After 5 days, our bodies had left behind the perfect mould of our backsides on the couches at the Caravan Park in Eden. We had spent that much time on them it started to feel like we were wearing the couches as underwear. Once again we had turned the lounge area at a caravan park into our personal sloth den. Now Wednesday had rolled around and it was time for Emperor Dan’s 11 o’clock presser. We were waiting with baited breath to see if this saviour of the universe would lift the lockdown, or if he planned to lockdown Victoria forever. You’re never really sure with this bloke, but luckily the curtain had lifted and we had permission to roll into the final frontier the following day. The old lady’s in the park were happy, once again this fearless leader had “saved them.” Saved them from what? I’m not quite sure, but the way the unwashed spoke about this terrible affliction it seemed evil lurked on the other side of the imaginary line that separated the rest of Australia from certain death.
Thursday morning was a sad day, we waved goodbye to our baby giraffe mate at the caravan park. Not before one last exchange of tea and chocolate biscuits. Finally he got to see us ride our bikes off into the wild. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the big fella suspected we brought the bikes along to use as props. Each morning he would walk into the kitchen and find us on the couch and we would be in the same spot when he returned later that day after conquering another mountain on his bike. Occasionally, we did leave the couch to go to the toilet, but he wasn’t around to witness the most exciting part of our day.
It didn’t take long for us to change plans heading out of Eden. Originally we were heading out to the Green Cape lighthouse to spend the night. A quick discussion on the topic of shaving off a few kms and a few hundred metres of climbing turned the decision into a no brainer. For some stupid reason, 7 months on the road had made us the only people in Australia that were excited to get into Victoria.
So off to Wonboyn Lake it was for us. We tried taking a shortcut through what looked like a military facility but the mall cop put an end to that. There wasn’t any signs saying we couldn’t go through, just plenty of cameras that suggested we probably shouldn’t. As soon as we got to the boom gate Lieutenant Doofy came straight out to inform us that we could proceed no further. After a few questions he informed us with a smug look on his face the only way to Wonboyn was by taking the highway. This irked me somewhat, I think it was his smile. Little did Doofy know there was a shortcut down the road that took us into the gravel nature wonderland that we were seeking.
Maybe nature wonderland is putting too much mayo on it. Last years fires have sucked the life out these woods, but it still beats the pavement with dickheads screaming past you. It turned out to be a pretty good days riding into Wonboyn Lake. It might of been short but as this trip has gone on we have enjoyed the short days a whole lot more. Another thing I enjoyed was seeing a familiar face at the caravan park in Wonboyn. I felt a giant finger on my shoulder while I was sitting down for lunch with the Gypsy. Upon turning around the giant finger was attached to a giant of a man and a fellow former resident of “gods country” Pearcedale. It was great to see you again Pedo!
Finally today would be the day we were heading into Victoria. Up in far North Queensland, 7 months prior, Victoria seemed a lifetime away. The covid state wasn’t worth thinking about back then. We were too busy thinking “what the actual fuck?” When another bogan strutted past in a terrible fishing shirt that looked like a camel had spewed on. Before setting off in the morning I messaged the lady from the girls school which had a campus just over the border in the bush in Victoria. We had been in contact with her to see if she could do a water drop for us. In the photo she sent back confirming the drop location, we noticed a chocolate bar taped to the water drum. That was all the incentive we needed to cross that border.
We weren’t sure what sort of state the tracks would be in heading out of Wonboyn. We had about 40 km to the border with plenty of up and down. The sign at the turnoff into the bush stating the road was closed because a bridge was out suggested we could be in for a long one. This area was another place the fires ripped through last summer. We couldn’t believe we were still seeing the damage. All the way from Northern NSW to the Victorian border. The scale of these fires is hard to comprehend.
It didn’t take long for us to come across the first bridge that was out. Piece off piss we thought, we just needed to roll our bikes around it. We didn’t even need to take a pannier off. It’s always important to enjoy the little wins you have on the road. The second bridge made up for it though, it was pretty steep down to the water. I found out the hard way about the loose rocks on the way down when I went ass over tit and nearly ended in the water. Annie stepped up to the plate and came up with the genius idea of lowering our bags and bikes by bungee cord down to me while I was waiting with the freshwater Crayfish in the creek. With innovation like this the Gypsy too will be on her way to a black belt in country.
