Thursday, 30 May 2013

DESTINATION: THE GAP, QLD. AUS. via the Enoggera Creek and Ithaca Creek bikeways

Map of Ithaca & Enoggera Creek Bike Paths with main entry points from Albion Station, Roma Street Station and The Gap provided by Map My Ride

Living on the Southside of Brisbane? or on vacation from another state or country? You're a recreational cyclist, have access to a bike and would like to explore an area you haven't visited before. If you do not have or want to use a motor vehicle, I would suggest taking a train to Roma Street Station, where access to a pathway leading to the Enoggera Creek Bike Way, is relatively easy.

Victoria Park

 The north side of Brisbane has many cycling routes suitable to the recreational cyclist.

Picturesque lakes which attracts bird life

Lots of parks with facilities 

Great pathways

This is one of the premium recreational rides on the north side of Brisbane. The ride can be accessed through a number of points along the route as it meanders through the suburbs of Herston, Kelvin Grove, Dorrington, Newmarket, Ashgrove, St. John's Wood and The Gap.

Good directional signage

Where's that toilet?

The Canadian Inuit Inukshuk (Likeness of a person) in Victoria Park, Herston

Entrance to Bowen Bridge Heritage Track

Some interesting items you may see on the way which makes your ride so much more enjoyable.

Ithaca Creek

There's nothing quite as relaxing as listening to the ripple of water over stones, the muted colours of a creek setting nor the native bird chorus as you take your time cycling along some of these paths.

Perhaps if you are really craving that fix of caffeine, didn't have breakfast, or the tummy is starting to rumble, you may prefer to hang out at a coffee haunt instead and there is no better place on this ride than Beans on The Green, on Bowman Parade, Bardon. Don't be put off when you see that it is located right next to a bowling green, this innovative joint is run by energetic young people and they are really switched on. If you doubt me, take a peek at this review - . It is so close to the trail, that if you fell off your bike here, there is a big possibility of rolling down the slope and ending up just in front of the Rouge Coffee sign. I would much prefer the coffee from here than mouth to mouth any day......but then again ......I guess it depends on the circumstances.

Mt Cootha taken from The Gap Village Shopping Centre

It is now only a few kilometres to The Gap Village shopping centre, where there are any number of eateries where you can purchase lunch and decide whether to retrace your route along Ithaca Creek or take the Enoggera Creek Bike Way back through Dorrington, Newmarket, Kelvin Grove, Herston and on to the Albion Railway Station or to where ever you parked your vehicle.

To make life easier for yourself, print off or download a map of the area. There are many to choose from such as:

                                                          Map my Ride
                                GPSies                                                      Google Maps
                                                        Open Cycle Map

and they all have the facilities to draw your own routes. This is but a small sample of many. Have fun trying them out, especially on a wet day and use a map to plan your next ride.

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


I've seen a couple of these innovative and brilliant inventions around Brisbane. Whoever thought of the idea, I hope he/she makes a squillion bucks out of the patent.

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee


This post is a collection of unusual bicycles or bicycle art pieces which I photographed on my trip in New Zealand.

I have no idea how old the above bike is but it does look like a relic of a long gone era. What I find amazing, is that it is not that much different to some urban bikes we see in shops to-day. A little flashier perhaps, particularly in the paintwork area but none the less the principle is still the same. Of course, the bicycle of to-day is, in the main a much more efficient machine and a lot easier to get from A to B than it was when this old girl was the darling of her owner. I know that my own bike with it's front suspension, gears, disc brakes and light frame would get from A to B much quicker and with less energy being spent. None the less, I should imagine, the above bike would have been a top of the range model which would have attracted a lot of attention from other cyclists.

A bicycle, well maintained, can take a lot of punishment and still not fatigue. Not so the human sitting on top. Even with the elite riders, it's not the bike that hits a brick wall during a race, it's the rider, and for all sorts of reasons, lack of preparation, temporary illness, dehydration or not taking in fuel at the right time, to name a few.

Has this ever happened to you? Out in the middle of nowhere and the key breaks off in the inconvenient! In the above instance, help was at hand with just a quick phone call.

A well place quad, nicely arranged, well maintained and certainly inviting. I guess you should expect nothing less from a five star establishment like the Hilton.

Not a functional, working model but this great replica was being used to alert people that Lake Taupo is a cycle friendly town.

You see so many usable bikes dumped in rubbish tips these days. Wouldn't you think that if it is not worthwhile fixing and donating it to a worthwhile cause like Bikes for Third World Countries  or something similar, an artistic use could be made of them such as depicted above, rather than being used as land fill. Such a waste.

Is it a bicycle convention? No, just a smart Motel owner who was sick of cyclists wrecking his rooms with their bikes. In this case, it served two purposes, the other being the security of our bikes. Happy guests and happy motel manager.

I happened to take this photo of the steel bike with wooden wheels in an historical display in a shop window in Thames. I looked at it for some time thinking of all the possibilities as to previous owners. Perhaps it was an itinerant shearer, or prospector or maybe an upbeat swaggie. Maybe it was a prototype and only one was made.

