January 16, 2006

1/16/06 Hari Hari, NZ

75 km / 704 km total

In the morning, the wind had vanished. But we didn't want to take a chance on when it would return, so we pushed on early. The clerk at the store said that yesterday's wind was not normal.

We must have gone 20 km before we started to get a mild headwind. The terrain was mostly rolling with the occasionally short climb. And traffic seemed light today.

Not much shoulder

In some ways, it was an amazing ride. On my right, you could see the waves crash on the beach. And on the left, snow covered the mountains peaks. And once we left the shoreline, the highway wound through huge trees that blocked the wind.

Snow-capped mountains on the left, foaming surf on the right

Jim just pedaling the kilometers away

The sunshine is the hardest thing to deal with. Jon says New Zealand has the highest per capita of skin cancer in all the world. Kid's grow up here putting on sun screen before they go out, all the time, every time. When I forget or miss a spot, I'm given a painful reminder in a very short time. For example today I wore a jacket almost all day but forgot to put sunscreen on my hands. Definitely 'crispy' now.

Wonderful range land along the road

Glacial silt gives the river a distinctive color

We first stopped for lunch at Pukekura when they had a giant 'sand fly'. Inside was a pictorial of how they hunted and killed the beast, what with it's ten foot wingspan. Laughed my head off. Has some very good mac and cheese.

Not even sure Mike's helmet
would stop this sandfly

Towering trees line the road

Jon always seemed to catch up to us when there's food involved. [smile] Later I met him at the tearoom in Hari Hari having a muffin. We said goodbye to him here, as he needs to get to Queenstown by Saturday to meet friends.

Once we passed Lake Ianthe, the profile showed a climb before descending into Hari Hari. But instead we crossed a huge river plain with mountains towering over us.

It was nice to get into camp early enough to relax a bit. Dan and Hamish stopped by but are going a bit further outside of town to free camp. There is a German couple camping with us that we've seen all week but they seem to be lovebirds and don't seem included to socialize with us.

After a good dinner and a few beers, we're heading back to the tents. The sand flies have us talking between tents as a matter of our won survival where the stinging little buggers have sway.

The Bushranger Saga

The Australian bushranger Ned Kelly is one of the country's more colorful folk heroes -- in some ways a bit of Jesse James in the American Wild West or Robin Hood in England's Sherwood Forest. A "bushranger" is a bandit or criminal in colonial times who hid in the bush and led a predatory life.

Born in 1855 and the son of a convicted thief, Ned Kelly was a bandit who started off as a cattle rustler, ranged the countryside between Beechworth and Benalla in Victoria, robbed at least two banks, held townspeople hostage and was responsible (together with his gang) for the deaths of policemen in gun battles.

Ned Kelly scoffed at authority and led a criminal life but it seemed he had a degree of popularity among the townsfolk, especially the poor, in the communities he robbed. There are stories of how he and his gang displayed horse riding skills while the town's policemen were confined in their jails, and how the Kelly gang even played cricket with the locals. It seems his status as local hero has spread throughout the country.

The most enduring image of Ned Kelly is that of a man suited in rough armor -- wrought from, no doubt stolen, iron plows -- and with his gang facing the superior force of police at the Glenrowan Inn in Glenrowan in 1880. Facing wave upon wave of policemen, Ned Kelly was finally brought down when the police realized he could be felled by shooting at his unprotected legs.

The generally accepted story is that only he, of the Kelly gang, survived the shootout at Glenrowan which lasted well into the night. But there are stories emanating from Queensland that perhaps Ned Kelly's younger brother Dan and another gang member, Steve Hart, not only survived but escaped to Queensland.

Caught and bundled off to trial in Beechworth, Ned Kelly was hanged on November 11, 1880, in Melbourne Gaol.

One residents tribute to Ned Kelly