The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Young to Grenfell


 Young to Grenfell = 53km
Cummulative totals = 679km and 20,680
Grenfell caravan park = $18 unpowered (damn sight cheaper than last night!)

We had a wee sleep in this morning since it is only 50km to Grenfell, we decided that we won't have a rest day at Young since it is so expensive and also Neil didn't like the manager (he was bit of a winger about everything and anything!)  So we decided to chance it at Grenfell.
We ducked into Aldi to get a few bits and pieces and then there is a steep climb out of Young along the Henry Lawson Way.  Let's just say that the traffic had to wait for us when they wanted to join us on the main road!  It was quite steep and winding.  It is about a 1.5km climb to get out and then a great downhill, the road is still bad but after around 5km the road became dare I say it ... perfect.  It was in such good condition I couldn't believe it and thought maybe we had crossed back into Victoria!!!
It was up and down to Grenfell especially the last 15km but the legs were okay.  The scenery around this area is beautiful ... very similar to the area around Birregarra.  I forgot to mention that from Coolamon the area is very lush and green ... so green it hurts your eyes!  There obviously has been quite a lot of rain even over summer as the area beside the road is very lush and green and it is not new green grass as it is long and hasn't been mown.
We had a cuppa about 15km out and we noticed that along side the road there was heaps of fallen gum branches (huge ones too) and you could see that they had fallen on the road and were moved off with heavy machinery so there may had been a big wind storm through here recently as most of the branches had fallen off and a only a few had been chainsawed off.  It was like this until Grenfell.
Now Grenfell is famous for 2 things - the first is that it is the birth place of Henry Lawson the famous Australian poet and the second is the bushranger Ben Hall sort of hung around here - I think he may have been involved in the biggest gold robbery.  The area around here must be also be old gold fields.
We will have a rest day here tomorrow and may make an effort to back track and see the memorial where Henry Lawson was born.
The campground is nice and we are tucked in the corner.  There is a bbq but no kitchen but that is okay ... here is the tent ...
 since we were here early afternoon and it is warm and sunny we decided to give Kouta a wash as he stinks and it can be difficult at times in the tent sleeping with a smelly dog!!! he hates his wash ....
so he is doing his commando crawl trying to dry himself off.
Back into cycling on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Temora to Young


 Temora to Young = 81km
Cummulative totals = 626km and 20,627km
Young caravan park = $25 unpowered (OMG!)

What a day! But before I start to describe this day I would just like to say that Neil also said this was a tough day ... so me having a winge about the roads is a true reflection of how Neil felt!
We decided that we might try and leave a little earlier today in the hope to get here before the Geelong vs. Brisbane game starts (ya dreaming Jonesy!)  So we get up at 6am and it is pitch black outside so we have brekky in the laundry.  We are ready to go by 7.30am and there is a light fog here in the town so we ride out of Temora and at about 3km out we notice that the fog is getting thicker and we are having trouble seeing through the sunnies so of they come and then it is still getting thicker and every 20m I have to wipe my glasses as I am having alot of trouble seeing at all!  I am thinking that we may have to pull over and sit this out but it is 8am in the morning and there is no one around except for the odd car which is driving almost as slow as what we are cycling because they too are having trouble with the fog.  To show you just how thick the fog way I took this photo and Neil is about 50m away from me ...
 by 9am the fog was gone to reveal a very sunny day.  I had a look at the profile for today and saw that it was a long 80km day with a very gradual incline to  2 very sharp hills towards the end.  So it was very picturesque riding today along relatively flat land.  You really didn't notice the slight change in terrain until past Grogan which was about 30km out and then shit really hit the fan from then on (if you pardon the expression!)  After Grogan you change into the Young shire (previously you were in the Temora shire) and I tell you Neil had a good ole winge about the road when we got to Millvale 10km later.
Even I was shocked to here Neil complain and I must admit the road was pretty broken up and I actually wonder why they even bothered to seal the road at all as I am sure we have been on smoother unsealed roads! I wouldn't say this is a back road at all, although the traffic was light this morning (it picked up later on but not too bad) being a Sunday, I would imagine that this would be a well travelled road during the weekdays.
So after a cuppa at Millvale the road did not improve at all, in fact it just got worse.  By 60km we started to really climb but not before we came across something different, something unusual ... what is wrong with this photo?
 bearing in mind we are in country NSW ... not outback Northern Territory ... yes you are not seeing things, in the paddock with the cattle is one of these ...
LOL, at first we saw one in another field and then we went behind a tree and couldn't see it again so I thought I may have been seeing things and then we realised the camel had sat down so we couldn't take his photo and then we saw this one in another field ... it saw us when we stopped so it came over to the fenceline.
From here we had a munter of a sooty grunter of a hill - the road conditions were not helping us either.  about 5km later (67km mark) we are at the top and we go down for another 6km only to have a nasty short and sharp hill just before entering Young.  Once in town we had to contend with the shitty roads still and also traffic and also the fact that we didn't know where to go exactly!  
We eventually find the campground which is opposite Aldi which has made Neils day and he is happy as Larry.  The campground has a kitchen but is expensive due to the fact that when the cherries are in season the seasonal workers come in so basically it is like Tongala they can charge what they want.
So I forgot to mention that Young is the cherry capital of Australia but what suprised me was that I didn't see one cherry tree on our way in so I am not sure where all the farms are ... I do have a theory that the cherries are secretly imported from South America and they repackage them here!
Since this is such an expensive park we are moving on to Grenfell tomorrow and will have a rest day there on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coolamon to Temora


