AustraliaAdelaide to Kangaroo Island to Melbourne


Denis Kertz, ©2002



Day 44: Thu, Oct 17, 2002 - Adelaide, SA, rest day

Even though it was a “vacation” day I still got up early and had my typical breakfast.  Then I walked to the Central Market, which has all the food you could want, for coffee.  When I saw a sign for pancakes I had to have them as well and they were legitimate pancakes.

There was an immigration center in a government building that opened at 9:00 and I was first in line.  I had to fill out a visa extension request and pay $190 to get my extension to December 24.  My initial visa was a 30-day period that I was able to get over the Internet before my trip.  I knew I would need a little longer than 30 days but never did find a way to get a longer visa when I was at home so I went with the 30-day visa figuring I could extend it while in Australia.

Next I tried calling Minolta in Sydney to vent my disappointment in their defective camera.  I had never been able to dial the 800 number I got from the camera store in Whyalla and someone suggested I couldn’t dial the 800 number from a pay phone and suggested calling an operator.  But I couldn’t find any instructions for dialing an operator so I finally called the phone’s trouble report number.  There I learned the 800 number was good only in New South Wales.  So I dialed a direct number and got handed off several times.  When it sounded like I had the right person I lost the call.  So I called again and got referred to a 300 number that was not free but only required a local call charge.  There I got passed on to Chris Potter, a supervisor who told me the camera would have to go to Singapore since it was a digital camera.  I tried to make the case that was impractical and he agreed but said he wasn’t authorized by Minolta to do anything.  He also gave me an Internet web site for Minolta Singapore.

Not surprised at the outcome, my next stop was an Internet Café where I printed some cycling information for Kangaroo/Tasmania Island in addition to checking my email.  Across the street was a bike shop and I got a new chain, cycling gloves, and a bright yellow jersey to complement the one yellow jersey I already had.  However, the bike shop didn’t know anything about a good route to Cape Jervis for the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

Then I walked back to my backpacker to drop off my goodies.  I also stopped at another bike shop close by and found a guy who gave me some good information on cycling to Cape Jervis.  With my business out of the way, I had the afternoon free.  I walked back to the main area and down to River Torrens and along the park by the river.  I paid $14.50 to get in to the Adelaide Zoo because I was interested in learning more about Australia wildlife and especially snakes.  If I was going to be running over snakes I wanted to know how worried I should be.  Unfortunately, the zoo was pretty general and rather skimpy on Australia wildlife so I was somewhat disappointed.  But I found the South Australia Museum pretty interesting and it was free.

Tired of walking all day, I did some grocery shopping and walked back to the backpacker.  I got a recommendation for a pizza place not too far away and had a pretty good pizza at an Italian restaurant, possibly the first real restaurant that I had been to in Australia.

Day 45: Fri, Oct 18, 2002 - Adelaide, SA to Second Valley, SA [95.3, 05:33:16, 17.2, 4071]

I didn’t get out of town until 8:30 on a clear day that was already warm.  Since I was heading south out of the city rush hour was not a problem.  What was a problem was finding how to get to the main road, A13, but I just headed south knowing I couldn’t go too far wrong and I didn’t.  After 12K I saw a sign for A13 and picked it up.

It wasn’t a whole lot of fun traveling south, traveling through urban areas, but at least I had a good tail wind and I got through the area fairly quickly.  After about 35K I was near Old Noarlunga where A13 split off and I picked up B23, the Old Main South Road.  Immediately traffic was less and quieter.  Before long I started getting some nice views with a range of hills off in the distance.  Eventually I had to cross this range by traversing the range and then crossing over to Myponga.

In Myponga there was some kind of event taking place, obvious from setup of orange road cones, some helpers in orange vests, and some people lined along the street.  I asked one of the helpers if this was all for me and then started waving to the crowd as I rode through town with the crowd waving back.  Apparently there was a sports car road rally since I saw sporty cars with decals in town and then they started passing me one-by-one at regular intervals.  Later, I learned this was the 5-day Classic Adelaide Rally.

The fairly hilly grassy hills were very scenic as I rode on to Yankalilla, another 20K.  There I stopped at a bakery and met two guys who were photographers.  One of the guys warned me that the weather forecast for the rest of the day was bad with potential gale force winds, meaning it was possible the ferry to Kangaroo Island would not run, not to mention the danger for cycling.  Since they were familiar with the area they suggested places I could stay if I couldn’t make Cape Jervis.  They also gave me some suggestions for Kangaroo Island and then they took off.

After my break I considered just staying in town but it was only 1:00.  It was interesting that I started out with a good tail wind but that had changed to some head wind around noon.  I wasn’t sure if that was a weather change or a prevailing wind for this part of the Fleurieu Peninsula.  In any event, I headed out to see how far I could get.

From Yankalila I headed to the coast and some good views.  Then it was inland a bit and some great views of the grassy hills and some big gum trees.  After 15K or so I came to the turnoff to Second Valley.  The photo guys had suggested this place because it was scenic and it was protected fairly well, sitting in a bowl with an open end on the coast.  Near the beach I found a caravan park.  I would have preferred something indoors in light of the strong winds but nothing was available so I got a tent site for $9 in a fairly protected spot.

After setting up I walked the short distance to the beach and walked out on the jetty.  It was a great view of the big grassy hills dropping off rather sharply at the coast.  After checking out the beach I ate at the kiosk just outside the park.  Later I tried to catch the sunset but some clouds moved in and effectively snuffed out the sunset.

Day 46: Sat, Oct 19, 2002 - Second Valley, SA to Penneshaw - Kangaroo Is. [24.1, 01:30:00, 4095.1]

About 4:00 in the morning it rained some and then the wind appeared to die out.  When I woke around 6:00 there were blue skies but some ugly clouds started moving in.  I wanted to get on the road early and ride the 20K to Cape Jervis to catch the 9:00 ferry but not if it was raining.  At 6:30 the bad clouds cleared out and I packed up and was off just a little after 7:00.

I figured 1.5 hours to get to Cape Jervis but the first part of the ride had some pretty serious climbs that ate up the time and made me wonder if I could make the ferry.  I pushed as hard as I could and didn’t get to enjoy the nice scenery in the big rolling grass covered hills.  Finally, with about 5K to go I saw the cyclists’ favorite road sign – a car on a downhill.  As I started the downhill there was a great view of Cape Jervis on the coast.  Kangaroo Island was only partly visible off shore due to haze.  I zipped down to the ferry at 8:30 just as I had planned.

