Daily Log, Australia Bicycle Tour 2001

Scott Ellington

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                      

2/21      Wed             Melbourne

 

Warm, some clouds, change PM.  High about 31 C.

Did not find much for maps.  Called VK3APN, will try to visit 4/15.  ( His father just died..)  Visit Tim, VK3IM.  Tim is very  knowledgeable about fields, software.

 

Date      Day                 Start                      

2/22      Thurs           Melbourne

 

Cool and sunny, about 24 C.

 

Can't get to Richmond station.  Melbourne traffic is horrible.  Very fast, no consideration of pedestrians.  Give up on going to Gladstone to exchange maps.

 

Lunch with VK3IM.

 

Roger calls PM, cut off when I accidentally mute phone.  We're still meeting in Dunkeld.

 

Meet Randy Miller and Jody PM.  Dinner with Melbourne Bicycle Touring Club members.  Meeting, pub afterwards.  Talk to some (Wayne, did RAGBRAI in '90), but all these places too noisy for conversation.  Randy and Jody are getting married, spending a year cycling around Australia.  Will add to email list.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

2/23      Fri               Terang                    Dunkeld                116.0            116           19.6            44.5

 

Train from Melbourne to Terang

 

Drizzle AM, then sunny, about 28C.  Late cool sea breeze.   Wind 20-30 kph, S/var.

 

Awful traffic getting to station via Flinders Ln, a "small" downtown Melbourne street.  One of the wide main streets might have been better.

 

Loaded bike in baggage car - room to lie it down.  No problem.  Train old and grubby, but leaves on time.  11:30 in Terang.

 

A barren ride--no nice places to stop.  Nothing in Woorndool or Chatsworth.  Little traffic, most roads 1 lane.  Route towards Darlington.  Mortlake road quite busy. a few hills, no big climbs.

 

In Dunkeld 5:45, Wendy and Roger there, just leaving to meet me.  Dinner at restaurant, only customers.  Caravan park is cheap, with showers, some road noise.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

2/24      Sat               Dunkeld                 Jimmy Creek         38.7              156           17.5            58.5

 

Clear night and chilly AM.  Sunny AM, cloudy PM.  High about 24, S. wind.

 

Road through park very nice.  Light traffic.  Very nice campground at Wannon Crossing, walk-in sites, mostly empty.  Went on to Jimmy Creek campground.  Not as nice, got last site.   Water.

 

Steep hike up to overlook.  Park very green, undeveloped.  Nice.

 

Kangaroos in the campground.   As we're making dinner, Wendy spots one by my bike.  "What's he eating?" she says.  Never leave your bananas unattended when there are kangaroos about.

 

Kookaburras.  No bugs.  Neighbors quiet 8:30 PM.  Campfires, but downwind of us.  Very quiet night.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                      

2/25      Sun              Jimmy Creek           Day Hike              

 

Cloudy AM, then sunny and warm, about 30.  Wind light SW.

 

Day hike towards Stockyard Saddle.  A 4 hour round trip to helipad, supposed to be 3 km each way!  Turned back, low on water.  No great views.  Saddle must be much more that 13 km round trip, but it turns out I was pretty close.  (Roger and Wendy turned back much earlier.)  Back at 2 PM.  Police officer comes by to find fishing pole left by a camper.  Found it near our campsite.

 

Roger went for PM bike ride.  Weekend campers leaving.  "Marsh flies", like big horseflies, local to marshy areas.  Comfortable in shade at campground.

 

Possums got into Roger and Wendy's trash at 4 AM, I had to get up to hang it properly.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

2/26      Mon             Jimmy Creek           Halls Gap             36.4              193           17.6            52.0

 

Cool night, warmed quickly.  High about 32.  Sunny AM, PC PM.  Wind north, light.

 

Very easy climb over divide.  Traffic about same as Sat.  Hall's Gap touristy, but very small-scale.  Small supermarket.  Internet at $10/hr.  Caravan park downtown, $20 or 3 of us.  OK, but tent sites unshaded, barren, no tables.  Park nearby, though.

 

Bush camping doesn't appeal to Roger - he likes restaurants.  Even Australian ones.

 

Dinner at "Darcy's", just south of center.  Nice, hot too expensive.  Wasted time walking north looking for Hall's Gap Hotel, which turned out to be about 3 km out of town.  Sent Report 1, short.  Poor terminal.

 

When we wake up in the morning, dozens of kangaroos are grazing amongst the tents.  While we watch from our tents, as if on cue, they all suddenly leave, a long parade hopping off into the bush.

 

Awful caravan park, but better tent sites just to the north, which we didn't discover until leaving town.   Same management.  Ours was crowded, noisy.  Hall's Gap is a sprawly new town.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

2/28      Tues             Hall's Gap              Ararat                   88.3              281           18.6            62.0

 

Clear all day.  Cool AM, then high about 27, low humidity.  Wind S, about 15 kph.  Very comfortable.

 

No place open for breakfast until 9 AM.  Very late start.

 

Route:  Pomonal, Moyston, Maroona, east about 7 km, north to Ararat.  Very nice route, little traffic except Lake Bolac road (moderate).

 

Long chat with birdwatcher/guide at Pomonal.  Woman at store in Moyston tells of pumas at Jimmy's Creek, supposedly descendents of pets released by American soldiers after WWII.  (We’re a little skeptical.)  Bartender at Maroona says dryness normal for summer.

 

Very nice park at Pomonal (east).  Water, toilets, chairs.  No campsites, but could camp.  Also sports grounds at Moyston, possible campsite.

 

Little traffic entering Ararat.  Dinner at Ararat Hotel.  Get to caravan park just before dark.  (On Pyrenees Hwy, east edge of town.)  Nice place.  $6.50/person, good tent sites.  Little road noise.  Some trains.  Clean.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

2/28      Wed             Ararat                     Avoca                    73.1              352           20.0            50.0

 

Cool AM, cool day.  High about 22C.  Some clouds PM, sprinkle.  Strong SW wind, about 30 kph, mostly tailwind.

 

AM in Ararat:  Gasket material (for stove) at engine shop, RACV maps -- free!  Surrounded by magpies in town square.

 

Route via Pyrenees Hwy.  Some trucks and traffic, unpleasant.  Estimate > 800/day.  Climbs very gradual.  Nice tailwind.  Poor store in Elmhurst.  Art gallery, store in Amphitheater.

 

Avoca caravan park nice -- basic, cheap.  All of us use ladies shower.  (Not at the same time!)  It’s Wendy’s turn to pay for the campsite, and when she gets her wallet out from under her shirt the locals think she’s getting undressed.  Bar meal at hotel,  $6.00.

 

Nice downtown, but lots of business closed or for sale.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/1        Thurs           Avoca                     Avoca                    22.5              375           16.1            30.5

 

No clouds.   Very cool night and morning (~10 C).  Warm PM, High ~30.  Light south wind.

