Thursday 17 November 2016


Reluctantly leaving the peace of my little Hut in the woods I was straight onto the last stretch of the Great Ocean Road.
For a while there was a trail along the beach. It makes a lovely peaceful start to the day.

The road continued in the familiar spectacular way until arriving at the memorial bridge to the road. The road was originally built to give work to returning soldiers from WW1. It has been updated if course many times since then and and currently undergoing a 50 million dollar improvement. Some of it I think to reduce the landslides that sometimes block it.

The sculpture of the two road builders includes the jacket you see in front of them which has war medals on it, a nice touch. 

The road meandered happily until Aireys Inlet  where a picnic lunch and nap on the grass were much enjoyed. 

Thete was one further stop at a memorial to an escaped convict who had lived in the bush for a while, the road turned away from the coast and that was really the end of the Great Ocean Road. Next stop Tasmania. 

Wednesday 16 November 2016


The backpackers  in Lorne was delightful, individual huts scattered through the woods.  I was in a dormitory for 4 but no one else both nights. Had a slow start to the day and decided against a near vertical climb to a waterfall and went to have lunch on the beach choosing unintentionally a health food cafe. The resulting golden latte and green superfood bowl were 'intetesting', the bowl mostly green foam with seeds.
 golden latte no coffee included!
Although not feeling particularly keen to mobilise I had run out of excuses for sitting watching the waves crash on the beach so decided to go to a recommended lookout point. I didnt realise that it was up the same vertical road that I'd avoided earlier. even in my 'granny gear' (lowest gear cycling not twinset and pearls) I couldn't manage more than 100m. I had to keep choosing aiming points to keep going towards before I had a rest. ofcourse I eventually got there cycling the last part and was rewarded with a great view of the sea and inlet and showing the line of the road as I came in the day before.  Several people congratulated me on my fitness in getting up there,  I didn't like to say that I was completely knackered,  just looked nonchalant  as if it was really no effort at all!


Apollo Bay to Lorne was another stunning section of road. Happily phone working again (why??). The joy of cycling means it is much easier to stop for photos or just to gaze and take it all in. It was a perfect ride,  undulating  with nothing too steep, weather dry and slightly cool and a cafe for latte in just the right place. Nothing more to to  be said,  the photos say it all.

 Koalas promised
 and delivered!


The day didn't start well, I'd noticed the night before that my shorts had a strange smell so put them in the laundry bag in the pannier but the next morning when I got things out the whole pannier was smelly. I checked the pockets of the shorts and found the offending item, a small blue shell that I'd picked up on the beach that had a bit of the creature still in it rotting away. Hurled it away and sealed up the smelly stuff. Then at the point of setting out my phone ceased to be, it was fully charged but the screen was completely blank,  felt strangely cut off.
I knew I had a big hill to deal with so thought I had better crack on. The initial section was undulating but spectacular, it included the famous 12 Apostles,  limestone pillars off the coast.  Alas as phone not working no photos. After trying for a latte at Princetown a 2 cafe town with neither open at 11am I had a choice of staying on the road for a  steep uphill and steep downhill  or follow a gravel trail on the Old Ocean Road,  the guy at the tourist office who was a cyclist had recommended the trail so off I went.  It was a great choice,  about 12 km more or less flat through the bush weaving alongside a river and lakes and swamps with only the sound of birds and the wind - delightful. I was then faced with 20km of uphill to finish the day. It turned out to be an angle that was doable and apart  from a roadworks section where there was loose gravel and a lot if dust  I didn't need to push. The views at the top were for miles in both directions as it was a ridge above the sea and and the countryside beyond. The night was extremely cold but benefitted from an electric blanket - scrumpy warm! Early morning woke to rain and hail and fog with no visibility across the road let alone for miles. Eventually it cleared for a run down to Apollo Bay.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Actually on The Great Ocean Road

Leaving Warrnambool I set off for Port Campbell some 40 undulating miles away, I overslept so left somewhat late but the weather was glorious sunny but with a nice cool breeze. This was the best ride of the trip so far with lovely country sections with no traffic and good roads and then the Great Ocean road actually ran along the ocean with stunning views.

