Day Eleven began with annoying light rain at Gilgandra. I asked the BP proprieter if he thought it was setting in. "Blowed if I know. No. Yes, I think it is.  Coonabarabran, hey. Well that's a hard ride. Uphill all the way." He was correct about uphill. A gentle constant climb began the moment I crossed the Castlereigh.

The semi-trailer traffic loses all manners on the Newall Highway. It's like riding South Road, only with more trucks. Many of them passed way  too close. One Lindsay Brothers semi overtook two caravans coming towards me, leaving me no choice but to abandon ship into the shrubbery.

I managed by holding my position in the offside truck  runnell until they were fairly close behind me and then drifting across the verge. If you begin by riding in the verge trucks and cars all pass as though you were not there and give you no room.


My love affair with Australian place names continues.  You might as well call your town Pig's Ar**!

The Warrumbungles

The big challenge of the day was to be the Warrumbungle Ranges. This photo is taken from the Gilgandra - Coonabarabran road. The farm gate to the right has the name Mountain View, which  is a great name for this farm. The photo can't do the view credit.

Tourist Sign

Half way to Coonabarabran, I turned off through the Tooraweenah Tourist Drive, which  takes you into Coonababran from the west. It is very little further distance, although the road is in poor condition. Rainfall last year was twice the yearly average, and the roads show it. The Shire repairs its roads with a fine 3-4mm gravel which they spray over with tar.  It is messy and rough. When I showered at Coonabarabran that evening my shins and calves were black with tar. The really good thing about this part of the ride was the almost total lack of traffic.


Sometimes people don't think when they put signs up!


I've never seen so many emus in my life as at this farm. NSW is lucky to have to breed the things to get enough. In SA they seem to just grow wild in the church. This mob spends the day running around chesting into each other like so many poncey and slightly daffy chooks. It's rather funny to watch, and is accompanied by a chorus of "gloop gloop" from a hundred gurgling bath tubs.


It was now after lunch- my usual baked beans- and the rain had stopped. The scenery through here is stunning. I could have spent a day taking photos rather than riding.

From Tooraweenah  to the Gumin Gumin intersection at the back of the Warrumbungles is mostly  downhill, which was great riding, and made photostops simple. I had a suspicion I would pay for this convenience, which turned out to be quite correct.



West End of the Warrumbungles

This is Split Rock.

My bicycling farmer friend from Warren, who rides the Tour de Bungles each year, told me there is only one hill worthy of the name and then it's all down hill to Coonabarabran. There is a long but moderate hill which begins shortly  after Split Rock, and I thought I was getting off very  lightly. Until I discovered that this was not the hill to which he was referring!

The second hill is seriously steep. It's about the same as the Old Belair Road, except for one thing. Imagine, when you get to the top of Old Belair Road discovering that it goes on to repeat itself... twice! I had to stop several times, and that's the reason I  look rather haggard in the photo below.

Me having a rest on a big hill

Temperature was only 20 degrees, yet I was drenched with sweat. It was the hardest riding I have done for some time. Obviously carrying all my gear did not help matters, but I think even an empty bike would find this hill a litlle challenging in places.

Steep Climb in the Warrumbungles

The Warrumbungles are the home of the Siding Springs Observatory. I observed that there is another 5km climb to the observatory from the Parkway, and chose to pass on that extra climb.

Themed Letterbox

The telescope is much celebrated in the district, as this themed letterbox indicates. It really is a letter box, and has a slot for mail!

Siding Springs Telescope

The observatory sits above the gateway.

Timor Rock

Timor Rock.

The road from the observatory turn  off is indeed down hill all 22km to Coonabarabran, apart from a couple of short rises. I nearly came to grief on one of these. It has a very steep run down off it, with a steep cliff  on one side and a fall on the other. Fortunately the top section was very rough and heavily patched, so I rode on the brakes. But half way  down, as things smoothed out, I let the  bike roll. I  discoverd a roo matching my speed of about  40km at that moment, on the hill side of the road. It decided the best way to get away from me was to cross in front of me without signalling, so  to speak. If I had not seen him and begun to brake, there may have been a rather distressing incident. The things can travel unbelievably fast.


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