 

Short ride to two wineries:  Mt. Avoca (small), Blue Pyrenees (large.).  Tasted wine, bought two bottles.  NZ couple at Pyrenees.  Had wine in afternoon back in Avoca.  Played recorder in Lions park.  Relaxing day.  Quite warm PM.  Few flies.  Nice.  More wine before dinner at town square.  Dinner at hotel again, long wait.  Warm evening.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/2        Fri               Avoca                     Dunolly                 61.4              346           20.0            35.5

 

Not as cold overnight and AM.  No clouds all day, high ~27.  Hot in sun.  Wind S/var ~20 kph.

 

Route via Bealiba.  Easy riding, tailwind to Bealiba.  No big climbs.  Minimal traffic.  Excellent.  Store in Bealiba.  Natte Yallock was west of route, didn't check out.  Bealiba looks like classic Australian town.  Very old, not much left.

 

Dunolly has bakery, grocery, butcher, etc.  Very poor caravan park -- mostly residents, manager tried to rip us off.  Nice park, swimming pool.  Pizza for dinner.  Nice town except caravan park.  (Camping amid junk cars.)

 

Roger and Wendy went for ride after dinner.

 

Diurnal temperature range is amazing here.  Cold nights and mornings, hot afternoons.  Very hot in PM sun.  When is sun closest to earth?  March?

 

Guys in bar ask me how it is in the paddock (caravan park).  By now I suppose everyone in town knows about us.

 

Quiet night.  Trains not a problem.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/3        Sat               Dunolly                  Maldon                 48.3              485           15.9            43.5

 

Warmer still AM, high ~28.  Cloudless.  Wind north, ~20 kph.

 

Route via Eddington, Barringhup.

 

Weekend traffic unpleasant.  Too close to Melbourne.  Steady climb to Maldon.  Lots of cafes, etc. in Maldon.  Very nice caravan park -- green grass.

 

No luck with ATM card in grocery, nor Roger.

 

Lost tent stakes in Dunolly.  Free wire from Maldon hardware store, blacksmith grinds and bends for $2.  Heavy, though.

 

Nice parks in Maldon -- pool.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/4        Sun              Maldon                   Maldon                 22.0              507           12.1            45.5

 

Warm, sunny, ~28.  Warm morning.  Wind south, ~20 kph.

 

Rode to Mt. Tarrangower early.  570 M, but too hazy for distant views.

 

Morning decision to stay in Maldon.  Beehive mine ruins, steam train to Muckleford,  Carran's Tunnel tour.  Lots of Melbourne tourists in town - must be quieter Sunday night.  Dinner at Hotel.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/5        Mon             Maldon                   Castlemaine           23.5              530           15.8            48.0

 

Sunny again, high ~30.  Light winds.

 

Short, easy ride, but lots of traffic and nasty drivers.

 

Castlemaine has lots of services, also lots of traffic. 

 

Wendy and Roger take train to Melbourne tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow to St. Arnaud via Maldon, Tarnagulla, Logan.  (Train to north of Bendigo evening only.)  Then Horsham, Edenhope, Kaniva, Jeparit, Hopetoun, Swan Hill (3/11).

 

A very warm evening at 9:45 PM, maybe warmest yet.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/6        Tues             Castlemaine             St. Arnaud            119.2            649           19.1            49.0

 

Hot, 32+, sunny.  Wind NW, 10-20 kph.  Headwind most of day.  Humidity low.

 

Said farewell to Roger and Wendy outside a café  before breakfast.

 

Via Maldon, Dunolly, Bealiba, Emu.  Castlemaine-Maldon miserable traffic.  Much better yellow hwy after Maldon.  Excellent Dunolly-Sunraysia Hwy.  Short stretch on Sunraysia unpleasant, uphill.

 

Found tent stakes in Dunnoly caravan park, right where I left them.  Left Wendy and Roger ~8:30 in Castlemaine, they waiting for a cafe to open for breakfast.  They were to take 10 AM train to Melbourne.

 

First snake:  Roadkill.  Big, ~2M.

 

Guy in Dunolly invites me to visit in Echuca.  "Christian" jewelry makes me suspicious.

 

A good day of biking.  Feels good to do some distance.  Good pace, but didn't push hard.  No big climbs, many small ones.

 

Find shop in St. Arnaud with internet access open late.  Send email to Bonnie.

 

Very, very dry.  This place needs rain.  Hopefully, after I'm somewhere else!

 

Lots of kids driving around St. Arnaud.  Gas is way too cheap.  (Howard reduced gas tax before election.)

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/7        Wed             St. Arnaud              Murtoa                  98.8              748           19.4            46.5

 

Hot, ~35.  A few clouds PM, first in a while.  Wind mostly NW, shifted to S late.

 

Late start, waiting for computer store to open.  Headwind most of the way, including last stretch to south.  Not too strong, kept flies away.

 

Heat not too uncomfortable.  Low humidity.  Lots of water.

 

Pretty bleak, dry country.  Harvest Nov-Dec, according to local in Minyip.

 

Route via Banyena, Minyip.  Banyena:  Hall, tennis courts, maintained.  Nothing else.  Minyip:  Store, pool, no caravan park, but could probably camp by track.

 

Little traffic on Sunraysia Hwy leaving St. Arnaud.  Some Minyip-Murtoa ~5 PM - commuters.  Grain truck drivers pretty good on one-lane roads - get message to stay on pavement when I signal.

 

Willy-willies -- caught in very small one, saw big one, >50 M high.

 

Murtoa caravan park very bad - cramped, full of dogs.  Shower fairly clean, though.  Lots of chlorine.

 

Still hot at 7 PM.

 

Murtoa really a dying town.  Many abandoned buildings.  Grocery, dairy, hardware still open.  Too close to Horsham.  Hotel dinner good, $13.

 

Old 15 meter beam (ham radio antenna), fenced lot, no obvious access near center of town.  Weird.  Lots of corrugated fences.  Dumpy town, but public toilets OK.  Maybe Horsham bedroom?

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/8        Thurs           Murtoa                   Horsham               39.1              787           18.8            33.0

 

Hot again -  33-35?  Wind E AM (tailwind).

 

Lots of traffic on one-lane roads out of Murtoa, including 4 km gravel stretch.  Not fun.  Detour?  "Field Days?"  Fine after Western Hwy turn-off (~13 km east of Horsham.)  Bike lane into town, across river.  In town by ~11 AM.  Gravel stretch very rough, traffic didn't help.  Dusty.

 

Nice caravan park in Horsham.  Pricey, $13.50.  Should be fairly quiet.

 

Horsham is a major center, but downtown traffic not too bad.

 

Email a library - no report.

 

Cleaned chain, trued front wheel PM.  Played recorder in Botanical Gardens.

