Cessnock to Denman- Three Musketeers (101k/960m)

(September 30, 2020 – written by Dave)

First a report on last night’s dinner at the Foghorn Brewery – everyone is giving it top marks. We had a lovely meal and ticked eating there off our collective bucket lists. Nancy had a beer that was half the size that Roman and I had. It however, contained 2X the alcohol. I think that works out to be the same thing – I’m not sure. Roman and I had a drop called “Piss Weak – Session IPA” – how we got talked into drinking that, I’m not sure, but despite its name it was a tasty drop.

Foghorn Brewery – good stuff

With our longest planned day ahead of us, we were up early this morning. Brekkie was taken looking out over the vineyards with another mostly sunny morning. Rain was in the forecast for early afternoon but it was still pretty nice in the morning. Nigel, the YHA manager, was up early for us to get our bikes out of his shed and we departed just after 8AM.

Three Musketeers

We rode in three countries today. We started with wine country, rode to mine country and finished in horse country. The wine county ride this morning was wonderful. Riding on Broke Road was scenic with a bit of traffic.  Once we turned right onto Hermitage we found a wonderful bike path that took us all the way out to the A15 motorway. Last time we rode Hermitage Road, some 12 years ago, it was a narrow shoulder-less dangerous route. Regional developers realized that roads that people can cycle on in the wine country would bring in more tourists. We were delighted by the results.

Hunter Valley vineyards
For all of our friends who love Lovedale Cottages
More Hunter vineyards and Broken Back Mountain
We were all beyond Hope (winery) at this point

We left the idyllic Hermitage Road at the A15 motorway. Boy, what a difference. The A15 was noisy with lots of traffic and a good number of trucks. At least it had good shoulders. Slowly as we made our way out the A15 and later on the B84 we rode past a good number of open pit coal mines. With each mine traffic dropped off bit by bit. We lost our shoulder at times but the lessoning traffic made for a reasonably safe ride.

Some no trespass signs have more impact than others – this one is near a military range
One more shot of the vines – didn’t see any wombats

We stopped for morning tea at a roadside rest. Nancy made us three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but tortured us by riding just ahead of us and not stopping. Roman needed a sugar hit but we couldn’t catch Nancy. She was shooting for a cafe that both of us had remembered from our last trip but it turned out to be further than we thought. So, eventually, she pulled up at the rest stop and let everyone catch our breath and get some sugar replenishment. Phew.

Seen just after tea, I think. It may have been a sugar mirage as well???
Roman blasting one of the steep pitches

We had planned to stop at a little blip in the road called Jerry’s Plains but because we’d just stopped back at the rest stop we rode on through.  There is very little there other than a very small servo and a pub (which wasn’t open at the time we passed).  Jerry’s Plains is billed (at least by the signs) as the ‘Gateway to Horse Country’.  There are some vines in this part of the Upper Hunter as well but more than anything, the area is marked by massive fenced horse fields. There are also two good climbs between Jerry’s and Denman. We were all feeling a little tired but regrouped at both summits and rode more or less together to the finish in Denman.

Denman coffee – spot on
Winners are grinners in Denman

Once in town we found a nice “Fish River Roasters” coffee at a cafe called Fresh Denman. We ordered toastiest that everyone pretty much inhaled. I don’t think Nancy’s PB&J sandwiches had quite enough calories for a 100km day. From the cafe we called the caravan park only to learn that they had no tent sites or cabins. A bit stuck, we tried a couple hotels in town before finally ending up at the Denman Motor Inn. We got a three person room which will be fine, with the notable exception of  Roman’s bed, which is the size of a kid’s bed. His head and feet hang off the ends of the bed when he stretches out so he may end up on the floor if it gets too uncomfortable.

Our room, notice Roman’s kid bed

For dinner we headed over to the Denman Royal Hotel. We thought they had a steak special tonight but it turned out that the $12 steaks were only at the Royal Hotel in the next town up the highway. Seems the Royal Hotel is a popular name in these parts. Regardless of getting the steak info wrong, all of us had fabulous meals – way better than the average pub meal.

Wrong Royal Hotel but worth it for the great meals we had

We’re now back in our fancy hotel room relaxing and getting ready for bed. That is, we in our nice long, full length queen size bed, and Roman in his kid bed. As they say, it’s only one night. And tonight, after a solid ride today, everyone will probably sleep well regardless of how short or long our beds are.

Tomorrow we head for Bylong, up the Bylong Valley way. We did this ride back in February and know that it is very scenic but also has a couple stiff climbs. We’ll camp tomorrow night at the Bylong Store as there is no lodging available. Roman is excited as his tent is longer than his bed tonight .

6 thoughts on “Cessnock to Denman- Three Musketeers (101k/960m)

  1. Enjoying following your progress. What’s your planned route on Friday ? We are returning to Sydney that day from Armidale and if it works we may pass your way.

  2. The ‘debate” was brutal. I should have gone out for an evening ride. Fortunately had a nice ride this morning though not nearly scenic or challenging as what the three of you are doing. From the map, Bylong looks like a very tiny village.

  3. We somehow survived the very stressful plane trip back from Florida and are quarantining at home! Sadly, It is still quite smokey here. Your trip sounds great and I’m enjoying the pictures and commentary! Enjoy!

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