The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Forrest to Skenes Creek

Forrest - Skenes Creek = 34km
Cummulative total = 1790km

We are now along the Great Ocean Road and I think Neil and Kouta are extremely excited to be near the sea, last time we were near the sea was way back at Lakes Entrance, which was a looooooon time ago!
We woke this morning to the pitter patter of rain on the tent and I seriously thought that Neil would stay in Forrest but apparently not (personally I think he was eager to get to the ocean rather than stay in Forrest where it was raining and grey!). So we packed up the tent and headed off up the hills and every now and then it would begin to shower but it wasn't unpleasant to ride in it and I think Kouta didn't mind it either. We only had 30 odd kms to do today. We have travelled along this road quite a bit, in fact we have ridden it twice already going from skenes creek to forrest in previous tours but this time we went the opposite way (forrest to skenes creek) for the first time. So we were quite familiar with the road and hills.
Most of the first 20km was up and down to get up and then there is a huge down hill of around 10km to Skenes Creek. We took a rest break just before the down hill and Neil thought that the surrounds looked a bit like NZ (the Waitakeres to be exact) now he said it was because of the fernery but I think it was because it was raining (which is so NZ!)

What do you think Sharon does it look like the Waitakeres?
On our way down hill to give the hands a bit of a break from squeezing the brake leavers Neil took this lovely photo of Apollo Bay ...

and then this not so lovely photo of me and Kouta! ...

Skenes Creek campground is pretty basic and there are still a few schoolies here (I had forgotten about them and thought that it had ended, but apparently that could go on for a while!) So they are about 50m from our tent and group of them, they seem okay with the exception of 2 boys who turned up today (gossip has it in the camp kitchen that they are just here for the night and will be gone tomorrow!) well 1 of those boys is the type that you would like to put his head through a concrete wall (not that I am violent in any way!) but when they were kicking their soccer ball you could see that he was deliberately inching the ball towards our tent and when they finally got the tent they apologised but that still didn't stop Neil from threatening to kick their soccer ball into the sea!!! .... please note it was NEIL that spoke out not me (he got in before me!!!)
We have already visited the beach and Kouta quickly remembered that he likes the surf and was prancing around like a little puppy and even got adventurous in the deeper water. One time he took off by himself near some shallow rocks and was investigating and all of a sudden a wave came in and filled up the area and next thing you know he is swimming his way out of it!!! And he came out of it wagging his tail, running around, shaking all the water of himself, and sprinted up and down the beach drying to dry himself! He absolutely loved it, so tomorrow we may spend a lot of time on the beach just so Kouta can amuse us!!!
Only 130km to go until the end of this tour! should be home this weekend!

Colac to Forrest

Colac - Forrest = 41km
Cummulative total = 1756km

We bid Neils parents a bon voyage and also farewell to a bed, fabulous food, lots of cake and the use of a real towel!!!
We took the back roads as per usual to get to Forrest. Neil wanted to ride through Barwon Downs which is an old saw milling town in the Otways. He lived there for the first 14 years of his life and has very fond childhood memories of the place.
As we pulled up at the town hall there was 2 old men standing outside and they said there was a town gathering for a xmas party and believe it or not they didn't know us from a bar of soap and they invited us in to join them, although it hadn't quite started but being the food hound I am I could smell the meat in the spit and I could definitely see all the lovely food on the table! But we declined to join them but Neil being the chatterboxer he is starts to talk and mentions that he was born here in Barwon Downs and the 2 old men introduce themselves and when Neil said his surname they knew instantly whose son he was ... "ah your Ray Jones' son ..." We can't quite remember their names but the said they see Ray sometimes in Colac ... so be aware Ray a farmer from Barwon Downs and another person who belongs to the Forrest Lions Club will mention they saw us!
The man from Forrest also mentioned that there was a 24 hour mountain bike endurance event and there was a few roads closed but said that we should be able to slip through as long as we watched out for when the tracks crossed the road as some of the bikers will be speeding down! At one point there was quite a few cyclists crossing so we stopped to watch - there are some crazy people out there! - imagine doing mountain biking (actually anything really) for 24 hours straight! Aparently there were 800 competitors and 150 of them were solo and so were doing the 24 hours on their own and the rest did it in teams or relays! My hat goes off to the soloists!
Riding along though I couldn't get the generosity from the 2 Barwon Downs men out of my head and said to Neil I would love to live in a town like Barwon Downs where they have these community events!
We made it to Forrest just on 1pm and there are not too many people here at the campground and we think it is just us camping. There is no internet reception and we doubt we will get it tomorrow at Skenes Creek.
Kouta has got a new basket that we are trying out for the last leg of our journey. It is smaller and we can now put the inner and outer tent behind his basket, he sits very comfortably in it and is a good size for him to sit in, however it is a bit small for him to sleep in and at the moment he is in the tent with us and he can't quite stretch out and if he does he sort of has to hang out over the edges, but he looks comfortable enough and if he wasn't he would not be sleeping in it!
Below is a photo of Kouta and his encounter with some wildlife we weren't expecting! we are not sure if they are llamas or alpacahs, but they all came running over to Kouta and would have actually come right up and sniffed him if it wasn't for their electric fence.