 

Huge grass tennis court complex next to caravan park.  No takers by 6 PM.  Hot, but not that bad.  I suppose they play in winter.  Big swimming competition at pool.  Cycle track in town, signs on road.

 

Dew point higher than cold beer.

 

Town water OK.

 

Tent pole split - lost end.  Used stake, bought bolts.  Now check pole ends.

 

PM - Germans camped very close - no need.  Obnoxious, talked late.  Ear plugs.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/9        Fri               Horsham                 Harrow                 89.8              877           23.0            62.0

 

Hot, 35+, windy, cirrus clouds.  Wind NE early, then N, ~30 kph.

 

Easy riding with tailwind. Nurrabiel and Douglass only town halls (with tennis courts).  Start ~9 AM, Harrow  about 1 PM.  Great roads beyond Horsham traffic.  Salt lakes, some livestock.

 

Harrow has store, cafe, pub, camping.  Nice setting in valley, big descent into town.  Reminds me a little of a driftless area valley.  Very small, nice, the kind of town I've been seeking.  Big event this weekend:  "Bush Billy Car" races, like soap box derby.  Big mob expected at caravan park, but I'm way out back.  Bore water salty, tank water brown.  Caravan park $5, hot showers.

 

Store doing lots of business ~5 PM.  Locals use credit.  Prices reasonable.  Nearest large town 33 km, must be far enough.

 

Nice shady spot, found chair.  Kids come by while I'm playing recorder.

 

Haven't heard a plane in two weeks.

 

Far from other campers in caravan park, but local dogs bark all night.  Ear plugs again.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/10      Sat               Harrow                   Casterton               104.2            984           17.0            64.0

 

Clouds overnight, sprinkle early AM, then cold change.  Warm AM, dropping all day, ~20 by 6 PM.  Cloudy most of day, short sunny break late.  Light showers, not much.  Wind south, ~30 kph.  Strong.

 

Route:  Coleraine, Merino, Casterton.  Some weekend traffic.  Coleraine dying, but still some businesses.  Merino dead, dump.  (Public toilets OK, has swimming pool.)  Filthy, poor store, pub.  Bad vibes.  Could have camped at Lions Park, though.  Casterton more vital.  Classic car weekend, local cruisers in park.  Caravan park very cramped, no resident manager.  Found spot at edge, no sign of manager by 10 PM.  Expect lots of traffic tonight.

 

Cooked dinner in park shelter - lots of stove trouble.  (Leaky cap.) 

 

Australian towns:

 

1.  "Locality":  Hall, toilets, tennis courts.

 

2.  Harrow:  Very small, isolated, store, pub, swimming.  Nice.

 

3.  Dying:  Bigger, lots of closed businesses.  Public toilets OK.

 

4.  Major Centers:  The reason others are dying.

 

Very interesting terrain -- much like driftless area, only drier.  Valleys are more than 100 M deep, with big climbs over ridges.  Cross-drainage to Merino, hard work with headwind.  Tailwind, mostly valley Merino-Casterton.

 

Big change from heat - comfortable, evening cool.  A very quiet night - surprising.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/11      Sun              Casterton                Penola                   64.0              1050          21.9            46.5

 

Sunny, cool.  High ~20.  Wind S ~20 kph.  Nice.  Tailwind most of way.  Easy day.

 

Mature forest W of Casterton, second growth.  White cockatoos seem to prefer disturbed areas.  Edge dwellers?  Corn near Lake Mundi.  Commercial pine forest SA border toward Penola.

 

Climb out of Casterton mostly with car rally traffic.  (Antiques, stink.)  Quite flat after that.  Some weekend traffic on yellow road - few trucks.  (Fortunately, rally traffic turned off toward Mt. Gambier.)   Traffic 90/hr  around 12 Noon, often less.

 

Penola sort of a tourist town.  (Wine area.)  No signs of usual decay.  One "nice" restaurant.  Strange caravan park:  "En Suite" campsites.  Could use my bathroom to park bike.  Only $13.50, though.  Laundry OK.  Caravan park was full last night - watch out for weekends!

 

Weather big change.  Feels good to sit in sun now.  Breeze has bite of southern ocean.

 

Most caravan parks have lots of "permanent" residents.  Makes them less pleasant, but I suppose without them caravan parks wouldn't be there.  Can't say any of them have been problems.  Would be nice if more had separate tent areas, tables.  Most have BBQ area, but not Penola or Casterton.

 

Tomorrow is "Labor Day" in Victoria, but not South Australia.

 

Really getting tired of squawking cockatoos.  Need predators!  Coyotes of the sky.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/12      Mon             Penola                    Edenhope              80.2              1136          22.4            66.0

 

Very cool, ~18.  PC, rain early AM, day dry.  Wind 20-40 kph, S AM, SW PM.

 

Tailwind, but direction not right to help much.  Some hills near Dergholm.  Steep, but short.

 

AM in Penola:  O-rings for stove, internet at library, sent report 3. 

 

Penola touristy, but not dying.  Only a couple business for sale.  Lots of road noise at caravan park.

 

Traffic light on route today.  Only a few trucks.  Hall in Dorodong (no tennis), small shop/pub in Dergholm.  Lots of commercial forest, some second growth gum forests.

 

Saw woman cyclist ~37 km S of Edenhope.  No gear, not friendly, but fighting wind.

 

Guy with trailer full of fence clips, lost a couple bags. stopped  in road to talk.  Runs business making fencing.  Friendly, but I'm glad I didn't get hit by one of his loose bags of clips!

 

Edenhope another dying town, though lake helps.  (Almost dry now.)  Many business for sale.  Pretty isolated, strange that the businesses aren’t doing better.  Naracoorte 54 km.

 

"Blue gums" (?) in plantations.  Native alternative to radiata pines?  Huge tracts of them, mostly small.

 

Nice caravan park.  Almost empty, maybe no permanent residents.  Tent area, table and chairs.  About one block off highway.  Little traffic but some trucks at night.  Friendly manager likes to talk.  (Later found his picture in Melbourne newspaper with article about Lake Wallace drying up.)

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/13      Tues             Edenhope               Kaniva                  88.5              1226          21.4            33.0

 

Cloudy and cool until ~2 PM, then sunny.  AM ~15, PM high ~20.  SW wind ~20 kph.

 

Seemed like steady climb, but mainly flat.  Lots of second-growth gum, scrubby brush in park.  Nice caravan park at Lake Charlegrark, lake ~3 M low - pier high and dry.  May be store in Minimay (sign only).  Minimal traffic.

 

Breakfast at bakery in Edenhope - bacon and eggs, ~8 AM.  Called work at 7 AM.

 

Tailwind, but didn't seem to help much.  AM quite cold, damp, uncomfortable.  Time to get away from cold ocean.

