Cycling Australia Part 1: Towards Paradise Beach

Cycling the Australian Outback

Cycling the Bush.

Country: Australia

From Melbourne to Paradise Beach

Lesson learned: Don’t trust the weather in Australia

Laughed about: The fluffy ball in the eucalyptus tree

Most wonderful miracle: A giant rainbow

Food we ate: Pasta, Fish n Chips, BBQ and oat meal

Greatest challenge: Finding an affordable place to sleep

Days on the bike: 5

Kilometers cycled: 402.66

Average Kilometers per day: 80.53

Total Kilometers cycled till Paradise Beach: 14867.47

Total days travelled till Paradise Beach: 855

 

January 2014, cycling Australia Part 1

 

The longer we stayed in Melbourne, the more we fell in love with the city. It was a lot of fun to cycle. Every day we followed the 10 kilometers bike path from the suburb of Coburg, where Andrea lives, to the center. We spent Sylvester’s Eve with Andrea and her friends in the city park. With Beck’s and Corona we took a seat in the grass and waited for the countdown. But the Aussies don’t need countdowns. Neither did we, because we forgot the grapes at Andrea’s place (there’s a Spanish tradition to eat one grape for every church bell at midnight). Eventually the fireworks started down in the city and we enjoyed the best view.

Andrea and Annika in the park

Andrea and Annika in the park

Two days later we were fit and motivated and ready to go. We cycled east through several suburbs and over hills and got quite annoyed with the traffic.

Andrea's place in beautiful Coburg, Melbourne

Andrea’s place in beautiful Coburg, Melbourne

We could only hope that the Princess Highway wouldn’t stay as busy. We took a turn onto the even busier South Gippsland Highway and soon spotted a narrow path through the bush alongside the road.

The South Gippsland Highway

The South Gippsland Highway is easier to ride on, the further we get away from big crowdy Melbourne

We were surrounded by industry and even more suburbs. The path ended in a footpath and soon merged with the highway again. The road is wide and full, but there is a shoulder with enough space for us.

On the following day we would leave the dry area and cycle through wet and green land.

On the following day we would leave the dry area and cycle through wet and green land.

In the afternoon the industry buildings grew smaller and soon made space for wide open lands, fields, dry grass and a bit of forest on the horizon. The fumes disappeared and we smelled dry grass and heard nothing but wind and a few cars.

Roberto cycling the little path next to the busy highway

Roberto cycling the little path next to the busy highway

We spent the night in a picnic area and viewpoint in a swamp area, where we met an Italian couple with their campervan.

Camping at the Watchtower in Koo Wee Rup

Our sleeping place near Koo Wee Rup. We had the best view from the watchtower.

As we had already eaten all our cold food and had forgotten to buy alcohol for our stove, so Roberto decided to hop on the bike again and cycle the two kilometers to the village Koo-We-Rup. He came back with a big smile and a pizza carton.

Roberto brings Pizza!

Dinner is ready!

We got up early and continued on the Highway. In Lang Lang we stopped for groceries and observed how the habitants reacted to us. Many stared at us and our bikes but looked away as soon as we went towards their direction. They appeared very shy to us compared to the curious people of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Camping Koo Wee Rup

Our little home away from home

I was sure that they wanted to know who we were and where we came from but it took quite a while until the check-out girl and later an elderly lady talked to us.

Checking the route. A nice local lady knew how the red and yellow lines in the map looked like in reality and recommended us a route.

Checking the route. A nice local lady knew how the red and yellow lines in the map looked like in reality and recommended us a route.

We asked the elderly lady about the conditions of a smaller street to avoid the highway and she warmly recommended us to cycle it. As she lived along that street.

Careful, Koalas, Wombats and Kangaroos!

Although we were looking out for kangaroos, wombats and koalas constaintly, we could not find any.

It is always good to know the local’s opinion. The street was hilly and diversified. We cycled through what looked like alpine pastures, fields and small woods.

Roberto enjoys the paved and empty road

Roberto enjoys the paved and empty road

The smell of the giant eucalyptus trees filled the air and the wind blew strongly through the grass.