Tomorrow is Skenes Creek and I have been telling Kouta that he gets to play in the waves again ... he just wags his tail and really has no idea what I am saying!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Camperdown to Colac

Camperdown - Colac = 70km (ridden Wed 25 November 2009)
Cummulative total = 1715km

Here we are at Hotel Jones were the facilities are pretty good!
As you can see we came through the back roads from Camperdown to Colac, if we had taken the main highway it would have been 20km less! But riding along the A1 is pretty horrendous cycling even if you do have a wide shoulder as that is usually full of crap from the road and also very rough to ride in. So with a map that has the small road names we criss crossed our way across the country side. We had been on a few of the roads before (around Carpendiet) back in March 07 when Dad came with us.
By riding on the back roads we were able to see alot more like Lake Purrumbete and Neil took a particular interest in the stone walls around the various farms at Stonyford.

Alot of work has gone into these walls and they really are like one big jigsaw puzzle and they are done by hand which would have been absolutely laborious work!
There was next to no wind so we were cycling along quite nicely and took a quick break at the Bungador CFA shed.
From there we decided to take a minor unsealed road (7km long) and it turned out to be not a bad road after all (as you may have read we have been on SEALED roads that were in worse condition than this unsealed road!). In fact riding along it was really nice as it was in shade a fair bit. And off course we just had to come across another snake didn't we! There was just a small crest to climb and the road became slightly bumpy with larger stones on the side and since we were riding together we were making a hell of a racket and causing alot of vibrations so just out of the corner of my eye I saw about 30cm of the tail end of a black snake so I couldn't tell you how big it was. And I assume it must have felt the vibrations we were creating and thought better to wiggle away rather than try and take us on!
We got to Colac just after 1pm and Kouta quickly realised where we were and was happy as larry when he got settled in.
We will stay here until Sunday and then we head for the Great Ocean Road and we realise that the Victorian Bike Ride will be going through next week but we will be a day or 2 ahead of them. I don't particularly want to be around 5000 cyclists!!!

Arriving at Hotel Jones!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lake Bolac to Camperdown

Lake Bolac - Camperdown = 85km
Cummulative total = 1645km

Last night we went for a small walk to have a look at Lake Bolac and the guy at the caravan park said this time last year it was completely empty, so it has rained quite a bit but still not enough for aquatic activities (hence the rundown facilities).

Lake Bolac (I like your tights neil!)
So we woke up early this morning to get a good start as we knew we would have a gentle tailwind and Neil even suggested that we skip Mortlake and continue on to Camperdown and not Terang as it is only 29km further from Mortlake ... more on that later!
It was a quiet ride almost dead straight to Mortlake except for a little kink in the road and like yesterday the road is absolutely ridden with pot holes and uneven surfaces ... it got to the point that we would sometimes have to go over to the other side of the road to get around parts of the road that were broken up ... it really was an awful road to ride. The only positive to it was that is was relatively quiet with cars and trucks!
We cruised along at about 21km per hour and arrived at Mortlake at around 10.20am and decided since it was only another 29km to Camperdown we would continue to make the day to Colac smaller ... well after leaving the quiet little town of Mortlake and saying to myself that I would like to pass through here again to have a little look around as it looked quite a nice town. We took a quiet road to Camperdown and that surface was really good. By now the wind had swung around to our right and we had a slight crosswind but eventually the road swung around to a south easterly direction to give us a tail wind. We estimated that we would arrive at Camperdown at about the 70km mark.
We were riding along and came across a road sign with distances and Neil realised that he can't read a map or count the total distance between points (this is what Neil told me to type!) he miscounted by 10km so we were going to hit Camperdown at the 80km mark ... now the distances are from Post Office to Post Office so you should always add extra kms to avoid disappointment!
At the 70km mark I began to feel it and began to slow down and we got to the outskirts of Camperdown and we weren't quite sure where the caravan park is and Neil wasn't sure so we got the computer out on the side of the highway and saw that it was on Park road ... which was oppposite us but Neil doubted it was that as we had to go up a huge hill and we could not see the caravan park so we continued into town as we had to get food. He looked up again for directions on Google and it was about 3km back (where we were before!) so we rode through the back streets and it was obivious that the caravan park was on top of a hill. Now Camperdown is quite hilly and has alot of craters and the hill to the park was just long, not hard, just long especially since we had already ridden 80km.

