Saturday, April 28, 2018

Apr 27: And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program of Wildlife Sightings

Before I get to today, a little update from last night...I met my neighbor, Dave, when I commented on his nice tent (it was also an MSR like mine, different model though). Dave is from New Zealand, but currently living in Melbourne. He is doing a couple of weeks of car touring from Melbourne to Adelaide. He is also a cycle tourist, which meant we had lots to talk about. We ended up walking in to town for some pizza. It was a great way to spend the evening. This morning, I was fixing my breakfast while he was fixing his coffee. Before we parted, I took this photo.

Nice guy. He later passed me on the road.

I hit the road at an all-time earliest start of 7:30. My destination for the day was a rest stop called Tilley Swamp. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? According to WikiCamps, it was 82kms away (but...was that as the crow flies???). Because I suspected there would be no water, I wrote myself a note to get water in Kingston, the only town I would go through today. The weather, while chilly to start with (10 Celsius), was sunny without a cloud in the sky.

I was riding along in much the same scenery as yesterday. Ahead, I could see some black birds flying to the trees across the road. At first I thought they were currawongs, but they didn’t sound like them. In fact, they sounded just like the flocks of white cockatoos that I have seen so many of. I thought, “Wait! Could it be?”. Yes, I have finally seen BLACK Cockatoos! 

Zoom in and you can see a couple in the top of the tree. These are Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos (there is a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, but they are more inland, and not as common).

Here’s some in flight.

Needless to say, I was very excited! I have been hoping to see the black cockatoos in the wild (I saw them at the wildlife park when I was in Sydney). There were several flocks of them. It was so cool!

Later on, I was pedaling along and happened to look to my left. Well, look at that! Three kangaroos!

Here’s two of them.

And there goes the three of them!

In all, I saw 6 kangaroos today! First Black Cockatoos, then Kangaroos! What a difference from yesterday! 

I rolled into Kingston at about 10:30. I followed the sign to the town center where I finally got a good view of the Southern Ocean (I’ve been on the Southern Ocean Touring Route, but haven’t seen much of the ocean).

Oh, there’s the water!

And here’s a lighthouse!

There was a nice bike path along the coast. I didn’t ride the whole thing because I wanted to get some water (remember my note to myself?), and a few other things. I found an IGA grocery store and bought two 1.5 liter bottles of water. I don’t generally buy water, but it was just easier to strap the two bottles on top of the rear panniers. After the grocery store, I stopped at a coffee shop and had a scone with jam and cream. It was delicious!

Heading out of town I saw this.

Big lobster.

Look! It’s For Sale! Come on! You know you’ve always wanted a giant lobster!

Once out of town, I was back to the flat, mostly straight highway. I turned on my music to keep me entertained. I was keeping a lookout for this “Tilley Swamp” rest area, while continuing to look for more kangaroos. I didn’t see any more, but I did see two emus! I stopped to get a photo, but by the time I got my camera out, they had run off. I’m sure I will see more.

82km came and went, and still no sign of a swamp. At 90km there was a sign saying, “Take a break. It could save your life.” with the symbols for the rest stop and 1km away. Could this be the swamp? Well, I don’t know because there is no sign that says it is, but it is where I’m staying tonight. As I pulled into the rest stop, I could see some dirt tracks leading into the bush. I rode in to where I found a decent place, and called it a day. Clearly, people have stayed here before. There are several tracks, and sadly, some trash. There was even this.

Too bad, no cable.

I set up my tent and all. About an hour later, I looked up from what I was doing just as a woman walked by! She looked at me, but just kept walking. I thought, maybe she had to pee or something, so I didn’t chase after her. Pretty soon, she came back. She had been looking to see if she could get to the beach (it’s too far). This is Coorong National Park. I told her I had seen a turn-off awhile back. She said she had seen it, but too late. She has driven from Canberra after retiring from her job. She continued on to Meningie (I will go there tomorrow).

As the sun set, I was hoping to see some roos, but apparently they don’t hang out here.

Looks roo-friendly to me!

I retired to my tent to write this post, and because it was getting chilly. Goodnight from the Australian bush!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Apr 26: Not Much of an Entertaining Day

It rained off and on throughout the night, so I thought I would be prepared by putting my shoe covers on. It wasn’t actually raining, so I just made sure my raingear was on the top. The sun managed to come out, so I took the shoe covers off in the first little town I came to. I also took the opportunity to use the toilet. I thought the sign on the door was pretty funny.

