Saturday, 16 May 2015

Boggabilla, Goondiwindi, Moonie, The Gums, Meandarra

Arrrrgggh, it was cold last night. I managed to camp on top of a hill, but the frost on the ground told the story. A fair bit of standing in the sun, hands under my armpits, talking to myself like a pirate. This was to be the last cold night though.  Just outside Broggabilla, it was a balmy 8C overnight.
A quick run through Goondiwindi for shopping. Then on northwards.
Leaving Goondiwindi, I managed to miss the turn off, maybe it was enjoying the tailwind. I've been along the road too many times, something wasn't right. Stopped, checked the map. Yep, missed the turn off. Bit later, I was sure I was on the right road;  narrow, no shoulder, lots of truck traffic and roadside rubbish. Yep, going the right way now.
Blissful normality through Moonie to The Gums, when my trip north took a west detour to Meandarra to spend a couple of days with a mate1.
A sign on a creek walk said that  "Meandarra" is aboriginal for 'a place of water'.  Looking at the creek, all the irrigation pump tails in the water holes, the low water level, I'm not sure for how much longer. Even the bunyips2 have moved out.
Rubbish disposal in country - dig a hole, throw it in, burn it, and then cover.
A good time was had. With help, my charge system is back working. After years of outdoor use, a mini to micro usb adaptor, was rooted3.  Must be corrosion somewhere in it. Was still giving out 5V but zero current.  The mobile would ping to say it was charging, but then slowly go flat.  Ordered a new adaptor, and will improve my charging setup.



Australian Slang
1 a friend
2 An Australian creature that lives in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes.
3 Broken

Friday, 15 May 2015

Bingara, Warialda, North Star

My sleeping bag needs more feathers in it!  Been cold the last few nights. Just below zero, with frosts. Been wearing thermals, clothing, jumper and the rain gear, and it's still cold. My "winter" gloves aren't. My thick socks aren't thick enough. I sleep huddled up like a pill bug, trying new ways to get more layers of my sleeping bag around me.
But after the sun has comes up, it's all forgotten; beautiful sunny, warm days. Echo could want for more?
I've managed done dirt roads along the way. The old farmer that stopped told me I was lost. I wanted to believe I wasn't. I had suspected it was going to get interesting when the road became two wheel tracks. But as it as heading the right way, all seemed all good. Later I had to back track and return to the tar. Not bad, a 60km trek about the farm roads. Would have been only 20 km if I'd stayed on the tar.  But where's the adventure in that?

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Barraba

Ah, nothing like the smell of Roundup in the morning. A farmer spraying, and I get a misting as I ride past. No weeds on me!
I take the non direct route to Barraba. It takes a few days. The mining has expanded and the road has been closed permanently. I flag down a mining vehicle, and am told there is an alternative path around the closure. But the driver wasn't sure. The maps I have haven't been updated and provide no help. With no signs to guide me, I return to another route.
Along the way I pass the Rangari automatic telephone exchange. Would have been the heights of modernisation once..

Broggabri

Relaxing dirt roads. Blue sky. A gentle breeze. Next to no traffic. Who could want more?

Packing up next morning I found what looked like a scorpion. Didn't know Australia had any, but we do!

Pine Ridge, Colly Blue, Spring Ridge, Premer, Tambar Springs, Mullaley

Easy riding mostly. I was heading to Coonabarrabran, but the flat plains and head wind did me in. I turned for a tail wind and flew.
Small towns, slowly dying. Shops closing, buildings for sale. Won't be long before there will be nothing left but a locality sign.
Camping in the bushes I walk through a spiders web. Just were did the spider go?

Quirindi

Another easy day. The sun come out. Time to clean up and dry off. Five days of wet. Been a while since I've had that many in a row I think.

I also wanted to get off the main road. I'll stay a night in the  Quirindi Caravan Park. A hot shower. Been a long time since the last one.

Talked with a lady about horses. She was telling me I should ride a horse rather than pedal. Besides knowing nothing about caring for a horse, I doubt they would make it between water points these days. I was assurred they would as "there's water everywhere".  It amazes me what people believe.

With the clear sky's, the night temperatures have dropped. Riding past the cotton fields, it looked like snow.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Burning Mountain

I woke to the steady sound of rain on the tent. Then patched a rare puncture: steel wire just punctured the rear tube.  Loaded up and cycled off. My clothes haven't been drying and my skin is softening.  After I warm up, I ride without my rain jacket, hoping the water will wash me off. All that happens is that I feel cold and wet. Days like today, I find no takers for my life outdoors.
I'd wondered if I could have gone to Bylong without extra food. But today I know the answer; I would have suffered badly if I did. I'm tired, hungry and not feeling very energetic. I call a short day and stop at Burning Mountain.
Lucky for me, I have the whole rest area too myself.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Near Scone

The best made plans, soon go out the window. I rode the back way into Denman from Jerrys Plains. Longer, and less traffic than the more direct route. Unfortunately for me the yearly festival was on, and the IGA was closed for the day. I was planning to go to Bylong to escape the rain, but needed food. The caravan park in Denman was $25 a night. Way to much in my opinion. So I turned towards Muswellbrook and then north towards Scone.
After 80km, I called it a day, and cooked up the last of my food for dinner. Another day and night of rain. Tomorrow, shopping in Scone.

Near Denman

Awaking and packing up, I've legs of steel. Though, it's not strength that I'm thinking of. They' feel heavy, unbending and dense.
I have a free breakfast, when some volunteers wave me into their "breakfast for shift workers" stand. They run the stand to help the miners get home. After a 12 hour shift, some are driving a couple hours to the coast. Sometimes they don't make it. But if they stop, they might wake up a bit.
More land around Bulga is being prepared for mining. Scrapped back to bare earth. Then the digging will start. The bush I'd seen in previous years is all gone.
Sadly I ride on into the rain.

Broke

Wasn't much better today. I'm tired, and the showers continue. Least there isn't much wind. The road I was on was narrow, with a lot of truck traffic. Not ideal.I wanted to stop at Wollembi, but the camp ground is too close to the creek, and still had water pooled on it. With more rain forecast, it was on to Broke.

Out of Sydney

It took another attempt to leave. But finally I made it out. The first attempt, the trains were not running well, and I had a "did I turn off the stove" moment. Rather than spend days wondering I went back.
Finally I was off. Standing in the rain, cold, I was hoping for better weather. It did ease up later in the day. but I struggled with lack of fitness. After 40 km, I called it a day and set up camp.