All this lugging gear through creeks and over ditches had us work up an appetite. Shade in a burnt out forest however was harder to find than a hat that fits my head. We did get lucky however and enjoyed our peanut butter wraps sitting on the edge of a bridge that the fire decided to leave alone.
It wasn’t a particularly hot day, but with the trees resembling toothpicks and giving off about as much shade as one, we felt the full force off the sun. Well Ana did, the flap on my helmet has me looking like Saturn and has kept my youthful face from seeing sunlight for the past 7 months.
Near the border we came across a patch of forest that was untouched by the fires. They say the grass is always greener on the other side and on this occasion just before that other side as well.
The pace quickened with excitement as we entered the covid state. It felt like a little milestone that called for celebrating. There was no sign welcoming us into Victotia so Annie made one to mark the occasion. Upon crossing we were quite surprised none of the trees had masks on or were practising social distancing. Karen would have been outraged if she witnessed this.
True to her word our mate from the School left us 10 litres of water and a chocolate bar taped to the drum next to a road sign just over the border. By now the sun had done the chocolate no favours but it was just another act of kindness from a stranger that made us really happy. Thank you Marian for putting a smile on our face. After years of practice pouring alcohol into coke bottles it was decided Annie was most qualified transferring the water from the drums into our bladders.
When we were coming down the hill to the border we could see the oasis that is Mallacoota. Seeing the condition of the track next to the water drums which we had to take the next day to get there looked suitable for goats only. We thought “fuck that” and rang up a caravan park in Mallacoota to get some info about if we could cross the entrance at low tide. He wasn’t sure but he gave us the number to a boat hire bloke. After giving off the “ I’ve got no time for you pricks” vibe over the phone he finished with “ it’s super low at the moment, you are every chance.” Well that was a yes from our end. We were about to head off after collecting our water when a van with a young couple came over the hill. They looked surprised to see two bikes out here, telling them of our plans to get to Mallacoota the next day the young bloke filled us with all the confidence we needed. “The bush to the beach will be a bit rough, but once you get to the entrance of the lake, a heap of guys fish behind the dune with their boats. Someone will take you across.” This was brilliant news. It would save us a days riding on shit tracks and was a lot more fun.
From the border we headed down Lakeview track. It was about 12 km down to the beach. Out of nowhere, after a creek crossing a farmer came past with a Blue Heeler on the back of his motorbike. In typical farmer understated fashion he informed us the next bit gets a “little bit steep.” I would hate to experience what very steep is for this cocky because this hill was the last thing we felt like at the end of the day. We finished up a few kms from the beach that night because it was blowing a gale and the bush was giving us some protection. Happily we put the tent up next to a track and ate our two minute noodles in the dirt before all the mosquitoes ate us.
It was only a few short kilometres to the beach the following morning, instead of the regular sized kilometres that most people take. After scaling the sand dune and laying eyes on the beach, I felt like an explorer laying eyes on this marvellous view for the first time. Not a breath of wind, the sand looked hard enough to ride on and the water was like glass. It was so inviting it screamed get nude and swim in me. Politely declining the oceans offer I bounded down the sand to Annie with a smile on my face that announced to her “we’re on!”
I guess Annie too had a sense of joy when she made it to the top of the dune, her proclamation of “fuck yeah” was evidence of that. With the sand being hard enough for the most part to ride on, we had no worries traversing the 5km needed to make the lakes entrance by low tide.
Those 5kms were some of the happiest riding we have had on this trip. With a beautiful sunny day, life in that instant has rarely been better. Arriving to the lakes entrance we soon realised we might of miss heard the man from the boat company. Instead of “your every chance “ I think he meant “your no chance” of crossing the lake into Mallacoota. Even at low tide the water was moving too fast and was over our heads for us to attempt to get our bikes across. No matter where we tried, pacing up and down our side of the entrance the maze of channels always led to a section well over our heads.
Luckily Al and his pirate mate were over our side fishing with their boats. After telling them of our predicament, the boys said “no worries, we will take you across.” We waited around until the old fellas got tired of the fish ignoring them, then they loaded us into one boat and our bikes into another and took us across the lake. What a bunch of champions and genuinely nice people.
After arriving at the jetty and bidding farewell to our ferry captains. We soon realised we have become pretty similar to pelicans in behaviour. Here was a squadron of pelicans lining up at the boat ramp, watching the fishermen cleaning their fish and staring at them until they get tossed a free meal. We have used similar tactics on this trip and they have generally been successful.