Me slowly coming up the hill! but I had nice views either side of me!
We made it to the park and we have a lovely spot next to a small field that has 2 small bulls and another small field that has a horse. The brown and white bull really had a preoccupation with Kouta and just stared at him all afternoon!

Eventually Kouta just sat in the shade while the 2 bulls just stood at the fence staring at him. The black bull was alot more friendlier to Kouta than the brown and white one.
Whereas I developed a friendship with the horse!

Tomorrow we will cycle the back roads to get to Colac, it is 47km via the main Highway and I detest riding on the highway - cars expect you to ride the shoulder and it is generally a rough part of the road so I prefer the back roads even though we will probably do an extra 20km! Some of the roads we have been on before but still the roads are lovely and quite, not exactly great surfaces but quiet!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dunkeld to Lake Bolac

Dunkeld - Lake Bolac = 49km
Cummulative total = 1560km

Oh it was sad to leave little Dunkeld ... I think if it had a little supermarket I would have liked to have lived there and I think if it had a bigger population that played table tennis I think Neil would have also like to have lived there!
And now we are in a place called Lake Bolac, when I first saw it on the map I thought it was a place that I would like to see and stay in ... well I have been here a few hours and tomorrow morning cannot come quick enough! What an absolute dump this is and after coming from Dunkeld which really only has the Grampians to survive on and where there seemed so much pride in what they have and created there (they also had a nice walk through an aborteum and lake) and with the community campground that is looked after by the town committee of which quite a few popped into the campground to talk to everyone and then we come here to Lake Bolac which has a huge lake (a bit like Lake Colac!) and although there is not alot of water (but there is more now than what there was last year) and it used to be a hive for boating and aquatic sports etc. I don't know what has happened to the surrounding area but I think the so called foreshore committee should be sacked or shot (preferably the latter!) as they have let the foreshore campground go to 'the dogs' it is one disgusting place to pitch a tent ... passable if it is free but it is not, it is $10 to stay, which is not worth it at all as the toilets reak of urine and the area is very unkept, maybe the foreshore committee should take a leaf out of the town committee from Dunkeld and show a little pride in their surrounds!
Not far from the so called foreshore campground there is the local caravan park which is only marginally better than the foreshore campground ... yes I am not being very kind to Lake Bolac but you only have to visit here to see that they just haven't bothered with anything to promote the lake in such difficult times, I suppose due to the lack of water in the lake there maybe a decrease in the amount of people visiting due to low water levels but that is no reason to let town facilities go downhill, now I wonder how many people bypass Lake Bolac not because of low water but because everything is so run down?
And another thing what is it with the damn road repairs? I have mentioned this before and the only road across to Lake Bolac was the Glenelg highway and it was resonably busy with trucks and I mean huge trucks carrying livestock and double trailer trucks and look at the photo below to see just how well they repair roads and what happens when they do a crap job.

this repair was down quite recently as you can tell and there was huge chunks all over the road even on our side of the road.
Okay one more thing and then I am finished - today I think we realised just why there are so many country fatalites, the stupid things locals do (you can tell they are locals by what they drive) and the risks they take or maybe they take it for granted and think they are immune from causing or being in accidents because they know the roads so well ... well let me tell you they may know the roads and can drive the roads with their eyes shut but unfortunately they don't know what everyone is doing, or that there are people also driving on the other side of the road as well! Quite a few times today we had locals overtake us and gave us plenty of room when overtaking us but they sort disregarded that there we cars and trucks coming the other way! In one instance the car did it on a wide blind corner and I was at the top end of it and could see that there was a good chance that me, the stupid local overtaking me and a semi trailer truck coming the opposite way were going to meet in a row! but I was fine as I had plenty of room but the car would have gone smack into the front of the truck had it been 5 seconds later! what an idiot! Another one today overtook us on a straight road and gave us plenty of room but misjudge it completely and the car coming the other way had to go half of the road but funny enough the car doing the overtaking didn't slow down when he saw the car going off the road, instead he just continued overtaking us even though the car half of the road had the right of way .... STUPID is all I can say with some drivers.
Well I have finished my ranting and raving for today! it was just that today there was alot of stupid drivers and the highway which has alot of trucks was in need of a repair or a complete resurface rather than patchy repairs.
Tomorrow we head for Mortlake or Terang, Mortlake if the winds are in front or Terang if they are behind us, it is forecasted to be a tailwind for us tomorrow ... but the weather forecast is also another issue with me!!!! (and I think with everyone else really!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Halls Gap to Dunkeld

