The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

REST AREA TO UNDERBOOL


REST AREA TO UNDERBOOL = 25KM
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 386KM
UNDERBOOL REST AREA CAMPING = $10 powered.  (not sure if there is a non powered rate)
 
Neil had a suggestion this morning that sounded great in theory but in practice it wasn't good for me!  His suggestion was to get up and cycle the 4km into Walpeup and have brekky at the rest area where there will be a table ... in hindsight I think yup that is okay if it is just around the corner but for some strange reason my body did not want to ride that 4km before having brekky ... call it a caffiene thing or "40 odd years of breakfast before anything" conditioning!
But after our brekky I felt fine, the decision was to continue on to Underbool as per usual even though it was on just down the road rather than try for another 80km to Murrayville.
So we joined the Malley highway and there wasn't alot of traffic but now we are here at Underbool there is quite a few traffic - maybe weekend campers going home (as the pink lakes are not far from here but all by dirt road so it is not practical for us to go and look!).  There is, however, an incredible amount of caravaners going along this road and in both directions!
The wind today is not so strong and mainly a south westerly so it was a litte in front of us but ridable.
We get to Underbool and looked at where the local camp spot is and thought 'ooops' should have stayed at Walpeup much nicer!  We read somewhere that this was a nice rest spot with clean amentities ... maybe that person was the first to use the amenities straight after it was built because they are okay but by no means the best in Victoria like they stated.
We did find a spot to camp and  it is $10 for powered although there are only 4 powered sites and they are all outside the public toilets we opted to use the power here at the bbq.  There is a womens and mens shower and the water is nice and hot (but don't bother using the cold) as the hot is at the 'right' temperature.  The shower head is a little weak for my liking and there is a tendancy to hug the wall so that all your body gets water on it.  Another problem is that the roof is sort of open at the ends and lets in a draft and the door has an opening at the bottom which also lets in the draft - perfect for a stinking hot day but on a day like today (around 18 degrees) it is damn cold in there!
We are sandwiched between the Mallee highway and the train track which is used during the wheat season I think.
Around the train tracks there are a few wild flowers ...

this one is a bit like a poppy.  Our tent spot is below ...













for lunch we decided to get some hot chips and have a 'chup butte' (pronounced but-tay) the local newsagent come post office come grocery store come lunch bar had some delicious hot food and very popular as quite a few people stopped by to eat there ...


















mmmmm dinner tonight is 'butter chickpea' (a play on butter chicken!).  This is the first chance I have managed to get this close to the wheat silos at a train track that we see in each town  so I took this opportunity to take a photo of the silos, the chute where the wheat comes out to load on the train and the tracks ... it is a shame there wasn't a train loading ... although that would make this little rest area camping spot rather noisy I think :)
Tomorrow is Murrayville.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

HOPETOUN TO REST AREA 4KM SOUTH OF WALPEUP




HOPETOUN TO REST AREA 4KM SOUTH OF WALPEUP = 79KM
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 361KM
Rest Area = free!

Woo hoo it is 4.15pm Saturday afternoon and Sydney are beating Hawthorn in the AFL grand final.  We got here a little late and it was already 15mins into the first quarter when we finally stopped ... but more on that later ... first let me show you some photos from Hopetoun.
We had 2 rest days there the first was hot but pleasant and the 2nd day was cool and sporadic rain throughout the day but the big winds didn't come until late in the evening and over night. 
The photo below is of Lake Lascelles which is popular with boats and I would imagine this is a popular spot in Summer and over the holidays ...













like I said the first day was hot and there were 2 pigeons that hung around the park and on the hot day the sprinklers were going and they loved it and pecked the ground around the sprinkler and would occassionally lift their wings so the wind would cool them down as the feathers were wet ... we yesterday when it was cold and rainy Neil saw them again this time they were huddled together ...















doesn't that photo make you go "awwwwww" LOL
This is our camp spot ... there was nowhere in the park we could go that was next to a power point that offered shelter from the wind ...









So this morning we woke to a bright sunny day with a bitterly cold westerly wind ... not the wind we had hoped for but better than a northerly.  We left around 8.15am and knew this was going to be our longest day yet.  We took the Henty highway for the first 3km and then turned north on the Hopetoun - Walpeup road now this road was very quiet (with the exception of 11am to 12.30pm as everyone is moving to go to their AFT bbq lunches!).  It is a strange road as it curves a bit but it is undulating (not hard thought) but it snakes it way to Patchewollock.  So there was not a single piece of straight road you always had to go around a corner.  Which was awful as sometimes the strong cross wind was slightly behind or slightly in front of you so it was difficult to get a rhythm going as the wind was incredibly strong and always blew me towards the middle of the road!
We did pass Wyperfield National Park - well the outskirts of it and I was looking for Mallee fowls everywhere - these are very rare birds and there are signs everywhere to go slow and watch out for them ... well you couldn't go any slower than us but alas we saw none!
The highlight for us today was seeing a few stumpy tailed lizards.
This is the first one and was crossing the road ahead of us ...
 
