DAY 641: AULBURY – CHILTON
TUESDAY 1ST JANUARY 2013
START: 15:00 – FINISH: 17:30 – DISTANCE: 37 KM – RIDE TIME: 2H 30
Happy New Year! It was a pretty uneventful New Year’s Eve. From my camping spot on the Murray I could hear but not see the fireworks in Albuary at midnight. I could hear some guys drinking on the other side of the river. Thankfully, I didn’t get any human visitors. I did get a fox trying to get into my panniers. I had to scare him off a few times before he gave up. I was up at first light and cycled back over the border into NSW and went to the park.
Made a cup of tea and some breakfast on this sunny New Year day. After breakfast I went back into town. Got some food from the supermarket for later in the day. Saw McDonalds so called in there to use the WiFi. Was doing a roaring trade with slightly weary looking customers. McDonalds in Australia are pretty crafty – they don’t have any power points in the restaurant that customers can easily use. With a flat battery in my computer I had to move on.
I relocated to the Tourist Information Centre. I was able to set myself up and it was 1 p.m. before I pulled myself away. Went back to the park to barbecue some steak sandwiches. It was a stinking hot day: 37 degrees and even hotter tomorrow. At 3 p.m. I set out to do a few kms. Was still pretty hot and a bit of a headwind as well. I did 37 km before I called it a day. As usual I have set up camp in a public rest area.
DAY 642: CHILTON – BENALLA
WEDNESDAY 2ND JANUARY
START: 7:15 – FINISH: 17:00 – DISTANCE: 85 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 23
I had more foxes in the night. But they didn’t really bother me. The rest area was pretty busy with a steady stream of people calling in for a break as they rushed back home after the holiday break and probably work.
20 km down the road. I had a road cyclist join me. Gaye and her husband did a similar trip to mine back in 2007 and we talked about that and reminisced about some of the countries visited. Gaye got picked up by her husband and I left the Hume Highway and continued on to Wangaratta a nice big country town. I stopped here for a few hours and then cycled on another 25 km to Glenrowan. the town is famous for the siege and shoot out which then led to the wounding and capture of Ned Kelly.
I cycled on another 20 km to Benalla. After calling in at the information centre I was directed to the park next to the lake behind the town civic centre where I could camp. It was a nice little spot for the night, among the trees. Many birds also shared the lake.
DAY 643: BENALLA – MURRINDINDI
THURSDAY 3RD JANUARY
START: 7:15 – FINISH: 20:40 – DISTANCE: 158 KM – RIDE TIME: 9H 12
Just a 5 min chat with the very helpful guy at the tourist office has helped shape the next few days. I am going to stay off the Hume Highway which is the more direct route to Melbourne and instead take the slightly longer but much more picturesque route. I started by taking the Midland Highway (B300) to Mansfield.
The highway was lined with blue gum trees which offered some very nice shade from the scorching heat. I stopped at the huge reservoir for a quick morning tea break. Near Mansfield I picked up the Goulburn High River Rail Trail and followed it for most of the day. It weaved its way through the countryside for long periods well away from the main road and only returning to stop at the old now very derelict stations and yards with the cattle fences now very overgrown.
The last train ran in 1978. Around lunch I got to Bonnie Doon and had to take a 300 metre bridge to cross lake Eildon. The town was moved when the dam was built and the old town flooded. The old town sometimes reappears when the lake is low. After Bonnie Doon there was a nice climb up to Mertons Gap and an even nicer decent down to Yark. I visited the milk bar for a banana milkshake……….which was a nice treat on such a hot day. There was another gradual climb and just before the summit there was a 200 metre tunnel to cycle through.
Entering the tunnel was pure bliss. The cool temperature was so nice. The run into Yea was beautiful with many bridges crossing the plains and the Goulburn river. Passing through the cool gum forest, the overgrown telegraph poles lined the trail leaving a clue to an insight into the past. When I got to Yea I was pretty exhausted. I was going to have some fish and chips and then find a place to camp. But when I heard it was going to be at least another 130 km to get into Melbourne tomorrow, I thought I’d better push on for another few hours.
