(October 3, 2020 – written by Dave)
Today we started the Central West Cycling loop and what a nice ride has turned out to be. For starters, they aren’t mining out here so the roads are still lined with trees and the air is clean. On top of that, the area has received 5x the normal rain fall over the past six months – meaning all the fields are green, the dams full and spring wild flowers are in full bloom.
The first day’s route has about 500 meters on a highway. The rest was all back roads with little to no traffic. A little more than 50% of the route was unsealed but it was easy hard pack. There were a few turns but they have strategically placed little yellow directional stickers on a fence post or road sign. Navigation was a breeze.
While the riding and scenery were great, the best part of the day had to be our morning tea stop at Sue and Geoff’s farm, Mayfield. Sue and Geoff welcomed us to their farm for a couple wonderful hours of conversation and a tour of their amazing gardens – and of course homemade sandwiches and tea.
Geoff’s great-grandfather settled in the area in the 1880s and through the years the farm has grown to be 2,200 acres. They mostly raise cattle and feed crops. They’ve had a couple really tough years with the drought but this year they are optimistic. The last two years, they had to give up half their herd because they didn’t have water or feed for them. They have plenty of water for calves this year and are hoping to grow enough feed to take care of their mob and sell another 50% on for profit.
Sue has lived at the property for 50 years and has built extensive gardens that surround a lovely wrap-around porch on the 1930’s farmhouse. Sue informed us that running out of water meant that the house was surrounded but nothing but dirt as recently as January this year. Boy, you wouldn’t know it. Her gardens have come roaring back this year. She knows her plants and is justifiably very proud of the gardens.
Sue and Geoff have four children and ten grandchildren. None of them still live on the property but because it’s school holidays, a big lot of them were showing up today for a family get together. We meet one of their sons who has a nearby “baby” farm of “only” 1,200 acres.
Between the property and the family gathering, I’m sure that Sue and Geoff had more than enough to do today without entertaining three naive city-slickers but you’d never know it. They were happy to sit and answer all our questions and even give us a tour of the garden. On a normal week, they’d see the mailman 3 times per week so the bike trail passing by is going to be great for them. We do these trips in large part for the people – today Sue and Geoff reminded us of why.
We finally pulled ourselves away from the farmhouse at 1PM – it was only another 25k ride to reach Dunedoo. The heat was up but the scenery and nice riding continued all the way to into town. We had some animal excitement as well. The first encounter was a mother cow who had just given birth to a calf – the calf couldn’t even stand up yet and mom was very nervous. Later Nancy spotted an echidna, she got photos but it had run off into the bush before I arrived. Coming through town we stopped for a coffee before eventually making our way out to the caravan park. It’s not flash but has everything we need and there are lots of nice folks here.
For dinner we are heading over to the pub – there’s a footy game on TV and it is Saturday night but we have a booking. Just like on the farm, these small town pubs are often full of stories and characters. I’m sure that we’ll be entertained, even if we don’t know who is playing footy.
Tomorrow is a little bit short ride to an even smaller town called Mendooran. I may have spelled that wrong but I’m not sure it’s on the map anyway. We’ll be on back roads and away from the highways all day.