The second was sitting beside the road ...

















we also saw a dead snake freshly killed today ... again caught sunning itself on the road trying to keep warm and a car comes along and .... well ... the poor thing.
Now our rest area according to camp 5 is 14km south of Walpeup ... we get to that point and there is nothing but grain fields so we decide to continue ... a bit annoyed as 10km before there was some great bushcamping spots but we did find this one - some Pigeon bushland reserve that is 4km south of Walpeup.  It seems a shame to waste all that water that I carted to this point and have to stay at Walpeup so I was relieved that we stopped here and it is a nice spot ...
Not sure where to tomorrow ... maybe a short day to Underbool ... the rest area distances are not great for us either too close or too far apart ... The AFL game is still on and there is a point in it!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BEULAH TO HOPETOUN


BEULAH TO HOPETOUN = 26km
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 282km
Hopetoun Caravan Park = $20 powered ($15 unpowered)
 
We were the only ones at Beulah caravan park last night so it was a very quiet place.  A few of the locals walked around the weir or creek and stopped and chatted to us.  We went for a walk early in the evening ...
as you can see Neil is wearing his 'fancy nancy pants' but it was a cool evening so he put his tights under them!  If look at the weir it is rather empty and gungy looking that is because the town has decided to dry it out, make it bigger and deeper and then refill it ... not sure how they intend filling it as talking to the locals in this wimmera/mallee region they are officially in drought as they and the crop have only had 10% of the usual rainfall and even Neil and I being the expert city farmers we are can see that some of the crop is looking a little worse for wear.  But the canola crop looks good .
We knew todays ride was going to be short (26km) but into a very strong head wind and it was.  So it took us 2 hours to get there.  The wind was blowing from the north east and so in front of us.  We had to travel all the way via the Henty highway.  Not alot of traffic but enough compared to the quiet roads we have been taking lately.  Luckily they have the train going once a day for the mineral sands otherwise the highway would be chockers full of trucks carrying the sands!
There have been some lovely wildflowers along the road side and when we pulled over for a quick break I found these ...
they are a lovely looking white flower.
Just before coming into Hopetoun Neil decided that he wanted to take a photo of a field of what we thought were chickpea but upon closer inspection he thinks they are some kind of pea or bean ... not sure but I managed to take a photo of him in the field (and no he is not squatting going to the toilet!)
this is a close up of the plants in the field ... does anyone know what they are?
It was a pleasure seeing this sign ...
We came to this town November last year.  It is a pleasant little town and probably the last IGA we will come across for the next week.  We will stay here tomorrow and maybe Friday to catch a very good tailwind hopefully on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BIRCHIP TO BEULAH








 
BIRCH TO BEULAH = 49km
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 256km
Beulah community caravan park = $15 powered $13 for unpowered (has a free washing machine and dryer!)
 
Hello there, just a quick one today as not alot seen or happened today.  Not so cold last night as I slept with all my clothes on and the sleeping bag zipped up and poor ole Kouta had to sleep on Neils bag!
Very little wind in the morning not like yesterday when there was a chilly south westerly blowing.  Managed to get away by 8.30 and rode along the Sunraysia hwy for around 10km and the wind was light and an easterly so it was behind us.  We turned off the highway onto the Rainbow-Birch road and this was still going in a westerly direction so the wind followed the sun and slowly moved towards the north but it was still behind us for the bulk of the ride.  So we made good time to get to Beulah.
Beulah is on the Henty hwy and at the rest area we saw this ...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
... give him a beard and doesn't he look like Neil!
anyway we asked for directions for the campground and knowing this is a very small town we knew it would be somewhere near a recreation ground ... and we were right - behind the tennis courts next to the wier ...  It caters mainly for caravans as we have a powered site and all of the sites are on small gravel - which is okay













here is a close up ...
At the moment we are the only ones here and I suspect we will be the only ones tonight!  Not sure where the unpowered section is (non existent I think!).  At $15  for a powered site it is not bad, the amenities are clean and it has a free washing machine and dryer and also bbq.  So we quickly had showers and washed nearly every piece of clothing and all the bedding - it should dry this afternoon as it is a nice sunny day - warm at around 20 degrees.
Tomorrow is a short day to Hopetoun and will stay there Thursday and maybe Friday as the southerlies are meant to blow on Saturday (friday is a northerly) which will be good for us as we go straight north to Walpea.
 


