The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lascelles to Ouyen


Lascelles to Ouyen = 65km
Cummulative total = 428km / 19,334km
Morning temperature = 13 degrees, Day time high temperature = 24 degrees
Ouyen caravan park = $22 unpowered

Woo hoo I finally made it to Ouyen after 2 previous attempts of which the first Neil was not all that interested in coming here and the second we ended up going in the other direction to South Australia.  I think it is the perfect time of the year to be around here - not too hot or too cold ... it is just right at 24 degrees.
Last night we had some rain so in the morning everything was damp and since we were camped on orange sand and things were still wet everything got sand in it, on it and around it!  So it was slow packing up this morning trying desperately to not get sand on everything!
We left just before 9am and it was a lovely sunny morning with very little if any wind coming across from the west.
We weren't expecting much traffic today but we were pleasantly surprised just how many people were going in the opposite direction to us.  Very little going our way just some Kalari trucks going from Ouyen to Hopetoun carrying gysum.
The terrain is a bit like what is between Hopetoun and Lascelles - rolling.  Not hard riding just dropping a few gears when going up a slight rise.  So it was like that all the way to Ouyen.
There is really nothing between Lascelles and Ouyen except small rail sidings some with funny names - the funniest is Speed and believe it or not when you enter the town they always have a welcome sign and this one says Speed 'please slow down' LOL!  I wonder why they named it that.  The town before Speed was Turriff and that was named after a pasturalist.
We made good time to get here arriving just before 2pm averaging about 16km per hour.  The wind did eventually blow from a south west direction but not strong enough to blow us to Ouyen without pedalling but assisted us a bit.
The campground is south of town and very nice, a little old but clean.  We are in the non powered section as that is right next to the camp kitchen which has a fridge, microwave, sink, toaster and jug.  Our first privately owned campground since we left Bendigo - the St Arnaud one was a council managed one.
Tomorrow we are doing a big day to Red Cliffs which is 14km short of Mildura.  We are riding along the Calder highway and we think there is a wide shoulder and all the Easter traffic will be leaving Mildura and against us.

Brim to Lascelles



Brim to Lascelles = 69km
Cummulative total = 363km / 19269km
Morning temperature = 15 degrees / Daytime temperature = 23 degrees
Lascelles caravan park = $10 powered or unpowered

Internet reception is not the greatest at Lascelles – both Telstra and Optus are very slow.  So will post this at Ouyen.
We woke this morning after a warm mild night to 15 degrees.  We expected last night to be  a little noisy but everyone was in bed by 10pm except Neil who informs me this morning that he was shining his torch around the tent looking for a mosquito (imaginary one I think!) at that time.
It was a nice restful day yesterday and Kouta slept all day and evening and I made the comment to Neil that I hope he sleeps through the night, now I think he did but it seems he decides to wake up early and since we are not awake he decides that he will walk up and down scratching himself in an effort to wake us up.  It worked so while it was just beginning to get light we got up and the campground was very quiet.
We set off just before 9.00am and rejoined the Henty Highway and headed north 41km to Hopetoun.  Man I love easter – the road was so quiet barely a car around and fantastic to ride on. 
Our first stop was at 15km at Beulah – we stayed here last time we passed through and at the rest area they have this wooden statue of a man with a bike leaning against him – not sure of the significance of this but this is probably my favourite bike/cyclist statue in all my travels – I think I have already put a photo of him on the blog before but I will put him up there again … next time I will bring a brown marker and colour a beard on him and we can call him Neil!
We got to Hopetoun at 11.40am and this is our last spot to get food for Saturday, Sunday and Monday as we are guess that places will be closed … we got there just in time as the small IGA closed at 12pm.
From here to ducked down to the lake to see if it was crowded and it was, spot still available but I think the groups there were large and probably noisy!
The campground was very crowded so that would be definitely noisy so we had made a good decision to continue on to Lascelles which is a small tiny town with a population of probably around 10 but has a council camp spot that is only $10 for a powered site.
From Hopetoun we stay on the Henty Highway which now heads in a north east direction for 23km to Lascelles.  This area is very arid and very marginal farming.  We came across a Llama/Alpaca (not sure which) that was looking after some sheep in a paddock that I would say looked like it had not a blade of grass in it … but it must have had something for the sheep to eat for them to be there, Neil said the sheep it the stubble left over from either wheat or some grain grown there.
It is midday to mid afternoon riding along this road and the traffic is just horrendous
As you can see it is peak hour!
The campground at Lascelles is okay – just a dust/sand bowl with a shower and toilets!  There are 3 other lots here.  Tomorrow we head for Ouyen, a place I have always wanted to visit (simply because it is regarded as the hottest place in Victoria.  Here is our campspot and also the toilet block as it has a lovely mural on it!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Minyip to Brim



