30/12/2014 – written by Nancy (posted on 31/12)
82k – Mudgee to Bylong
We had a bit of fun last night in the cabin – well, it seems funny now, but I am not sure it was so funny at the time. Having a TV on keeps us up late (relative to camping in the tent), so it was after 9:30 when we turned the lights off. I was reading on my Kindle and there seemed to be flying bugs dive-bombing me every couple of minutes, causing me, naturally, to make a bit of noise and flap around a bit. This seemed to bother Dave a bit, though of course he did nothing to help, like jumping up to find the flying bugs.
It also seemed hot to me (as it always does, anywhere, anytime these days, in my close-to-mid-50’s state), so I turned on the air conditioner to get some air moving. Well, at about 10:30 Dave jumped up in a huff as it appeared that I in fact had turned the heat on – inadvertently, of course, because I couldn’t turn the lights on because there were only two big overhead fluorescent lights in our ‘luxury’ cabin and he was trying to sleep. Anyway, after all that was sorted out we finally got to sleep with some nice cool air blowing over us. However, given the heat in the cabin Dave set the temperature at 21C, meaning that about 1am it was bloody freezing in the cabin and I had to politely suggest that perhaps it was time to turn the air conditioner off. Mumble grumbles all around as he got up to turn it off.
Anyway, 6am rolls around and he was up bright and cheery, all of the struggles during the night forgotten. We packed up, did a last minute check and headed to the Mudgee Bakery for breakfast. Dave went for his favourite vegemite scroll, and I ended up with two teeny fruit scones and some raisin toast. Dave helped me finish off the raisin toast and we hit the road toward Bylong by 7:30.
As we headed out of town we met up with a local cyclist, who spotted us from a distance and rode up to have a chat. Dave and he did the male thing – checking out each other’s bikes and the components to make sure each had the requisite ‘street cred.’ Dave later told me he was riding a Thorn with a Rholoff hub, which of course I had not noticed as he went by me. Anyway, after he told us about a recent three month tour in Europe he gave us the skinny on the today’s route, which is always good to get from a local.
Today we got payback for the headwinds of the recent days – we had a smashing tailwind for most of the day and boy was it nice. We worked our way out through the wineries (including the Petersons winery), and then headed up through Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve. It was a beautiful climb, very green and shaded with beautiful scenery. We stopped at a picnic area on the way down for morning tea – beautiful spot, with the best-ever pit toilet, made out of cedar with no smells at all. On the way down we spooked some big kangaroos and an emu on the side of the road – sorry they were too fast for a photo.
We stopped at Wollar store for a drink and a sausage roll, knowing it would be our last store for the day until we reached Bylong. The road climbed a bit out of Wollar, and we finally hit the dirt road that we had been anticipating. However, it wasn’t quite the road we had anticipated – it was silky smooth, we were going 28-30kh without any issues. So, not your usual dirt road. We had 7k of this dirt road with a bit of paved sections thrown in, and then we came up on some road works, which explained the road surface – they were obviously getting ready to pave it. Unfortunately, these guys were at the end of the road works, so from there on it was your usual dirt road – washboard, rocky and bumpy, which meant much slower. But, all in all, not as bad as it could have been, as we were riding through a very pretty valley with farms dotted about.
Bylong Valley seems to be a hot spot for coal mining and coal seam gas, and we saw lots of signs protesting against it. Interestingly, we also saw a notice at the Wollar store, inviting people to come by once a month to have a ‘chat’ with team members from the nearby coal mine. So, it looks like the fight goes on…
After we reached the end of the dirt road we hit the turn-off to Bylong and turned right, right into a blasting headwind. Fortunately it was only 2k down to the community of Bylong and the Bylong General Store – advertised cheekily as the best store in town (I am pretty sure it is the only store in town). It is a great general store, with lots of ‘stuff’ and most importantly, cold drinks and homemade sandwiches. We ate our toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches in the courtyard, and then headed across to the community showgrounds where they allow camping (for a donation). In the blasting wind we set up our tent where we could get some shade and then each took a hot shower in the restrooms. Very nice! Too bad though that we will miss the Mouse Races.
We have now had our dinner (couscous with zucchini and chorizo, cooked on the free BBQs) with the remainder of our Mudgee wine and our small (very small, as Dave was serving) piece of Spencer Cocoa dark chocolate (single plantation, grown in Vanuatu, made in Mudgee) – wow, is it good chocolate. The only downside to this camping area is that there is no fresh water, so we have had to treat a bunch from the tanks. The owner of the store said that tanks are usually full of rainwater but they have had a big drought so they have filled them up with bore water (well water, for those in the US). We tried a small tank that she said just had rain water but it had little guys swimming around in it so we passed on that one and have just taken our chances with the bore water. We did treat it with the Steripen (twice), so that’s as much as we can do. The mineral content may be a bit much for my stomach to take but hopefully it will be okay – so far, so good, and it tastes fine.
No mobile reception here (at least for Optus) so we will have to post this tomorrow. Dave is beside himself not knowing the cricket scores, even muttering about asking people who have been stopping at the store. Unfortunately, the store is now closed and we are the sole occupants of this lovely community showgrounds so he will just have to wait until tomorrow. It should be a quiet night anyway!
Tomorrow we make our way to the thriving metropolis of Denman, which is about 75k or so from here. A bit of climbing I think – when we mentioned our route to someone in Mudgee they said ‘Oh, over the ranges, huh?’ so I think there might be a climb or two. Another hot day forecast as well – perfect Australian summer weather.