The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Penshurst to Killarney

Penshurst to Killarney = 60km
Cummulative total = 1148km

We arrived here at Killarney Beach reserve yesterday around midday.  We didn't have our 31km per hour northerly winds more like 3 point 1km per hour winds!
But we still got here in good time.  The road we took was alot busier than what we thought it would be ... in fact it was the busiest road so far on this trip.  It is a 'c' road but it had more traffic on it than a highway!  There was a few trucks that were carting something from where they are building the wind turbines, so they were only on the road for a 30km block.  But the local traffic was heavy and that means more dickheads taking unneccesary risks - alot of overtaking us with oncoming cars!
We did get off this road when we got closer to the coast and it was a relief to get off it.  We found a quiet road that goes to Woolsthorpe and that was only a 1 lane road with NO traffic! is was glorious!
These roads waunder through the area west of Koroit and funny enough we stumbled across the Warrnambool to Port Fairy rail trail.  So we will come back to the rail trail when we leave here tomorrow for Warrnambool and just see how far we can go along this trail as the last few times we have come through here the trail wasn't complete.   So here is Neil at the rail trail -
Just before getting to the main highway we came across probably the biggest church (no longer in use) for a small town that we have ever seen!
So we got here just on midday and the Killarney beach reserve is one of the Moyne shire campgrounds - a bit like the one at Yambuk.  It is a nice spot alongside a sports oval.  There are a few vans here and our little tent is tucked under some ti trees behind sand dunes.  We chose this spot because there was forecasted storms and strong south westerlies today - and we had a storm last night and today there are very strong winds and rain showers so it was fortunate that we have a little shelter from the dunes and trees.
I had to take a photo of Neil wearing a certain pair of shorts that I know when you look at the photo you are going to say something along the lines of - "what is he thinking!"  But first let me tell you the story behind these shorts - when we first cycled together 14 odd years ago Neil bought these 'running' shorts for 50cents up at Emerald in Qld when he was 38 years old and back then when wearing the shorts he look alright in them ... but now he is 52 .... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I don't think so!
I like to call them his "fancy nancy shorts" LOL!!!!
In the evening we went for a walk along Killarney beach and you can't hear the surf and when you climb over the dunes you can see why - Killarney beach is a very sheltered beach that is perfect for swimming in.
the trees in the background is Port Fairy which is around 10km from here
there was a few people on the beach all with dogs since there is no restrictions here so there are a lot of happy dogs running in the water, bounding around, splashing about ... and then there is Kouta who hates the water ...
I laughed as when you look at everyone on the beach with dogs all the dogs are in the water and the owners walk on the sand ... but with us it is reversed ... Neil and I are in the water and Kouta is on the sand!!!
We are staying here today as it is cold only 16 degrees today and we need a rest and then it is a short ride tomorrow to Heather and Anthony in Warrnambool and 2 days to Colac to be home on Saturday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cavendish to Penshurst

Cavendish to Penshurst = 65km
Cummulative total = 1088km

It was a cool morning when we started and we took the Henty highway for the first 7km and turned left onto Hensley Park road.  This road is a quiet local road but this morning was quite busy we thought!  This road also has Hamilton Airport on it about 10km from Hamilton.  We did stop for a break just outside the airport hoping a small plane would land as we could see that there were people and 'av' gas trucks out near the runway.  But no plane turned up while we were there.
The road from the turnoff to the airport is relatively flat with a little bit of rolling.  After the airport it is more undulating but okay.
We picked up supplies for the next 3 days at Hamilton and took the Glenelg highway out eastwards to the edge of town and then took the turnoff  to Chatsworth.  This is a quiet road which we have been on before.  It is a lovely road with a view of the Grampians on your left for most of the way.  Last time we were here (feb/march 2009 I think) the area around us was very dry and the lakes had no water in them.  This time the land is very green and lush and the Lakes had water and heaps of birdlife in them.  By now you should have guessed that I love the Grampians so here is a few more photos for you!
Just cruising along and liked this view:)
We did have a break on the small lake next to Lake Linlithgow and this bushland reserve would make the perfect bush camping - a bit out in the open but the road is quiet so no one to disturb you.  But the view of the Grampians and Mt Abrupt is absolute superb!
From here it is about 5km to our turnoff and then another 10km south to Penshurst.  As you turn right towards Penshurst you get a view of Mt Rouse.
The campground is nice - basic with a free washing machine so although we got here a little later than expected we still did our washing and are hoping it will dry.
The weather today was suppose to be 31 degrees but it was cold in Hamilton at 10.30am and only really started warming up around midday but I don't think we will be getting to 31.  We hardly had any wind again today - I think it is suppose to blow a northerly to get that 31 but they are forecasting that tomorrow so fingers crossed it blows from the north as we are heading straight south to Killarney on the coast.
Here is our camp spot at Penshurst -
We are under acorn and pine trees.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cherrypool to Cavendish

