Wintery Weather, Bus Rides East and – finally – a Great Riding Day: Uralla to Bellingen (Days 7 & 8: Sunday 26 April and Monday 27 April)

When I awoke on Sunday the weather was bleak. A heavy wet grey blanket of cloud had descended on Uralla. It was just about 10*C and the Bureau of Meteorology was telling me that the high in Armidale (my intended destination for the day) was set to be 14*C with wind gusts of up to 44 kph. Um, no. Just no. If I hadn’t been so tested already, maybe, but – why? This is meant to be fun not sadistic. New England Coaches run from Tamworth to Coffs Harbour and having texted the managers on the Sunday after ANZAC Day …

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Anzac Day – Uralla Style (Day 6 – Saturday 25 April)

I woke to a big, blue, clear sky. The sun shone strongly and hot; the breeze, especially in the shade, chilly with the plateau’s autumn. They’ve planted many exotic deciduous trees in New England and their red and golden dying leaves frame each roadway. At 9:45 am the great majority, it seemed, of Uralla residents lined the main street waiting for the balance of their neighbours and most of the district’s school children to parade past to mark Anzac Day: returned servicemen and women came first followed by children marching for parents, then those in local services – the Red …

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These Hills Seem Downright Reasonable or My First Riding Day Without Tears: Bendemeer to Uralla (Day 5 – Friday 24 April)

I first woke around 6 am, rolled over and woke again at 8. I dawdled through the morning – fearing more hills I huddled under the covers and got some writing done. But there was distance to cover and nothing to do but load up and cover it. As I was packing up the Kiwi cleaner nodded at my bicycle and said “You could get an engine for that.” To which I replied “I’ve all the engine I need right here (patting my thigh) and here (pointing at my heart).” That I could feel that way the day after Moonbi …

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Naked Liberation at No 42 Lady Bay Beach – 22 February 2015

Until recently I was dreading Lady Bay. It is the second of, I think, three  ‘clothing optional’ beaches in Sydney (this one granted that status in 1976). The first in this project was beach No 13: Cobblers. I am not generally inclined to get my kit off in public. Prior to Cobblers I never had and I found the experience fairly nerve-wracking. Back then (20 February 2011 – so almost four years exactly) I was not as well equipped, mentally, to look at things that made me uncomfortable, step back, and question why. But several weeks ago, thinking about Lady Bay, I asked …

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You May Have Your Mansion But the Beach is There for All – No 41, Kutti (1 February 2015)

Kutti Beach is in Vaucluse, long the most affluent of Sydney suburbs and still in the top five. Prior to European colonisation the area was home to the Birrabirragal clan of the Dharug language group. They named the whole area, now called Watsons Bay, Kutti. That the usual Sunday crowds are waiting at Watsons Bay is evident on the wharf at Circular Quay.     I am set to meet Tom Allen, his wife Tenny and her sister Narineh under the big Morton Bay Fig in Robertson Park at 1 pm.  Tom is a bicyclist and all-around adventurer, blogger, filmmaker and bicycle advocate. …

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A Riot of Kookaburras and Cerulean Seas – No 40 Jibbon (4 January 2015)

  The strange summer continues as I’ve had to skip another (and hopefully the last) of the Hawkesbury beaches which can only be reached from the water. I will visit number 39, Hungry Beach, along with numbers 35 (Gunyah – Brooklyn) and 37 (Hallets) in due course. *** I got up this morning and didn’t dawdle. I was going to the beach without delay. I catch the bus to the Queen Victoria Building and the train from Town Hall Station to Cronulla Station and, from there, walk down to the ferry wharf. A riot of kookaburras are laughing their heads off in an …

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Is this heaven? No, it’s Bundeena – No 38 Horderns (21 December 2014)

This summer’s beaches have created challenges. I should have begun with No 35 Gunyah (Brooklyn) – up on the Hawkesbury – but it can only be reached from the water so I need my mate and his boat at a time that works for us both and the weather is amenable. I broke my rules and skipped to No 36 Gunyah (Bundeena); No 37 is Halletts – another Hawkesbury beach with water access only – has been added to the boating list. Which brings us back to Bundeena for No 38, Horderns. I’ve failed to find the connection but I …

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Finding Inspiration at the Art Gallery of NSW

I spent part of New Years Day at the Art Gallery of NSW having a wander through the exhibits. The text accompanying Tony Albert’s Hey Ya! (Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture) read, in part Ritsi (the young man in the photographs) and Albert share an experience of re-connection to country and community by following the movements of their ancestors.   Part of what I’ll be doing on my Big Ride is, in a way, just this: I’ll be re-connecting with the places my antecedents lived for thousands of years by following their movements across Europe. I will visit reminders and …

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I Think You Must Leave Australia to Become Fully Australian – No 36 Gunyah (Bundeena) 23 November

It’s late November and this is only the first beach of the summer. I’ve been delayed by the hopes of sticking to my rule of visiting the beaches in strictly alphabetic order. Beach number 35 is Gunyah (Brooklyn) which can only be reached from the water so I’ve been waiting for my boat-owning friend’s schedule to mesh with mine on a day with fine weather. It’s proving a challenge so I decided to break the rules and set No 35 aside to press on to No 36. There are, I think, a couple of same-name, different-location beaches to be visited …

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No 34: Great Mackerel – 22 June 2014

On Friday I woke to a radio program about ceremonies people create for themselves. A caller described a women’s winter solstice ceremony she had been conducting for some years. The Winter Solstice marks the moment when more light begins to fill your days. It is the beginning of a new cycle of growing then diminishing sunlight – it’s the nadir. The caller’s ceremony involved acknowledging the events of the past year and letting them go while looking ahead to future plans. It got me thinking. I’m so keen to close the door on the past year – to set aside both what was …

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