Author Topic: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++  (Read 1194 times)

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2019, 06:37:35 AM »
Dispatches from the Gold Coast: Two more rides in the Currumbin Valley & surrounding hills

This past week, I did a couple more rides in the Currumbin Valley, each one stretching my modest limits of time, distance, hills and overall degree of difficulty.  The main thing though, was not revisiting this beautiful cycling route, but securing a photo of the Aussie bacon butty highlighted in an earlier post.  To get this Main Thing out of the way, see photo #15, captioned its café acronym:  No longer a bacon butty, it’s a BLAT—a toasted bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich, set upon an 8” plate, and more properly named an ABLAT, an Aussie etc.  As always, details matter: “lettuce”, there ain’t.  Instead, mine had arugula/rocket and dill.  Queenslanders do a lot of things, but chic is not normally one of them—the standard dress code is T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops—and a Good Thing too. This sandwich, however, nudges towards being chic, and that’s a good thing too, as lettuce is boring beyond belief, and today’s combination of dill and arugula was first-rate.  If you’re putting avos in your sandwiches, you’re edging towards chic, whether you like it or not, and despite the fact that they’re as common as apples.

There’s another reason for reshaping the acronym. I had my ABLAT after climbing some big hills (see below), and after eating it, decided I’d rather not endure another ABLATive Second Time Around on my ride home, so took the less scenic homeward leg through Currumbin’s light industrial/gasoline alley quarter, which is pretty much flat.

Each ride was full of hills and scenic landscapes.  There is, we’re advised, wildlife in the neighbourhood, and two cultural icons caution riders and motorists to be careful in approaching the valley—see #16 below.  The Currumbin Valley was once an agricultural economy, and significant vestiges of that remain.  It’s being turned into horse-stabling country, and even more, into coveted and expensive country-estate terrain.  We’ll say not much more about the latter, though residents are saying plenty, to judge from the stop-the-developer signs along the road.  Photo #17 below shows some of the Valley’s characteristic lush pasture-and-woodland, and #18, the associated authentic horsey product, prized by local gardeners. (No trans fats, no hydrogenated palm oil, no added salt or sugar, and that’s as you’d expect.  But no grass??  What do the creatures eat, for heaven’s sake? Or are the unseemly grassy bits screened out?  Or…?)

On the tougher of my two rides, I took the high road up towards the NSW border. This is a steady 9-km climb up from the riverside and away from the valley road. It’s a stiff 14% in the first 800 metres, the 14% being a mix of 15% or more for a couple of hundred metres, down into my low-low (22T x 34T); then a little plateau of 150 metres for so to catch my breath, then half a kilometre-plus in 2nd or 3rd gear.  After that first stretch, almost all of it in dense cool shade, I reach what I call the ridge road, a twisting and undulating 8 kms with an overall 10% upgrade to the NSW border. The border snakes along the very top of the northern wall of the ancient caldera enclosing Wollumbin, the eroded plug of the ancient volcano which Cook named Mt Warning. (Wollumbin’s peak is is the first part of Australia to be touched by the rising sun.) On this ride, my time a little limited by grand-parenting duties in the afternoon, I would not go as far as the NSW border.  Instead, my turnaround would be Freeman’s Organic Farm, 6 kms onward and upward from the turnoff.

There are breaks in the roadside vegetation, as the road curls around the contours of the hillside.  I never tire of the landscape: photo #19 shows the view N across the wooded valley towards Springbrook Mtn, with the Bactrian-camel peaks of Mt Cougal just visible NW.  The Valley Road, invisible far below, winds upriver (westwards) to a small national park embracing Mt Cougal.  (Maybe I’ll get there on another ride?)

Occasionally, small lanes and driveways lead to dwellings and farms. Some owners have planted spectacular small gardens around their number signs and mailboxes--#20 is a good example.

Freeman’s Farm market is closed today—farmers have to tend their fields—but on the weekends, it sells avos, bananas, tomatoes, leafy greens, potatoes and the like.  It’s now more than a hundred years old. 1915 was a grim year for many Australian families, but Arthur Freeman established his farm then, when the ridge road was a scratchy gravel affair, and it has continued to this day.  It seems to be part of the global WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) network—visiting the farm with our grand-daughters a couple of days later, we chatted with a young Polish farmworker, one of a regular small contingent of WWOOFers to be found here.

The Arthur Freeman Lookout has a splendid view down the valley and eastward to the Coral Sea—but with the farm closed on my visit, I couldn’t get to that.  Just downhill from the farm, however, is something pretty good too.  Photo #21 explains why Mr Freeman wanted to stay.  A little further down the ridge road, a cyclist has a fine view lookin’ eastward to sea, with a shiny flash of the Coral Sea about 15 kms away just right of mid-centre in #22.

