time to explore the city. There wasn't much to see at night and my hostel was mostly quiet and unimpressive.
I gave myself the next day (22nd) to explore the city during daytime before my 9:30 pm flight. Brisbane had pretty neat botanic gardens, my first stop. I saw two big gardens with ponds and separate sections set up like different ecosystems. From there, I found my way to a couple different museums. One was tiny and its main exhibit was "the cabinet of curiosities," a compilation of totally random items from Australian history borrowed from other museums. Highlights included a wooden prosthetic leg, a stuffed pet dog, a bloodletting tool, a shock therapy tool, and a jar for leeches (wow, were they wrong about medical practice). Still a neat little museum. Then, with little time to spare, I found the city's actual museum and sprinted through displays of the country's wildlife, geology, and culture in about 45 minutes. From there, I biked back to the hostel to get the rest of my stuff from luggage storage, biked to the airport, did my usual show of bike disassembly and meticulous packing, and boarded my flight to CAIRNS, the last stop on my journey.

I'm writing this from Cairns now, where I've been staying for a few days. Trying to keep busy, I haven't had much time to write and the only place with free internet is McDonalds, of course. Also, my phone plan is almost out of credit! Needless to say, it's been hard to get online. A Cairns post will follow soon. I should be here until the 29th or 30th, provided that I can find enough to do without spending $200/day on dive boats.


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