Day 7 – Torquay to Mornington

What a day! Longest so far on the tour but unexpectedly so.

Woke up to some uninspiring weather. Cold and raining. Rain was constant throughout the day so photo opportunities were scant.

Usual start time on the road of about 9:30am. Followed the esplanade along with the water front for a while before hitting some back roads.

Got to an intersection in the middle of nowhere and saw a group of roadies approaching. We got some directions which included a 4km of sealed bike path before winding back along the coast in to Barwon Heads for morning tea. Whilst eating our baked goods, one of the roadies came past again much to his and our amusement.

We had a bit of gps navigation fail heading through Ocean Grove. Went though all these suburban back streets which were hilly instead of the main road. Once successfully back on the correct road, the going was fast in to quaint Queenscliff.

Unfortunately, not much time to explore the village as we arrived just in time to hop on the next ferry to Sorrento. The ferry was huge and modern and even had an on board Cafe. Plans for the afternoon were formulated with the hope of making Dromana for the evening.

Once we disembarked, the rain got harder but the flat terrain and decent bike lane made the going very quick and we easily sustained a 23km/hr average and even saw a dolphin.

We arrived in Dromana at 3pm and decided the further 17km to Mornington would be worth getting done. Little did we know that the next 17km were nothing like the previous flat that we had ridden since the ferry. The windy road climbed Mount Martha and there was a lot of signage telling us to ride single file.

We finally made it into Mornington at 4pm and had a coffee to warm up before hitting the shops for dinner groceries.

I wish the weather was better and we could have had better views of Port Phillip Bay. Ahh well, have to leave something for next time.

Stats:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/401328747

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Day 6 – Lorne to Torquay

Last day on the Great Ocean Road. A bit sad really. Forecast weather was cold and windy with rain.

Utilising the tourist town vibe, we went for a coffee and fruit bun first thing before breakfast. Because the cockatoos and king parrots have been fed by visitors, they are unusually game and a bit of a pest stealing food. We had to guard our breakfast as we ate it.

Another trade mark 10:30am departure as we made our way eastward. The traffic has definitely increased and was quite noisy at times. Terrain was similar to the previous day with rolling hills as we passed the headlands.

First major stop was at the memorial for the people who built the Great Ocean Road. It was used as a assimilation project for returning soldiers post the war.

Next was the Aireys Inlet Spit Point Lighthouse then some lunch. From there, we continued on to Anglesea before turning off the road to head to Bell’s Beach. The break from the noise and bustle of the highway traffic was much needed although the shoulder was quite big and driver behaviour typically good.

Not much was happening at Bell’s but we did find a fantastic direct gravel bike path to Torquay. This 7km of infrastructure was great fun and convenient.

As we arrived in Torquay, we said our good byes to Bill with an ice cream as he head onward to Geelong to catch a train back to reality tomorrow.

Thankfully, the forecast rain never eventuated even though the wind was very chilly at times.

Stats:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/400984986

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Day 5 – Apollo Bay to Lorne

Unusual start to this morning with a phone interview with Jeremy from ABC South West Victoria. We talked about our Great Ocean Road cycle trip and why we choose it and the stuff we took. He himself is going to be riding a similar route in a couple of weeks time with Bike Vic. Hello to any new readers from ABC South West Victoria! Certainly a fun and new experience!

Today, the weather hit hard early with 30 degrees forecasts and heavy Northerly winds. It was hot by 8:30am! We had breakfast at camp before rolling out for a quick lap of Apollo Bay and stocking up on bakery goods before hitting the road.

The riding was fantastic! Rolling hills with cliff and bush on one side then the ocean and epic views on the other. We stopped at every pull over location to enjoy. We might have even glimpsed Tasmania.

When not rolling hills and sea vistas, the coastline was punctuated with quaint little coastal towns that must be great locations to spend some time. Perhaps next tour!

Lunch was at Wye River at a very upmarket Cafe that even had roadie style bike parking. We wanted to use it but didn’t think the Brooks saddles would sustain the weight of the laden bikes.

The coastal route seemed to keep the temps down although the bike computers told us it was 34 degrees, it didn’t feel that hot. Because of the winding nature of the road, the windy northerly headwinds only became apparent on short stretches.

Arrived at Lorne the earliest yet and set up camp on a lovely estuarine creek with heaps of ducks and a nice walking track direct to the beach.

Once set up, we went to the beach for a quick swim. Water was 14 degrees and too cold for a long swim for the Queenslander’s. But quite refreshing none the less.

Stats:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/400602119

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Day 4 – Lavers Hill to Apollo Bay

A very cold night overnight with the sleeping bags zipped up and all the woolies on. The cold clear night had left the tents with a heavy layer of dew and we had to pack the tents up sopping wet, wetter than if it had rained.

