June Challenge: Resilient Tree

Yet another perfect and beautiful day – 17C, sunny, no breeze, no haze. Yet it is a long weekend (Queens Birthday), and it is Rutherglen’s Winery Walkabout, so there are thousands and thousands of extra people on the roads up here this weekend. So our short ride to save energy for a longer Monday ride is just on some gravel roads northwest of town where I’m unlikely to encounter much traffic.

I’m picking up new roads – most won’t have road signs, so I don’t know how many until I get home and have a look on the map. I do have a quick look at Google maps before I go – I tell myself after heading northwest on Cemetery Road to keep turning right when possible, then go straight, then go left, and eventually I’ll hit something that will get me going back toward Redlands Road. Such detailed planning that doesn’t really match what I see on the ground means I don’t really know where I am for most of the 27kms I ride, but it all turns out okay. Most of the ‘gravel’ turns out to be ‘two-track laneways’ but I like those the most anyway.

Look at that!! Puddles!! We may have finally gotten to the chunky muddy season. We had about 10mm Friday and Saturday morning.

We ride through town and then head out on Cemetery Road on the edge of the industrial area. Soon the road turns to gravel, then dirt, then unmaintained dirt. Along about there, I pass a property where two very bogan-looking guys (they start shooting at stuff after I am a distance away) are near the front fence. They look at me like I’ve got no effin’ clue what I’m doing. I can see their skepticism when I get up to the corner and the track gets muddy. Further along, the track becomes muddy for 300 metres or more at a time and the laneway becomes a sometimes faint two-track. I don’t feel like I’m on a public road, rather it feels more like a farmer’s access track. Really, it’s both. I spin my way through the mud. It flicks up all over my legs and coats the tires like brownie batter. GOOOOOOD stuff 🙂

Tiny lanes heading through a big landscape. Our road curves and follows that tree lane (i.e. view blocker lane) in the distance.
New growth, new crop, new season.
Our Challenge tree for the day. This looked like it had four main trunks. One, behind my bike, is long-gone and lying on the ground. The one on the left has fallen over, but not given up. It has sent shoots up from the fallen trunk and continued growing. Resilience. You need that in this country. The species is a grey box. We saw a big scar tree today, but this one wins out today.
Close-up of Resilient Tree.
A nice remnant of Murray Cypress Pine. Those trees would be quite old. There aren’t a lot of these left – they made great floorboards and firewood.
We came through all those beautiful view-blockers on that highly-traveled ‘road’.
No new shoots just yet, but the greenies and the asthmatics (I’m both) love these farmers because they plowed in the stubble rather than burning it.
What a gorgeous day! So clear! They burned for so long this year that I felt like I was breathing burnt vegetation for about three months. That range way in the distance is 70 kms away. That’s the Yambla Range – you’ve seen it a lot closer in previous years when we lived at Jindera and were much closer to it.
So, you are thinking: “Jeez, c’mon, that’s just another picture of a gravel tree-lined road. We’ve seen enough of those already!!!” But I must tell you what gave me grins as I was pedaling uphill. Look close. Real close. Summer is FINALLY over. In June. See the new grass shoots. They are new this week. We are leaving “BROWN” behind. We have finally entered our season of renewal.

We traverse a few laneways before coming up to a more defined road that leads us over a couple hills. Then, when I start seeing signs for a security company, I realise I’ve ridden a bit further north than intended. We’re going to ride through the piggery.

I’ve always meant to show you this as it is one of the big employers for my town, but I didn’t think it would be today. So here you go, some of the long barns where the pigs are grown. This piggery covers a huge area – it is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. They call this ‘free-range’. Ahem. I cannot tell you how disturbing the stink and squealing is in this area. We would not come this way on a warm day. Read more about why you don’t want to eat pork here: http://www.aussiepigs.com/piggeries/corowa

Ohhhh, we’re going to ride through the piggery. It’s huge – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. They slaughter some of them onsite, but where I live on a main road in town, I can hear the squealing and screaming of the ones going past in livestock trucks that get carted away to another slaughterhouse.
A closer look at just one teeny part of the property. Not only does it stink like pigs, shit and urine – there is also something that smells like formaldehyde. It’s awful, and it’s worse down in all the water pits.
Air quality monitor. I can’t imagine anyone really enforces any of this. There are huge areas of rubbish old tyres just ahead on a hillside. They are probably allowed to do whatever they want since they bring ‘jobs and growth’. That’s Goombargana Hill in the distance.

At the end of Jamieson Road, we come up to the Redlands Hill Reserve. This area of regrowth trees is worthy of further exploration – something else I’ve been waiting for cooler weather to do. I’ll bring you back here sometime this winter – supposedly there are some walking tracks through the bush. They put in some interpretive panels in 2014. There is some cultural history out this way, too. So we’ll come back – not via the piggery – for a look at that from the front side and formal entrance in the future.

Back side of the Redlands Hill Reserve.

Today, I was hoping to get down to Wangaratta to see a movie at 3.50pm. They’ve got The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on for $10 (normally it is $18-20 for a movie in Oz), and so I thought it would be nice to see that. My noisy neighbours are being noisy today, so it’ll also get me away from that for a bit. But all this wandering around in the mud means I’m not sure I’m going to get home in time to drive the 30 minutes down there.

We head along the road that will take us to the main Redlands Road which will take us back into town. From the top of the hill, you can see the silo-thingies of the massive piggery dotting the landscape and the big slaughterhouse not far downhill to the left of the road. We roll down the hill, wiggle and then hit the main gravel road south. It is paved for a couple hills. Then it goes gravel again before we hit Redlands Road and start booking it home – maintaining 27kph all the way home once we hit pavement (that is quite fast for me).

Booking it through the view-blockers.

