Restrictions on cafes were eased on 15 May, allowing up to ten patrons in a venue. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to go for a short motorcycle ride on the Saturday (a week ago).
Our idea was to ride Olga the Old Girl out to O'Connell and have lunch at the little cafe there, before doing a short loop back home. A quick call to the cafe informed us that they were still only doing takeaway. but that didn't worry us. We would get a takeaway burger and go down to the park by the Fish River and eat it there. That's the beauty of a sidecar, I can quite easily carry food and coffees.
It was the perfect day for a picnic.
While we waited for our burgers to cook we learnt that the cafe has been coping quite well during the lockdown. The cafe is only normally open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the proprietor works as a chef at a pub on the other days. He has now been opening the cafe every day and has been well patronised. On the Friday before we visited, his takings were up on a normal Friday! He is only doing takeaway, as that is all he can keep up with. The added work of extra wiping down etc, would be too much.
There was a group of three motorcyclists from Bathurst also getting takeaway and then another three motorcycles turned up. We chatted, as motorcyclists do, (at a distance) and we learnt that they had ridden up from Penrith!! So much for no regional travel at that stage. While we were having lunch at the park, another couple walked by and commented on the bike. They too, were from Sydney!! And here we were, feeling guilty about going to O'Connell, a whole 20kms from home.
We used to live not far from O'Connell for nearly twenty years, and in all that time, we drove this road most days and never once stopped at the park and went down to have a look at the river.
It is a popular swimming and fishing spot in the warmer months. The river was named the Fish River by surveyor George Evans in 1815, as there were so many fish in it. Things have changed somewhat since then.
The river flows towards Bathurst and joins up with the Campbells River to form the start of the Macquarie River, just south of Bathurst.
After we had finished lunch we headed on our way, detouring to have a look at a little pise cottage that has been falling down for as long as I have known. There were lots of them in the O'Connell Valley, but very few survive. There was an article in the local paper about how they are restoring it. I found a little article showing a "before" photo. There were people working on the cottage, so we didn't stop to take a photo. Needless to say, is it a stark change from what it was. There are walls, doors, windows. It looks like a cottage again.
As we would have to turn around and backtrack from the cottage's location, and it was such a beautiful day, we decided to keep going along the road we were on and take a slightly longer loop back to town.
It is some years since we have been on this road, as it was still gravel when we were there last, and the tar didn't look new.
It wasn't long before it turned to gravel, but it was in perfect condition. The countryside out this way is looking gorgeous. It is such a good feeling to see it green, even though there isn't a great deal of length in the grass.
There are some lovely, secret valleys hidden out here. It was one of those days when you could just poke along, stopping for photos along the way. We only saw one other car for most of the way.
Not to mention an old pretty bridge.
We ended up not all that far from where Mick grew up. It is quite high and you can see for ever.
It's not clear in the photo, but you can see Mt Canobolas, which is at Orange, about 70kms away.
As we wend our way down from the high country to the locality of Charlton we always are intrigued by these ancient old buildings. If COVID-19 hadn't come along we were booked in for a tagalong tour of this historic rural property as a part of the Bathurst Autumn Colours programme. It was to have been on the very first week of the lockdown. Fingers crossed they will reschedule it for next year's events.
At Charlton we crossed the Campbells River. This is the source of our Bathurst water supply. It doesn't look much at the moment, but it has quite a large catchment and our dam is usually very reliable.
Next stop was Ben Chifley Dam, our town water storage. The level is still really low. It is currently 34.6% of capacity. It was down to 28%.
Unfortunately, not a lot of the rain this year has fallen in the catchment area, so we are still on extreme water restrictions. However, our usage has dropped along with the temperatures and we have had enough rain in town to make everything lovely and green and keeping our gardens and lawns going. Hopefully it will be a lot fuller by next summer.
It was lovely to see two black swans on the water.
And then it was back into town. We ended up being out and about for four hours, although were were never far from home.
It was lovely to get a nice, leisurely ride on the bike and once we left O'Connell, we hardly saw a sole or vehicle.
Mick also went for a ride on Monday, this time taking Sophia the Moto Guzzi. That ride was with the Panorama Motorcycle Club, who have now resumed their rides. Normally on a Monday ride they only get a very few bikes. On Monday they had nearly 20! Everyone was itching to get out again. They rode in a very similar area to where we went on Saturday, having lunch in Oberon. Everyone was very careful to keep their distances. Most bought takeaway in Oberon, but Mick took a thermos and a packed lunch. Much simpler he reckoned.
There was another ride scheduled for today, but the weather wasn't all that appealing for motorcycling, so we stayed home.
Now our next thing to think of is where to take the van for a weekend once we are allowed to travel, after 1 June. We have an idea brewing, but have to do a bit more scheming first. It won't be the first weekend in June, as that is the long weekend and we reckon there will be too many people out and about for our liking. We'll wait till it is a bit quieter.
It's good that restrictions are starting to ease a little. Fingers crossed that we continue to have low levels of infection.