Halls Gap - Dunkeld = 70km
Cummulative total = 1511km

Oops I am writing this a day later as it was rather late when I finished sorting out all the photos to put on todays blog.
Anyhow from Halls Gap to Dunkeld was nothing but up and down, up and down with a bit more down than up for us heading South. We left the campground, on a cloudy day with forecasted rain, nice and early to try and get to Dunkeld before the rain would hit us. Not far from Halls Gap is Lake Bellfield which is a fresh water lake that provides the surrounding districts with their water supply and like the Melbourne Dams it was not fulln at all and you could see where the normal water levels would be and it is well below that! Like I said the day was very cloudy and that is a pity as we would have had some fantastic shots of the lake and scenery!

Lake Bellfield
Since the road goes through a National Park the road condition was excellent (upon the Mt Hotham descent the road was crap before and after the Alpine National Park section!) and also there was not much traffic not only because it was early in the morning but also throughout the entire day so it was glorious riding with glorious scenery of severe escarpments.

The thought did cross my mind that the scenery would be a lot better if it had no trees (or if they were dwarf gum trees) as sometimes you could not quite see the rugged escarpments, but I suppose without trees the scenery would look quite bare!
From Halls Gap you feel you were climbing a bit, although not steep climbs just gradual and without even realising it we came across this sign!

Neil did say before we got to this sign something about we should be crossing a divide and I questioned him about the Continental Divide doubting it, but he said (and we all know how Neil can talk complete and utter crap sometimes!) no something about the Grampians' Divide, and I knew as soon as he said it that he was making it up! and to our surprise we did actually cross the Continental Divide again (we crossed it just before we got to Ararat and before that we crossed it just before way back in Omeo!).
Not long after that the road was a gentle downhill and I nearly had a collision with a wallaby! It gave me one hell of a fright as it came out from the undergrowth which was about 1/2 meter from the road edge onto the road less than 5 meters from me I screamed and slammed on the brakes as I was cruising at around 25km per hour, the wallaby didn't stop but realised that I was there (and I am sure it screamed too!!!) and quickly hopped off scared just like me! Kouta meanwhile was hopping and throwing himself around in the trailer really excited.
We saw alot of Kangaroos bounding across and in the bush throughout the day and some of the Kangaroos were big at least 2m tall and I am sure glad we didn't nearly crash into one of them!
Like I said before the scenery throughout the day was simply beautiful and so drastic. The escarpments are like giant ski ramps all going in the same direction

It would have been fantastic if the day had been clearer and not so cloudy to see the sunlight on the cliff faces.
Throughout the park there was evidence of fires that had gone through (we think around 3 years ago) but when we got closer to Mt Abrupt the landscape was more low lying shrubbery and I am sure there must have been fires very recently as there was heaps of Kangaroo Tails and I love these types of plants and there was quite an abundunce of them all with their tails and green grass with black stumps.

I think around the 50km mark I began to struggle a bit, Neil says I hit the wall and refused to go any further but I don't remember that part and I know that Neil was just talking a lot of crap again when he retold the story to Sharon last night on the phone! But at that point the road had become quiet undulating with longer climbs and I could see that the road was heading to Mt Abrupt

But fortunately it was only a small climb with a long fantastic down hill to the road that links Hamilton with Dunkeld and when we got to that highway the road conditions just deteriated and it became "a real tit wobbler" and to a point quite dangerous as they had filled in pot holes with tar and it looked like the road was covered with muffin tops (have they not heard of flattening out the roads once they fill them in so that the pothole top is flush with the rest of the road?!).
So we arrived at Dunkeld at around 1.30pm and we knew it had a council caravan park and you sort of think 'oh a council caravan park!' well this one was crowded when we got here and it is a great little caravan park with really good facilities (considering it is a council one ran by volunteers) and money collected from camp fees are put back into the park as they renovated the womens toilets - new toilets and 2 huge big practical showers, and they built a disabled toilet and shower facilities and now they will renovate the mens showers and toilets. So I had a luxurious shower and came out gushing about the showers and how excellent the facilities are and poor Neil only had the old shower and toilets in the mens!
We have stayed here another day as we woke up this morning and the rain that was meant to be here yesterday came last night and this morning. Although there are no grocery stores to speak off we will have to buy takeaways tonight for dinner as we carry our breakfast and lunch food but rely on the town to have some sort of store to buy our dinner.
Tomorrow we are off to Lake Bolac and we don't think there is much water in there!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ararat to Halls Gap

