It was an early morning, and a tight deadline. I boiled some eggs, had a coffee, showered and packed my electronics into my backpack before locking up and trotting to the train station.
There was a big day of OpenStreetMapping ahead, and it was the bi-monthly "Mapping Party," this time on Macleay Island – a reasonable sized island in Moreton Bay I previously knew nothing about.
It was a warm morning already, and I was looking forwrd to the air conditioning of the train. Of interest as I walked to the station was the unusual bus that went ambling past me as I crossed the road to the railway.
"How unusual," I thought. "I haven't seen that kind of bus around here before."
It was more of a coach, and had big luscious seats and made noises like a tractor. It was only of passing interest as I had better things to distract me. Things such as the sign saying "trains aren't running today, catch the big luscious tractorbus across the road instead."
I looked over and the coach was already pulling away from the taxi rank/temporary bus stop, and a man was running toward it flailing his arms with the passion of someone who's been left behind by the public transit system. The train wasn't supposed to be arriving for another ten minutes, so I was exceedingly pissed off at having missed the bus because it was early.
I ended up waiting around for another forty minutes before the next bus came, by which time I was both livid and happily pacified by a bottle of Coca-Cola brand cola.
After several hours of commute, I arrived at Cleveland railway station where I ate a bo0iled egg, applied some sunscreen, and put the cola bottle I'd been hoarding into a conveniently located recycling bin. I was pleasantly surprised by the recycling facilities; it's something you don't see enough of around public spaces.
After turning on my GPS, I put on my helmet and started pedalling south to Redland Bay.
Despite missing my bus and taking about a hundred years to get there, I was actually an hour early. Everyone else was still on the road, and not planning to arrive until twenty past eleven. I was equal parts frustrated at my own incompetence at time management and relieved that they weren't all on the ferry that I watched pull out of the terminal as I arrived.
Blue Parrot CafeAfter everyone else arrived – ironically late – we caught the ferry across to Macleay Island. The very first thing you see when you get there is one of the least appealing uphill climbs imaginable. Both Hugh and I had bicycles, and looked out the ferry windows with incredulity and more than a little apprehension. Is the whole island like this?
"The first hill's the worst," quipped the bemused ferry operator, noticing our slightly crushed spirits.
I mumbled an antisocial "thanks" at him, before handling the bike awekwardly out the door.
We climbed the hill which was nowhere near as bad as it looked, and at the top stood our lunch destination: The Blue Parrot Cafe.
It's a surprisingly nice place for lunch, especially considering I wasn't expecting any tourist facilities at all on the island. Well, maybe I expected a small kiosk run by an old woman who only makes two kinds of sandwiches, but not this.
There was both indoor and outdoor dining, and we were seated on the enclosed balcony in the air conditioning with an outlook over the bushland. The waitress was fantastic, and recited eight or so of the day's specials off the top of her head, including descriptions of each.
There was no detail spared when the food arrived. I ordered a chicken burger on Turkish bread, and it came with a side of fries, and the salad on the burger was delicious and crisp. I don't think I've had anything of comparable quality anywhere else, it was definitely worth the thirteen or so dollars.
Everyone was similarly satisfied, and the staff were friendly and let me plug in my now-dead phone to charge. ^_^
Macleay Island TourismAfter lunch, everyone headed out in groups to map the island. This is how mapping parties work. I headed out with Hugh since we were cycling to the opposite side of the island – us cyclists have got to stick together!
Turns out there's a comprehensive cycle network from one end to the other. David found a map at the real estate agency that listed almost every road on the island as "cycle friendly" which essentially meant "there are hardly any cars on this island, do what you want." To the best of my knowledge there was only one dedicated cycle path, which we took almost to the end.
The area I'd opted to explore didn't have many tourism facilities, although I found a couple of walking trails, and a somewhat unimpressive lookout. I'm led to believe that the rest of the island was more spectacular.
I did, however, find a bunch of trails through the bush which I rather foolishly decided to cycle down. It's all in the name of the greater good, but at one point I came across a massive spiderweb in my way, there was glass and metal everywhere, and in some places the path disintegrated into sand or scrub. I probably wouldn't recommend following my footsteps if you're looking for a nice day out and a picnic.
I did find a few pretty neat things though, including this bus which was rusted out and missing half the roof. I had to pick up my bike and climb over the damn logs to get around it, I presume it was left there to stop people driving through.
At around four I headed back. Everyone had organised to meet at the (I'm not sure if it's) ingeniously named (or not) "Pub Paradise." I was amongst the first to arrive, so I pottered around for a bit and filled up one of my water bottles from a tap that deposited a rank scaley grey thing into my bottle.
I freaked right out at that point, it was highly disturbing watching the thing bob up and down, so I emptied the bottle into the garden and put it in the garbage lest I accidentally try to use it again.
We headed for the ferry shortly after.
Trip HomeThe trip home took about a hundred years. Hugh and I cycled back to the train station, but after a day of cycling everywhere else we were both pretty tired. We got there right in time to catch the train, but it still took an hour and a bit before I got back to Northgate. I nearly fell asleep a few times.
The trains still weren't running on the Shorncliffe line so I gave The Man an invisible middle finger, and rode home the rest of the way instead.