(October13, 2020 – written by Dave)
We’ve had a nice relaxing day here in Orange. Orange was founded in 1846 but really hit its growth spurt when the rail line from Sydney reached here in 1877. It is still served by the train and has a regional airport. The town currently serves as a regional centre and just over 40,000 live here. It didn’t boom and bust with the mining cycles that occurred with so many towns out in these parts.
The elevation here is 862 metres (2,828 ft), with nearby Mount Canobolas topping out at 1,395m (4,577 ft). Mount Canobolas is not, as is sometimes claimed in tourism brochures, the highest point between Australia’s Great Dividing Range and Africa. Peak in SA and the NT, plus peaks on Madagascar and Réunion Island are higher. It is, however, the highest point in a direct east-west line between the Blue Mountains and the western coast of Australia. Like everywhere, claiming to be higher has a certain cache.
Orange is known for food and wine. In fact if you look at the top 10 must do tourist things here, it is almost all food and wine. We didn’t fancy a bike ride out to the cellar doors today but we got some good food in town. Last night we had Indian and tonight we had Japanese. Both meals were good, even by Sydney standards. And for sure, they were welcome changes from our run of pub meals over the last couple weeks. Curiously, we’ve also found that food costs here are much closer to Sydney prices as well – hmmm.
This morning we went to the brand new Orange Regional Museum. It was very well done but completely different than the Pioneer Museum that we saw in Gulgong. Here, they focused on individual objects and told stories of the people behind the object. In comparison, in the Pioneer Museum back Gulgong, they had hundreds of everything in somewhat random stacks. The Orange approach let us learn about the history through the people and their things, Gulgong taught us more about “stuff”. Nancy liked the Orange approach, I kind of like the Gulgong method. Budding museum science students out there can offer their thoughts.
After the museum we visited a couple bikes shops. Yes, they have at least two here and no, we didn’t seek them out. We found them just wandering. In both shops we were greeted by staff with way more than a simple welcome. In both shops, staff members came over to talk to us, asking us what we were up to, if we rode, where we rode – all very genuine and engaging. Without saying Sydney folks are cold, we’d offer full marks to the country approach out here. In the second shop we spend a good half hour reviewing our route for the next couple days and completely re-jigged what were planning based on advice from the shop mechanic. You can’t beat local knowledge, especially when the local is a cyclist.
This afternoon I washed the bikes in our room’s shower. Yesterday Nancy mentioned that we were in an accessible room. I figured why not take advantage of the giant wheelchair accessible shower and give the bikes a good wash. I know what you’re thinking – Gad, did you get oil and dirt everywhere? No, no, no, I was super careful. When we travel by bicycle, we always treat rooms with the utmost care, so as to not ruin things for the next cyclist. For the record, the shower floor is cleaner now than it was when we arrived.
Which reminds me of a funny story. If you are reading this and know Roman, our trip-mate for the first 10 days of this trip, have him recount his “adventure” with the water in his Gulgong hotel room. I’ll say no more because, as they say, what goes in Gulgong, stays in Gulgong.
With the help of our cycling shop friend, we’ve mapped out what looks like two great days of cycling to reach Katoomba on Thursday. We’ve planned a longer day (with less climbing) to O’Connell tomorrow and a shorter (with more climbing) to Katoomba on Thursday. On paper, both days threaten to become “epic”, so we’ve also mapped a few bailout options. Check back later for detailed updates.