Our third tour was by far the best yet! In September 2014 we rode over 800 kms west along The Great Ocean Road and then headed north inland to Deniliquin where we enjoyed our first ever music festival, The Deni Ute Muster.
We started our tour early on a frosty Saturday morning riding 10 kms into town from home, to catch the train to Melbourne. A minor technical delay eventuated, as I had just updated my IOS on my iPhone and it took for ever to re-load. This meant that I couldn’t log the trips’ starting way-point until it was reset. Andrew was slightly peeved to say the least and we ended up riding like the clappers to get to the train.
The train trip to Melbourne was uneventful and we rode straight to Southbank for Coffee & Cake, something we would do a LOT OF during the trip. A quick ride to St Kilda Cycles for a wee bit of window shopping before riding back to Southern Cross Station to catch the train east to Terang. Once we arrived in Terang it was another 10kms to our friends’ the Watt’s place, where we spend a lovely 2 days catching up and being spoilt with fabulous food.
Monday morning came at last (yay) so we packed up and headed south (and down hill) to The Great Ocean Road 46 kms away. it was a glorious sunny day and we had a tail wind all the way. The rugged coast was spectacular with crystal blue water and clear sky. We rode so quick with the tail wind that our proposed lunch spot, Peterborough, was reached mid morning, so we stopped for a coffee instead and kept going on to Port Campbell where we had a lovely seaside picnic lunch.
We did a little bit of sight seeing along the way, but seeing as we’d been to all the big attractions a couple of times before we focused on the little ones that most people just drive by. We weren’t disappointed!
We arrived at our camp at Princetown, another 30kms away from the start of the Great Ocean Road, at 3.00pm which gave us plenty of time to wander to the beach and try some hydro therapy in the ocean. This actually works, so we repeated the process many times along the coast. Our camp was an amazing council run Rec reserve at only $15.- for two, which is a bargain in Australia for a camp site.
Once we got back from the beach we trundled off to the showers but when we got back our hearts sank because a couple had arrived and were setting up camp 2 meters from us even though there was heaps of room elsewhere. So Andrew had a word to them and they luckily moved on, especially after they informed us that they were going to have a fire and ‘get really drunk!’…..
The next day, Tuesday, was our ‘Mountain Stage’ where we climbed over the Otway ranges, a total of 86kms. It was a massive day, bigger than our Tassie trip by far. We climbed a total of 1561 meters and I felt every one of them too! The scenery was lovely though cycling through big coastal forests with the odd ocean glimpse through the trees. Our arrival into Apollo Bay was a God sent and after a quick look at the weather forecast (rain) we decided to book into a cabin for a couple of nights. We treated ourselves to dinner at the pub as we were too tired to cook.
Wednesday was a rest day which was spent doing laundry and a wander down the street followed by a movie back at the cabin when the heavens finally opened up, soaking the almost dry laundry 😦
Thursday it was still drizzly, but all our gear was dry, so we packed up once more and headed further east. We had a hefty tail wind which literally blew us along, score. It was quite hilly especially going up and around all the headlands, but the views were spectacular. Going west to east proved a boon too, as all the tour buses went the other way. Winning.
We were aiming for Anglesea, but made such good time we kept going to Torquay. In the end we probably went a wee bit far that day, 92kms. We stayed at the foreshore caravan park and were even given “Backpacker Rates”.
Friday was another glorious day. We packed up and made our way to Ocean Grove, an easy 28km warm up, to go to the bike shop to get some chain oil as all the salt air created quite a bit of squeaking. As we left the shop, a TV anchorman approached us for an interview to which we obliged. It was in regards to Cadel Evans announcing his retirement from cycling that day and what were our thoughts. we thought it must have been a slow news day and we happily cycled off, not giving it another thought. Rode the 15 kms to Queenscliff and caught the ferry across to Sorrento. It was a nice short 45 minute crossing and gave us a chance to have lunch.
Once we got to Sorrento we rode 22 kms on to Dromana where we stayed the night in the most COMPACT caravan park EVER! The sites were so small there was only room for a car and not much else. Luckily we only had a tent and 2 bikes, but still. We’re kinda used to a bit of space….. After setting up camp we wandered down the street to get some groceries and we had a couple of quiet beers at the local tavern after dinner.
THEN we started getting all these social media messages left right and center that people just saw us on the NEWS! Some as far as Western Australia. We were quite chuffed with this of-course, but were unable to actually see for ourselves as the story never made it online.