There was also this sign about the history of Rendelsham’s Chicory industry.

Rendelsham was the only town I actually went through on my way to Robe. Besides these signs, there wasn’t much else to the town. Beachport was off the highway a bit, so I didn’t go into the town. I didn’t really need anything. 

The route was not terribly interesting. I saw the odd dead kangaroo, so I spent much of the day looking for live kangaroos. I didn’t see any. I saw a sign for wombats. I kept an eye out for them too. I didn’t see any. The only live wildlife I saw was a fox. It was sunning itself on the side of the road. I thought it was dead, but then it jumped up and took off into the bush. I think foxes are considered vermin here. A few days ago, I saw a few signs talking about saving the small animals by managing the fox population. Then I saw the grossest thing ever, well, I smelled it first. It was a fence line with dead foxes hung up on all the fence posts. They were in various states of decay. It was disgusting. 

Anyway, the only other animals were sheep and cattle. 

No kangaroos or wombats here.

Even though there weren’t really any towns/services, there are these pullouts for rest breaks. They seem to be mostly for trucks, but they generally have a picnic table and a trash bin.

There are also these kinds of signs.

How’s that for a bit of alliteration?

Even though I rode almost 80km, I still arrived in Robe around 12:30. There just wasn’t much reason to stop for any length of time. Still, I was ready to be done. In the small town of Robe, there appears to be 4 caravan parks. The first was a Discovery Park. It was still a couple of kilometers out of town, so I didn’t stay there (they are also usually more expensive). The second one appeared to be closed. The third one, called Lakeview (curiously, the same name as the one I stayed at in Millicent last night) looked pretty good. It is actually on a lake, but I haven’t figured out how to get a good view of the lake. My campsite is right next to the lake, but there are thick bushes blocking access.

I was hungry, so I dropped everything at my campsite, and rode to town for a late lunch. 

The next couple of days are going to be different as I don’t think there are any caravan parks. That means no WiFi, probably no showers, no camp kitchen...*sigh*

Apr 25: Saying Goodbye Again, and Another Cave

Once again I said goodbye to Dorothy. Maybe we will cross paths again, but as Dorothy said, they will do in one day what takes me a week.

Dorothy and I 

Beverly (Dorothy’s sister), Dorothy and I

Beverly’s daughter, Frances, was still asleep when I left. Bev and Dorothy will spend a week in Mt. Gambier with Frances, so who knows, maybe I will see them again???

Because I hadn’t planned to stay in Mt. Gambier, I didn’t have too far to go today. That was good because I wanted to stop at Tantanoola Cave, and...the wind was not the best. The cave was open, even though it is ANZAC Day (if you don’t know this Australian, and I imagine New Zealand holiday, you can Google it). Prior to getting to Tantanoola Cave, I rode by another cave called Fossil Cave. I just saw it out of the corner of my eye along the side of the road. It’s not a public cave per se.

Only certified cave divers allowed.


That blue is water. 
There really are tons of caves in the area. Most all are limestone, like the ones in Mt. Gambier. Tantanoola, on the other hand is made up of dolomite. That makes it a unique cave for the area. It’s not that big or deep of a cave. In fact, in places, it’s only a few meters under the surface. That makes for lots and lots of stalactites (water drips through from the surface quite quickly). Of course, there are also stalagmites, columns, and shawls. Tantanoola was similar to Marakoopa and King Solomon’s caves that I visited in Tasmania. 

Jake, the tour guide calls this column the chocolate fountain.


From Tantanoola, I only had 16km to go. The headwind made it a rather long 16km, but I eventually arrived in the town of Millicent. Lakeview Caravan Park is a quiet place. I’m sort of surprised there aren’t more people here with it being a holiday. But, maybe people only have today off...

Tomorrow I will be riding on the Southern Ports Hwy. I don’t know if it will be less traffic than Princes Hwy, but probably not many trucks. The towns along the way are supposed to be quite nice. I should also get back to views of the ocean.

It was really great to catch up with Dorothy, and to meet Bev and Frances. Fingers crossed, I will see Bev and Dorothy again!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Apr 24: Thunderstorm, Sinkholes, and Meeting Up With a New Friend

I didn’t have far to go today to get to Mt. Gambier, but the weather was less than cooperative. As soon as I left Nelson, it started to rain. I thought I had heard thunder in the distance, but it was sunny, so I wasn’t sure (maybe it was the surf or something). It was thunder. As the storm passed over, there were cracks of thunder and lightning. As I’ve done in the past, I just kept chanting to myself, “Just don’t be the highest thing!” Ahead, I could see blue sky, but by the time I got to it, it was gone. At least it wasn’t raining anymore...for awhile.

