Cloudy and grey. TdA found a nice way and bike trails to avoid the busy roads and highways to Melbourne, and cut the former 144 km to just 106 km. However it had 62 direction changes, which made navigation a bit more complicated.
Arrived in Melbourne, the end of the Great Ocean Road section.
Can you imagine a day for me without photo stop? Today was the first day nothing attracted me to further explore and document. It did not rain, but it felt wet on this cloudy, grey morning. Even the beaches were deserted and grey in grey. Riding through industrial areas or farm fields did also not reveal new things. Thus I kept a high pace. Riding with the Garmin GPS made navigation easy. Although we did not get a track, the device always gives you an idea where the next turn will be. So I was riding very fast from point to point, even closed up with the usually fast riders, who left earlier than me and guided them to lunch, which was at 74km. I arrived first! A first of a kind. Other riders arrived soon after. I was getting cold in my wet soaked jersey and sweater, so I left lunch after a shorter break than usual. With only 34 km to go I continued with my high pace. Shortly before camp Chris closed up with me. He had left earlier, but at one point fell behind me, when he couldn’t immediately find the right turn. He finally passed me, when I had to stop at a traffic light, which he gracefully avoided. We arrived at the caravan park within a few seconds from each other. Since he immediately stopped at the reception to get a cabin and I continued straight to the camp ground, I was awarded to be the first seen to arrive at camp at that day. Only 3:58h for 106km on my MTB, a new record for riding in unknown terrain! It was just 11am, when I started to pitch my tent. Remember, just 3 days ago I had covered only 11km by 10am, however, with a lot of scenic stops and photos. The known as ‘slowest’ fast rider, was today the fastest fast rider! Maybe I had some extra boost from last nights birthday party or it was the inhaling of ‘enriched’ air riding past the big oil refineries, that gave me a real energy boost.
Yesterday I stopped at a nature resort between Apollo Bay and Torquay. It was supposed to be a Coke Stop at the ‘Koala Café’. As the name suggested, there must be some of my friends. Thus I never got a Coke, but turned instead to the other side of the road and into the caravan park. There were many parrots of different kind and colors, cockatoos and some of my koala friends around. So I picked my camera to take photos, when all of a sudden I felt something ltouched down on my helmet. I turned the camera around to take a selfie and I found this ‘Kings Parrot’ wrestling with my tarantula, which lost an eye in the unequal battle, but continued to stay attached and the bird left into the trees to meet its companions and talk about the ‘bad food’ I carry.
3rd day on The Great Ocean Road. What a perfect cycling day! short, not too hot or cold, dry and very scenic.
Now we know, why we had a rest day in Apollo Bay after just two riding days! If we hadn’t had the day off in Apollo Bay, we would have had to cycle all day in the rain. So we only had a wet rest day and a sunny and dry cycling day. How better can a cycling tour be organized?! Thumbs up for TdA!
The morning was cool and misty, but the sky promised good things. After having rain for the last 24 hours we were so glad and happy that it stopped during the night and we could pack our stuff under clearing skies. The mist and the sun gave the coast line a fantastic appearance. Just like the ‘Big Sur’ in California. Cycling was a pleasure, almost no wind and the grade of the climbs was very gentle. The Great Ocean Road changed its face again. Well cut into a steep coast line with switchbacks and many lookout points. What a great work by the returning First World War soldiers; built by hand between 1919 and 1932. I stopped at several parks along the way and went to a waterfall and had another ‘meeting’ with koalas and parrots. One parrot landed on my helmet and inspected my zoo. It started a fight with my spider, which lost an eye in the battle with the bird.
Torquay, the end of the Great Ocean Road was reached early and I had enough time to dry the wet and moist clothes and camping equipment from the day before. Tomorrow is the last riding day of this section, ending in Melbourne, with another rest day.
On the first day on the Great Ocean Road I spent 2.5 hours in the Tower Hill State Game Reserve, which sits inside an extinct volcano formed some 30,000 years ago, and was declared Victoria’s first National Park in 1892.
