Very scenic ride through the fern and eucalyptus forest. Only 13 cars and 4 motor cycles all day on the road. 20 km of gravel.
I must have left my climbing legs in Indonesia. It wasn’t an easy day, after 8 weeks of almost no climbs in Australia and more than 10000km done so far. However the route through a green forest, with almost no traffic, was so peace- and beautiful. Although a huge part of the forest was recently destroyed by an immense fire, it was already shining in 50 shades of green. Huge tree-ferns, giant eucalyptus trees and lower plants competed in who can produce more shades of green, like the tea plantations on Indonesia. The climbs were very gradual and with only 17 motorized vehicles passing us all day, it allowed a very relaxed cycling. The road was a 115 km roller-coaster, which means countless corners and curves, as well as ups and downs. The weather was fantastic. It started cold in the morning, but clear skies indicated that the sun will heat up the air quickly, allowing to ride short sleeved for the first time in weeks. Shortly before reaching delegate we crossed state boundaries from Victoria to New South Wales (NSW).
Delegate is a very small town. There was only one store open this Saturday afternoon to buy food and drinks. The camp ground is an unmanaged public camping space along the Snowy River. Lush green, but myriads of annoying flies. Tonight we will sleep with the sound of the running waters and the songs of the frogs instead of the engines of passing cars, passing by the former camps located next to the highway.
Tomorrow will be another long day, with 135km and 1750m up. The 5 remaining days to Sydney will by no means be a ‘Walk in the Park’!
A nice rail trail, if you are willing to ride it – otherwise the main road, less busy as the day before. The weather turned fine today.
What a treat today. We stayed dry all day. Sunny and warmer than the past weeks. It was a short riding day, if you decided to take the main road. Optional, but unofficial, the rail trail could be taken. Because it was loose gravel, sand and rocks, and a bit washed out, after the rain of the past days, the rail trail was not recommended for the road bikes. After the Great Ocean Road, I wanted to ride at least a few kilometers on the Great Alpine Road. Therefore I stayed the first 20 km on the main road, before I switched to the rail tail. Not a bad idea, as the start was quite scenic and the low clouds covered the hills and green fields into a nice picture. It was a beautiful ride on the trail. Only myself and dozens of kangaroos/wallabies, a wombat and a giant water dragon were on the trail this morning. Henry, Ursula and Rae were far behind, as they also cycled the first 20km. The kangaroos were almost on every corner, starring at me before they hopped into the forest. At the Stony Creek Trestle Bride, a giant water dragon appeared out of the deeper grass and slowly founds its way around me to walk deeper into the woods. It was definitely harder to ride on the trail than on the road, but worth every inch. Mostly far away from the road, there was only the sound of the birds and wind in the trees. Although I was one of the latest in camp, it was still early in the day to enjoy the warming sun and stroll through the small town.
A too busy road. No rain, but sky always covered with a few sun rays peaking through the clouds.
After yesterday’s fantastic ride on the rail trail, we stayed all day on the busy Princess Highway. Too many trucks, and fast going cars, very noisy. It was not very enjoyable, but obviously no alternatives to get us to Bairnsdale, or next rest day location. The first 100km I did a solo ride, with Lydia slipstreaming me for the last 60km. Then I made a joke and said ‘I am on strike’ and let me fall back a bit. Lydia obviously took this very serious and went ahead, leaving me back on my own. However, I soon closed up with her again, when she stopped to help an injured bird. I stayed behind her for a while. Not soon later she asked me ‘are you still on strike’? I confirmed that the German Cycling Union had called off the strike and took over the lead again. Along the highway there we signs, telling the motorists ‘to not tailgate and to keep a 3 seconds distance to the previous car’. Lydia asked me if this also applies to cyclist, to what I replied ‘in principle Yes, but if a someone tailgates you for 100+ kilometers, this combination is called a tandem for which the rule does not apply’. We arrived at the new campsite at 12:30pm. I did laundry, shopping and bike and equipment maintenance, and prepared for a real rest day. There is not much to do in Bairnsdale, especially being trapped in the tent on another rainy rest day.
Getting ready for the grand final – 7 cycling days left.
It may look, as if the final cycling week into Canberra and Sydney could bring us back a bit of the sun and dry weather we liked in the outback. Enough of the cold and wet weather that we have since we arrived in Southern Australia, about 3 weeks ago!
Cold but dry in the morning. Fantastic rail trail ride away from the main road.