When I stopped at the booking office next to the ferry, the attendant seemed surprised that I hadn’t previously booked.  But I got a roundtrip passage for me and my bike for $75.  One of the crew members tied my bike to the steps leading from the ferry car deck area to the upstairs.

The ferry was about 15 minutes late due to vehicle loading and then it was a 45-minute ride to Kangaroo Island.  When I got off the ferry, I got something to eat since I had only a minimal breakfast.  Then I checked out the Visitor Centre and grocery store and got a tent site for $7 at the caravan park.  After setting up I spent some time walking along the beach.

Later I installed the new bike chain on my bike that I bought in Adelaide.  At 7:30 I went down to the Penguin Centre.  Kangaroo Island is home to several colonies of Little Penguins, also called Blue Penguins because of their bluish coat, the smallest penguins in the world at about 12 inches tall.  I paid $6 for a guided tour and it was worth it.  These penguins come in after dark from a day at sea and waddle up the beach to their burrows in the hillside.  This place had a platform viewing area with some occasional modest lighting so they could be seen.  I probably saw 20-30 penguins and a few chicks.

Day 47: Sun, Oct 20, 2002 - Penneshaw - KI, to Parndana, KI [81.9, 04:53:46, 16.7, 4177]

When I woke up I took my time since the nearby store didn’t open until 8:00.  I was first in line and had a typical breakfast.  It was 8:30 when I left town and I immediately had a steep 2-3K hill to climb.  Then I descended the hill and rode along the coast of the Eastern Cove for a ways with some good views looking across the cove.  Penneshaw was on the Dudley Peninsula, which had just a 2-3K wide connection with the main part of the island.

After I passed this neck, I had rolling hills with lots of trees and some fields.  Around 10:30 I started seeing more traffic and I knew the 9:00 ferry had arrived at Penneshaw and unloaded its vehicle cargo.  After 45K I took a 5K bypass, leaving the road that continuee to the right to Kingscote, the largest town on the island.  This road though sealed was rather rough.  It looked like someone just threw oil on some coarse gravel and declared it sealed.  However, it was a short road as it passed the island airport and I picked up the Playford Highway west.  This was a good road with some good views of the fields, some which were canola fields and the yellow canola glistened in the sun, contrasting with the surrounding green fields.

With 15K to Parndana, I climbed a very steep 1K hill that required my lowest gear and all of my energy.  There were some good views looking back as I progressed slowly up the hill.  Then there were some big trees whose limbs formed a canopy over the road that was very scenic.  After that, however, the road was lined with dense bushes and smaller trees, effectively hiding the surrounding landscape except for an occasional quick glimpse through an opening in the foliage.  At 79K I turned left off the road and pulled into Parndana, my stop for the day.  On Kangaroo Island camping is allowed only in designated camp spots and the next camp was 66K away, too far to continue.

As I cased the small town I saw a bakery sign and pulled in.  The bakery was a combined grocery store, takeaway, and bakery.  I was surprised to see they had pizza so I ordered a small chicken pizza.  Normally, I would have ordered a large pizza but these were essentially deep dish.  While I was waiting for my pizza, I saw a guy checking out my bike.  Troy was a touring cyclist himself having toured Tasmania but was currently car camping with his girlfriend.  When he learned my planned route to Melbourne, he offered a place to stay where he lived close to Queenscliff.

After my chat with Troy, I enjoyed my pizza, which was very good.  Since there were no campgrounds in Parndana, I checked out the accommodation options.  The woman in the bakery told me about Abbey Lodge, a converted church, which sounded like the most affordable.  I checked it out since it was right around the corner.  Unfortunately, no one was around and there was a For Sale sign up.  I called the contact number and learned the owner had decided to sell and had ceased operation.  He sounded like he would have opened it up for me but he was at another location 60K away.

So I fell back to my 2nd choice, the local hotel that had a couple of cabins that were “reasonably priced.”  This turned out to be $85 but I didn’t have any other option since my other choice was the same price.  It was a nice cabin and was complete.

After cleaning up I walked back to the hotel.  I read in the newspaper that the road rally I saw the other day was the 3rd day (Flying Fleurieu Friday) of the 5-day Classic Adelaide Rally.  Turns out they had to cancel part of that day’s rally due to the high winds.  I also checked into the hotel’s evening Koala Walk but it was not scheduled.  I was told, however, I could just walk around town and see a few Koalas in the trees.

After I used the hotel’s Internet PC, which was free on Sundays, I walked a loop through town.  Later I did another loop but saw no Koalas.  So either the Koalas were not out or I didn’t know what to look for.  A disappointing end to the day.

Day 48: Mon, Oct 21, 2002 - Parndana, KI to Rocky River, KI [105.6, 05:29:34, 19.2, 4283]

I got up early and on the road by 7:00.  It was 66K to Rocky River and I wanted to get there early so I would have the afternoon to visit Remarkable Rocks and Cape Du Couedic.  The road was flat all the way and I made good time.  Initially the road was more open than yesterday and I saw lots of sheep.  I also saw some kangaroos and Emus but they were part of the Parndana Wildlife Park that didn’t open until 9:00 so I skipped it.  I also saw 3 goannas, long lizards about 3 feet long, on the road.

After about 20K the trees and brush took over and there was nothing to see unless you wanted to just see trees and brush.  At 38K I left the Playford Highway and headed south on the West End Highway, passing through the Flinders Chase National Park.  There I really picked up speed and the 27K to Rocky River, headquarters of the park, was short work.

I checked in at the Visitor Centre and then picked my campsite at the nearby campground.  I set up my tent, removed my panniers, and collected a few essentials in my day pack and headed back to the Visitor Centre to pay my fees - $17, for park entry, camping, and visiting the Cape.

I was off by noon.  I expected the road to be flat and then descend to the coast at the end but it was hilly all the way including one long descent followed by an equally long climb.  I was glad I was riding unloaded for the first time on the trip.  It was 17K to Remarkable Rocks.  As I approached and descended to the Rocks there was a great view of the coast as well as the Rocks.  I considered the coastal view more remarkable than the rocks, which were boulder-like odd shaped rocks left on top of a large rock mound.