After giving the bikes another shower, it was starting to feel like they have had more washes than us on this trip. Spotting us on the picnic table, one of our Mallacoota ferry captains invited us into his caravan for a cuppa and some biscuits. Ana has learnt two things Victoria has in abundance, good people and covid. After being offered everything from our wonderful hosts, we bid farewell and took a look around the inlet and this monstrous caravan park. We made it as far as the next picnic table, while sitting down for another serving of peanut butter wraps we got given tomatoes off one set of campers and got given a beer off another. We where having some day! This was another place we could happily live in. Mallacoota was beautiful. With the lake, beach and hills nearby it has something for every outdoor lover. It’s a shame for us that every other prick thinks the same. House prices have gone through the roof since covid. I think a tent will have to do for now if we want to stay in Mallacoota. The caravan park was that big I don’t think they would of noticed if we popped a tent up somewhere. However we decided against that average behaviour and camped with the Kangaroos out the back of town.
It was a short day the next day to shipwreck creek but the good vibes continued leaving town. At a picnic area at the beach we got given sausages in bread and then we bumped into a lady we met from the day before. We told her how the private school in the bush helped us out with a water drop. Turns out she is the outdoor teacher at the school. She is one lucky lady having this as her playground. I found it funny when she spoke about covid, she would head down to the beach when the school was closed during the lockdown and would find half her students surfing down there. It’s a tough life in Mallacoota.
Shipwreck creek was only 13km out of town, so it wasn’t the toughest day we have had. Arriving at the beach there Annie was delighted the sand was hard and crusty and perfect for sculptures. My favourite piece from her that afternoon was “the speech bubble.”
In the morning packing up, we thought we heard the faint call of dogs howling. It didn’t take long for that to be confirmed. Riding out on the sandy tracks we had paw prints for about 5 km. With all the 1080 poison signs hanging from the trees the future doesn’t look bright for these hounds. The next day and a half saw us riding through the Croajingolong National Park. This is where the fire tore through that came close to levelling Mallacoota. The damage was the worse we had seen on this trip to date. Nothing lives in here now, we were lucky to hear a bird. There is nothing more lonely then a burnt out forest.
A little further down the track we came across a park ranger working on the fox and dog eradication program. We told him of the howling we heard that morning and the tracks we saw along the road. He had planted baits all along that road and was confident they would get that one. We got chatting to him for a while. Like us he has got lucky during covid, he got to spend it in the bush. Turns out he has done a bit of riding too. In 2002 he rode from the south of Tassie all the way up the middle of Australia to Darwin. He was impressed with the tracks we were on, he told us not even the locals with their 4x4s get out here. When talk turned to last years fires you could see the sadness in his eyes because of all the destruction. He said it will be years until life moves back into this bush. With a thumbs up we bid each other farewell, the ranger returned to digging another hole for his poison. Our thoughts returned to how long is it until we can eat again.
That problem was solved with the next bridge we came across. It looked like it had been built after the fires. With a new concrete kerb for us to sit on, it’s the best facilities we would find out here. Sadly that evenings campsite couldn’t afford such luxuries. Just off West Wingan rd, once again we were eating our dinner in the dirt.
Arriving in Cann River we were already sick of this covid bullshit and we had only been in the state a few days. It was pissing me off all these no mask no entry signs on the shop windows. It must of been pretty tough for Victorians putting up with 112 days of lockdowns. For a minute some serious contemplation was had about turning back around and cycling back over the border. There was none of this crap in Durras. The bakery owner help cushion the blown of being back in Victoria, seeing the bikes out the front of his shop he got chatting to us, next he returned with cakes. Victoria isn’t that bad after all.
It was a good ride into Bemm river on the old coast rd. No traffic and only a little bit of pushing is a tick from us. “The Bemm” is a sleepy little hamlet, if you don’t like fishing then your going to be bored as bat shit in this town. We had a pretty good camp at Dollys garden pier that night. The setting sun provided us with all the entertainment we needed that evening.
The following day saw us back on the old coast rd and headed to Cape Conran National Park. Vic parks have done a pretty good job rebuilding the park after the fires. There are some beautiful beaches in these parts. It was very tempting to ignore the no camping signs and put up the tent. Being well before midday was probably the only thing holding us back.