First stop was a few hundred metres up the road for breakfast at the best Cafe in Lavers Hill named Shoppe. Excellent food and even better service. We stocked up on a big breakfast and then loaded the panniers with provisions for the road ahead. Having a chat to the staff, they suggested an alternate route rather than the main Great Ocean Road. This route was flatter, less traffic and more shady, just as scenic – all good news in our books!

We set off keeping along the ridge line passing green pastures with ocean views on one side and farm lands and bush on the other. The road was fantastic and we didn’t see much traffic until our first stop at Otway Fly treetops walk.

Set in a temperate rainforest of huge mountain ash and myrtle beech, there is a high ropes course as well as a long elevated tree top walkway. Unfortunately, we had no time for the ropes course and had to settle for just the spectacular walk in the forest. The walk had loads of information signs about the resident plants and animals both present and past. It takes you progressively higher to the treetops at 47m.

From there, we continued along the ridge to Beech Forest into Otway Park. The next 20km were spent descending down Turtons Track with the national park on either side containing more of the mountain ash and rainforest. Just magical.

Once we popped out, we were treated to some greats views of the ocean and Apollo Bay. A great alternative route.

A few more km of decent and we were back at sea level. A straightforward run into Apollo Bay and to the supermarket for provisions.

Stats:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/400219931

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Day 3 – Port Campbell to Lavers Hill

Awesome day on the bike. Great scenery, great roads, great weather and great company.

After charging all our electronics and eating the rest of the cheese for breakfast, we rolled out of camp a little after 10am. Weather was still windy but no where near as much as yesterday but no sign of rain and not as cold.

It wasn’t long before we came to the Loc Ard Gorge which was the site of a shipwreck in which only 2 people survived. Next to it was the Thunder Cave and Mutton Bird Island, appropriately named.

Next stop was just a few km further along for the 12 Apostles. Previously named the sow and piglets with Mutton Bird Island being the sow, the name was deemed not dignified enough. The infrastructure to view the Apostle was certainly well done with a kiosk, huge parking lot, land scaped walkways, a highway underpass and even bike parking! It was the busiest landmark we have seen so far. We utilised the kiosk for a coffee and local made chocolates before continuing.

Lunch stop was at Princetown where we had toasted sandwiches in the pub before deciding on our next move. We could take the highway which was longer and hillier or a dirt track, the old ocean road, which was flat but unknown condition. We consulted the staff and some passing by Parks Vic staff and decided the gravel road was worth a punt.

Turned out to a a great decision with the road surface great and the scenery along the river both enchanting and a nice change of pace from the coastal heath.

After 12km of the dirt, we rejoined the main Great Ocean Road and the real work commenced. Ahead was 19km of climbing to get to Lavers Hill, the highest point on the trip. The road was well engineered with a small shoulder and pull off points and the gradient lead to a real enjoyable climb. After the first few km, it alternated between ascents and decent which gave some nice variety.

A few pit stops for chocolate coated Anzac biscuits and we rolled into Lavers Hill at about 6pm. Camping was at the local pub and we settled in for a forecast chilly night.

Stats:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/399983079

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Day 2 – Warrnambool to Port Campbell

A tough and beautiful day. True to the forecast, it was wet and very very windy with the wind buffering us all day and squally cold showers passing through with regularity.

Nice early start saw us leaving camp via the awesome Warrnambool beach shared path, down some back roads before winding our way to Allansford.

First stops for the day was the Allansford Cheese World where we sampled the local Warrnambool cheese and stocked up on cheese and savouries for lunch.

Next, we stuck to the back roads for a side trip to to Childers Bay before stopping by the side of the road for our lunch when we rejoined the actual Great Ocean Road.

Then came the sites thick and fast. The Bay of Islands, the Bay of Martyrs, The Grotto, London Bridge, the Arch. There were scenic landmarks every few km and broke up the ride nicely. The late afternoon sun was the perfect time to see the views.

Late arrival in to Port Campbell, we pitched the tents and went to a local bar for a big steak.

Lessons for the day were we definitely didn’t eat enough and it was probably the windiest day I have ever ridden.

Stats:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/399490956

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Day 1 – Melbourne to Warrnambool

Back on tour again! This trip we are planning on cycling from Warrnambool to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road and Mornington Peninsula. Attenting are Steff, Rich and Bill.

Flying in from different parts of the country on Friday, we met in Melbourne and hauled our giant bags from the airport bus drop off to the closest hotel. Whilst the maybe 100m walk was short, it none the less took ages with all the luggage.

We got up early on Saturday to catch the train out to Warrnambool. The awkward walk to the train station was repeated and we checked in our bikes and panniers once we found the check in area. We then procured breakfast and hopped on the 8am train.

The first class seating was well worth the extra $9 with huge seats and loads of leg room. The very green countryside passed by quickly and there were a few stops before Warrnambool.

We arrived a few minutes late and was met by Bill on the platform. We started to reassemble the bikes in the car park.

