(June 24, 2020 – written by Dave)
Ok, ok, ok, enough of those guest authors. Normal programming resumes today, complete with contextual and actual spelling errors, and perhaps a few grammatical slips. Unless of course, our senior editor is on her toes and catches all of my creative uses of English.
Overnight at the showgrounds was great. We slept well as it was so quiet with us tucked under the classy bar awning. We had a little moisture on the tent but there was plenty of sun in the morning for drying things and warming us up. We moved chairs out into the direct sun for brekkie and had trouble moving back to the shady awning area to pack the bikes.
We were on the road under glorious sunny skies by 8:45 and cleared the Grafton morning rush hour in something like 3 minutes. We headed out the back of town towards Lawrence and a ferry across the Clarence River (yeah, we didn’t have to cross over that death defying bridge from yesterday). We found a couple real goat-track sized cut-off roads this morning that had zero traffic, unless you count the cows. Even the main road from Grafton to Lawrence was pretty quiet. We had some great views out over the river whenever we crested the river dike.
Half the ride was over by the time we reached the ferry but we couldn’t find anything to eat in Lawrence so we pushed on to Maclean. The far side of the ferry dropped us onto an island but it seemed to have more traffic than the morning roads – at least the cars were bunched up from the ferry so we only had two small traffic waves to deal with.
In Maclean we found a fantastic bakery/coffee roaster – Bottero. We had some tasty lunch treats and a proper flat white. Those who saw Nancy’s Instagram post will know that I tried to steal more than my share of the caramel square – for the record, we turned it 90 degrees and cut in half properly. I got my share, and only my share (Senior Editor’s note – see what the threat of publicity will do?).
Maclean is a town of Scottish origin which you’d have to be blind not to notice. They have painted nearly every power pole in town with one of the Scottish clan tartans. There were so many poles that some surely would have been repeated – but we didn’t notice any. We had a bit of a delay leaving town as I tried to find my clan, the MacKenzie Clan. We knew the tartan but with so many poles to look at, and some number of side streets also painted, it was a bit of a needle in a haystack search. As I almost expected, we eventually spotted MacKenzie right in the middle of town on the main street – right where MacKenzie should be located!
The last 20k from Maclean was not nearly as pleasant as the morning ride. The road narrowed and there were heaps of B-double gravel trucks. We worked closely together and pulled off the road a couple times when trucks came up behind while the opposite lane was also full. We were quite relieved to reach the quieter waterfront streets of Yamba.
In Yamba, we rolled straight to the Calypso caravan park and asked them about an onsite van. They didn’t have any vans but did have a “quaint” 1950s apartment block with a second floor unit open. The view from the balcony is great. The inside is as billed by the check-in gal – right out of the 1950s. It will be fine for a couple nights as it is right in town with great access to everything.
Our fellow cyclist friend Leonie who cycled South American has a holiday home here in Yamba but it was already rented out – she had offered us mates rates but we didn’t really plan this part of the trip very well so it was booked out. Even better than a place to stay however, Leonie has been a wealth of local knowledge. She gave a long list of must-do sites – we’ve already hit a few and have a day off tomorrow to get the rest.
We hadn’t planned on seeing all of town today but managed a good walk this afternoon. The highlights included a beer at The Pacific Hotel, a walk to the end of the break wall (we saw more dolphins), views of the sunset and a wonderful spot to have dinner. The main goal of dinner was to get some local Yamba prawns for which the town is famous. We found a restaurant (The Sandbar) that served only fresh seafood that they get from their family trawler fleet. The prawns were amazing. The snapper, well, out of this world. We didn’t love the ride in here, but we like Yamba so far. It has a really nice vibe to it.
Tomorrow more sun is forecast and we can see the sunrise from our balcony. We still have several cafes from Leonie’s list to try out so we’ll be busy. Someone has to do it. Life is good!