I had already cycled 125 km for the day. so getting back on the bike at 6 p.m was tough. Just as well I did…………for fate have it, I ended up in the right place at the right time. It is such a small world. About 12 km out of town, I had a caravan pull over in front of me. As I got closer it was obvious they were waiting for me. I thought it must be someone I had met some time early in my travels. The lady called me by my first name as I got closer………….and then I realised it was my friend Belinda who I worked with 12 years ago at the Chateau in France and hadn’t seen since.
It just happened her and her family were heading home a day early from their holidays after a severe bush fire warning had been issued with 43 degrees and strong winds forecasted for tomorrow. So it was purely by chance that I ran into Bel. It was just like yesterday. They are only 80 km away and I will now call in on Bel and Mark tomorrow. This will give me a slightly easier day. Cycling on another 10 km I got to the Yea river. No where to camp so I followed the signs to Murrindindi scenic reserve. but for the last 9 km I had two steep climbs making it the toughest part of the day. The reserve is in the Turlugi forest. It was part of major bush fires in 2009. This is still very evident 4 years on with many blackened trees.
I reached the reserve just on dark and was very dirty and dusty and sweatie. After putting up the tent I went and had a skinny dip in the river to clean myself up. I waited for my body to cool down and I then had my takeaway burger which helped fill the gap……..I was starving after cycling 158 km. I spent $20 just on cold drinks today……….with 39 degree heat the fluid intake was extremely high.
DAY 644: MURRINDINDI – WANTIRNA, MELBOURNE
FRIDAY 4TH JANUARY
START: 7:15 – FINISH: 14:00 – DISTANCE: 84 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 14
I should really have been on the road a little sooner with such high temperatures forecasted for today, but I was really exhausted after yesterday’s long ride. I rested a little longer. When I did get going it was all ready scorching hot at 8 a.m. in the morning. I started off with a couple of climbs to get back to the main road. I then had to climb up over the range. It was through the state forest and some shade was provided.
The trees were all black from the 2009 fire. Kingslake was close by and was the tragic town completely destroyed by the wild fires with the loss of life amounting to over 150 people. Descending the range through the Yara valley was refreshing. After 60 km I got to Lilidale…………..and with the perfect directions given by Bel I easily cycled the 20 km to her house. With 41 degree heat I arrived to find the whole family in the swimming pool. After some lunch and a proper shave and wash I too spent the rest of the day in the pool.
Day 645: WANTIRNA – REST DAY
SATURDAY 5TH JANUARY
My Wantirina rest day was spent catching up on the blog. I sent an email out to Peter, the guy I had met on Christmas Eve. I was really surprised. It was very good of Pete who had already started making some enquires for me.
« Hi Simon,
Happy New Year.
While I was back home in Goulburn, we had a guy from Wellington stay the night at my sister’s place on Christmas Eve who has been cycling from London to New Zealand for the past 18 months. He had been camping down in the rest area at the end of my sister’s farm and it was absolutely pouring with rain so my brother-in-law offered him to come and join us and stay in the shed where it was comfortable and he could dry his tent out. He was really interesting to talk to and he has a blog going as per the below link.
He plans to try and get back to New Zealand in February and wants to do this by getting on to a container ship in Melbourne. He has a contact that can arrange this for him but a cost of EUR900 which seems steep. I indicated to him that I would see if I could do anything better for him. Is this something that HSUD would entertain and he is prepared to pay for the trip?
Fingers crossed that something will come of it.
DAY 646: WANTIRNA – PATTERSON LAKES, MELBOURNE
DAY 647: PATTERSON LAKES – REST DAY
SUNDAY 6TH JANUARY AND MONDAY 7TH JANUARY
START: 16:00 – FINISH: 17:30 – DISTANCE: 30 KM – RIDE TIME: 1H 30
Lazy Sunday……..I spent most of the day just hanging out with Bel and her family until 4 p.m. when I headed off down the Mornington penisular to Patterson Lakes.
