After leaving the comforts of Keithy George’s house, we were back on the road. Since the “China virus” has swept all before it, we hadn’t made a visit to the Australian institution that is Bunnings. Being a Sunday and having one in the vicinity, it would’ve been rude if we didn’t call in. For health and safety reasons the onion was placed under the snag, and now because of Covid I wasn’t allowed to have a fair shake of the sauce bottle. This country is falling into disrepair.
We headed out to Sawtell for that afternoon, it was a beautiful spot, but busy. We were starting to have doubts about taking the coast. It was a shock being around a lot of people again. It only took a brief encounter with a Lebanese drill Sargent and that sealed the deal on which direction we would take from Coffs. After throwing about 10 bucks worth of hot chips to the seagulls in the park, she was oblivious to the two devastated seagulls sitting behind her, who had their dreams dashed of another free feed. Now it was time for her to unleash on poor little Jacob. Her son was copping it, “Jacob you never do as your told!”, “Jacob get your dirty shoes off the blanket”, “Jacob wash your hands you’re filthy!” The drill Sargent had a booming voice, if I closed my eyes I could have sworn it was “Dutch” from Predator. All I was waiting for next was for the drill Sargent to scream at poor little Jacob and tell him “Get to the chopper!”
The new plan was to head inland through Bellingen. We had heard a few times that Bellingen is turning into a mini Byron bay. With devastating news like that we thought we better pay the town our last respects before it’s well and truly fucked! We broke a record for us on the way to Bellingen and got there a day later than planned. Leaving Sawtell we headed through Bongil Bongil National Park and after 5km we got to a picnic area that was too good not to stop at. It was good to be back amongst the trees.
It was only by pure luck that we got into Bellingen, the town had a dress code that was Boho Chic only. Sandals, helmet flap and cycling gloves didn’t cut the mustard. Luckily a man bun left a side door open and we snuck in. We stood out like a vegan in a butcher shop once inside though. Speaking of vegans we are thinking about giving it a go now. The girls who worked at the guesthouse we stayed at were all “super grateful”, “blessed” and everything was just “wonderful”. Mung beans and being able to touch your toes must make people “super happy”. We entered full sloth mode at the Belligen guesthouse and our plan was to do as little as possible. The Corona capital of Australia did us a favour and made some people cancel. They really are a filthy bunch those Sydneysiders. We got the last room available, it was so small you had to go outside to change your mind. That shifted our sloth enterprise to the couch on the balcony, and that was us for the next 4 days. I got up early each morning and morphed into a towel and pretended I was claiming a sun lounge poolside at a resort. There I waited on the couch until the Gypsy arose from the sardine tin. One morning she slept in too long so I had to get the can opener from the kitchen and go and wake her. We only left the couch under two conditions; one you needed to go to the toilet, or two you were going to get food.We needed this break, our enthusiasm, and morale for the trip had become almost non existent. The heat and then rain had taken more out of us than we had thought. Christmas was a good day at the guesthouse. We were the only orphans with nowhere to go, which meant we had the whole place to ourselves. For most of the day it felt like we had booked a double story mansion all for ourselves. After picking up some cream for the “couch sores” we acquired, the day of reckoning had come. After 4 days on the couch at Bellingen and the 3 spent at Keithy’s house prior to that, it was time to get amongst it again! A rare occurrence happened on our grand depart, the sun was shining.
I never knew Dr Martin Luther King was into cycle touring, but apparently, he is! I was doing some research for the next part of our route and found some notes he had written for a speech. Turns out he came along The Waterfall Way from Armidale to Dorrigo. His reasons for riding a bike seem a bit more religious than ours.
Dr Martin Luther King’s notes.
“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
I’m blaming this prick now for the Promised Land being so busy. We wish he didn’t mention it in his speech. The day we arrived at “The Promised Land” it seemed like all his people had arrived the same day too. We did manage to find a boulder with no other lizards on it and had a pretty good afternoon. It’s a beautiful spot!
That night we had one of our worst nights sleep yet on the trip. We stayed at a free campground at the bottom of the hill before we started the climb to Dorrigo the next day. First we made “friends” with a lady who said she was part Cherokee Indian and an opera singer. I call bullshit on her Indian story but when she retired back to her tent she did let a few notes rip. The whole camp heard the fat lady sing that night. Then the Iranians rolled in, with the only large space of grass being next to our tent, they decided to set up camp. It was nice at first laying in bed listening to the lady’s singing old tunes in Persian. When they started getting stuck into all the 90’s disco bangers from Tehran and the clock struck midnight we were over it. That’s what you get for being a tight ass I guess.
The next morning, yawning, we were straight into a 10km climb. We really have to stop listening to wankers in cars. With all the “advice” we had been given the last few days, I thought we were going to need bottled oxygen to reach the summit of Dorrigo. After reading a book on Everest at the guesthouse, I googled how high is the “death zone” just incase we got into trouble on the way up the Waterfall Way. Turned out we still had a few feet to play with. Over 26,000 actually.
After making it to the top, and relieved the oxygen was still the same thickness as below, we headed out to Dangar falls. So too had everyone else from The Promised Land the day before. With all the rain we have had it was a nice sight seeing all the water raging over. Careful not to ruin anyone’s Instagram photo, we managed to take a few pics ourselves.
We are getting good now at finding structures to put our tent up underneath. Big thanks to Dorrigo sports ground for providing a pavilion and balcony to spend the evening.
