Cycling Australia Part 2: The tiniest Music Festival


Music Festival Music in the Park in Bruthen

Music in the Park in Bruthen


Country: Australia

From Paradise Beach to Cann River

Lesson learned: It doesn’t hurt to ask

Laughed about: The Internet-Bird

Most wonderful miracle: A free outer tyre for Roberto

Food we ate: Antipasti, tomatoes, gingerbread, tzatziki, grapes, chocolate and cheese

Greatest challenge: A few hills

Days on the bike: 4

Kilometers cycled: 287.95

Average Kilometers per day: 72

Total Kilometers cycled till Cann River: 16165.42

Total days travelled till Cann River: 861


January 2014, cycling Australia Part 2

We were really well rested when we got back on the road after an entire day off. As usual about 1000 birds replaced any alarm clock. Some squeaked, others cried, others clattered, and screeched and here and there we also heard a shy wee tweet. One very peculiar bird even sounded like the sound that we heard in the 90’s connecting the internet. I really liked all the colorful parrots.

We stopped for a shower in Golden Beach. In a little booth there was an automatic shower that released five minutes worth of hot water in exchange for $4 in coins. Five minutes is more than enough for two cyclists who are used to shower under any circumstances. When the coins rattled in the machine, the icy water came splashing onto me. Somebody must have left it on and now I couldn’t move the cold water tap, no matter how hard I turned. The minutes passed and Roberto had to come and help. When he finally made it, I heard a click sound and not a single drop of water was left. I got annoyed and cursed loudly, but it wouldn’t help. There was no way around the walk of shame in towel and no shoes. The other clients in the shop stared at me, but the saleswoman did not even blink an eye when she changed my $5 bill into five little coins.

Ein neuer Reifen für Roberto!

That was just in time. The old tyre would have not lasted much more.

We had the wind blowing right into our faces all the way to Sale. Sale was the first bigger town on the way. For me that was especially exciting because we could visit the Aldi. Roberto was excited for the choice of bike shops. He urgently needed a new outer tyre. We approached the bike shop right next to the Aldi and were very surprised when the owner made Roberto a gift of a second hand 28” tyre. Just in case I sanded the rough parts of the rim until they were as smooth as glass, so the new tyre would survive a bit longer.

Cyclists sometimes behave just like pregnant women. We want to eat weird things in even more unbelievable quantities. The most incredible part is, that for lunch we are actually able to gulp down portions that could feed a small family for a week.

Ausbeute im Aldi

Far too much. But there’s no stopping for hungry cyclists in an Aldi

So in the Aldi we bought all that we had been craving for: Antipasti, tomatoes, gingerbread, tzatziki, grapes, chocolate and cheese filled a milk carton. Our panniers were about to burst even after we had gobbled half.

We continued against the wind direction Bairnsdale. The traffic was a bit heavier, but the shoulder was wide and consistent. Out of the blue a cyclist with a giant smile in his face, stood in the middle of the shoulder. His name was Uli and he came from Regensburg, Germany. He had been cycling Australia since November and had not spoken any German in weeks. He used to win bicycle races back in the eighties and was very well prepared. On average he made somewhere between 120 and 200 kilometers in a day. Half way between Sale and Bairnsdale we were planning to camp on a free highway rest area and when we told Uli about our plan, he turned around and joined us for the last 14 kilometers.

Uli aus Regensburg ist ein schneller Radler

Look at his legs. Seems like Uli lives on his bike 24/7.

Uli told us about funny, sad, dangerous, beautiful and interesting adventures he had faced during the past two months and showed us all the pictures he had taken. It was well past bedtime and the stars were shining on us, when we went to sleep.

We spent half morning listening to Uli’s stories as well. He was so happy that he could finally express himself in his mother tongue and we were happy to listen to his stories.

The sun had heated the road up when we finally sat on the saddles, so we decided to go nonstop till Bairnsdale.

Kurz hinter Bairnsdale auf dem Rail Trail

Just after Bairnsdale on the East Gippsland Rail Trail

We had not been online since we had left Melbourne, so we read our emails in the city library. We could not allow ourselves a long delay though because the booked flight tickets gave us quite some pressure. Even if we only had one rest day in a week we would have to cycle many kilometers in a day. So we did not hesitate and changed our flight tickets to a later date. Now we knew that we could actually stop, chat with the people and enjoy beaches, landscapes and just be spontaneous.

