Day 2: Walcha, NSW to Jenolan Caves, NSW
The clouds started rolling in, and I felt an urgency to chew up kilometers. I was now riding alone. It felt daunting, as the further I got from home, it seemed like the level of risk was increasing. The voices in my helmet got louder. As the skies got greyer, the voices seemed grow and start coming in with too many negative and stressful thoughts.
Down Thunderbolts way, and a quick stop at Stroud for a stretch and fuel. Then pressing on. I had heard many riders rave on about ‘the Putty Road’, so this was one of the roads on my list to tick off. Although the road was even windier from Stroud towards Broke and onto wards Putty Road, I was in a bit of a brain fog. I wasn’t sure of the distances and even thought this road is the only one around, I still managed to get a bit lost… I knew I felt internally lost, but it was also showing on the outside. I wasn’t a confident rider, and even less so navigating with a simple TomTom app on my iphone.
I also did get to see The Grey Gums Café. Another well known biker hang out spot. Which seemed totally weird to me considering it was in the middle of nowhere… But I guess that was the whole point! Bikers have been known to ride 100’s of kms just for milk, bread and toilet paper before. So why not for a coffee? Judging from the number of people there, it sure was popular.
From there riding towards the outskirts of Sydney, there was more and more traffic on the roads. But although there were now people around me, I still felt so alone. I was enjoying the roads, but at the same time, those negative voices in my head were still fighting. Between the Grey Gums and Colo I was then freaking out because the petrol station that my App told me should be there – was, however it was shut. This meant that the other nearest petrol station was about 30 or so kms away, and with such as little tank meant I began sweating bullets.
I babied the bike onwards to the next closest petrol station at Kurrajon Heights. When I rolled up to the bowser there was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and it was all but I could do not to cry from relief. I rolled into the petrol station on the smell of an oily rag because the fill took 11L, which is what the max capacity is!
Next was another big road on the biker’s must do list – the Bells Liner Road. After the stress of no fuel, I made a conscious effort to enjoy this road. It’s view, the massive towering rock cuttings, the skylights through trees and of course the windy road. However, my time relaxing came to an end too when I realised I went through a mounted speed camera. Grrr. Here I am leaving Qld and now I’m going to get a fine sent there. Great.
It was a long day on the saddle and I was unused to such large distances. I was getting tired, I was emotionally exhausted and just as much mentally. I knew I had to get a wriggle on, as the sun was going to be dipping soon and this is the time where all the furries come out to feed and come out on the roads. I didn’t want to be alone in isolated mountain roads with the potential to hit an animal while riding. As it was, the road from Lithgow to Jenolan Caves, I had about 3 hoppies cross my path and leaving me with brown pants! I was so relieved to get to the Cave’s car park and turn off the ignition for one last time today. I think the receptionist took one look at me and had pity on me, as she quietly upgraded me from a budget shared bunk bed (approx. $65) to a double room with shared bathroom facilities ($100 a night) for free. I don’t know how many times I told her she was an angel, while I checked in.
The room was so much nicer, had heating and even had a view! I threw everything down on the bed and got out of my touring suit. It took all my willpower to simply crawl into that bed. But instead I changed to my walking shoes, grabbed my camera and set off to do a walkthrough of the grounds. I wasn’t going to have time to do any of the cave tours, but I would do the self-walk ones at least.
Going down to the outside, and walking through the guesthouse, it was like stepping in time. The décor was older style and much grander. With little sitting areas, tucked in bars, and a grand eatery, complete with large fire place, mantles and silverware set dinner tables all round.
I am so glad that I did push myself to do the walk around the premises for it was grand. One of the first striking things of the place is descending down into the valley where the cave’s guesthouse is. From such a narrow and tiny road, comes out into a huge opening with a creek bordering the road and a cavernous entrance. Bigger that 10 buses at one point, it took all my might not to drop a rev bomb as I rode through it! 😉
Walking around I noticed some great acoustics in certain overhangs and caves, and as the sun was setting more and more, little rock wallabies were coming out.
Around the bend, was a little dammed area holding crystal clear, blue water. It was quiet, it was still. It was peaceful.
Like an enchanted forest, I was expecting little forest being coming out to play. I didn’t see any of course, but I’m sure it was only because they are very good at hiding.
My walk ended as my stomach was reminding me that I had a dinner booking at the grand hall. For any meals you have to pre-book as the guesthouse’s kitchen is only open for a short time. I was so ready to eat. After a warm, hearty meal, I retired to the grand looking bed for some good R&R.