Sunday, 18 March 2012
Nowra to Wollongong
So the man in the slideshow was the old lady's husband, who died two years ago, and made me feel melancholy. The Nowra Warm Showers couple weren't actually a couple at all, but another solitary mature woman and she phoned to apologise for last night. She said she had to do an emergency shift the night before, in a home for disabled people and had completely forgotten about my visit. Cath invited me round for breakfast, as it was only around the corner, and we compared cycling stories. Well into her 60s with arthritic hands, she had ridden across the middle of Australia with her sister - and had camped all the way! She agreed with me that drivers weren't very considerate here and told of the many times people had thrown things at her. One time when she was riding in a single-file convoy a passenger had opened and closed the car door inbetween each of the cyclists in her group as the car was passing by at speed, but luckily didn't hit anyone.
Able to come off the highway and cut a swathe through rich, gentle arable land next to the coast. Stopped at bays a couple of times, although it was not really beach weather being quite cool and overcast. Another easy day's riding, licked along by a salty breeze and drizzle. It seemed like the traffic was becoming busier and more mental every kilometre closer to Sydney and sometimes the shoulder disapperaerd. Den den den... In Gerringong I had just noticed a cycle path the other side of the verge and was about to transfer onto it when a tatooed arm gesticulated to it out of a car window and a voice shouted at me. A red mist descended and I deployed my best Anglo Saxon.
In Wollongong I saw my first cycle tourers and initially thought she was carrying all the gear, until spotting the trailer he towed. They were going in the opposite direction, against the wind, but too far away for me to talk to them, across a sea of traffic. Wollongong is a fair-sized big town and it was here that I went into the biggest shopping centre I have ever been in (my host told me later that it was nothing compared to Asian ones). From where I left my bike I had to walk about a mile through a car park, endless corridors and malls before reaching my goal : Cole's Supermarket - for their prized allsorts - and therefore worth the detour. Had forgotten to print a map of Mount St Thomas and the ripped atlas page didn't even show the suburb. Bus shelters and stops are no use here whatsoever; they don't even have timetables let alone maps. Found it eventually and stayed here with Couchsurfers David and Ing, their children, grandparents, friends and malamutes. The puppies were adorable, but had just killed two of the household's chickens and a duck that very day. The grandparents served up steaming plates of Indonesian food, with wine, ice cream and Bailey's. Ing sorts mail by night and is so busy with household chores that she only gets two or three hours sleep a day. David is an engineer in the local steel works. A bustling, noisy household for sure, although it sure was a stimulating experience.