I arrived at around 7am and was the only person so far in the park. Undisturbed wildlife welcomed me! Usually when a group of cyclist (or any group) is in the wilderness, there is too much noise and talks, and the animals disappear before even seen by us. So I was lucky to have it all for myself – the kangaroos and emus next to the road, the koalas sleeping in the eucalyptus trees. I had to wait a long time, before they slowly woke up and climbed down from their sleeping branches. What a fun scene to watch them climbing down backwards, leaping from on branch to the other, or walking and running on the ground. These koalas are the most adoring animals I’ve seen so far. They seem to watch me with the same curiosity as I watched them. I was lucky to carry a second 64GB memory card with me, as I quickly run out of disk space. I didn’t want to leave them, but after 2 hours I had to go, and with the first arriving tourists they also climbed higher into the trees, making it more difficult to see them. 2 German students were having breakfast at the rest place, closely monitored by an emu with her kids. There are many hiking trails around the lakes, especially for bird watching. I added time to walk a loop road in the dense forest. Eventually I left my ‘little Australian Ngorngoro’ with a final look over the rim into the crater and the surrounding ocean.
Here is a collection of photos taken in the crater park
Another day on the Great Ocean Road that invited for side trips. Cold, misty and hilly, but still good tailwind. 2 steep climbs (8-13%) (I added 10 extra kilometers with side trips)
A misty, cold morning awaited us for the second day on the Great Ocean Road, with the supposed to be highlight of ‘The 12 Apostles’ . I added 2 additional lookouts on my way to the first major scenic attraction, the Loch Ard Gorge, where the clipper after the place was named, shipwrecked in 1878, loosing all 52 lives on board. There are many stunning lookouts at this place and time went by very fast. The next stop was the 12 Apostles, a cliff formation in the sea, from which only 8 are still standing, the other 4 vanished over the years in the rough weather and sea conditions. It was already 2 hours into the cycling day, and we had only 11 official stage kilometers on our odometers. Remarkably the 2 French riders, who usually are building the spearhead to camp, were also on a sightseeing mission and with me and Henry at the very end of the pack. Unfortunately the weather was not as good as yesterday afternoon, low hanging clouds, misty and drizzling, getting us wet and cold, and making photos very difficult. I took another breakout and followed the Gibsons Steps down to a beach. This is when I lost contact to the others and cycled on my own to the first Coke Stop at Lavers Hill, where I met others in a Café warming up with hot coffee or chocolate. At this point we had already 1000m of climb through lush and green rain or eucalyptus forests. A new Australia for us! A nice downhill brought us to lunch. The weather started a bit to improve. After lunch the downhill continued to sea level, leaving us with 500m meters to climb up again in the National Park, before we had a final 10 km long descend to Apollo Bay. A stunning view opened in front of us, when we left the forest, with a deep blue sea and white beaches, surrounded by green hills and blue sky and sunshine; Apollo Bay; what a difference to the steep limestone cliffs we had earlier.
A rest day after 2 short, but loaded cycling days. The little town (~1000 citizens) is a surfer or water sports paradise and a tourist attraction. Young people everywhere. Prices very high! After dinner I had an ice cream at the most awarded ice cream place. 2 scoops in a waffle, costs: 7.60$, but the ice cream what unbelievable good.
The weather forecast for tomorrow is not so good. Hope the showers do not realize and keep us trapped in our tents. Nevertheless, I’ll use the day off to publish more of my photos …
A perfect cycling and exploration day! A manageable short distance with room for extras, so no hurry and exhaustion, and finally very scenic. (I added 18 extra kilometers with side trips)
This day was meant to be a treat, after the past hard days. Not only because it was short (just 98 km, without extra tours), but more important because someone seemed to have ‘hacked’ the ‘iWind’ application and modified the program to provide us with a fine tailwind. For me a day of joy riding. Almost no effort to get along, thus no hurry at photo stops or limited with side trips; which I had many today. Although my net cycling/hiking time was 5.5hours for the 116km, I arrived at camp just right in time for dinner at 6pm, with an elapsed time of 11 hours. I already spent 2.5 hours in the Tower Hill Crater Lake National Park with hiking and game watching, before I continued. It was worth the 8km detour and additional climbing. Koalas, Emus, Kangaroos, Birds in a stunning scenery, which I almost had for myself the first hour before the park officially opened. I informed Andreas, that I will be all day exploring off the beaten track, and nobody should wait at lunch for or sweeping me. I arrived at the 28km ‘marker’ – The Pavilion Café’ – at around 11:00, just right for a brunch! The other riders found it closed when they stopped there hours earlier. So I had another 7 hours to complete the final 70+km before 6pm. On the Great Ocean Road there are many sightseeing opportunities, besides the 2 mentioned on the whiteboard. So I followed my Garmin and the map I got from the Information Center in Port Fairy. It was a breathtaking afternoon. The sky cleared up and the sun painted the steep cliffs and the sea of the Great Ocean Road in fantastic colors. The time flew by and it was already 5pm when I left the last lookout point. From there I did not return to the main road, but followed the Port Campbell Walking Trail, a 4.5km hiking trail to town. It wasn’t a problem to ride it with my MTB, except for the final drop to the beach, which was via a very narrow and steep steps, cut into the rocks. So I had to walk my bike down to the beach which was right next to the campsite.
Tomorrow is another ‘short’ day, with many options to extend it.
I will sort out my photos tomorrow, as we will have another rest day after just 2 days of cycling and before we leave the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne!
The day out of Adelaide I cycled through the town of ‘Hahndorf’, an old German settlement founded in 1838.
Hahndorf is classified as Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and each year thousands of people, young and old, enjoy its charm and the hospitality. Hahndorf is the jewel of the Adelaide Hills and one of South Australia’s most popular towns.
It was as being back to home. German and Bavarian flags, Hofbräu Bier, roads and buildings like in the old days at home. I stopped to take some photos for my German friends & for a special Bavarian friend with wife, who may now regret that they did not come to visit me on this tour, like they did in 2008, when they traveled to South Africa, to meet me in Cape Town. I went to Otto’s Bakery, to see if I could get a Brezel, but was immediately sure, it wasn’t a German baker at work anymore, when I saw the display of breads and cakes in the shop. However I got an ‘apple swirl’ (Apfelschnecke), which I saved for a later breakfast in the fields. The French seem to invade this territory, too. However in a friendly manner, how else could a Brasserie and the Hofbräuhaus go together?!
The first 20 km were quite nice to ride, although it contained most of todays elevation gains. It was again quite cold and since riding through pine tree forests it stayed cool for a while. However, the forest had a big benefit; it sheltered us from wind. This changed soon, when the ‘French TGV’ past us in high speed and stirred up the air. From that time on we cycled all day in wild turbulences. The ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign was permanently illuminated at my handlebar dashboard. I formed again a peloton together with Lydia. Shirley and Dan joined us for the last 40 km to lunch. Chelsea and Doug managed to find a nice, sunny and almost fully wind protected spot. Good to warm up a bit in the sun. The ride through the forest felt as if riding through a Canadian or Scandinavian forest, except there were no moos crossing the road. I started solo again after lunch as we were now officially riding along the Great Ocean Road, which started right after Portland. However not yet very spectacular or scenic, thus I rejoined Lydia for sharing to break the wind until the camp in Port Fairy, a nice little town with a special flair.
Hurrah! Another rest day! A well deserved, after a 670 km ride into the wind.
Everybody was happy to leave the ‘storm center’ of Australia and headed eastwards into the wind. In the morning I cycled with John and we shared the work to break the wind for the other. I warmed up myself with a nice breakfast stop in Millicent, with banana bread and a pot of tea. In the afternoon I cycled with Lydia, who joined us in Adelaide for the final stages to Sydney. In Mt. Gambier we decided to detour to the Blue Lake, a crater lake which changes its color, twice a year. We were told at the information center, that it is a huge climb up to the crater and lake. Well, huge in connection with elevation gain has a different meaning for Australians. It was only 60m up within a few kilometers; nothing for an Indonesian ‘certified’ rider. The circumvention of the lake on the rim was stunning. I’ve never seen a lake as blue as this one. Definitely worth the extra 7 kilometer, even on an already long and wind battered day. The camp ground in Nelson is away from the sea and sheltered from wind. We got kangaroo/wallaby visits at dawn. Some of them seemed to be used to humans and stayed right between us.
A shorter cycling day with an early arrival. The wind in Beachport was blowing all day and night
Short enough to ride solo into the SE-wind and still arrive early in camp. This morning was kangaroo parade; more than 50 spread over a few 100 meters. They outnumbered the cows on the fields this day. Even an Australian rider said, he’d never seen such a large group of kangaroos. Only a short 3 km extra to see the Woakwine Cutting, a 1 kilometer long cut into the terrain, 34m at its deepest point, to drain a swamp and gain more land. Beachport was reach before lunch. Camp was only separated by a road from the beach. It wasn’t easy to setup tents in the blowing wind. The majority decided to rent cabins or apartments for a saver sleep. After all tents were setup, the caravan park owner offered us to use a more wind sheltered campground. A few of us, including me, took to offer and relocated our tents to the new ground, with little wind that rattled on our tents. I used the afternoon to ride along a scenic route, with a salty lake (7 times saltier than the ocean), nice beaches and the second largest jetty in Australia. In the evening we had wine tasting and dinner in Gerald’s ‘shelter’ and a photo slideshow on his TV.