Five Ways Reserve – Munyabla – Walla Walla – Jindera
Sunday October 16, 2016, 47 miles (76 km) – Total so far: 2,169 miles (3,491 km)
Through the night I have dreams of my tongue swollen so large I cannot speak. Then I feel like I’m being strangled.
So I don’t get a great night’s sleep since my nose is so stuffy, I can only breathe through my mouth. This means I ignore the first of the sun’s rays beaming down on the tent in the open-sided, east-facing shed.
But I don’t linger too long. There is a front coming today. The NNE wind is already strengthening. It will be a tailwind most of the way home, and a NNE wind indicates I still have plenty of time to beat the rain. When the wind swaps to the NW is when the window starts to slowly close on dry riding.
I put on pants and a raincoat until I get to the edge of the road. While disrobing to shorts and tshirt, I manage only to be eaten by one mozzie. Not bad. Then we are off up to the edge of the valley on a gentle slope.
A little ways up the road, a kangaroo comes darting out of a thick cover of callitris pine and hopbush. Whoah, buddy, you could have just stayed there and I never would have seen you! He hops up the road at speed for a few hundred metres and then stops. He waits for me to catch up and then takes off again – more slowly and with less concern this time. He keeps himself about 150-200 metres ahead of me at all times, but he keeps stopping to let me catch up. This goes on for three full kilometres – including around a corner, and past other roads and dense areas of bush. His behaviour was more like a dog than a kangaroo!
Finally, the kangaroo heads off down a creek line and I continue uphill on a dirt road to the old rail line and grain silos at Munyabla. The sun is out and the tailwind is strengthening. Loving it!
And so we ride up the gentle hills and down into the wide verdant green valleys. It’s a bunch of rollers on good gravel with not a car to be seen. This area was settled by Lutheran emigrants from South Australia in the late 1800s, and most every road name is something German.
We just cruise south for a long time up and down, up and down. Then we head a bit east with the crosswind pushing us around. The wind is definitely going to get to the 25-35kph with higher gusts that is forecast today ahead of the front.
We keep picking up new roads to add to our list as we head south and east. I am still unsure about the apocalypse because again today there is no one on the road. I go the first 26 miles without seeing a vehicle or person – that’s about 3 hours of no humans anywhere!
We pedal up the Green Acres Road (video above) to a high point with nice views before diving down on a very eroded road. Both hands and a fair bit of dodging, weaving and braking are required to get around all the places where the water has coursed over and down the road.
We roll down to a cross-road. On my map, the cross-road is a dirt, minor road and the rest of the Green Acres Road in front should be a gravel, formed road. But, no, Green Acres Road is just a two-track heading down the road reserve, but the cross-road is formed gravel. They’ll both get me where I want to go. Most of the time, I would go for the two-track for the fun of it – but given all of our rain, it could be very muddy and in poor shape further ahead. I’m not in the mood to clean a ton of muck off the bike before taking it to the shop tomorrow – so I head east instead.
The world has ended and I’m riding a tailwind home. Where are all the people? If I wasn’t enjoying it so much, I’d call it creepy. Finally, on the old stock route, I see a man out cutting up fallen timber on the road reserve for firewood. I then see another man doing the same thing when I finally get up to the main Culcairn-Walbundrie Road. Then I get passed by a guy on a tractor moving bales of hay on Kings Bridge Road. This is just after I’ve rolled through all the regraded road leading down and out of the causeway over Billabong Creek. This road was closed for quite some time with all of the floodwater, and it’s pretty amazing to see how high the debris line is located.
As we close in on Walla, we start to see a car now and again. Gum Swamp is full, full, full! The water is right up the road for about 3 kms – most of the time you can’t see much water from here. It’s pretty gorgeous but not conducive to a photo with all of the thick river red gum saplings.
I pick up a couple new roads east of Walla since the wind is still NNE and we are just 18 miles from home. The wind is pretty obnoxious at this point, but who complains when it is mostly from behind?! Now we’re on home turf and cranking out the miles on a route we’ve ridden a zillion times. The aggressive magpie that started swooping in mid-July has finally stopped. It is nice to ride without being attacked!
And then, by 11.30am, we are home. It has been a fantastic overnight ride, and I’m so glad I can start riding and camping together again. It really does refuel my reserves and recharge my soul. The total lack of cars this weekend has been a tremendous bonus, too! Now to see if we can get three weekends in a row next weekend!