Saturday, 21 December 2013

Bundy (love) on tap

We took a final warm shower at Gunning's free camping ground and packed up early to once again beat the heat. 

We passed through startling, brutal sheep country and wondered how long the wool industry can last in a climate changing future.

We came across a mirage indicating the grounds for a thoughful utopia where energetic and environmental commonsense prevail.

We passed dozens and dozens of roadside stone fruits, these ones having naturalised along the old Hume Highway near Breadalbane.

It's been five weeks on the road and we're finding out that bike touring involves much careful thought about food, as Zero here attests.

As we've been climbing towards the Southern Highlands and inching closer to Moss Vale for Christmas lunch we've been building enormous appetites.

And as we slogged it out we thought about what we would serve if we were hosting the lunch ourselves. We're compiling a menu which we look forward to sharing with you later.

We picked up some supplies in Goulburn, free-camped the night in a park in Marualan and were relieved to climb into cooler country and find less and less anthropogenic waste along the roads.

Sights like this disposable water bottle became rarer as we closed in on Bundanoon, and passed by arcadia.

Bundanoon is Australia's first bottled water free town and as anti-bottled water activists who have a track record of advocating for the humble water bubbler, we where excited to meet Huw Kingston,

who initiated the town's action to rid Bundanoon of the wasteful product, and who invited us to camp at his family home. Thanks Huw and Wendy!

We spent several days in Bundanoon and found it to be filled with richly warm people, such as Glenn Robinson from the excellent YHA, these touch footballers and their dads who invited us to join their BBQ,

and this lovely family, the Smiths, who we met at the Bundanoon Hotel and who invited us to stay in their guest bedroom, our first real bed in 36 days. Thanks Kylie, Paul, Dane, Charlie, Shannen, Jai and Bonnie!

In Bundanoon we were able to recuperate and sit out some fairly hot days,

pick and eat more cherry plums,

laze around and wait for more roadside free fruit to ripen,

hang out at the wonderful Ye Olde Bicycle Shoppe, a friendly free-internet-cafe-social-hub,

and meet fellow travellers such as German tourist Chris, who is cycling from Sydney to Melbourne and back again. Safe travels Chris!

We also hooked up with veteran American cycle tourer Jeff once more and had time to properly swap notes on all things bike touring. Happy days Jeff!

We were steered (by one of the friendly locals) to the town's community garden, which we found incredibly well organised,

with excellent signage, so important in a place where many garden but not all at the same time.

We went along to one of their working bees, which like ours at home are always great social events,

and met the convenyor, Tony Coyle,

who with a core group has done an excellent job in just two years, establishing a vibrant productive food and social environment. Missing our own community, it was a joy to pitch in and give a little back to the community who has been so incredibly generous to us.

We hope you have a peaceful solstice and holiday season and we look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Dreaming up a bicycle utopia; eating non-privatised foods

We woke early and left Gundagai, the town of long timber bridges, before the sun got too hot.

We made a quick obligatory stop,

before really finding out how the Hume Highway was going to shape us.

We were surprised. Despite the noise and the speed of the traffic, the wide shoulders really helped us ride in relative peace. It was a cruisy ride from Gundagai to Jugiong (helped along by our first tail wind of the trip) where we parked our bikes in the shade beside a green grocers run by the very frinedly Gino. We (dumpster) dived into his compost boxes and produced some lovely stone fruit.

While buying some local veg from Gino he asked if we needed a good camping and swimming spot.

Thanks Gino! A perfect free camping ground. The next morning we harvested some stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) beside the Murrumbidgee River.

Nettle is high in iron and great for relieving painful muscles and joints. Just the thing for weary bike tourers. Lightly blanching the nettles takes away the sting, produces a healthy tonic to treat urinary and prostate complications and leaves a perfect fodder material for making an excellent pesto with almonds.

After our free medicinal hit we cycled up the road to the very bourgeois The Long Track Pantry for a breakfast cup of tea and a loaf of yummy bread,

before easing our way into the heartland of wool country.

Since leaving Daylesford over a month ago our nostrils have flared wildly and our hearts have sunk deeply with the roadkill we have passed.

We counted 81 killed animals between the left verge and left lane of the north bound Hume Highway between Jugiong and Yass, a distance of 60 kms.

This massacre included a myriad of birds, three tortoises, a dozen wallabies, several blue tongues, countless kangaroos, flattened foxes, rabbits, a wild pig, two echidnas and numerous snakes including this young copperhead.

Given there are four lanes and four verges on this dual highway one could surmise as many as 324 roadkilled critters for every 60 kms of highway. That's a staggering 5.4 deaths per kilometre. The Hume, according to Wikipedia, is 838 kms in length which means, if you average it, there are quite possibly 4,525 corpses along this highway at any one time.

But it wasn't just the sickening aspects of this road – the senseless massacres, the climate changing and packaging pollution that proliferated – we found worth observing,

the Hume offered up sweet moments of beauty and surprise, especially when we got off it (in this case in Bowning) and found some roadside fruit to forage and help restore our battered senses.

Then when we arrived in Yass we were welcomed by an avenue of not-quite-ripe publicly accessible almonds (Prunus spp.),

some heavenly ripe plumcots (Prunus spp.) overhanging a fence,

and were given some Leeton grown oranges by a God's Squad bikie. Thanks Glen!

We camped, fished and slept under a balmy summer's night sky before facing the Hume again.

Imagine this road as a sea of bicycles...

After riding about 40 km we arrived in Gunning, a town that boasts a free caravan-camping ground with hot showers at Barbour Park, and found we were just in time for the monthly Sunday market.

We bought some regional produce,

picked some free herbs (gave them a drink),

took a swim and lunched on some delicious bush tucker at Barbour Park.

The starchy bulb of cumbungi or bullrush (Typha spp.) offers an excellent raw or cooked vegetable at this time of year. Cumbungi is ecologically beneficial for capturing silt, creating habitat for diverse species and stabilising banks. It can also become 'weedy' so it makes a great food where we are the biological control or, as Russell Edwards would say, 'ecological participants'.

Stay tuned for more free food and other low-impact resources as we inch towards the Christmas lunch table in Moss Vale,

keep safe on the roads and if you're driving, please think bike and think critter!