The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
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HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
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Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
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all 3 book)
Victoria #2 Australia
Blog and Daily Journal.
Travel Writing, Travelogue
(January 5 - February 9, 2007)
|Jan 5 - 13
||Devonport - Melbourne. We took the Spirit of
Tasmania ferry back to Melbourne, we tried to book a night boat but they
were all full so we took the day boat. The crossing was calm, so no
worries there. We had quite a shock when we got off the boat, it
was 10 C hotter in Melbourne. Somehow we had gone from spring like
weather to middle of summer weather, in 10 hours. Our plans to
housesit in Melbourne had fallen through so we planned to stay a
couple of days at Jon's house and get riding again. It seemed almost immediately we had
computer problems. The computer was working on battery only, the
battery would not charge with the AC cord plugged in. After much
research and emotional ups and downs we got a few things fixed.
The plug inside the computer was replaced as well as the cord fixed.
In the end we bought a new cord. Since we were in Melbourne all we had
to do was call a Sony store and pick up the part. Well at least we did
not have to buy a new computer. While we were in Tasmania we had a
portable hard drive sent over so Tim can make his videos. So now
we have two working hard drives, we are back to normal again.
I enjoyed living in the city (at Jon's house) where I could buy fresh
veggies every day. The small towns in Tasmania did not always have
a good vegetable selection. Thank you Jon for taking care of us while
were were in Melbourne. Thanks to the Melbourne Bicycle Touring
Club members for buying several of our books. It keeps us going
down the road.
||Melbourne - French Island. It is Sunday and we
took the train from Elsternwick to Stony Point. It was easy to
push our fully loaded touring bikes on to the train, however I would not
try this during rush hour. Since it was Sunday we paid a mere
$2.50 Au ($1.98 US) each to ride the train to Stony Point, it was about
an hour and a half train ride. We then took the ferry to French
Island for $10 Au ($7.90 US). There are no sealed roads on the
island, it is all dirt, French Island is famous for the huge number of
Koalas on the island, a chickery kiln, and an old prison (seems to me
Australia had prisons everywhere). We camped in the national park
campground for free, it had nice shady spots to pitch a tent, pit toilet
and a rain water tank. The campground is located 4.5 km down a
dirt and sometimes very sandy road.
||French Island. Our plans for the day were to ride
to a trail head in the national park and go hiking. I packed a
lunch and wore hiking clothes instead of biking clothes. It turned
out that the island was better for biking then hiking so we rode all
around the island visiting the chickery kiln, and touring the rest of
the island. There was an old prison on the island but it cost $10Au
($7.90 US) each so we passed on it. It
was quite sandy in places and because I was not wearing my bike clothes,
I got quite a sore bum. We went back to camp to relax and met our
neighbor who had a strange habit of talking to himself. Hmm. we
kept our distance from him for the rest of the day. The evening
was cool a perfect night for sleeping. I was deep in dream land
when I was woken by some one yelling in the night. It turns out it
was our neighbor who we met earlier. Now he was yelling and it was the
middle of the night. Tim was up too. We laid awake listening
to this guy rant on and on. I distinctly heard him say, "I do not care
if I die!". Whoa, what did he mean by that, there was not going back to
sleep for the rest of the night.
||40 km (dirt)
||French Island - Perry. In the morning I was
definitely sleepy and grateful the neighbor did not come to visit
in the night. We caught the ferry over to Philip Island and
started riding towards Wilsons Prom. We did not have any idea
where we were going to camp but we knew something would show up. School
holidays are in full swing and the caravan parks are way to expensive so
we would be looking for a free place to camp. The road off of
Philip Island was chock full of traffic, I never felt threatened by the
drivers (unlike Tassie where I thought they were trying to hit me) but
the noise was too much for Tim and I to talk. I knew there was a
rail trail somewhere. Glenn from the MBTC gave me perfect
directions, at the first roundabout off the island go to the car park
and the start of the trail is to the left and there it was a wonderful
rail trail. We rode this through Kunundra, this is
when the weather started to change, it was stinking hot and the wind
began pick up. We turned off the trail at a reserve turned inland
and found a place to camp. We got the tent up in time to get
everything in out of the rain.