With a few back to front parts and passing around of the tools, the bikes seem to have survived their journey with only a few extra scratches. Fitting the tardis bag in to the panniers was a new experience and it took up much more room than I had expected. Some one might have gotten and bit sunburnt.

We had pulled lamb rolls down at a Cafe in the main street for lunch.

Bill lead us down to a gorgeous campsite right on the ocean. We set up and then rode along the shoreline along a shared path that runs the length of the bay. Absolutely beautiful.

The rest of the afternoon, we spent at Falgstaff Hill historic village poking around the exhibits and restored houses and shops.

Back to camp for a relax and beer before heading to a nice restaurant for dinner.

Weather for day 2 to Port Campbell looks terrible with rain and windy conditions forecast.

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Straddie

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Sorry, no good excuses, just sheer laziness.

However, I have been out and about. Last weekend, I flew to Brisbane, and hopped on a bike for a short cycle tour.  We had a great combination of bikes – a tandem, a steel framed tourer towing a BOB trailer, a flat bar roadie, and a hard tail mountain bike.

 We loaded our bikes, and headed out from Taringa. We rode through UQ, over the bridge and wended our way down Old Cleveland Road towards Cleveland, making it to the ferry with enough time for a coffee at the ferry terminal before boarding the ferry to Stradbroke Island.   

Waiting for the ferry (sorry about the bins in the shot)

Waiting for the ferry (sorry about the bins in the shot)

The ferry ride was a very comfortable 45 minutes, with a cafe on board.  It cost us $30 return (including the bikes), which was a far cry from the $150 it costs to take a car across!  It was a beautiful day to be on the water.  Flat seas, blue skies, and we even saw dolphins.

Beautiful weather!

Beautiful weather!

The ferry dropped us off at Dunwich, on the westerly side of the island, leaving us about 20kms to ride to reach our campsite at Point Lookout. The going was hilly, however traffic was light and the drivers were all supportive.

We arrived at the campsite at about 2.00pm, giving us enough time to set up camp, and have swim. The campsite was right on the beach, which certainly made for convenient swimming!

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The next day, we ventured out to a cafe for breakfast, then had a look at Point Lookout where we were lucky enough to see whales and dolphins. It was then time to ride back to Dunwich, and head back on the ferry.

Whale watching

Whale watching

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Waiting for the ferry

We decided on a slight change of plans, and took the train from Cleveland back to Roma St where we rode home.

Great weather, good riding, good road surfaces and really fantastic traffic.  In addition to this, having the bikes on the island made it super convenient for getting around.  All in all? A great trip.

Day 22 – Wellington

Well, windy Wellington surely lived up to it’s name! Strong northerlies and and grey day weren’t the best way to see a city.

First up was breakfast out at a local cafe near a popular park.

Then off to the city to catch at ferry out to Matiu / Somes Island. It was an old quarantine station for animals and people but now has been converted in to a predator free sanctuary.

Before you are allowed to enter the island, you have to have a bag search and check your shoes for any guy pests or weeds. The island had about an hour bush walk as well as old quarantine buildings to explore. We just did the bush walk as we were short of time. We saw heaps of native wildlife. Wetas, tuatara, red crowned parrots, skinks, various sea birds.

Next, we hit the city for a quick lunch then head up the cable car to the botanical gardens. Then we waited for a free shuttle to Zealandia that never turned up. I rang them up to ask what happened. They sent the bus. But we had already waisted 40mins.

Zealandia was good but we didn’t have enough time. It is another predator free sanctuary. They have various walks and exhibits in the bush as well as various feeding stations. We saw tui, weta, tuatara, kaka and some various ducks.

Then home for a quick refreshment before heading to the city for dinner and drinks.

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Day 21 – Upper Hutt to Wellington 50km

The final day of riding!

A leisurely and fast ride down the Hutt Valley. The terrain was all down hill and we followed a major back road that was mirroring the train line down to the harbour.

First stop was at 30km for a pie and milkshake by the water. Then on to the bikeway along the harbour front. The bikeway left a lot to be desired with a lot of vegetation overgrowth and unexpected holes and obstacles. From there, we were directed away from the water on to a side road with the bikeway on the footpath. It was an awkward and uncomfortable ride.

Once in to the city centre, we stopped at te papa – the national museum. We split up. Bill went on a self guided mission. Richard went on the official tour and I went to the Game Masters exhibition. We all sunk a good 2.5hrs.

Then it was in to peak hour traffic with the panniers on a 9km up hill ride to a relative’s house. What a mission. Some of New Zealand’s finest were in attendance as we tried navigate the winding roads and constant climbing. But we made it with only 1 minor incident – I dropped the chain on a particularly good busy hill.

Then after meet and greet, we showered and went to the pub for celebratory beer and pizza.

1230km and 73hrs of riding done!

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