Thursday, 30 December 2010

Muswellbrook

Left Bylong early on a cloudy day and was riding to Jerry Plains. But on the way I met Graham from James Estate Wines out for a ride. We rode along and chatted. Graham also rides mountain bikes. He suggested I stop in and say Hi to Jan, as their cellar was open that day. Glad I did. I met up with Jan when I was in Stonehenge. She was on a bus going to the Birdsville Races. She didn't get to Birdsville, because of the rain, but I didn't know that.. Stayed and chatted for some time. Ended up leaving with a bottle of Verdelho. (Had some last night - it was good. Everyone liked it.)
Further down the road I found I missed the turn off I wanted to take. The Golden Highway was busy, with no shoulder at all. After half a km, I wasn't keen to keep going towards Jerry Plains, so turned back and ended up heading to Muswellbrook. Much more pleasant road to ride on. The only down side was the strong head wind all the way. It was a pedal down hill day.
Muswellbrook has City Rail trains to Sydney. But, only a few trains a day. I arrived at 4:30pm, the next train was at 9:00pm. From there to Hamilton to wait a hour for the next train towards Sydney at 11:37pm. Sydney City Rail service has a few weaknesses; no staff, no station announcements and no indicator boards. Past the time that the train was to arrive, a train arrived, and I foolishly got on it, only to find that I was heading back towards Muswellbrook. Bailed out at the next station, and rode back to Hamiltion Station. One of the first times I've used my mobile phone and Google Maps to navigate about in suburbia. The next Sydney train was at 2:38am, but it didn't arrive on time either. Arrived at Morisset Station close to 4am. Since I often wake about this time, and had had no sleep, I bunked down on the station bench until 6am for a short nap.
Currently visiting friends at Morisset for a few days, before heading to Sydney.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Ulan, Bylong

Christmass day:birds singing, water rushing. Memories of childhood christmass days. Food, rest. Watched the couple near by move their baby about all day - to get it into the shade, closer to where they had moved their chairs. Designer baby. Straight from Toyota land.
There was a sudden heavy down pour, but then it fined up again.
Set off early on Boxing day with overcaste weather. Planned to stop in Ulan. Hit a new Top Speed: 81.86km/hr. Down hill obviously.
Ulan has lots of mines. Air smelt of sulphur. Was raining heavy when I got near there. Decided to keep going.
More driver silliness: Saw a car pulled over - but disappointingly saw that they stopped to add more rum to their drink. A 4wd packed with young males, speeding along a rough dirt road. Bouncing, slipping or skidding, airborne, stones and water flying out the sides.
Even with all my gear on the back, the back wheel can lose traction on wet clay. Most unsettling.
125km for the day. 8hours pedalling time.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Tambar Springs, Coolah and beyond the Black Stump

Tambarr Springs has amazing views out across the landscape. But I didn't see any unusual creatures...
Found a small cemetry tucked away in the bushes on the edge of the road between Tambar Springs and Coolah. I wonder how many people notice it. Most of the stones are unreadable, but saw 1800's mentioned more than once.. A few more years and nothing will be left.. The last deposit was in 1993.
The Black Stump! I've passed it. I'm beyond the black stump. The pic is from on side. Not sure if before or after it. It looks like a burn't branch to me actually. A plaque states there was a black stump once, but was burned down in a fire. A long with the hotel that was near by.. The black stump isn't what it once was... The silly season is in full swing, and its now a rest stop.
Decided to stop in Coolah, as the roads are crazy busy. And for a small back road, just too many idiot about..
There will be moans about the road toll over Xmass/New Year. The thing I find surprising is that there are not more crashes. Slowing up is a fate worse than death..

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Boggabri, Mullaley

Pictures: Wean race course. Its overgrown with grass at the moment.
Some of the rock pools at Dripping Rock.

Didn't leave Barraba until 11:30. A very late start for me. Lucky 10km down the road was a shed. Rested there and had lunch till the sun cooled off a bit.
Lots of dirt roads, flies, mossies and cows. Very quiet on the road though.
Sorted out the flies. I've some strings hanging off my helment, that swing in front of my face. Keeps the flies out of my eyes and nose.
Took a detour to see "Dripping Rock". Yep, its a waterfall, that was flowing. Been a lot of rain lately here. My plans to have a swim were dashed but the number of mossies. Some are basically flying syringes. Standing still - you could almost feel your blood pressure dropping. No chance I going to give them more skin to feast on.
Had a flat tire this morning. It went down yesterday, but after pumping it up, I kept riding for another 40km to find a spot to camp. With all the rain here, there is a lot of water lying around on the road side. Got wet feet several times going over causeways.
Flat repair was easy, once I moved into the tent to do it. To many mossies outside. The hole looks like a thorn - but couldn't find anything stuck in the tire. Time will tell if I missed it.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Barraba

