By Claire Goodwill & Colleen Hickey
Bike North have run the Tour de Cowra for most years over Easter since 2001. This event is open to both Bike North members and other riders; this year had approximately 70 riders. Claire, Derek, Colleen and Rolf decided to head to Cowra to join the other riders. The majority of riders base themselves at the Cowra Van Park, either camping or hiring a cabin. Claire had the luxury of the staying at the Cowra Hotel in town.
Bike North set up a gazebo in the Cowra Van Park, simply a marquee with an urn for tea/coffee making, some snacks, ride maps and an area nearby to congregate with other riders.
The rides on offer cater for varying levels, normally ranging from between 40 – 125km daily. There are even shorter options on offer. Day 1 was a 60km ride to limber up, followed by a swim for some at the Cowra pool, which provided inflatables for the young at heart.
Day 2 was a scenic ride via the Woodstock pub, which for the first time was open for much needed coffee & light refreshments. Rolf and Colleen rode 80km on a borrowed tandem. The biggest issue for Rolf was trying to match Colleen’s cadence. A lot of coordination and cooperation was required, but overall it was a satisfying experience, with a thrilling scenic downhill at the end of the ride.
Day 3 was Easter Sunday. Derek and Rolf rose to the challenge of a 125km ride, however Derek was plagued by punctures. Claire and Colleen opted for a shorter 40km loop to make time to visit Iandra Castle. That evening a large group of riders dined at the Quarry Restaurant, a fine dining experience in a vineyard.
The property of Iandra was purchased by Mr. Greene in 1878 and in the early 1900s he built the castle that is present today. Iandra had its own store, post office, public school, carpenter’s and blacksmith’s shops. Over 400 people were employed on the property, including the 61 share farmers. The house provided accommodation for visitors from various parts of the world who were interested in the share farming methods (introduced in 1893). The share farmers later were able to purchase their particular piece of land. After the death of Mr Greene’s son George (1911) and the departure of his family to England during WWI, the property was sold to the Ianson family. In the 1950s, it was sold to the Methodist Church, who used it as a home for delinquent boys.
Day 4 Easter Monday, we enjoyed a cool down somewhat hilly ride of 50km to complete the tour. From there it was goodbye to Cowra and countryside. Overall a memorable, warm and energetic Easter.
Also worth a visit are the award-winning Japanese Gardens in Cowra. Derek on his first Tour de Cowra took time to visit these stunning gardens after one of his daily rides. Highly recommended!