Monday, September 24, 2012

CHARLTON TO BIRCHIP









CHARLTON TO BIRCHIP = 66km
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 207km
Birchip motel and caravan park = $12 powered ($10 unpowered)

Before I start on todays blog I thought I would share a few photos of Charlton ...
the Avoca river - which flooded last year at 8.1m and this crept into the township itself and the campground was under water!
a few of the locals ...
I don't think this is a local fish but I think it is from the Commonwealth games - so maybe Charlton purchased this one ...
and this one is for you Penny ... do you recognise this building?
We had a relaxing rest day and read for most of the day.  Dinner consisted of eggs, sweet potato chips (they were heavily marked down as I don't think they are a big seller!) and onion, mushrooms and snowpeas ... but Kouta had a beauty ... triple smoked ham ... it took him all of 30 seconds to demolish 120grams worth :)
So onto todays ride - not alot happened today.  It was cold again last night and we had to sleep with our clothes on - we think the tent which is mainly mesh is not good during nights that are below 5 degrees - it will be great when the nights get warmer but at the moment it is not warm at night and tonight it is to be a frost and 1 degree ... I am sleeping in my sleeping bag tonight and kouta will have to fend for himself ... he has fur!
anyway we woke frozen, had breaky frozen, packed up frozen and rode frozen at the toes and finger tips!  we left around 8.15am and managed to avoid peak hour in Charlton, mind you the traffic going into Charlton and very heavy ... we were lucky we are going the opposite way to everyone ... not sure if the town roundabout could cope with the 3 car traffic jam it had ... Melbourne traffic problems are nothing compared to Charlton ... at least Melbourne has lights!
It took ages to warm up especially the fingers and toes ... did think of stopping and putting socks on but thought the fashion police would frown at sandles and socks!
Did stop at Lake Wooroonook for a quick break - does have camping but cheaper at Charlton!  Riding along we noticed a bit more farm animals and in particular flocks of sheep that had quite a few black sheep ...
some where so cute and looked like miniature cows with their markings.
Stopped for lunch at the turnoff to Birchip - pretty hard going so far mainly headwinds  due to a very lazy and cold south westerly wind blowing.
I rode in my thermals and vest for most of the ride and didn't take the vest off until after lunch.  We made good time to Birchip considering the headwinds we had.  We have been here before and the campground is behind a hotel, gas servo, laundromat etc.  It is pretty rough and cheap and the facilities are very limited and my shower flooded when I had one ... I think the up keep of this place is non existent but for $12 we don't expect much.
Tonights tea is pasta salad with chickpeas and tomato and cheese sandwiches.  Tomorrow on to Beulah.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

WEDDERBURN TO CHARLTON

 
 
WEDDERBURN TO CHARLTON (via Wychitella and Borung-Charlton road) = 45km
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 141km
GORDON CARAVAN PARK = $13 powered tent site ($15 powered site or $12 unpowered)
 
I tell you it was soooooooooooooooo cold last night in Wedderburn ... we definitely needed another dog in the tent last night!  We both slept with clothes on and poor Kouta even he found it cold and had to snuggle up close to me ... why not Neil? ... well listen to this ... we wake up when Kouta moves and he comes between us and flops nearer to me, Neil states that he is freezing and momentarily picks up the dog blanket that is on the floor between our sleeping bags so that the dog has something to lie on rather than the cold tent floor and puts it over his sleeping bag!  Meanwhile Kouta and I are cuddling each other trying to keep warm.  It was a very sleepless night ... and when I mentioned to Neil in the morning that he shouldn't take Koutas blanket as the tent floor is cold for him and Neil admits that he still wasn't warm ... so that is his Karma!
Anyway we had a good giggle about it and judging by the weather today I think it will be another cold night tonight here in Charlton.
So we start out with the usual quiet road out of Wedderburn and take the road that goes to Whychitella (the turn off is 5km along the Calder hwy).  It climbs a bit but not continuous more like steps. 
We are riding along chatting away and I am babbling about something clearly Neil is not listening to a word I am saying as he blurts out snake so we both slam the brakes on and I say where (I have been looking religiously for branches alongside the roadside as they all look like snakes!) and he says in the middle of the road! So I look back and take a photo ... can you see it?
no you can't see it can you?  so you can understand how I missed it!  Have a look at the next photo as I have circled it ... the damn thing is in the middle of the road and Neil and I rode either side of it!
here is a close up ... just for you Leanne!
it was a small one and very difficult to see, not sure if it was dead and I couldn't see any tyre marks on it ... I think it was just cold (after last night!) and sunning itself on the road.
 So this road to Wychitella is quiet as per usual and not exactly flat more gentle climbing and then going down hill.  It is not until you get to Wychitella that you can see flat open land (which is so pretty it hurts your eyes!).  Just after Wychitella we turn left onto the Borung-Charlton road.  From here we are going west to Charlton and lucky for us we had a gentle tailwind to push us along. 
Charlton was nearly closed by the time we got here at Lunchtime and the IGA closes at 1.30pm and reopens for 3 hours tomorrow (sunday 10-1pm).  So we got here in time to get dinner - nachos with mexican beans!  woo hoo I hope it sets Neil off enough to keep the tent warm!
The campground at Charlton is a community one and after the floods the community banded together to put the campground back together and I tell you it is a great community park alongside the Avoca river - the shower and toilet blocks are clean as with the kitchen.  The water is incredibly hot and the showers huge!
We are tucked in the corner in the open as we didn't want to camp under trees, so we got to try out our expensive shade cloth (more expensive than the tent!) ...
as the sun moves you move to the shade that the shade cloth creates so it is great and the wind is not too strong at the moment.
In the afternoon the shade is on the side of the tent so I am sitting there looking at my view of the gums along the river (I can't quite see the river from my spot) ...
They have only charged us $13 for a powered tent site which is good.  We are staying here tomorrow for a rest day.  We will have a look around town this evening and tomorrow.  I must take a photo of the flood line which is about half way up the laundry building wall!