Our route into Marlo took us past where the snowy river meets the ocean. It must of been quite the body of water before the snowy hydro scheme was built. Even now it was still a nice sight. I’ve often wondered on this trip how things looked before we got here and started fucking everything. The first settlers would of seen some amazing nature. From our handlebars we have seen some spectacular scenery the last 7 month’s but it wouldn’t come close to the sights they got blessed with.
At the Marlo pub one thing we did get blessed with was a $25 hamburger on the menu that evening. That would of caused a riot up in Cooktown. We miss their 1972 prices. After putting away our budget destroying burgers we set off for our wild camp. We picked out a boat ramp on the outskirts of town. Just before putting our tent up a sign grabbed our attention “ warning large red belly black snake lives here” read the sign. Bugger that, there was no need for heroes that evening and we set off for the opposite side of the park and set our tent up near the farmers paddocks. We slept easier over there, I’m not too bothered if a cow bites me during the night.
It got real cold that night and our tent was drenched from the dew. Welcome to Victoria Annie! With no place to be, we worked on our meaningless chit chat game with the locals that came down for a early morning fish while our tent dried. Packing away our dry house we headed for Orbost and the beginning of the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Power points in the park and taps to fill our water bottles made Orbost a pretty good town in our eyes. It’s a shame some dickheads ruined the bbqs. Peanut butter wraps aren’t quite the same when you can’t toast them. Brushing off the disappointment we began the rail trail.
The rail trails are always good because they keep you away from the cars, but after a while they can get a little boring. The east Gippsland trail stood out because of the magnificent trestle bridges. It would of been quite the sight seeing an old steam engine chug across these bridges. Steam billowing out creating a fog through the magnificent trees. Hopefully these structures stand a lot longer, they are far too grand to be left to decay.
Our first night on the trail had us camping in Nowa Nowa. Sitting down at the recreation reserve we got talking to a local fella named Bill. He got our attention because he rolled into the playground on an electric fat bike with his little one on the back. This thing looked more like a Harley Fatboy than a bicycle. Bill was another cracking person we have been fortunate enough to have a brief interaction with on this trip. He had a real love for his town. Sadly Nowa Nowa’s glory days are starting to fade away. The pub is shut and the school has closed. It’s a beautiful spot along the river and you can see it’s appeal. Bill pointed out the equestrian park through the tree line would be a good spot for a camp. He wasn’t wrong, with the cliff walls on the other side of the river enjoying the last bit of sun, and the fish jumping about, teasing the bloke a few hundred metres away with a line in, as to say “hey dickhead we are over here!” It was a pretty good place to put the head down.
The end of the line was Bairnsdale the next day. It wasn’t a place we felt like wild camping in. It had about as much charm as a long drop toilet in a national park after a long weekend. We stayed as long as it took for Annie to stock up on noodles and pasta. I sat on the picnic bench watching all the people neatly spaced with masks on waiting to enter the post office. Here’s hoping the world returns to a somewhat normal some day soon. We skipped Lakes entrance, Annie took one look at WikiCamps and saw how many caravan parks there are and said “no thanks.” It’s another town that has been caught up in the covid crazy, prices have gone through the roof and the houses are flying off the shelf. We are going to end up in Baghdad or worse Dandenong if this continues. We headed for Eagle Point after Bairnsdale. It was hard to work out which was traveling faster, the cars flying past us, or the headwind smashing our faces. Closer to Eagle Point I got a glimpse of nature’s amazement. Two large mammals were going for it on the river bank. It was either a David Attenborough special, or a guy stole a fat lady’s sandwich and she wasn’t going to get off him until he gave it back. If there is one thing I have learnt on this trip and why I have a black belt in country now, it is never get between two huge mammals that are either eating or rooting.
At Eagle point we pulled up on the side of the road to ogle at an emu that had surprised us out of nowhere. Next a bloke in a ute pulled up alongside and asked “where are you lot off too? A bit suspicious we said we are heading out to the point to look around. We needn’t have been, he just pulled over to say “ in the Great Lakes area the council has built three toilet blokes with hot showers for the yachty’s to use. Through that track there, head towards the caravan park. You’ll find one there.” He took off before we could say thanks. He was blocking the road and a car was coming. True to his word we found the hot showers and power points in the picnic area opposite. This man had made our night and he would’ve had no idea. We didn’t smell like onions, our gear was charged and the old lady’s in the picnic area having a chin wag, gave us free food. The swans put a show on for us that evening, as we camped on the lake edge. We could hear them honking from our tent as we slept. But that was nothing compared to the light show we witnessed the following morning. It was spectacular.