I'm back in Barraba. But only for a short time. I was good resting here for a couple of days, but the weather is cool and sunny and I've itchy feet. Want to keep moving..
The road here from Inverell was interesting. Met several wonderful people. I'll have more on that in the new year. Emails are being exchanged, plans are being formed.
Stopped at Copeland Dam briefly. The water level was down to 6%, its now at 40%. Long way till the spill ways are in use again. The road travels along the top of the dam wall. You can see the two different height trees - the old growth, and the new trees growing on land that should be under water when the dam is full.
Some of the road was dirt - hilly and steep, meandering amongst the cows. I crossed several causeways, flowing with water high enought to get wet feet.
With all the rain, there are lots of flies, and mossies. The flies are the ones that try and go up your nose, and into your eyes. Don't open your mouth!!
The land is very green and lush. On one steep hill, I got to see two Dung Bettles rolling a ball of dung along. They were much smaller than I expected, but very entertaining. I just wish it wasn't on such a steep hill.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Inveral

Had enough resting in Texas. The weather had returned to showers, so time to move on. Left Sunday morning in the rain. Later in the day the sun came out and it was hot. Tar melting hot. Tar was running like honey in some spots. Rested in Ashford for a while- most of the mid day actually. Then stopped about 20km outside of Inveral for another few hours.. Slept beside a hay field. Oh did that smell nice.
More showers on the way..

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Texas

What a week it has been..
I stopped a couple of days outside of Aratula. The second hand shop there, the guy gave me a book, so I had to stick around to read and and drop it back. While there, I saw a koala in the wild!!!! The koala climed down one tree, ran across the ground and up another tree. Did this a few times before finding a tree it was happy with.
After leaving, it was a two day climb up over the range. The road I picked had signs saying no trucks, semi trailers, caravans or busses. Some of the grades were 17%. Needless to say I walked lots of it. It would have had great views, but mostly I was struggling to see more than 20meters - fog or mist or clouds. It was cold and wet, wet, wet. It took two days to climb the range.
Stopped in Legume, and Liston for a night each.
I'm currently in Texas staying in the caravan park. Yes. There is a town called Texas in Qld.
Memorable moments;
If a tree falls in the bush does it make a sound? You bet. At 9:15ish at night, I went from sleeping to crouched ready to run in one heatbeat. A very loud "crack", followed by the sound of falling. In the morning i found some small twigs had hit the tent. The dead tree fell towards the tent, but the top of the branches stopped about 10meters away..
Digging a hole in the rain forest is hard work - lots of roots.
From Killarney to the NSW border, the road is called "Border Road". at the border, in NSW the road is called Killarney Road. QLD likes having the roads called Border road. Same thing happened when crossing again on the way to Stanthorpe.
Texas has sheep farming- lots of flies. Dig any hole early in the morning before the flies wake up.
New top speed - 79.5km/hr. Might have been faster but i put the brakes on early on.. But then lost a water bottle the speed crept up before I knew it..
Rain stings over 50kn/hr.
Being wet each day has its problems. I wear the same clothes each day. I've only three sets: one to wear, one to sleep or change into and one spare. So if one pair is wet, and its still raining, they go back on the next day. I found that I have lots of little blisters or boils. Any small cut would easily become infected. A day of being dry has helped them a lot. Clothes that are wet constantly smell. In short before washing today - I stunk. Going past road kill, the flies would all leave to follow me. I had so many on me, I'd chase them off to make the uphills easier. Fair dinkum!!! Skin softens in the water, and I found small pills of skin in the tent. Any callouses I had are long gone.. But after all of it, one good wash and everything is gone. I smell clean again, my clothes have the soap and sun dried smell. Looking foward to sleeping tonight - a clean dry bed.
The blue Ortlieb bags have shown a problem. The top is closed by a roll down, but the edge has a cloth strip. This strip soaks up the water and lets a few drops inside. I'm going to spray silicon on it when I get some to stop that. For the moment I'm double bagging to stop my sleeping bag getting damp.
The panniers on the Yuba Mundo work well. I feel like I can ride faster than with thee Go-Getters. Its also easier to pack and unpack the bike. Its also easier to push the bike up hill - the wide loader bar isn't in the way. The panniers sit a few inches higher - which is a big help when crossing water. I walked through water up to just below the axle height. The go-Getters would have been in the water, and lifting the bike. Water that deep has a lot of force. I wouldn't like to walk through any deeper flowing water...
Pictures:
- Road side heading away from my cow paddock camp.
- second hand shop at Aratula
- koala in a tree
Picture taking has been limited in the wet. My phone isn't water proof, and mostly I was so wet, I didn't want to risk opening the water proof bag to get out the phone.
After all the rain - it isn't as unpleasent as you might think. It does make for some changes, like stopping earlier to give the inside of the tent time to dry, or taking longer to setup and take down the tent.. And when the sun comes out its so magical. Riding in the rain is easier in some ways - its cooler, and there isn't any water shortages :)