Ararat to Halls Gap = 47km
Cummulative total = 1441km

After a very hot rest day yesterday we weren't sure if we were going to cycle today as the weather temperature was going to be warm again although they did forecast a change but we were unsure as to when that change was going to happen. Nevertheless we woke early in the morning and decided that we could get to Halls Gap by lunch.
The road to Moyston (which was our first stop) was hilly and the road itself was what I call 'a real tit wobbler' and that applies to mine and "Neils man boobs"!!!
In fact you could categorise most roads according to "the degree of wobble"
"I hardly need a bra" means the road is smooth (which doesn't really exist)
"a little bit jiggly" means the road has intermittent craters and bumps that you can't avoid
"a tit wobbler" means the road frequently has craters and bumps that you can't avoid
"a real tit wobbler" means the road has nothing but craters and bumps and has clearly been smoothed out with a bakers rolling pin!
The Moyston township sign boast 'the birthplace of Australian Football' and there is a monument to honour Thomas Wills who was one the first people to develop the rules for AFL and believe it or not he even played for Geelong!

From Moyston the road becomes flatter but not smoother! and we begin to approach the Grampians and basically the road meanders alongside the big escarpments of the National park

So it was lovely riding all the to Pomonal where we had another rest break and 5 kangaroos bounded across the road just before we got there. After Pomonal the road continued basically the same. At this point the weather was overcast and hot and then the wind picked up and it was very strong and blustery and kept blowing me all over the place! sometimes it would come from the side and then the front but never from behind! At least the temperature became cooler and by the time we got to the campground it was still a strong wind but we managed to put the tent up. We managed to see some Emus (a mother and at least 4 smaller ones) before they ran off.
And then the fun began watching everyone else struggle with the wind. Lucky for us the tent held up but for one unfortunate tent the wind basically flattened it and one of the poles snapped and pierced the fly and made a big hole. So Neil asked one other camper if they knew the owner and between them they managed to patch the fly up with some tape! So after an afternoon of protecting our gear from blowing across the campground and shielding ourselves from dust and debri the wind died in the evening. And now it is 5.45pm and there is a huge group of Kangaroos in the empty paddock next to the campground and looking around the tent there are kangaroo droppings everywhere so we assume that they will come around the tent tonight to graze which means that Kouta will go absolutely balistic! Right now he is sitting at the camp kitchen door just watching the kangaroos (he is tied up!) and in between that there are small lizards that are on a death wish as they keep darting in and around him and sooner or later I think he will get one!

Tomorrow is suppose to be cooler and even rain so we may get stuck here, Neil went into town for some food and came back saying that there is not much in town and there is a very small grocery store which is exceptionally expensive! So I hope we don't get stuck! If we can go we will ride through the Grampians National Park to Dunkeld which is 66km south of Halls Gap.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ararat Rest Day

No kilometres pedalled today. We even walked to the local safeway. It gives the dog a chance to stretch. Above is a photo of our campsite. We even have a kitchen attached to the tent. The camp owner was taking us to the tent area, usually the worst part of the camp when he remembered the Wimmera caravan club was coming to town and were putting a marque there. So he offered this spot next to the kitchen. Yes please. We have sat under the verandah all day drinking tea, reading and using the internet, very good signal. Also went swimming in the pool directly opposite the tent. Very nice campsite. Tomorrow we plan to make Halls Gap if it's not to hot

