Geelong to Mt Mercer
Our legs had been rested enough, the weather no longer scared us (much) and the forecasts suggested the ferocious winds may be subduing… We finally left Geelong again, after our heroic rescue from Saul. It may now be a good time for a mad dash west before we got battered by strong head winds again.
The roads through Inverleigh and Shelford were a tad dull, the skies a bit grey and we still had to contend with a slight head wind. Why did we leave the comfort and good banter of Saul’s…?!
Mt Mercer to Streatham
More open, barren landscape to occupy our thoughts – time for some easy flat roads but it’s not the most inspiring of scenery west of Melbourne.
Before we set up camp we stopped in the general store and filled our bottles with water, and got chatting to the lady who ran the store. A friendly but slightly eccentric lady with a love of scaring herself. She was debating whether to abseil down the Gordon Dam in Tasmania as a treat for her 60th birthday, but not sure if this was suitably terrifying enough for her, so her other thought was the nail biting flight into Lukla in Nepal.
We found our campsite and soon had a fire going to keep us warm. The sun had set and it was almost pitch black. Out of nowhere a figure appeared, and the eccentric lady had turned up. She was worried we didn’t have enough water for tomorrow. She wouldn’t be working tomorrow, instead a grumpy old sod would be, and she was certain he would not give us any more water. We then chatted about the merits of Nepal vs Antarctica for a 60th birthday escapade, and her adventures in bear country and the ‘relief’ she felt when her guide let them all know she was “packing” so they were safe – not a gun, but a small aerosol can of bear spray!
Streatham to Willaura
A cold and frosty morning made it difficult to get out of the cosy sleeping bags, but soon the sun had risen and the day was warming up. We cycled up to a town called Ararat (which we still have trouble saying) to stock up on supplies. Cycling back down the road in the opposite direction, with a tail wind made us start to love being back on the bikes – the sun was shining and the scenery getting better, with the dramatic peaks of the Grampians looming ever closer.
We stayed at a farm and our evening entertainment was helping load and weigh the beautiful, soft merino wool, freshly sheared from the sheep; a soft cuddly bundle – with a few bits of skin still attached to the fleece.
Willaura to Hamilton
Looking forward to the continued good weather that had been predicted, we were horrified when we looked outside and could see the low hanging clouds moving rapidly through the skies. Bollocks, this most definitely meant more head wind; it was bound to be going against us.
We battled a side wind as we cycled towards Yarram Gap, which is where we would enter the Grampians National Park. A bit of respite from the wind as we climbed through the gap, then sheltered for a coffee stop at a nearby picnic area. Feeling refreshed, we turned north and headed towards Halls Gap, at the far northern end of the road. Within 5km, we turned round and went south – balls to all this head wind, we’re changing our plans and catching a tail wind!
We arrived at the southern end of the Grampians at Dunkeld.
We considered our options and we decided to make a break towards Hamilton, where there was a free campsite by the lake.
Hamilton to Dartmoor
The rain throughout the night had finally stopped and we were greeted with a stunning sunrise over the lake.
Through sweet smelling pine forests and over green rolling hills we made our way to the little town of Dartmoor. Along the way we stopped and chatted to road workman, and he informed us of more crazy news going on in the world – we seem a long way from all the crazy and terrible news as we happily cycle through countries meeting a variety of friendly and helpful people. Maybe if everyone rode a bike the world would be a happier place …except the man who just beeped his horn at us because he had to move his steering wheel slightly to overtake us. I sometimes feel so guilty about slowing these obviously important people down by 5 seconds by selfishly being on the road and in their way.
Luckily our hosts at Dartmoor were a lot more bike friendly, and we stayed up all night watching more of the Tour, and then I helped build a farm shed the next day, one which I was very proud of!
Dartmoor to Mt Gambier
A wind-free day was our cue to cycle west a bit more. Lindsay did well as she knowingly chose the gravel roads and we scooted through eerily quiet pine forests lined with roads of limestone and towards Picaninnie Ponds.
An amazingly deep and clear lagoon, where depths can drop to 110 metres. Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation park is a rare and exceptional type of wetland known as a karst rising spring. The water is exceptionally clear after passing through many kilometres of limestone – a perfect place for a midday rest before the final push to Mt Gambier.
Posted by Will