We make it to the movie. There are four old couples in there, and I make it with about two minutes before the previews come on. It’s worth the $10. It’s nostalgic, predictable and simple, but enjoyable. The most hilarious thing is that the journalist finally hooks up with the pig farmer. Yep, the movie features a pig farmer. It must have been fate to ride through the piggery today!

Nerdy chick in Australia who loves to ride and is accompanied by the crew: 'The Commander' Verne and the 'Mental Health Specialist' Kermit.

13 response to "June Challenge: Resilient Tree"

  1. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 10, 2018

    Another great tour — those are some challenging roads to say the least!
    Lots of confinement hog production here, (dairy too) and believe me, it smells no better.
    I once showed some local photos to Australian friends and they couldn’t believe how green things are here.
    To survive in their environment, those trees have to be resilient.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 11, 2018

      Yes, there are lots of stinky hog barns in IN, too. I think riding around in the countryside as a teen and smelling all those barns turned me off pork for good. I’ve never liked it, and stopped eating it totally as a teen. I guess I was weaned off the Midwest lushness by moving to CO for college. I’d return home to visit my family in IN, and I reveled in the green while I was there. I never wanted to return to live, but I always enjoyed those green, green trees and understory. CO to Australia wasn’t so big of a ‘green’ leap – just a heat leap. It is infinitely hotter here where I live than Colorado.

  2. By: gregblood Posted: June 10, 2018

    The resilient trees often seem to be the most interesting. They’re the ones struggling for life in deserts, at the tops of mountains, on wind-whipped seaside cliffs, at the edges of the arctic circle, and in blisteringly hot inland New South Wales. I have too much respect for resilient trees to ever call them view-blockers. However, I think you correctly identified that long row of trees along the road as view-blockers.

    If Bill ever names pigs as the subject of one of his monthly challenges, I’ll ride about 10 miles west of my town and take some pictures of the sprawling Fox Family Farm. It’s nowhere near as big as your piggery, but it’s still pretty big. And “family farm” sounds so much friendlier than “piggery.” And you can actually see the pigs from the road, so I could get my bike in a picture with some pigs. Maybe I’ll do that even if there is no pig challenge.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 11, 2018

      Yes, I guess I like the survivors. My favourite tree when living in Colorado was the Engelmann spruce. It grows between 9,000 feet and treeline. I like the needles of spruce versus pine or fir. Engelmanns are beautiful in large stands, but they are also the ones you find scraping by at treeline, clinging to rock crevices, growing stunted and sturdy. They are the poster child of krummholz.

      There were lots of hog farms in Indiana, too. My parents always forced us to go to the State Fair and get lunch at the Pork Producers tent. I’ve never liked pork and would boycott lunch. Of course, the elephant ears in the afternoon meant I didn’t go totally hungry. The piggery here, Rivalea, would get done for false advertising if they said they were a ‘family farm’ – 4 of the 6 directors are from Singapore, I think! I will look forward to you doing a headstand by a piglet near a view-blocker 🙂

  3. By: Seasidejanet Posted: June 10, 2018

    I like the excitement over the new growth green!! I feel the same way here every winter. When you go 5-6 months without rain it gets sooooooooodry and brown! That’s what we are in now. I look forward to our new growth!

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 11, 2018

      Oh yes, the green is so short-lived here, but I love the ‘turn’ of season. We had an extra six-eight weeks of brown this year, so I was really hanging out for the change. You know once the green starts to go that the flies are close behind… and then the heat.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 11, 2018

      Well, I hope it is locally produced and from your local butcher 🙂 You don’t want industrially-produced pork from Corowa!

      I forgot to mention it in my post, but I got swooped by a magpie yesterday, too! The earliest I usually get swooped is mid-July by the same bird every year on a road near where we used to live. Yesterday, I was so surprised, I thought the click and swoop were an accident or something. But not when he came back for a second go!!

  4. By: Bill Stone Posted: June 12, 2018

    Good ride and good trees, Em. A lot of your photos remind me of Sonoma County, although most of our roads are paved. (The Ogre is not sure that’s a good thing.) We also have a lot of eucalyptus, or — as Kathleen calls them — gasoline trees.

    • By: The Navigator Posted: June 12, 2018

      Yes, my part of Oz has quite a few similarities to your area. Our trees (i.e. the bush) do recover and regenerate from fire more quickly, though. I spent a couple weeks in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol in 1998 visiting my good friend’s parents. They took me out to Jack London’s house and the park, plus to the Redwoods and the river that had catastrophic flooding in the 70s (and more recently since I visited?). I most remember the fresh blueberries and cherries and eating our way from farmside stand to stand.

      When I was in Americorps NCCC, I was based in San Diego. We were housed in the old Naval Training Centre dorms there. Just outside my window was a tall lemon-scented eucalypt. I had just returned from Oz and that tree was solace and punishment simultaneously. It kept me connected to Oz but made me miss my time there and miss Nigel, too. My Americorps team also spent 8 weeks camped near Big Sur building a walking track for the Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks Dept. – so I am familiar with Jack and Janet’s turf, too.

      • By: Bill Stone Posted: June 12, 2018

        As you know — but perhaps some at Cycle365 don’t — unlike most parts of the USA, Sonoma County seems to share a seasonal trait with your part of Oz. That is, green in the winter and golden brown in the summer. Just the opposite of places like Minnesota. Friends and relatives from states like Illinois and Virginia, accustomed to lush green summers, arrive here in July and can’t understand why our hillsides look golden brown. No rainfall around here from April through September. When it rains again in October or November (if it’s not a drought year!), the hillsides suddenly turn green. Of course, our summers and winters are still the reverse of yours, so right now you’re turning green (I think!) while we haven’t tasted rain in weeks, and the hill behind my house is golden.

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