 

Edenhope AM:  Met woman cyclist I passed yesterday.  Now friendly, just fighting wind yesterday.  Training for 540 K Swan Hill relay.  Sign up sheet in bakery, one name, probably hers.

 

Kaniva seems vital, but no real park, BBQ, etc.  Find spot at netball courts.  Deserted.  Green oval - cricket?   Nice, but very small caravan park.  No shelter, table, etc.  Showers and laundry fine.  $11.

 

May have fixed stove:  sanded off surface, used square O-ring from Penola.  Seemed to work for short test.  Old gasket cracking.

 

Chinese dinner at hotel - weird.  Chinese cooks in back.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/14      Wed             Kaniva                   Jeparit                  103.0            1331          20.0            39.5

 

Sunny, cool AM, ~27 PM.  Wind NE ~20 kph AM, F/V PM.

 

Route:  Broughton, Yanac, Netherby.  Halls only Broughton, Yanac.  Pub Netherby.  Rolling hills, sort of like Iowa, some long climbs.

 

Lake Hindmarsh completely dry - dried up ~3 months ago.  Last time it dried up > 20 years ago. 

 

Dinner at hotel, $10, steak and veg.  Talked to local farmer - another complaint about US subsidies.  Grows variety of crops - sounds like area is very productive during growing season.

 

Some nice looking houses in Jeparit.  Retirees?  Some closed stores, only one bank branch left.  Basic business OK.  No bakery.

 

Caravan park deserted, seems OK.  No tables, etc.  Play recorder at tennis club next door.

 

Rooster at 1:47 AM.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/15      Thurs           Jeparit                    Hopetoun              84.4              1415          19.0            38.5

 

Sunny AM, cirrus late PM.  Warm, ~28.  Wind NE ~20kph.  Headwind all day - slow going.

 

Light traffic.  Route Rainbow, Abacutya, Hopevale, yellow road.

 

Rainbow nice town, caravan park, bakery.

 

"Pioneer Museum" in Jeparit.  Lots of old junk, poorly maintained.  Dying.  Retiree gives personal tour.  Friendly people.  Woman at reception invites me to their place. 

 

Lots of burning and smoke SW of Hopetoun (controlled) .  Friendly locals at hotel.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/16      Fri               Hopetoun                Ultima                   105.2            1520          18.1            42.5

 

Mild morning, cloudy, then cool change.  Steady temp ~20.  Rained ~3 hours, not too hard.  Wind NE ~20 kph before change, briefly NW, then back to NE and stronger, ~40 kph.  Bad headwind most of day.

 

Very hard work into wind, though speed not that bad.  Little shelter from wind, just a few mallee trees.

 

Ready to quit at 5:30 in Ultima.  Hotel has rooms, $25.  Clean, basic.  First roof since Melbourne Feb. 22.

 

Stores in Woomelang, Sea Lake, Ultima.  (Ultima very small, just store and hotel.)  Possible caravan park in Woomelang ("2 van sites").  Caravan park in Sea Lake, maybe without showers.

 

Ultima has nice park, BBQ shelter.  Could probably camp.  RR very close.  Chat with store proprietor.  Town was end of RR line, much bigger once.

 

Three retired couples invite me to join them for dinner at hotel - friendly folks.   (No smokers!)  All from Swan Hill, come to Ultima regularly for Friday dinner.  Good dinners, $10.  Small-town atmosphere.

 

Heavy rain ~9PM - good night for roof.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/17      Sat               Ultima                    Swan Hill              33.1              1554          26.8            46.0

 

Cool, windy, blustery day, high ~21.  Mostly cloudy, no rain.  Wind W 30-40 kph.  Great tailwind.

 

Good decision to stay in Ultima.  Wind shift, easy ride to Swan Hill.  Hotel OK, bed fine, huge spider in hallway.  No one else there - owners live elsewhere.  Deserted until I left ~10AM.  Had to let myself out and leave door unlocked.  Smoke detector beeped all night - ear plugs.  Ceiling too high.  Breakfast in sun outside, table, fine.

 

Easy, fast ride with tailwind.  Cool, damp.  Some weekend traffic.

 

Swan Hill not great.  Lots of traffic, no internet except library, closed noon Sat.  Good grocery, caravan park $13.50, traffic noise?  Lots of weekend campers, but plenty of room.  Family with small car, boat, gigantic tent takes 2 hours to set up.

 

Murray River is not impressive - maybe 100M wide.  On-lane bridge, wood supports.

 

Wedding in park - photos, antique cars, black umbrellas.

 

Cool afternoon, windy, not much sun.  Most shops closed PM.  Relaxing day, though.  Good to have a break. 

 

Band at Irish pub, otherwise not much St. Pat's activity.

 

Date      Day                                              

3/18      Sun              Swan Hill

 

Warmed slowly, mc AM, pc PM.  Eventually ~24.  Strong SW wind.

 

Last-minute decision to stay, while packing sleeping bag.  Plenty of time to see museum, do river cruise.

 

The Murray is not much by Wisconsin standards.  Maybe that’s related to all this dry, sunny weather.  The river is only slightly below normal for this time of year.   Has been ~15 ft higher.  Current now ~1.5 kt, can be 5 kt in flood.

 

Museum the usual collection of old farm equipment, etc.  Problem with these museums is that they cover several eras of technology - from horses to gas engines.  Makes authenticity impossible.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/19      Mon             Swan Hill               Moulamein            74.5              1628          23.8            38.5

 

A perfect day.  Mostly sunny, high ~25.  Wind SW ~20 kph.  Calm at sunset.

 

Lots of trucks, but total traffic is only 30-60/hr.  Easy ride with tailwind.  Quite flat.  Farm land mostly barren now, but local says double-cropping:  rice summer, wheat winter. 

 

Edward River source is Murray, into which it also flows.  Weird.

 

Moulamein very small.  Hotel, small store, tea rooms, big grain terminal.  Lots of trucks.  Swimming pool, nice park near caravan park.  Caravan park poor, lots of residents, dogs, but clean.  $10 a bit high.

 

Met two motorcyclists at cafe - also were bicyclists.   Touring, about my age.  Lots of protective/warm gear.  Ear plugs.  Sensible guys.

 

Old courthouse, footbridge across river.  Good recorder spot nearby.  Library has internet, but not open until 1:30 PM.  Closed Monday. 

 

Cooked dinner at park.  Noisy owl late, some industrial noise, but OK.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/20      Tues             Moulamein              Barham                 71.8              1701          24.4            32.5

 

Another great day  Mostly sunny, warm, ~28.  Warm AM.  High cirrus PM, then clouds ahead of change.  Still warm in the evening.  Wind W, ~20 kph, mostly tailwind.

 

Easy riding, flat, little traffic until close to Barham.  Bridges longitudinal planks - big gaps -walk.  Once asphalt, but mostly gone.  When will one collapse under truck?  Road construction, mud jammed front wheel, but not long.  Guy in ute stopped to talk.  Lunch at historical marker.