Wombats crossing!

Wombats crossing!

Back on the main road the hills grew much longer and steeper. It was foggy and we could not even enjoy the views.

An Australian Train Station

A Train Station

We visited the tourism information in Korumburra and left with some more tips to avoid the main road. Just twenty minutes later we found ourselves on a gravel trail steeper than the roads of Sumatra.

Cycling is more fun off the main roads

Cycling is more fun off the main roads

It was cloudy all day but now the rain poured down on us heavily. About twenty deer pastured and the double rainbow ended in the field right next to them.

It was getting hillier and we felt like back in Indonesia!

It was getting hillier and we felt like back in Indonesia!

In Germany we say that on the end of the rainbow there is a hidden bag of gold, but the bug must be rather small if we could not see it in the grass.

Victoria is beautiful!

Victoria is beautiful!

Roberto grabbed his camera and I smiled at him and said: “See, I told you, even the rain is good for something!”

Cycling under the rainbow

Cycling under the rainbow

When we reached Leongatha we found ourselves a nice little campground for $18 and took a hot shower. We spent the evening in the cozy communal room with water kettle, TV and a sofa and went to sleep when we were had defrosted.

Our gravel road was even mentioned in my map, so we always had at least a vague idea where we were

Our gravel road was even mentioned in my map, so we always had at least a vague idea where we were

By the following morning we cycled straight to the “Great Southern Rail Trail”. Rail Trails are popular bike paths in Australia, which followed old railroad lines.

So where's the gold? What a disappointment!

So where’s the gold? What a disappointment!

The tracks had been removed and we cycled mostly on sand and gravel away from the busy main roads.

The rain brought out so many smells that had been hidden in the soil, the grass and the trees.

The rain brought out so many smells that had been hidden in the soil, the grass and the trees.

Trains were not able to climb steeply, so the trails climbed gently. Soon we found ourselves surrounded by forest.

The rainbow slowly disappeared while we were pitching our tent

The rainbow slowly disappeared while we were pitching our tent

When we took a break I had a closer look to one of the eucalyptus trees and spotted a fluffy and hairy ball between the branches.

After the rain

After the rain

When I came a little closer I realized that what I had just found was a sleeping Koala.

Wee fluffy hairball

Wee fluffy hairball

We had another break on a picnic bench and watched the clouds go by. A dark stripe had appeared on the horizon hours ago and now the wind turned and blew this strip right above our heads.

Most of the time we had the rail trail all for ourselves.

Most of the time we had the rail trail all for ourselves.

Within minutes the sky turned from bright blue to dark and the wind blew our food off the table.I was still running to save the precious olives, when both bikes fell over and the collection of maps was blown away.

The Great Southern Rail Trail

The Great Southern Rail Trail

I left the olives abandoned so I could save the maps, then we packed all our things into plastic bags and cycled as fast as we could back to the little village of Buffalo. Buffalo was rather small, even for Australian village standards.

The Great Southern Rail Trail

What an amazing idea, to turn old rail tracks into hiking and cycling paths!

We saw but two buildings: a farm and a shop. Unfortunately the shop was closed, so we squeezed under its canopy and did not have to wait long for the rain to increase.

Koalas Crossing. And this time we really saw one!

Koalas Crossing. And this time we really saw one!

With the humidity in the air, the icy wind felt even colder and I found myself searching through the bags for any warm piece of clothing. In the end I wore two sweaters, a jacket, two trousers, woolen socks, a scarf and winter boots.

Before the storm

Before the storm

The temperature was less than 10°C. We have rarely felt anything less than 25°C during the past year and I felt tempted to put my gloves on.

The rail trail led us over a bridge with a nice view

The rail trail led us over a bridge with a nice view

Victoria weather is unpredictable. From now on I decided to always have a sweater on top in one of the bags. It was still raining when we reached Foster and we headed straight towards the campground, where we were charged $30 (near €20) for a night.

Speeding up a little so we would reach Foster before sunset

Speeding up a little so we would reach Foster before sunset

Can you believe that? $30 for two warm showers and the permission to occupy 3m2 of space for a night. We felt cheated on but also too tired to leave and search for other options. In Asia we could have spent several nights in a nice hotel with pool for that money.