The limestone cliffs are easily eroded and create the fantastic structures out to sea. The one above is called London Bridge because it used to have 2 arches but the one joining it to the mainland collapsed into the sea leaving 2 people stranded to be later rescued by helicopter. 

The Most Liveable Place in the World

I decided to go further west from Warrnambool to Port Fairy along a rail trail. After the first few km the gravel trail turned to deep sand, impossible to cycle through but I ploughed along pushing the bike thinking not much of the trail and came across a car stuck in the sand at a very unfortunate angle with 2 trucks trying to pull him out. I complained about the trial and they said I had missed the turning, much relieved that this wasn't the trail I went back and found the gate for the board walk over the water. The water had lots of black swans which I didn't get a picture of in Perth though it was so windy the photos were a bit blurry.

I pushed on through the wind and eventually arrived in Port Fairy that claimed to be the 'Most Liveable Place on Earth 2012' It was certainly very pleasant but got no information about how it got the title except it was through a competition.

After a pleasant couple of nights there it was time to return to Warrnambool. I did the whole rail trail this time and at the mid-point came across Koroit came across a restored station and chatted to some of the local cycling group who had done the restoration and maintained the trail. I had seen the signs for the former stations that apparently they had put them up. One of them Colin was kind enough to give me his phone number if I had any problems while I was in the area. Back to Warrnambool then staying in the backpackers hostel.

The Great Ocean Road

Arrived in Melbourne early morning after 9 hour bus ride (the joys of travel) and booked in at the YHA. A much more vibrant city than Adelaide and of course much older. As per normal I went to tourist information but minimal information about cycling the Great Ocean Road ( I realised that every tourist information office only knows about their immediate area and definitely nothing out of state). Established that the best plan would be to get the train to Warrnambool and cycle back. Arriving at the station the next day it was full of people dressed up to go to the races with the women all in their hats, posh frocks and high heels.

I felt pretty scruffy. It was at the conductors discretion if there was room for the bike but all was well and wheeled it on with luggage attached and no fuss.
Warrnambool was a nice town and decided to stay for 2 nights in another cheap hotel with same drinkers and gamblers as before. Sign below seemed to be true.

Warrnambool has a fantastic trail through the dunes either along board walks or tarmac paths with brilliant views. A really enjoyable day and a nice lunch.

The island with the purple flowers is called Middle Island and is closed to the public. It is home to a group of miniature penguins, sometimes known as Fairy penguins. During the breeding season they are protected by 2 Maremma dogs who stop foxes eating them. The man whose job it is to look after the dogs swims or wades to the island each day to feed them and check they are ok.

Fawlty Towers and not the Murray River Trail.

I arrived into Adelaide hoping to get information about the Murray river trail but tourist information and the local bike shop knew nothing. Had an amble through Adelaide which had a vibrant main shopping street but all the side roads were like ghost towns with most of the shops closed down.
I decided to stay another night to find out about trains and buses to go elsewhere if the trail didn't work out. The main station didn't deal with trains outside the local area and sent me to one out of town. By the time I found it close to 1pm it had closed for the day and no information.
I was rather dreading a lengthy very steep climb to get out of Adelaide and discovered there was a bus that went to the top of the hill but bikes were taken at driver's discretion. I went to the bus stop for the last bus to ask the driver direct if he would allow a bike on (I was asking for the next day) but he said it depended on the mood of the driver but to smile nicely.
Feeling a bit fed up I had seen there was a stage performance of Fawlty Towers and decided to go to that. I was pleased when the lady selling the tickets said my timing was good as the price was reduced as last minute except that it was still 78 dollars! It was a stage play not a big musical and the original price had been 115 dollars. Still it was an excellent performance and the main characters looked very like the original cast.
I turned up at the bus stop the next morning and smiled and asked nicely and after he phoned headquarters I was let on. Much relieved as the uphill was about 12 miles on busy roads and raining steadily. Got out at Mount Barker and had a nice 30 mile ride to Murray Bridge which was one third uphill and two thirds downhill, a correct combination in my view.
On the way met Johnny a touring cyclist going the other way and we had a good natter about all things cycle touring. He was cycling from Hobart across Tasmania, then from Melbourne to Darwin, therefore right across the country. I envied the sense of achievement he will have for an end to end trip whilst knowing I wouldn't want that endless middle of nowhere cycling not to mention amount of water and food to carry.  He had come along the Great Ocean Road which he highly recommended but wasn't on my itinerary.