We spent half day in Bairnsdale and had to hurry again in order to reach the next cheap campground before sunset. That was a pity, because those 30 kilometers were the first ones on the nearly 100 kilometer long East Gippsland Rail Trail, which led us right through the nature.

Australischer Baum bei Sonnenuntergang

We reached Bruthen right at sunset

Bruthen had less than 1000 habitants and the first person we met was a policeman. We asked him for the best way to the campground and just half an hour later, while we were pitching our tent, he came just to see if we had found it. We met him for a third time two hours later in the local pub.

The pub reminded me of home. Everybody seemed to know everybody, except for the odd tourist. The locals were curious about us but did not talk to us until we were about to leave. The bill for the drinks was written down on coasters and the music was a mix of easy songs that excited nobody really but had not been any disturbing either. The ladies behind the bar had kept their favorite haircuts ever since the early eighties and on the wall there hung a blackboard with a note congratulating the new coach of the local football team and his “bitch” for their new positions. But this pub had something that we could only dream of back at home: a minibus! Whenever somebody wanted to go home, the barkeepers would offer to drive them, so nobody would have to either stay home to get drunk or drink and drive. We could have walked home in five minutes but two other customers wanted to go in our direction, so we joined them together with one eighties-lady and her slobbering dog.

Unsere lieben Nachbarn laden uns ein, sie auf ihrem Sommerzeltplatz zu besuchen.

Our sweet camping neighbors invited us to visit them on their summer campground a few days further east.

We slept in and woke up to the sounds of the neighbor family packing their tents. They were on the way to Thurra River, where they usually spent their big vacation camping between river, forest, sand dunes and beach. We made friends and promised to visit them on our way east.

We walked down to the river and took a refreshing bath. It was hot and the water felt just great. We could not have picked a better rest day, because Wally, the campground’s caretaker, had organized a tiny music festival on the campground. He had invited a couple of local singers and bands, that played Blues, Jazz, Country and a little Rock. Wally and his buddies had constructed a small stage in the morning and some odd 30 visitors came to join us.

The entrance was free. We grilled some meat and vegetables on the BBQ while the first singer kept on forgetting his lyrics. In the end he finished a few songs and was rewarded with a big applause. After him, the chef of the Bairnsdale restaurant “Le House of Yum” showed the people how to prepare Vietnamese spring rolls. The third in line was a 12 year old girl who wrote her own songs and played the guitar. Her father, Wally’s best buddy, followed with a harmonica workshop for kids, but there were no more than four children including his daughter, and none of them was brave enough to publicly join the workshop, so he decided to include an adult or two.

Music in the park Bruthen

The Music in the park Festival in Bruthen is supposed to be a regular thing during summer

One other child joined them, the others played hula hoop. Next came a local band with an exotic Swiss instrument and a rather dark sound. The local visitors sat on their own camping chairs and picnic blankets and Wally brings some beer and wine. We also got our parts because we were the only non-local visitors. The few other campground visitors had probably spent the day in the river.

It was near sunset when Wally grabbed a guitar and sat on stage. The beer and wine were nearly gone and the general mood had reached the climax. When we finally zigzagged back to our tent, we had met half of the village’s population. The policeman had not made it though.

Hoola Hoop

Roberto in battle against the “Le Yum”‘s owner’s daughter. She won by far.

In was hard to leave Bruthen. Wally had designed the campground with a passion for detail. Next to the wooden kitchen house with fire place were two flower beets. One was full of strawberries and in the other one grew plenty of herbs, ready for anybody to pick. There were pegs on the laundry line and three BBQs, two for meat, and one for vegetables only. Next to the CD player, Wally had positioned some of his favorite CDs and books. Even the bathrooms were cozy with bamboo chairs and magazines for the rare case of somebody waiting in line, and several paintings from the fantastic local artist Marg Pearson, who perfectly sensed the mood in the little town.

his is Marg Phearson's art from Bruthen. You can buy it in her shop or online

This is Marg Phearson’s art. You can buy it in her shop or online

We cycled to the center to buy a little lunch and were very surprised about the quantity of people. The little town was full to busting with big campervans, cars with a boat as trailer, canoes of the roof racks, bicycles on bike carriers and the trunks full of suitcases. The café and the restaurant were packed and people queued for meters for their purchase at the local bakery. I had completely forgotten that it was school holiday and that Bruthen is situated right in the crossing of the coastal road and the alpine mountain road. Apart from that I have to admit that it is just a lovely little place.

Eine einmalige Erfahrung: Music in the Park in Bruthen, Victoria, Australien

Beer, Music and food at the down-to-earth festival Music in the Park.