I crossed into South Australia.

This is my 4th Australian State (Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia). 

The rain began again about 10kms out of Mt. Gambier. However, by the time I rolled into town (on a nice bike path) it had stopped. I was following the directions to where I am staying tonight, when I went by a Subway. Even though it was early (SA is 1/2 hour earlier than Victoria), I decided to go ahead and check a SA Subway off my list. 

So, I had not originally planned to stay in Mt. Gambier, but Dorothy (from Hobart) emailed me saying she would be in Mt. Gambier on the 24th. She gave me the address of where they would be staying. I rode there after my early lunch. The key was supposed to be in the letter box, or the meter box. It was in neither place. I texted Dorothy. She located who had the key. I went to the grocery store while I was waiting for the key to be dropped off. Rod came by just after I got back. He opened up the house. From what I understand, a friend is moving in here, but she hasn’t moved in yet. Unfortunately, there is no power. At least the water is on. Hey, it’s just like camping, only in a house! Dorothy and...Frances (?) will be here about 5:00.

I dropped all my stuff in the house, and went to the Umpherston Sinkhole. This whole area basically sits over a bunch of caves and sinkholes. It’s called the Limestone Coast. 

It’s all pretty weird, but cool. There is another sinkhole right in the center of town called the Cave Gardens. 

Not far from the house is a cave called Engelbrech Cave. I went there to do a tour, but no one else showed up, and they only do the tour if there are at least two people. It would have been cool because this cave has water (divers have explored it). I still think it’s weird that there is a town sitting above all these caves. One would hope they don’t collapse...

Now I am back at the house waiting for Dorothy and her sister to arrive. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Apr 23: The “Scenic” Route

Today was a shorter day, but definitely more hills. In fact it was quite rolling the whole day. Nothing terrible though.

This morning I woke to pea soup fog. I decided it would be a good idea to wear my rain jacket, as much to keep the moisture off me as to increase my visibility to drivers. I’m always greatful for the headlight and taillight on Tilmann.

Portland is over there...someplace.

Staying at Henty Bay was perfect as I only had to backtrack about 300 meters to get on the “Scenic Route” to Nelson. The road was C192 instead of the Princes Hwy. It turned out that the “Scenic Route” was not too scenic, unless your idea of scenery is log trucks. Yes, this was also the “Log Truck Route” (there was even a sign). 

What timing, huh?

I got one, and only one view of the ocean. 

That’s it!

At this viewpoint, I talked to a gentleman named Mark. He told me all the logs were going to Portland to be exported. Apparently, it is a bone of contention as the timber used to be milled here, then shipped. There were two mills, now only one is in operation. He blamed the state government. All I can say, is there were a lot of trucks hauling logs. Mostly the empty trucks were going my way, and the loaded were going the opposite. 

I was on the lookout for kangaroos, especially after I saw the tail of one as it bounced into the bushes. Sadly, that was the only live one I saw. I saw about three dead ones. As there wasn’t much to see, I finished the day fairly early—in time to get a late lunch of fish and chips in Nelson next to the caravan park. Tonight I’m camped on the Glenelg River which dumps into the Southern Ocean not far from here. There is a very large pelican swimming around as well as a black swan or two. By the way, the fog did burn off, and it was a nice warm day.

(Backup) Apr 22: Giving My Eyes a Break From the Spectacular Scenery

Which is to say, there wasn’t much to look at today, but that was okay. Sometimes I just want to pedal. Today, I did that. It was my longest day at 97 kilometers. If I had gone all the way into Portland, it would have been about 103. It was pretty flat almost the entire day. I don’t think I used my easiest gear at all.
Flat flat flat!

Plus, the wind was either nonexistent, or somewhat behind me. It was quite overcast when I left Warrnambool, but the clouds eventually burned off, and it was blue sky and about 27 Celsius.

I don’t know if you can tell, but these cockatoos have red on them—a different breed.

As I was riding along the Princes Hwy (aka A1), nearing the town of Port Fairy, I saw a sign for a rail trail. It turns out the trail went all the way from Warrnambool to Port Fairy. Had I known, I would have definitely ridden it. As it was, I got to ride about the last kilometer into Port Fairy. 