I arrived in Murray Bridge too late for tourist information and went straight to the hotel, it was very cheap and showed it.  At 5pm there were already people who had clearly been in the bar for some time and a whole lot of others sat at the slot machines. Same at 8am
Anyway turned up at tourist information first thing hoping for detailed information about the Murray river trail. The two ladies there were completely baffled and had never heard of it (even though we were right next to the Murray river) a third lady was summonsed from the council offices who was equally baffled. Phone calls were made back and forth and it turned out not to exist in that part of the Murray river or at least not for several years to come. There weren't really any good alternatives so I asked how I could get to the Great Ocean Road (as recommended by Johnny). It would have taken a while to ride here across not very interesting terrain so they suggested getting the night bus to Melbourne and booked it for me.
I spent a pleasant enough day cycling round the area and went to the local social club for dinner. After killing time all evening I ended up leaving late and realising I hadn't connected the dynamo for the light and needed to move the wheel position so instead cycled on the pavements to the bus stop. So another trail not done.

Friday 4 November 2016

Continuing not on the Munda Biddi Trail

I carried on into the Perth Hills relying on Google for the cycle route, usually quite useful at picking up bike paths I might otherwise miss.  In this instance all went well until the serious hill started, plodded my way up for  a steep mile which led to a dead end to the road and continued on a track. I needed to haul the bike over some rocks in the way (should have been a hint) to get to the trail. It looked good and started off optimistically.  I was slightly concerned by the forest fire but didn't have far to go.
However after about half a kilometre it changed into a steep,  narrow and rocky  trail only suitable for mountain bikes. So I turned round,  back up the trail, hauled the bike back over the rocks and back down the hard won hill.  The road route was a steep 2 miles uphill, so happy to finally arrive. Had a further day cycling locally  and came across this bicycle servicing post in the local town. The next day was a return to Perth and flight to Adelaide

Not the Munda Biddi Trail

I went into the local town from the kangaroo B&B to gather more information  from the tourist office,  parked the bike, locked it up with my expensive very heavy D-lock while I went to the library to find the whereabouts of the tourist office. As I returned to the bike I saw someone bent over over it, examining the lock.  I ran at him like a screaming banshee quite prepared to whack him with my rucksack but he backed of pretty quickly perhaps sensing my anger. I quite surprised myself at how angry I felt as I rarely lose my temper. I guess it was exacerbated by my bike being stolen earlier in the year. I decided I needed a latte to calm down and carried the bike up the steps into the indoor mall, I parked across the way from a cafe open to the mall and a few minutes later a security guard walked by the bike looking at it,  looked round,  walked back to it and tried to wheel it away. when I said it was mine he said it wasn't allowed in the mall.  I wasn't convinced he was completely honest. Later in the day I bought an Australian sim card,  it ended up taking over an hour to set up in the shop because I wasn't Australian.  A very frustrating day!

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Perth and Beyond

We'll not very far beyond Perth. I stopped off at a cycle shop to ask them to tweak my front brake that was rubbing and refused to submit to my gentle encouragement. The guy spent about 15 minutes tweaking it and as often happens refused any payment. Lots of excellent cycle paths through the city and along the Swan river which is named after the black swans there, of which there were many. I met up with a local woman Maggie, out on her daily ride, we chatted as we cycled together for about an hour and I got a few local tips. Spent the first night at the coast having gone along some pleasant beachside trails. Headed inland still thinking about the Munda Biddi trail and stayed at a lovely B and B except that it was up an extremely steep hill,  a reminder of the hill towns in France they Ling and I tackled. However it was worth after returning from the town with dinner ( yes coming up the hill second time) I met my first kangaroos.