After spending a bit of time on the rocks, I retreated 4K, climbing the altitude I lost in the descent to the rocks, and headed to Cape Du Coedic.  This also descended to the coast to a rocky coast that was home to a colony of New Zealand fur-seals, with about 30 of them sunning themselves on the rocks.  There were two isles right off the coast and eventually there will be a third isle as part of the cape tip was barely connected via an arch, the Admirals Arch, and it was just a matter of time until the arch eroded away.

Surprisingly, I saw what I wanted to see before 3:00 so I headed back to Rocky River.  I reclaimed my lost altitude and then retraced my way back on the hilly road.  At my camp I dumped most of my day pack to walk to the Visitor Centre for wildlife viewing.  But as it turned out the wildlife came to me as two kangaroos wandered right into my site, probably looking for a handout, coming so close I could have touched one.  There were also Cape Barren Geese in the campground.

At the Visitor Centre I took the interpretive walk that passed along several grassy areas in the late afternoon.  Kangaroos and geese were out in force, grazing away, generally oblivious to the human visitors.  I also wanted to see a kaola and finally saw one that was spotted by another guy but it was in a dense gum tree and barely visible.  So I continued walking quite a ways before I saw a dark blob high up in the fork of a gum tree.  My binoculars revealed a dark nose and confirmed my first koala sighting.  Finally satisfied, I walked back and spotted several wallabies, smaller versions of kangaroos.

The day was now truly complete and I walked back to camp and cleaned up and ate from my food supply.  A very good day with lots of coastal scenery and wildlife – goannas, Cape Barren Geese, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and NZ fur-seals.

Day 49: Tue, Oct 22, 2002 - Rocky River, KI to Kingscote, KI [133.5, 06:38:53, 20, 4416]

I woke up at 5:30 so I decided to do another wildlife walk like yesterday evening.  Immediately I saw several kangaroos and lots of geese.  Then I spotted a koala up in a thin gum tree, swaying in the wind.  I walked to where I saw the other koala yesterday but he was nowhere in sight.  On my return I saw a wallaby and more kangaroos and geese.

It was an overcast day with fairly strong winds so I decided to pack up right away to avoid any chance of having to pack in rain.  Then I stopped at a nearby picnic area for breakfast.  No sooner had I sat down with some of my food when – poof! – two kangaroos magically appeared.  They were obviously looking for food, or perhaps my companionship.  The first kangaroo gave up quickly but the second one was persistent.  He stared at me with baleful, pleading eyes just a few feet away, sure that I would be unable to resist.  But I did so he crept closer.  When I sat at the picnic table he stood right next to me and put his paws on the seat, looking at me mournfully.  Still I held out and turned away to eat.  At that point, he decided to take a hands-on approach and placed his paws on my arm.  That crossed the line and I told him so and he retreated a couple of feet.  I wanted to box him in the nose but I wasn’t sure how he would react and he had pretty long claws on his paws.  But I managed to eat my breakfast without further incident and moved on.

It was 8:00 when I left Rocky River and headed for Vivonne Bay, 42K away, the nearest accommodation to Seal Bay which was a must see with a colony of Australian Sea Lions.  The strong wind seemed to be a cross wind but it was also helping me as I moved at a good pace.  There was not much to see with trees lining the road that hid much of the view.  There were mostly fields on the left, towards the center of the island and trees and bush on the right.

Around 10:00 I took the turnoff to Vivonne Bay and headed 2K down a gravel road to a campground that was not impressive.  I talked to the only couple there and the guy clued me in that walking along the bay would not be attractive in a sand storm.  So I nixed staying at the campground.

I headed another 13K down the road and stopped at the Kaiwarra Food Barn for a break before taking the Seal Bay turnoff.  I had thought about dumping my panniers for the side trip but I learned that the side trip really wasn’t hilly like I feared.  The wind helped me to Seal Bay but I was concerned about the next tour time.  I figured the tours were probably hourly and I had only about 10 minutes to make over 10K, which was impossible.  Still I pushed on and got there at 12:14 and discovered the next tour ($10.50) was at 12:15, perfect timing.

Our guide led us down a steep hill on a stairway to the beach.  There were probably on the order of 100 sea lions lazing on the beach and there were great views of the coast looking in both directions.  We were able to walk within 30-40 feet but not any closer for fear of disturbing one of the sea lions, which could result in a charge and possible attack.  We spent about 45 minutes and then our tour was over although we had the option of further viewing from a platform.  I chose to move on, particularly in light of the sand storm conditions due to the strong wind.

So I retreated back to the main road, surprised that the wind seemed to be helping.  I stopped again at the Food Barn for a light meal to take me the 48K to Kingscote.  While there, the wind picked up again and was howling.  I considered asking if I could just stay there but I ended up pushing on and the wind was definitely a tail wind.

After an hour or so I could see the clouds becoming more ominous and then it started a light drizzle.  I wasn’t sure if this was going to turn into a real rain or not so I continued.  Then as the drizzle persisted and became harder I stopped to don my rain gear.  It was a hard drizzle but not a bad rain.  It continued for about an hour and then tapered off to nothing.  About 15K from Kingscote I removed my rain gear and rode into town at 4:30.

I immediately looked for the Visitor Centre where I asked about accommodations and was surprised there was a hostel in town.  I got a bed in a dorm room for $20 and was told I would probably be the only occupant.  So I rolled my bike into the room as if it were mine.

Later I found a pizza place and had so-so pizza that was good only because it was filling.  Afterwards I found a laundromat and did my laundry.

A longer than expected day but not a particularly hard one with a cooperative tail wind.

Day 50: Wed, Oct 23, 2002 - Kingscote, KI to Penneshaw, KI [61.4, 03:34:24, 17.2, 4478]

As was suggested, I was the only one at the backpackers so for the second time I had an entire house to myself.  I was in no hurry since I only had 60K to ride back to Penneshaw.  However, the weather looked iffy even though my watch barometer showed steadily rising pressure.  The weather was alternating between threatening clouds and patches of blue sky.  Of course, I didn’t know for sure if things would get better or worse later.