The market had came to town the next day in Painsville. With some oldies strumming a ukulele, snags sizzling away in the Lions Club tent. We were in a good mood. We thought it was only fair after all the sleeping and loitering we have done in Lions Club picnic areas, we should purchase a couple of snags and give a little bit back. After putting away these delicacies, I find it hard to comprehend that Australia does not sit top of the pile when it comes to national cuisines. Nonetheless our attention turned to what can we devour next. Finding park benches that reclined like deck chairs at a pool, was the perfect environment to Google which establishment had the best fish & chips. Then I set off with much vigour to hunt that shop down. I am quite the provider, and no task is too big when it comes to my Annie.
After fighting off the near heart attack the fish & chips gave us, we jumped on the ferry and headed over to Raymond Island in search of koalas. We didn’t have to look to hard, the buggers were everywhere. It was nice to see a population thriving for a change. It was a great spot Raymond Island with plenty of wildlife around. We thought we had picked out the perfect camp site for the evening. It was perfect until 3 dickheads got in their boat at midnight and sunk stubbies until 4 in the morning not far from where we were camping. Gathering by the sound of them playing drums on their esky lids and screaming the lyrics of their favourite Rage Against the Machine tracks, it sounded like they had a pretty good night. Us however started the following day a little cranky after listening to them knobs all night.
The crankiness disappeared travelling on the ferry back to Painsville in the morning. A few dolphins popped up for a breather right beside the boat. What a magic start to the morning. We pulled up at a picnic table on the foreshore to have breakfast and watch a horny swan try his luck with a few of the lady’s in the water. He had no luck after repeated efforts, this swan just wouldn’t take no for an answer. Maybe he was a member of the liberal party?
Things got a little grim for us after leaving Painsville. The forests had long gone now along with the wildlife. Replacing it was open flat fields with cows and sheep. The farmers really had it in for the trees out here. All this open space turned the environment into a windy hell hole for us. One we wouldn’t escape for a few days. It was blowing a gale at Marlay point, the wind coming straight off Lake Wellington and battering us. The effort was hardly worth the detour in. Thankfully a picnic hut provided us enough protection from the wind that night.
After watching the oldies roll a few over at the bowls club in Sale, with a coffee in hand, we set off for Seaspray, the town that we have now renamed “the unfriendliness town in Australia.” It was a nice ride in with the cypress trees forming a natural arch over the road welcoming you into town. You could tell the locals cared about the place, everyone’s front lawns and nature strips were immaculate. With this carrying over to the lawns along the foreshore it would be hard work to find a blade of grass that was out of place.
The love affair for Seaspray ended right there for us as we picked out a bbq hut to toast our peanut butter wraps. Munching away on our gourmet tucker we were accosted by the local camping nazi. With barely enough time to say hi, we were grilled with “where are you staying tonight?” Picking up the vibe that this old hag is a mole and angry at the world after years of cleaning public shitters, we played dumb and replied with “not sure yet we are just eating our lunch, we will probably head off this arvo.” ( this was entirely bullshit we had every intention of camping in this lady’s town we just hadn’t picked our spot out yet.) she replied with “if I catch you around here I will book you.” Challenge accepted camping nazi! Even if we wanted to leave town that afternoon we couldn’t, the wind had picked up and was blowing away anything that wasn’t bolted down. With the farmers many years ago declaring war on the trees in the district, they had slain everyone in sight. Thus removing any hope of finding shelter in the surrounding wastelands. I had always thought it was named 90 mile beach because of the stretch of sand, but that evening I reconsidered it might be because of the speed of the wind.
The end of town wasn’t an option for the tent we were greeted with a “strictly no camping” sign. Not “no camping” like regular councils but “strictly no camping” they really meant business. While Annie took shelter in a hut while everything else blew away around her, I set off to find a place to pitch our tent. Ever mindful of the glare from Sauron’s eye I found the perfect spot, good luck finding us here camping nazi!
It was a satisfying feeling packing our tent up in the morning, having a little victory over our imaginary enemy. If you ever read this camping nazi we pitched our tent on “the island” behind town. We really wanted to see you again in the morning so we could flip you the bird as we cycled triumphantly out of town.