 Coolamon to Temora = 59km
Cummulative totals = 545km and  20,546km
Temora caravan park (just down from info center) = $10 unpowered

Well after a couple of rest days at Coolamon we were ready to go this morning.  But first I went for a wee walk around Coolamon yesterday.  It is a small town not far from Wagga Wagga so there is a great deal of new housing (again because it is not far to travel from work and the housing would be cheaper compared to Wagga Wagga).  The town itself is old buildings and they are well kept.  The most famous building is the 'Up to date' store ...
 which has been preserved and I think is open for the public to view.  The street is divided by a green strip and this is the view of one side of the street ...
 and the other side ....
 I think that if I have to live in NSW this would be my ideal town.
This morning we woke to a thick heavy fog so the tent was wet again.  We decided that we would still pack up to leave and if we have to wait out the fog then we will.  So we had our brekky and began packing up ... in the process of packing up one of the older travellers decides to voice his opinion about us riding in the fog.  I don't know what possessed him to just dive in and say that we shouldn't ride in this fog as car drivers like him can't see us and we should be in bright yellow with flashing lights etc.  Why he just assumed that we don't have bright colours etc (I am wearing a black polyprop since it is a little cool so he assumed this is how I ride).  Neil did not take too kindly to the way this guy just thought that we were idiots when it came to fog and we have no idea.  So I continue on merrily packing leaving it too Neil.  Now Neil doesn't believe that he should explain himself to anyone that doesn't cycle tour so he doesn't to this old guy.  Eventually this guy gets the message that we don't want to chat and moves on.  Eventually the fog begins to lift and it really warms up and off come the layers ... here I am with my bright orange/salmon colour shirt .... if you can't see me in this then you shouldn't be on the road driving and Neil is in his bright red shirt.  I roll up my Treadly neck flap to reveal a small red flashing light at the back of my helmet but it is to bright a day for it to be effective.  I think the old man had to eat humble pie when he realised that we are not novices at this and we are most definitely not idiots when it comes to our own safety on the roads .... I think we can judge for ourselves!
I think I have said this before but people wait to chat to us and take photos always when we are ready to leave ... never while packing so this delays us ... they all want to take photos of Kouta in the trailer!
So on our merry way up the road to what looks like to be a bright clear day as the fog really lifts.  Riding along we come across this shed in the middle of nowhere ... we love the name ...
 I remember while riding on our wet Wednesday seeing some sign with the name Berry Jerry and I thought what a funny name but thought nothing of it ... but to see it north of Coolamon again we had to take a photo ... even Neil liked the name.
So about 18km out of rather lovely flattish riding we take the Temora turnoff.  The road is extrememly quiet again and quite wide, very little houses along here but plenty of hills to climb .... not big ones just undulations that sometimes are steep ... I had to laugh as this road is just typical of NSW - they find the steepest part of the hill and put the road on it! and they suck you into this false sense of 'oh this is an easy hill' by making it gradual at first and then they slug you with a short sharp steep bit at the end ... nasty!
One thing riding along in these country back roads is you get to see some great letter boxes.  I remember on a past tour I saw an old fridge that was one, sometimes farmers will use old microwaves, the most common is a sheep dip container with a bit cut out for an opening, ones that use old milk containers are a bit more creative than the sheep dip containers but this one today is probably the best so far ...
 I could be wrong but I think it is an old bomb shell casing (empty I hope!)  I just loved it!
At about the 47km mark we join up with the Goldfields highway and are a expecting a little more traffice but were pleasantly suprised that most of the traffic was going in the Junee - Wagga Wagga direction and very little was with us.  We stayed on this highway until Temora.
This caravan park is the council one and is about 2km before the town itself but it is cheap and clean.
The owner of the 5th wheeler below came over for a chat  and Neil just had to ask how much it cost for the whole get up and he states around $300,000 4 years ago and that is for the 5th wheeler and also the big ute that you have to have to tow it and it only gets 5km to the litre of fuel on a good day!
this is basically their home on wheels - it has everything in it and the sides as you can see pop out to give more room inside.
Tomorrow is a big day to Young - 80km and we will get up early so that we can arrive before the Geelong - Brisbane game ... Neil has bought the AFL app so we can watch Geelong play ... not sure if we will make the 1.10 kickoff but we think that is Queensland time so it should be 2.10 NSW time.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Yerong Creek to Coolamon


