I rolled into the small country town of Braidswood on a glorious afternoon. It’s worth mentioning this since the weather has been everything but great my last few weeks in Australia.
My newfound surrogate-parents, Robert and Joan, had mentioned the rodeo in town this weekend and the cattle-sales.
I have not seen a cattle sale-yard before (I saw the sheep-sale yards…) so went to have a look.
Many men with hats. This was good since I like ehm… hats. Not at all did I feel out of place dressed in lycra leggings and my work-shirt…
When I arrived at the rodeo-ground the preparations were in full swing. So I parked my bike between farm-ute’s and horse-floats, put on my hat ;-) and helped setting up.
The sun kept it up the whole weekend…
.But, naturally, as soon as I set off on my bike it started to drizzle. Via my newfound ‘mum & dad’ I got some contacts on the way out. So I stopped off at a farm where I was spoiled and filled up with steak, beer, pancakes and ice cream. I keep telling myself ‘I’ll cycle it off’… I’ve got a whole lot more cycling to do…
I set off along the Nerriga road. Mainly because on the map I’ve seen places named; “Duran Dura”, “Wog Wog” and “Tomboy”.
A dirt-road, with a little more traffic then I expected. Some serious ups and downs and the pub in Nerriga.
In the pub in Nerriga a man took one look at my bike and told me I couldn’t cycle up the next hill. I find this an unusual statement. Just because he couldn’t do it doesn’t mean I can’t… So I cycled up the hill. And called in at the chestnut-farm at the top where I stayed a day picking chestnuts , drinking beer and watching a man and his bird…what else to do on a rainy day?
Cycling along I saw a honey-place. I like honey so stopped and had a coffee. While the bees where buzzing about, doing what bees do I had a chat to the owner. He came to the conclusion I needed energy and stamina, so he gave me three little packs of super-honey. Bee power. And a bright yellow cap. I cycled real fast after that. And uphill too!
So fast that before I knew it evening started falling and I hadn’t reached Hill End yet (that is the name of the town at the end of the hill). When I stopped to take a photo of a cute cottage.
a car pulled up, the lady lived in that cottage and migrated from Uruguay to Australia with her husband 23 years ago. Now they are restoring the cottage and having a South-American-style BBQ. If I’d like to join :-)
So without much trouble I reached the old mining town of Hill End the next morning. Once the largest NSW inland city with 52 pubs because of a massive amount of gold in the ground. Now it’s merely a ghost town with a nice little shop where few people mentioned the road I intended to take was closed. After some more inquieries I found out there had been a landslide and cars couldn’t get past. Motorbikes could, I was told in the pub. So, logically, a pushbike could too.
I assumed that because of this the ‘Bridle-Track’, as it is known, would be quiet and traffic-free.
I was wrong.
I chose a holiday weekend to ride through the most popular camping spot in a 500km radius (well, so it seemed) Every spot at the river was jam-packed with 4WD’s, tents, kids on cross motors and men with chainsaws (just for firewood… I hope)
Just before the landslide area I ran into Terry. Terry build a house in the valley and was just gathering leaves to burn that evening. I joined him for a cuppa and the fire. And by gathering our supplies we managed to cook a nice meal that evening.
Back into the real world and onto real roads with real traffic I decided to stay a night in the masively un-appealing town of Bathurst (note; on a nice day in a good mood it probably is a lovely place…)
Where I was allowed to pitch my tent at the sport-grounds. This same evening a engagement-party was held at the sport-grounds. With no chance of an early night I joined the party :-)
I cycled up and up and wondered why everything felt a lot harder then I thought it should. Surely one bad night sleep wouldn’t do this to me? The answer came a little later as I said good bye to a young family who’d invited me for lunch; “Don’t you need some air in your tyres?” He shouted as I rode off… ahhh, that explains a lot. Oops.
I do like this part of Australia eventhough at times it seems a little hectic. Like when I came across the Blue Mountains back to Sydney. It was the end of a bank holiday weekend. The lack of shoulders and some sharp little climbs made it slightly hazardous. Maybe the fact I don’t like traffic noice so I cover it with my music and the ungoing drizzle didn’t help… could’ve all together made for an unpleasant experience. A massive traffic jam snaked itself all the way up the mountains. So I happily cycled past the lot, all the while thinking that eventhough it has been said many many times… Surely I’m not the mad one…
Even I sometimes doubt it, like when I had to return 4 times to a massive viewing platform before I could finally see ‘the three sister’ through the mist. I’ve got three sisters myself and can tell you, they look nothing like it.
I had the pleasure to be hosted by Leigh I met a long time ago (well, feb last year) when I stayed at a big motorbike-gathering. A very keen cyclist. He showed me around Sydney on my last visit and now he took me to some beautiful viewpoints and Katoomba. I have to take his word for the beauty of the place because all I saw was clouds… He did accompany me down the mountain on a lovely downhill ride.
Now my time in Australia has come to an end. Or, to be more correct, my visa has come to an end.
The thing is, I’m not done…
So-this is not “THE END.”