In Port Fairy, I found a bakery to stop and have a snack. As I was eating, I saw Jen and her husband (still don’t know his name) walk by. They are the couple I camped next to at Port Campbell. I ran outside and called, “Jen!” It took a couple of times before they turned around (you never think someone is calling for you because you don’t know anyone). They had stayed last night in Port Fairy, and were staying tonight there too before going on to Portland. It’s always so funny to see someone again who is driving.

I saw two touring cyclists today going the other way. The first one didn’t stop, but the second one did. Damian is from Poland, and he is cycling from Perth to Sydney (and doing a short bit on Tassie too), before then going to New Zealand. He left Perth 55 days ago. He’s doing about 100km/day. His goal is to ride to the highest point in each country (and maybe state in Oz). He’s the first person I’ve seen carrying more than me!

Yes, that’s 6 panniers, a rack bag, and a handlebar bag!

As I was nearing Portland, I saw ahead a big hill. Then, to my left, I saw a sign that said “Portland via Dutton Rd.” I thought to myself, big hill or go left? I went left. I came to Henty Bay Caravan Park. Since my route tomorrow is not actually from Portland itself, I decided to call it a day here. It’s a nice place on the beach. The owners are nice too. One guy, Brenno, showed me where I could set up my tent, and talked to me for awhile. Here’s the view from my tent.

Nicely sheltered from most of the wind.

I think I will be possibly able to do more distance now that it is quite flat (as long as the wind cooperates). 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Apr 21: Spending My Last Kilometers of The GOR Following the Brown Signs

Today was my last day on the Great Ocean Road. There was still a lot to see. First I want to back up a bit to last night. The caravan park ended up being pretty full by the evening. I went to bed later than usual. I was asleep when the sounds of people laughing started invading my dreams. The noise ended up waking me up. I don’t know who it was, but it seemed like a large group of people walking back and forth laughing and talking really loudly. I looked at my clock and saw it was 1:45. Sheesh! Finally, Jen’s husband next door to my site yelled for them to “Shut up or there’ll be trouble!” The group kept talking, but moved on. Then, a short bit later they were back being almost as loud as before. Someone else yelled for them to go to bed. Well, by then I was pretty fully awake. I decided since it would be awhile before I would go back to sleep, and I hadn’t been able to upload my posts (too many people using the WiFi), I would go ahead and try again. The WiFi works so much better in the middle of the night! Anyway, things quieted down, my blog was up to date, and I went back to sleep. I still got up about 7:00, even though I felt I could have slept a little longer. My neighbors and I talked about the noise. Jen’s husband wanted to go make a bunch of noise in front of who he thought had been making the noise. Certainly, no one was trying to be quiet in the morning!

While I was eating my breakfast, I talked to a family from Border Town, South Australia. I will be staying in that town. They told me where they live. I may stop and say hi. They are a family with 6 kids, but the youngest is around 14. Kylie told me a bit about another place I will go through on the Nullarbor. It’s the aboriginal land of Yalata (like a Reservation). I know I need a permit to stay there, but Kylie said I wouldn’t want to stay there as it would be very noisy at night. We’ll see...

I left Port Campbell, and climbed one of the few hills I had today. It took me to a lookout where I could look down on where I had camped.

Port Campbell

The day was more overcast than it has been the last few days. The wind was somewhat in my favor. Before long I was at my first brown sign of the day...The Arch. I parked Tilmann and walked to the lookout.

Look! It’s an arch! 

It is more of the sandstone like the 12 Apostles. As I was walking back, I heard a guy comment, “You know what’s great? There’s not 4000 Asians.” His wife admonished him, but it was true. There were not many people, and no tour buses. 

The next brown sign was just a short distance down the road. This one was London Bridge. 

It used to be connected to the mainland. London Bridge has, indeed, fallen down.

Back on Tilmann, I headed just a couple more kilometers to the next brown sign. This one was for the Grotto. I was beginning to spend more time walking to the lookouts than riding! Still, they were worth it.

The Grotto.

I was seeing the same people at each lookout. They commented on how fast I was going. The wind was in my favor, and the road was either downhill or flat. They started saying, “See you at the next one!” The final brown sign was for the Bay of Islands. I think it was as impressive as the 12 Apostles. 
At one point in time, these were all connected to the mainland. At some point in the future, they will be gone.

