I left Brisbane in the rain and far too late in the day. I headed north then inland to Kilkivan, on the Wide Bay Highway, because it was cold and dark and a bloke called Jock had sent me an email message a few days earlier saying there was a bed there if I needed it.

Grace and Beastie disappearing down the road

Photo: Annie Cassidy (Handlebar Haven)

I had meant to leave Brisbane the previous day (actually, the previous week) but what can I say, men are trouble (the best kind) and sometimes goodbyes are hard. Nevertheless, I’ve always believed that leaving town is the best way to solve all problems, so off I went.

Visibility was poor but I still managed to spot the famed pinked tyres that marked the entrance to Handlebar Haven. I’d never been there before, but I’d seen many a mention of moto rallies and gatherings held out there. Handlebar Haven is Annie’s place, and she and Jock welcome motorcyclists there with open arms. There are camp grounds with facilities down the back of the block, and sometimes there are rallies and bands and bonfires and other organised shenanigans.

On this night, however, I was the only bedraggled motorcyclist showing up in the rain. Jock had said not to come in the entrance by the pink tyres, because it was wet and the road too sodden; it would get all cut up. So I continued along to the next entrance, closer to the house, but as I turned into the driveway my lights picked up the tops of what seemed to be immense, muddy ruts. This can’t be right, I thought.

I did a u-turn and pulled up on the edge of the bitumen, gingerly balancing the bike with all its gear. I got out my headlamp, took one step, and sank to my ankles in mud. Oh dear. I walked it out, and it wasn’t good news: chances of me, Beastie, and all my gear ending up in the mud were looking extremely high. And where was the house? Was it even the right place? I couldn’t see any lights.

I squelched on, and my headlamp picked up the outlines of a car, a caravan. A few more steps and there was civilisation, a barking dog and a warm, warm welcome.

It turned out that the driveway was not normally an impassable bog, but the neighbour had thought it would be a good idea to get a shed delivered to his property after days of rain. Cue bogged truck, destroyed road. Good work, bro!


Photo: Annie Cassidy (Handlebar Haven)

Anyway, I explained that I was officially too short-legged to be sure that Beastie wouldn’t end up in the mud, so Jock used the benefit of his longer legs to paddle her in through the bog for me. I felt like a bit of a wuss, but I was a dry, comfortable wuss with a not-drowned bike and gear, so that was okay.

Annie and Jock welcomed me with open arms, gave me the grand tour and chicken fritters, made room for Beastie in the shed. Such amazing kindness of strangers. I went to sleep listening the sound of rain on a caravan roof.


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