Written by Dave
First a report on the brekkie buffet at the Newcastle Ibis – what it lacked in gourmet, it made up for in volume. We ate more than we normally would – even managing to ride through to camp without lunch. You have to pay extra for espresso based cafe. We pushed the boat out and got 3/4 white flats – essentially a flat white with only 3/4 milk – more coffee taste this way. In spite me saying 3/4 at least three times, we got coffees with milk to the rim. Oh well, help on Christmas is probably hard to get and she did have a nice Santa hat on. We took our chances with a second cup of free espresso out of the machine and it did the trick.
Thanks to Chuck’s “wishing us tailwinds”, we pretty much had light tailwinds all day. The ride out of Newcastle would have been pretty busy on a weekday but Christmas morning, traffic was light. There were some clouds about and we managed to catch a rain shower around the 25k mark – to answer Chris’s question as to why our bikes have fenders (or mud guards as we call them in Oz), well, stopping mid ride to install them is never going to be any fun. And yes, it does rain in Oz. This was typical Australia rain, that is 5 minutes, enough to make the road wet and nothing more. We aren’t talking Oregon rain by any stretch.
We made it to Maitland pretty easy. The bikes didn’t really seem all that heavy. We both had the “first time on a loaded touring bike wobbles” starting out but we adjusted pretty quickly. Maitland has some nice old buildings in their CBD (Central Business District – downtown). Nothing was open and mostly only us and a random local wandering about. These old mining/wine towns have been trying to diversify – Maitland as a couple small art colleges.
We had morning tea at Greta, stopping at a servo/motel. I get major husband bonus points when you stop at a place like this. The rooms are beyond rough and in spite Nancy being a good sport, there is no way we’d stay at a place like this. They had a couple rooms converted to his and her toilets sometime in the 1980s – they may have been cleaned since renovations were finished. They did have nice Partridge Family” tables and it was nice to get out of the sun for a break – yes it was sunny by now.
We got a little lost around Branxton. They’ve extended the Newcastle freeway up here and made this amazingly convoluted series of onramps. I’m sure we added at least 4k here, just trying to keep going straight. The freeway itself seems a little overbuilt but you never know – those art colleges in Maitland may really take off.
The last 20 were quite fast. Chuck’s tailwind was getting stronger and the freeway shoulder wide and smooth. We rolled into Singleton right about 1PM. Singleton is home of the Australian Infantry museum. It was naturally closed on Christmas day but that didn’t stop me from having a play on the tank heading into town. Nancy wants more pictures of me on this trip, less of her. She may come to regret that.
We wanted to stop in town and grab a snack but everything was closed to we rode through to the other side and the Country Acres caravan park. There are two parks in town but they didn’t get very good reviews on line. This one is pretty good. Quite a few folks/caravans look like permanents but we found a nice grassy place for the tent and the camp kitchen is quite nice. As reception was closed, we had to call the owners on arrival – they told us to make ourselves at home and we could square up tomorrow. Pretty little chance we’ll get out of here before 8AM when they open. I say this in large part because of the speed which the new tent went up – it was not fast. Either of us probably could have gotten it up faster without the other helping, especially when it’s hot and you haven’t eaten lunch yet. I’m sure we’ll do better on this tomorrow – as soon as Nancy agrees to listen to my instructions that is (Senior editor’s note – actually, if we had just followed my instructions we would have had it up twice as fast…).
We’ve now ensconced in the camp kitchen. Soon as I finish blog update, I get a glass of wine and a curry. After the tent erecting, the wine may help us both! Tomorrow we are heading for a campground near Scone (pronounced Scone, not the British/Aussie way of pronouncing ‘scone’, which is without the ‘e’ – in case you were wondering). Forecast looks much like today, hoping that Chuck’s wind is behind us.