Three Years on the Road
104. Last Days
We left Adelaide in mid afternoon. Renmark was dinner. Mildura was dusk. Karate Kid Two was the night. I cannot sleep on buses, so long distance bus travel is not much fun for me. While Karen slept, the bus rolled on, the kilometres clicking over as I nodded off and immediately woke up, and nodded off and immediately woke up...
We rode past the Lodge, but did not drop in to say hi to Mr Howard. A combination of bike paths, roads, good luck and good management eventually took us to Suzanne and Todd's place in the outlying suburb of Gordon. Todd met us at the front door, and we quickly caught up with each other's news. After dinner and a few drinks, Suzanne arrived home from work, but the lack of sleep the night before soon caught up with me and I don't remember too much after that.
Todd, Suzanne and Jamie were spending Xmas with Todd's parents in Moss Vale, about one hundred and sixty kilometres up the Hume Highway. Because Suzanne was due to leave for Moss Vale the next day, and because she would be taking Jamie's toy Jeep and Todd's Xmas present in a box trailer with plenty of extra room, she offered to give us a lift as well. Normally, Karen and I would have refused the offer, not wanting to break the cycling circuit around Australia, but as this circuit now included over three thousand kilometres of Landcruiser travel and thirteen hundred kilometres of bus travel, we figured one hundred and sixty extra kilometres of car travel would not be significant. We accepted the offer.
It took us one hour and ten minutes to climb out of the Valley. Shortly after the start of the climb, as soon as the going got tough, Karen stopped riding and started pushing Mel up the hill. I was still able to ride, and thinking that Karen would be able to continue riding if her load was lighter, I transferred some of her weightier items to my panniers. It certainly made a big difference - now both of us had to push our bikes. The road up Cambewarra is dangerous. It is narrow, with lots of curves and hardly any shoulder at all. At one point Karen propped Mel against the safety barrier and lay down on the side of the road, gasping for breath. Why did we have to hit the longest, steepest hill we had ever ridden on the hottest day we had ever experienced?
We had filled all of our frame-mounted water-bottles in Kangaroo Valley, but by the time we arrived at the top of Cambewarra Mountain all four and a half litres were gone. Karen was a bit distressed by this stage - and dis-dressed as well. She had taken her shirt off and was only wearing a thin sports bra that was wet with sweat which rendered it almost completely see-through. Even though the village of Cambewarra was only fifteen minutes of downhill coasting away, but both of us needed water immediately, so Karen scrounged some from a guy in the house at the top of the climb, and I'm sure he thought that all of his birthdays had come at once when Karen and her see-through bra rocked up on his doorstep.
The ride down the hill was not enjoyable. The air rushing past us was so hot, it felt like someone had opened an oven door in front of us. We turned off to Cambewarra at the bottom of the descent and headed straight for a shop where we bought and rapidly consumed two large bottles of soft drink. Somewhat re-hydrated, we rode a short distance to the home of Jenny and Greg who had agreed to put us up for the night. After a pizza dinner, Karen and I just drank and drank, consuming any liquid we could get our hands on - Coca-Cola, lemonade, beer and even water! Later that evening we watched the flames of a bushfire at Yalwal play on the horizon before they died down to a steady glow. We slept naked on an airbed in a spare room, a hot breeze wafting through the window and blowing the curtains about. When the next day dawned, after the hottest night we had slept through during our travels, we were still naked, and the air was still hot.
We quickly packed, breakfasted, thanked our hosts and hit the road for the last time, quickly reaching some very familiar territory. Our old friend Highway One met us at Bomaderry and took us across the Shoalhaven River, through Nowra and on past HMAS Albatross, Falls Creek, and the turn-offs to Jervis Bay and Tomerong. We left the highway and made our way into St Georges Basin. A short time later we rolled into the front yard of the holiday house in Deane Street.