Howard Oak Cut Down!

On Saturday the oak planted for John Howard in the Corridor of Oaks in Faulconbridge was a young sturdy looking specimen about 2.5 m high, next to the other oaks planted in honour of Australian Prime Ministers. LBUG passed by about 11 am in the morning on our Penrith to Katoomba Challenge and stopped for a brief break in the shady park in Sir Henry Parkes Drive, and the oak was thriving. The next day on our return trip down the mountain the oak had been snapped in half. Saturday night vandalism? Or an attack by a Howard Hater? Even if you didn’t vote for him it is a pity the tree was damaged. The park itself is a shady refuge in summer and worth a visit if passing by. Maybe they should plant natives in future.

The fourth Katoomba Challenge was a great success, 7 out of 8 participants reached Katoomba on Saturday, in perfect weather, sunny but not hot and with a light tailwind. The route up avoided the highway except for the 7 km between Faulconbridge and Woodford, and a short section from Hazelbrook to Lawson. The highway sections mostly had a wide shoulder, and further roadworks underway or planned will improve the highway for cyclists, although heavy vehicles may daunt some.

Six of us (one rider went on to Lithgow and one rider pulled out halfway up and went back to Sydney) stayed at the Katoomba YHA, which is very spacious and well run, and dined at the RSL, where there was a Chinese seafood buffet night- remarkably good food.

On Sunday we met John D who came up on the early train, and so 7 rode down the mountain. After Blaxland we went down Mitchells Pass Road and stopped as we have done on previous rides to have a look at the 1833 Lennox Bridge, which is a work of art and a fine piece of engineering. The road is closed to motor traffic after the bridge because of a rock fall earlier this year, but cyclists can get through, so it is a quiet ride down to Emu Plains. We did a short diversion to have a look at the Knapsack Gully bridge (1865), which used to be the route of the first railway then the Great Western Highway before the motorway was built up the Lapstone incline. This bridge has very tall sandstone piers and is also quite a marvel. It is now part of a walking and cycle path up to Lapstone, which is the way LBUG went up on the Saturday, to avoid the motorway.

We finished by riding into Penrith across the Hawkesbury River on the footpath of the bridge to avoid the narrow traffic lanes, and with a bit of a struggle found our way through the traffic and large intersections into Penrith station. Why they can’t make it easier for cyclists through there I dont know. Anyway, a small annoyance after a very good weekend of cycling.

Scoop- you heard it here first

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