Cherrypool to Cavendish = 55km
Cummulative total = 1023km

It is alot cooler at night now and we are sleeping like logs - even Kouta sleeps the whole night through - he only moves when he feels that he should get more of the sleeping mat!
We woke this morning and it was cloudy and a very very light drizzle passing through but we could see blue sky further on so we really had no other choice but to go rain or shine!
On the highway again and just out of Cherrypool we are close to the Grampians on our right and Black Rock state park is also close to us.  It is lovely riding along this highway!
As you can see from the photo above the bulk of the Grampians was shrouded in clouds and it wasn't until mid morning that we could begin to see them.
However on our right the low mountains weren't covered in clouds and I think this is Mt Byron.
So the ride along the Henty highway certainly changes from open pastures to fields with alot of gum trees in them.  Again we saw alot of wildlife - heaps of wallabies and we managed to see 4 emus - man they are so funny when they see us and run.  They don't run in an elegant way more of a fast plod using their ungainly long legs and because their bodies are so big that they tend to bounce along and look like they are going to topple over and off course they don't run in a straight line but swerve in and out of imaginery obstacles!
Our first stop was around 20km from Cherrypool and here we could see the Grampians.
and this is the road we were on -
It was a good highway when it is in the Horsham Rural City shire but once it crosses into the South Grampians Shire ... well lets just say the South Grampians shire is not very rich!  the road deteriorate very quickly.  It must get a fair bit of truck traffic as the damage is on the white line strip on the side of the road.  We did notice that there were more trucks this morning compared to Saturday.
We had a coffee break with a good view of the Grampians
the clouds are lifting!
Just after this point (at 36km) the road undulates for around 5km and the road also is ripped up in places - not sure why just in this particular section the road is broken up but there were long stretches of road that have humungous holes!
Although todays ride was not flat it was neither hilly more rolling with an undulating section.  So it was nice riding and believe it or not we hardly had any wind!
We arrived at Cavendish at midday and the camping reserve is alongside the footy field.  It is nice and just down the hill is the Wannon river.
It costs $6 per person for powered and $5 per person for unpowered so we splashed out and opted for powered!  There is one other couple here.  Cavendish doesn't have a store and only a pub and probably gas station.  We sort of guessed there was no shop so we bought extra food with us - tuna mornay tonight!
This afternoon we went for a walk down to the river -
Tomorrow is Penshurst and the weather is meant to become warmer again so maybe fingers crossed we will get a tailwind with a northerly!  We looked and saw that Tuesday is a northerly so we may not have a rest day at Penshurst and take advantage of the northerly and continue through to Killarney!  But Elders change their weather forecasts by the hour so we will see tomorrow evening!

Horsham to Cherrypool

Horsham to Cherrypool = 50km
Cummulative total = 968km

We stayed an extra day at Horsham on Friday not because of me faking an injury to see the carnival but more that it was inclement weather.  It rained Thursday night but not alot more thunder and lightening than anything.  In the morning it was very grey and overcast and it looked okay to go so we had brekky looked at the radar and saw all was clear around Horsham and further south to the Grampians so we packed up and just at the end of packing up a very light mist came and stayed for a while.  So we ummed and ahhhed as to go or not.  The forecast was a 90% chance of 10-20mm so we decided to stay, an hour after paying for another day the weather lifted ... don't you just hate that when that happens!
It was a nice restful day we were both glad of it as it wasn't hot or cold but just the right temperature to hang around and do nothing unlike the day before where it was sunny and hot and we had to keep finding shade!
So Saturday morning looked alot clearer - still grey and overcast but no rain threatening.  It was cool for the whole day and we had a south westerly or head wind as we took the Henty highway.  This is a relatively quiet highway and not alot of traffic going our way but quite a few going to Horsham. 
We had a change in scenery a bit only one or two wheat fields south of Horsham but more grazing land and hay farms maybe the area is just to lush and wet for grains.  But we do get to see the Grampians in the distance.
Sometimes we see them and sometimes the road veers away from them, not to sure how close we will get to them further south.  The Grampians are on our left and on our right is Black Range State Park.  There is plenty of wildlife in the fields.  we saw a wallaby on the side of the road and when a truck passed it it was okay but when we passed it on the bikes it panics and bounds off!  The same when a hare crosses the road in front of us and pauses to look at us and panics and shoots off in front of us.  It is funny seeing the wildlife react to us who do less damage to them compared to trucks and cars!
It is nice riding along the highway and there are plenty of gum trees and fields as scenery.
We come to our camp spot at Cherrypool - it is only a highway stop and is a bush camp alongside the Glenelg river.  There are not many spots with river frontage but where the toilet use to be there are a few spots but that is too much out in the open for me to go to the toilet!
So we set up camp amongst the trees and shrubs.  There was a caravan about 75m further down and they are thankfully quiet!
Here is our camp spot -
Weetbix for dinner tonight as we have had to carry extra water with us and weetbix uses very little water to make, eat and wash up after!  Mind you if Neil had is weetbix a bit drier like us Kiwis then we would save alot more water!!!! LOL.
Tomorrow is Cavendish.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Warracknabeal to Horsham