From the Bay of Islands, the Great Ocean Road headed inland. It was the last views of the Coast. As I was riding along, I saw a cyclist coming toward me. She crossed the road to say hi. Her name was Kara, and she was riding for two weeks from Adelaide to Melbourne. She was staying in backpackers, so not carrying much weight. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand, but is from Ireland. We had a good chat, and I took this photo.

I went through a town called Nullawarre which has the distinction of being the last town on the Great Ocean Road (or the first). I stopped at a picnic place and fixed myself some lunch. The rest of the way to Warrnambool was uneventful except that it rained for a brief time as I was going through Allensford. I didn’t bother with my raingear because I knew I was going to be doing laundry anyway. Besides, it stopped, and by the time I got to Warrnambool, I was dry. 

Warrnambool is the 5th largest city in Victoria with 28,000 people. I tried to put in the address of the holiday park I planned to stay in, but it wouldn’t come up. But, I was able to see the road it was on on the map, so I was headed there. But, first I saw a Woolworths and stopped to restock some groceries. Back on the road, I saw a sign for the Warrnambool Holiday Park. I figured it was as good as the other. What I didn’t realize until after I registered and rolled to my campsite, is that it is right on the Princes Hwy. (at least my campsite is). Me thinks it will be another noisy night. Good thing I have earplugs!
That’s the highway (a dual carriage way) behind my tent.

Friday, April 20, 2018

(Backup) Apr 20: Holy Hoards of Humanity Batman!

This morning as I left Bimbi, I was hoping to see a koala again, but alas, no. I was also hoping to get going through the construction before the workers got there, but alas, also no. In fact, there was a section of new muddy gravel that was so soft, I had to walk. At least the flatters were great about waiting for me before letting other cars through.

Back out on the Great Ocean Road, I had some great downhill, then a flat section, then the beginning of the rest of my morning climbing. Just after the first small bit was Castle Cove Lookout. 

Getting tired of these Coast photos yet?

Looking back at the nice flat valley...goodbye flat *sigh*.

I climbed almost continually until the town of Lavers Hill. I was very glad to get to the top. There was a cafe where I decided I’d take a break and eat some lunch. They had bird feeders. Now I know the difference between the Crimson Rosella and the King Parrot. People have been steering me wrong. What I was previously told was the King Parrot is actually the Crimson Rosella. 
This has to be right...right?
There were both birds at the feeders.

Don’t you wish you had birds like this at your bird feeders (if you have bird feeders)?

Can’t really tell, but these are King Parrots.

I met a woman who offered to let me stay with her if I had been staying in Lavers Hill. Her name was Ginny. She was a character! She thought my Da Brim was awesome.

From Lavers Hill, it was supposed to be all downhill. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. However, there was far more downhill than uphill. At the top there was this expansive view of, seemingly, all of Australia.

It looks flat, but I think that is deceptive.

My next destination was the Twelve Apostles. They are sandstone formations just off the Coast. It was about 12km before Port Campbell, so near the end of my day. I could see that I was getting close. At one point, I could see the path out to the lookout. It was packed with people! P
See the pathway on the right?

The Twelve Apostles is probably the most iconic part of the Great Ocean Road. I’d say that’s true. Holy hoards of people, Batman! It was crazy! Still I stopped and locked up Tilmann to do the walk amongst the hoard. 
Ya gotta watch out for those selfie sticks! I got whacked by one. 

I managed to get some photos.

I don’t count 12.

Here’s a couple more.

Here’s some Apostles...and Flat Will.

The light is supposed to be better in the morning. Maybe the crowds would be better too. Sadly, I won’t find out.

I was riding the rest of the way to Port Campbell when I saw this echidna on the side of the road. After taking photos, I tried to encourage him to get back in the bushes away from the road. I even made up a little song for him. It’s to the tune of Little Peter Rabbit Had a Fly Upon His Nose. It goes like this:
Little Spiny Anteater go on get off the road
Little Spiny Anteater go on get off the road
Little Spiny Anteater go on get off the road
Go into the bushes so you’ll live another day!

All my efforts to get him to go into the bushes didn’t work. I hope he eventually went, instead of trying to cross the road.

Tonight I’m staying at the Port Campbell Holiday Park. I’ve met the people next to me. Jen is very nice. They are from Melbourne. I also met a young couple in the kitchen. They’ve just left Sydney to travel around Australia.