||Perry - Tarwin Lower. We went back to the rail
trail and rode it into wonthangi. When we popped out into town
we were at a huge Safeway grocery store. Even though we had only
ridden 12 km I had to stop and buy groceries. Ok I went a little
over board. When I came out I loaded up the donkey, that's Tim,
with at least 10 kilos that's 20 pounds of food. To my amazement that slowed him down
a bit so we had to adjust our km for the day. I had extra weigh too
but not as much. We were heading for Walkersville when we rode
through the small town of Tarwin Lower, Yes there is a Tarwin middle and
upper those are small too. As we rode towards the roundabout we
saw a sign and it said Camping with a arrow. We could not pass it up,
we stopped for the day. We had a picnic table, grassy area, and a
toilet a short walk away. How divine. We had been settled
in for a couple of hours and I went out birding. I walked by the sign
that said Camping and took a closer look. Oh shoot! the part that said
NO was covered with duct tape and we had not noticed it when we arrived.
It was now sunset and we were camped illegally. Oops. Well we
were tucked away pretty good, we even had a koala for a neighbor.
||Tarwin Lower - Tidal River Wilsons Promotory. We
changed directions so we would shorten the days ride. We rode back
to the intersection and turned to Fish Creek and then down to Wilsons
Prom. We had a nice tailwind for most of the day. At the
entrance to the Prom we booked into a site at Tidal river, it turns out
we could stay for only two nights. From the entrance to the Prom
to Tidal river it took us a little over 2 hours. We met a road
cyclist on the way in and he said it took him 1 hour and 20 mins to get
to the gate from Tidal River. He looked at our loaded bikes and
predicted it would take us 3 hours to ride in. I was deflated, I did not
want to ride that much longer. While we were on the flats we
were up to 28 sometimes 30 km per hour. We really dogged on the
hills towards the end. It was a fine ride in and I would recommend
it, just bring plenty of food and water with you because there is
absolutely nothing for those 30 km. That is the beauty of the Prom.
We were pretty tired when we arrived but managed a short walk to the
beach. There were people everywhere. Little kids with buggy boards and
even littler kids building sand castles, moms and dads with surf boards.
The perfect Aussie vacation. Tidal River was booked solid. We were lucky
we had a space that is left open for foreigners and out of staters.
The only restriction was we were only allowed to stay two nights.
bummer, this place deserves a week of exploration.
|Jan 19 - 20
||Wilsons Promotory. Our only full day in the park
and it was very hot and humid, we decided to do a circuit close by the
campground and walked to Lilly Pilly gully and squeaky beach. We
really did not want to leave in the morning so we formulated a plan.
We would move over to someone else's site and camp with them.
Easier said then done. It was a bit cheeky but we did not want to leave.
In the morning we moved in with our neighbor. We did get to do
another walk in the park to Sealers Cove well almost. In the
evening it began to rain. I had tentitis and wanted away from our
cloth castle. We watched a movie called Borat, it was funny
and a bit vulgar for my taste. I like Austin Powers but this went
way beyond that. The rain lasted all night and was heavy at times.
||Wilsons Promotory - Foster. The forest looked
brand new today, it was like all the dust was washed off the leaves and
everything was reaching for the sun. The forest in the Prom is stunning. ok we had to leave
rain or shine. The rain had stopped in the morning for long enough
for us to pack our panniers. We started out of the Prom about 10
am, we slept in a bit and got a late start. We immediately had a
head wind. So it was a huge push to get to the gate. Tim was
riding so hard I was out of breath, and I was in his draft. I
guess we ate a lot of food while at Tidal River and he dropped some weight from the bike.