These relics of the past also raise questions on who may have been the owner and like most cyclists, all would have a story to tell. Were they locals or tourists and if the latter where did they come from. Was the bike owned purely for pleasure or as a workhorse. Interesting! In this photograph, they almost look as if they are in captivity for some past misdeed.

I should imagine that this artistic replica of a bike would make a good ornament in a rustic garden in between the camellias and magnolias.

An unusual bike stand and if the little white splotches are an indication, a roost for a number of birds.

A forlorn pair of bikes keeping a vigil by the sea awaiting the return of their masters.


Jimmy Bee


Thursday, 9 May 2013


Views from the West Coast of the Coramandel Peninsula 
We elected to drive up the west coast to Coromandel, where our first views took in the Firth of Thames and later the Hauraki Gulf. From here we tracked across to Whitianga on the East Coast of the Peninsula. As you can see by the photos, the scenery is quite exquisite, although I wouldn't say the same about the road that hugs the coastline, as it is narrow and windy  and I'm lead to believe, very foggy at times. Never the less, there are areas set aside for cars to pull over and these are situated in spots affording the best panoramic views. We met a couple on a tandem bicycle who were planning to take this route and all I could say to them was "Be extremely careful, as there is very little shoulder between the road and the sheer drop to the sea and it could be very easy to get squeezed out when two cars are passing each other with the cyclist on the verge." However, if a cyclist decided to ride fairly early in the morning and providing there was no fog, the views may well be worth the risk. If you are an artist or craftsman, Coromandel Town maybe exactly what you are looking for. It's most popular attraction is the Driving Creek Railway and Potteries, originally built to convey wood and clay to well known potter, Barry Bricknell's Pottery.
Some views to the North
We by passed  the small town of Matarangi which lay approximatel half way between Coromandel and Whitianga on the northern end of Wangapoua Harbour.
Whitianga is situated on Mercury Bay, named by Captain James Cook in 1769 due to his observance of the transit of the planet Mercury. By now the hunger pains were starting and we decided that this would be an ideal place to have lunch. and on the menu was fish chowder, an old favourite of ours, which we ordered. We were pleased with our choice, as it was, in a word, delicious.
If you are around these parts in August or September you may wish to take part in the  Scallop Festival.

There are so many things to do on this peninsula, that a family could easily spend a couple of weeks here. There is kayaking, swimming, diving, snorkeling, horse riding, sailing to name a few and thats just for the active types. For the passive or stressed visitor, there is arts & crafts, hot pools, lazing on white sand beaches, breweries and wineries, tours, swalking. For a more comprehensive list, left click on the highligted names and be linked to a website.
If you are really looking for something non strenuous but unique, drive approximately 12m km south, just past the town of Hahei and you will come across Hot Water Beach . Merely by scraping a small depression in the sand, it will fill with hot water. Be warned however, this is really hot thermal  water and may need tempering with some cold water straight from the ocean before immersing the pinkies, otherwise you may be in for quite a shock as this water is very hot.

As time was running short, we reluctantly cut our tour short and returned to Thames.

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee

Tuesday, 7 May 2013


I've heard so much about the Coromandel Peninsula being the playground of Auckland, New Zealand, I just had to see it for myself.

Te Aroha

The Hauraki Rail Trail passing through Paeroa

The drive from Cambridge to Thames was relaxing and uneventful, with our first stop at Te Aroha. This pretty little town with a mountain backdrop and the start of the Waihu river winding it's way to the Firth of Thames. It particularly took my interest because it was the start of the Hauraki Rail Trail which runs 83 km to Thames through Waihi and  Paeroa, normally a 2 day ride for recreational cyclists, but this can be stretched to a 3 day ride, simply by taking a side tour to Waihi via Waikino. As with everything on this trip, we only had a taste, I would have loved to have ridden this rail trail but after talking to some locals and finding out that another branch of some 56 km from Kopu (7 km outside of Thames),  to Kaiaua is to be added, I will come back to ride it when it is completed. If you would like to view a map of this ride including the proposed add-on hit the following link

Front view - Cotswold Cottages

Rear view (Cotswold Cottages) with two guests from the USA

Mid afternoon, we breezed into Thames and easily located our B&B for the night, the Cotswold Cottages. 

Views from Cotswold Cottages

Thames fish and chips as recommended
It's the attention to detail that matters and Jacqui our hostess surely had an eye for detail, from the bar frig. in the conservatory stocked with wine and beer on an honesty system, the walk to the river, the outdoor settings to take in the views and the beautiful breakfast which she served to a collective table of guests from other parts of the globe. The first morning we shared with an English couple, who have lived the last forty years in Michigan, USA. The second morning, we shared with a couple from Paris, France and a couple of tandem cyclists from San Francisco, USA. I just love meeting people in this casual way.

Thames is the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, steeped in 100 year old history, built on logging and gold mining and now servicing the rural industry of the district. It has only recently received a new lease of life with a lot of Aucklanders finding the laid back lifestyle a far cry from living in a bustling city. An easy drive for a weekend of relaxation, Thames is only 1 hour 20 minutes from Auckland.

