(June 15, 2020 – written by Dave)
Our first night in the tent on this trip, last night, went well. We were both a little restless at times but that was probably more due to the cold than anything. We were in bed by 8:30, woohoo, big night. As promised, the kookaburras were up right at dawn giving us a rousing cackle at 6:15. They settled down once they’d established their territory and we manage to get a bit more sleep.
Last night we spotted a bush tail possum in the tree above our tent. We were a little worried be might visit us, or our food bags, overnight but he stayed away. This morning however, we had another exciting wild visitor – our first sighting of a wild dingo. Or is that just a dingo as wild dingo is slightly redundant. For those who don’t know, a dingo is a wild dog found sparsely throughout Australia. It’s been here for as long as the first settlers who walked over during the last ice age – 60,000 years.
The dingo we saw this morning, clearly a mother with a litter somewhere, came through camp three times. She was a little skitterish but it was obviously not her first visit to the park. She came close to our site and was making us a little nervous until the dog in the site across from ours spotted her. The dog was an old, overweight and probably blind male staffy but the dingo didn’t want any part of him and made for the woods.
We had brekkie in the sun at the camp kitchen. We were tempted to ride back into Hawks Nest for a proper coffee but we were not sure if they had a cafe or if it would be open. This was the first time we’d ridden this way and actually pulled off the road into town. There’s an IGA and cafe – for future reference.
We had a short ride planned for the day so we didn’t leave the campground until 10AM. We could get used to this. Once rolling we had 25k of almost completely flat riding out Myall Lakes Road. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and as the road goes almost no where, there was no traffic. We enjoyed what was left of the morning without having any rain, traffic or navigation challenges. Perfect really.
We saved the navigational challenged for the next section. We were supposed to turn off Myall Lakes road onto a dirt cut off road called Gibber Track. This track was recommended by several cycling blogs as a good way to get to Seal Rocks, our destination for today. I had mapped it on Google maps and knew right where the turn was (Senior Editor’s note – I don’t think you can really say you know right where a turn is when you take the wrong one…) . Nancy mapped it on Komoot and unfortunately Komoot had us turn early on a different track. None of the tracks are marked so when we reached the wrong track, we had to decide if this was the right track – we guessed wrong. I kind of blew it at this point as I should have checked Google maps – we took the Komoot track, thinking at that point it was the other track.
The track was pretty overgrown and didn’t look like it had had any traffic on it for many months. After a bit of bush-bashing, thinking this was pretty rough compared to what we had read about, we discovered our error when the track intersected another track about 4k in. That didn’t seem right so we checked the phone. Sure enough, we were on the wrong track. We had three choices. 1. Go back – haha – does any cyclist do that? 2. Take the new track we crossed over to the other track that we intended to take. 3. Stay the course and stick with the wrong track which joined the right track at the 10k mark. We chose option 3.
The next 8k were altering bumpy, smooth, rocky, wet and often partially blocked by brush. We pushed on. Nancy’s mountain bike riding skills improved immensely in the 8k. She stayed right on my wheel as I tried to pick the least wet and bumpy line. Eventually we popped out at the junction of the Old Gibber Road – where the road sign said that our track “did not go through”. Ha, maybe it didn’t go through for softies, it went through for us! Phew – that was harder than it should have been.
Old Gibber Road was much smoother and faster. It didn’t take us long at all to reach the junction of Seal Rocks Road where after more than 20k total of gravel we were happy to see a sealed road. Overall the short-cuts saved us 80k of highway riding so it was worth it. Had we found Old Gibber Road at the start, it would have been a blue ribbon route choice.
We rolled into Seal Rocks and went straight to the campground. Tonight we are in another Reflections site and have an even nicer camp kitchen than last night. We’re heading off towards Forster tomorrow but Seal Rocks looks like a nice place to have an extended break. We brought our own food as we don’t know if there is a grocery here or not. Stock up and stay a week – it wouldn’t be a bad place to read a book and get away from CNN.