We got to the gate in a little over 2 hours, about the same time as when
we rode in. I was impressed Tim was riding hard and fast. Turns out he
was listening to Metalica on the mp3 player, nothing like a little heavy
metal to get Tim to hammer. We sat and ate lunch and when we got
back on the bikes the wind was fierce, and it was a head wind. We
could see the storm coming from Melbourne, it was a big one, a solid
wall of grey and we were out in it exposed no where to go. We pushed on
a short 7 km to Yanakie and landed at the general store just before the
rain came down. We waited at the store for over two hours for the
rain to stop. It was sprinkling slightly when we shoved off to
Foster a short (or long if it is raining) 23 km away. It was a hard
ride into the wind for a while and then we turned to the east towards
Foster and our head wind turned into a side wind and then a tail wind.
We rode fast and hard into Foster, it was an invigorating ride, we don't
usually push that hard. We got to the caravan park in Foster before the
real rain hit again. Gale force winds and pounding rain. We barely
were wet from the ride and we now had shelter. Ah a good day on the
bike. As we were waiting for the rain and gale force winds to stop
so we could put up our tent, we met a family from Melbourne, two couples
and a little guy named Henric. I thought he was 5 or 6 but it
turned out he was only 3. He was quite tall for his age and his
favorite word was why. He was quite cute he genuinely wanted to
know why you were going to your tent, why you were going to the
bathroom, ect. We set up our tent in gale force winds and rain.
Our neighbors had to move their tent because the gale force winds were
collapsing in the side of the tent. Tim helped as the whole family
picked up and moved the tent. This frightened Henric quite a bit,
it was his first camping trip and he did not want to see the tent go
away. So it was quite a drama for him to watch the tent be moved
from one site to another. In the end he finally understood that it
was better around the corner.
||Foster. We had a nice campsite right next to the
camp kitchen so Tim set up to work on making our first movie of
Australia. We plugged the computer in the camp kitchen like we
usually do and he went to work on the video. During the coarse of
the day the caravan owner was in and out of the kitchen. At around
dinner time he walked into the kitchen and noticed that Tim had the
computer plugged in. This is when things went down hill fast. He
came over and said hey you paid for an unpowered site ($25 Au $19.75 US)
and you are using electricity. Then he said something like, you
are dishonest people and cheats. To try and calm things down I said,
"How much is a powered site?" He said, $30 Au ($23.70 US). I said, Ok I
will give you $5. I mistakenly thought that would be the end of
it. As I was getting the money to pay him he continued to badger
Tim about using the computer. Tim finally said, "Look the microwave uses
more electricity than my computer does". Somehow this angered the
fella more and he went inside a locked cabinet and turned the microwave
and coffeemaker off. I saw this and said, "Hey wait a minute, we
just paid you to use the electricity why are you turning it off, He
said, "Ask you Hubby about that". This whole encounter was really
unnecessary. The funny thing was when we arrived I told him we had
a laptop and we bought 2 1-hour cards to use the wireless internet at a
cost of $9 Au $7.11 US for each hour yes that is expensive ouch!.
It was unfortunate that he behaved this way because we were planning to
stay another day and work on the computer. I certainly did not
want to stay any longer then tomorrow morning. The night was
salvaged when Greg an Aussie from Melbourne said, "Hey come over and
look at the moon, It looks really different". As I was gazing at
the moon I looked over to the south and there it was, a beautiful sight,
A comet with a very long tail, turns out the tail was over 200,000
kilometers long. Whoa, I could not take my eyes off it. I called
over Tim and the family from Melbourne and we all were in ah. To add to
the spectacle, it turns out that the power went out in Foster right
about sunset so there was an unobstructed view of the comet, no glow
from the city. A truly magical sight.
||Foster - Ferndale now named Fernholme, Tarra Valley Caravan Park.