 

Internet at library in Barham - report sending failed.  Try AM. Barham fairly vital.  Two groceries, hotel, other stores, good bakery.  Deniliquin much larger.

 

AM in Moulamein: Caravan park proprietor  stops by, must be farmer.  Talk of politics, Robert Hughes.  (Says Hughes was drunk and killed two in car crash.  Later I learn no one died.)  Harvesting mostly rice now.  Not happy with Hawke or Howard.  Didn't think much of Hughes' show on Australia.  (What's the truth there?)

 

A quiet night in caravan park, except for storm.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/21      Wed             Barham                  Deniliquin             89.9              1791          26.4            41.0

 

Stormy change overnight, heavy rain, wind.  Cracking red gum branches in storm.  No lightning.  AM dry, cool.  Little sun all day, high ~20, cooler late.  Wind NW 20-30 kph.  Blustery, cold evening.

 

More flat rice country, some grazing.  No towns, etc.  Riverside lunch stop by irrigation ditch.  Traffic variable - often light, sometimes heavy periods.  Many trucks.  Heavy leaving Barham.

 

Easy, fast riding with tailwind.

 

Deniliquin not pleasant.  The usual businesses (Population ~7800), usual fast traffic.  ("Ute Capital") No bike shorts for sale.  Library internet.  Problems with Excite.

 

Both caravan parks are dumps.  First across river, awful traffic getting there.  Second larger, many residents, get dumpy caravan for $28.

 

Weather pattern:  Cirrus signal approach of change, stormy front brings rain, wind still northerly, not too cold.  Then second front brings more rain, southerly winds, much colder.  Cool changes getting more frequent and colder.  Average high should still be about 27 C.  It's tempting to head north when it's cold, but probably not much warmer and I don't want to run into the flooding in northern NSW.  Also would make it harder to get back to Melbourne.

 

Article in "The Age" about Lake Wallace (Edenhope), with picture of the guy who runs the caravan park.

 

Signs at pedestrian crossings:  "Cross Carefully".

                       

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/22      Thurs           Deniliquin              Jerilderie               81.3              1880          23.6            31.5

 

A cold, wet day, though rain mostly light.  7 mm in Deniliquin.  Afternoon ~15C, but sudden warm-up ~4PM, ~20C.  Wind NW (sic), ~20 kph.  Tailwind after Conargo.  Not that cold, but damp.

 

Traffic about the usual, ~40/hr.  Plenty of trucks, not a problem.  Never had to leave road.

 

Nice park, store, pub  in Conargo.  Could camp. (Woman in store suggested it.)  Lunch at store, seems vital.

 

Some cattle, lots of sheep.  Some irrigation.

 

99 mm of rain at Melbourne airport.  Lots of flooding.  Rivers around here running well.  Should be turning green soon.

 

Local in Conargo:  "Worse than bloody winter.  Come so quick."  He wouldn't like winter in Madison.

 

Jerilderie seems nice, small town, except right on Newell Hwy.  Grocery, 2 pubs, caravan park (van $30), bakery, restaurant.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/23      Fri               Jerilderie                 Urana                   126.5            2007          21.2            40.0

 

A perfect day.  PC, lots of sun, high ~24C.  Wind NW ~20 kph.  Another change coming.

 

Route:  Berrigan, Oaklands.  (Very indirect.)  Normal traffic, no problems.  Berrigan:  Caravan park, stores, bakery.  Oaklands:  Poor store, pub, no caravan park, nice park.

 

Talked to guy with ute in Jerilderie, works with rice growers.  Day off due to rain yesterday.  Says Conargo pub is well known.  Guess I should have had lunch there instead of the store.

 

Flat tire, front, thorn.  No worries.

 

Friendly couple runs cafe - cooking breakfast.  Lots of friendly folks in town.  Bad pizza for dinner.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/24      Sat               Urana                     Lockhart               62.9              2075          18.8            51.5

 

Mostly cloudy, but warm.  Mild night, warmed to ~27C.  Some sun PM, sprinkles AM.  Wind NE 20-40 kph, stronger PM.

 

Route via Boree Creek.  Very light traffic.  Store closed in Boree Creek, probably permanently.  "Chicken Roll" in pub.

 

Short ride, but mostly into wind, hard work.  Change forecast, but warm NE winds ahead.

 

Nice, small caravan park in Lockhart.  Van for $22, expecting change and rain.

 

Touring cyclist arrived about 5 PM.  Len, UK guy, originally from Australia, riding Ballarat-Brisbane. Traveling very light, <15 kg.  More tolerant of traffic than I.

 

 

"Anabranch" - branches off river and returns.

 

A few minor errors in NRMA map so far.  RACV (Victoria) maps more accurate.

 

So far, "gray" roads in NSW are 2 lanes, though width varies.  Haven't ridden many, though.

 

Aboriginal names seem to accent second syllable.  Jerilderie, Jeparit, Conargo, Deniliquin.  Maybe last when double vowel:  Warnambool, Moulamein.

 

Quiet night, change didn't show up.  Didn't need van.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/25      Sun              Lockhart                 Walla Walla          83.8              2159          20.2            42.5

 

Clear early, then mostly cloudy all day.  Still warm, ~25C.  Wind SW/var, 10-20 kph, mostly headwind.  Complex system of lows to south.

 

First big RV seen or road to Walla.  Store in Walbundrie closed Sunday.  Pub south of town.

 

Some hills, none steep, a couple long climbs.  Views of mountains.

 

Interesting cloud formations.  No rain.  Haze towards mountains.

 

Stopped in Walla just for a snack, but decided to stay.  Very small caravan park in Walla, $7.  Manager comes over to clean bathroom, etc.  (I had to track her down.)

 

Flat tire (rear) in Lockhart AM, no cause found.  Failed near stem in Walla.

 

Grain depots good stops.  Deserted now.

 

Walla Walla is on gray roads only.  Few trucks.

 

Some weekend traffic today, very few trucks.  Gray road to Walla busier than yellow road to Walbundrie.

 

Standard time starts today, sunset about 6:15.

 

Quiet night, no trucks.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/26      Mon             Walla Walla            Albury                  41.9              2200          19.0            59.0

 

Clear, cool AM, then clouds.  No rain.  High ~20C.  Wind SW ~20 kph.

 

Lots of traffic, even before Jindera.  Worse closer to Albury.  Not a pleasant ride.  A couple fairly big climbs and descents, descents slow with headwind.  Climbs not too steep.  Would have been OK without traffic.

 

Met a group of touring cyclists just north of Jindera.  Young retirees from Albury, on 4 day trip.  "Former" Albury Bicycle Touring Club.  4 men, one woman, one tri-recumbent.  Talked for a bit.  Perhaps I should have turned around and joined them.