 Yerong Creek to Coolamon = 77km
Cummulative totals = 486km and 20, 487km
Coolamon caravan park = $10 powered (and also for unpowered)

What a day yesterday was ... all 3 of us got completely saturated from the rain!
Not having internet for the past 2 days we weren't quite sure on the rain situation and not being able to look on the radar as to where the rain is and where it is travelling we sort of left Yerong Creek knowing that we may get rain sometime during the day but when and how much and for how long we weren't quite sure!!!
So we got an early start around 8am and rejoined the Olympic highway for around 15km to The Rock - todays travel on the highway was a bit better than the previous days - it is basically a steady climb up, a short wait at the lights while they are doing road works and then a nice gradual down hill to the Rock which is the birthplace of Florences mother - Neils grandmother so this photo is for you Heather!
 It is a reasonable size town and is growing since Wagga Wagga which is about another 35km further on is getting bigger and bigger and I assume it is cheaper to buy a home in The Rock and work in Wagga Wagga ... which is NSW biggest inland city ... not sure how many people live there and probably not really interested in going there now since it will be to populated ... we did go there when I first came to Australia and the campground was on the Murrumbidgee river.  On our way out of town heading towards Collingullie I did manage to get this photo of what I presume is The Rock ...
 so there is a steep short climb to get out of the Rock on the way to Collingullie and we were about 5km out and the rain started, so we stopped to put our water proof bags on the rear bag thinking that it is just a shower and then it really bucketed down so we pulled over quickly whipped the mat from under Kouta so he has something that is dry at the end of the day, tried desperately to find his raincoat (which we couldn't find in the end) in the meantime Kouta has jumped out and is making for the nearest shelter he can find to keep himself dry, he finds a tree so Neil goes over to him and tries to protect him from the rain the poor thing is huddled in a ball, shaking and looking all forlorn and woe is me! ... yeah whatever Kouta get over it!  Meanwhile Neil and I are soaked to the bone and decide to put the raincoats on even if it is to keep warm.  So all 3 off us are under this pine tree trying to keep Kouta as dry as possible but the rain is so heavy that eventually we end up dripping all over him and he doesn't like being near us as the drips are making him wet ... (we now are calling him princess!) eventually the rain stops so we restart only to  have it bucket down again a few kms later, so we find a nice pine tree that is lovely and dry and pull over to let the shower pass.  It is a shame I couldn't get some photos of him but the camera was tucked away keeping dry!
So this shower passes and we continue on but it is not long until it restarts lightly so we keep cycling to Collingullie.  Now Kouta doesn't like the rain and doesn't sit at all in the trailer while it is raining as ... get this ... he doesn't like getting his bottom wet! oh my gosh do we have a little princess with us or what!
At Collingullie we seek shelter behind the hall and it has a nice covered area for us and the bikes ... the rain has stopped briefly (but not for long!)  so I duck into the toilet and I come out and I look at Kouta and think wow I have a new looking dog ...
