No Room at the Inn

27/2/16. With showers forecast for later in the day, we decided to get going early. Bundeena village is a small enclave on the south side of the estuary that is not part of Royal National Park. As soon as you leave town you are in the park and there are signs by the side of the road warning of fines of up to $250,000 for dropping litter in the park. These are “honoured more in the breach, than in the observance” judging by what we saw on the roadside! Clearly people are not deterred by the size of the potential fines.

The view as we climbed was not particularly inspiring – just scrubby bushes 3-4 metres high with the only greenery at the top so most of what we could see was denuded twigs and branches.

After 10-12 km of this, things improved. We started heading down a steep twisty descent (which Stephen enjoyed very much) and the vegetation became “proper” trees which were much lovelier to look at and provided welcome shade (the cloud cover was only partial). The descent was over all too quickly and we started climbing again (albeit relatively gently) but the tree cover remained, as did the twistiness.

All morning we had been seeing keen cyclists out for a Saturday ride on their carbon fibre speed machines – just like round home in the Surrey Hills! – as well as groups of motorcyclists and petrolheads in their sports/muscle cars. It is obviously an area to where Sydneysiders (?) escape at the weekends to enjoy the adrenaline of speed.

Stephen was pleased to have one lady cyclist ring her bell at him several times “for being bare chested” (the uphill and the humidity had resulted in the zip on his cycling jersey being opened to the waist – thankfully no photos exist!). He restrained himself from offering to return the compliment!

Emerging from the trees suddenly, we found ourselves on the coast. The road became busier and the standard of consideration shown to two vulnerable touring cyclists by drivers deteriorated. Through the national park, we had been impressed and gratified by the safety consciousness displayed. The contrast to NZ was quite marked. On the busier road the standard was kiwi-esque albeit without heavy trucks.

The road undulated a bit but the steep ups were short and we had lovely views. There was a board saying that the Lawrence Hargrave Highway was one of the most beautiful in Australia. After a week in the country we haven’t seen anything to put the lie to that statement and it was rather lively.

Finding another cycle path along the coast we followed it to our target campsite in Corrimal (just north of Wollongong) where we found the receptionist in a real flap because the computer was down, or perhaps working slowly and she was really feeling the pressure. She claimed that the park was full and we couldn’t be accommodated. Earlier in the day Christine had seen a comment on Facebook from Julie in Southampton that she was shocked to see Christine uttering the words “beach”, “sun” and “cruise”. She now stunned Stephen by turning on the waterworks and sobbing that we had cycled all day and there must be a small space for our little tent and she was exhausted and…..! And it worked!!

In fact it transpired that there were plenty of empty spaces but presumably the problems meant that these were not showing up on the computer.

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