I am going to catch up with my ex-flatmate from London. Rachel, her fiancé James and their new son Jenson who arrived sometime after I left London. They have just been over visiting Rachel’s parents. I was really lucky that Enno and Sue had some room for me. Their house is in a fantastic setting.
From the lounge you look straight out into the marina and canal network. Such a gorgeous view. After 2 years is was so nice to see everyone and catch up on lost time. The next day we walked down to the beach along the river.
Had some fish and chips, followed by a swim in the ocean. For James’ and Rachel’s last night in Australia before they return to the UK and to celebrate their recent engagement, we all went over to the marina for dinner.
DAY 648: PATTERSON LAKES – PARKDALE
DAY 649: PARKDALE – REST DAY
TUESDAY 8TH JANUARY AND WEDNESDAY 9TH JANUARY
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 9:30 – DISTANCE: 14 KM – RIDE TIME: 1H 05
I was lucky to catch Rachel and James, because early this morning they were off to the airport. We said our goodbyes and I headed off to visit my next lot of friends.
I have been really lucky with the amount of people who have invited me to stay. I am also lucky because Alex and Dave are only 14 km up the road. To get up to Parkdale I cycled entirely along the cycle path. First on a path running behind some golf courses and wetlands and then along the beach cycle path.
I turned up at 9.30 a.m. and Alex and girls made me feel very welcome. At 5.00 p.m. we all walked down to the station to meet Dave, get some fish and chips and then we went down the beach to eat them.
Australia is currently being gripped with major bush fires and soaring temperatures into the 40s. A total fire ban has been enforced. Many of the fires are in places I recently cycled through. I heard from some people I called in on near Yas. They are packed and ready to evacuate at any minute. There is a fire burning 7 km from their house. I have been extremely lucky to dodge both the heatwave and the fires.
DAY 650: PARKDALE – HAWRTHORN
DAY 651: HAWRTHORN – REST DAY
THURSDAY 10th JANUARY AND FRIDAY 11TH JANUARY
START: 15:00 – FINISH: 17:30 – DISTANCE: 33 KM
I got some fantastic news this morning:
« Good morning Peter,
Hamburg have agreed to assist Adam with a free trip as follows;
“In this case we could offer you the owners-cabin of the “Bahia” (21.Jan.MEL – 01.Feb.AKL) and the “Bahia Castillo” (28.Jan.MEL – 08.Feb.AKL)”
The only cost will be for deviation insurance and any purchases Adam may make on board.
Please confirm which of the vessels suits and I will arrange accordingly.
Brgds Bruce »
I can’t believe how extremely lucky I have been. I am completely over the moon. Peter has done awesome work in helping me out. I am extremely grateful.
I am relocating again this afternoon. Heading up to Hawthron which is a bit closer to the city. I am going to stay with Jackie another of my old flatmates from London and her new husband. There was a very good cycle lane from Parkdale 25 km along the beach to St. Kilda. I then headed up to Hawthron on the road with an extra hazard to watch out for: trams and tram tracks which can sometimes not be so kind to a bicycle.
On the day I left London I was accompanied by one of my best mates, Dave. He is over from the UK visiting family. We caught up and went for a quick beer. We then went round to Jackie’s before we all went down to the park to have a very nice BBQ on the banks of the Yarra river. Jackie had invited a few other people as well.
I have only played golf once in two years. This morning Dave came and got me at 5.40 a.m. and we went out for 9 holes on a nice Melbourne morning. My lack of recent golf showed.
DAY 652: HAWRTHORN – SOUTH YARRA
SATURDAY 12TH JANUARY
START: 9:30 – FINISH: 14:00 – DISTANCE: 10 KM – RIDE TIME: 0H 42
I am relocating again today. South Yarra this time. Even closer to the city, but I only have 7 km to go down the river.
