Monday, February 11, 2008

DAY 128: Broken Head CP to Murwillumbah

Sun 10th February 2008

63 km @ 14.3 km/hr

Distance to date 7752 km (4845 miles)

Very warm / humid / cloud

Lots of noise from another group of youngsters last night so I was late getting to sleep. Got away around 9 from what hasn’t been a totally happy visit here - too noisy, too expensive and too many things not working. Still, the setting was magnificent .

For the first km I had to climb back up the hill I sped down yesterday but it didn’t seem as long as I’d thought, thankfully. There was lots of traffic again as this is such a popular coastline with visitors, and it got worse as I arrived in Byron Bay (6km). This is a real backpacker town teeming with the younger set and well provided with Subway’s and KFC and budget travel places. A couple of the latter provided free internet so I spent half an hour in here; unfortunately you couldn’t upload pics.

I polished off 6" of a 12" sub and did a little supermarket shopping but couldn’t see any reason to hang around here and pressed on west towards the Pacific Highway.

The Highway was busy, but there was a good wide shoulder (see pic) so I felt quite safe, and ,with a tailwaind I was flying along at a heady 25 km/hr. I still wasn’t sure where I’d finish up tonight - I had a loose arrangement with someone (a member) from Murwillumbah to stay with them around this time, but through moving on quickly from Broken Head I was ahead of myself, and although I telephoned the guys to see if I could stay tonight I couldn’t get any answer on their phone, and presumably they were out for the day. It’s hard to make arrangements like this I’ve found, mainly due to my not wanting to restrict myself to specific dates, so it can’t be helped. Nevertheless I quite fancied the tourist route via Murwillumbah so decided to go this way anyway, and maybe I could contact my would-be hosts later in the day.

Before this, on a whim I turned off the Pacific Highway right for a short detour around Ocean Shores but once off the highway (which had now become a Freeway but still allowed bicycles) there was a huge climb so I changed my mind and carried on expecting to rejoin the Freeway, however this road led to an even steeper hill which really had me puffing and panting. This road gradually merged into the Tweed Valley Way to Murwillumbah, after a series of complicated road junctions and roundabouts. The TVW was much more pleasant being quieter and more shady, but it was getting very humid indeed on an overcast afternoon with alternating hot sunny spells, especially uncomfortable going uphill slowly. Also, the small tailwind had the further effect of not giving me much of a cooling breeze since I was going the same speed as the air. It feels so uncomfortable in humid conditions becuase sweat cannot evaporate from the skin (and cool it) due to the outside air being so moist of course. This road is very hilly; constantly rising and falling, quite steeply at times, but offers nice views of the surrounding mountains, including the huge Mt.Warning, which Captain Cook named after nearly running aground whilst gaping at it from his ship.

I stopped briefly at Mooball (Moo Moo town would be a better name noting all the ‘cow’ references around the place - black and white Friesan patterns painted everywhere etc.), and again at Burringbar a few km on. These are nice little villages mostly untouched by tourism from what I could see.

About 2km from Murwillumbah I suddenly realised I’d been here before as I passed the Poincietta Motel where Lyn and I stayed for a night when we were here in 2006. That night we had trouble finding anywhere to get some food but things have changed since then I learnt later.

I rang my prospective hosts again but was still unable to find them in, so elected to stay at the nicely-positioned YHA hostel on the banks of the Tweed River ($26 / dorm). This is a small but friendly place where the manager, Tazzie, has been here for 36 years! After some good blathering with the other guests I went off to have a quick look around the town, and having found a Mexican restaurant (Down by the Border) decided to eat there. It was a very pleasant experience with a very friendly and helpful waitress, and lovely food, and plenty of it - I was really stuffed afterwards. It was a BYO restaurant so I'd popped in the bottle shop first for some beer to wash it down with.

On my return I felt exhausted and just crashed, feeling very tired indeed.