Ballimore to Billy O’s – A day of serendipity (69k/550m)

(October 6, 2020 – written by Dave)

First a couple comments about last night at the Hair of the Dog Pub. While we were complementary in yesterday’s post I’m not sure that I was effusive enough. What a great stop it turned out to be. The friendly and hardworking staff finished up late in the pub/kitchen and Nancy spotted one around midnight mopping the bathrooms. He told Nancy to be careful as there was a slight slope on the bathroom floor. You get the point, it’s a gem of place.

Morning sky at Hair of the Dog
One more shot of Hair of the Dog

We had a lovely dinner at the pub last night as well – in part because we got to have salad! Yes, real green food, such a nice bonus to the standard pub fare (we actually both had the same salad for lunch – it was that good). We also got to enjoy the company of 6 other “young” touring cyclists that we’ve been in sync with on the loop. Great food and like minded conversations made for a nice vibe. And last but not least, the caravan folks around us turned their radios and spotlights off at 9:30. Yes, one of them had a spotlight aimed right at our tent, for some reason.

And finally, Hair of the Dog provides a more than ample free brekkie for cyclists. Ok, ok, I’ll stop…

Get in here for good food and great service

We were headed for Dubbo today and did actually make it there but not in the way we thought we would. The CWC route took us on some quiet back roads all the way Wongarbon. We travelled through field after field of bumper crop; the rain this year has been wonderful for the farmers. We tried not to overdo the photos and yes, a lot of stops were made.

District views
Great crop and views
Nancy rolling

We ‘d read that in Wongarbon that if you book in advance, you can get scones at the post office. It’s block off route and we hadn’t booked (no Optus coverage in Ballimore) but we decided to drop in regardless. And boy were we glad that we did. The post office is being run by a semi-retired couple from Sydney named Susan and Tim. They offered some scones that they had ready, just in case cyclists stopped. They didn’t need to offer twice.

Susan’s scones – yum

While we were visiting, Susan asked where we were staying in Dubbo. When we told her that we didn’t have a place she got a little worried for us as she thought Dubbo was completely full so she made it her mission to check in town. Dubbo is a pretty good sized town and for us to surf the web, much less ride around, and find a place would have been a lot of work. She knew all the short cuts and pretty quickly confirmed her fears – there was no place to stay in Dubbo and even the caravan parks were full.

Rather than leave it at that, she called round to all the local places and found us a place to stay on 4km from the post office – Billy O’s (more about it later). She handed me the phone. I spoke to “Billy” and made arrangements for us to stay at his place for the night – a gamble as we had no idea what his place was.

Seen on the road today – yikes
View after leaving Wongarbon

With 4 hours to kill and nowhere nearby open for lunch, we decided to ride out and back into Dubbo so that we could reach the far most western point on the CWC. And of course to get some lunch at the Devil’s Hollow Brewery. The brewery is actually 6km from the centre of Dubbo but it is past the official welcome to Dubbo sign so we are claiming success on reaching Dubbo.

Proof we made it to Dubbo

The brewery itself is quite nice. It’s brand new, only opening in June – bad timing with Covid – but all the same, they are making a go of it. They make some really nice beers and have great food (more green things were available). They don’t have secure bike parking so they opened a side door and let us park our bikes in the brewery with their nice new stainless tanks.

Roman at Devil’s Hollow
Good stuff
Bike parking in the brewery

All three of us had small beers and a meal. It was a shame the beers had to be small but we still had to ride the 20km return back out here to Billy O’s and the heat was up. We drank lots of water to make sure that beer didn’t affect our riding (and had a good coffee as well). We also took the back road, just to be sure that we reached Billy O’s safely.

Red IPA on the left, normal IPA on the right

And what a find Billy O’s turned out to be. Mark is the owner and quite the craftsman. He’s collected a stack of old buildings, rebuilt some more and cover the entire property with old memorabilia. It’s a lot of stuff but it’s not tacky. In fact, he’s mixed in a good deal of his bush humour. One of my biggest challenges is picking the door of the day. Mark has hundreds of them scattered the place. He’s set the three of us up in the old shearers shed where we have cots and swags.

Get in here!
Actually part of the wall to the shearer’s shed – not sure about the mechanic
BillyO stuff
BillyO toilets – woman.s on the left, men’s on the right
BillyO doors of the day

How lucky are we. We go from having no place to stay, being clueless about there being no place to stay, to finding Susan (a local) who makes us her mission and the finally to landing at Billy O’s. Plus we got a great meal in a new brewery to boot. As they say, even a blind squirrel finds a few acorns now and again.

One more BillyO shot – this could go on all day!

So we’re 20km from Dubbo (the route backtracks out of Dubbo back this way) and have a shorter day tomorrow. It may rain tomorrow so an early finish is great. But that’s tomorrow, we’re headed to the camp kitchen now to make some dinner. And yes, Mark has beers for sale in the kitchen – seriously, how lucky are we!

And Mark threw in an explanation for us on the name of the place, which we naively thought had to do with the big billy can out front of the property.  In fact, ‘billy-o’ is a word used as a general synonym for ‘things hellish and useful in genteel or young company, where something could be said to “hurt like billyo” or one could invite someone to “go to billyo” without corrupting or offending – except, perhaps, one’s target.  So billyo became a general pseudonym for things hellish and useful in genteel or young company, where something could be said to “hurt like billyo” or one could invite someone to “go to billyo” without corrupting or offending – except, perhaps, one’s target.’   We’ll have to practice using that in some sentences out here in the west…

BillyO campfire

12 thoughts on “Ballimore to Billy O’s – A day of serendipity (69k/550m)

  1. Boy, you really lucked out! If we were wandering around Australia it would be a lot of fun to visit Billy O’s. I hope your posts help bring him more visitors.

  2. I’m really enjoying reading about your adventures. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully the rain holds off till you make your destination!

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