After my usual breakfast I walked downtown for coffee and toast at 8:00.  Then I took off before 9:00.  I took the coastal path out of town and backtracked my way out of the Nepean Bay as I faced a strong head wind.  But the wind wasn’t a real concern since my route was U shaped and the wind would not be a head wind for too long.  After 7K B23 turned south with still a head wind but after another 13K it turned southeast and I had a modest cross wind.  From this point on I was retracing my route back to Penneshaw, seeing scenery I had already seen.  Except now I was occasionally seeing it through drizzle as the weather continued to fluctuate between occasional light drizzle and patches of blue sky.

When I reached the neck where the Dudley Peninsula barely joined the main body of the island, I stopped to climb Prospect Hill on a boardwalk with at least 100 steps.  At the top I was disappointed to find Matthew Flinders, the English discoverer of the island in 1802, had beaten me to the top by 200 years.  But the weather cleared up when I was at the top and I enjoyed fine 360-degree views despite the strong wind.

When I continued down the road I had a good tail wind for the last 24K.  I did have one hard climb to get to the peninsula highlands but the rest was clear sailing and I pulled into Penneshaw at 2:00.  I stopped at the local library to use the Internet and then stopped for refreshments.  Then I headed to the caravan park where I had previously camped but rented a caravan for $25 this time.  After settling in, I walked to the grocery store and was surprised to see the ferry docked.  Apparently they added a 4:30 ferry sailing due to demand that I could have made easily.  So I was a little bummed that I hadn’t bothered to check the ferry times although in reality it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference with the 8:30 ferry I planned to take in the morning.

Then when I got back to the caravan I discovered I couldn’t get in.  The door had an inside lock switch that I had set when I left, thinking that just locked the door without needing to lock it with a key.  Now the caravan was totally locked and we had to remove a small side window so I could crawl inside and unlock the door, something that had happened before according to the park hostess.

I spent the rest of the evening inside, not daring to leave for fear of locking myself out again.

Day 51: Thu, Oct 24, 2002 - Penneshaw, KI to Goolwa - Mainland, SA [78.8, 04:36:03, 17.1, 4556]

I was up and at the ferry station at 7:30 for the 8:30 sailing.  The ferry was not the main ferry.  It was one used to transport cargo to/from the island but had room for some passengers and cars.  One good thing was it was possible to sit outside at the front of the ferry – a better view than the regular ferry.  As we approached Cape Jervis several dolphins accompanied us to the dock.

When I got off the ferry I met an Adelaide couple who had just recently did a supported 7 day ride from the Flinders to Adelaide.  Their support included a truck with showers and another truck with restrooms – necessary support in an arid land.  I also got a good map from them showing the route up the east coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula to Victor Harbor.

When I finally took off, I had a 5K climb back to the highlands with a hard final 2K.  I had to retrace my way 12K back to Delaware before I took the turnoff to Victor Harbor.  This turnoff started with a climb and it was pretty hilly the rest of the way.  Initially there were forests with evergreens, quite a change from the usual gum trees.  Then the land changed to large broad valleys that were very picturesque with green fields bordered by dark green trees and some sheep.

Along the way as I was descending one fairly steep hill I met a cyclist coming from the other direction, pushing his bike up the hill.  He was from Norway, had flown to Perth and bought his bike and panniers in Perth, and had cycled in southwest Australia and now the Adelaide area with plans to cycle New Zealand.

After 60K I descended a big hill and rolled into Victor Harbor.  I continued along Encounter Bay another 20K to Goolwa.  Goolwa was situated on one side of the Murray River lake complex where I was hoping there was some way to go straight across.  But I learned at the Visitor Centre that was not possible and I would have to ride all the way around Lake Alexandria and Lake Albert, lakes formed by the Murray River, to get to the other side.

However, I did get lucky with accommodation.  I learned that the PS Murray River Queen, a permanently moored floating motel had backpacker accommodation.  I got a “room” for $20 that was below the deck with a porthole that was at water level.  Only drawback was I had to remove my panniers to get my bike down the narrow and steep stairway.  And just as I was checking in it started to drizzle.  It had been cool and overcast all day and I was lucky not to have gotten caught in any rain.

After cleaning up I walked downtown in my rain gear.  Later I ate at a café and then found the grocery store and took care of some shopping.  When I got back to the floating motel I retired to the lounge for my notes.  There I met a couple from the Margaret River area.  We were apparently the only boarders and they “owned” the floor above me and I owned the floor below them. 

Day 52: Fri, Oct 25, 2002 - Goolwa - Mainland, SA to Wellington, SA [83, 04:14:08, 19.6, 4640]

When I got up I could see from the porthole in my berth that the weather was still cloudy so I didn’t hurry.  After my breakfast I headed to a bakery for a leisurely coffee.  Then I found a book exchange that opened at 9:00 and traded one of my paperbacks for another for $2, following my rule to always have 2 books, one I’m reading and one waiting to be read.

When I left town it was almost 9:30 and the weather appeared to be clearing up with patches of blue sky.  Ideally I wanted to make Meningie, about 45K to the east but because of the lakes I had to do an upside down U loop, heading north, then east, then south for about a 125K loop to go an effective 45K.  The wind was out of the south so I would have either a tail or cross wind for the first two parts of the U.

Leaving town I headed north to pick up the Winery Road.  Fortunately I had noticed on my map that there was a railroad track just after the turnoff.  So when I saw a turnoff after 10K but wasn’t sure if it was the right road the nearby railroad tracks reassured me.  However, when I looked back via my helmet mirror the weather was not reassuring as it had clouded up again.  Not too long after that I felt some light drizzle and this pattern would continue several times.

Near Finniss I headed east to Milano on the shore of Lake Alexandria and then northeast along the lake and then north to the main road that took me east to Wellington.  None of the scenery was very exciting except for a couple of vineyards.  The land was flat with yellow grassy fields and some views of dirty water in the lake.

At 1:30 I arrived in Wellington, a small town of 180, whose claim to fame was the 24-hour Murray River ferry.  I stopped at a mini-mart for lunch while deciding my next move.  It was 45K to Meningie but into a head wind with no stopping points along the way.  In the end discretion won out and I called it a day.  The town had the mini-mart, a hotel, and a caravan park.  I got a place at the park, the Bunkhouse, a steal at $11 that had 4 bunk beds and a refrigerator, all I needed.

