The first night in the tent was pretty successful – I think we were both asleep by 8pm. I did wake up several times though, as the tent siter did not quite pay sufficient attention to bumps in the ground and I seemed to have a large lump under my back. I had to up my supervisory watch tonight to make sure we don’t have a repeat – we’ll see how it goes.
We left the Swansea campground under sunny skies and it was already warm. We stopped for some pictures of the pelicans waiting for the discards from a fisherman cleaning fish not far from the campground. From Swansea we rode the Pacific Highway through to Belmont and then on to Charlestown. There were some decent climbs into Charlestown but not too steep – just long slow climbs.
From Charlestown we went off the Pacific Highway onto the Scenic Drive which looped around and dropped us down into Merewether. Merewether is right on the beach and it was packed with people surfing, swimming and skateboarding. We stopped to watch some of the skateboarders at the purpose-built park – Dave wanted to go ‘shredding’ (as he kept saying) but I convinced him that we had no more time for broken bones…
Newcastle was just over another hill from Merewether. We arrived there about 11:00 and had a leisurely lunch at the Sprocket Café – no egg and bacon roll today though – Dave said “you have to stop at a café called Sprocket on a bike tour”! They had some great bagel sandwiches and great coffee. At Newcastle we took the ferry across the bay to Stockton – you can ride around but Dave loves to get on boats so we opted for the ferry. It was only a short ride – less than 15 minutes for a direct route across rather than loop around the water on land.
From Stockton we had some long flat riding on Hwy 121 (Nelson Bay Road) towards Nelson Bay. It was quite hot and sunny so we had a minor rest stop along the way to get some chocolate milk and put on more sunscreen. We took a diversion on to Marsh Road to get us off of Hwy 121 – it was a great ride, very little traffic and picturesque with the mangroves on either side.
We decided to top at Anna Bay rather than go on to Nelson Bay – Anna Bay is smaller and less busy and it is school holidays so that increases the traffic and the people. We have ended up at the Birubi Beach Holiday Park – it is right next to the beach, with lots of surfers about. It’s a nice little campground and surprisingly quiet for school holidays. And the price is $20 less than last night!
We have had a little bit of rain tonight and there may be more tomorrow so we may have to ride in the rain. We are planning on going into Nelson Bay and then taking the ferry across to Tea Gardens tomorrow and then on a bit further to where we can get a decent campground. We may make it a short day if we have a lot of rain.