The photo of the above bicycle conjures up all sorts of images in my mind as to the characters who actually rode this bike. Were they goldminers on their way to a dig, or an itinerant shearer or perhaps an old but reasonably affluent swaggie. Imagine sitting on that seat on a corrugated road for a 20 km ride. Still they had their durries, billy tea and the odd bottle of sherry or rum to keep them warm.

It's amazing, when you think how far we have come. I would find it extremely difficult swapping a computer for a typewriter, and I couldn't do without Google. On the other hand, I think we have lost a great deal and there is too much pressure on families to-day. Life used to be much easier and less stressful.

I will continue our trip around the peninsula in my next post.
Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee

Sunday, 5 May 2013


Forged by local artist Marcel  Zwezerijnen

As we were departing Lake Taupo, I just had to stop to take the above photograph. I have never seen a bicycle replica marking the entrance or exit of a town before and especially one of such large dimensions. In fact there were two such bikes commissioned by the Taupo Moana Rotary Club with the other bike situated in Taurangi and their purpose is to promote the region as a cycling destination as well as alert motorists to the shared road policy. Lake Taupo attracts an estimated 100,000 cyclists to the region each year.

White water kayaking on the Waikato River at Huka Falls
Water flows through the canyon and over the falls at an estimated 220,000 litres per second

The power of the water is such that this tourist boat is prevented from getting any closer to the falls.

One of the many attractions of Lake Taupo, is the Huka Falls on the Waikato River which caters for the adventurer in the forms of kayaking and rafting as well as giving the tourist a thrill, jet boating as close as possible to the base of the falls. The Waikato River drains Lake Taupo and just prior to the falls, changes from being 100 meters wide to squeezing through a canyon only 15 meters long which creates this spectacular aqua whirling mass of water, so powerful that it can stop a tourist boat in its track and actually push it back.

Not far from the Huka Falls is another natural wonder, the Craters Of The Moon geothermal walk. There is something quite unnatural and eerie about walking over earth emitting steam all around you and peering into craters where puddles of mud are bubbling. It feels very alien and you have this innate, uneasy feeling that at any time the whole lot might explode. It gives the impression that just beneath the crust there is something quite sinister going on and if you applied any pressure on it at all, it could give way and you would be sucked into this mass of molten larva. Amazingly, plants not only grow here they actually thrive in this noxious environment.

The imagination of some people simply blows me away and in places where you least expect it like the next little town on our travels, Tokoroa (link) an old timber town.

The Big Dog Information Centre on left. The Big Sheep Wool Gallery on right. Both are made from corrugated iron.

Next on the list was Tirau (link), just 25 minutes north of Tokoroa where once again there is an abundance of public art on display. Tirau is the crossroads where three major roads meet and pass through and is possibly the reason why there are so many cafes, restaurants and unique shops, especially in a town with a population of 800. We spent an easy hour or so here browsing through the shops and it is very easy to have the feeling that the locals not only have pride but also share a lot of flair.
The Mare & Foal Statue by artist Michelle Farrell of Waiuku outside the Cambridge Town Hall
Back in the car and heading for Cambridge which was a further 23 km north and one of my favourite inland towns and home to New Zealand's thoroughbred horse industry. As further evidence on how the equine industry plays an important part within the district of Waikato, the council, with the help of personal donations, commissioned local artist Michelle Farrell to produce the above sculpture weighing 850kg and costing $129,000.

Winners of Australia's Melbourne Cup

1971 winner of the Melbourne Cup

My coincidental brush with fame: In November, 1971, I happened to be on a Qantas 707 bound for Auckland. On the same plane was the owner of the horse that just won the Melbourne Cup, one of the worlds famous thoroughbred horse races and of course, he had the coveted cup with him. In a wonderful gesture, he had the Chief Steward fill the cup with champagne and passed it around all of the passengers and crew so that they might toast the successful  Silver Knight. I can actually say, I have sipped champagne from the Melbourne Cup.....a fond memory.
Have you ever felt the energy flowing when you enter certain places or areas. There is a real vibrancy in the air which infects you and gives you that feeling of well being. Cambridge is one such place, small enough to be really intimate but with a real heartbeat that instantly gives the impression that this place is alive and kicking. Beautiful tree lined streets, filled with smiling, happy people going about their business or sitting sipping coffee or tea with friends. They look at you when you arrive and seem to say "come in and stay awhile, you are welcome". The town is built on the mighty Waikato River and like it's name sake in England is deep into rowing, which takes place on the beautiful Lake Karopiro within a short distance of the town. In 2010, the World Rowing Championship was held on this lake and several world rowing champions have called Cambridge their home.

Within a short distance of Cambridge there are a number of recreational cycling trails suitable to different levels of fitness. If you hit on the following link, you will find out more,

 The Waikato District has so much to offer, that I would definitely like to spend more than a passing visit to the area.

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee