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.
Nevertheless of the headwind, Henry and I decided to take a 7 mile gravel detour along the shore of the lake. It was a cloudy, fresh morning. Somehow someone forgot to tell the birds that we were coming to see them, thus there was little extra, besides rabbits, flies and cattle. With 10 km more in the legs we returned to the main route. It was a long day, but the wind was in many sections not as strong as the day before, thus I decided on another deviation from the route at 131 km. A parallel road, closer to the ocean with a beach access to the Granites. Here I had a short swim in the cold ocean and a ride along the beach. With 16 km extra I arrived late but not last in camp. The beach was directly next to the campsite, with pelicans on the sea and a seal on the beach.
One of the hardest day so far in Australia. Cold morning. A climb out of camp and strong headwind for the last 80 km.
This was a tough start into the 7th section – The Great Ocean Road – especially for those who just joined us in Adelaide. Not only the distance was a challenge but also the climbs and the cold headwind. We had 2 choices on how to get out of the camp. One was a scenic ride up and along the ridge of the surrounding hills, the other shorter through the valley, but with a steep ‘walk the bike’ gravel section. I opted for the first, to get a chance on a look over the plain and Adelaide in the morning sun. Traffic was not as bad as assumed. Most of the cars were heading into town and only a few in my directions. The climb through the eucalyptus forest was easy, compared to what we had in Indonesia. However after 5 weeks of cycling more or less flat, the climbing muscles needed to be reactivated again. After the first major peek, both routes joined again. Soon we reached a town, easily being recognized as a German settlement by its name: Hahndorf, founded in 1839. And it really was. There were several hotels and restaurants with German beer, like Hofbräu Haus or Beck’s and schnitzel. Bavarian banners all over the place and lederhosen. I stopped at Otto’s bakery to get some good bred rolls. I immediately recognized by the available bred and cakes, that the baker can’t be German. And I was true, only the name of the place remained, the rest was typically Australian. Nevertheless I bought an apple swirl (Schneckennudel mit Apfelfüllung) for 3.70$ for a second breakfast, later on the road. With the fast downhills to lunch a bit of time lost in the climbs could be recovered. 90% of the 1300 m climbs were already done by lunch, at 83km. But, whoever thought the remaining 76km in the plain would be a walk in the park was taught different. I strong headwind for the rest of the day made travel really slow and cumbersome. I managed an 18km/h average, which meant a 4 hour battle against the wind. It wasn’t a question of ‘if’ I would reach the camp, but ‘how long will it take me’. Camp is nicely located at Lake Albert, a huge freshwater lake, with pelicans and other birds around. Unfortunately due to the late arrival on this long cycling day, not much of it could be enjoyed for long. After sunset the temperature was already to cold for staying outside, thus everyone returned to the tents and the camp died down sun in silence.
Tomorrow is another long day, with 148km and probably all day into the headwind.
I was always feeling a bit cold, even with my jacket and the temperature reaching upper 20th. This was mainly because of the strong wind, that chilled not only me. Many fellow cyclists went shopping the last days to by warmer clothes, sleeping bag, etc. because it is unexpectedly cold, or we are not used to it anymore, after 5 weeks in the outback oven.
What kind of test was this? We all survived the Outback, the warm coke and beer, the dangerous bugs and critters, the road trains, the brutal heat and gusty head winds, hangouts in roadhouses, cold and hot pools, … Why are we being sent over this pass, instead of riding the much shorter and flat road into town? Are we cycling zombies or still considered to be alive?
If the Indonesian road builders had been trained by Australians, the whole country would be plastered with these ‘walk your bike’ signs.
No way I push my bike, unless it is to cross a river or alike.
Today, everyone received a certificate to document the successful traversal of the Outback via the Stuart Highway on a bicycle. Starting in Darwin in the Northern Territory all the way south to Port Augusta, a 2786km journey in 22 cycling days through the dry and hot Australian outback.
Tailwind for the first 110 km. The last 20 km to Riverton against the wind. Riding through grain fields and vineyards.
Leaving from Jamestown was easy: Setting the bicycle into the wind, and off you go. The tailwind blew us almost directly towards Adelaide. If it wasn’t for some photo stops, lunch at 72km would have been reached by not later than 9am. The first 60 km were on tar, the last 60km on compact and fine gravel; after lunch it was a nice bicycle trail on an old railway track, away from traffic. It was as if the kangaroos wanted to say goodbye to us. In the morning, all of a sudden, they showed up around every corner in the corn fields, under trees, in the grass and on the rocks. No time to store the camera away. This changed once I entered the wine area. At least I haven’t seen any in there. Seems they don’t like grapes or carry wine bottles in their pouches. After lunch we continued on a nice trail, the ‘Riesling Trail. It is built on an old railway track that cuts through narrow valleys seamed by pine trees covering the trail into cooling shade. It almost felt as if riding thru parts of the Black Forest, so dense and dark where the rows of trees. Several vineyards have wineries and offer wine tasting. However, my French friends stood me up with a meeting at a vineyard for a joined wine tasting, thus I continued to see, if I can find them somewhere else. The nice tailwind was over after turning onto the second trail, the ‘Rattle Trail’ in Auburn. Only about 20km to go to Riverton. I was arriving in camp very early; somehow unusual for me. Time to stroll through the sleeping town. Because it is a Saturday, Riverton was almost shut down completely. Only a deli and a bottle store was opened, where I could buy some pops and ice cream. Thereafter enough time to relax and prepare for the final riding day, which will lead us to Adelaide tomorrow, with another rest day, that closes the Opal, Missiles and Vino section. Some riders will leave us here, 7 others will join us.
It was only a short visit to the beaches of Port Augusta in Southern Australia. Before we return to the coast again in 3 days time, to start into the Great Ocean Road section, we take a detour into the wine lands, giving us a chance for wine tasting and practice our climbing skills, that we didn’t need since we left from Indonesia. It was a real change, the first day riding outside the outback. First a climb over the Horrack’s pass into the Beautiful Valley. Some very small towns – every building is a kind of museum, corn fields, sheep, alpacas and some humans! However, it looks as if time stopped in the mid 19 century in these places, except for a well equipped bike shop in Melrose.
Below are some photos of todays ride into a different Australia, compared to the past 4 weeks cycling in the outback.
What a surprise. Now that the chances to see a kangaroo, emu or other wildlife are much lower than in the outback, the motorists are informed to look out for cyclists! Obviously a rare and dangerous species, too.
I understand the meaning of the road sign above, as well as the reminder on the right, that there are kangaroos and other wildlife to expect to be on the road. However, what is a DIP?
Can it fly or swim? How big is it and what color does it have? Has it fur or hair? Is it endemic to Australia or can it be found in other countries, too? Has anyone seen a DIP on the ride today?