15 November 2010

CYCLING AUSTRALIA - Adelaide to Melbourne

6 October - Adelaide – Mt Barker - 40km
Eventually (eventually!) we packed up and left Adelaide, what I first thought to be a boring, dull town turned out to be a great city. I think Adelaide had endeared itself to me. We headed over the Adelaide hills along the Crafers Cycle Path, past Stirling, Aldgate, Bridge Water and Hahndorf (the oldest remaining German settlement in Oz). What a fantastic ride it was, through forested areas and quaint villages. Unfortunately the weather came in and what started off as a beautiful morning, became an icy cold, cloudy, blustery and drizzly day! We pulled into Mt Barker Caravan Park early to get out of the weather, pitched our tents and had some of the lovely red wine from the region to ward off the cold. Not a bad day at all!! I could definitely live in this area. We met a South African family who’d just immigrated, living in one of the cabins in the park while they look for a house and wait for their furniture to arrive – good luck to them.

7 October - Mt Barker – Tailem Bend - 79km
Gosh, I wish summer will roll on! It was bitterly old as we headed off; we followed the back road past Littlehampton, Nairne, Native Valley, Callington and onto Murray Bridge. These tiny villages are picture perfect, ever so neat and with lovely old restored buildings. We cycled past farmlands, horsey areas and even spotted a llama or two (what the heck are llamas doing out here?).

From Murray Bridge we followed the old road south along the west bank of the Murray River. The head-wind was blowing storm-strength, I lost my sense of humor and wondered just what exactly I was doing out there on a bicycle!! At Jervois village we took the ferry (motor pontoon) across the river to Tailem Bend town. After setting up camp, a hot shower, a glass of the local red and a huge bowl of pasta my sense of humor returned and things didn’t look all that bad anymore.

8 & 9 October - Tailem Bend – Meningie - 63km
We first paid a visit to “Old Tailem Town” a pioneer’s village consisting of 105 old buildings, some dating from the 1800’s - uplifted from their original places all over South Australia to form a true old pioneer’s village. Not only houses but a church, school, movie house, bank, shops, and railway station - the works!It was rather late by the time we headed out of “town” and it was another windy day on the road!! At least it was a short ride to Meningie.

Meningie is situated on the shores of Lake Albert with beautiful views of the lake. The wind subsided, the sun set over the lake and pelicans drifted past while terns ducked and dived in search of their evening meal. A perfect ending to what was a rather unpleasant and windy day on the road.

In fact, it was so nice that we stayed the following day as well.

10 October - Meningie – 42 Mile crossing - 83km
We followed the road SE running along the Coorong National Park. What an excellent day we had! A slight tail wind and excellent views of the famed wetlands with its rich birdlife made it a pleasure to be on the road. We cycled past Policeman’s Point and Salt Creek to 42 Mile crossing (3 k’s off the road on gravel) where we camped at the rather basic park camp for the night. The water tank was dry, the “camp kitchen” had been taken over by a swarm of bees, the flies and mozzies were attacking at the same time – but we weren’t bothered by kangaroos, emus, and the lack of other campers.

11 October - 42 Mile Crossing – Robe - 112 km
What’s with the wildlife in this place? While packing up I got bombed by a magpie. He obviously thought we had overstayed our welcome. Powered by a serious tail wind we flew down the road past Kingston (but not before we had one of their famous pies) and on to the picturesque seaside village of Robe.

Camping right on the ocean is something I always enjoy. We took a stroll into town and pigged out on take-away chips, fish (for Ernest), and a veggie burger for me. We should never have ordered a medium chips each, it was huge!! So no doubt it will be a chip roll for breakfast.

Along the road we’d met a retired Dutch lady (Anneke) cycling in the opposite direction. She came to visit her daughter and is now cycling back to Netherland. She has no watch, no odometer and no cycling partner! As she said, all she needs is a credit card, passport and water!! She cycles when it’s daylight and sleeps when it’s dark. You go girl!! Hats off to you!

12 October - Robe
I woke to the unwelcome sound of tip, tip, tip on my tent! A steady drizzle settled in, and it did not look like the kind of rain that was going to stop any time soon. Ernest was already packed up but there was no ways I was getting out of my tent – so he had to unpack everything off his bike again!

13 October - Robe – Millicent - 81 km
I listened carefully for that tip, tip, tip sound on the tent, but fortunately did not hear anything. So we quickly packed up, loaded the bikes and got out of Robe. It was still bitterly old and I was dressed for the Arctic Circle! We met 3 other Australian cyclists, cycling from Adelaide to Sydney and I looked at their bikes and gear with great envy! Jan was kind enough to invite us to his home in Sydney (when we get there) for a comfortable night. We may just take him up on that!

14/15 October - Millient – Mt Gambier - 53km
We knew it would be a short day so we took our time in packing up. Fortunately we picked up a good tail wind and reached Mt Gambier early. No sooner have we set up camp, at the campsite in town, or the weather came in again. A steady drizzle accompanied by a strong and gusty wind brought freezing cold weather, enough to send me shopping for warmer clothes.

By the next morning the weather deteriorated even more (if that’s possible). I lay cocooned in my tent listening to the wind and rain for most of the day. I fortunately found some girlie magazines in the camp kitchen, and a packet of chocolate coated peanuts in my bag! That, together with numerous cups of coffee kept me occupied me for most of the day.

