(March 4-5, 2020 – written by Dave)
Back when I was a kid, I used to always eat a piece of cake by eating the cake part first, saving the frosting part for last. In my mind, the “best” part was the frosting, so I saved the frosting to savour at the end. Our bike ride this week has been a little bit like cake. We started at sea-level, rode uphill almost every day to finish yesterday at about 1,100 metres. Today was supposed to be our frosting. That is, a 30k, 1,000 metre decent from Katoomba to Springwood.
I’m sorry to report that we didn’t get any frosting on this trip. But it all worked out just fine…
Last night over dinner, as the rain was teaming down, we checked the forecast. If anything, the forecast had worsened. Rain was expected to intensify and last for two full days. While we were looking forward to our nice easy 30k downhill, we weren’t super excited about doing it in the rain, especially out on the crazy Great Western Highway.
Rather than being upset, we agreed to spend a “rest” day at the YHA, explore Katoomba a bit and see then how things played out with the weather – boy it is nice not having a fixed schedule. Almost as an afterthought, Nancy decided to check the train website to see if there was any sort of update on when the track repairs would be finished.
The train website gave us a nice surprise. The train from Katoomba reopened yesterday. We had already committed mentally to the rest day so we stuck with that plan and waiting a day gave the rains a chance to clear out. They didn’t – if anything, the second day it was raining harder. So after a fun day exploring the cafes of Katoomba, we packed up our bikes and walked them to the Katoomba train station. We hopped a city bound train and with just one transfer we took it all the way home to St Leonards – nice and dry the entire way.
A negative person might say that we didn’t get our “frosting”, the 30k downhill ride. But really, we like riding uphill as much as we do downhill, we don’t love riding on the Great Western Highway all that much and really, who needs those frosting calories anyway? A dry train ride beats a truck spray soaking downhill ride any day!
So that’s the end of our little “Give back to the Bush” tour. Here’s a couple closing thoughts on what we discovered.
Fire damage – there is a lot, but where fires didn’t bun too hot, the bush is already showing signs of recovery. Where the fires burned hot, it will likely take many years to recover.
Rain/Flood impact – A few things are washed out here and there but you won’t find a single person in the bush who’s upset about the rains. Green grass makes for happy cows and happy people. They’ve waited so long for rain, when a little extra comes, well, no worries mate.
Animal impact – we don’t really know. You have to spend a lot of time in the bush to see native Australian animals. They are generally nocturnal and shy. Experts report that we lost a lot (up to 2 billion) and maybe even some endangered species. I wish there was a way to do more or even know more but we’ll have to trust the scientists here – it will take time for them to even survey the damage, much less come up with plans. Stay tuned is the best we can conclude about the animals. And, of course, if you are driving a car – SLOW DOWN and watch out for the animals that have survived!
Country folks – The good folk of country NSW are alive and kicking. The fires, the drought, the floods – all tough – are no match for the bush spirit. Folks were happy to see us, happy to talk about the hard times and really, just ready to get on with living. You won’t find any pity parties in the bush. Stop in, spend a few bob and have a chinwag. As they say, she’ll be right mate!
If we can close with one thought, it would be… Country NSW is very much open for business. We are glad we made the effort to visit and already looking forward to our next bush tour.