Wobblers and Dodderers


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Bribie Island is home to many bird species, many with amusing and improbable names. Some of my favourites include the spangled drongo, the ruddy turnstone (which sounds like either a curse or the name of a ruggedly handsome blacksmith). Then there’s the spectacled monarch. I picture Her Majesty, of course with glasses. Several years ago I noted in an article that, just like birds, bicycle riders also come in species. I referred specifically to two main species spotted on Brisbane bikeways.

The first is the ‘shiny-bottomed hairless racer’ – this deeply serious bike rider, complete with streamlined aerodynamic helmet and fluoro lycra-based, figure-hugging plumage. Much of their garish outer covering features sportswear logos or corporate branding.

The other common species I dubbed the ‘domestic, timorous wobbler’. These mostly middle-aged recreational cyclists are identified by their leisurely pace, tragically miss-matched clothing and daggy bikes. They travel in groups (not pelotons), which I call either an Enid Blyton or a ‘conversation’ of cyclists.

The latter term reflects their habit of travelling three abreast along the bike path to converse with each other. You, dear reader, will be aware of Bribie Island’s wonderful bike path which meanders from Woorim to Bongaree. You will rarely spot a shiny-bottomed hairless racer on this dappled path.

No, Bribie’s bikeways form the habitat of the domestic timorous wobbler. Excitingly I’ve recently discovered a new sub-species of the wobbler – found exclusively on Bribie – which I’ve coined the ‘elderly, wandering dodderer’.

Plus I’ve discovered that while I once was a domestic timorous wobbler, somehow with the passing of the years, I’ve transformed into an elderly, wandering dodderer This sub-species is less interested in the destination (the ice cream shop at Bongaree) and more interested in simply completing the journey without ‘having a fall’ and breaking a hip. Like the wobblers, the dodderers delight in taking many stops along the bike path for sustenance.

A shady tree, a bridge, a bench – any of these will cause a group of wobblers or dodderers to brake collectively, down cycles and begin to graze on chocolates, Tim Tams, and lashings of ginger beer – most of which they have crammed into their colourful handle-bar baskets.

Along with those yummy treats, dodderers may also whip out the glycerin spray for a quick squirt under the tongue, and maybe an anti-inflammatory or two to keep the aches and pains at bay. Bribie birdlife looks on with amusement at the antics of these bike-riding species as they dodder and wobble their way across the island.

You’ll often hear the laughing kookaburra chortle as yet another dodderer narrowly avoids an oncoming teenager.

Or you may hear the wandering tattler regaling her branch buddies with the hilarious escapades of marauding gangs of wobblers. But let me tell you, it takes more than the ridicule of a Red-browed treecreeper or the mirth of a masked wood swallow to deter this merry band of Bribie cyclists.

So, to all you wobblers and dodderers, stock up on the meds and ride on!