Further still downhill, near the upland cattle pastures, a Weird White Thing appears atop a hill to the SE—see #23.  But what is it?  A homage to Greg Norman, the ‘Strayan golfer, by one of his golfing buddies?  An outpost of the ASS, the Aussie Surveillance State?  But monitoring what, here?  Is there a gang of rogue bovines wandering these hills, maybe a chapter of GUM, the Global Ungulates Movement?  Maybe they’re recruiting militants, sharpening their wits, horns, hoofs and slogans like, “Your time’s up, bipeds! We’ve had it with you and your slaughterin’ ways!”

In the end, I didn’t see any wildlife from the road, beyond clutches of magpies and parrots. Only the yellow icons, and a couple of “Wild Life” panels painted on the road suggested that there were, or used to be, koalas and ‘roos in the neighbourhood.  From my bike, I saw none of either.  There was one puzzling moment when I saw a flash of something in the bush.  Approaching a string of 3 or 4 cars stopped by the roadside, I figured that there must be some wildlife along the verge. There was a steep short cliff just a few feet from the road, and up ahead, near the first car, I saw what seemed to be a small antelope, about the size of an adult Thompson’s gazelle or a female white-tailed deer zig-zagging along, looking for an escape route up the cliff and into the bush. ???  There are no antelope which are native to ‘Straya—was this an escapee from a farm or a small zoo?  And from where?  A puzzle, and I have no clue to explain it.

There are, however, koalas a-plenty in town. The one you see in photo #24 below, huddled beside the tramlines on a Southport shopping street in a cropped fiberglass stump, strikes me as a sad and frightened wee critter, who’d rather not be a pop-culture icon, but would be much happier in the cleft of a big gum tree, sleeping most of the day and getting mildly stoned on eucalyptus leaves.  The cousin—brassy younger brother?—in #25 welcomes a visitor to a roadside park in Southport on the edge of the Nerang River estuary. This one is the mascot to last year’s Commonwealth Gomes, hosted by the Gold Coast. By comparison with his cousin just a few hundred metres away, he exudes pizzazz, bonhomie and chutzpah.

The koala’s status as pop-cultural icon was not a sure thing, however. There was a public debate.  Some just wanted to leave the poor creatures in peace in their gum trees, and to urge motorists not to run over them when they fell out of their clefts. Some asserted that a pop-cultcha icon had to have pizzazz, and that on that score, the critters lacked the necessary koalafications. Other challenged the premise, and said that there was no rule requiring pop–cultcha icons to have pizzazz or chutzpah. They said that the wee bears had inimitable endearing koalities, and were fine just as they are. In the end the authorities designed the mascot sub-species you see.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 12:05:15 PM by John Saxby »

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2019, 06:43:38 AM »
Four more photos from the Valley, attached.

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #32 on: April 14, 2019, 06:45:34 AM »
And three final photos:  a Weird Thing on a Hilltop, and wildlife, after a fashion.

Danneaux

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Re: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #33 on: April 14, 2019, 07:03:47 AM »
Quote
Further still downhill, near the upland cattle pastures, a Weird White Thing appears atop a hill to the SE—see #23.  But what is it?
Could this possibly be it, John?: https://www.flickr.com/photos/133795154@N03/31543169365 Explanation below the photo at this link.

A bit more on the details of this type of installation here: http://www.ryanwilks.com.au/air-services-coolangatta-airport-radar-upgrade/

Surely enjoyed your account and photos John.

All the best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 07:55:19 AM by Danneaux »

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #34 on: April 14, 2019, 11:51:51 AM »
Pretty good sleuthing, Dan! And a good photo too.  How long does one wait to capture lightning across a ridge, I wonder.

The view down towards Coolangatta in Ryan Wilks' website seems about right for that apparatus on the hilltop: Coolangatta is on the Queensland (northern) bank of the next river south, the Tweed.  That's over the top of the caldera, down into the base of the ancient volcano (the Tweed now irrigates cane fields in the northern portion of the volcano.)

If one has even the slightest tilt towards paranoid fantasy, tho', I'd still opt for the gadgets of the SST  ;)

Cheers,  John

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #35 on: April 14, 2019, 11:56:52 AM »
Holy Maloney*, now that's a sandwich, complete with the flagpole it deserves. I eat avocado almost every day; its oil is healthy and I like the taste when dressed with pepper and soy sauce.

Super photographs, John, and I read your report twice for the pleasure of the decent English, which in darker moments I fear is endangered by the anti-social media.

* pronounced in Australia to rhyme; in Oz only the snobbish say "Marney"
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 12:05:20 AM by Andre Jute »

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2019 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #36 on: April 14, 2019, 10:36:21 PM »
Thanks, Andre.  That ABLATive was for you ;)