Saturday was our ‘City Stage’ where we rode 82 kms north into the city to spend a night with Andrew’s Aunt and her partner in Flemington. This day the winds were not in our favour and the head wind certainly sapped our energy. Lunch was going to be at a nice cafe, but once we arrived we realised it was a Cyclist’s cafe. I wasn’t particularly interested in the Lycra Clad Snob Fest, so we kept going to a picnic spot a bit further up, much better! After lunch we were joined by a couple who are also bike tourers but were just out for a ride. It was good to ride along and swap stories of our trips. It certainly made the ride go quickly.
Our arrival in Flemington was really special and nice, as only a catch-up with family can be! We were fed and watered till bursting and had a magnificent sleep.
Sunday was a slow start with a bit of a sleep in and a lovely pancake breakfast. We spent too long chatting, but so be it, we didn’t get going till 11.30am. Unfortunately the head wind from the previous day had intensified quite dramatically, but we set off anyway.
We only managed to travel 25 kms north in 3 hours before pulling the pin. The wind was too strong at 35 kms/hr with gusts of 55 kms/hr it actually blew Andrew over at one stage. We booked into a studio apartment at Westmeadows right next to the airport, which felt kinda weird as we weren’t flying anywhere, but there was no way we could pitch a tent with the wind. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing some laundry and then went out for tea at the pub to lift our spirits a bit.
Monday the wind had died down, so we set off north again along the Old Sydney Road. One would think that would be a substantial sort of a road, but no, it was gravel for quite a way. But at least it was a lot quieter than the freeway which ran parallel to it about 10 kms east. It was a bit hilly as we had to get up and over the tail end of the Great Dividing Range, but it was nothing compared to the Otways. Lunch was 45 kms north, at Kilmore, after which we were open minded as to how far we would get along. We had a few spots picked out along the way, one being a nudist camp, but in the end we managed to get all the way to Heathcote, another 50 kms, where we camped at the local caravan park. The dusk kangaroos were pretty cute!
Tuesday and the Dreaded Head Winds were back with a vengeance! Inge woke up crook and didn’t feel like riding, but the show must go on, so we packed up and headed further north. Due to not being quite with it, Inge missed a crucial turn-off which meant they were stuck on the main highway with heaps of traffic. The one and only rip roaring fight of the tour then occurred and the rest of the day was not very pleasant. The wind got worse and forced us to take a detour of an extra 7 kms along a gravel road just to get away from the traffic. We finally made it to Elmore, having covered only 50 kms for the day, where we stayed in a motel and had a pub dinner in stony silence.
Wednesday, the wind had finally died down and the sun came out and all was ok once again. A slight tail wind saw us get to Rochester for morning tea, where we paid our respects to the Oppy statue. We then headed off and got to Echuca by 12.30pm, an easy 47 kms for the day. We had a nice scenic lunch on the banks of the Murray River and then decided a bit of luxury was in order after 2 weeks on the road. So we checked into the Moama Madison Spa resort! So, so good! We unpacked, had a quick shower and then spent the afternoon exploring Echuca’s main street. Dinner was a ‘picnic’ in our hotel room, followed by a sauna and a spa bath to ease tired legs and bodies. Delux!
Thursday, the last day of riding saw us on our final leg, 76 kms to Deniliquin. Again sunshine and a tail wind saw us arrive in Deni at midday, go figure! We rode out to the Big Four caravan park where the camp site was $50.- GASP!!!! that is the most we’ve ever had to pay. But, the place was super nice with heated bathroom floors, huge grassed sites and 2 swimming pools.
Seeing as it was our last day we decided to have a mini celebration and went into town to get beers and wine. Andrew cooked a magnificent slow cooked curry for dinner, which we even shared with the neighbour.
Friday was a slow start to the day as we were meeting up with friends after 10.00 am and then going to the Ute Muster together. It felt really weird to load the bikes and panniers into the back of the ute after riding for 2 weeks straight.
Once we arrived at the Ute Muster, Inge had a slight acclimatization delay due to the massive billowing dust that just swilled around the site endlessly. It got into everything, except the inner of the tent, which luckily managed to stay a clean zone. But after a few beers and a wander around she was fine and thoroughly enjoyed the next couple of days, because after all, the cycling was done, the music was good and the beer was COLD!