Lonely Planet Cycling book comes through here so we thought we would
follow their trail. The way that Lonely Planet (LP) avoided hwy.
A440 I thought cyclist were not allowed on it. Turns out we are,
it is a two lane road. LP also turns north from Toora and travels
on dirt roads for some 30 odd km. We decided to ride to Toora and
see how the traffic was on the highway. The road was rolling hills
to Toora, traffic was light, a few passenger cars and commercial trucks,
the shoulder was wide in some areas and disappeared in others. We
chose to stay on the sealed road, the road was relatively flat for the
the first 65 km and climbed steadily up the Tarra Valley an absolute gem
of a ride up a quiet road. We landed at Fernholme and booked for
an unpowered site $20 Au ($15.80 US). We were a bit gun shy from
our last encounter so we asked if we could plug out computer in in the
camp kitchen. They said sure no problem. Turns out they have free
wireless too. This is turning out to be our kind of place. The
caravan park has a rustic feel to it, it has been around since the 40's.
The Tarra River meanders by on one side of the park and it is a birders
paradise. The owners are a wealth of knowledge on the local
wildlife and birds in particular, we came here to see the Lyrebird.
The next day Tim and I were both pretty tired so we decided to take
the day off the bike. I did laundry and all those chores that need
to get done when we stop. The next day we rode our bikes up to
Tarra-Bulga National park, it is a short 12 km climb but it took us an
hour and 20 minutes to the visitor center on unloaded bikes. It
will probably be a 2 hour climb when loaded. The Tarra Valley is
stunning, gum trees mixed with rainforest and large ferns, the smell is
fresh and tones of oxygen in the air for the climb. I highly
recommend this ride. It turns out that the guest house at Balook
has been closed for the last 5 months so do not count on it being open.
It could be difficult for a cyclist who thinks they have a place to stay
and a store to buy food. I recommend coming the other way, up the
Tarra Valley and stop and Fernholme, a nice caravan park with a
restaurant and store.
It is a long weekend, January 26 is Australia day, something like our
Columbus day in the States but celebrated like the 4th of July. The
Aussies all get together and have a barbeque. The park is booked
out with a caravan club and the owners needed our site so they gave us a
free upgrade to a cabin. We moved into a cabin for the next two
nights, luxury. What started out as a two night stay turned into five
nights. It was such a comfy place it was easy for the days to slip
by. While the rest of Australia has mostly been brown it is nice
and green here, a different planted. Margaret and David are great
hosts, they love the place and it shows. JoJo is their
cocky, also know as a sulfur crested cockatoo, and is quite a character,
they can live to 100 years old, amazing. Do tell them we said
hello when you drop in.
||Fernholme Tarra Valley - Sale. We had to say good
bye and head on up the road. It was a light rain when we left but
in never did really rain hard. I wasn't on the bike 5 minutes when
we rounded a corner and crossed the wooden one lane bridge, the bridge
has gaps between the boards so I was trying hard to stay out of the gap.
I went to far to the right tried to go left and my tire rode along the
ridge rather than up and over it, before I knew I was on the ground.
OUCH! It took us an hour and 45 minutes
to climb to the Tarra-Bulga National Park visitor center. Not too bad for a
500 m climb. We then headed out of town and followed the Grand
Ridge Rd. The road turned to dirt about 5 km from Balook and was
dirt for 10 km. 6 km out of barrywater or something like that it
was pavement again. Just when we thought it was down hill to Gormandale
we hit a steep but short up hill. At Gormandale we turned right
and followed the signs to Rosedale. In Rosedale we sat and
talked about pushing on to Sale, it was only 33 km away and we had a
great tailwind. Why not we said and on we pushed. Tim was
hammering on the flats and got us up to 45 km/hr. whoa! how does
he do that on a loaded bike, I was desperate to stay in his draft.
It was pretty much flat to Sale except for a hill or two. We
arrived in Sale and it was a big let down, we stayed at the Thompson
River Caravan park and all I can say about it was that it was a dump.