 for those of you that don't see Kouta all that often he his grey around his mouth and face and now he has a red look about him!  It does make him a lot younger so maybe this is his version of 'mutton dressed up as lamb!!!' here is a side profile ...
 so he is one wet little dog at the moment and it is only going to get worse.  The rain restarts and we try to wait it out but we can see that it is not getting any lighter and is definitely didn't look like it was clearing up.  So off we go - Coolamon is another 37km away.  It is a pleasant and easy ride for the first 9km as you are on the flat and cross over the Murrumbidgee river and then at the 28km turnoff it is nothing but undulations to go up to the mobile tower which is about 15km away.  It was tough going the legs were beginning to feel tired and the steepness of some of the climbs ... crikey the gears got a work out!  Meanwhile the rain has become a light rain and I am not sure if I am wet from a leaking coat or if it is sweat.  Once at the mobile tower you would think there is a down hill ... no that doesn't exist in NSW it is more undulations to go down!  At about 8km out from Coolamon the road flattens out and it is a relatively easy ride getting into Coolamon.  I tell you all 3 of us are soaked but so relieved to get to this place, we had already decided to stay 3 nights!
the park has a few people here ... we stayed here on our way back down from Queensland 4 years ago - actually this is the place before we went to Lockhart where we got flooded out ... in fact this area needs rain and isn't it funny the last time we were in this area it flooded and we come here today and it is raining ... we think we are rain givers!!! LOL
So the rain has ceased and we are able to set up the tent, everything we have is wet ... all our shoes, outer bags koutas baskets etc.  There is no chance for it to dry out when we get there so we dump it all in the annex for the next day.  It rained for most of the evening and night - not heavy just constant.
We woke this morning to a cloudy day and a light mist every now and then.  After brekky which was late, as we slept in, we set about trying to dry things but the light rain mist which would come for a minute and then disappear made all our efforts pointless, nevertheless we perservered and our efforts have paid off as it is a little sunny now and there is a breeze so fingers crossed everything gets dried ... especially Koutas outer basket ... he was lost without it last night in the tent but he made do on our sleeping bags ... he particularly was lost this morning as he doesn't like to sit on wet ground (remember his doesn't like getting his bottom wet!) so he gives you that "woe is me look can I sit on your lap ... I know I have wet feet but you will get over it" type look and off course Neil is immune to that look from Kouta and doesn't give in ... unlike me ...
Kouta looks very dry and comfy there!
So we are here Thursday and Friday and hopefully the weather has passed and we can head out on Saturday.
MUM - Will skype you tomorrow (Friday) morning around 10am nz time if you want.  check your emails!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Corowa to Burrumbuttock to Yerong Creek




Corowa to Burrumbuttock = 57km
Free camping behind the town hall
Burrumbuttock to Yerong Creek = 65km
Camping at the sports field - $10 unpowered
Cummulative totals = 409km and 20,410km

