Written by Dave
Happy New Year!
I’m happy to report that we survived the Portuguese New Year at the Emerald Tiki caravan park. The party turned out to be a little more private than the campground owner had thought it would (it was the 20th year for the party, but the new owner’s first experience). So, that meant that we were not dancing on the tables with Portuguese grandmothers and the like. I was however, able to break into the “men’s circle” preparing the closely guarded (top-secret recipe) New Year’s beef BBQ. I asked a couple guys how they did it. Each time I got one more ingredient than the last guy, or in some cases one less, quite funny. Whatever the secret, from the taste test that the “head chef” gave me I can report the end result was quite tasty. We were quite happy with our avocado, salmon and rocket wraps and the nice bottle of pinot I picked up, after appetisers of sardines on crackers (we’ve been carrying two tins of sardines all week to eat for lunch so figured we might as well eat them on the last night!).
As predicted, we didn’t make it past 10PM – too much sun and too many kilometres over the past week. That’s not to say we missed out. We heard the party sing a number of tunes (that everyone clearly knew the words to) and eventually heard the official count-down – all from the comfort of our tent. It’s funny, loud parties keeping you awake in a campground are nowhere near as annoying when you know that 3 (maybe 4) generations of the same families are just doing what they’ve done for years. It was really nice to see the younger kids hanging with the oldies. Gotta love that European family culture.
Nancy reported that the party continued until at least 1AM – me, I passed out, not stirring until our alarm went out at 6AM (yes, on New Year’s Day!). I didn’t hear much but Nancy said there was quite the possum convention in the trees above us during the night, and there were a few slugs doing laps over the tent that caught her attention during the night as well (Senior Editor’s note – thank goodness I was on guard duty as Dave chucked a sickie and stayed fast asleep during his shift!). We used the BBQ to make egg and bacon wraps for brekkie – hit the spot with a nice cup of coffee. It was another blue ribbon day – our eighth day of riding and we only had the small amount of rain on day 1.
We had about 40k to ride to get us to the Stockton ferry, to get us to the right train coming back to Sydney. Nancy was not going to miss that ferry – she was on a mission, riding faster than she had all week. It could have been the slight tailwind and/or the flat roads, but Nancy got us to the ferry more than 30 minutes early. I was happy to sit in her slipstream. Traffic was light, as we expected it would be. I’m sure getting off the road on NYE was a good call.
We made it across to Newcastle with lots of extra time. Not much was open but we managed to find a Belgium Chocolate brassiere, just in time for a second brekkie. I suggested a celebratory pint at the pub but it was too early with all the pubs still cleaning up from last night and not yet open for customers. I’ll admit to over indulging on a fancy Belgium waffle thing, as the moment couldn’t go past without something special. Nancy had a great looking yogurt with granola and stewed fruit – not sure how it tasted as she wouldn’t let me near it.
We had no issues getting to Hamilton train station and got good spots on the train. Getting loaded touring bikes onto the train and positioned so that they are not in the way of other passengers is never easy. We have to ride in separate cars and generally don’t get a seat. This is better than a day of city traffic riding but definitely not the favourite part of the trip. We both managed to “drop” our bikes once each. Nancy banged her knee, I escaped scrape free. Nancy won’t be able to wear a dress for weeks – she is quite bruised between the train and all the bumps she picked up while pushing her bike on Barrington Tops road. But at least the bikes survived without issue! (Senior Editor’s note – so much for getting any sympathy…)
So that’s it for this trip. We did some 530ks in the week, rode some really nice backcountry roads and saw parts of the country that we had not seen before. We met some nice folks and rode some good hills (ok, Barrington Tops road may not quite qualify as a “good” hill – but I liked it!) (Senior Editor’s note – I am not sure I would ever say I liked trying to get up that hill, but perhaps if it wasn’t at the tail end of a 80k day it wouldn’t have been quite the traumatic experience that it was!). And we did it all without incident. It is always good to finish a trip safely.
We had some new gear this trip – so I’ll make some notes on this in post next week. Thanks for reading, and being part of our 2015 Xmas Trip. Have a safe and prosperous 2016.