26/12/2014 – written by Nancy
66 k – Bathurst to Orange
There was only one other tent in the tent area last night so it was very quiet – just what the body needed after that day. And, even better, after all that rain last night we again woke up to clear skies and sunshine. We were camped right near the new camp kitchen so as soon as it was light we used up the remaining eggs and some more bread to make our tasty egg sandwiches (I think they are actually called ‘Toad in the Hole’ in some places). A plug for the ‘Bike, Camp, Cook’ cookbook produced by Tara Allen from ‘Going Slowly’ – highly recommended, and you can buy it here.
We left town headed east toward Ophir Road, off the Great Western Highway. We weren’t sure whether we would take this road all of the way to Orange, as there were some suspicious creek crossings showing up on the map. It was scenic though, and we decided we’d go a little way to see how it was, knowing there was another road that would take us back to the highway if needed. Along the way we stopped at the Ambercrombie House, an old 1860’s mansion that has been restored beautifully (well, at least from the outside, it wasn’t open for touring). If you think it looks nice, be aware that the family that now owns it has been living in it and restoring it for 40+ years. So, all those with Peterson remodelling genes take a deep breath and just move on.
Shortly after leaving the Ambercrombie House we were passed by two cyclists on road bikes. They asked us where we were going and when we said ‘Orange’ one of them said, ‘Wow, you have a hard ride ahead of you.’ Well, that naturally settled it – we took the bail-out road back to the highway. Not that that route turned out to be easy either – we had a 15k climb from the time we hit the highway, with headwind to boot. But at least it was rideable – no pushing today. We stopped for morning tea at the Rock’s Creek rest area, eating some of the buttermilk cranberry scones I brought from home.
Traffic wasn’t too bad on the highway and there was a good shoulder so we felt safe. There were, however, many, many, many ‘Overtaking lane x kilometres ahead’ signs – which generally meant there was a climb ahead. You could see these white signs from a ways back, so when I could see one in the horizon I’d hope it was a sign for something else – a historic house, the local hardware store, or even, in my wildest fantasy, an open cafe (ha!). But no, it was always another overtaking sign, and yet again another hill.
We were almost out of water so stopped at Lucknow, a little town about 10k outside of Orange. The pub didn’t seem to be open but the little mini-mart next door was – manned by a very kindly Indian gentleman. A couple of cold ice teas and some water down, we made the last few kilometres into Orange. We couldn’t go by the ‘Driver, Reviver’ sign though, and pulled in to get a very warm welcome from the Lions, with a cup of coffee and a bikkie to boot. They were full of information about the town, where the caravan parks were (even where the new one will be when it is built in several years time, in case we make our way back here). They even had the Sydney to Hobart race on TV – it had just started and the boats were making their way out of the harbour. Plus, they had the cricket score, to Dave’s delight.
We stopped at the bottle shop for some Orange wine, then found what appeared to be the only open grocery store and bought some supplies for lunch and dinner. I sent Dave in for some snags and he came out with pork ribs – hmm. Anyway, we made our way to the caravan park by the showground, set up our nice new Helinox chairs and ate our lunch. Then it was time to set up the tent, take showers, and look at the route for the next few days. After all of that it was time for dinner!
The camp kitchen here leaves a bit to be desired, unfortunately. The park appears to be the place that all the fruitpickers stay (big business in this region) and so there are lots of people in tents that are here semi-permanently. The kitchen area is a bit of a disaster, with stuff everywhere. We ended up cooking on the portable BBQ that was closer to us, and only used the microwave and teapot at the kitchen area. Oh well, can’t win them all.
It is cooler tonight and no rain in the forecast so hopefully that bodes well for a good night’s sleep. We were looking at 75k along a 4-wheel drive dirt track that goes from Orange to Hill End, but after the hills the other day even Dave is nervous about tackling that so we have rejigged the route a bit and are now headed to Wellington, about 100k away on the Mitchell Highway – longer day but on sealed roads so we’ll see how that works out. If the wind direction of today holds, we’ll have a tailwind – here’s hoping for that and not to many of those “overtaking lane signs”.