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Avoca to Ararat

Avoca - Ararat = 65km
Cummulative total = 1394km

Thanks to Neil who did last nights blog for me ... unfortunately while playing card games yesterday afternoon I got rather carried away with rubbing my right eye due to the hayfever symptom of itchy eyes and next thing you know my eye is all swollen and weeping and red ... I am a naughty person for rubbing it but I just couldn't help it!
I woke this morning with my right eye still swollen but it didn't hurt at all so we decided to come to Ararat and if it was still bad by the time we got here then I would go to the Doctors. But lucky for me the swolleness went down and I resist the urge to rub the eyes now!
Anyway it was a hard days cycle for me today because not only did I have a swollen eye but also I had a small niggling injury in my left knee, I think it was from the day before, I was pedalling along concentrating on my head wind and didn't realise that my left foot placement was a bit crooked and I had been grinding away with my foot at a severe angle and that is when I started to feel it in the Knee, but it held up today quite well so with a rest day at Ararat it should be right no long term injury. Although my feet tend to move alot on the pedals so Neil and I are seriously looking at getting cleats and clip in shoes to prevent the feet from moving.
The ride to Ararat was uneventful but definitely this side of Avoca is greener than the other side. We noticed that the fields were just that little bit greener and the trees were more varied and looked alive!
Not only is it more greener the more west we go but the people are more friendly to us. Our first small rest stop was at Ampitheatre and as we rode along through the town an old man came out to the top of his driveway and offered us a cuppa! We declined since we had not gone very far and the day was beginning to warm up, had it been an hour later I think we would have accepted. Then we stopped at a place called Elmhurst and Neil just had to take a photo due to the name.

While at Elmhurst a lady came over to chat with us and she offered us some raintank water for us to top up our bottles as as you can see by the sign that there is no drinking water ... we assume that it means that the tap water available in the reserves and toilets is bore water and not suited to drinking. As I have said in the past the water at the caravan parks are mainly bore water and it can be unpalatable at times but at Avoca and Dunolly caravan parks they also have rainwater tanks which is strictly for drinking only so we have been getting our water from the tanks. The tap water here at Ararat is okay and nice to drink.
While riding we crossed over the Pyrenees (seems funny to call them that as they are only a small hill range and not as its huge cousin along the French and Spanish borders!) I didn't realise that this range is part of the great dividing range and we were both surprised when we came accoss this sign and off course we had to take a photo of it.

We got to Ararat just after lunch but it felt much later, maybe because it was already hot by then, anyway we pitched our tent right next to the camp kitchen and it has shade for tomorrow. While setting up one of the camp residents came over and gave us a cool bottle of lemonade as the dear ole lady thought it was great that we were doing this cycling and she thought we would appreciate this refrigerated lemonade ... what a lovely lady she was and believe me it was well appreciated! It reached around 33 degrees compared to the last 2 days where it has been lovely and cool and tomorrow it is going to be a scorcher at least 38 degrees but the weekend will bring a cool change so only a few days of hot weather ... whew!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dunolly to Avoca

Dunolly to Avoca = 38km
Cummulative total = 1329km
Departed Dunolly about 8.30am. Not a bad place. had the most grass and the best shade of any campground so far. The only negative being the bore water which many campgrounds up this way have. At least it had rainwater tanks for drinking.
Had a headwind most of the way. Undulating terrain with rough but quiet roads. The flora was very scrubby and had been picked of any goodness by golddiggers. Many of which still resided at the Dunolly campground. Arrived here at Avoca about 11.30am. We last passed through 12 years ago in March. It was green back then. What a difference a drought makes. Janet is still suffering hayfever. As she has done ever since arriving in this great dry dust bowl of a country. It is worse this year. Maybe we should move to Tassie and support the Hawks.

Bendigo to Dunolly

Bendigo - Dunolly = 72km
Cummulative total = 1291km

Due to next to no reception at Dunolly for the internet I have done what we rode on Monday 16 Nov today!
Well we are back into it after a fabulous rest at Bendigo. It is amazing what airconditioning and sleeping on a bed can do to you!!! We spent the weekend inside watching Tiger Woods win the Australian Golf Open and eating!
Leanne and Russell had a lovely BBQ on Saturday night with all their friends (and Neil and I decide to gate crash that!). I don't think Neil and I know that many people as what Leanne and Russell have as friends (and they are a very friendly and eclectic group of people!) it was a great night and Neil and I went to bed at least 3 & 1/2 hours later than normal!
So it is easy to start today as we didn't have to pack up much. After getting directions from Leanne as to the best way to get to Marong we left at about 8.15am and within 1/2 an hour we were lost! We were on the bike path and then all of a sudden it disappeared and we were on a foot path so we continued on and couldn't find the streets on the map we had and we came across a Lollipop Man at Eaglehawk who came to our rescue and the directions he gave us to get to the road that would take us to Marong were spot on right to the last detail of key landmarks, speed zones and pubs on the corner! Thanks to the Lollipop man!
We were on our way with a severe cross wind and lovely overcast day so there was no heat! The road wasn't that busy to Marong and once there we had a break and began the journey to Newbridge. Once there we had a longer break and a nice man who was in training for the Victoria Bike Ride came over to chat to us. Off all the cyclists we have met I thought he was the only one that spoke to us in a way that was not patronizing or in a way were they feel they have to compete with us by telling us their cycling conquests! He was a real pleasure to listen and talk to and he seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing instead of telling us of his cycling conquests!
By now I was beginning to tire and the cloud had lifted and the sun was out. The road turned almost south and so the real headwinds began. Since I am at the front I sort off turn off after a while and tuck my head in and just grind away against the wind which is not a good thing as around 13km out of Dunolly while I was looking down there was a snake and it was glossy (which means it may have just been killed or it is still alive!) I went past and then Neil did and all I could say was "oops there is a snake!" Neil went back to take a photo of it. Do you think it looks alive?