Port Albert was our destination after Seaspray. It was a pretty boring days ride to be honest with a decent chunk of it being on the Sth Gippsland Highway. It was that boring the highlight of the day for me was stopping at a servo we came past and trying to eat as many things possible from the pie warmer. If anyone reading this is contemplating a Mrs Macs chicken and leek pie I highly recommend it.
Never being to Port Albert before we were excited to see what it had to offer. With a lot of old buildings and cottages remaining the place had plenty of character. Charming? Yes. Bustling? No. We could of gotten away with pitching the tent in the middle of the street but decided against it. After talking to the contractor oiling the park furniture while we were sitting in the park, he suggested a secluded beach at the end of a road just out of town. His tip was a good one, it was a cozy nights sleep in the bushes on the old port trail.
And that was what we would take as we headed out of town on our way to Port Welshpool. At just over a 11km long it was a short ride on the old port trail but it packed in plenty of nice scenery. It was refreshing again to be in some nice bushland. The trip felt like it was petering out from the two days previous riding through barren empty farmland. After all the stunning scenery we have traveled through it would of been a crime to end it on that note.
Speaking of crimes I had committed one when my navigation led us onto telegraph rd. With no turning back we “enjoyed” 6km of pushing our bikes through the soft sand. I kept telling myself this is better than the highway, I’m not sure if Ana agreed though. Just like lessons in life, nothing lasts forever and soon enough we found ourselves back on firm ground and rolling into Port Welshpool.
There wasn’t a lot going on when we made it into town and that is probably still over stating it. It’s a quiet place Port Welshpool but with views of Wilson’s Prom and surrounded by water it’s pretty enough to have a look around. Sightseeing would have to wait though because going a few days without a shower was beginning to make us smell rather unpleasant. With Arctic like conditions the option of the cold public shower was about as appealing as putting a live crayfish up my very own wombat hole. So out came the stove, boiled up some water and off to the toilets we went with bladder in hand. Smelling like humans again gave us the courage to enter the best thing in Port Welshpool, the general store. If you are ever in town the take away on offer deserves your attention. After completing a second expedition to the general store to devour their superb chicken burger, we set off for our campground behind the tennis courts, around the same time the funeral across the road was winding up and the mourners were headed for the pub. Annie didn’t have a great night sleep that night, people shooting in the bushes not far from our tent saw to that. If it was a few of the mourners their aim would of been a little off by that time of the evening. I offered plenty of comfort to Annie, once again I slept through the commotion.
Do you know that feeling when a day comes along and you have zero motivation for anything and the couch is your best friend? Well today that was exactly how we felt. The Victorian summer was really turning it on for Annie, I could almost read her thoughts “what the fuck am I doing in this freezing shit hole?” We made it as far as Toora that morning before we sat down for a team meeting. Over a slice of the world’s best carrot cake we raised the white flag and decided “fuck it.” I rang the Caravan park enquired if they had a couch and booked it for the afternoon. We were done.
It turned out to be a good call bunkering down in Toora, it was a miserable day. Awaking the next morning, we attacked the day with a little more vigour than the previous one. After a detour into Foster to see the sights which took about 5 minutes we jumped off the rail trail and headed down to Sandy Point. We were relieved the rush of long weekend had yet to reach the town. One look at the beach from the viewing platform had us salivating over the prospect of another cheeky beach ride the following day. That afternoon lazing in the sun we were admiring the teachers for spending a week camping with their students at “The Prom.” It would take a fair amount of patience putting up with that lot. Never afraid of seizing an opportunity to make lives easier for ourselves we pinched their left over water while telling the teachers where we had ridden from. Puffing our chests out proudly with more than a hint of wanker about us. We decided against camping in Sandy point, solely for the fact it was the Friday of a long weekend, so we rode out to Shallow Inlet. What a perfect spot to spend the night. Hut, bbq, tables and toilet. What more could you ask for?
After being greeted to a stunning sunrise over Shallow Inlet, it was time for us to hit the beach again. Annie turns a different kind of happy when she gets to ride along the beach. It was only 8km along the sand to Waratah bay, but with the sun out there was no need to exert ourselves. Finally the Gypsy got to experience the scorching Victorian sun while we layed down on the sand. Me however, ever mindful about what the sun can do to a pasty individual such as myself retired to the picnic hut after about 15 minutes.
