Archives for posts with tag: Country NSW

In Australia we celebrate the Queen’s birthday around the second weekend of June. It is the official start of the ski season in Australia, and we get a three day long weekend. Never mind the fact that Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday is on a different day. So I took the opportunity to take the family on a mini road-trip to Country NSW, South West of Canberra. My Uncle and Aunt in their retirement have just moved to a town called Cootamundra, so this is a perfect excuse to go for a trip and pay them a visit. Even better, we had a second excuse for a trip to visit my cousin (their son) who is doing his medical studies intern year at a town called Young, some 50km North of Cootamundra. If I was going to go on a road trip, I had to bring the bike.

The first stop on our trip was the major regional centre of Goulburn. We chose this town to break up the trip for the kids, and grabbed a bite to eat at the local Worker’s Club bistro. But I was also lining up a morning ride around the town the next morning. Little did I realise that this would be ill-fated. At 6am it was -2 degrees Celsius (28 degrees Fahrenheit) and foggy. This is the coldest weather that I had ever set out to ride in and the one thing that I don’t have in my kit bag is gloves for this temperature. I was wearing full-fingered gloves, but they were only temperature rated to 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). I was struggling after 2km in, where an intense pain began attacking every single one of my fingers and thumbs. By 4km the pain was so intense that it felt like screws being driven into the bones in my fingertips. This is the first time I had to cut short my ride due to weather. I couldn’t even pull off my gloves and helmet when I got back to the motel after 9km. If only…

On to Cootamundra

The morning was not all lost, so after the kids took to the local park in Goulburn we headed off to Cootamundra. It is a couple of hours drive Southwest from Goulburn (which itself is a couple of hours drive Southwest of Sydney). The weather had warmed up to a beautiful bright sunny Winter’s day with a gentle breeze, topping out at 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit). After a hearty welcome from my Uncle and a tour of their new abodes in Cootamundra, I kitted up for round two for the day. No maps or planned routes, just the new Speed Steed and a couple of bidons. Off I set and it was glorious. First I headed Northwest, into a very light headwind. I hit a dead end at the foot of a small hill where the road had gone from paved to compacted dirt gravel road. Unfortunately my attempt at riding “Strade Bianche” style would have to wait for another date as this road continued onto private property.

I doubled back on my route, heading back into town. But the ride didn’t stop on my return, and I headed out again but this time West towards the town of Griffith. The road was nice and wide, with little to no traffic and no dead ends this time. Then about 4km out of town was an intersection where I saw a rider coming towards me from the right. The locals always know where to ride, so I turned right and headed out North nodding my thanks for guidance to the rider as he passed me. Ahead of my on the horizon I could see another rider probably about 2km in front of me. That is how straight the road was, I could see more than 2km ahead on the tarmac. More importantly, I had a target to catch. My Cervelo S3 responded and the I picked up the speed past 36 clicks. 10km later I caught my prey, who started struggling when the road picked up to over 5% gradient. As I overtook him, I gave him a shout and even though he didn’t have the legs that day it was clear he was enjoying his ride too. I climbed another hill a further 5km ahead and then judged that daylight was waning – time to turn around. But not before posing the bike against the beautiful countryside.

Riding_Cootamundra_0023

The return into town was great, and mostly downhill. I took the longer route back into town which landed me South of where I started. A few more detours with some short sharp hill climbs and it was time to wrap up the ride before sunset with the inevitable descent of winter night chill. That was not before I swung by the local bottleshop in the town centre to grab my Uncle and Aunt a nice bottle of Pinot Noir, which is the Australian version of the Burgundy drop.

I will definitely come out and ride here again, given that my relatives have set up base here. The roads are not perfect, but are decent enough to have a good spin with lots of different routes around and neighbouring towns within an 80km round trip. The day may have started with a painful abort, but finished with a beautiful winter day ride leaving me with a smile on my face.

Cyclone Oswald has well and truly left us now, but not without carving a swath of destruction over the Northern Territory, Queensland, and NSW. It has absolutely belted South Eastern Queensland and North Eastern NSW and hit Sydney with a vengeance early last week. There are a lot of people in Queensland who have lost everything again, but at least this time they were more prepared. The satellite image below shows its size as it hit South Eastern Queensland, days before descending down to where I live in Sydney. If you want to get an idea of the scale that the storm is covering, this would swallow up the whole of Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands at once (as well as parts of Italy and Germany) – I this checked by comparing the area of coverage on Google Earth.

Cyclone Oswald Satellite Image - SE QueenslandWhen it hit Sydney it was downgraded to a category 5 storm, but it pretty much drowned out the remainder of the Australia Day long weekend. By Tuesday morning (29 January 2013) the storm had dumped 100mm of rain between midnight and 6am – pretty scary. Being an amateur photographer, of course I wanted to capture my experience of the storm. I didn’t dare go out, given it was blowing a gale and my camera gear was not quite waterproofed. But I did venture out onto the balcony and pulled out my new Canon Powershot G15 to shoot a couple of snaps. I wanted to see what the in camera HDR setting would do and how would it show the detail in pretty horrid and bizarre low light conditions. Here are two shots that I shot on the Monday night before the real rain shower began. As usual all the photos link through to larger images on my Flickr photostream.

Cyclone Oswald Rain Storm - Sydney - #1

Cyclone Oswald Rain Storm - Sydney - #2

There is a complete lack of definition in the sky and the drowned out clouds kept on dumping more as I went to bed. The reflection of the water on the buildings and the road brought out a lot of detail that I wasn’t expecting to capture – and I must admit, for a couple of HDR images, they don’t look to unrealistic. By comparison, here is the same two compositions taken using the camera’s auto setting. I much prefer the low light detail of the buildings and trees being brought out in the HDR images, without muddling around with the colour balance, hue, and saturation of the images.

Cyclone Oswald AUTO - Sydney - #1

Cyclone Oswald AUTO - Sydney - #2Meanwhile, inland, between Sydney and Melbourne our poor farmers can’t buy a bucket of rain. I took this shot while flying back to Sydney from the air and was absolutely amazed by how barren and brown the land was – while the coastal cities and towns were drowning under rain and flooding. There is no denying that Australia is a land of extreme beauty, but also extreme weather and we get reminded of this every day.

Barren Country NSW from the air - #1

 

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