Rob 'n BOB on the BNT

Yamba, NSW - 11 February 2004

G'day Mates!

I'm reporting to you from Yamba, NSW, where I'm enjoying a little "ocean break", a much needed rest from being on the bike and with BOB.  My last report was from Stanthorpe, where I did my wine tour with Granite Highland Maxi Tours.  Allan, the owner, was a great tour guide, very well informed, and in between stops he filled me in on all kinds of historical information about the area.  I didn't mention in my previous report that the wine industry in Queensland, in general, is quite young and also around Stanthorpe most of the wineries have only been around for the past 10 to 15 or so years, similar to the situation back home in the Okanagan.  Even the climate seems very similar, with the same sort of winter night temperatures, except that it warms up more during the days.

Bald RockAfter my detour to Stanthorpe I connected to the trail where I left off and continued, immediately to do a short 15 km detour again, this time to Bald Rock National Park.  Bald Rock is the second largest monolith in Australia, after Uluru (Ayers Rock).  It isn't anywhere near as big, but quite impressive nevertheless, and even though Gwen and I were there in 1998, I just wanted to see and expBald Rockerience it again.  I wasn't disappointed, the rock formations are just awesome.  On top of the rock my mobile even had a signal and I was able to call Gwen at home, but it washed in and out and we weren't really able to talk.  After Bald Rock back to the trail and I was looking forward to my  first stay in an old hut, only to find the hut pretty well permanently occupied.  But the owners of the hut live not far away, and they offered me accommodation in one of the spare caravans on their property, which was a welcome change to my tent, since it poured again that night!  Timbarra (or Rocky River) ValleyConsequently, when two days later I tried to cross the Timbarra River at the one and only causeway, I couldn't because the flow of water was much too strong.  I could have waited a couple of days (hoping it wouldn't rain again), but I decided to detour back to Tenterfield and follow an alternate route, to hook up with the BNT again in Glen Elgin.  The detour went through the upper, higher, parts of Washpool National Park instead of the valley, and the forest that I came through was just gorgeous, with huge fern trees towering over me.  My next camp was at the Mann River Nature Reserve, another gem of a campsite, and from there to Newton Boyd, where I was to collect another parcel that I had mailed to myself.  This one consisting of my third set of tires, new lube (desparately needed) and more food packs, as well as new maps and the next guidebook.  Paul Jones, the trail co-ordinator for this section of trail, works at "BroadmeadowsBroadmeadows" Station on a part time basis, and the owners, Louise and Tom Armitage, welcomed me with open arms.  I was assigned to my very own cabin, have been taking part in their meals, and am made to feel as if I'm on a fully appointed luxury cruise ship!  I've been helping out with the household chores a little bit, but in the main I have been able to work on my bike, clean it thoroughly, replace all tires, check all other parts and pieces, and reorganise my gear.  I've covered almost 4500 kms now (3200 "real" trail ones) and a bit of maintenance was due.  I'm happy to report that all my machinery is apparently in top condition!  With Tom I was able to get a ride to Grafton, where I took the bus to Yamba
        beachYamba, where I am now staying with "family" for a few days - the sister of the husband of one of Gwen's nieces.  I was ready for a little ocean break, to take in some SSS (sun, surf and sand), and Lisa and Alan live in a subdivision of Yamba overlooking an arm of the Clarence River, only a few kilometers away from numerous marvellous beaches.  Oh, life is tough!  
As much as I wanted to follow the trail as it has been designed, I have now decided to do some serious detours.  During the past few weeks I've grown increasingly tense about the sections of trail that are upcoming.  From Newton Boyd the trail follows the Boyd and Guy Fawkes rivers through very remote, but gorgeously beautiful country.  However, it entails having to cross these rivers some 60 times, and I just don't feel up to it!  My back has improved enormously, and I don't want to bugger it again.  At first I wasn't sure why I was getting so tense over the past few weeks, and initially blamed on too much bike-time, too much rain (which certainly played a part), too many steep hills, you name it.  But having to deal with these river sections was constantly on my mind, and once I decided to bypass them altogether I've been feeling much better!  My time off the bike for a week has definitely helped as well.  The recent rains, and the almost constant threat of more rain, has resulted in higher water levels, and some of the river crossings could actually be very tricky, and since I'm travelling by myself I shouldn't be taking any unnecessary risks.  After Guy Fawkes National Park the trail climbs steeply back onto the range, to plunge into the next river section only a day later - Georges Creek (30+ crossings), Macleay River (about 10), and Kunderang Brook (numerous).  This section I've done in 1998 and it is incredibe, but other than the fact that it would have been interesting to find out if travelling with BOB now makes it easier or more difficult compared to panniers, all those river and creek crossings are just too much of a hassle.  Pretty well every crossing means I'd have to unhitch the trailer, and first carry the bike, then go back to fetch BOB, and for the waist deep crossings perhaps even divide BOB into two separate, lighter loads.  Naw..........................!    So, now my route will take me from Newton Boyd through Chaelundi State Forest to Ebor, then I'll detour via Armadale and Walcha to Nowendoc, where I'll latch onto the trail once again.  From there the route goes through Barrington Tops National Park to Aberdeen, and soon after that I'll be in wine country again, the Upper Hunter Valley.  Now, that's more like it!  

So Mates, in a much better mood again, I'm signing off.  Catch ya later!
R 'n B

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