The very nature of touring by bicycle doesn’t allow for anonymity. Our adventure is obvious to all who choose to pass a curious glance. We attract fellow travellers like a magnet.
Cloaked in the everyday, otherwise unassuming people approach us directly. Proximity to our experience encourages people to share stories of their own exploits. “I’m not just the old man you see here. I was once a river guide in South Africa.” Said a man at the coffee shop in the dusty town of Natalia.
The Echuca Holiday Park is an oasis for grey nomads by the wide expanse of the Murray River. We set up camp on our patch of grass.
“Traveling by bicycle?”
“What happens when it rains?”
“We get wet”
“Hi I’m Grant, I’m just on my way back from an Archery Festival, I’m a long bow man. They call me the Celtic Mercenary. I wear 17 kilos of chain mail when I’m in full battle dress recreating the 1346 battle of Cressy. I had to have one of my fingers surgically removed so I could shoot straight!”
“So you actually choose to have a perfectly good finger hacked off?” “It’s a lifestyle thing” said Grant.
Therese and I were sharing an afternoon ice cream cone at Thompson’s Beach in Cobram when a stocky truck driver approached us: “Saw you guys on the Mathoura Barmah road a couple of days ago. I was hauling sheep. You didn’t need to move right off the road I had plenty of room.” Brian, aka Crash (it wasn’t my fault, second day on the bloody job) is an ex-dairy farmer who knew his way around stock and got into the livestock cartage business. Brian and his wife travel the length and breadth of Australia for fun and profit. We spent a lovely hour listening to Brian regale us with wonderous tales of his experiences on the road.
We cycle by the twists and turns of the river, through former soldier settler country via small towns Mathoura, Barmah, Nathalia, Katunga, Cobram, Barooga, Mulwala and Corowa slowly making our way along the mighty Murray River, while living the dream riding alone on the breeze .