Friday, September 21, 2012

INGLEWOOD TO WEDDERBURN


INGLEWOOD TO WEDDERBURN (via Powlett Plains, Mt Korong and Wedderburn Junction) = 42km
CUMMULATIVE TOTAL = 96km
WEDDERBURN CAMPGROUND $24 for power (or $18 unpowered)
 
Oooh the legs felt it this morning!  Not stiff and sore just a little weary when you first start pedalling.
As you know last night we stayed in Inglewood and around this time of the year there is copious amounts of wild flowers alongside any road and one of my favourites are the gazanias ... here is one
 
while walking the dog early evening we came across a tourist attraction (which wasn't open at the time) it is a Eucalyptus distillery ... an ancient one at that but the town has made a smaller one as a demo and this is inside a new building complete with a cafeteria etc.  It does say that it is open for group bookings ... maybe an idea for your Probus groups Ray & Flo?  We could waunder around the old one and here are a few photos ... personally I couldn't make heads or tales of it!


In the evening while enjoying the setting sun and the atmosphere of the campground! we indulged in a little treat for ourselves and Neil was really excited about this and insisted that we document and photograph it just for you Sharon ... we found an unopened Cherry Ripe twin pack (it obviously was meant for us as they made it a twin pack!) on our morning walk around Bayswater on monday ... we offered it to dad but he turned it dow (I don't know why ... must be getting a good pension!) so we decided to take it with us for our first nights celebration ...
this one is for you Sharon :)
LOL I can hear you now!
Anyway onto today - we got up early and had brekky and as per usual we are about to set of and out comes everyone for a chat - this ALWAYS happens and we can't understand why they leave it until we are about to go ... why not while we are packing up?  But we did manage to get away by 8.30 not after everyone telling us the weather is turning bad ... down south yes but there has been no reports of it up and around here ... but we did know that the wind was going to be a headwind for us ... but hey that is okay so we start of on a lovely quiet road heading north to Powlett Plains (a locality) and the usual one lane road and plenty of places to camp alongside the road so we must remember that for next time.  You ride up towards the mobile tower and then down and along a plain where you get an awesome view of Mt Korong

once at Powlett Plains you turn left and start heading towards Mt Korang and again still a one lane road which takes you up to Mt Korang ...
and then past it and down to meet the Calder highway ... we took a break just before joining the highway ...
we go along the Calder for 1km and then turn left and head towards Wedderburn Junction and then turn left and rejoin the Calder just out of Wedderburn.  I began to feel it just after the Junction as the wind was relatively strong but I suppose it is a good reference point for future headwind days and I am sure we will be getting some more of those!
This is the 3rd time staying here at Wedderburn and I love this town and campground ... we have splashed out and got a powered site.  It has a little kitchen and bbq area so it is bbq veges, beans and rice tonight ... mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
Not alot at the campground ... just the usual grey nomads that dabble in gold fossicking.
The lady next to us last night does a little fossicking with a metal detector but is going to sell it as in the past she has done okay at finding gold but lately has had very little success as the areas where you are allowed to fossick is heavily picked over by other people just like herself but I suppose they do it as a hobby.
One thing I noticed about the people in the Inglewood campground and here in Wedderburn is they are a different type of grey nomad traveller - by no means poorer but I would describe them as 'weathered' they look like they have had a very hard working life but I suspect it is the retirement days out fossicking that has done it to them!
Tomorrow is Charlton.