Later I bought some groceries and walked to the hotel for a beer.  I sat outside in the sun writing my notes and watching the ferry carry cars across the river.

For the last few days my bike had been make some really annoying creaking noises.  I finally noticed yesterday that the front racks were a little loose at the attachment points to the fork eyelets.  So last night I tightened them with loctite.  Today the result was obvious – no creaking and more pleasant cycling.

Day 53: Sat, Oct 26, 2002 - Wellington, SA to Salt Creek, SA [110.4, 07:40:36, 14.4, 4751]

Unlike recent mornings I was interested in getting an early start to beat the wind so I was on the road at 7:30.  I had to wait 10 minutes for the ferry.  The ferry was a cable pull operation and it got me and my fellow passengers, 2 kids on their bikes, to the other side.  I then rode 2K to pickup Highway B1 south to Meningie.

I quickly discovered that the wind was not going to be my friend today.  It was from the southeast, which would mean a head wind all day.  The first 45K to Meningie was okay and I made it in a little less than 3 hours.  The first half was flat with just yellow grassy fields.  The second half had some undulation and a few trees and was a little more interesting.

I stopped in Meningie, a small town on the shore of Lake Albert for a lunch break.  I also stopped at the Visitor Centre where I learned there were several stopping options before Salt Creek along the Coorong.  Salt Creek was my goal but it was another 61K and I wasn’t sure I would make it with the fairly strong head wind so it was nice to know I had some other options.

I left town at 11:30, heading southeast to the Coorong, a long, shallow lagoon stretching 145K south from the mouth of the Murray River.  Coorong was derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘narrow neck’ and was only 3K wide.  It was a bird watchers paradise but not all that scenic riding by but aerial views I saw from photos were dramatic.

I plugged along the Coorong at 11-13 kph, constantly fighting the wind and not enjoying it.  The Coorong did get more scenic the further south I went as the scrub grew up and yielded some trees along the modestly undulating land.  At 50K I had the option of stopping at Policeman’s Point but chose to continue another 10K to Salt Creek.  I figured this would put me that much loser to Robe, tomorrow’s goal, and would have more facilities.  I was right about the first part but wrong on the second.  Salt Creek had a roadhouse where I had a good meal but accommodations were either camping ahead off on a dirt road or retreating back to a caravan park south of town.

I chose to retreat 3.5K to the caravan park, psychologically hard to give up hard earned distance but easy cycling with a tail wind.  At the park I found the Fleurieu Bird Watchers were in town and everything was booked except for a bunk room which I got for $11, just what I was hoping for and I continued my recent streak of very inexpensive accommodations, a streak I was pretty sure was about to end.

Given the wind I would not have bet on making Salt Creek but I did on a long, hard day.  I could only hope that the wind would change tomorrow and make cycling more pleasant.

Day 54: Sun, Oct 27, 2002 - Salt Creek, SA to Kingston, SA [92.8, 06:30, 15, 4843]

I packed up and headed out just after 7:00 and made my way back to the roadhouse.  I got some milk and a bacon & eggs sandwich and walked to a nearby picnic table for breakfast.  I thought I had my own private spot but an army of 20 bird watchers descended on the spot with their binoculars to check the water inlet for birds.

By the time I really took off it was 8:00.  I already had a southeast wind and I feared another day like yesterday. Surprisingly, the wind never picked up during the day and sometimes it seemed almost calm.  I wanted to make Robe, 125K away, but I guessed I would have to be happy to make Kingston, 89K.

Initially the road was lined with trees and that probably helped cut the wind.  After 50K I left Coorong National Park and grassy fields appeared on both sides of the road with some sheep and cattle.  The openness also made me more vulnerable to the modest head wind.  Near noon I stopped at a roadside rest area for lunch.

I continued on and rolled into Kingston where I was greeted by Larry the Lobster, a 33 metre high caricature in front of a restaurant.  I stopped for a drink.

It was only about 2:30 but Robe was another 41K down the road.  I just didn’t have the energy or desire to continue for another almost 3 hours.  So I got a room at the Royal Mail Hotel for $30 that included breakfast where the hard part was getting my loaded bike up the stairs.  They were steep and narrow and I almost lost the bike twice.  Later, I ate at the hotel, having their roast lamb special, which was very good and only $8.50.

Day 55: Mon, Oct 28, 2002 - Kingston, SA to Millicent, SA [139.6, 07:40:53, 18.2, 4982]

I was up early and making use of the continental breakfast at 6:30.  After carefully lowering my bike down the stairs I was off shortly after 7:00.  There was little or no wind and I set off in a good frame of mind.

There were a lot of trees and large bushes along the road.  There were also several evergreen forests and they must have been planted because the trees were lined up in regular rows.  With little wind to impede me I made the 45K to Robe by 10:00.

Robe was a nice coastal resort and fishing village that once was the 3rd largest port in South Australia.  I rode through town and found the library where I used the Internet for about an hour.  Then I got some cash at an ATM and stopped at a bakery for lunch.  After lunch I took a side trip to the Beacon Hill Lookout that was okay but not really worth the 5K roundtrip.

It was noon by the time I left Robe and headed for Beachport, 50K away.  The wind seemed to be helping a little and I rode at a good pace.  I passed 3 lakes on my right and fields on my left with some sheep and cattle.  I also almost ran over a coiled snake in the road that gave me a bit of a scare.  This time I stopped and checked out the snake and saw that its body was a bit flattened behind the head.  Obviously it had been run over by a vehicle and although still alive it could only move the last half of its body.

Around 2:30 I took the turnoff to head into Beachport.  Right away there was a turnout that had a nice view of Rivoli Bay and the town at the northwest end of the bay.  I continued 2K into the small town and stopped at the jetty, some 772 metres long and 2nd longest in South Australia.  I stopped for ice cream at a takeaway only to get strange looks from a local dog.  I eventually discovered he was trying to entice me into a game of rock throwing where he would retrieve the rock and return it to me.  Such is life in a small town.

I left town at 3:00 for another 35K to Millicent.  Now the wind had picked up a bit and was a head wind but not bad.  The road headed inland through fields with occasional cattle.  I encountered a fair amount of traffic during the rush hour.

Just after 5:00 I pulled into Millicent, known for its paper and tissue manufacturing.  I rode through the town center and found 3 hotels but the first two did not have accommodations.  The last one was a hotel/motel and I thought it might be a bit expensive but I got a regular motel room for $35.  Later I walked down the street and picked up a pizza for dinner.

