Written by Nancy
We rested well in sleepy Singleton. There were a few coal trains and a little highway noise but when you go to bed at 7:30, being woken up a few times is not that big of deal. Dave was stirring at 5:30 this morning – his last ‘comfort break’ was at 9:30 last night and I knew after drinking all that water yesterday he wouldn’t make it long! Sure enough, he only managing to lay there for 15 minutes before getting up. My ‘it’s a holiday’ protests didn’t have much effect, but I was awake anyway so it wasn’t too bad (though I could have used a bit more time to read my Kindle – that would be a holiday). The birds were starting to make a good racket around us anyway so I don’t think we could have gotten much sleep anyway.
Given the nice camp kitchen we had to use up some of our eggs and soda bread so Dave made his famous Frog in the Hole brekkie delight. The seeded soda bread is really heavy (yes, it has been on Dave’s bike), but boy it makes nice holder for the eggs. That, together a couple of nice coffees using our Aeropress gave the morning a good start.
We stopped at the office to pay before getting on the road around 8:15. We were straight out onto the A15 that took us into Singleton last night. It seemed like we were riding slightly uphill all day and we had a slight headwind. So much for a repeat of yesterday’s easy day. From Singleton to Muswellbrook, it was pretty much all mines and power plants. It continues to amaze us how much of the earth an open pit coal mine churns up and spits back out into tailing piles. No, make that tailing mountains. They try to block view of the mess from the highway by having small buffers of trees and even in the middle of nowhere by erecting a large concrete wall. I suppose that travelling at car speed, these would have done the trick. Not so much at bike speed. We saw through all the disguises. We do like to turn on the lights at the switch at home, so it is hard to be overly precious about the coal plants until we have a better source of power but it is not very confronting to see it close-up.
We stopped in Muswellbrook for supplies and a late morning tea. Dave went into Woolies to buy some supplies and came out with a big tub of yogurt and a 1/2 litre of milk, so that was our morning tea with the left over scones we’ve been carrying. Muswellbrook was bigger than we expected, but both it and Singleton are coal towns and looked a little hard done by.
It was a bit of a slog from Muswellbrook to Aberdeen, all along the A15 with the heat coming on and a decent headwind. From there I knew we only had 10k to get to Glenbawn Lake. Around Aberdeen the horse farms appeared – big ones similar to the ones we saw in the Hunter Valley on last year’s trip, with lots of horses milling about (one even with the same ‘Don’t undermine us’ sign that we saw last year. The horses all looked at us closely, and one group came up to the fence to get a closer view at these weird creatures moving past them. By that time we were both getting pretty tired and Dave was over the picture-taking responsibilities so sorry, no horse pictures.
We finally came around on to Glenbawn Road, and I knew we were very close to the lake but could not see it. As my eyes adjusted I realised the big earthen dam was just in front of us – from further away my mind kept trying to make it into a field of some kind (perhaps it’s time to get back to the eye doctor!). We seemed to be pretty far below it though, which was a bit disheartening as I thought we were almost there. A few more climbs to get up and around to it and we saw the entrance for the Inland Waters camping area. We stopped in, no problems getting camping but… the camping area was 5k further on into the park! Not much to do about it, we got back on the bikes and made our way slowly up the remaining hills.
This is a massive park, and there are multiple places to camp around the lake but many of them are ‘self-contained’ spots – no water, no toilets. The gals at the check-in said we could camp anywhere there wasn’t a ‘no camping’ sign but we needed to be near an amenities block so we could get water (and a shower!!). We kept riding until we got to the kiosk, had a cold drink and tried to figure out where to camp. The camping area right down by the lake was completely packed and you could hear the big power boats zooming around – given the number of boats on trailers that went past us that is obviously what you come here to do.
We ended up at the top of a little rise just behind the kiosk and near the amenities block. Not sure if it is an authorised camping area but there was no ‘no camping’ sign and the lovely lady at the kiosk said no problem! She actually said we could hang out in the deck area of the kiosk as long as we wanted. We fumbled around a bit getting the bikes up there (after a cold drink at the kiosk) and of course the rain started to come. A bit of kerfuffle getting the tent up but we were pretty quick, given the rain. We only had to have one ‘No it’s that way’ ‘No it’s the other way’ discussion – which, just for the record, I was right on but had to go through the whole thing of laying out the tarp, the ground cover and the inner tent before Dave would believe me. Nothing got too wet, so it was all right in the end.
We had a massive rainstorm while I was in the shower; by the time I made it back to the tent I was soaked again. Dave kindly did the laundry (well, drying really) after his shower so we at least have dry clothes for tomorrow.
The lovely lady in the kiosk offered to fill all of our bottles for us – apparently the water in the amenities block is ‘untreated’ – not sure what that means exactly, as there are no signs in the bathrooms or anything so it’s probably just tank water. Anyway, she was happy to fill our 10 litre bag and 1.5 litre bottles for us, so we don’t have to worry about filtering. We are now sitting in the covered area behind the kiosk, cooking our dinner – yellow Thai curry with pumpkin, beans and snow peas over jasmine rice. Yum!
Tomorrow we have a hard day with a good climb into the Barrington Tops, some of it unsealed. Hopefully it won’t be a quagmire after the rain today. We don’t really go through any towns tomorrow, so will have to carry extra water and it is supposed to be warmer than today. There is supposed to be tank water at the campgrounds in the park so hopefully that will be the case – Dave is sure it will be fine so I am not going to worry about it (ha ha).