+ 370m (or +551 according to his GPS – felt more like that of course!)
1 magpie swoop (on the Hat Head side of Gladstone – totally unexpected as it didn’t swoop us the other day, what’s with that?!)
We got away just after 8am, which was an improvement on other days! A bit of a thumbs down for this particular AirBNB, with their rather peremptory, texted ‘strip the bed, sweep or vacuum’ instructions. (Particularly so when the price breakdown includes a $50 cleaning fee. We also had to pay an extra $30 for linen, which in our experience is becoming much less common. Beggars couldn’t be choosers in Hat Head though… and the rest of the house experience was pretty good.)
First stop Gladstone (again) for an early morning tea, and some more bike tweaking work for Marc. He had actually spent the rest of the ‘rest day’ afternoon after our walk pulling the cranks out and cleaning them, as well as the belt drive. On Day 5, on the last stretch, it had developed a couple of ‘noises’. A scraping noise emanating from the cranks, which he put down to dried mud, and a squeaky/squealy noise which seemed to come from the belt.
Part way into the Hat Head – Gladstone stretch, the scraping started up again. Off with the rear cranks again, and more lubrication. It eventually went away.
At Hat Head he had also discovered that the self-extracting crank bolt ring from the front cranks (can you tell I’m taking dictation at this point?) had come loose and ‘disappeared’ (along with the take-a-look mirror perhaps?) so he couldn’t take that set off.
So anyway, the first 30km was pretty flat.
We made sure to stop and take a photo of something we’d spotted on the way in:
and… same property….
After that, some familiar ups and downs along Macleay Valley Way – heading north this time instead of south as we did in 2016.
My grand route plotting plans to take back roads through Tamban Forest got dumped. Enough gravel for this trip, and especially on an 80km day.
Also the Eungai Creek Buffalo cafe (out the back of Eungai Creek/Eungai Rail) was going to have to wait till another time.
All I ever knew of Eungai Creek and Eungai Rail were the signposts from the highway, so, even though there’s not much there, we can now say we’ve been there. This was always part of the goal of this trip – to check out places generally too close to home to even rate a pit-stop on our many drives between home and Sydney.
So some Gatorade on the footpath opposite the store at Eungai Rail…
Out onto the highway for 800m, and back in again to suss out Eungai Creek.
Even less salubrious seating arrangements (there was a picnic bench, but it was in the full sun) for a hamburger.
I had had even more grandiose plans for avoiding the highway, having plotted taking Browns Crossing Road (dirt and a couple of climbs) on the eastern side of the highway, but this too was put in the ‘nope we’re buggered’ basket. It turned out to be an easy 5 km along the highway up to Giinagay Way, with plenty of shoulder. (And we’ve noted before that 100k zones are better than 110k zones. You wouldn’t think you could pick the speed difference of the passing traffic, but you can.)
It was still another almost 10k into Macksville from there, but, now as the old highway, it was fairly quiet. The last couple of kilometres – from Upper Warrell Creek Rd intersection – had a new separated shared path on the northbound side of the road, which was pretty handy.
Loo stop at Macksville, and then the last leg to Nambucca. Again we opted for ‘old highway’, instead of the Old Coast Road detour we had taken heading southwards in ’16. I had always maintained that even when Macksville was bypassed, that section of road, with bugger all shoulder, would not be ideal. He was sure it would be fine now it was much quieter, and I didn’t argue because the alternative would involve some climbing.
I was right. Lost count of the close passes by impatient idiots.
[They have started building a bike path at the Macksville end, but it hasn’t got far yet. At the Nambucca end it starts at Lumsdens Lane – northwards, so there is really only a couple of kilometres of living – or rather riding – on the edge.]
Another gatorade stop at Nambucca Plaza, before the climb up through the township of Nambucca Heads, and a ‘holy dooley’ rollercoaster dipper (Rosedale Street) and a final climb to our accommodation.
(And we later walked back down, up, down up and return for dinner – we earnt those beers tonight.)