Warracknabeal to Horsham = 61km
Cummulative total = 918km

Well here we are back in Horsham - we were here just under 2 weeks ago.  Things have not changed! if anything there is less people in the caravan park.
Todays ride was tough - our 4th day cycling and the head wind was very strong around 30km per hour.   We left early as well hoping to get a few kms in before the wind picked up but the wind started out with us!  We went along the Borung highway for a bit until Wallup and then hung a left hand turned and headed straight south for Horsham.
The going was very slow due to the openess of the country so you sort of feel the full 30km per hour and gusts over 40km per hour.  So we plodded along and the legs after 3 days of riding felt very heavy this morning.
Our coffee break was around Murra Warra.  I think this is just a locality but we did find the local hall ...
It was a very wind spot and we sat there freezing and even Kouta was cold as he decided to sit on me and curl up on my lap - I didn't mind as he kept me warm and I obviously kept him warm.
Didn't really want to start out again as at this point we were only half way and the next 30km didn't seem all that appealing!  this is a photo of the road ...
We passed through a place called Kalkee and took some photos for Ray to look at - we saw 2 houses on our left as we came in.  Neil said the place has changed and there is a big sports oval/community center and also a motorsport/speedway type facility.  Will show you the photos when we get to Colac.
So grinding away and about 10km from Horsham we were pulled over by a reporter from the Warracknabeal Herald and he took photos and notes and apparently we will be in the newspaper that comes out this Friday morning here in Horsham.  So before heading of we will stop by the Newsagent and pick up a copy!  So with a spring in our step we managed the final 10km in no time! although I did feel that the wind eased off a bit for us and it was  a welcome sight to see the water tower which tends to indicate a town.
Coming into Horsham the wind really died down and while setting up the tent there was barely any wind ... just our luck.   But it did come back later in the afternoon.
Looking forward to a rest here in Horsham.  They are predicting rain on Friday so we may get stuck here for another rest day - I hope so as there is some street carnival on this Friday - might try and fake an injury with Neil so we stay!  We have completely run out of food so we will restock here in Horsham and should be back in Colac by the end of next week - weather permitting.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Birchip to Warracknabeal

