• Day3

    Riding the Tumbarumba

    May 1 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    I am not sure when I first heard the name "Tumbarumba", but I suspect it might have been many years ago when I listened to the haunting sounds of Smokey Dawson singing "Ghosts of Old Khancoban". The evocative words certainly stuck in my mind, and painted mental images of rough bush country. The sort of place where men were men (and probably smoked a pack of Marlboros a day) and women worked all day in the kitchen, preparing meals and darning socks.

    One line in the song goes something like "we rode a 100 miles for a lady's smiles at the dance at Tumbarumba". It is certainly a name that rolls off the tongue, the problem is that it rolls off the tongue differently every time someone tries to pronounce it. Ever since I first announced that I planned to ride the Tumbarumba Trail, its name has been distorted into a multitude of strange permutations and combinations - so much so that I have now found myself calling it anything from Tummamurra to Tipperary.

    Whatever the place is called, it certainly is a spectacular location, made all the more beautiful by the palette of autumn colours that have painted the hillsides so vividly. Of course, every place also looks better when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. That is exactly the sight that welcomed us when we gathered at the start of the rail trail this morning.

    After the obligatory group photo shot, we were soon on our way to Rosewood. I explained that we needed to split into smaller groups to avoid the chaos that would undoubtedly ensue if 25 riders all descended on the Gone Barney cafe at the same time. The large group progressively separated out into a succession of smaller pelotons (minitons ?) and one rider quickly disappeared into the distance, riding in his own uniton. (Yes it was David).

    This gave us a chance to see just how good this brand new trail is. The smooth sealed surface, regular distance markers, clear signage and incredible scenery certainly combine to provide a wonderful riding experience. It is little wonder that hundreds of riders travel large distances to ride this trail every day. We could certainly see the boon it has already provided to local businesses. That should serve as a clear example that such trails do not constitute a threat to the local population. To the contrary, they can be just the sort of stimulus that struggling country towns need to thrive again.

    One unique feature of the trail was a succession of cattle bridges, constructed over the trail. These allow the cattle to safely cross over from one side of the trail to the other. It was something of a strange sight, seeing a large bovine calmy walking overhead, while I rode underneath.

    Although the trail is not very long (around 23 km) it is certainly a joy to ride. At the current time it terminates at the small town of Rosewood, where we were welcomed by the thriving Gone Barney Cafe and a nearby host of gnomes (I am not kidding).

    After a cheap and delicious lunch, we climbed back on the bikes and headed back to Tumbarumba. Although it is a rail trail and has no serious climbs, the final few km back to Tumbarumba is a steady ascent (great when riding an e-bike).

    At the end of the ride, I asked several of our riders what score they would give the trail. They agreed that 10/10 would not be an exaggeration. It had been a marvelous day, and one that we will remember for a long time.
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