I love going away for weekends on the bike, except I don’t actually have a bike at the moment. That is a bit of a spanner in the works!
Before my accident, plans were in the pipeline for a bike weekend to Bright, in Victoria. I decided that I would still go, even though I’d be on 4 wheels rather than two. Turns out Bright was a bit far for a cripple in a car, just for an overnight stay, so my lovely bike friends made some last minute changes and bookings, and we ventured to Wyndham, NSW, instead.
Wyndham is a tiny little town a bit in from Pambula on the far south coast of NSW. It’s in a communications Black Hole. The TV ads there are for businesses in Alice Springs, (?!? Hello? That's in Central Australia!) and Darwin, which makes you feel as if you’ve somehow arrived in an alternate universe. There’s no mobile phone reception there, and no internet, and there was a Monty Pythonesque feel to dinner at the Robbie Burns Pub (established 1848), which was one of the most memorable dinners I’ve had in a long time.
There were six of us. Mark the Miffy Friend and I went in my little car, which was designated the Support Vehicle for the trip. My biker mates Pen, Pris, Peaches and Deb put panniers and petrol in the boot of my car, and off we went. The petrol was a sort of security blanket for Peaches, who wasn’t sure how far his Ducati Monster could get on a tank of fuel.
The weekend went something like this:
Nimmitabel Bakery (the one with the anatomically correct bull-elephant in the back yard) was the scene of an animated conversation about Pippa Middleton’s underwear (or lack thereof) over coffee and pepper steak pies.
Lizzy’s Settlers Cottage in Wyndham was our ultimate destination. We took the Darragh Mountain Road from Bombala. It was lovely, but showed signs of recent flood damage (like much of eastern Australia at the moment!) – lots of land slips and plenty of gravel on the road.
Lizzy's Settler's Cottage, Wyndham NSW
We enjoyed fish & chips on the wharf at Eden (and sausages and chips for me, coz I don’t like seafood). Yummo.
Almost every night last week I dreamed – quite literally – of riding a bike, so I’d expected driving the car to be a right royal pain in the bum. It wasn’t. Yes, I would’ve preferred to be on a bike, but going in the car was a whole lot better than not going at all!
After fish and chips in Eden, we returned to our cabin, and the Big Fun began there. We all sat out on the back deck, enjoying the rural views, the enormously fat horses (who liked salt & vinegar chips!) a couple of bottles of red and the company of good mates, before we headed up the street about a hundred metres to the pub, for dinner.
Hello Monty Python! We had the most fabulous night there! Due to things like libel laws, and good old-fashioned decency, I can only give you a brief pencil sketch of the high points of the night – but believe me, it was magnificent!
*The local characters were straight out of – of – actually, I’m not sure, but it seemed a combination of Little Britain, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the film version of The Name of the Rose. I say this with great affection, because they were lovely and friendly – but there was a slightly surreal quality to the whole evening.
*There was a child chasing a dog around in the pub. Nobody thought this was odd. The dog ended up wearing a green t-shirt. Nobody thought this was odd either.
*There was a Potato Crisis and the meals were severely delayed until potatoes were sourced (from Tasmania, apparently, given how long it took our meals to arrive) Eventually, said potatoes appeared on plates next to a series of identical heart-shaped (in honour of the Royal Wedding?) chicken schnitzels.
*Pen played the stringless guitar in the pub. This sterling performance was later topped by her performance, back at the cabin, of ‘listening to whale music’ with a lampshade on her head. Virtuoso stuff! She's a very talented performer.
*Pris entertained us with high-decibel snoring for much of the night. No wonder we needed to drink so much wine!
Miraculously, we all awoke to the beautiful country morning on Sunday with clear heads, and had a spirited ride to Candelo, along winding rainforesty roads that glittered with sunshine and dew. We spent a couple of hours sampling the delights of Candelo Markets, where Peaches broke a tooth on a killer quesadilla(!)
At Bemboka Bakery
At Bemboka Bakery we ate MORE stuff, including this little fellow – in celebration of Pen’s birthday last week, before heading up Brown Mountain.
Brown Mountain is probably my favourite road to ride on a bike, but my poor little car didn’t like it one bit. It struggled to get up the steep, winding road that still showed evidence of severe weather about a month ago. Fallen rocks (about the size of a small car!), fallen trees, land slips… It was a relief to get to the Piper's Lookout, near the top, without having my engine explode.
Mark, Deb, Pen at the lookout.
I fully expected to find poor Peaches of the Broken Tooth by the side of the road somewhere, on a de-fuelled Ducati – but it didn’t happen. He actually made it to Polo Flat servo at Cooma, and refilled his weeny tank there.
Our final stop – the place at which we had a parting of the ways – was Williamsdale, back in the ACT (Google Maps lists it as being in NSW for some reason...) We hung around there, talking and laughing the way you do when you want to prolong the time you’ve spent together. The car boot was emptied and the bikes were re-loaded. Pen & Pris ate ice creams. We finished the salt and vinegar chips. We talked about organising another ride. It was sad, and nobody was in a hurry to head home.
Weekends spent with good friends are priceless. I hope we do another one soon – and I hope I won’t be driving the Support Vehicle!