I spent a third night in Condobolin, and another cyclist rode in the last evening. I didn't have much time to talk to him, but Joe lives on the NSW coast, and was riding west towards Hay for a few days, then catching a ride home.
It was a warm ride to Forbes, a pleasant town I stayed in in 2001. I spent a couple nights there. Heading east to the small town of Eugowra, it turned a little cooler as I climbed. There I pitched my tent under a gigantic shed roof at the show grounds, then found a great oboe spot in a shelter in another park, so I decided to spend two nights there, too.
I asked around about dinner, and learned that there was a Chinese restaurant at the lawn bowling club, which I never would have found on my own.
Breakfast both mornings was at the "Gentle Cow" café, run by a bloke named Mike.
|The Gentle Cow|
My last morning in Eugowra, I had a chat with a truck driver waiting in the park for his truck to get a new wheel bearing. It was a double, hauling 50 tons, but I didn't ask of what. He later passed me, giving me what passes for a friendly honk from a 50 ton truck.
As one travels east, towards the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, the land gradually rises. My next stop was Molong, at 530 meters. It's a little bigger town, on a major highway, but at least the caravan park had a free washer. It was quite cool that night.
It warmed up quickly the next morning for the ride to Yeoval, where I had stayed in 2004. It doesn't have a caravan park, but the locals in the bowling club all agreed that no one would care if I camped in the park. Conveniently, the bowling club had a shower.
In 2004, a local had seen me riding around town and invited me to have breakfast with his family the next morning. I managed to contact Alf Sunday afternoon, and he invited me to meet him the next morning, so I decided to stay one more day in Yeoval. Alf and his wife, Sharon, recently started up a museum and coffee shop dedicated to Banjo Patterson, Australia's famous poet, who lived part of his childhood in Yeoval. Alf and Sharon lead busy lives, in which I was immersed for a day. I met Alf early Monday morning at the museum, rode along with him on a shopping trip to Wellington, 40 km away, then back to the museum for breakfast. He showed me around the museum, as well as a new park across the road for which he's largely responsible. Both Alf and Sharon drive school busses, so that afternoon I rode along with Sharon on her run, and the next morning with Alf on his. They invited me to have dinner and stay at their house, so I slept in my first bed since Feb. 16 back in Colac. Back at the museum Tuesday morning after Alf's school bus run, we had another breakfast, and I got ready to leave. Alf asked me to deliver a letter in Dubbo, but just before I left he got a call to drive a crook (sick) school bus to Dubbo for repairs, so he took the letter back. (He had offered several times to drive me to Dubbo, of course.) About a half hour out of Yeoval, Alf and Sharon met me going the other way in Sharon's car. It seems the bus broke down and Sharon had to pick up Alf. So, I got the letter back again. A ways further down the road, I found a bunch of fresh oil on the road, and eventually the bus parked along the road. Later, a very large tow truck went by going the other way, but I got to Dubbo before it got back with the bus. Alf and Sharon had also told me about two cyclists just ahead of me.
|The Banjo Patterson Museum|
A ways past the abandoned bus, I met the two cyclists at a rest area. Charlotte and Ruben, from Belgium, had left from Melbourne two weeks earlier, also on their way to Brisbane. Both were towing trailers. They're on a two year "working holiday", planning to sell their bikes in Brisbane, and continue their travels to the north and on to Asia. I left the rest area before they did, and didn't see them again until I got to Dubbo. They were both born the year of my first New Zealand trip, 1986.
Dubbo is a big town, about 50,000, on two major highways, but it's the last one I'll see for quite a while. The caravan park I stayed in last night was a real dump, but there are several others, so maybe tonight will be more pleasant.