Tent Autopsy

I lay in my tent, sometime before dawn yesterday, wondering where the wind chimes were coming from. It took a while to work out that I was asleep, and by the time I woke, the wind had risen and the rain began to fall.
It was a pretty grey and miserable start to the day yesterday, if you can call 5am day. We woke up camped somewhere behind the public library in Buladelah, public toilets, and a playground. Another ideal camping spot. No doubt the fact that I couldn’t really sleep and it was still pitch black and wet outside contributed to that feeling of greyness.
We ate our cold breakfast of bread jam and biscuits in the dark, as the tents hung up to dry from the wooden rafters suspended over the stainless steel tables. In the dim light it looked a bit like someone had been on a hunting trip, and were hanging their prized fabric kills out to dry.

We sped off just after 7, determined to make the 40km for the morning ferry from Tea Gardens (the name of a town, would you believe). As we climbed the hills though, and watched the mist rise from the tree tops, we worried more and more. With every hill climbed, more doubts about the ferry: was it there, would it be running, would they take bikes, was the weather too bad…
Nonetheless we raced into Tea Gardens, and wildly sought out the ferry point which up to and including the wharf remained sign-less.
The ferry was about to pull out, but we called out unsure of whether we could even take bikes on board. The guy motioned to throw the bikes on, and I was looking at the tiny boat wondering where exactly we were meant to do that. They barely squeezed through the doors, but before long we were chugging out of the narrow channel and toward Nelson Bay for only 10 dollars a piece.

Pulling into the harbour was like arriving in another country. Suddenly the mists had lifted, the grey clouds disappeared, and the sun shone brightly. After a quick seaside coffee, it was back on the bike and heading along the coast. As if the sun rising wasn’t luck enough, it seemed that possibly for the first time on the trip we had a tailwind, and we were hurtling along the coast.

Following some advice, we avoided the main roads into the city and kept along the coast road to Stockton, where once again the ferry was equally lacking in signs, and this time found just by intuition.

The ferry ride across the river to Newcastle was brief, and soon we were cleaning our claggy clothes and sweat caked skin through the hospitality of another kind stranger from warm showers.

Our penultimate day cycling in Australia today, and I have to confess I’m a bit sad…
I’ll probably be more sad though if the weather doesn’t hold up though, so fingers crossed….

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  1. Wow, Guys, that came quick – the end, I mean. Not the REAL end (of life as you know it), but the end of your time in Oz. Well, I hope you had a bonza (I prefer ‘bloody great’) time. I’ll be cycling from east to west one of these years; you’re more than welcome to come along.
    Rather than be sad that you’re leaving, I’ll be excited for your next leg of the journey :) Jack, if you’re off back home, have a good trip.
    Cliff, I’ll stay in touch. Cheers Mate.

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