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Great Keppel Island, December 20th

After a tough week or so of cycling from Brisbane up the main highway, up to 170kms a day, I took a couple of days off in a beautiful and tranquil island called Great Keppel. The sand was hot and white and scrunched underfoot, the water various shades of azure and turquoise, and there was barely a human to be seen. Plenty of little harmless sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, iguanas and colourful, loud birds. It was the perfect place to put up my feet, which seem to have a tendancy to move in circular motions now, and look back on the last week. I managed to drag myself away this morning after getting up at 5.30am to go snorkelling on one of the other islands (saw a little turtle) catch the early ferry back to the mainland and get a good 100kms of cycling in for the day.

It's beginning to get very hot and the wet season is beginning. This poses a few questions for the route. With the rainy season comes the cyclones which can sometimes cut the roads off. The weather generally seems to up in the air at the moment, the usual patterns are changing. In the last few years,there have been few cyclones. This year, they have already begun and there are a fair few forecasted. My problem is this: crossing from Townsville to Darwin will lead me into the heart of Australia in mid summer(40+c), when the cyclones reach their peak. Even now, there's been a lot of storms further up the coast. Everyone offers different advice, but the general agreement is that the summer is not the time to cross the outback by car, let alone by bike.

My bike is far heavier than other tourers, and I am covering much bigger distances. This means streamlining the bike to the absolute minimum. Already, the sleeping bag and minidiscman have had to go, and are currently winging their way back to the UK. I won't need the sleeping bag for months, and the minidiscman, whilst brilliant, is just too heavy. I cannot justify the weight and space. Even the tent will probably be sent back from Indonesia, as it's not really a camping country. I am thinking about sending it back and trying to pick up a more lightweight one man tent or bivy bag out here. As for the route, I will have to decide at Townsville, which I should reach around New Year. Part of me says just cycle, but the Australian summer is very intense. I will ask around at some marinas and see if anyone is heading to Indonesia from Cairns. A flight would certainly be expensive.

I am reading "Travels" by Micheal Crichton, a kind of autobiography of his travels, life in the film business and how it's all changed him. It's excellent. Given to me by a girl called Chanah Hall. American father, both were photographers in 60s and 70s and live in Holland Park.

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