Today I rode 30K more than the two previous days and still felt much better at the end of the day.  Such is the effect of the wind.

Day 56: Tue, Oct 29, 2002 - Millicent, SA to Nelson, SA [90.9, 04:53:37, 18.6, 5073]

I didn’t sleep very well, waking up around midnight and waking periodically thereafter.  I finally got up at 6:30, packed up and headed to the grocery store that opened at 7:00.  I picked up a few things for breakfast and ate in a park nearby.

When I left it was almost 8:00.  I headed to Mt. Gambier, a town built on the side of a dormant volcano, 50K away.  The wind was a modest cross wind so I made good time.  I passed through fields and evergreen forests.  Traffic was fairly heavy with occasional logging trucks.

I pulled into Mt. Gambier before 11:00 and headed for the Visitor Centre where I got a pleasant surprise, a drinking fountain just outside.  Water is so precious in Australia that this was the first drinking fountain I had seen.  Inside I got some good maps of the area between here and Melbourne.  I also noticed two clocks, one showing South Australia time and the other Victoria time.  The South Australia time showed an hour later than my watch and that’s when I learned that daylight savings time had taken effect on Sunday, the last Sunday of October.  The Victoria clock reminded me that clocks advanced 30 minutes at the Victoria border.

There was a free 10 minute Internet PC where I tried to pay my VISA bill but couldn’t get into the payment site.  So I got directions to an Internet café where I had the same problem.  Eventually I found another path to the payment site and took care of the bill.  Then I ate lunch and was off to Nelson around 1:00 my time.

The 36K to Nelson was a pleasant ride on a rolling, winding road through the country.  The only problem was much of the modest traffic was large trucks.  Just before Nelson I left South Australia and entered Victoria.

In Nelson I headed to the Visitor Centre and got some good maps of the route to Melbourne, better than what was available in Mt. Gambier.  While there I met Dennis, another touring cyclist from Holland. Dennis had a year off from work and had just started riding from Adelaide.  He had a mountain bike and a BOB trailer.  He was headed to Melbourne with plans to go well up the east coast and also cycle Tasmania and New Zealand but without any specific schedule.

Dennis camped at the caravan park and I got a room at the Nelson Hotel for $25 that included breakfast.  Even better, the room was on the first floor so I didn’t have to lug my bike up any stairs.  Later, I bought Dennis a beer at the hotel and learned more about his travel plans.

Day 57: Wed, Oct 30, 2002 - Nelson, SA to Port Fairy, VIC [145.8, 06:51:38, 21.2, 5219]

I got up at 7:00 which was really 6:00 my time.  I helped myself to the continental breakfast except for toast since someone had taken all of the bread.

I was off by 8:00 but the weather didn’t look promising.  It was overcast with only a couple of cracks of blue and the road was wet in places so it had rained overnight.  At least the wind was a helping westerly.

The first half of the way to Portland was evergreen forests, mostly pine.  These forests were used for forest products as evidenced by the clear cuts along the way although they appear to reseed the area after the clear cut.  The second half was a mixture of regular forests and some fields.  The road continued its rolling terrain like yesterday.  Still with the help of the wind I pulled into Portland at 11:30 after 66K with some occasional light drizzle.

My goal for the day was Port Fairy, another 70K, so I stopped for lunch and a rest.  Then it was on the road again starting with some modest climbing leaving town.  The road to Port Fairy headed northeast for 15-20K and then southeast the rest of the way.  The wind was from the west but was forecast to change to southwest.  So I was in a bit of a hurry to make the most effective use of the tail wind and flat road.

Once I turned southeast I had a really good tail wind and I was cruising at nearly 30 kph.  At Codrington I passed a wind farm with 14 3-bladed wind turbines that were established in July, 2001.  These turbines generated enough electricity for 14,000 homes.

Around 4:00 I pulled into Port Fairy.  I got a room at the Royal Oak Hotel for $25, not including breakfast.  Later I ate at a Chinese restaurant that was so-so.  Then I did some grocery shopping and retired for the night.

Day 58: Thu, Oct 31, 2002 - Port Fairy, VIC to Port Campbell, VIC [100.7, 05:09:18, 19.5, 5320]

I got up at 6:45, a little earlier than yesterday but still not quite adjusted to daylight savings time.  But it didn’t matter as it was overcast with some overnight rain, looking like a carbon copy of yesterday morning.  So I took my time and had some breakfast at the café down the street that had pancakes.  They were okay but were more like thick crepes.

It was almost 8:30 when I left town, taking the back way across the Moyne River to rejoin the main highway.  A large patch of blue sky appeared in the west but I wasn’t fooled and 20 minutes later the clouds reappeared.  Still it was an easy 28K ride to Warrnambool without any rain.

At the Visitor Centre I got a bicycle guide to the Great Ocean Road.  Then I headed downtown and got Internet access at a computer store.  By noon I was back on the road and 12K later I took the turnoff on the Great Ocean Road.

The sun was out and the weather looked good.  The Great Ocean Road headed to the coast on a stair-step road, east, south, east, south, …  When I was going east I had a good tail wind and when I was going south I had mostly cross but some head wind.  As I came to one of the right hand turns I spotted something red that looked like a bicycle.  When I got close I found a young English couple on a 3-week holiday taking a break.  They had rented bikes and panniers and were doing the Great Ocean Road starting from Warrnambool.  I would see them several times that afternoon.

When I reached the coast, I stopped to view the Bay of Islands, large rock outcrops in a bay.  Very scenic even with clouds moving in.  There were multiple turnouts for the Bay of Islands as well as the Grotto, London Bridge, and the Bay of Martyrs.  All very scenic along a rugged coastline, already justifying the reputation of the Great Ocean Road as a great scenic ride.  I spent at least an hour at the various turnouts.

Then I continued on to Port Campbell on a rolling road with a final descent to town.  I stopped at the Visitor Centre and met two cyclists on mountain bikes carrying their gear in backpacks but they were not particularly sociable.  As I expected for a tourist trap, accommodations were not cheap and the best I could do was $51 for a single room at a YHA hostel.  After cleaning up I ate at a pizza place that offered a 10% discount for YHA stayees.  The place appeared to be a gourmet type as did the other café/restaurants in town.  Even so the pizza was good.  Then I retired to the pub for a beer and wrote my notes.