Planning the day with a hot tea and some snacks. The cooking area keeps the rain off.

Planning the day with a hot tea and some snacks. The cooking area keeps the rain off.

Instead we pitched the wet tent on the even wetter lawn and took a seat in the cooking area. There was a roof but no walls and the icy wind blew right through to our bones. Well at least the shower was hot and the neighbors nice.

Great Southern Rail Trail, Victoria, Australia

We fell in love with the rail trail instantly!

By the following morning we saw a little kangaroo hopping through the campground. After an echidna some days earlier and the Koala it makes our third native big animal. The rail trail was supposed to end in Foster but it had just been prolonged and we followed it till its new end in Toora. Then we were back on the Princess Highway. But we had gotten far away enough from Melbourne to avoid the heavy traffic.

Koala in an Eucalyptus tree

The little fella woka up, looked at us and decided that it was safe to go back to sleep.

We stopped at a shop in Weshpool where the owners gave us sandwiches for free. The hills slowly smoothed out and we could see right through to the sea. We followed another short 5 kilometer rail trail through fields and pasturage with plenty of cows, before we reached Yarram. There was a supermarket in town and we finally decided to buy one liter of alcohol for cooking, because there would not be another big supermarket in a while. Originally we had been trying to buy a smaller bottle ever since Melbourne but we had no luck.

Colorful parrots

Colorful parrots

Near Yarram there was a picnic place on the side of the street and the Tarra River. We pitched the tent and prepared for the night.

The sun was strong when we continued. In an even smaller village than Buffalo (there was the sign but not a single building), we left the Princess Highway and followed a backcountry road through the bush. We were surrounded by wide and dry fields, few cows and even fewer ranches that hid behind kilometer long approach roads.

Cycling the Australian Outback

Vast country. We enjoyed it a lot.

Every now and then there was one of those famous wind mills that pumped water into the cow’s drinking troughs. We saw but two cars during the first hour. Now that’s how I had imagined Australia!

The wind blew right into our faces when we reached the beach town Seaspray. There was a little shop where the 0.5 bottle of drinking water was sold for $2.50 and the pack of noodles for $3.50. We did not even bother asking for prices at the campground. I had eaten muesli on the way but Roberto was starving so we got ourselves a burger and a portion of chips and got on going.

Cycling the Australian Outback

This is the “outback” picture that I had in my mind before coming to Australia

I had been looking forward to this part of the travel, because the map showed a 30 kilometer long road right parallel to the shore. What the map had not showed me was, that there was a big wooded dyke in between us and the sea. We could smell the salty air and feel the wind, but we could not see the beach.

Ninety Miles Beach

Paradise Beach, Golden Beach and Seapray were all parts of the “Ninety Miles Beach” – a really really long beach.

Throughout these 30 kilometers there were 20 free campgrounds, every second came with a “dunny” (Aussie for the pit latrine). We cycled through to the village Golden Beach, bought equally expensive food and cycled an additional three kilometers to the 21st free campground called “Paradise Beach”.

Ninety Miles Beach

Reading my new favorite book at the dyke

During school holidays it can be difficult to find a spot even for a tent as small as ours, but we were lucky and ended up right next to Jaquie and Ross, their daughter Tab, her husband Cale and their little son Tanner. They had had a hard time finding a campground because they brought two dogs. There seemed to be a lot of dogs in Australian families but only few places where dogs were actually allowed to run freely. Most beaches and many parks and campgrounds did not allow dogs at all while few others forced dogs to stay on the leash.

www.tastingtravels.com

www.tastingtravels.com

We stayed for two nights and enjoyed the hot sun. The cold wind blew strongly on the beach, but behind the dyke we were cozy warm. We enjoyed a five minute hot shower for $4 and spent the day reading and napping. Sometimes it is just great not to have electricity so we were forced to spend our day off relaxing instead of working on the computers.

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  1. Héctor says:

    Shy Aussies? I wouldn’t imagined that!

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