 

Very heavy traffic makes Albury a miserable place..  Found bike shop in Lavington, shorts $45.  Information Center is in VIC, a miserable walk across bridge, etc. 

 

At least cities here have a concentrated business district.  Just happened upon NRMA office, got city map.  Also happened on Lavington bike shop in the CBD of that suburb.

 

Internet at library, no report sent.

 

It's a 3-4 km walk downtown from caravan park at showgrounds.  Too much traffic to bike comfortably, even on side streets.  Caravan park cheap, pretty scruffy.  Lots of residents.  Noisy, trains very close, traffic.  Ear plugs.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/27      Tues             Albury                    Bush Camp           79.3              2286          19.6            54.5

 

Cool, PC, lots of sun.  High ~21.  Clear early, then clouds.  The usual pattern.  Wins SW 20-30 kph.

 

AM in Albury:  Biked downtown, 3 km each way., breakfast,  groceries.  Traffic not as bad AM, even after 9.  Route out of town through industrial area.  Yuk.

 

Awful traffic leaving Albury, less after dam.  Gradually thinned out, reasonable after Talgarno.  Still urban drivers, though.

 

Nothing in Talgarno except tennis club and school.  Tiny store in Granya, closed today.

 

Very hilly, some steep climbs, none long. Tailwind didn't help much. A short uphill side trip to Granya.

 

Cool and damp.  Sweaty riding, cool stopping.

 

Green!  Grass, cattle.  Tree-covered mountains.  Nice ride, not as boring as flats.

 

Lake Hume very low.  Lots of dead trees in lake, probably a hazard even at high water.  (They have been dead at least 60 years, since dam was built.)  Discourages power boats, I guess.  River appears abut 46 km above dam (now).

 

Camp ~43 km west of Walwa.  Mount Lawson State Park campsite (the Kurrajongs) is undeveloped, no water.  Picnic area ~2km east is dumpy, but gives access to river and sand bar.  Nice campsite on sand by river.  Fallen tree for seat.  River water clear.  Sand bar wouldn't be here at high water.

 

Should have brought more water and left earlier.  Didn't have enough water for dry camp, and barely enough daylight to make Walwa.  Poor planning, but lucked out.  I knew I could get river water somehow, though there weren't many places where it was easy to get down to the river. 

 

Cattle and sheep pastures along the road, but few houses or farms.  Quite isolated, nice. 

 

Very quite night at bush camp.  Saw Small Magellanic Cloud, below LMC at about 8 PM.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/28      Wed             Bush Camp             Jingelic                 55.0              2341          20.1            52.5

 

A cloudless day.  Cool AM, sweaty and damp hiking uphill.  High ~21.  Wind SW/var.

 

AM hike to viewpoint from Kurrajongs, about 3 km round trip.  Steep, loose spherical gravel, treacherous without boots.  Climbs about 300 M?

 

Route via Walwa.  Little traffic, except 5 km from Walwa.  Logging trucks Walwa to Jingelic.  Not bad.

 

Nothing in Burrowye.  Store, pub, nice free campground in Jingelic.  Store and Pub in Walwa, but caravan park looked dismal.

 

Woman in Jingelic store told me about camping by pub, as did the cyclists from Albury the other day.  (Some people apparently recognize cycling clothes.)

 

A quiet night, after I turned off the bug zapper.  Very cool overnight and AM.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/29      Thurs           Jingelic                   Culcairn                88.7              2430          19.9            58.5

 

Almost cloudless, high ~21.  Very cool early.  Wind SW/var, <20 kph, mostly light.

 

Very light traffic until after Holbrook, ~4PM, rush hour.

 

Big climb out of Jingelic to gap.  Scenic, lots of up and down.  Steep descent, then much easier.  Only a few small hills west of Holbrook.

 

Store in Morven.  Looks drier, but not as bad as earlier.

 

Woman at Jingelic store told of helicopter crash about a year ago at gap.  Hit power line.  (Now has markers.)  Bride and brother, on way to wedding party in Jingelic.  "Tragic Hill".

 

Library/internet in Holbrook.  Email Bonnie.

 

Called Roger from Holbrook.  Still cold in Madison.

 

Easy ride Holbrook-Culcairn.  Long wait for train in Culcairn, eventually found underpass. 

 

Caravan park right next to highway and bridge.  Railway also close.  Lots of trucks on "orange" highway.  Earplugs tonight.

 

Culcairn has hotel, 2 groceries, bakery, butcher, several take-away places.

 

Reserved room in Melbourne for April 14, Georgian Court was full.  Nearby place is $96, but I really have no choice.  Next challenge will be getting on bus Easter weekend.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

3/30      Fri               Culcairn                 Wagga Wagga       82.2              2513          19.6            45.5

 

Sunny and warmer, ~24.  Wind NE ~20 kph.

 

Moderate traffic, even on gray road.  One truck, approaching from ahead, almost lost it on corner, way too fast.  Plenty of room and I was on inside, but shows importance of paying attention far ahead.

 

Stopped at store in Morven.  Store and pub in Mangoplah. 

 

Moderate headwind, lots of hills, none steep.  Entry into Wagga very busy.  Wagga is a hilly city.

 

Nice caravan park by river, very close to CBD.  Good visitor info center, but not easy to find.

 

Talked to local near caravan park.  Knew I was cyclist, saw my tent, etc.

 

Music at library - open late.

 

Mild, quiet night.

 

Date      Day                

3/31      Sat               Wagga Wagga

 

(Unintentional rest day)

 

Warm and sunny, ~30.  Light wind.

 

Late start waiting for library to open.  then hit pile of brush with thorns on "bike trail" leaving Wagga.  Many punctures.  After repairs, it was too late to get to Gundagai.  Returned to caravan park.

 

Called Ron early AM.  He has shoulder surgery Monday.

 

Should have bought another tube, but bike shop was closed in the afternoon.

 

Warmest day in a long time, hot in the sun.  A/C on in stores.

 

Murrumbidgee flow is tightly controlled.  Very low now, higher during irrigating season.

 

Many churches near caravan park, lots of weddings.  Bridal party on beach at sunset, beautiful evening.

 

Lots of Gambel's quail lately.  Introduced, no doubt.

           

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/1        Sun              Wagga Wagga         Gundagai              89.4              2611          19.2            60.0

 

Warm, ~30, some clouds, lots of sun.  Wind E 10-20 kph.

 

Moderate traffic, ~60/hr.  One semi.

 

Wantabadgery store open 5-8 PM only.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/2        Mon             Gundagai               Cootamunda          66.6              2678          19.0            55.5

 

Sunny, warm, ~27, just a few clouds.  Wind E. AM, W. PM, <20 kph.  Severe storms in Sydney.

