(June 19, 2020 – written by Dave)
We rode basically north-east all day. When we finished riding we arrived at South West Rocks. There has to be some sort of riddle in those facts. South West Rocks is on the mid-North coast of New South Wales, a state in Australia’s South East. Are you dizzy yet? Ok, for the record, the rocks were apparently named by ship captains who always wanted to keep the rocks on their south west when they were at sea. It probably makes sense if you think about it long enough. Anyway, we are here, somewhere.
The overnight forecast was for no rain but a shower at 7AM. It rained overnight, several times hard and there was no shower at 7AM. They blew that one. At least we didn’t have to ride in the rain this morning. The overnight rains however, turn the 25k dirt section on Maria Road into a bit of a mud bog in places. They had recently graded Maria Road so it was mostly smooth. Two-thirds of it, however, was pretty muddy. Our bikes (with 35mm tires) handled it fine, we just got a little muddy.
For the first time on the trip we saw live kangaroos today. There were several mobs of them out on Maria Road. We almost rode straight past the first mob because we were focused on a muddy section. The roos were not fussed by us but took off running when a car came from the other direction. I was fast enough to get a still photo but like the running mob shot below better anyway.
We got away from the hostel early (yes, I made the coffee run) and subsequently managed to reach Crescent Head by about 10:30. We decided to pull over there at the surfer’s showers to try cleaning the mud off our bikes. While there three blokes who live locally came over to talk to us about our bikes and touring. They had toured themselves quite a bit, were getting ready to go for a ride and were a wealth of local road knowledge. Plus they knew where to get the best coffee.
For the record, the best coffee is at Black Fish. The second best coffee is at the Crescent Head Kiosk. We opted for the second best coffee because there was a bench right on the foreshore overlooking the surf break and Crescent Head Beach. You don’t get a much more scenic place to take morning tea. It took us a while to peel ourselves away.
Once out of Crescent Head, we were back into the quiet farm roads, just like back on Maria Road The difference between these roads and the surf scene found at Crescent Head is remarkable. The surfers are all tanned in their wetsuits, salt crusted hair; driving their camper vans without seemly a care in the world. The farm roads represent a completely different life with cows, broken fences, rust and moss covered equipment and buildings. You’d be quickly forgiven for thinking that in a blink of an eye, you’d been transported from one world to the other. Yet somehow they exist right next to each other. Everyone seems to get along and the cows all look happy.
After roughly another 50k of riding past farms next to the twisty Macleay River we crested a small rise and rolled back into surf land at South West Rocks. We don’t have enough clothes in our bag to match both farm and surf styles though Nancy fits in pretty good in her fancy Kitsbow Pendleton wool jumper. I’m going to have to get myself one of those.
We looked up a couple caravan parks near South West Rocks before the trip but decided to change plans last night and head for the park right on the town foreshore. They had a few spots open so we grabbed it. The park lacks a camp kitchen and there are no picnic tables but we are more than happy to trade fancy facilities for the beach views we have at our site – at least happy to do so for one night anyway.
We punted on cooking dinner as the South West Rocks hotel is just across from our tent. We figured that folks could get loud on a Friday night and if you can’t beat them, join them. We still have a couple days riding left to reach Coffs but it feels a little celebratory tonight for us.
Tomorrow we head North East again, finally putting the South West Rocks into our rearview mirrors. Thank goodness that’s sorted! It is supposed to be nice again tomorrow and we are heading for Nambucca Heads, another surf town, surrounded by farm land.