Friday 5 Feb 2015
We decided to spend our first day touring the town by bicycle. We got off to a false start at Ventoux Cycles which falsely advertises bikes for hire on a billboard over the entrance. We were referred on to JR Cycles on Harbour Drive, where we hired three bikes and got some helpful advice about good rides in the area. We set out immediately on an 8 km circuit that begins only a few metres from the shop. The track is paved and well-signposted, and most of it hugs a creek that runs through the centre of town, passing through stretches of banksia forest and open grassland, past a local swimming pool, and along a section of boardwalk that weaves though mangroves along the creek.
We had lunch on the deck at Mangrove Jack’s cafe. There were slim pickings on the menu for vegans but Ruby managed to order something she was happy with. As we discussed her new job and her ongoing efforts to find a place to live, we watched a couple paddle-boarding gracefully along the creek in the afternoon sun.
After lunch we cycled south towards Sawtell along Hogbin Drive. For much of the route there is a cycle track that runs parallel to the road, slightly separated from it by a row of trees. The ride is largely level, so it’s an easy ride save for the fact that Susie and I were trying to keep up with a fit 24-year old. By the time we had cycled 9 km to Boambee Creek reserve, I was well and truly ready for a breather. We locked the bikes to a sign and walked up the final, steep section of road to a lookout that rewarded us with expansive views to the north of Boambee Beach and Coffs Harbour, to the south of Sawtell, and inland to the Great Dividing Range.
We rode back to Coffs Harbour just in time to return our bikes before the bike shop closed. It was tempting to hang onto them longer, but our plans for the rest of the week lay further afield in the hinterland beyond the city.
We ended the day with a quick swim at Park Beach. The swell was unpredictable and there was a strong current flowing across the beach, so we stuck to the shallow water. The cool water was welcome relief for aching muscles.