It was late morning when we left Bruthen and continued on the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Ever since we have reached Paradise Beach, we did not have a single cold or rainy day. The string headwind did not cool the air all too much but I rather not complain. I prefer too hot climate rather than too cold one. The Rail Trail was just great. We were all by ourselves. The only sounds we could hear were the birds and from time to time the hopping of wallabies.

We stopped in Nowa Nowa for a chitchat with the local shop’s owners and cycled down to explore the lake before we continued our way. The trail led us to some old railway bridges that were too old to be safe, even for light little travel bikes. We had to roll down and push up on the other side. We heard the hopping again and spotted something brown quite a bit away. We walked the bikes slowly and when the little brown thing hopped away we were sure: we had just seen the first kangaroo in the wild! We spotted 11 of its friends during the afternoon and one of them came so unexpectedly and quickly that it nearly crashed into Roberto’s spokes.

Newmerella bike

We were not the only cyclists in Nowa Nowa

In Newmerella the Rail Trail was about to come to an end. Many locals had told us about the beauty and the great facilities of the free campspot just on the side of the street. There were said to be toilets and drinking water and even tables and benches! We found the spot easily but we also found various big signs with red capital letters: “NO CAMPING!”.

We were highly disappointed. We knew that the public campground in the next town, Orbost, was said to be very expensive and it was too late to cycle even farther and apart we urgently needed to stop for food in Orbost. So we just cycled slowly searching for a place to wild camp. Somewhere far off the road I saw a single house surrounded by fields. We decided to give it a try.

Stony Creek Trestle Bridge

Die Stony Creek Trestle Bridge was stone old (compared to average Australian construction age) and we were forced to follow the path down and back up, because the bridge was considered too dangerous.

The house looked quite old and rundown and I was about to ask Roberto to try our luck somewhere else, when a barking dog came running towards us. The dig was followed by its owner: a tanned man in his mid-fifties with shaggy red beard, a check shirt and no shoes. He presented himself as Tyler (I understood Tiger) and happily allowed us to pitch the tent for a night. It was dark when the water for the pasta finally boiled and Tyler, his wife Liz and dog Pepper had grown curious on the strangers who came by bike.

Der East Gippsland Rail Trail

The East Gippsland Rail Trail

We had a great talk with them and found out that they had been renting the house for many years. It was constructed 110 years ago and had survived several small and three very high floodings. The house was surrounded by the meandering Snowy River and the house was situated right in the center of a curve. That was the reason for the floodings but thanks to the river it was also just a minutes’ walk to a sandy private beach and some nice fishing. The fields around the house belonged to the landlord. Tyler worked on a dairy farm nearby and Liz had found a job in the community house in Orbost.

We visited Liz at work by the following morning and strolled through the little town. There was so much to see and we could have easily spent another day, but we had a date with our first Aussie warmshowers host Thomas, 80 kilometers further east in Cann River. It was noon when we left town and the sun beat down mercilessly. 35°C in the shade and the sweat came running down in rivers.

Der Rail Trail führt durch von Buschfeuer beschädigte Wälder und Sumpflandschaft

Der Rail Trail leads us through forest that had survived several bush fires, before we reached an area of ponds and puddles.


At first we were surrounded by fields, then we surrounded a mountain. The road got hilly and steeper with every kilometer. Now I am happy that back then I had not a clue that we would be cycling the entire way to Sydney over steep hills like those. We left the fields behind us and dived right into the rich green rainforest. When the first long climb (average speed of 7 km/h) was done we had run out of water. We stopped at a little hotel and bar, bought a bottle of lemonade and asked for a water refill. The lady told us about some crazy Chinese guy who had come without car or bike, but running. The hills grew longer and longer but the traffic was rather low and near half of the time we had a shoulder to ride on. It was a constant fight. Uphill for half an hour and then downhill with up to 50 km/h within few minutes. After a long climb I saw a sign: “260 meters above sea level”. What?? We must have lost all our good mountain condition. I had guessed that we had climbed at least to 500, more probable even 800 meters.

Our legs were wobbly and the stomaches empty and loud when we finally reached Cann River. We were happy about our reelights, because we did not have to worry about not seeing potholes, branches and animals in the dark. Thomas had already been waiting for us (we texted him as soon as we got signal) and we did not even bother putting the foam mattresses onto the cozy and fluffy carpet. We have slept outdoors for ten days and felt like kings and queens in the room with walls and carpet.

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