(October 8, 2020 – written by Dave)
For those keeping track of yesterday’s blog, we had Thai for dinner last night. The short walk won out. It was quite tasty, the owners were clearly from Thailand – you never know in these small towns. We’ll spare you the food photos today.
Rain was forecast today but only a spit (.6 mm) so last night we went to bed without much worry. We awoke this morning to wet roads and rain bucketing down – hmmm. There really wasn’t much to it as we had hotel bookings in Gulgong. We got up and got things sorted.
By the time we went to retrieve the bikes from the hotel storage room, it had stopped raining and the sky was getting lighter. After a good deal of negotiations with the cleaning lady, we extracted our bikes. The cleaning lady had the key but she was told that we wouldn’t get the bikes out until 8:30, and she said she was busy. I had to point out to her that getting the bikes out at 7AM would take the exact same amount of her time as getting them out at 8:30AM. I confused her just enough, and she begrudgingly unlocked the storage room – phew. Some of these towns are not as ready as others for the CWC.
We had brekkie across the street at Cookies Cafe. Roman and I both had the Mega Roll – a double egg and bacon roll. Nancy had a single. For the record, the double has 2x the bacon and 2 eggs and yes, it was really too much to eat before a bike ride. On the way out of town we stopped at the public toilets where we ended up spending enough time for the rain to restart. Just to be clear though, that was no reflection on the quality of the food – it was delicious.
The rain was light so we decided to depart anyway. We made it about 1km before the heavens opened and we had to duck under the awning of a bottle shop. It really bucketed down but didn’t last too long so we rugged up in rain gear and pressed on when the rain abated a little bit. Rain only continued for a about a half hour, getting progressively lighter. Over the rest of the ride, we stripped off layers of rain gear and only picked up the odd drop here and there.
Given the heavy rain today, we elected to ride to Gulgong along the paved Goolma Road, rather than the actual CWCT route, which went along some unpaved farm roads. Yesterday’s farm roads would have been quite mucky (and slippery) in the rain and we didn’t want to deal with that today. We are moving back to the coal areas but it was fantastic to see the 174MW Wellington solar farm developed by Lightsourcebp) and 400MW Uungula wind farm out on Goolma road. I’ll be honest, the solar farm has a strong visual impact on the country-side, and the wind farm is not visually neutral. Having said that, both are better than a giant open pit in the ground and of course, they will be giving us jobs and clean energy for a much longer period of time.
With stormy weather and some tailwinds, we motored along and didn’t make too many stops today. Other than a few quick photo stops, we only had one regrouping stop in the very small town of Goolma at 45km. There are no shops currently open in Goolma so once we were all back together and stripped off another layer of rain gear, we pressed on. The last 30km to Gulgong were pretty fast as the wind came back around more behind us and we had some fast downhills.
We stopped for a group finish photo on the edge of town. While we have more to ride before this trip is over, we celebrated a roadside cheer to having completed the CWCT. The CWCT is a great new route and resource for the local communities. Some establishments along the trail have completely embraced the CWCT. Others still have some work to go to better understand cyclist – the cleaner at the hotel this morning being an example of the later! We’ll share our feedback with the “trail founder” (Mick) as everyone seems to know him and for sure, he’ll be certain that the right folks get the feedback.
In Gulgong, we settled into the Ten Dollar Town Hotel – named so because the town was on the first Australian ten dollar bill as the childhood home of Henry Lawson, a famous Australian bush poet. We are taking a day off here tomorrow to have a proper look around. Gulgong is a great looking small town with heaps of historic buildings and lots of character. I’ll share more on this tomorrow.
This afternoon, we did some laundry at the town laundromat and were quite entertained by the signage we found there. Clearly we are in the mining area again. Between the wash and dry cycle we wandered up the road to the town wine bar for a nice glass of local red. As with the Hunter Valley, the mines and wineries are fighting it out to be the top industry. My money is on the wineries; they ultimately last longer than the mines, plus they’ve got the solar/wind farms coming in on their side.
When we depart Gulgong on Saturday, we’ll be down to a two person team again. Roman completed his goal of riding the CWCT and is heading back to Sydney. His wife Helen came out to pick him up so the four of us are off now for a celebratory dinner (at a pub probably).
Updates from Gulgong tomorrow…