July 28, 2018 – Day 117

MacLean to Evans Head – 63.5 km (by bike)

We are on the traditional territory of the Bundjalung People

We set the alarm for 05:30 so that we could catch part of the total lunar eclipse, the second we have seen in six months. The first, also a  « blood moon », we viewed in Goa on January 27.

Cycling to the River Cafe for our morning jolts, we admired the tartan-painted power poles, celebrating Maclean’s Scottish settler heritage. With the downturn of the economy in the 90’s, it was decided to market the town’s history beyond an annual highland gathering. When the Olympic torch was coming through MacLean before the Sydney Games in 2000, hydro poles were painted with tartans. Afterwards, more and more people wanted to commemorate the history of their families and now there are 240 adorned poles lining the streets. We found MacIntyre (Helen) and Stewart (Steve) but not Leslie, Fraser or Murray.

A few kms along the Clarence river we passed Ulugundahl Island which was a mission reserve. During the 1800s, the government rounded up the aboriginal people and put them on the island to live under «white management ».
Our ride this morning was on the Pacific Highway (A1) but first we had to cross the Clarence river on the old bridge at Harwood -the new bridge is still being constructed. There is a pedestrian path on one side of the bridge, but with all the road work, there was no cycle path leading to it. We had to heave our panniers and bikes over a guard rail to get onto the walkway. At the far end, it required going along a grassy track to get back on the road! It was then a heads down, quick and dirty pedal along the A1 for 46 km  to Woodburn. Despite being a Saturday, the traffic was heavy and constant, with many large trucks and construction work going on practically the whole way. The hard shoulder varied from wide to almost nothing. We did get some relief at two rest stops (one at New Italy).
We had planned to stay in Woodburn, but finding the town and our intended accommodation uninspiring after the stress of the highway, we diverged from the route and headed to the coast at Evans Head, along a mercifully peaceful road lined with sugar cane fields. After checking into our motel, we bought ice cream (passion fruit) and a vanilla milkshake and sat at the end of the breakwater looking out over Airforce Beach in the afternoon sun.


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