Well it seems there is NO mobile internet reception at all in country NSW .... obviously they are paying out too much in their dividends and not enough in infrastructure ... or are they waiting for the government to do the infrastructure for them and then plead 'for the sake of a national business give us the new infrastructure free' and then get 'fat' off the government infrastructure? Telstra leave alot to be desired!
So where do I start?  Let's try the day from Corowa to Burrumbuttock (funny name aye!)
As you can see Kouta is doing his morning stretches!
It was a very cloudy day and not really that warm unless you kept moving.  We left Corowa and took the road up to the Riverina highway, we were on this hwy for 1km and then turned off onto Hopefield road ... now this according to all the maps is a minor road so we were expecting a single lane instead we got a road that was wider than the highway!  Both sides of the road had been widened to allow for the countless trucks that they may be expecting at some point ... when? ... who knows.  It was just us on the road with the odd local farmer moving some stock every now and then.  We were on this road until the turnoff to Balldale ... as soon as we got on this road it was more the road typical of NSW - in complete disrepair and hasn't been used by anyone (even the locals) until now by us!!!
It was in a bad way but ridable and it was enjoyable to ride simply because there were absolutely no cars what so ever!
Once thru Balldale we continued on to Brocklesby ... now when I first mapped this out via the maps of Camp 5 this road was fully sealed but unfortunately on every other map there was a section of around 7km that was unsealed, we tackled this just after a cuppa.
The views around us a quite nice ... alot of hills which means we must be encountering some soon!  We can see from the side of the road the region around Mt Beauty (although we can't see it exactly we know these hills are part of that region)
The unsealed part wasn't too bad, a bit rough in places but okay.  Once at Brocklesby we (well Neil) had a chat to one of the locals who was saying how the small towns of the region are dying (which I think you will find is happening to most small towns all over Australia).  In the local part they had this fantastic table that I wish I could take and send home ...
It is only another 13km from Brocklesby to Burrumbuttock and the bulk of it is up hill.  This is probably our first major climb and like most places in Australia it is up and down to go up.  It was bit of shock to the legs but they survived.  Once at the top it is a 2km down to Burrumbuttock.  The place to stay at is behind the town hall where they have water and toilets.  Lovely and quiet.
At Burrumbuttock there is no internet reception so we weren't sure  on the weather as it rained during the night.  Once at Burrumbuttock it was a little chilly and I felt like some hot chips so the local store has nothing but lollies and takeaways that we got the minimum chips for $3
In the morning the rain had cleared and on the news it said that there might be scattered showers but generally clear so we set off .
Yesterday we had no wind but today to Yerong Creek we were expecting stronger winds that will probably be on our shoulder or in front of us .... fortunately we are on back roads for the majority of todays ride except for the last 14km ... we are on the Olympic highway.
So the day started out with a gentle climb up and down to Walla Walla which is 13km away from there we take the Walbundrie road for 9km and come out on the Walbundrie - Culcairn road.  But not long after we started on this Walbundrie road we come across a road that wasn't on the map and was pointing to Walbundrie so we were in a dilemna as to whether or not to take it ... we decided that we won't and stay on the road we were on ... just as well as Neil found bit of a road kill (literally right next to a dead kangaroo!)  It was an unopened box of 10 Moccona Cappacino packets so we had them for morning cuppa

We continued on our way and by now the wind was swinging around to an easterly and since we are going in a north easterly direction it became a sort of cross headwind and it was like this all the way to Henty where we picked up dinner and from there is was a miserable 14km ride along the awful Olympic highway with a raging headwind for the bulk of it.
Unfortunately there is no other back road around so we had no other choice but to come onto this highway.  It is busy and a shoulder that is not worth mentioning.  Yerong creek couldn't come fast enough.
Camping is allowed at the sports ground which is about 700m east of the main highway.  It has powered sites but unpowered is $10, not bad as it has a real unique shower ...
it is in a tin building (so it is a little warm in there) and there are 2 showers side by side ... not sure if it is a his and hers type thing but you can lock it from the inside and have the whole thing to yourself.  There is no one else here camping with us.  The hot shower was much appreciated since I didn't get one last night.  While I recover from my hard days ride in the shower, Kouta recovers from his ordeal .... his way ...
After Neil has had his shower we dig into some mark down semidried tomatoes (not as good as yours Leanne and Russell!) and fetta on crackers with our cuppa.
Tonights dinner is poached eggs on bread!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rest day at Corowa