 

Gunadgai to Mattama, 2 hours without a car passing.  Nice.  Hilly, but not bad.  Nice views, but hazy.  Nice park in Mattama, with sheep.  No store.  Moderate/light traffic after Mattama, some trucks.

 

"Dog SAT on the tuckerbox" is a sanitized version of famous song, makes no sense.  "Shat in..." makes good sense, must be original. 

 

No luck finding nut for pump.  Glued on a pop bottle cap.  (I lost the nut that holds the head on the pump.)

 

Finnish women in Gundagai, but I didn't attempt to talk to them.  (I haven't practiced Finnish in 25 years, and didn't know much of it then.)

 

A lazy morning in Gundagai, short ride.

 

Nice caravan park in Cootamunda, new town center, traffic noise not too bad.  Not close to railway.

 

EPT train stops in Cootamunda.  Countrylink trains and busses require bike box, but supposedly available at stations.

 

Guy riding around Cootamunda on a very strange bike.  Lots of junk on the bike, antennas?  Weird.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/3        Tues             Cootamunda           Temora                 75.7              2754          19.9            58.0

 

Just a few clouds, mostly sunny, ~26.  Wind variable, mostly againsterlies.

 

Route via Stockinbingal, Combaning South (unintentional).  Moderate traffic to Stockinbingal, then light.  More rolling hills, no bad climbs.

 

Store, pub in Stockinbingal, no trace of Combaning South or Dudanman (sp?).

 

Temora is larger than I expected.  Lots of stores, but major truck crossroads.  Caravan park on road to Wagga.  Ear plugs tonight.  Caravan park not bad, but small and noisy.  Table at BBQ.

 

Hamburger glop for dinner.  Booked bus/train to Melbourne via Citylink, from Warren.  Have to box bike.  Check McCafferty's.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/4        Wed             Temora                   Grenfell                 114.8            2872          22.5            40.5

 

Sunny, ~27.  Wind west ~20 kph.

 

Route via Trungley Hall, Quandialla, Bimbi.  Almost no traffic to Quandialla.  Very light after that.  Excellent route.  Quite flat, but gradually climbs to Grenfell at 380 M.  Nice tailwind.  Gravel for about 6 km, bumpy but fast.

 

Store and pub in Quandialla.  Roadside stop past Morangarell.

 

A great day and ride, one of the best.

 

In Grenfell about 4 PM.  Nice town.  Traffic bypasses center.  Nice caravan park, $13.50.  Some residents, some truck noise. 

 

Friendly women in shop/info center.

 

Noisy dogs, but otherwise nice caravan park.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/5        Thurs           Grenfell                  Forbes                   72.5              2946          23.2            50.0

 

Weather same as yesterday, cloudless, ~28. Wind light/variable.

 

Route via Warraderry.  No stores on route.  Very light traffic.  Some one-lane roads.  Rolling hills, none bad.  Very nice ride.  "Orange" road into Forbes not bad.

 

AM:  Breakfast at cafe, booked McCafferty's bus from Gilgandra.  12 hours to Melbourne, no bike box required.  Arrives Melbourne 14 April at 2 PM.

 

Nice caravan park in Forbes, on river, 2.5 km from CBD.  Library with internet, sent OZ6 report.  CBD traffic not as bad as in some towns.

 

Raced with a small kangaroo on road today, reached 37 kph before I passed it.

 

Woman checking out tapes at library tells librarian that she listens to tapes while watching the sheep.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/6        Fri               Forbes                    Condobolin           104.0            3054          22.1            35.5

 

Warmer, ~30, cloudless.  Wind light/variable.

 

Rode on the north side of river to first bridge, the crossed to south side.  Traffic light, more on north side.  Flat.  Roads rough, slow going.

 

Show grounds at Bedgerabong, folks getting ready for weekend doings.

 

Hay, grazing, some irrigation.  Maybe produce?  Lots of farms near showgrounds, but no stores, etc.

 

Condobolin seems a nice, small town.  The usual businesses.  (No Shellite for stove.)  Race track, sports grounds.  Caravan park not great - residents, dogs, kids.

 

Ran out of water about 5 km short of Condobolin.  Started with 3.5 liter and a can of soda.  A flat tire with no water would not have been fun.

 

There are a few Blacks in Condobolin, the first I've seen.  Perhaps that's because this town is nearly in the outback.

 

Called Russ in New Zealand.  Short call with Telecom card was expensive.  Zelda broke her arm falling off her bike.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/7        Sat               Condobolin             Tullamore             82.0              3141          17.0            31.5

 

Day total distance was 86.7 km, of which 27 were gravel.

 

Clouds, thin overcast, some breaks.  Warm, ~26.  Wind north 20-40 kph.  Very mild night and morning.

 

Inquired in Condobolin about Tullamore, has pub and store.  Typical old hotel, got room for $25.  Another weak smoke detector on a high ceiling.  Recruited a tall guy from the bar to get it down using a bar stool.  Good dinner for $11.  Big local crowd, friendly folks.

 

A young farmer stopped to chat during a break along the road.   He had good ecological views, and was concerned about a new mine and pollution.

 

Slow going into headwind.  Long, slow climbs, none steep, but quite hilly.  Gravel not bad, but dusty.   Three cars in 35 km after  turn-off onto "gray" road.  More traffic after start of gravel.  A scenic, interesting ride.  Highly recommended.

 

A few stores, etc. in Tullamore.  Many for sale.  Closed Sat. afternoon.  Nice parks, etc., well kept, but business in sad shape.

 

Fairly quiet in hotel, but slept poorly.  Bad bed?  Mosquitoes in room.  At least the smoke detector was silenced.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/8        Sun              Tullamore               Narromine             96.0              3242          18.2            28.2

 

(101 km day total, 31 km gravel.)

 

Lots of clouds, warm, ~28.  Wind NNW 20-40 kph, strong AM.

 

Shops open in Tullamore about 8:30 AM.  Long grind into wind.  Gravel not too bad.  Traffic very light, no trucks.  In Narromine  ~ 4 PM.  Hard work, no long breaks.

 

Cotton along road south of Narromine.  Harvest now.  (Done?  Didn't see any fields.)

 

Nice caravan park in Narromine, except road noise.  Big supermarket, did not see a bakery in the afternoon, but found it in the morning.

 

Family from Tasmania at caravan park, four of them in a very tiny car.  Traveling light!

 

Mild, quiet night.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/9        Mon             Narromine               Warren                 82.0              3333          19.7            32.0

 

Day total 91.0 km.

 

Warm, mostly sunny.  Afternoon cumulous and showers.  (Sprinkle only.)  High ~ 28, humid.  Wind N ~20 kph AM, variable PM.  SW last 10 km.

 

Lots of cotton fields, harvest in progress. Some corn and cattle.

