An Antarctic blob came through last week and dropped snow in the Blue Mountains, prior to that we went skiing in the Snowy Mountains. We thought we were done with snow this winter, but we were wrong.
We decided that Millthorpe, a pretty village just outside Orange, would be our overnight stopover for the weekend. A recent cancelled trip (due to rain, no fun riding in rain!) would have taken us to nearby Blayney so the area was definitely on my mind.
Heading up onto the Great Dividing Range, our first surprise was one of our usual stops, had changed hands.
The Pines Orchard
… is now the Mountain Bells Cafe…
… although this may have had something to do with it…
Yes, that was smoke from the raging bush fire in the valley below (taken last December), which, about a month later, got so close it almost was the end of the Pines Orchard; it certainly impacted Bilpin and its surrounds considerably. Probably not surprising that the owners decided to sell up and do something less stressful instead.
Onwards towards Oberon, I started spotting white patches on ridges ahead of us. Could that be snow? I knew it had snowed last week but it was a bright sunny day, around 14 degrees Celsius, so surely the snow would have gone by now.
Indeed, areas which didn’t get the sun or were a little more sheltered still showed signs of the ‘Antarctic Blob’ that had swept through the week before.
Continuing past Oberon (lunch at Long Arm Farm Cafe, highly recommended), a bit south and west and towards Blayney, we were greeted with some fabulous views of the lush green valleys.
And the classic Aussie pub at Rockley.
And a unexpected dirt road with an unexpected ford. Still, this now confident gravel road rider, dominated that road although I still let Gary go first over the ford. Well, he does have a adventure bike, kind of.
Our evening in Millthorpe was particularly splendid as we discovered, due the magic of Facebook, two friends, Simon and Cass, were staying nearby for the weekend. So, of course, we had to meet up and catch up over a few glasses of the local wine! Because that it splendid too.
The next morning we checked out Carcoar dam and the nearby wind farm. I like this picture as it is a photo of a photo of the place we are looking at.
Heading back east, we visited Clarence on the Bells Line of Road, just west of Bell. A tiny settlement which, before the recent fires, I hadn’t realised was there.
This settlement, previously hidden by trees, was lucky not to be completely wiped out in the fires. Unfortunately it is still recovering, 8 months later, with buildings being replaced and fences being repaired. The trees are recovering slowly but they still have a long way to go.
Riding back through Bilpin we noticed a slightly more advanced recovery. New shops have appeared and the two local cider cellar doors were crowded with people ordering drinks and enjoying the sun. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come, people leaving the city to visit these beautiful areas and spend well needs money to help the local economy.
We’re still in strange times, with our international borders closed and most state borders too. I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful country where we can easily visit such amazing places. I hope everyone reading this is staying safe. It’s a great time to appreciate what’s on your doorstep, even if it’s just the joy of a little frozen water ⛄️.