Just a few photos of the bridge here at Corowa ...
 The bridge was made way back in the late 1800's (I think!) and what amazes me is the section on the NSW side is held up by timber still ...
 I don't think they are the original timbers!  but it is a one way bridge controlled by lights and it still has timber as it's surface base as you can here them move as the cars go over it but the timber is covered with a think bitumen ...
 you can see the outline of the timber and also the bolts that secure them and obviously the bitumen layer is very thin and wearing away.
 It is suppose to be 26 degrees today but it is very cold here in the shade and pleasant enough in the sun but not 26, I am in my thermals and polar fleece vest while Neil is in his woollen jumper.
Although we are unpowered here there is a power point at the bbq so we take advantage of it and recharge everything .... at this point we have 5 items on the charge ...
 Our adapter has 1 power point (which has one of the tablets charging on it) and 4 usbs which consists of the other tablet, mobile phone, spare battery pack and the last one is the speaker!!!
you are probably thinking this is a bit overloaded and unsafe but bear in mind the items are not high demanders of power so the flow of electricity to each one is low.
Enjoying this rest day and have spent the morning looking over maps and correcting some of my distances!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cobram to Corowa


 Cobram to Corowa = 78km
Cummulative totals = 287km and 20,288km
Ball Park Caravan Park Corowa = $20 unpowered (bargain!!!)

I tell you if we thought yesterday was tough then today although not as tough but looooooooooong!  I didn't realise Corowa was that far away from Cobram ... I forgot to add the distance thru Barooga when do the kms each day.  Never mind we are here now.
It was a pleasant nights sleep although I did wake a few times paranoid that locals were going to come and hassle us ... I don't know why as we are a few kms from town and also in the better part of town so they don't tend to let hoodlums come in their area ... they let us travellers as they can't see us in the thick of the bush!
I did hear a kangaroo bound pass us and hoped like hell it has seen us as we are not usually there and he/she would have been suprised to see our little tent there!
The morning was nice and sunny and throughout the day it was not hot like the previous day, the winds had died down considerably and had become a very light south westerly ... so that helped us a little bit.
Since the past few days we have had heaps of sun I have taken to putting one of the solar panels on the front of my bike to charge up the battery pack that we carry ... it takes ages to charge up fully by sun and also sometimes we can have intermittent sun as we get shaded by trees along the road side ... here it is on the bike ...
 and here is a close up ...
 The road from Cobram to Mulwala is lovely and quiet and very little traffic.  We had a lovely coffee spot at Lake Mulwala ...
we had it all to ourselves until I decide that I have to go to the toilet in the bush and what do you know 2 damn carloads turn up .... can you believe that!  so the toilet pit stop had to wait until further up the road!
The road from Mulwala to Corowa was busier than the morning road but pleasant enough.  We are on the NSW side and so the road surface tends to be made up of the chunkier gravel so it is lumpy and bumpy for us and over the course of the afternoon we both find that the small vibrations from the road surface make our hands a wee bit numb so we are constantly shaking them.  Over the last 15km we are both feeling it .... not so much in the legs but in the upper body so much that we are relieved to get to Corowa around 2pm which is pretty good.  We stock up on food at the Woolies there and head to the campground.  We were expecting to pay alot for unpowered on the Murray but it is ony $20.  It is a huge park full of permanent holiday vans etc so I suppose they subsidise us!  Not many at the park and we choose the tent area near the cricket ground as it is in shade a fair amount of the day (since we are staying here tomorrow) compared to the last time we stayed here which is on the other side of the park nearer to the camp kitchen (which has toaster, jug, fridge and sink) but we are not far from the bbq which is $1 - I can bear that since the camping is so cheap and also Neil found $1 the other day!!!
Tomorrow we will take a look around ... the town strip is full of old buildings and it is quite a lovely town.