The toilets were filthy and camp kitchen had not been cleaned in years.
We were too tired to ride on so we pitched our tent for $25 Au ($19.45)
what a rip off.
||Sale - Bairnsdale. We were more than happy to
move on and reviewed the Lonely Planet cycling guide for the way to
Bairnsdale. We took the flatter, shorter route through Marylieu,
we followed road C106 the entire way while it meandered through
farmland. C106 starts about 6 km north of Sale and we had a tailwind
most of the 80 km to Bairnsdale. If you go this way be warned,
there is no store or water on this route. We stopped at the
Marylieu to get water and the water was turned off. Luckily we
hand water on hand and plenty of food. The country side is dry and
every creek we crossed was dry as well. This area really showed
the drought. We stopped and took pictures of a dried up stream
with huge mud cracks and a horse skull, poor thing. We arrived in
Bairnsdale with time to look for internet. Again, it is a huge
disappointment. At McDonalds we could connect through Telstra but
they want $14 Au ($11 US) an hour to connect, well Telstra forget it.
We found an internet cafe for $8 Au ($6 US) but we can not download,
crazy and the library is free. Well that's good but we can not connect
our laptop, what else is new. It is a sad state for internet in
this country. The cities are better but the countryside is worse
than Thailand or Cambodia, what a shame.
|Jan 30 - 31
||Bairnsdale. It is time to get ready to ride into
the mountains. We will buy food, repairing gear, and planning our
route. We are in luck, there are no fires in the direction we
want to go through Buchan, Suggan Buggan, Seldom Seen (love that name),
and Jindabyne so far our plans are to stay on the lonely planet route.
We probably will not have internet until Jindabyne so 4 days away.
||Bairnsdale - Nowa Nowa. We rode over the bridge
in Bairnsdale and on the right the rail trail to Bruthen - Nowa Nowa
begins. The first 11 km are paved and then it turns to hard packed
dirt, the grade is gentle most of the way, it was 33 km to Bruthen and
another 30 km to Nowa Nowa, the rail trail is marked well so we always
knew where we were, pick up a map at the visitors center in Bairnsdale.
It was a pleasant ride most of the way, until we hit the stony creek
trestle, which is nice to look at but quite an obstacle to get around,
the trail goes straight down to the creek bed which is dry and straight
up the other side. It was so steep Tim could not ride all the way up. We
had to push each bike up separately. Other than that it was a well
maintained trail. We picked up water in Nowa Nowa, well it was
pretty bad water. It was a dark brown and it came out of the tap.
We had to filter it and it still was brown. We made camp not too
far from the rail trail. It was so warm that we left the fly off the
tent. We crawled into our tent for the night, it was dusk and Tim
noticed movement in the tree near our tent and we watch an animal go up
the tree. We could not see what it was so we just watched the tree
and the animal walked out to the end of the limb and to our amazement
jumped off, struck the superman pose and glided over our tent and to the
trees on the other side of us. Whoa! what the heck was that! It
was a sugar glider, it is a member of the possum family. Very
cool. We also saw a wallaby later on. It was a nice cool
night and we both slept well.
||Nowa - Nowa - Buchan. We were up early with the
Kookaburras. As I was just waking up I looked into the forest and
to my amazement again, I saw a deer, yes a deer, it looked like bambi
with a huge rack on his head. Amazing you never know what you will
see in Australia. We turned on the pavement and headed towards
Buchan. The lady at the shop told me the rail trail is now open
all the way to Orbost. That would be a great weekend ride for the
Melbourne Bicycle Touring Club or at least a tourist on their way up the
coast. The ride to Buchan was through state forest and it was
pleasant, no flies, I am beginning to think the flies are in the farm
country. It was a hot one towards the top and I was glad to get into
||Buchan - Currie River. We knew it was going to be
a hot day so we carried extra water with us. I carried 4 liters of
water and Tim carried 5 liters of water, I am glad we did because we
needed it. The first climb of 7 km or so went quick, then the real
climbing began and continued. There are a couple of places to stay on
the way such as SIBA at the 28 km point but we wanted to keep going.