Jackie, Peter and I cycled along the river. We stopped at Kanteen for breakfast on the river. We were joined by Leanne. The sister of one of my other flatmates, Renée who I lived with in London.
We were there for a good few hours before I had to head off to the appartment of another of my best mates, Andrew who also saw me off on the day I left London. My bike is now on the balcony of the 14th floor.
DAY 652: SOUTH YARRA – REST DAYS.
DAY 653: SUNDAY 13TH JANUARY
What are Sundays for – yep I did very little today. Venturing only as far as the supermarket.
DAY 654: MONDAY 14TH JANUARY
I took a stroll along the cycle path beside the Yarra river. Following it downstream passing the Botanical gardens,
the Sydney cricket ground and the Rod Lavor tennis arena. It was a hot day. I ended up at South Bank and went and met Jackie for a quick lunch. After lunch I crossed over the river into the CBD of Melbourne for a quick look. It was very busy. Lots of people around for the tennis. The Australia Open is on. In Fed square there is a bit of a fan zone with a big screen showing the games. Being only a 30 min walk back to South Yarra I walked back the opposite side of the river.
Just in time for a quick shower and out for dinner which is luckily not too far away in Chapel Street. I went and met Simone, who I worked with in Austria back in 2001. Great to see Sim after all these years………..thanks for the Burger.
DAY 655: TUESDAY 15TH JANUARY
I went off to Day 2 of the Australian Open with my mate, Dave over from London, his mum and nephew.
It was a really hot day. We had ground tickets and fluttered between the outer courts. Here you can get a bit closer to the action. It was pretty busy and there was a nice atmosphere. We ended up spending a bit of time on Show Court 3 watching Laura Robson, an up and coming English girl, win her first round game. I stayed till 7 p.m. before I had a 15 min walk to South Yarra. which is really a handy location.
DAY 656: WEDNESDAY 16TH JANUARY
I am being kept busy in Melbourne. This morning I walked down Chapel Street to Phran Market to catch up for coffee with Kate who I first met in Calgary, Canada back in 2003 and a few other times when we were both living in London.
Kate had the day off so after our coffee Kate drove us down to Brighton beach. It was another stinking hot day and with sunscreen and a hat I took a pounding from the sun as we walked a couple of km along the beach to the famous and probably $100,000 each colourful beach huts.
DAY 657: THURSDAY 17TH JANUARY
I hadn’t done much all day when I got the call from Kate who wanted to know if I wanted to go to the night session of the Australian Open on Centre Court.
I was showered and on my way in 15 mins. The first game on Centre Court was Roger Federer who won in 3 straight sets and the game after was Laura Robson who played the 8th seed. It was a close game going to 3 sets. The last and deciding set going 10-8 to Laura Robson after an epic struggle. The game finally finishing at 12:40 a.m. and I got home just after 1 a.m.
DAY 658: FRIDAY 18TH JANUARY
In the afternoon I went into the city……..taking the train for the first time. The station is only 2 min from the apartment. I then walked up through the city to the Melbourne museum where I caught up with Alex and her
two kids and Alex’s friend, Sophiane and her two kids. The museum was very good and had plenty of things to see and do. Lots of dinosaurs and animals, culture and industry. Lots of hands-on things to do. Next to the museum was the impressive-looking exhibition centre. After walking back through the city to Fed Square I said good bye to Alex and company and went across to the cider bar to meet Simone, Dana and Pet who I worked with in Europe.
I ended up running into a few other people I had also worked with during my days with Contiki and hadn’t expected to see. After the cider bar we trammed it up to Brunswick Street where we went to a bar that had a number of live bands. Prior to going home we all went and had some Vietnamese which was very nice………….having not eaten it for so long after it was eaten on a daily basis as I cycled through the country. The reason I don’t have it more often in Australia is because it is about 5 times more expensive. I struggle having not worked for two years. Leaving the most expensive country to last hasn’t made it any easier.