In our heads, we thought the worst was over getting up the hill to Dorrigo. How wrong were we! The Q word got mentioned today. Quit! Yes that’s right “I want to quit” came out of Annie’s mouth. Followed by “I want to quit, but I’m scared you won’t marry me if I do! If that’s the case I will keep cycling”. I won’t lie a part of me wanted to say “well you better keep pedalling then”, but I couldn’t. Annie has been battling for a month now with sharp pains in her knees and I knew she had been struggling. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to quit this day too. Just I wasn’t brave enough to say it, hearing Annie say those words made me love her a little bit more.
We gave each other a hug, found a side road, put our coats on and ate peanut butter wraps in the rain. The thunder sounded like it was right above us now. Luckily there were 2 trees in the paddock across from us that had two vagina shaped holes in them. That helped lighten the mood.
Tonight’s structure would be the Ebor Showgrounds behind the free rest area where we would put our tent up to get out of the rain. We saw some curtains move from a campervan as they spied us stripping our bikes down and carrying our gear over the fence. You get away with a few more things if your getting around on a pushy. The Showgrounds even had an outside powerpoint, the Gypsy stated “you Aussies are too honest, the whole village would be plugged into this back home.” I’m pretty sure she was being serious.
Someone plugged the hole in the sky long enough for us to check out Ebor falls in the Guy Fawkes National Park the following morning. The two tiered waterfall sure made for some spectacular viewing.
We had a change of plans after the falls and decided to head out to Cathedral Rock National Park. Our brief optimism regarding the weather didn’t last long when the sky started leaking again. Having underestimated how far the park is off the main road and with it raining I started to regret the decision to head in. Once inside the park Annie found some posts and tied the tarp to them to make a shelter while I headed off for the Cathedral Rock loop walk. After a bit of work to get to the top, it was quite the site seeing boulder stacked on top of boulder. I’m not the biggest fan of heights though and the legs started getting a bit wobbly looking down at all the crevasses. They were huge, If I went down in one of these, poor Annie would have been waiting a lot longer then 127hrs because I wouldn’t be cutting my arm off to get out. To save Annie the unfortunate future of waiting under an orange tarp for the rest of her life, I decided if I did trip I would fall head first, the width of my head would save me from slipping down any cracks.
Next we would make it three national parks for the day as we entered New England National Park. By the looks of it last years fires tore the park a new one with scarred black trees everywhere. It’s amazing to see how nature recovers, there is an explosion of green now with green shoots coming out everywhere on the eucalyptus trees. The tops of these trees still have a bit of recovering to do though. They look like John Howard’s eyebrows after he got too close to the candles blowing out his birthday cake.
We had a big days riding ahead of us on New Years Eve with some potential pushing up some steep hills. That all changed when we got up to the Point Lookout. After 3km under our belts from the campground to the lookout, we came across a stone hut with a fireplace and firewood. It had only just gone past 8:30 am but that was us for the day. We were up around 1500 metres and the cloud had come in so there would be no views for anyone today. The weather was wet and miserable but the chance of having a hut to ourselves was too good to pass up. We played host to all the day trippers who stopped in, the family with the kids who gave me the shits trying to help me start fire, the geeky Canadian nature lover and his influencer Brazilian g/f, the cool Dutch lady and kiwi fella, and the Asian family with 47 different flavoured sauce bottles, the last people being the best because the old lady’s gave us biscuits. We hadn’t planned on being here so our food stocks were running pretty low. We saw the new year in with 2 minute noodles and a record amount of cups of tea for the day. We we were in bed by 9 but it was a cosy evening by the fire and we finally got to dry our clothes out. It’s a New Years we won’t forget in a while.
The cloud hadn’t left on New Year’s Day, it had got worse it was down to about 30 metres visibility and still raining. Much to the annoyance of the early risers who had got up early with the new and improved versions of themselves to see the sunrise. It’s amazing how the clock goes past midnight and the following day everyone has turned into a superhuman and started living their best life.
Heading down from Mordor the fog and cloud lightened. We had one destination in mind, the Wollomombi general store and their menu. It was the Works burger for lunch and the Works burger for Dinner. It’s hungry business riding a bike. It was our little oasis for the day the general store and the best coffee and hot chocolate we have had on the trip. Later that night back in our tent under the picnic hut in the park, Trevor a local we spent a couple of hours chatting with in the store, knocked on our tent and gave us a packet of falafel mix for our trip. There is some nice humans out there!
Wollomombi gorge was our destination in the morning. It was pretty breathtaking!!! It’s another sight on this trip that a photo doesn’t do it justice. There was too much going on to fit it all in a happy snap. This country is full of some pretty special places. The only thing that ruined the view was the token Sydney wanker and his gags about where are the three sisters?
After Wollomombi we were headed to Armidale and the conclusion of our Waterfall Way adventure. It was about time too because we had some serious smells coming out of everywhere. Us and our clothes stunk of wet dog and adventure. Besides the worlds coldest shower in the national park there wasn’t a whole heap of bathing going on in this section. We were looking forward to showering and being able to hug each other without throwing up.
Rolling into town we hadn’t seen the newspapers for a few days, I thought something must be up after looking at the headlines coming from the newspaper stands. Scotty from marketing was at it again changing the lyrics of the National anthem. We have gone from “young and free” to “one and free”. How good’s that?! We are all in it together! I immediately started high fiving and hugging my new mates down the Main Street of Armidale. Then the locals found out Anna was Spanish and I was from Victoria and suddenly the high fives stopped. That’s the thing with Scotty he is big on words and gimmicks and light on actions and substance. No amount of wank songs he sings at his little church will save him from that.