2015 Rides – Nov Ride 4 – Day 1

Jindera to Kurrajong Campsite via Wymah Ferry

Saturday November 21, 2015, 51 miles (82 km) – Total so far: 918 miles (1,478 km)

Familiarity breeds contempt, they say. Some people may counter that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. I generally prefer novelty and get bored quickly with the same-old, same-old. This is why I find it hard to ride the same roads over and over again.

But today our ride is all on familiar roads, and I don’t mind. I love these roads and have ridden them many times. The scenery is pleasant, the road gently undulates, and there is little traffic outside of school holiday periods and weekends.

But first we have to work our way from Jindera to the Wymah Road turn-off. This isn’t particularly pleasant since the closer you get to Albury the more traffic there is, and the more inconsiderate the drivers tend to be. But no one skims me too closely today, so all is good. The Burma Road from Ettamogah around to the freeway frontage road is incredibly wash-boarded and rough. Not pleasant.

But then we get to the Wymah Road and all is right with the world. I didn’t get away until 11.30am, so it feels odd to be so early in the ride with the sun so directly overhead. We see about six cars on the Wymah Road in the first six kilometres, then for the next hour or so until we reach the Wymah ferry, we see not a soul. To have a winding, gentle road through pleasant scenery all to yourself for an hour and a half? Bliss. Well, not all to ourselves, there are a million flies that accompany us and annoy us on the uphills, but still….

The hills are starting to dry out with the summer heat. Wymah Road just past the Fowlers Creek crossing.
Nice uphills and downhills on Wymah Road. I did 38.6 mph somewhere today and think it was this hill. You may think there is a lot of downhill, but it’s just that I’m swishing flies off my face on the uphills so have no spare hand to take a photo.

Just before the ferry, there is a caravan park that slopes down the hill below the road. I glance over and notice a touring cyclist couple down there surveying the tent camping area. I roll on down to the ferry and the operator cables us across to the other side. The dam is at about 47 percent capacity right now, so it only takes a couple minutes.

When I roll off the other side, I can see the touring cyclist couple’s tire tracks leading down through the sand. It is touring cyclist rush hour at the Wymah ferry!

Wymah Ferry across the reservoir to Victoria. It’s free and has long operating hours. Big enough for two or three cars… or a whole bunch of cyclists.

We take off toward Granya heading ‘up-river’ and with the wind. The road winds and curves above the high-water mark of the reservoir through gentle undulations below heavily forested ridges. The road surface is good, and I’m a happy chick on a bike just pedalling away through the pleasant and scenic landscape. There’s a little bit of traffic, but not too much. Most everyone must already be down this section of road on their daytrips. It’s getting on 2pm or so.

The road weaves along the reservoir edge of Lake Hume. The reservoir is huge – it holds six times the volume of Sydney Harbour and runs up this arm for more than 45 miles. When the lake is full (only twice in the past 15 years), it is not far below the road here.

I roll up to the Granya Pub. It’s an old pub from 1926 that has just reopened in the past couple years. For about a decade before that it was used as a rehab centre. A bit ironic, yes. But it was a desperately needed service in the region that’s never really been replaced. However, I’m happy to have a drinks option here now. This used to be a very long stretch without water, toilet or drink options.

As I roll up the hill I note a bunch of road bikes propped against vertical parts of the building. Then I see five or so cyclists sprawled out on the steps of the pub. They are drinking various fluids and snacking on bananas. It turns out they are members of the Wagga Wagga Cycling Club down for the weekend to do some rides based out of Lake Hume Resort. They’ve just come over the “Granya Grind” – a 5-10 kilometre climb over the ridge from the Tallangatta valley. They still have about 45 kilometres or so into the wind with a few steep hills between Talgarno and Bethanga Bridge to go. Some of them looked a bit wiped out even now.

But they are very interested in where I’m riding. When they find out I’m not on a tour, but just out for the weekend, they are curious about where I live and work that affords such time for weekend rides. The older guys seem very impressed by my weekend rides, even though I haven’t done anything really difficult so far. One guy asks, “So you go alone all the time?”

I reply, “Yeah. I don’t know anyone that would want to go. And most people are busy with kids and house maintenance on weekends anyway.”

The man says, “Wow. You must be one tough girl to do what you’re doing.”

I tell him that I’m not tough. I just love riding and enjoy my time on the bike. But in my mind, I think: well, yeah, I’m tough. But not because I’m a girl riding alone, but because I’m a touring cyclist. Any moderately-experienced touring cyclist is pretty tough, I think. You can’t ride thousands of miles with bad weather, bad roads, bad drivers, bad water or bad food every now and again and not be a bit tough. Touring cyclists have to be a bit more resilient than the general population.

I head into the dark, corridor-laden pub and get two cans of coke (they don’t have bottles). The proprietor is a nice, older guy and I wish him well and hope they can continue to make the pub a ‘go-er’. Then it’s back to the bike and back to the road.

We continue to weave along the edge of the reservoir through drying pasture and spurs of forest that reach down to the reservoir edge. The water is down to just flowing through the natural river course a bit further ahead – but this is really an impressive body of water when full. I’ve only seen it full or almost full twice, though, in 15 years. For several years it never got above 30 percent. Australia is a hot, dry and unforgiving land. Don’t let the Aussies sweet-talk you and tell you otherwise!

See the road weaving along up ahead. This, the Murray River Road, is one of my favourites. I’ve ridden it countless times in the past 12 years.
Lake to the left. Trees overhead. Very little traffic. Gentle tailwind. Lovin’ the ride.

Once it gets on 5pm, we are close to the Kurrajongs Campsite. This used to be Nigel and I’s favourite spot to come camp. It used to be very informal and rarely used. We’d have the whole place to ourselves. Most people camp down on the river some kilometres up the road. But in recent years, they’ve done some ‘improvements’, including chopping down the trees around our favourite site so caravans can fit in (ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!) and putting some picnic tables in other sites. Call us old farts, but we liked it undeveloped and the way it was!

Tonight, though, I don’t bother with the official camping areas and instead carry my bike down onto the flats of the ephemeral creek. There is a family up in one of the campsites and I don’t like the sound of kiddos very much. It’s still a pleasant spot and I enjoy hanging in the shade and reading my book. There’s never many mozzies at this site (an old, revegetated quarry), so you can usually hang out in peace. This site also has a nice, but steep, walking path that leads to the ridge behind the campsite. There are nice views up there, but I don’t bother since the lake is pretty low and I’ve seen it all before many times. I have lots of memories from this place – one of the few places in Oz that feels very familiar and one place that almost feels like home.

We’ve only done 50 miles, but I like this camping option better than those ahead, so let’s call it a day and study maps for a bit in the shade before setting up the tent.


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