DAY 659: SATURDAY 19TH JANUARY
I know it’s got to be done sooner or later as New Zealand is like Australia and is very strict when it comes to entering the country. The bike and all my camping gear needs to be spotless so I started by taking the bike apart and scrubbing everything down and polishing the bike.
DAY 660: SUNDAY 20TH JANUARY
Having not left the apartment at all yesterday, I decided to get out and do something. I walked down to the botanical gardens and enjoyed walking in the cool shade, as it was another hot day.
The gardens were being well used with lots of picnics. Next to the botanical gardens is the Shrine of Remembrance built after World War I. I had a look through and found myself on the roof. A bit like the Arc de Triomphe, from the top you get a nice view of the city. My diet has been a bit poor this week, living on ham and cheese sandwiches so I went to the supermarket nd bought a ton of vegetables which I then cooked up on the BBQ along with a nice piece of steak…………
DAY 661: MONDAY 21ST JANUARY
Simone came and picked me up after work and we went back to her place for a BBQ.
Pet brought her parents who are down for the tennis and Dion, whose house it is were also there. It was a lovely evening.
DAY 662: TUESDAY 22ND JANUARY
I crashed over last night and this morning I had a nice walk back to the apartment.
I passed through the affluent area of Turack which is just full of mansions. Finally, Andrew whose apartment I have been staying in has come back from holiday. I last saw Andrew at 7:30 am on Day 1 when he saw me off. I had stayed in his apartment the night before I started this trip.
DAY 663: WEDNESDAY 23RD JANUARY
Andrew invited me over to his restaurant.
So late afternoon I took the train over to Williams town and then walked down to the Restaurant. It’s in such a lovely place – right on the water with a nice deck with a scenic view of the city.
DAY 664: THURSDAY 24TH JANUARY
I went back over to the restaurant with Andrew this morning. After a coffee I went for a walk into Williams town. One of the first settlements in Melbourne with the first port and old dockyards. Some of this is still evident. I walked along the esplanade.
There were two jetties which are part of the marina. I walked out to the end of these. Got a good view of a new aircraft carrier being built for the Australian Navy. The old ship building yards are still in use today.
In the bay was a seaplane making tourist flights and an old warship was tied up as well. Some of the more interesting buildings still around was actually the morgue. I continued right to the point, where the old time bell tower was. A place where ships could set their clocks before they left port. I went back to the restaurant for a very nice lunch.
DAY 665: FRIDAY 25TH JANUARY
Another day to fill in before the boat on Tuesday. I went for breakfast with Andrew in Newport
before hanging out in the nice environment of the restaurant. What a life………..It’s a bit sad to think it will soon be over. The past two years have become a very nice way of life for me. I am going to miss it for sure.
DAY 666: SATURDAY 26TH JANUARY
It’s Australia Day – Australia’s national day holiday. The Aussies are very patriotic. Around midday we watched a 20 minute aerobatics display over the city being performed by the Australian Air Force. At one point the formation of 5 jets flew directly over the apartment.
I then walked into the city along the river bank where people were having BBQs and picnics and all the Aussie flags were out. I went into the city to catch up with a mate Stephen who I met 5 years ago whilst climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Stephen and his wife have now migrated to Australia. We caught up for a quick beer. Stephen had a spare ground ticket for the Australian Open. So for the third time I was lucky to be at the Australian Open. We watched a bit of the final of the wheelchair tennis………..extraordinary.
The women’s final was on tonight between Li Na and Victoria Azarenka…………………..for those who couldn’t get in the Arena there was a big screen outside for the fans to watch it on.
In the middle of the game the match had to stop for 10 minutes for the Australian Day fireworks.
DAY 667: SUNDAY 27TH JANUARY
Not too long now before I take the boat to New Zealand. Only two more sleeps. Got a call saying due to heavy weather the boat has been delayed some hours so instead of boarding on Tuesday morning I don’t have to board till the afternoon. Australia is currently in the grip of some severe weather. A big chunk of the area I have cycled through is now flooding after hundreds of mm of heavy rain. I count myself lucky to have missed the bad weather and find it hard to believe that when I cycled through some places they were 38 degrees and very dry.