During the day I noticed some creaking that appeared to be coming from my left pedal.  I guessed that the left pedal didn’t have a good bearing seal and when some water creeped in I would get the creaking.  I would notice this occasionally for the rest of the trip.

Day 59: Fri, Nov 01, 2002 - Port Campbell, VIC to Apollo Bay, VIC [104.7, 07:23:54, 14.1, 5425]

I woke up again at 6:45 so maybe that’s my biorhythm.  It was almost 8:00 when I left town.  It was cloudy but not threatening like the last few days.

After about 8K I came to the Loch Ard Gorge turnoff.  Loch Ard was a ship that wrecked off the coast in 1878.  All aboard were lost except an apprentice seaman and young woman passenger who were swept into the Gorge where they found a cove for shelter.  The seaman climbed out of the deep gorge and found help at a nearby homestead.  While I was visiting I met a guy from Geelong and his wife who gave me a virtual tour.  He insisted I take the steps all the way down so I could see the cave.  After thanking him for the tour, I visited a couple other sites, including the Blowhole.  All were outstanding along with a great view of the coast looking south.  Another 5K down the road I stopped at the Twelve Apostles, the famous icon of the Great Ocean Road, with its limestone stacks by the coast.  Another fantastic sight.

Continuing, the road headed inland a bit to Princeton.  From there the road climbed a ridge between two large, wide valleys that were very scenic in their own right with green fields and cattle grazing on the side hills.  After 15K or so the road descended quickly and I lost all the hard gained altitude only to have to reclaim it on the climb to Lavers Hill.

This climb started steeply for 4-5K on a winding, twisting road that required my second lowest gear.  After that it eased up and went through a sequence of flats followed by more climbing for another 10K or so before reaching the high point on the Great Ocean Road.  Along the way I passed a couple of cyclists on mountain bikes with day packs on their way down the hill.  At Lavers Hill I stopped for a lunch break that I knew I would need since I was only half way and had another big climb remaining.

When I left it was around 2:30 and I still had 50K remaining with a hard climb.  Initially I descended back to sea level and then rode a winding road through a plain at the edge of some large hills.  At this point I noticed I was getting some head wind on what was a pretty calm and now cloudless day.

Then I began the climb into the Otway National Park, starting with a steep 2K that required my lowest gear.  Then the climb relented and eased off to a series of short flats and climbing for another 8K.  While this was a hard climb at the end of a long day the reward on the descent was some awesome views of a deep farming valley and then a view of Apollo Bay and the coast down below.

When I rode down into Apollo Bay it was after 5:00 so I didn’t figure to get help from the Visitor Centre on finding a place to stay on a Friday evening in a tourist town.  So I rode through town and stopped at a caravan park at the other end of town.  There I learned a tent site alone would cost me $24 on this Melbourne Cup weekend.  The Melbourne Cup is the horse race of the year, similar to our Kentucky Derby, and even though it wasn’t until next Tuesday Aussies in Victoria were turning it into a long holiday weekend.

Fortunately I got directions to the Surfside Backpacker at the other end of town, where I came in.  There I was able to get a single room for $35, much better than I was afraid I was going to be able to do.  Later I walked downtown and had pizza again.

Day 60: Sat, Nov 02, 2002 - Apollo Bay, VIC to Torquay, VIC [94.4, 06:02:41, 156, 5519]

I made it up a little earlier this morning, 6:30.  Unfortunately, it was of no use since I had to wait until 8:00 to get my key deposit back.  Then the landlady was late and I wasn’t able to get off until almost 8:30.  Then I had to stop at a café that offered pancakes.  These turned out to be honest to goodness pancakes, actually fluffy and good.  While there a waiter noticed my bike and observed that it was a titanium bike and guessed it was a Litespeed.  When I commented that he had a good eye, he said he did a lot of riding and his wife had a Merlin (titanium) bike.

Finally I was off at 9:00 in uncertain weather.  It was cloudy and windy with a forecast of possible rain with a wind shift to westerly and a weather change.  The wind was a head wind so I wasn’t too optimistic about the day.

For most of the day the road hugged the coast.  The first 10K were right along the shore.  Then the road climbed, cut into the side of the hills that dropped off sharply at the coast.  For most of the rest of the day the road would wind along the side of the hills and occasionally drop down to a bay area with a sandy beach.  In the morning, I saw a number of cyclists out for their Saturday morning rides.  Most passed me quickly with a wave, unencumbered with extra weight as I was.  Even though there was a fair amount of modest climbing I was surprised how well my legs felt.  Yesterday morning my legs felt tired and I wondered if I would be able to do the two big climbs yesterday.  Today, after yesterday’s hard ride my legs felt fine.  I could only guess that this was the power of good pancakes…

After 40K I descended to Lorne in the Loutit Bay.  Lorne was swarming with people and cars and I was tempted to pass right on through but stopped for a lunch break.  One good thing was I found a book exchange where I traded one of my paperbacks in for “The Territory”, the story about the first 100 years of settlement in Australia’s tropic northern territory.

It was 1:00 when I pulled out of Lorne.  There was a steady stream of cars coming from the other direction.  At one point I counted 24 cars lined up followed just a little later by 12 more.  I was really glad I wasn’t traveling in that direction.  There was also a good shoulder after Lorne whereas in the morning there was no shoulder and no bailout room as the road was cut right up to the hills.

I passed through Aireys Inlet and Anglesea, both with nice beaches and some surfers out in the ocean.  At Anglesea there was a large sheer cliff and the road headed inland and climbed to bypass the cliffs.  The coast would not appear again until Torquay, another 16K.  As I neared Torquay I debated whether to stop or continue.  I still had plenty of daylight and I had gotten intrigued with the possibility of making Melbourne tomorrow and catching the ferry to Tasmania.  On the other hand the later I stopped the more difficulty I was likely to have finding accommodation on this holiday weekend.  There was also the threat of rain and I felt a few raindrops.

