(October 11, 2020 – written by Dave)
I’m happy to report that last night it was kangaroo central at the Village Campground in Hill End. A large mob of them came out at dusk and we heard them running to and fro several times during the evening. That blows my theory that they are hanging out in the woods this year. To be fair, Hill End is pretty much in the middle of nowhere so perhaps they are hanging out in the woods and we’ve just entered their territory. Whatever the reason for their visits to the village, we enjoyed having them around – it gives a nice vibe to the campground.
We had a cold night in the tent. It was supposed to drop down to 4C and there was a lot of dew. We managed to position the tent so that we were the first tent in the campground to get sun this morning. Score one for the junior editor and his reading of the sun’s path.
Today was supposed to be easier than yesterday so we didn’t feel rushed getting everything sorted away. Not that starting off 30 minutes sooner would matter but for the record, the ride turned out to be quiet challenging. Still, we had to do a lap of Hill End for some more old building photos, it’s such a pretty place.
We’ve been seeing a lot of dead shingle back lizards on the road the last few days and were hoping that we see a live one this morning. There was very little traffic and the sun was doing a good job warming the asphalt. Unfortunately, we only saw more squished shingle backs. We did however spot a live lizard – what we thought was a water dragon. It was sunning right in the middle of the road. We stopped and tried to get it to move before any cars came along. We yelled and jumped but it would not move until Nancy grabbed its tail. We had one of those “Jim from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” moments when I told Nancy to grab it by the tail and I’d get a photo. Just like Jim, Nancy didn’t hesitate, she’s a good Jim (Senior editor’s note – hmm, I’m not sure I like that comparison…).
Around 10AM we started being passed by a few old 250cc motor bikes. The few turned into a pretty steady stream over the period of an hour. We never did figure out what they were all doing out in the middle of nowhere but we did use them to help us make a on-the=fly route change. They were all turning at Turondale Road so we stopped and looked at the map and decided to follow them. There was a sign indicating it took you to Bathurst and it was about 10km shorter but at least 200 meters more climbing. I think it was a good call but several of the climbs went over 11% so I’m not sure.
There was no place to stop for lunch so we just plodded on until we reached a crest where the road was a touch wider. Until now, we dared not check the remaining profile for fear we’d have too much climbing left. The check at lunch time revealed only 300 meters up remained – phew.
The last 15km went pretty fast but it seemed to take forever to reach the centre of Bathurst. We haven’t been in a town this big in a while I guess. We hadn’t had much to eat during the day so we stopped at Mexican restaurant to regain our senses and figure out where to spend the night. It’s always easier to think when you are no longer starving.
After some back and forth on tonight and the next three days we agreed to head to Orange tomorrow (getting a nicer place and having a day off), so tonight we headed for the Bathurst Showgrounds. The choice here in Bathurst seems fine but there is some downside. We have been befriended by a young man riding the bus to “somewhere in outback NSW” after he goes to see the famous Bathurst car race in a couple of days. He seems to have retired to his tent now, after going through the garbage and snagging all the recyclable bottles.
Our bus friend is complemented by a heavyset older woman in a sprinter van. She’s pulling a trailer containing at least 5 miniature dogs. One of them growls at something, she yells and the cycle repeats. At one point two of the dogs broke containment and were running all over the showgrounds. The woman is not in any shape to be chasing them so she just stood there and yelled. We tried to help her but the dogs are pretty much out of control. They eventually tired of the chase, remembered who give them treats and returned to their mini enclosure pen.
We’re stuck here now, having agreed to stay – team decision. It could be a long night!
So tomorrow, we head to Orange. The ride is shorter and there is less climbing but after today, Nancy is inclined not to trust me. I’m sure it will work out fine 🙂