DAY 668: MONDAY 28TH JANUARY
I was supposed to be leaving Melbourne tomorrow on the boat to New Zealand. But I will have to wait another day after I got a call from the ships agent saying the boat had been held up in Sydney due to the bad weather.
DAY 669: TUESDAY 29TH JANUARY
I spent my last day in Melbourne with Andrew at the resturant. Took another walk in to Williams town and out on the jetty before going back to the resturant and was treated to a nice farewell steak.
I packed the bike tonight – already for tomorrow. It’s pretty heavy. I have some extra luggage. When I left London I left a bag of stuff behind – things I needed up until the day I left. But not things I needed to take on the bike such as jeans and dress shoes and a laptop.
I now have all that stuff after Andrew brought my bag back from London for me. Just as we left the restaurant, the Bahia Castillo happened to sail past. Good to know she has arrived safely.
DAY 670: SOUTH YARRA – PORT MELBOURNE – (BOAT TO NEW ZEALAND) TASMAN SEA – DAY 1
WEDNESDAY 30TH JANUARY
START: 8:15 – FINISH: 8:45 – DISTANCE: 5KM – RIDE TIME: 0H 25
It’s finally come. It’s a very exciting day. This afternoon the Australian chapter will be over after 160 days and I will be heading to New Zealand by boat. The Bahia Castillo is a container ship owned by Hamburg Sud.
It can carry over 3500 containers. It is as big as a boat can be so it can pass the Panama Canal.
It turned out to be my shortest cycling day ever – having only to cycle 5 km from South Yarra to the Hamburg Sud office in Melbourne. From here the agent Aaron took me out to the boat at West Swanston dock. The container terminal was mad. The boat was getting loaded and containers were coming and going in every direction. On board I met the Chief (second-in-command) Karalina – it is not often there are women officers on a ship.
The Captain came straight down to meet me His name is Tomic and like the rest of the officers is from Poland. I was blown away when I saw my cabin. It is on the 6th floor, right in the centre of the boat between the Captain’s cabin and the Chief Engineer’s cabin. The owner’s cabin is huge. I have a lounge with sofa, table and chairs, work desk, TV, CD player, stereo and a fridge. There are 3 windows with a nice view. From here I was watching containers whizz past the window as they unloaded the boat. The bedroom is also generous with two double beds and a bathroom.
I went for a wander round the boat and found a gym, sauna and a swimming pool. No chance of getting bored.
For lunch I sat at the Captain’s table with the Chief and Chief Engineer which was pork soup followed by spring rolls, chips and salad. There are no other passengers on the ship. At 1 p.m. Australian customs came on board to stamp me out. That was easy. I then got a ride with them back to the port gate. As I walked to the Customs car it looked as though I was getting detained with one customs officer in front and one behind. The security gate then got me a lift over to Fitzroy so I could go to the supermarket to stock up on snacks for the crossing over. I had to be quick because the boat was sailing at 4:30 p.m. Walking back I got a little lost. All the docks look the same. I made it back with an hour to spare.
At 4:30 p.m. on a lovely sunny evening we slipped our mooring. The habour tug pulled us away from the wharf and we were on our way though it takes 4 hours to get out to open sea so for that time there is a pilot onboard. It felt like you could reach out and touch the underside of the gateway bridge as we passed under it. We were in a bit of a convoy. There was a cruise ship in front of us and another 4 ships on the way out. About the same number of ships passed us on the way in as well. We stayed close to the coast, sandy unpopulated beaches. The Captain invited me to come up to the bridge after dinner. He has said that I can go up anytime I want even during the entering or exiting port.
The bridge is huge……….with instruments to tell you everything. The crew have been so helpful in taking the time to explain in-depth how everything works……….It is awesome and very interesting. From the bridge we had a nice sunset. A few hours later the moon was just as impressive when it came up over the horizon.