Glen Innes – New England Tablelands

I escaped the sugar cane burning smoke of Yamba and went to Glen Innes and into rain.  How unusual.  The countryside around here is extremely brown as the last decent rain was some years ago.  Oh well, the caravan needed another leak.

Glen Innes.  Altitude 1,135 metres = cool to cold in winter.  District settled mainly by Scottish (newspeak for pinched from the Narabal people) in 1838.  The original name was Gindaaydjin which means “plenty of big round stones on clear plains” and there still are.

I started with a short rain-dodging ride to the town centre and found a remarkable second hand bookshop.  All sorts of stuff and all sorts of categories but no shelf labelled “Cycling”.  BUT looking under “Travel” I found one cycling book – Dervla Murphy’s “Full Tilt”.  I have been looking for this for a year or so and quickly snaffled it.  Brilliant.

On this trip I have read 2 cycling books (thank you Emily).  “Off the Rails” by Tim Cope and Chris Hatherly.  “Changing Gears” by Greg Foyster.  The former is a tale of two Australians cycling recumbents 10,000k across Russia and on to China – I didn’t take to either of the riders but seriously recognise their persistence over extreme conditions and each other.  The latter is ‘a pedal-powered detour from the Rat Race’ which documents an Ad Agency guru’s thoughts on changing to a low consumption lifestyle using a ride from Tasmania to Cairns to sort out his thoughts.  Both interesting reads and obviously very different.

The next day dawned frosty and sunny.  Overnight I had “fixed” all the zips in the caravan’s pop-top and did them all up to keep out the keen wind.  This resulted in a lot of condensation to which I added more by brewing tea and then coffee before realising just how much water was dripping.  Once cleaned up it was time for a ride.

To start I climbed the hill out of town on which the Australian Standing Stones are placed.  These are based on the  Ring of Brodgar in Orkney.  The general purpose is to commemorate the Celts generally and the Celts who emigrated to Australia specifically.

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Once more the day looks warm.  It wasn’t and there was quite a breeze adding to the chill factor.  Max gust today was 54 kph according to the weather gurus.  As well as the standing stones there is a wall into which people are cementing stones of various Celtic origin.

These stones are from the Isle of Man and Scotland.

After a look around I headed back down the hill.  Quite a pace built up but then I had to slow down because the cold air made tears and I couldn’t see too well!

OK, it’s now a bit “chill to the bone”, in other words time for a coffee.  I chose a Cafe where I could see the bike out the window and asked if it was possible for their machine to do a 1.5 shot latte.  It was, they did and it tasted really good.

The road out to Emmaville looked the best bet for a quiet ride.  Glen Innes is a cross roads for the Gwydir and New England Highways and neither of those is ideal cycling territory.  So Emmaville Road it was.

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Not far along there were 2 kilometers of road works.  These were intermittent patches of unsurfaced roadway which were pot holed and had loose rocks across the surface.  At the very far left was usually a narrow strip of flat gravel good for cycling.  Sod’s Law meant that every time I arrived at a patch of gravel a car was coming too.  After the first one I let them go first so I didn’t get hit by rocks spat up by their tyres.

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I don’t think much has been along these lines for a while

 The trip out started into the wind but then it became a side to in your face wind which wasn’t quite so bad.  Once the patched area was past the road surface was OK and the hills were gentle gradients (which the wind could turn into not so gentle gradients).  I spent some time watching a white hawk with grey wing tips hovering over a paddock but didn’t see it dive and catch anything.  It really used the wind well and hovered as good as if not better than a drone on a GPS setting.

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This area is really, really dry.  In town the lawns are all short, stubble, brown and there is no sign of anyone watering.  Just like Melbourne a few years ago, if you watered your lawn or garden your neighbours would dob you in for wasting water.

I passed young trees in the roadside verge that have died.  There were also corridors obviously planted out by humans where numerous trees haven’t made it.  That got me thinking.  Part of Australia’s response to climate change is to pay for trees to be planted in corridors like these.  They are then used to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide we have taken out of the air as the trees grow.  I bet the system doesn’t factor in those trees planted but which died when listing our accomplishments for the Kyoto Protocol in the National Inventory Report submitted to the UN.

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Gee but it’s dry here. Not many sheep / cows to be seen – have the farms been          de-stocked?

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Returning past Glen Innes Airport it can be seen that the wind sock is pretty much horizontal – there really is a wind today.

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All up an enjoyable ride and my first 30k one for some time.  Those shared pathways coastal towns provide just don’t allow for kilometers of uninterrupted cycling like today.  My thanks go to the few vehicles that passed by and all gave me plenty of room.  On the other hand I cast a murrain on the bastard in town who decided to cross right in front of me and only by excessive braking did I not end up in his trailer.

Tomorrow I head to Armidale and more cold weather – a few -5°Cs are forecast overnight.  More condensation to deal with.  Is a caravanner’s work never done?

Sit Rep – Sue:  She is home and doing several energetic exercises that should move the crap in the inner ear to a less troublesome position.  It has not happened yet so vertigo continues and the dog is startled.




Author: antc1946

Born in 1946 I learnt to cycle about 10 years later. On a bike with rods connecting brake levers to the brakes - anyone remember those? I emigrated to Australia (from the UK) in 1974 and moved to Tasmania in 1984. Bicycles were in my life for most of that time although sometimes they were replaced by motorised two wheels for a bit more excitement. On reaching 70 I decided to stick to pedal power but in 2019 an electric recumbent made an appearance. it's now 2023 and I have 3 bikes. 2 e-recumbents and the Brompton.

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