Lots of good stuff in the last day.
I slept much better than I thought. After spending a lovely evening in the company of a small bottle of Jack Daniels and a book, while fraternising with the camp kitchen fauna (2 cockroaches, one dead one alive), I retired to the tent where the unseasonal temperature made my inadequate sleeping bag come into its own, a magnificent swan song.
Having chosen the tent over the infested kitchen early there was little chance of a sleep in and in fact I was up and about well before 8:00 with the prospect of ending the day early despite the higher milage. took extreme care in packing the tent knowing that this was the last time I’d be using it for quite some time, got everything else together and I was on my way.
The first part of the stage followed the cycle path along the sea that I had started yesterday and allowed me to warm up before what promised to be a fairly hilly day.
After I left the bike path and joined the main coast road and, passing a number of small seaside villages, I noticed that it was that time when teaching had not started yet but the parents had dropped the kids to school already. Another 10 minutes and I started to see a number of women jogging and exercising, either on their own or in groups.
I suspect they were mothers that had dropped the kids at school, I have noticed that both here and in New Zealand there are a large number of stay at home mums that really live quite a nice life, when compared to the life that is enforced on similarly aged women in Europe. Not hundred percent sure how it is that down here people can live on one salary and that is not the case up top but there obviously is a visible difference.
The road started to become interesting offering good views of the coast while the vegetation was clearly dropping the “sub” from the sub tropical. Eventually I got to Clifton where I saw first hand the end of the age of the empire.
The name Clifton should have been a queue to what was just around the corner. I knew it existed but I did not know what it was called. People had told me about the place, up the coast, where they had built the road out into the ocean. Not sure what I expected but this is what I got: the Sea Cliff Bridge.
I realise that there will be a bunch of people that will just “so what” It. But I think it’s quite impressive and, more to the point, being on top of it is quite an experience.
Sadly after the pleasure, as always, comes pain. Just after the bridge I faced the biggest hill of the day, two miles of relentless uphill taking me to the great observation point from where I took the last two pictures of the bridge. Fortunately I was prepared and just before the start of the climb I loaded with V and that gave me the extra gear needed for the task.
The next part of the day was beckoning, I was just about to enter the Royal National Park.
I had been trough many national parks in the last 800 miles of cycling and in the main I have been underwhelmed by them, this was just about to change. The Royal National Park is a glorious route for cycling and the scenery is second to none. In some parts it reminds me the forest in the Coromandel (New Zealand), but at the same time, if you forget about all the dangerous wildlife, it is somewhere where you’d consider taking a walk in the woods.
The mix of tropical and sub tropical vegetation is amazing even in the middle of winter, I can only imagine how superb it must be in the blooming season.
There are some things that bother me about down under though. they overdo it with the highlighting. the picture above of the waterfall is an example, the waterfall was as big as you can get by opening the tap in your bathroom bath. Stop it! there are great things around here, highlight those, not every little kink in the ground.
After the waterfall it took me another 30 minutes to descend to Bundeena where I was going to take a ferry to get to Cornulla and the Sydney side of the Bute Bay. The choice of the ferry was almost forced on me as the alternative would have been a fair few miles on the hard shoulder of the motorway, not really a contest given that I was not even making up ground.
The fortunate/unfortunate thing was that the ferry was ready to leave when I got to the dock so I litterally did not have a chance to see anything of Bundeena.
When I got to the other side, despite having the time I elected to not look around Cornulla and to keep going. The main reason for that was that the sky was getting darker and I suspected that there would have been some rain before long.
5 more miles and, crossed the Cook Bridge I got to Botany Bay. I rode the immaculate cycling path along the bay all the way to the airport and I must admit I was well impressed by the quality of the seafront properties. some were a bit bling but all of them spoke serious wealth.
As i got past the airport the rain finally started and I ended up riding the last five miles into town under a proper monsoon. I did not care, I was going to be in a warm and dry bed tonight without the need to find a good pitching spot.
Naturally as soon as I entered the hostel the rain stopped only to restart when I got out of it to go and fetch a cardboard box for the bike. The people at the hostel don’t really have a place for me to keep the bike so they have asked me if I can disassemble it ASAP and then they can store the box more easily, I had to do it anyway so I just did it straight away.
I am now quite relaxed and, after a “Cheap eat” lasagne and chips and two glasses of red wine, ready to start planning what to do for the next 6 days of Sydney living. I’m pretty sure a winery tour and an excursion to the Maritime museum will be part of the list but if anybody out there has any suggestions please let me know.
For now I’m just glad I can tick the 4088 miles of Oceania and, for once, manage to complete what I set out to do.