Tamworth to Tenterfield NSW: Monday 28 May 2012
Dave and I packed up our Tamworth tent in cold sunshine, and headed off up the New England Highway, after Dave had programmed the GPS to find all the "Bigs" on the way. He particularly wanted to see The Big Chicken, The Big Lamb, and The Big Soldier, all of which are shown on our camping map book. He has been collecting a diary of Bigs that he has seen on our trip.
A happy yelp from Mr Intrepid at Moonbi meant he had seen the Big Chicken. I didn't, as it was behind some trees and I was watching some traffic near me. Another yelp at the highlands town of Guyra and I knew The Big Lamb had been spotted….again I missed it…what's new there? I never seem to see what other people see!
The Big Soldier was spotted by both of us at Uralla. This Bigs is a game played to keep us in touch with the Universe.
The weather got progressively colder and colder as we rode along, and by the time we got to the big country town of Armidale, it felt freezing. Later we found with the wind chill factor, it was 3.9 degrees…no wonder I went for my winter gloves and contemplated putting on my silk balaclava under my helmet. The rest of my winter riding gear is as warm as toast. We stopped for a muffin and coffee in Armidale, then off we rode again, through dark granite hills and valleys. This country is well worth the visit to ride along. Also there was hardly any traffic so we had gorgeous scenery mostly to ourselves. We didn't get time to explore Glen Innes town site, which is "the land of the beardies" country….there is a beard competition once a year here. The blokes would need good beards to keep their faces warm, as it is cold Celtic country. We stopped to have some nice home cooked pies for lunch.
Finally we arrived at our destination for the next couple of days, Tenterfield. I had a nasty cough happening and felt a bit unwell, so when we realised the camper's kitchen at the caravan park was not that brilliant I told Dave I wanted to be in a cabin! So we spent the next 2 nights in a cosy cabin, where I had dosed myself up with some cold tablets and felt much better for this. Sometimes climbing in and out of a tent when the weather is cold or rainy is not the happiest feeling.
Tenterfield is an old town in a valley, not very big, and surrounded by paddocks with horses and cattle that gaze at you if you walk by. We spent the next 2 days exploring by foot, me with my hiking sticks….it feels like I'm skiing along fast if I use 2 sticks….poor Mr Intrepid has to run to keep up with Mrs Intrepid!
Our favourite haunt in Tenterfield was the Cemetery….we love exploring old country cemeteries because that is where you get a feel for the local history. The Tenterfield one has many children's graves in the late 1880s as well as many young women of childbearing age…often with a new baby dying not long after. I guess birthing babies in those old days was dangerous when there were complications. Yet many people here who lost children through TB or other diseases managed to live to old age, and I can imagine how there would have been a lot of sadness for these people to live through. The Tenterfield Cemetery overlooks the town on a slight rise, and has a peaceful feeling to it.
The caravan park we stayed at was being renovated and so the showers and toilets were "unisex". The men's urinal was blocked off so as not to offend us ladies, and we used the gents….for once I could chat to Dave in the next cubicle. I suggested we shower together but he chickened out…no wonder he was so keen to get a photo of The Big Chicken!
The night before we headed off to further fields, we looked up websites for our next camping stays, as we are realising that campers kitchens are an important part of our journey. Some nice caravan grey nomads have recommended caravan parks to us with good views, but we now realise that caravaners have their own kitchens, and we need to check out for ourselves our kitchen needs. I am sick and tired of crappy camp kitchens offered by some caravan parks! They are out in the open with just a roof over a poor quality barbeque, or if enclosed, no exhaust fan provision so they become smoky stinky dives, or they charge dollar coins for cooking which is so dumb for tourism attraction and damn frustrating when cooking. Some campers kitchens are plain dirty and depressing.
So last night in Tenterfield we did the www.Google thing, zoning in on campers kitchens, then Dave phoned ahead at a couple of caravan parks and asked them about their kitchens. This meant we ended up choosing Big4 caravan parks, the first in Byron Bay, and the next one will be in Brisbane when we get there. I think it's about time caravan parks should have to explain their facilities and we tell them that charging dollar coins for cooking is a stupid idea and therefore we will go somewhere else. This is better than turning up after a long day's ride and having to suss out the facilities when we are weary and therefore not so wary.
So, Byron Bay, here we come. Rain is expected for tomorrow and for the rest of the week, so we want a good caravan park for our temporary home!