Sunday, April 28, 2024

Gardens of Stone National Park

I struggled to get my lazy ass out of bed today, but the thought of getting out on another ride overcame the comfort of a warm bed. I was thinking of doing some more exploring around the Gardens of Stone conservation area and National Park. I had a quick look at goggle maps before heading out. Note to self if going off road then at least put the route into Gaia maps. Signage out in the boon docks is non existent.

Crossing Bell's Line of road I turn off at Clarence and headed back into the Gardens of Stone conservation area. The dirt was damp as it had rained during the week and hadn't dried out. There was a few slick patches and sandy bits. I had some rain spots on my visor and was thinking maybe I shouldn't be out here today.

I was looking for the Lost City, thought I'd see a sign somewhere. No sign except a road junction sign that said the trail name. Well I didn't pay that much attention to the map. My bad so went straight past and went on for another 20 minutes or more. I decided to pull over and take a look where I was and have a banana for morning tea.

As it turned out I was only a few km's shy of the glow worm tunnel, a long way past the Lost City. I turn around and head back and when I get to that intersection with the sign take a look. Yeah that's where I should have turned. I follow that until the road comes to a fork. If only they had a sign........

Initially I go right but it starts to get very sandy, so I come back and go left until I find a big bog hole. I decide I'm not going to attempt that by myself. I might be stupid but I'm not crazy. Lifting a 250kg bike in a mud hole by myself doesn't fill me with excitement. I'll come back another day when conditions are better now I know where to go. I'm not very adventurous for an adventure rider.

So instead I decide I'd head out into the Gardens of Stone National Park. It's' not far from here and I've never been there before and there's a pub at the end of the road at Kandos. A quick stop in Capertee for fuel & a pie.

The road from Capertee descended down for a long time until reaching the valley floor. The road surface was pot holed and rough in patches but winding and very scenic. 

It's evident to see how this place got the name the Gardens of Stone. The sandstone cliff faces are quite the sight to behold. I also can't believe I've never been out here in the 20+ years living in Sydney and this is right on my doorstep.

I saw this Blue tree as I was riding passed and had to double back to take a photo. A strange sight in this landscape.

I take the right hand fork and ride into Glen Davis. This little town has a population of 115, I find that hard to believe. It used to be an Oil Shale mining town back in the 1940's, but that closed in the early 50's and it's gone backwards ever since.

I stopped on the road for several minutes looking at this landscape. Besides the spectacular scenery the silence out here was deafening.

I ride into Glen Davis and there are a few eerily quiet streets, definitely banjo country. I thought I'd see where the old shale plant was. It's on a private property called the Poplars. They do the occasional tour.

Glen Davis gas station back in the Day? Who knows there's not much left now just a tired old bowser in the middle of nowhere.

From Glen Davis I take the road to Kandos. I'm getting thirsty for a beer now as it's mid afternoon. A quick stop in Kandos, there's not much there and the Railway hotel looks like it closed years ago, there's only 1 pub left now. I ride back down to Capertee.

I stop again at Pearsons lookout over the Capertee Valley as its later in the afternoon. Depending on what time of day your here the sandstone rock faces always look different, more spectacular during golden hour.

Only a quick stop here today as I was here last week, a guy pulls up and starts flying his drone. That would have been some awesome footage.

My last stop for the day was at the Capertee Royal Hotel for a well earned beer. Another fun day out on the bike and it nearly didn't happen due to being lazy. I'm glad I dragged myself out of bed for this, what another sensational ride and all within a day ride from home.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Turon Gates Ride

I was speaking to Geoff on Friday who said there will be a ride on Saturday. Great, I'm keen as. I was up early waiting for a message where our ride was going to start. Come 9am and no texts, nothing. I decided I'll go on my own ride as the day was already starting to waste away and I'm sick of waiting I want to go riding. I head up into the Blue Mountains and see what happens from there as this was completely unplanned. 

I stopped at Mt Banks, you can't see much from the carpark the views back up the road are better so I stopped there for a look. I notice I had a message, meet at 11am for the ride. Look at the time and it's 5 to 11. Message back, 'not gonna make it'.....

I was wondering where to go next and then I thought I could go take a look at the Glow Worm tunnel in the Gardens of Stone Conservation Area. Riding up the Old Bells line of road I was surprised the dirt road was well graded along here. I saw a sign that said the Glow Worm Tunnel was closed no access till June. Damn. Oh well that's an excuse for another trip after June.

I spotted these nutters out abseiling down the cliff faces. I head back towards Lithgow thinking a pie would be good for lunch. Then I had an idea. Why don't I ride out via Turon Gates to Sofala pub for a beer. Haha a cunning plan that cannot fail. On the way back into Lithgow I saw this tired old train.

A quick stop at Pearsons lookout over the Capertee Valley. It was an awesome sight to behold today. The Capertee Valley Canyon is the second largest in the world, even bigger than the grand canyon in the USA, just not as deep.

Pantoneys Crown

I stop at Capertee to get some fuel, I don't need it but I want options from Sofala as I'm not sure where I will go after that, possibly a beer at Hill End pub. The Turon Gates Rd is only 1km out of Capertee and I'm running my Gaia GPS app on my AT screen through to Sofala. Seems to be working ok so far.

It's some pretty easy riding and I find an extremely well kept crushed granite road, I swear some of our country dirt roads are in better condition than our main tarred roads.

I make my way on to the first bridge over the Turon River and camp grounds at the Turon Gates Eco retreat. As soon as I pass the campground entrance the road narrows and gets rougher. From this point on to Sofala I think I only passed 2 or 3 cars.

The road winds its way around some hilly countryside, with spectacular views over the farmlands and rolling hillsides with the river below.

I come upon the first creek crossing. I can see the bottom through the water it is so clear and it's only running very slowly so I dive right in. 

Turning right onto Palmer Oakey Rd the road winds through farmland for a while until it goes back up into the hills and more stunning scenery.

Then I was at creek crossing number 2. This one was a concrete crossing and I could see green moss on the bottom, it was pretty shallow. Oh well I plough through anyway. I'll either end up on the other side or in a hospital bed looking at hot young nurses sponge bathing me.....

Damn made it.

Lots of logs built up here after last weeks rains. Not long after crossing 2, came crossing number 3. Same again but twice as long this time and mossy looking patches but didn't have any moments.

It wasn't far from here into Sofala, 2 more concrete  creek crossings to navigate and after the 5th one the road turned to tar for the run into Sofala. I was looking forward to a beer at the pub.

Pulling up in town the place was pretty busy today. The pub was packed out the front and cars and bikes lined the length of the street.

The pub isn't doing food anymore but there are two shops across the street, a cafe and general store that both do food. I just needed some liquid lunch and then was out of there.

mmmm beer

I was thinking of heading to Hill End for a quick beer, but looking at the time it was just after 2pm. If I'd got away at a decent time instead of waiting to see if there might be a ride on, then it wouldn't be cutting it fine in skippy territory so I decide on heading back via Tarana. There's a couple of roads heading there I've never ridden on before so that will be the new plan. I take the Limekilns Rd down to the Great Western Highway and then take Diamond Swamp Rd to Tarana.

Another good day out on the bike exploring some new roads. That's the reason I bought this bike, so I could explore roads that I wouldn't normally get to ride if I had a road bike. There were a few roads I went down today where I though I wonder what's down there.........not a milk bar at least.