At the campsite in Casino, Cédric and I became celebrities among the over 60 crowd of caravan owners. When we arrived the night before, we got a few inquiries about the bike as we were trying to set up the tent before sunset, but in the morning as we were packing, more people came trickling by and requested pictures – at one point we had 5 people taking pictures at once. We managed to get away before the whole Avan meetup wandered over. Cédric and I cycled off in the directions of the mountains once more with a loose idea of where we were headed. Hoever, we first sensed something interesting was going on when we passed a police checkpoint that was breathalyzing every car on the road. As we continued our journey up the hills the roads became painted with hearts and rainbows and finally prayer flags hanging on the trees… before we knew it, we ended up at the heart of the annual festival of Nimbin’s Mardi Gras (which happens to be hemp themed and smell strongly of patchouli – and in May…). We got several discussions in Nimbin, one with a fellow cyclist, but among others about the types of mushrooms we may be carrying in our trailer, one from a trail-runner who seemed trustworthy at first but apparently also runs some complete Tour-de-France stages, barefoot, and at night so that he can see the finish line with the cyclists, and last but not least, a lost Frenchman from Mont-de-Marsan who apparently settled there after decades surfing and enjoys walking around imitating all the farm-animal noises (“eh Toulousian! Il habite dans la ferme avec les mooo et les beeh” – referring to his friend, the runner). Although the cakes and brownies from the bakery looked delicious, Cédric and I had lunch on the outskirts of the town before biking down to Mt. Burrell for the night.
The next day, Cédric and I biked our last stretch of road going slowly down the Mt Warning valley, dodging aggressive farm dogs patrolling the roads, then through sugar cane fields and finally our last Australian hills before ending up in Tweed Heads, where we spent the afternoon and next day relaxing, cleaning up and preparing the bike for our flight to Singapore.
Due to Cedric’s parents early arrival (the strikes of Air-France made them prepone their flight two days earlier), we had to bike much longer distances from Taree – and averages over 90km/day instead of the usual 70-75km. Taking the inland road did not help with a much hillier route. That left the bike not very well maintained, body tiredness and a growing medical issue of saddle-sore (solved after several days of not riding). We spent the two days in Tweed Heads solving the different problems, replacing the saddle (the Brooks took an earlier flight back to Europe after 10000km), changing the chains (which is a big challenge for the front one on the Hase Pino), tires, break-pads, etc.