Today fortune favoured the not very brave, while I was in the picnic hut I got chatting with a local. Maybe I got a “hello” because of my appearance and this gentleman was concerned for my welfare. There wouldn’t be too many homeless in Waratah Bay. After chatting away for a few minutes, you could this tell this bloke was a pretty decent fellow. Questioned on where we would be sleeping the night I gave the usual “not sure yet, around here somewhere.” It’s a hard habit to break not telling a stranger where we are going to stealth camp the night. I needn’t have worried Geoff had introduced himself by now and followed up with you can camp in my backyard if you want? He walked me up to his place that was just behind the park. “You can pitch your tent here. I’m just going to pick my wife up now, she’s judging a cake contest in Foster but I’ll be back later.” I returned to the picnic area and immediately thought “ we have a chance of getting a cheeky bit of cake this evening.” We got more then that, Geoff returned that afternoon to inform us of the good news, we are invited to dinner. He timed the invitation to perfection because the Gypsy was just about to take another packet of pasta out of the pannier. Thank Christ for that! I immediately summoned Annie over to meet Geoff, she could tell by the tone of my happy voice that there must be food involved here. Before trotting off Geoff informed us to come up to the back veranda around 6.
We have got so lucky on this trip with people we have met, joining us for dinner was Geoffs wife Viv and their friends Deb and Mark. We had a cracking evening, instead of chewing on pasta and sleeping in the bushes we were sitting around a table with a bunch of dead set good people. Annie liked Geoff because he had a sparkle in his eye and talked about everything with a lot of passion. You just had to be careful about asking him too many questions because before you knew it, you could be sitting at the table with no ears left. Viv was good value, she liked taking the piss out of Geoff for this very reason. If we are still doing as well at 60 as you Viv we will be pretty happy. Thanks for the dinner, drinks and cards Geoff, Viv, Mark and Deb it was a pleasure to meet you.
After saying goodbye to our new friends we rolled onto the sand and left Waratah bay with a smile. Meeting people like that and having those experiences makes you realise what a good place the world can be. We have been really lucky to do a trip like this, riding on the beach that day into Walkerville we hoped this buzz would last forever.
This ride has delivered a few positives for us, take Ana’s legs for example they are borderline ridiculous now. When she gets me to poke and prod them I’m immediately intimidated. She is that happy with the monsters they have now turned into, she renamed her calves. From now on if I’m talking to her left calf I must address it as “Hulk” and the right one is referred to as “Hogan.”
One thing that hasn’t improved is our ability to handle any decent amounts of alcohol and we found out the hard way when our good mate Walshy and his girlfriend Meg rolled into Cape Patterson to camp with us. Walsh was our last mate that came visit us in Maroubra before we started the trip and our first mate we got to see back in Victoria. What accompanied Walshy though was another friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time, the shower floor. This was a 12/10 hangover and by 6 am after a battling in the tent for a couple of hrs I pathetically limped to the shower block in search of salvation. Head in my hands with the water pouring down, once again I vowed to myself I am never going to drink again. After a cheeky spew in the bushes me and Ana found ourselves face to face on the picnic table in the bbq hut at the caravan park. Me looking like death, Annie a slightly better version. When Walshy and Meg finally arose from their slumber looking fresh as Daisys we looked at each other and said “get fucked.” After we said farewell to our mates that afternoon, we couldn’t get in the tent quick enough and try and shake this horrible thing. We were so close to home but we weren’t cycling anywhere that day. A rest day was in order.
Recovered somewhat and vowing to never drink again, it was time to exit Cape Patterson. With the men in fluro sealing the only passage out of town that wasn’t a main road, it was time to hit the beach again. We couldn’t ride this one, but feeling rather chipper it was a good day for a push.
It’s stunning coastline all along these parts and there are enough tracks around here to keep you busy. If all that fails, or you get hungry like us and need a electric bbq, you can jump on the rail trail and ride that into Kilcunda.
As we entered the last couple of nights of the trip we started to get a tad sentimental and soppy. In Kilcunda the evening was full of emotion because it was the last time we would be eating two minute noodles on the trip. Ever since we discovered you could put peanut butter in the pot with them it was a game changer. Undoubtedly my favourite meal of the trip. Sentiment went out the window with the last pot though as I thought “thank fuck I won’t be eating this again for a while.” You really can have too much of a good thing. The noodles might have missed the mark but our last nights wild camp didn’t. Wandering to the outskirts of town we put our tent up on the cliff next to the George Bass Walk. The views were stunning, beautiful colours from the sunset while the waves were smashing the rocks below. The daily grind will be hard to return to after this. Giving Annie a kiddle ( kiss & cuddle ) we retired to our little safe cocoon with contented smiles. The tranquility briefly shattering when a couple of cheeky little pricks walked past with their boom box and quipped “look free bikes.”