 

Traffic light, but high for one-lane roads.  (SW side of river to Gin Gin mostly one-lane.)  10-20 semis, most cotton trucks.  Not the most pleasant ride.  Very flat.  On the road about 11 AM, in Warren about 4 PM, no long breaks.  Riding without decent breaks is a pain.

 

Warren is not a pleasant town.  Council caravan park was a real dump, commercial one much better, $10.  Called Ron AM.  "Shooting buckets."  (He's still recovering from surgery on his shoulder.)

 

Lots of clouds to north at sunset.  Motion very slow.

 

A quiet night.

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/10      Tues             Warren                   Coonamble            148.2            3481          22.6            34.0

 

Warm, sunny AM, then PM thunderstorms and rain.  High ~28 before rain.  Warm during rain.  Some lightning, brief heavy shower, then light rain.  Rained most of the last 50 km from Quambone to Coonamble.  Wind S and light early, then variable.  Some headwind.  SW wind ~30 kph last 20 km.

 

On the road at about 8:30 AM.  One lane most of the way to Quambone.  Lots of semis, bad on narrow road, but traffic generally light.  Much better from Quambone to Coonamble.

 

Farmer stops to talk about 46 km from Warren.  They don't see many cyclists out here.   He thinks biking is a great idea.  He has 6 kids and a farm nearby.  We talk about 10 minutes in the middle of the road without a vehicle passing.

 

A member of a road crew offered me water and asked where I was going.  You know you're off the beaten track when everyone asks you if you're lost!

 

Arrive in Coonamble about 4:30 PM, wet.  I outran the rain, but it caught up again later in Coonamble, just after I got to caravan park.  (Really slow-moving clouds.)  Light rain until about midnight.  Email at library.  Town center all under construction.

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/11      Wed             Coonamble              Coonabarabran     118.8            3602          20.4            49.0

 

121.4 km day total.

 

Clear AM, warm night.  Rain stopped about midnight.  Afternoon PC, lots of sun.  Cooler, ~24, dropping PM.  Wind SW ~10 kph AM, 20-40 kph PM.

 

To Baradine:  Flat, rough road, slight tailwind.  Very light traffic.

 

Baradine to Coonabarabran:  More traffic, especially last 20 km.  Hilly after Bugaldie. Much greener in Baradine.

 

Baradine has lots of stores.  Population about 800.

 

Store in Bugaldie.  I also seem to have picked up thorns there.  Both tires.  Patched front tire about 12 km from end.  Just pumped up the rear and limped into town.  I'll fix it in the morning.

 

Nice views of the Warrumbungles and observatories.

 

Arrive late into Coonabarabran, about 5 PM.  Tire leaking, sleeping bag wet.  Caravan park right on Newell Highway, kind of a dump.  Elevation is 500 m, which leaves a 380 m climb to the saddle tomorrow.

 

A strong south wind overnight, very cool.

 

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/12      Thurs           Coonabarabran       Camp Wambelong 45.5              3650          16.7            58.5

 

Warrumbungles National Park.  Route via Siding Springs Observatory.  Day total 47.1 km. 

 

Very cool, sunny.  Overnight very windy, -1 C in Coonabarabran.  High ~20 at about 5 PM, cooler higher.  Wind strong south AM, SW PM. 

 

Coonabarabran is at 500 m, Observatory about 1100 m, saddle 880 m.  Lots of climbing, more than 600 meters, some very steep stretches.  Not too bad.  Some traffic (Easter holiday), but not bad.  No flats, apparently.

 

3.9 meter  telescope is about a 1970 design, similar to Kitt Peak 4 meter.  (But cleaner.)  Also has some kind of multi-object spectrograph, as does Kitt Peak.

 

Called Bonnie AM, rainy in the Midwest.  Also confirmed bus booking.  Shipped my stove home by sea mail, no problem.

 

Campsite not great.  Open, very few tables.  (I get one, by the dunny.)  Begging magpies, yellow eye, kangaroos.  I have a nice visit with one of the other campers, a transplanted Kiwi. 

 

 

 

Date      Day                 Start                       End                  km/day       km/cum      Vave            Vmax

4/13      Fri               Camp Wambelong   Gilgandra             92.7              3743          20.7            45.5

 

 

Not as cold overnight and morning.  Sunny, cool, ~24.  PC afternoon.  Wind E to SE, ~20 kph.

 

Very light traffic to Newell Highway.  Last gravel stretch (about 12 km) very rough.  Generally easy riding, much of it downhill leaving the Warrumbungles.  No serious hills.

 

A koala crossed the road in front of me, then climbed a small bush.  Good close-up photos, but I took a chance with the snakes to follow the koala through the tall grass.  That wasn’t very smart.

 

Another flat (front) about halfway.  A small ute (pickup) pulls over, and out steps Kathleen, a lady windmill fixer.  She stays to talk while I fix the tire.  She gives me her card and I promise to send her some photos of the trip.  She appears in her 20’s or 30's, works with her father.

 

The rest of the ride is uneventful.  The Newell Highway into Gilgandra (3 km) not that bad, but there's no shoulder and leaving the pavement means riding on the weeds and inevitable thorns.

 

Everything in Gilgandra is closed.  (It's Good Friday.)  I ride all over looking for a working phone to call Roger, and finally find one at the caravan park.  I use up all but 15 cents on my phone card.  Madison weather is "crappy".

 

The bus to Melbourne stops at the roadhouse about 2 km up the Newell Highway from the caravan park.  I'll have to do that in the dark.  Yuk.

 

There's a big caravan park on the east side of the river.  The two smaller ones in town look pretty dumpy.  I stay at the big one, which is on the way to the bus stop, anyway.

 

There are big sand bars by the Castlereagh River, and I find a good spot to play my recorder.  It's early, and quite warm in the sun.  There's little current in the river, so there must be a dam nearby.

 

I pack up everything just after midnight, put new batteries in my little headlamp (which still isn't much good for riding), put my blinker on the back, and head down the highway toward the roadhouse.   I figure the faster I can cover the 2 km, the better my chances of avoiding getting run down by a truck, but along the way it occurs to me that with my feeble light I could wipe out hitting a kangaroo or roadkill.   (And THEN get run over, I suppose.)  There's a scary moment on a broad curve when I can't quite figure out the location of a truck overtaking me.  I probably should have taken a chance with the thorns, but the truck misses me anyway, and there are no collisions with kangaroos.  A couple minutes later, this Australian bike tour is over.  All that remains is the routine of a long trip back to Wisconsin, starting with a 12 hour bus ride to Melbourne.

 

It was a very enjoyable ride.  The quiet farm roads in that zone between the heavily populated coast and nearly roadless interior were perfect for cycling.  With very few exceptions, traffic was light, roads were good, and the local folks friendly.  And, I might add, there were only a couple of slightly wet days. Altogether, I pedaled about 3750 km.  All of it, thankfully, rubber side down.