After that we cruised into Dunolly. We have been here before but I couldn't picture it in my head but once I saw the main street I remembered it and even the Caravan Park seemed familiar.
It has lovely Poplar trees which provide good shade so we set up the tent under a tree and Kouta quickly jumped into the tent to sleep ... I think he misses Lucy but he seemed happy enough to get into the trailer this morning!

We only have a short day tomorrow to Avoca, again we have been there before but I still cannot picture it. Some of the towns we have been through on this trip we have been through before and it has been around 11 years and I suppose there has been a drought during that time so that this time as we pass through them they are almost unrecognisable without their lush greeness and grass!

Friday, November 13, 2009

North Elmore - Bendigo (Epsom)

North Elmore - Bendigo = 48km
Cummulative total = 1219km

What a lovely morning this morning it was a cool night and this morning it was nice to eat breakfast just the 3 of us and not with all the flies and ants that usually join us at every meal.
Below are photos of our campsite last night and the lovely Campaspe river which was very refreshing to take a dip into on a hot day.

Yes I have just realised as to what Kouta is doing ... like the t shirt quotes "because he can"!!!!

Campaspe River

We got an early start this morning and we had a strong head to cross wind. After refilling up with water which lately has been very strange it is either has a muddy or metallic taste to it and out of the tap the water is cool but after 5 mins it becomes warm and after an hour or so it is warm enough to make a cup of tea out of it and after 6 days of drinking hot water I am becoming rather sick of water and mixing cordial in with hot water is not exactly palatable!
Once we left Elmore we took a series of quiet roads to get to Bendigo and it was a nice road to ride along but the after the Barnadown locality the road became quite busy with local Bendigo traffic and also the road surface became rough to ride.
We took a quick rest at around the 35km mark and silly Kouta decides to walk around and into some bushes that had little burrs on it and then we spent the next 10mins picking burrs out of his fur and all the time Neil is cursing poor Kouta who really didn't want to sit still (even after Neil threatening to break his legs!!! - Neil was only joking!). Finally we make it to Leannes' house and airconditioning!!! As soon as we turned into the street Kouta knew where we were and began to throw himself around in the trailer excited that he was going to meet his cousin Lucy!
We are taking break here for the weekend and will spend the time pouring over maps as due to the heat we may reevaluate where we cycle next.

Kyabram to North Elmore

Kyabram - North Elmore/Aysons Reserve bush camp = 52km (ridden 12 Nov 2009)
Cummulative total = 1171km
What a hell of a day it was ... just too hot that you almost gag from having a dry throat all the time! After a sleepless night, because Kouta decides to throw up in the tent and the temperature took so long to become cool enough to sleep, we left our grotty campground and after much deliberation we have taken a star off the Kyabram campground star rating ... it is now only 1 star accomodation!
We had a slight headwind to Rochester and after stocking up at Rochester on food and water we headed south on a very quiet road to Aysons Reserve which is about 8km NE of Elmore and it is one of the highlight free camp spots from the Camp 5 book. By now the heat was beginning to get to us all especially Kouta who I suppose became very stressed about the heat and began to throw himself around a bit in the trailer and even began to whine a bit (which is unusual for him) but finally we got there and it is a huge area that used to be the Elmore Field day area and there was a quite a few caravans especially the bigger type caravan like a 5th wheeler or bus that cannot fit into the standard area of campgrounds.
We found a spot that was close to the Campaspe river and under shade. Went for a quick dip in the river and then spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around.
Later on that evening there was a lovely and welcomed cool change in temperature and we all slept better that night.
Tomorrow is Bendigo and airconditioning ... woo hoo!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Numurkah to Kyabram

