It may have rained and blown a gale most of the night but I found my stay at the Cassilis Rest Area particularly restful. I can’t put my finger on what it was about the night but perhaps it was just the pure pleasure of hobo camping for a night. That’s sometimes how I feel when I sleep under a picnic shelter, especially if I’m there to get out of the rain. I know I’m not quite a hobo but there is something hobo-esque about my life sometimes.
The day beckons and I hit the road fairly early. Not daybreak early but still earlier than I need to. I want to see whether the road I’m taking will be as hilly as everyone told me it would be. And I am keen to see the farming landscape that awaits. I’m in a real “what’s over the next hill” kind of mood.
There’s some pretty creeks to cross. Some have rickety old decommissioned bridges that I’m rather glad to see have been replaced. It does make it look pretty thought to see the old ones still standing there.
Traveling slowly means I can stop to read the signs describing historic people and places along the way. Like this one telling the story about how a Melbourne Cup winning horse was bred on a station (farm) that I’m passing by.
But the most amusing part of the day is probably the herd of cattle I spooked who then ran with me for about 3km (2 miles) They simply refused to let me pass. I tried walking. I tried waiting for trucks or cars and sneaking past behind those vehicles. Nothing worked. The cattle would see me and run. The only reason they didn’t come with me all the way into Coolah was that the farmer was sitting on the roadside and sprang into action when he saw them coming. It was the same guy I’d seen on my way south on the day I cycled through Coolah so we said “hello” and continued on our separate ways.
I get to Coolah around lunch time. It might only have been 40km but the hills were as steep and relentless as everyone said they would be. Not Korea or Japan steep and relentless but slow going all the same. Or maybe it was just slow because I stopped to take so many photos (count yourself lucky to only get the pick of the crop today). I get myself a ten dollar counter meal at the pub. I’m still feeling a bit low on energy and hollow legged so figure I should fill up a bit. And a ten dollar steak and chips is a pretty good bargain. I follow it up with a mint slice and mug of hot chocolate from the bakery. I definitely rate both as good places for a feed. And I’m not just saying that because I was hungry.
It’s only 10km from Coolah to Black Stump Rest Area. Remember that 6km (4 mile) hill I enjoyed rolling down last week? Well it is still 6km long when you have to ride up it too. But I’m full of protein, fat, carbs and sugar so I barely notice it.
I set myself up at Black Stump on the grass away from the road. The sunset was a stunning display of yellows, pinks, purples and blues. But there’s a strange atmosphere in this place. I can’t explain it. I’ve felt that way before. Once was on The Great North Walk at a particular swirling water fall. I also felt the same sensation in the old Boggo Road Gaol in Brisbane and when I visited an old prison in Turkey. I certainly won’t be stopping there to sleep again. There are plenty of calmer places to sleep.
The rains started pretty soon after dark too, which didn’t help with the mood of the place. I shifted to the picnic shelter despite the light that was on there all night long. It was easier to sleep in the dry with my sleeping bag over my face than to try sleeping in the eerie paddock.