We rode on to Gelantipy where I thought we could get more provisions but
we couldn't. We did collect water there but it had a dark color to
it, most likely from the ash that had recently fallen in this area.
The forest was nice and shady on most of the climbs. We decided to
stay high and camp in the national forest after Gelantipy so Tim carried
the extra10 liters of water. We finally found a place to camp and
slept well in the cool of the night.
||Currie River - Running Waters, Kosciuszco National Park
(on the Snowy River). We woke to the sounds of the Kookaburra and
leisurely packed camp. We saw a cyclist go bye and I wondered if
we would see him again. We were debating if we had enough food to
stay an extra night on the Snowy River and I hoped that I could find a
place to buy some food up ahead. There were not too many options.
5 km down the road we stopped at Seldom Seen, Dave is the last Petrol
stop for 116 km so we had to stop. It was like walking into a
motorcycle and bicycle museum. Dave collects things all kinds of
things. He also had some food I could buy, yeah, I bought
snickers, mars, potato chips, crackers, and muesli bars, that
ought to do it. Dave was an interesting guy to talk to, a
genuinely nice guy. In hide sight, I think he had a room or two to
let and camping is probably an option. Most of all you can buy
water so do stop in and say hello to Dave, he provides the last place to
get water for a long time. Down the road as we were heading into
Suggan Buggan we met Martin. Martin has taken up cycling as a life
style and loved it. He said he knew our web site and we inspired
him to take the plunge, I thought that was very touching it made my day
and Tim's too. We cycled together to Running Waters and the amount
of water we all went through was staggering. Tim and Martin took
turns pumping our drinking water through our filter, I was oh so glad we
had it. All the bumping on the road gave my bladder a hard time
and by the time we stopped I was hurting. I haven't had this
problem in a long long time and was not too thrilled to have it back
again. I still carry some antibiotics and took a single dose, I
hope that cures it. In the evening during dinner we were lucky
enough to see another glider, it jumped/flew from one tree to another,
this one was smaller than the sugar glider we saw earlier.
||Happy Birthday Ed, Patti, and Alicia. Whew who!
We took the day off at Running Waters campsite and Martin pushed on.
It was nice to spend a day with him. He happen to have the Ortlieb
collapsible kitchen sink, it has a hundred uses, well maybe not that
many but I am trying to convince Tim that I have to have one. It
was real handy collecting water from the stream. Martin was off
early, well when we finally let him go and stopped talking that is.
The day was hot so we went for a swim in the Snowy River, this campsite
does not have the best beach but doable. I then decided it was
time for a solar shower, the sun was strong enough to heat the water and
the camp site was quiet and disserted so I thought. Just when I
finished rinsing the Park guys rolled into to do some work. It thought
they were just passing through and then I realized I had to get dressed
behind a tree, great. Well at least I was clean. We waited
out the hot day by getting wet and drying.
|Feb 6 - 9
||Running Waters Campsite - Jindabyne. We had a lot
of climbing to do today so we set out early. The ride along the
river was not as flat as I had hoped and the climb started about 3 km
from Jacobs Creek campsite. It was a gentle but steady climb to
start and it kept going and going for at least 12 km. There is not
where to stop to get water or food on the route so carry plenty with you
if you come this way. We hit pavement at 36.5 km and the high
point. As we were traveling downhill at 30 km an hour an Emu (a
relative of the ostrich) decided to run with us for about a kilometer,
it held that pace like it was a walk in the park. cool. We tumbled
into the caravan park and had a long hot shower and dinner. I
think we will take a couple of days off here and decide our route to
9-15-06 to 9-15-07
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground