An almost all-new cycling adventure, day 2


The weather forecast for today for the Lockhart and Narrandera region was for a mostly sunny day. But over night I was woken up a number of times by the sound of heavy rain on the roof of the hotel where I was staying. That didn’t bode well! But by the morning the sky was starting to clear in the west, with a just a few short rain showers. I decided I would get on the road early today as I knew I had a long ride to Narrandera (Riverina district, New South Wales), some 70km away. So I consulted with the written description of the route to take to get to Narrandera and off I went. I turned down a street that I thought was what the Google Maps route description indicated, although I did have some doubts regarding whether it was the right way. I should have listened to those doubts. As I headed roughly west out of Lockhart on the Urana road I seemed to be travelling in the right direction and was eagerly waiting for the township of Boree Creek to come into view, where I would turn north for about 40km before turning to the north west for last few kilometres in to Narrandera. The kilometres went by, and the scenery opened up to a very flat landscape and a big big sky. Rain in one direction and a clearing sky in the other.

Flat landscape and big sky

Flat landscape and big sky

Flat landscape and big sky

Flat landscape and big sky

I started to feel very very small amongst the huge flat landscape that unfolded before me. By about the 25th kilometre I was starting to get a little concerned. Boree Creek still hadn’t come into view and I was sure it should have. Never mind. I continued on and then there was a milepost saying that Urana was 20km away. Hmmm! By this stage I though I better phone Bec and let her know that I was probably going to finish the ride in Urana as I knew if I had to get to Urana before heading towards Narrandera that I would never make it – that would be more than 100km for the ride. Some time went by and at last I saw a sign indicating the distance to Boree Creek, and it was 35km away. More than it should have been at the start of the ride. So Urana was now definitely my destination after all. Urana is not a large town. But I spent some time photographing the old silos and railway formations and equipment, and also took some photos of two buildings in the main street which I found interesting.

Soldiers Memorial Hall, Urana

Soldiers Memorial Hall, Urana

Hotel Urana

Hotel Urana

Old Horse Trough, Urana

Old Horse Trough, Urana

Although I didn’t ride to Narrandera that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to Narrandera. After Bec and family arrived at Urana and I folded up the bike and putting it into the car, we all headed towards Narrandera together. None of us had ever been to Narrandera before and after some lunch in one of the parks next to the main highway we had a look around. At one end of the park was a Tiger Moth exhibit. The Tiger Moth is a bi-plane, and it’s connection with Narrandera was that there was once an Elementary Flying Training School there between 1940 and 1945.

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

Tiger Moth Memorial, Narrandera

In the exhibit there is a description of ‘Airmanship’, which goes something like this:

  1. Every take-off is optional, every landing is mandatory.
  2. If you push the stick forward, the houses ger bigger. If you pull it back they gt smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling it back all the way, they then get bigger again.
  3. Flying isn’t dangerous, crashing is whats dangerous.
  4. It’s always better to be down here wishing you were up there than being up there wishing you were down here.
  5. The only time you have too much fuel is when you are on fire.
  6. The airscrew is just a big fan to keep the pilot cool. When it stops you can actually watch the pilot sweating.
  7. When in doubt, hold your altitudes as no one has ever collided with the sky.
  8. A good landing is one from which you can walk away. A “great” landing is one after which they can use the plane again.
  9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
  10. Stay out of the clouds. Mountains have been known to hide in them,
  11. Always try to keep the number of landings equal to the number of take-offs you have made.

We also saw the world’s biggest playable guitar. I am guessing that there is a guitar that is bigger somewhere else in the world that it isn’t playable. My darling wife is standing in front of it to give you an idea of it’s size.

Worlds Biggest Playable Guitar

Worlds Biggest Playable Guitar, Narrandera

Then we went and had a look at the Koala Reserve, in the hope of seeing at least one koala. The Koala is sometimes referred to as the ‘koala bear’, but it’s not related to the ‘bear’ family at all and is actually a marsupial and feeds on the leaves of certain types of eucalyptus trees. The park is bordered by the Murrumbidgee river on one side and fenced on the other. Not that the fence would keep the koalas in as there was a gap in the fence to let homo-sapiens in! We did happen to see a koala, perched quite high up in a tree.

Narrandera Nature Reserve

Narrandera Nature Reserve

Koala

Koala

Koala

Koala

Then we continued on and I saw some red river banks that were higher than us. Eventually we got a good view of them, and the Murrumbidgee river.

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

Murrumbidgee River red cliffs

So although I didn’t ride all the way to Narrandera I still got there in the end and had a good time exploring not only Narrandera but other towns and places along the way as well.

Advertisements

An almost all-new cycling adventure, day 1


On Monday this week I was sitting at my desk, pondering the meaning of holidays and the apparent lack of interest being shown by my family towards my suggestion to ‘lets go do something’. After watching some YouTube videos, wandering aimlessly around the house, and reading the rest of a magazine that was sitting on my desk I was starting to wonder why I took the amount of annual leave that I did for this current batch. The previous batch of annual leave I took about a month ago was more or less taken up with a planned cycling holiday. The first week of this current batch of annual leave was nicely punctuated by a visit to Mansfield, Victoria. This week I was feeling bored. My wife suggested we go and explore the town of Narranderra in New South Wales (Australia), about 2 hours drive away from where we live. But that wasn’t going to be till Wednesday and I wanted to do something interesting before then.

So I decided that I would embark on a cycling adventure leaving home today (Tuesday) and finishing tomorrow at Narranderra. After quick look at Google Maps I decided that Lockhart would be about half way, and so I booked some accommodation at the Railway Hotel, Lockhart, for the night.

The day was a beautiful day for cycling touring – not too hot, not too cold, some cloud cover, sun not scorching. But there was a pretty tough north easterly / north westerly headwind for pretty much the whole ride which made it a bit harder than it would otherwise have been. But I’m not complaining! It was great to outside and doing something rather than being inside.

Most of the ride today was on roads that I had never ridden on before. And it seems after looking at the ride in Strava that very few other people ride them either as apart from the segments I had created on Strava around where Iive there were no other segments for the rest of the ride. Maybe that’s because most of the ride was well beyond the main towns and on country back roads not the main roads. Anyway, I might just have to create some segments for the rest of the ride just to see how I went! Along the way I saw a number of interesting things, and following are photos of some of things I saw enroute. Some of the photos could be classed as historical or of monuments. As you see them and read the captions I hope that will make sense.

Monument

Monument to Walla Walla Station Subdivision

mail box

A farm mailbbox. Monument to the ‘old tractor’?

Monument to Osborne School

Monument to Osborne School

Monument to Osborne School

Monument to Osborne School

Teachers of Osborne School

Teachers of Osborne School

Here are a few other photos of interesting things I saw on the ride.

Old building at Pleasant Hills

Old building at Pleasant Hills

Old railway at Pleasant Hills

Old railway at Pleasant Hills

Old railway at Pleasant Hills

Old railway at Pleasant Hills

Old railway switch stand, Pleasant Hills

Old railway switch stand, Pleasant Hills

The ride took about 4 hours which gives an average speed of around 20kph, which is similar to the rides I do closer to home. The total ride length was 79km. The Railway Hotel blurb I found on the internet said it was ‘a quiet little hotel that offers accommodation, refreshments and local hospitality’. I think that describes the hotel well. But it didn’t adequately describe the accommodation, which was very reasonably priced and very comfortable. The owners also were very friendly Tomorrow the plan is to ride from Lockhart to Narranderra. That ride is shorter than this one, but has a lot more ‘unknown’ roads which will make it interesting and a bit more of an adventure.

The GPS data for today’s ride can be found at: http://www.strava.com/activities/132865307 .

In the backyard


I was enjoying the ambience of Autumn in the backyard this morning, enjoying the vista of sown fields verdant with green shoots and I came across these flowers…

These first 2 photos are of Banksias (I think) Grevilleas.

Banksia

Banksia Grevillea

Banksia

Banksia Grevillea

At the other end of the backyard I found this flower, taken from 2 different angles.

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

All 4 photos were shot with a Fujifilm FinePix S1600 digital with the most powerful macros setting (there are only 2 to choose from).

Mansfield


From Tuesday to Thursday this week we (minus one – Zoe was away visiting friends in western Victoria) headed to the town of Mansfield in north east Victoria, Australia. Our purpose was 3-fold: 1) Go to the Mansfield Zoo because Eliana wanted to go to a zoo and it was the closest one to our home; 2) provide an opportunity for Jesse and I to do some cycling together in preparation for a long-ish rail trail ride in May; 3) spend some time away from familiar surroundings. On all 3 purposes we successed, although I had spent a lot of time in and around Mansfield over the years.