Birchip to Warracknabeal = 64km
Cummulative total = 857km

We left our Sheraton de Birchip this morning - rather relieved to get out of there, it was fairly run down and I am not sure if the showers and toilets are cleaned weekly, fortnightly or annually ... I suspect the latter!
We were on the Sunraysia highway for the first 10km and I can't remember if there was any cars on there with us.  It was only 8am and I thought there would be a few coming into Birchip but it was empty which is good for us. 
We turned onto a very quiet road and headed west and then southwest to Warracknabeal.  It was a head wind all the way.  In fact now we are here at Warracknabeal the wind wasn't as strong as what we thought it would be ... maybe it is saving itself for tomorrow!
So not much of a change in scenery just the usual wheat fields and for a change I thought I would show you a photo of a wheat field:)
Some of these fields are just endless!
Like I said we were on a very quiet road and there was at one point a traffic jam between 2 passing oversized harvesters! now that was the highlight of our day!  The road is 2 lanes (but narrow) and one had to pull off completely and not long after that a huge wheat storage tank also passed us and we were fortunate to see that the harvester that just overtook us had to pull over again to let this monstrosity through - quite entertaining for around 5 mins!
Our quiet road joins up with the Borung Highway about 3km before Warracknabeal and Neil came across this lizard that didn't like Neil being close to it so it decides to 'puff' itself up
Not to sure on its' name - maybe a spiny lizard ... Penny do you know?
Warracknabeal is a nice town with a population of around 2500 people.  The caravan park is council run and is on the Borung highway west of town.  It is a lovely park that is well maintained by the caretaker.  It is incredibly cheap - $10 unpowered, $17 powered and get this $22 for ensuite! and if you stay for a week you only pay $100 for an ensuite site - very good deal to encourage passer throughs to stay here rather than Horsham which I think their ensuite sites were $38.
We are unpowered and are pitched near the creek and here is the view from our tent door ...
This park was under water when they flooded early this year - not sure if it got to town (I don't thinkso) but this park and the one on the other side of the road was under water!
Neil went into town to get some food earlier and took some photos - as you go down the main street you go through 2 roundabouts and each one has statues on it ... dog on a wheat bale
dog rounding up sheep
the local post office is pretty but unusual - has more of a tudor style to it!
Thinking about staying here tomorrow - not sure.  My thermarest has died and I need to get another one at Horsham or at least something that I can sleep on until we get to Colac!  Generally the outdoor stores in the country towns tend to favour swags rather than thermarests!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sealake to Birchip

Sealake to Birchip = 58km
Cummulative total = 793km

It was an okay day cycling today.  Sort off expected much stronger winds but they were light and blowing as a headwind for us.  The back road to Birchip is just south of Sealake and it is a very quiet road the goes straight south with a few kinks in it.  For the first 15km it is a lane each way and then for the next 13km it is a single lane and then back to a poorly made lane each way road.  The scenery is the usual grain fields upon grain fields.  You a gently climbing but don't really notice it.
The wind although light made it a little 'chully' when riding along but by lunch time it was warmer but not hot.
Not alot of traffic on this back road and very little local traffic.  After the single lane road the condition of the road becomes worse - the edges are breaking up from the heavy trucks we assume.  They probably would have been better off making a really strong single lane road and packing the edges to cope when a truck and car meet - this is what they have been doing in the other areas where we have taken back roads and the roads are superb!  For the amount of traffic this road has (which is minimal) it doesn't warrant making a lane each way type road.
Just 10km south of Sealake is a lake called Greenlake and you can camp there for $20 powered and $15 unpowered so we shall remember that for next time.  It has showers and toilets, drinking water and a bbq with a power point.
So not alot happening along the road just the usual rabbits, a dead snake and a goanna that sprinted across the road in front of us and climbed up the nearest tree to keep an eye on us.
can you see it? damn good camouflage!  It was alot smaller than the one that virtually strode into our camp site at Jane Duff Rest Area!
Coming into Birchip the road edges are really churned up and you can see where they patched up holes and heavy trucks have come along and just made it worse!  You would think councils would learn - these are wealthy areas so what do the councils spend the rate payers money on?  I'll tell you what they spend it on look at the photo below of the Mallee Bull which Birchip is apparently famous for but while looking at the bull check out the grass around it ...
it is a lush green grass almost on as good as the MCG - so that is what this council spends it money on - maintaining a green strip of grass in the town center instead of maintaining its roads!
Anyway the town has a few more shops than Sealake and the other towns we have been at lately.  While Neil is in the IGA getting a loaf of bread I spot a bakery boasting "Australias' best vanilla slice 2009" now I am thinking I thought that was held by a household in Colac?
Anyway I waited until Neil got back and said I think I will go and get one for us for lunch.  I go in and it is quite busy and ask for 2 vanilla slices - okay that will be $6.20.  Right I thought that is a little over priced but what the hell (although it is free at Colac!).
Found the campground and set up and made a cuppa and sat down for the vanilla slices ...
reasonable size pieces and below is Neil about to devour his ...
we both thought it was okay - the pastry is a wafer type pastry, the custard is a bit like a stiff mousse but the icing was too thick and sweet.  The wafer pastry and custard wasn't as sweet as what we thought it would be but the icing was too sweet for us.  But we still polished them off.  We did suggest improvement ideas to the vanilla slice - Neil said to have less custard so that when you bite into it it doesn't squish outwards - my suggestion is to maintain the custard but add in an extra layer of wafer  this might stop too much squishing. 
The campground is a bit like Cobden at the back of a petrol station and motel.  Really run down facilities but it costs $10 for unpowered and $14 for powered so we opted to splash out again and go for power!
Tomorrow is to Warracknabeal where we have to go on the Sunraysia highway south for around 10km and then turn off to hopefully a quiet road to Warracknabeal.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hopetoun to Sea Lake