16/17 October - Mt Gambier – Portland - 106 km
One can only be stuck in a tent for so long. Dressed in my new winter woolies we got back on our bikes in freezing cold weather accompanied by occasional rain and high winds. Not my best day on the road!! We followed the coastal road past Nelson and through large sections of state forests; up and down over the hills we cycled in freezing cold weather. For the second time on this trip we were attached by Magpies along the way. I read the following: “Spring in Australia is magpie season, when a small minority of breeding magpies (almost always males) around the country become aggressive and swoop and attack those who approach their nests, especially bike riders” . Now I know why they require you to wear a helmet! I was more than happy when we reached Portland. In fact it was so miserable that we weakened and took a cabin at the campsite. What a good idea that was. The cabin came equipped with TV, microwave, kettle, toaster etc, etc. We lived in style! In fact it was so good that there was no getting me out of that cabin the next day. I was warm as toast and very comfortable on a bed!! (Ernest packed up and had to unpack again).

18 October - Portland – Warrnambool - 105km
Eish!!! Time to go. Back on the bike and out in the weather again. Actually it was not that bad at all, we only got wet once or twice but at least we had a bit of a tail wind. Past more wind farms and farmlands we went. We even had time to explore the quaint and historic town of Port Fairy. With its many old buildings and pretty wharf it surely must be a popular place in summer. Warrnambool is much larger than I expected and we found a campsite right in the middle of town and with easy walking distance to the shops. On a cold night there’s not many things better than a hot shower, a mug of hot chocolate and a choc chip muffin, ooh the luxuries of life.

19 October - Warrnambool – Port Campbell - 71 km
The sun came out for the first time in days. We were rather slow in packing up and sat in the sun for hours. The road took us past many a dairy farm, cheese factories and miles and miles of picturesque pastures. We even spotted some black swans. Eventually we reached the coast and the renowned Great Ocean Road. I was not disappointed!! The scenic and very dramatic coast draws thousands of tourists with prices to match. The wind and ocean has eroded away the limestone to form dramatic pinnacles, coves, caves and arches, a truly magnificent site. It was a good day on the road and we turned off at every chance we had to admire the view and take a few snaps.

20 October - Port Campbell – Lavers Hill - 52km
We were lucky to have another sunny day with little wind. Our fist stop for the day was at Loch Ard Gorge another dramatic view point, then on to the famous 12 Apostles. Soon the road left the coast and headed uphill through eucalyptus forests to Lavers Hill, a small settlement perched atop the Otway Ranges. It was a slow but beautiful ride to the top. We met 3 cyclists from Adelaide cycling to Melbourne, the night before, and saw then from time to time along the way. In Lavers Hill I was hoping to see the glow-worms but none came out, and once the sun set it was far too cold to go exploring.

21 October - Lavers Hill – Kennett River - 73km
After our usual slow start, we headed downhill at over 50km/h. Soon, however, we climbed up the hill again through the Otway National Park, a dense forest with lovely fern gullies and then a nice downhill ride to Apollo Bay. We carried on cycling along a magnificent coastline to Kennett River where we found a campsite across the road from the beach. With Koalas in the trees, ducks and colorful birds, it was close to a paradise. We also met Alan and Heather form England, cycling for the past 9 months on this trip. The most amazing thing is that we previously met them at Kannur in India in December 2008. That night Ernest cooked a huge pot of pasta, we could not even finish it all. The leftover pasta was neatly left in the pot but we discovered that Koalas also likes pasta. The next morning we found the lid under the tree and the pot totally empty. Unfortunately Ernest also heard that his mother had passed away the previous day.

22 October - Kennett River – Anglesea - 56 km
We chatted to Alan and Heather forever and it was midday by the time we left. It was also our first warm day in ages. What a beautiful coastline it is, we cycled along the shore past Lore and Aireys Inlet. Unfortunately the weather came in again and we reached Anglesea to set up camp just in time before the rain came down.

23 October - Anglesea – Rosebud - 80km
Instead of cycling up the road via Geelong on the Western side of Port Phillip Bay to Melbourne, we decided to take the ferry from Queenscliff across the mouth of the bay to Sorrento, and cycle to Melbourne along the Eastern shore instead. It was a good choice as the stretch of road from Sorrento was very scenic. We just missed the 15h00 ferry so had to wait until 16h00 for the next one. In the meantime we had a bite to eat and then it was time to board the ferry. The ferry cost 12 dollars and took about half an hour across the short stretch of water. The road from there to the camp site at Rosebud runs alongside the coast, and although it was all built up, it was easy cycling. Instead of cooking, we splashed out on pizza (just across the road from the camp site).

24 October - Rosebud – Melbourne - 80km
I was concerned (as usual) about cycling into a big city, as traffic can be hectic and we had no idea where we were heading. My concerns were unjustified as it was Sunday and the road leading into the city had a bicycle lane all the way, how cool is that? What an organized city Melbourne is. Once we crossed the famous Jarra River we were dead in the centre of town. It did not take us long to spot a backpackers along King Street, aptly named King Street Backpackers. Nothing in Australia is cheap but it was very comfortable accommodation, with neat, clean rooms, a kitchen and large communal area. I must admit that being in a place where everything is closed and all locked up makes me be a bit claustrophobic! Time to move on again.

25 October - Melbourne
I spent most of the day organizing a flight from Melbourne to Cape Town (where I intend spending some time before going to South America), getting a bike box and organizing a taxi to pick me up and take me to the airport the next day. Ernest kindly packed my bike for me in the box, as he will cycle on to Sydney from where he hopes to get himself to South America. So that’s Australia done and dusted for me!! Although I did not see half of the country I was very impressed with what I saw and to think I was not even all that keen on coming here in the first place.

26/27 October - Melbourne, Australia – Cape Town, South Africa - By airplane
It was another long and boring flight from one end of the world to another. I was happy to have the opportunity to stop over in Cape Town instead of flying direct to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was sure great to see my family again. We wasted no time and immediately got out the wine and ordered pizzas! Some things never change.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I realised that the bike was really a bit too big for me and the touring idea was beginning to fade as both my friend and I had little time and money.Bikes Adelaide