Mt Buller

Mt Buller (I think)

The Bluff

The Bluff (I think)

Tuesday, late in the morning, Bec dropped Jesse and I and our bikes off at Tolmie, a location some 25km from Mansfield in the mountains between Whitfield and Mansfield. The plan was that we would ride from Tolmie via Barwite to Mansfield. The road looked nice and straight on Google Maps, and I figured that the ride would be pretty much all down hill as Tolmie is considerably higher in altitude than Mansfield. That assumption was certainly not based on any actual knowledge of the roads we would be riding along. We started off on Old Tolmie Road, and after a few kilometres we encountered was a rather long steep hill – going up! I had climbed steeper and longer hills before on the bike so I didn’t find it too hard going although I did stop a few times to catch my breath on the ascent. Poor Jesse ended up walking his bike up most of the ascent and was clearly tired by the time he got to the top. The next part of the ride was a great relief – 7km of down hill and we didn’t need to peddle at all until we crossed a bridge at the bottom of the descent. Most of the descent we were travelling at over 30kph. But after the bridge there were some more hills. Not as steep as the ones before the descent but quite long and tiring nonetheless. Eventually we arrived in Mansfield and met up with Bec and Eliana who had purchased us a ‘gourmet’ lunch of beans from a can and corn chips from a packet as well as some Yoghurt in a tub. The GPS Map for the ride is located at http://www.strava.com/activities/130382830 .

After we checked into our cabin in the caravan park Bec, Eliana and myself went and had a game of Mini-Gockey while Jesse had a nap – the ride must have been tougher than I thought. What, I hear you ask, is ‘Mini-Gockey’? Well, it’s like mini-golf, with some of the ‘moves’ of hockey. I’ll let you imagine that rather than try and explain further. We had decided we would eat at a Pub that night, and so we chose the Delatite and had a great tea which included way too many hot chips! We decided not to have any dessert on account of the size of the meals we had and how much the meal had already cost us – eating out for 4 people is expensive at the best of times!

The next day I was hoping to do another bike ride with Jesse along the Great Victorian Rail Trail from Mansfield towards Bonnie Doon or Merton. But Jesse said that his muscles were still sore from the previous day’s ride so I decided instead that I would go a solo 40 plus km ride around the area instead. I was only familiar with one section of road outside the town of Mansfield on the planned ride – a short (couple of kms at most) stretch of the Mansfield – Woods Point road. All the rest of the roads I travelled outside of Mansfield were totally new to me. It’s strange how the perception of how well one if doing on a ride sometimes doesn’t match the ride statistics. I felt that my muscles really lacked energy on the ride, but when I uploaded the ride GPS data to Strava my average energy output over the whole ride was higher than my usual. One thing I noticed on the ride was the tendency of cars on the roads to not give much space for me. Whether that is because they were in a rush to get to work, or lack of consideration to cyclists in general, or some other reason I don’t know, but it was a very different experience to riding on the roads around where I live. The GPS Map for the ride is located at http://www.strava.com/activities/130683805 .

After I got back to the caravan park and had a shower we headed out to the Mansfield Zoo. Here are some photos of the zoo’s animals…

Bonnet Monkey

Bonnet Monkey

Jesse feeding a Llama

Jesse feeding a Llama

Agile Wallaby

Agile Wallaby

Dingo

Dingo – Australia’s native dog

Eliana feeding a Deer

Eliana feeding a Deer

Bison

Bison, a loooong way from home!

White Lion

White Lion

Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin Monkey

European Polecat

European Polecat

The Zoo had some white lions, various monkeys, some bison and a various types of Australian native wildlife. It was interesting to speak with the Zoo owner, and watch the lions get fed. After the Zoo visit we had another game of Mini-Gockey. And then it was back to the cabin for some relax time before we attacked dinner.

On Thursday, we packed the car and cleaned the cabin early. Then we started travelling back home. The plan was that Bec would do some shopping on the way as we needed some groceries to keep us going over the Easter weekend. I decided that I would ride the bike from Albury, where Bec was going to do the shopping, and would attempt to get all the way home. I had ridden the route I took on a number of occasions, but have only ever ridden it towards Albury / Wodonga not away from it. So while it was familiar territory it was a very different ride – the scenery was the same obviously, but the experience of riding in the reverse direction was quite different. I didn’t carry any water with me on the ride, but carried some money to buy a drink if I felt I needed it and I also knew where I could get water on the ride. Today I rode a total of 70 km, and arrived home around 3 hours after I started the ride.