10000 kilometers done! Shortly before our current campsite, the 10000 kilometer EFI marker was passed.
It was a fantastic ride today. Although still cold but not raining anymore, with good supporting wind it was nice to ride. Everything covered in green and in numberless shades. Huge ferns along the trail and frog concerts wherever there was water. The old Southern Railway track is transformed into a bike & hiking trail, with a sandy, but compact surface that lets you fast advance. Too fast for a second breakfast in Fish Creek, as we arrived too early. I considered a detour to the most southern point of Australia, that we passed today. However, adding an extra ~70 kilometers on a cold day was too much to enjoy, thus I skipped this thought. The ‘signs’ at lunch indicated rain. A local farmer explained: “If all cows are standing it means ‘fine weather’, if there is a mix of standing and resting cows it means ‘drizzling rain’. However if the majority is resting in the grass it means ‘rain showers’. I asked Bob, who wasn’t riding today, but supporting Doug with lunch, to make sure that the majority of the cows will get on there feet! It seemed to work. On arrival in Yarram the sky opened and sunshine broke through. I did not go straight to camp, as the odometer showed just 98.5 km. Instead I continued to town, found a bakery and had tea and cake, before I turned and got to camp, ensuring I made another century (100km).
A wet start but sunny afternoon on this short cycling day.
Just 57 km on the board to ride today. Lydia, Eric and I added 9 extra kilometers to ride though the Koala Reserve on Phillip Island. It continued to rain during the night, so back to rain coats and wind breaker jackets, with the hope of improvements in the afternoon. We made it quickly to the park and rode the trails, scanning the trees for the cute little bears. Wallabies, rabbits and some kangaroos looked quite puzzled at us, riding in our fancy outfit through their territory. I detected 1 sleeping koala in a tree, but not more. Unfortunately the conservatory opens only at 10am, more than 2 hours later, so we couldn’t go into the sanctuary, where we would have seen more and much closer. At least 1 in the wild, more than Eric had seen since Adelaide. Back to the main route we stayed the first 40 km together. I decided to take an alternate route on a sandy hiking trail, away from the busy main road. An extended breakfast stop in town delayed my arrival to camp by another hour. However the sun was already breaking through the clouds and heated the air. So I could dry my tent, and all clothes, including the sleeping bag and liner. What a great feeling, after the last few days in moist! After updating the blog I ‘ll suck in some sun, before I work on selecting some more photos to publish later.
Tomorrow we will cross the 10000 kilometer mark, with 9 cycling days left to Sydney.
The rain set in during the night and never stopped all day, until we reached Phillip Island. And it was a cold and wind battered rain in Melbourne. Day temperatures 20°C below normal. The ‘Melbies’ seem to be unimpressed by such conditions. There were quite some runners and cyclists on the trails this morning. We also passed two sport events, which took place this morning; a women run and a triathlon. So we were not the only ones sent into the cold …
Today was a race against the time. 96 km in the cold headwind to Crib Point, from where the ferry should start at noon to take us to Cowes on Phillip Island. The next would go at 4:30pm, if we miss the noon one. I was riding with Eric and we advance quickly. However, we missed a turn in Melbourne, but thanks to Garmin and Google Maps on the smartphone, we found our way to Beach Road and reconnected to the route. At lunch at around 63 km we saw a bit of a sun through thinner clouds. But soon it was grey in grey again and continued to drizzle. 30km left to the ferry port. We arrived there at 11:50am just to be told, that there will be no ferry today, as the weather was too bad. What!? We were cycling all morning in bad weather, how can a ferry be ‘grounded’, if we can ride under such conditions. Nevertheless, Andreas was already there and soon we were on a train back to Frankston, leaving our bikes behind. From Frankstone we had to take a bus to Dandenong, from where another bus would take us to Cowes. Five and a half hours later, cycling clothes were almost dry again, we arrived at camp, just in time to setup our wet tents and enroll the wet sleeping bags and matrasses. No time to dry anything. Dinner was almost ready, although Mark was sick today and most of the other staff members were busy getting back to the ferry port to collect bicycles and remaining cyclists, who were not with us on the public transportation. It was 3 am the next morning, when Max returned from the last trip to Crib Point. Big Thanks to all that all the bikes were ready the next morning, to continue into another day. Due to the late arrival in Cowes, we were not able to visit the ‘Penguin Parade’, a beach 12 km away from our camp, where the penguins come to the beach at dawn.
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