When I pulled into Torquay, the surfing capital of Australia with famous Bell’s Beach nearby, it was 4:00 and I decided to stay.  I stopped at a backpacker along the way but they closed at 2:00 pm and didn’t reopen until 5:30.  When I called I just got an answering machine, which was of no use.  Next door was a caravan park so I checked it out.  They wanted $75 for their cheapest cabin and $25 for a tent site.  So I continued just up the street to the Visitor Centre.  There I was advised the $75 was probably about the best I was going to do on this holiday weekend.

So I returned to the caravan park and took the $75 cabin that would normally have been a reasonable $50 except they were charging the holiday rate.  The cabin was fine and after cleaning up I walked up the street for food and picked up a few grocery items on my way back.  Then I decided to do my laundry but couldn’t get any detergent, either in the laundry room or the office.  Fortunately my neighbor gave me some and I was able to do my laundry.  I also cleaned my bike chain and waxed my Brooks leather saddle.

As I was writing my notes in the comfort of my cabin I heard thunder and it rained several times during the night.

Day 61: Sun, Nov 03, 2002 - Torquay, VIC to Melbourne, VIC [142.4, 07:19:54, 19.4, 5662]

I was determined to get up earlier so I would have a better chance of making Melbourne and the Tasmania ferry sailing.  So I got up shortly after 6:00 and was off under cloudy skies by 7:00.

There were two ways to get to Melbourne, via Geelong and via Queenscliff and the ferry to the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay.  Geelong was the shortest route but it involved cycling through an industrial area and was not recommended.  Cycling guides recommended taking the train from Geelong to Melbourne but that was somewhat offensive to me.  On the other hand the Queenscliff route was supposed to be scenic but longer, requiring a ride of about 150K.

Part of me wanted to go via Geelong and make sure I made the ferry today but my mind has a mind of its own.  It will permit logical discussion on the surface but deep down it usually picks the hard way.  So I was going via Queenscliff and making it come hell or high water but my body didn’t know that.

My Great Ocean Road cycling guide included a couple of other cycle tours in the area and I was able to put together a back road route to Queenscliff and the ferry.  So I started on this route and immediately got lost and wasted about 15 minutes just getting out of town.  Then it was a nice ride through the back roads with a westerly that blew me to Queenscliff.  As I passed through Ocean Grove, I saw a peloton of about 30 cyclists heading out on their Sunday morning ride.  It was 46K to Queenscliff and it took me just a little over two hours so I missed the 9:00 ferry to Sorrento and had to wait for the 10:00 ferry.  I had coffee at the nearby café where I waited.  I took the 10:00 ferry and made it across by 10:50.

The 1.5 hour rest was good because I still had 97K to go and it was almost 11:00.  Plus I wasn’t sure what the westerly wind was going to do as I curled around the bay.  The first part around the bay was good because I was heading east on B110.  This was a nice stretch along the coast with virtually a continuous park next to the beach.  Some parts were open for camping on honest-to-goodness grass with trees.  Unfortunately there was a lot of medium speed traffic and a shoulder that varied from none to very good.

As I approached Safety Beach I had to decide whether to stay with the highway that headed inland to skirt a big hill or stick with the coast.  Of course, my mind had already decided and forced my body to stay with the more scenic coast at the cost of some climbing.  A good decision as it turned out to be pretty scenic.

This continued until Mornington where the coastal road ended.  After a short lunch break, I headed inland to catch the highway again, which was just an uninteresting four-lane road with high speed traffic.  But I was making good time so at Frankston, when I only had 40K left and it was only 2:00, I decided it was time to get my ferry reservation.  But when I called I was shocked to learn that nothing was available.  The ferry agent suggested I could try calling again in 30-60 minutes.  That news really took the wind out of my sails.  I didn’t want to spend another expensive night on this holiday weekend.  I considered whether I could just show up and hope someone else didn’t show.  Of course, the problem was the ferry didn’t sail until 9:00 and I could get stuck in darkness.

30 minutes later I stopped and called again.  I got the message that all agents were busy and got the Tasmania marketing spiel.  In fact, I got it 3-4 times as I waited at least 10 minutes.  Finally the agent came on and she said a 4-bunk berth was available for $195 and I grabbed it.  Apparently, the agent wasn’t quite telling me previously that nothing was available.  There was some question about a bunch of bikers on the trip.  Now that was cleared up and I had a spot and I got pretty much the accommodation I would have picked even with all choices available.  It is possible to get a lounge seat for $100 but since travel time was 9 pm to 7 am, a berth with a bunk was preferable.

So I continued on with renewed enthusiasm, confident that my long standing technique of waiting until the last possible moment to make travel plans still worked.  And the road got better too.  At Mordialloc I took the coastal road while the highway headed inland.  The rest of the way to Melbourne was fairly scenic with a continuous beach.  On this windy day there were a number of paragliders taking advantage.  There were also many cyclists on the road traveling in both directions on what turned out to be a nice sunny if windy Sunday afternoon.

With 10K to go I got off the road with all its traffic and took the slower bike path now that I could approach Melbourne leisurely since I couldn’t board the ferry until 7:30 anyway.  There were a lot of cyclists and in-line skaters on the path so I had to be careful, especially for the in-line skaters who were mostly unstable beginners.

Finally the Melbourne skyline came into view.  It was easy to find the Port of Melbourne since the Spirit of Tasmania ferry was in port and impossible to miss.  One of the good things about the day’s route was there were a lot of restrooms to accommodate all the parks.  In general, Australia has few public restrooms and that can be a real pisser...   On this late afternoon I also found a restroom with a shower, albeit a cold one but I preferred a cold shower to waiting another 2 hours for a shower on the ferry.

So all cleaned up I made my way to the ferry terminal around 6:30.  I managed to pick up my ticket after the clerk had to search 10 minutes for it.  Then the baggage handler put my bike on a luggage cart and I was first in line to board at 7:30.  My cabin was on the 8th floor but it took some time finding it.  First I boarded on the 7th floor level but it was not obvious.  Then it was a hunt to find my cabin number.  Someone obviously gave little thought to laying out directions.

After I located my cabin I did what any self-respecting cyclist does – I headed to the food.  I expected to get gouged in the time honored fashion for captive customers but was amazed to find a self-help food service with a variety of tasty dishes, all for $10 including drink.  This was probably the best meal of the trip so far.  After eating I wandered through the ferry and then found a spot to write my notes.



Copyright Denis Kertz, 2002. All rights reserved.