Fairly early in the day I rode up the Ben Lomond Hill, which crested at 1410 metres and was, in fact, the highest point that I would reach on the entire trip. We saw numerous colourful cockatoos along the roadside, resplendent in their bright outfits of red and blue and pink feathers. I set off at about seven o’clock, which is really first light at this time of the year. It was cold and I wore a long sleeved white top over my riding shirt. A moderately cold wind from the east made riding a little chilly at times even after the sun was well up in the east, but all in all the weather was fairly good for cycling. The route, though, was mainly south, which is a little frustrating when the object is to reach the west coast. It was necessary to head south from the 29th parallel in order to link up with the Eyre Highway, still many days away and three degrees further south, in order to cross over the Nullarbor Plains.
At the 50 km stop I checked the map and decided that, to avoid unnecessary bussing of the bike, I would finish the day’s ride in Armidale. This would give me only a shade over 100 km for the day, well below the target, but I felt that there would be time to make up the deficit later. Loading up the bike and driving backwards and forwards was time consuming and quite disruptive. Life was so much simpler if I could ride directly to the overnight stop and ride away again in the morning.
The short distance that I covered gave us an early end to the day and it was before twelve when we checked into the caravan park in Armidale. The New England Highway doesn’t go through Armidale, so it was necessary to take a by-pass for a few kilometres to reach the caravan park. The last 50 km of the ride was largely downhill. At just about 1000 metres above sea level Armidale is well below the crest of Mr Lomond’s Hill.
After lunch we strolled around Armidale, enjoying the opportunity to visit a smaller Australian town, so very different from the tourist-infested cities on the coast. Passing a restaurant called “The Upper Crust” in the pedestrian arcade we saw that the display board outside carried the note “9 out of 10 of the staff of The Upper Crust recommend that you eat here”. No doubt the tenth one is now unemployed.