Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thru Northern Rivers, Tamworth, to Blue Mnts (Sydney)

1,2: re-enactemnt of British soldiers with real muskets, at Windsor west of Sydney
3: Sunset at Govett's leap, Blue Mnts NSW
4: The Van at Uki, Northern Rivers region, NSW

Friday 5 Dec. 08

350 km today
NSW border – Muwillnbah – Kyogle – Tenterfield – Glenn Innes

In the morning, the sharp ridges of the scenic rim to my left and right are mist shrouded, and I can see 2 eagles soaring.
I drive down towards Murwilembah thru very cute tiny country towns. Eg Crystal Creek with its Hippie cafes and shops.
Horse agistment centers, amazing mountain surrounds.
I am aware that I am approaching my old 2005 stamping grounds – déjà vu is to be expected. I go thru Mbah – poverty is apparent – rundown house, olds shops.. I’m not quite sure why this region is fairly poor. Mt Warning in the distance – an amazing volcanic shape, straight out of a Tolkien book.

I stop at Uki on the and walk around a bit, nice town. Then go on and take a small diversion to lake xxx – where I used to take dad , and he used to lie on a recliner . Amazing views of pines, lake and Mt Warning in the background.
I have lunch there.

Then I drive on, past the turnoff to Nimbin, on the long hilly road to Kyogle. Great vistas but hard driving. Finally reach plains area of Kyogle, and then easy driving to Casino, and Tenterfield (with a big mountain pass before the latter). At Tenterfield , I turn South onto the very easy to drive New England Highway. Very little traffic, huge vistas of slightly rolling plains – great farming country.
Just after turning of, I go thru some amazing hills strewn with large boulders. The more plains. I sing songs, feel joy at being on the road, a free spirit in a Vast Great Southern Land.

I stop for the night in a rest area just after Glen Innes , now in “Celtic lands” with scottish names – Glencoe etc.

Sat 6 dec

Go past Moonbi – just nth of Tamworth. Hills with nice boulders.
Walk around Tamworth – home of a major country music festival. Guys with big cowboy hats , swank main street with shade trees , a bit like the south of France.

Drive on , past Huge horse agistment centers - “Emirates” agistments. Thru town of Scone – australia’s premier thoroughbred breeding center.

Then past 2 huge power stations and a whole area of enormous open cut coal minefields. Then Singleton, fairly uninspired town. I take “Putty road” – through wollemi nat park – conical hills with pockmarked boulders like wild west. Very windy, narrow gorge. Then long stretches of straighter road. Camp jst Nth of town of Colo. I see I am next to Blue mountains area, and just 60km or so from western Sydney.

450 km today

Sun 7 Dec. 08

I know Gil the Quebecois is in the blue mountains, so I call, and it turns out he’s climbing near Katoomba. So I decide to make a small diversion to see him and his girlfriend Marie-Eve. I take route 40 (Bell rd) from Windsor. At Windsor, I stop briefly as there is some sort of celebration. It’s for the 198th anniversary of Founding of the the “5 towns” (Windsor, ..) by governor Macquarie.

Clydesdale horses, lots of families. A re-enactement of British soldiers with muskets. They know their stuff – I am shown how a 1800s musket is loaded. They fire them (no bullets) and also a small canon, which sends a shockwave over you like a wave…
Very pleasant.

Then drive past RAAF base with Hercules transport planes, along Bell rd – steep sections, then amazing views of the canyons of the blue mnts. I was here with my parents in 1989 or so, but I am spellbound by the huge cliff faces and wild valleys.

Arrive in Blackheath (near Katoomba) early afternoon, browse and see amazing view into Grose valley from Govett’s leap . then Meet Gil and Marie-Eve at a pub. Marie-Eve has just spent 1 month climbing (trad style) at Arapiles, nr Grampians. Now plans to climb and work with Gil in this area.
While we are there, Stefan and Rowan (S&R) turn up. Small climbing world – Marie met them climbing at Arapiles (vic). Stefan is from Germany and Rowan from NZ.

They are camped “ wild” in a tent just above a crag, in the bush down the road, live very cheaply, have the best outdoor gear and are excellent climbers, as I see Tuesday.

Mist and chill in the evening – strange to feel chilly after Queensland’s barminess.
Camp at Govett’s leap parking and look at photos on my laptop with G & M.

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