Hopetoun to Sea Lake = 59km
Cummulative total = 735km

Before I get on to todays ride I thought I would post a few photos of our rest day at Hopetoun.  First is a photo of Lake Lascelles which is a popular spot to swim - this was taken Friday evening - although the skies look threatening we had no rain really but it was still quite warm at this point.
The next day we decided to stay here  as it was a nice spot to camp and the forecast was a bit showery so this is how Neil and Kouta spent their day ...
It was fortuatous (spelling) that we spent our rest day here at Hopetoun as Sea Lake is not really a great place for a rest day!
Anyway we had a disrupted nights sleep last night - must be a 'Saturday' thing! first our neighbours decide to have a fight at around 1.30am which woke me up but that didn't last long but then I could here a fair bit of drunken laughter around the lake ... you can all breathe a sigh of relief that I stayed in the tent and didn't go out throwing peoples keys in the bush!  But I don't think it was close to us - I think on the other side of the lake which would have annoyed the people free camping around the lake mind you they were in a huge flash  Winnebago bus which you would hope was sound proof!  You can camp for free around the lake so next time we come through we will do that but definitely not on a weekend!  Then you can pay $1 for a shower at the caravan park we just stayed at.  So after drifting in and out of sleep we go woken up again around 4am when a group walked through the campground and I suppose it being so quiet that when they spoke in their drunken state their voices were very loud!  Again I drifted in and out of sleep and woke up at 5.40am and decided to get up - we were outta here by 7.30am!
We both like Hopetoun and will return sometime.
So the road to Lascelles is the Henty Highway and this Sunday morning it was deserted so it was an easy ride and made even easier with a tailwind blowing from a west south west direction which is good today but the southerlies are set in for the next few days which is not good as after Sea Lake we will be heading south basically - never any luck with the wind!
So Lascelles is about 25km away it consists of an art gallery, pub, post office and possibly a milk bar! Here are a few shots of the town ...
At the rest area there is a campground which is $10 and it is nice, no shade but clean - a good spot today or passing through.
behind the toilets is the campground and when we took the quiet Sea Lake road (which is one lane for most of the way except on the corners where they widened it) this is where we think Mick Malthouse now lives (this ones for you Penny:) ...
Riding along here we realised that the individual crop fields were alot bigger than what we had seen the days before.  These fields were so massive you sometimes couldn't see the end of a particular field.  Neil managed to jump the fence and pick some of the crop - the first below we discovered is Chickpea
and inside the pod
hindsight is a wonderful thing and now we are here at Sea Lake we should have picked more chickpeas and had them for dinner tonight as forgetting that it is Sunday today the Foodworks is closed on a Sunday here so dinner tonight is takeaway!
There is also this grain - which we think is barley
Riding along here there is a bit of machinery in the fields - they aren't working today we presume because it rained here yesterday and last night (as there are big puddles on the road) so it is too wet to harvest.  But I managed to get some photos of some very impressive huge machinery - it is like going through the Mining area up in Queensland with all the 'big' machinery!
Below is a machine that must follow the thrasher and fills up and brings it up to the trucks - the other day the thrasher part filled up the trucks when it was full but in the fields today they are so huge that we assume the thrasher fills up well away from where the truck is and has no other choice but to have the machine below to follow it ...
and this is a thrasher which cuts and behind it it has a smaller storage area for the crop ...
So we arrive at Sea Lake in very good time due to the tail wind which at the moment is very very strong - blowing around 30km per hour with gusts alot stronger!  I said to Neil I think we could have made Swan Hill  by mid afternoon which is a further 70km west!
The caravan park is in the show grounds and is very basic.  More suited to vans as there is very little grass for tents.  The toilets and showers are nice and clean, there is a basic kitchen which is more a room with a table, sink and jug but it does protect me from the wind when doing the blog!  But, to me anyway, I think it is overpriced for where it is and what you get.  It costs $10 per person for power (which suits a single traveller) and $8 per person for unpowered.  So it costs us $16.00 which is quite expensive for around the Wimmera/Mallee area.
Never mind tonights dinner is 'fush 'n' chups' looking forward to that ... so is Kouta!  Tomorrow we are on to Birchip which is straight South from here.