Stunning our campsite was, warm it was not. We shivered our way through the night and the sun couldn’t come up quick enough while we packed up our drenched tent before any walkers came past. We love to start the day early us Australians. I always laugh when I think about Annie when she first moved to Sydney. Fresh off the plane from Spain she headed down to the beach jet lagged in the early morning suitcase in hand. Before the sun had came up Coogee beach was abuzz with activity. People walking, running and swimming. The Gypsy sat there in disbelief “what are these people doing? We are still out partying at this time back home.”
After warming up in the sun over breakfast we took the George Bass Walk out of Kilcunda towards the Island. It’s called a walk for a reason but we didn’t mind, the scenery was top notch. If your ever in these parts the walk is highly recommended.
Being the second last day of pedalling, spirits were at an all time high. Cycling past scenery I was familiar with made it set in that we were nearly “home.” When we came into San Remo I spotted a fellow cycle tourist on the other side of the road. Quick as a flash I ducked across to have a chat. Annie thinks I’m like a dog chasing a ball when I see another bike rider, tongue out wagging my tail. Annie had better things to do, eat, so she rode and left me to it. My cycling mate was just heading out while we were coming in. On his way to “the prom” lucky bugger. He reminded me of myself a little bit when we started our trip. A tad nervous and carrying too much shit. Only problem is I’m still nervous and I still have too much shit.
I was super stoked to get barrelled for the first time in my life as soon as I got onto the island. The experience was nowhere near as gnarly as all the super stoked surfers rave about. Maybe I was doing it wrong? I wonder if anyone drove past and saw me and thought “what a cockhead” like I did with all those “f@ckh&ads” up in Coffs Harbour with the big banana?
For our last nights accommodation we would be spending it at my brothers and wife’s mates house. Alissa offered us a bed but we couldn’t abandon our tent on the last night. In between identifying what animal was that splattered on the road, we sung most of the way to Alissa’s house. On arrival I felt the greeting got a bit awkward, it’s hard meeting friends from the real world. You are scared of hugging incase they smell you and tell you to get out of their house. That evening sitting on Alissa’s deck we could see across the water to the mainland. All we had to do tomorrow was catch a boat, a bit of pedalling and we were done.
Now here we were, the final day, the last hurrah, the home straight. We pinned the ears back and let it rip. The bikes were squealing like stuck pigs, we were squealing because we were bloody excited. Arriving at the Cowes ferry with time in hand it was nice to take it all in. It was fitting to finish such an adventure on such a grand day. In 2017 when I first bought my bike I rode from Frankston down to Stony point pier to catch the ferry across to French Island for my first overnighter. I took a bottle of Chivas Regal with me for some extra courage to help me sleep in the tent on my own. I remember the ferry captain asking where I was headed with all my gear, and him telling me he has had people on this ferry who have cycled all the way from Cooktown. That has always stuck with me and I thought no way was that possible. Now here sat Annie and I waiting to catch the same ferry back to Stony point. In a non wanker sort of way we were quite proud of how far we have come. Not only in distance, but as individuals and as a couple.
Once we got of the Stony Point Jetty we were off in a flash. There would be no adventurous tracks today, no pushing up hills, no need for heroes, we were going home. Life is full of surprises and today’s surprise was there is actual sections of Hastings that are actually nice. The raised boardwalks through the wetlands made for a great ride. What didn’t make for great viewing was all the shit specimens who had been fly tipping their rubbish along the back roads. We’ve met some really great humans on this trip, it’s such a shame there are a few wankers amongst us.
Rolling into Pearcedale I started rattling off who lived in which house and what we did in that spot as kids. Annie couldn’t give a shit she just wanted to get off the bike. We asked a lady sitting in her car at the Pearcedale hall if she could get out and take a photo of us.
Now it was time for the finish line. High fiving Annie I got a little emotional turning into my brothers street. It was some welcome party. My nephew was in his room and wouldn’t answer the front door, then my mum pulled into the driveway and took out my brothers hedges in her car. That’s what’s nice about home. Some things never change.