Numurkah - Kyabram = 58km
Cummulative total = 1119km

It is damn hot, real hot, stinking hot!!! It is not supposed to be this hot up here this time of the year - it was 37.5 @ 2 o'clock this afternoon! it was like that yesterday, the day before, the day before that etc, and it is going to be like that well into the weekend! funny though we are either complaining that it is too cold and it is a lazy wind or we are complaining about the heat ... we are never satisfied!!!
Nevertheless we are here in Kyabram and since it is so hot we have been getting up early and cycling in the morning and getting to the campspot before lunch, thanks to very flat quiet roads and a ever so slight tailwind, but I think all that hill climbing the other week has made our leg muscles stronger!
We spent yesterday as a rest day in Numurkah and again it was a hot day and we just kept moving from one shady spot to another. The nights are extremely warm so we sleep only with the mesh doors up.
On our first night we didn't realise there would be possums (as it hasn't been a problem in the past) so we left our food panniers in the small vestibule as usual. We all jumped into bed and so did kouta at the end of the tent near the small vestibule and we watch him and he is just quietly sitting in his bed looking out into the small vestibule area ... he didn't move, or get excited or bark ... he just sat there, so Neil sat up and asked what he was looking at (I swear one day Kouta is going to reply to us if we continue talking to him like we do!!!) and Neil realises that there is a possum sitting on our food panniers! and here is Kouta our ever trustful guard dog just looking at them stupidly!
So Neil got out and shooed them away and the panniers came into the tent. The possums were not scared of him as they came up to him ... so Neil just had to get the camera out!

Pete and Paul the pet possums!

And here they are again the next night, this time Neil went in search of them just to get a photo of them!
So here we are at Kyabram Caravan park, well this has a star rating of about 1/2. I think it is because it is sooooo hot and there isn't much shade, and everything is run down your first impressions are oh my god! and all I could say was Neil it was your decision to come here my decision was to go over a hill!!!
But we pitched our tent and sort off tidied up the camp kitchen and just sat here! The campground owner came up and gave us some iced water and an icy pole each! so now the ranking goes up to 2 stars, but the amenities block is clean which is the main thing!
Tomorrow we go feral again and bush camp somewhere north of Elmore on the Campaspe River.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yarrawonga - Numurkah

Yarrawonga - Numurkah = 60km
Cummulative total = 1061km

After leaving the free bbq area yesterday it was still hot - lucky it was only a short ride to the bushcamp. It was easy to find thanks to the Google mapping system and my rudimentary sketch of it!
As soon as we got there we pitched up the tent, didn't bother with the fly since the night was also going to be warm (needless to say that by not putting the fly on you are inviting either rain or bird droppings on the inner - we got the latter!!!)
Below is a photo of the tent spot we chose.

Once that was done and since neither of us bought our bathers along we threw ourselves into the Murray ... clothes in all! so ladies you don't have to worry about the photo below ... Neil is not skinny dipping!!

Now that was a lovely and welcome relief from the heat. Kouta refused to come in so he just sat on the bank being hot and panting away!
Not too many swimmers here but there was 2 boats with water skiers going up and down until dusk. So I was a little annoyed that they stayed there that long as it was lovely just sitting there enjoying the beauty and tranquility of the Murray ... and then vroom, vrooooom, vroooooooom!!!
Damn skiers! ... mind you they did invite karma as they ran out of diesel and had to row their boat back to where they were stationed!!!! see they pushed the 'boundaries' just that little too far and just had to do one more vrooooom up and down the river to destroy my peace and tranquility and what happens ... "row, row, row your boat!!!" LOL!!!

Ah the beautiful Murray river ... I would love to have this river in my back yard! (instead I have Dandenong creek!)
We woke nice and early and didn't have much to pack up and were away by 7.30am! Just as well as we had a slighty longer day today of 60km and wanted to get to Numurkah before lunch and heat.
We took road C361 which was flat (and we had a slight tailwind) and busy with locals and trucks until Katematite and then we continued on with that road to Numurkah which was alot quieter between Katematite and Numurkah. There was one point somewhere in our past plans to actually stay at Katematite as it said it has a caravan park ... well with a population of only 300 there was no caravan park in sight!!
Whereas Numurkah is a bigger town (pop. 4600) and the caravan park is lovely, we have a nice shady spot by the river, pond, lake (not too sure what it is!) and the facilities are good with an excellent camp kitchen.
We stay here again tomorrow for a rest day and I think we will just be moving from one shady spot to another over the course of the day!