Minyip to Brim = 52km (via Warracknabeal)
Cummulative total = 294km / 19,200km
Morning temperature = 6 degrees / day time high expected around 21 degrees
Brim lakeside - $10 powered and unpowered
 
This is a day late due to some very windy weather yesterday afternoon and early evening.
It rained a bit Wednesday night but just enough to settle the dust and for the temperature to become cooler.  In the morning it was a nice 12 degrees and overcast.  We left Minyip after paying our $10 into the honesty box (very tempted to just move on! but I think it is great that communities like this and they are dotted all over this Yarrambiak shire to open up and provide these areas with toilets and showers ... just perfect for us.  It costs $10 regardless if you use power or not ... hence the spot chosen last night was not great or ideal but right next to the power point!
So we farewelled Minyip aka Coopers Crossing ...
and headed in a north west direction.  Now the day before we had a shocking northerly headwind and this morning the wind didn't really kick in until just before we got to Warracknabeal at about 10.30am.  By then the temperature just dropped and it was very cold and the wind was blowing from the west at about the same speed as the day before. 
We picked up food from the IGA at Warracknabeal and it was chockers in there - it is closed Good Friday so everyone buys up big for easter!  I restock on stuff and get food for 2 days.  From Warracknabeal we join the highway and head north to Brim 20km up the road.  We expected a bit more traffic on the road (everyone heading to their Easter destinations) but we were lucky and it wasn't that busy.  We had a strong cross wind and everytime the road veered right to the east there was a little 'yipee' as it became a slight tailwind!  there was no 'yipee' when the road veered left!
We get to Brim and this town has a small dam/weir where they have toilets and showers and areas to camp - it is about 1km off the main highway so we camp there.  It is a lovely spot and the facilities are great.  Heaps of spots to camp both unpowered and 8 powered spots.  About 5 vans already here so we picked one of the small spots next to the mushroom power point.  I think everyone looks at us as to why we have power! 
Not sure as to how busy this place will get, we do know that at Hopetoun at the big lake it will be chockers and noisy and from what we can gather is that the vans that are here at Brim are here to escape that sort of thing.
We set up and the wind is really strong and we can't really do anything ... due to the mesh tent and alot of sand lying around it is getting in the tent so we lay down in the tent resting while the sand comes and and falls on and around us ... I feel like I am going to be buried in this sand in the tent. 
By 6pm the wind starts to die down and we get to the bbq to cook our vege burgers ... it ends up being bigger than what we thought ...
but delicious!
In the evening we go for a small walk and I am surprised as to how much water is in the weir.

 and not quite sure what these galahs are doing on this pole ...
 2 families turned up and set up about 50m behind us and it seems the big thing to do is collect fire wood and start a camp fire day and night so there is a permanent smell of burning wood (and quite a nice smell it is)
The campers and caravaners are very friendly and nice.  Nearly all but one have a dog with them.
This morning (good friday) we woke and it was cold to get out of the sleeping bags so we slept in until 8.45am.  Here is our campsite.
 I forgot to show this photo from last night after the wind had settled we had to sweep out the tent.  The best way to do it without having to unload the tent completely is to do it in halves.  This is how much sand had settled on one half of the tent ...
and there is still more in there!
Today we are just relaxing the wind is still blowing from the west but now where near as strong as the previous 2 days.  The forecast wind wise is looking very good for us - tomorrow we will go to Hopetoun to pick up food for Sunday and Monday and continue on to Lascelles.  The wind will be cross and then slightly behind us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rupanyup to Minyip via Murtoa


Rupanyup to Minyip via Murtoa = 42km
Cummulative total = 242km / 19,148km
Morning temperature = 16 degrees, daytime high = 34 degrees
Minyip caravan park = $10 (similar to Rupanyup)
 
It is absolutely blowing a gale here at the moment!  The wind blew most of the night so the temperature remained high.  I slept quite well last night but Neil said that he had trouble sleeping, apparently there were some late night arrivers who decided to become serenaders and kept poor Neil awake.  They played their guitar and a little singing and Neil said it was quite nice music!  I must admit I do remember waking up and hearing music and then falling back asleep.  We do know that there is a festival on at Warracknabeal this week for busking and they have quite a few contestants so maybe that is where they are heading.
We left a little late this morning as we slept in, so it was well after 9am before we left.  We rode west along the Wimmera highway to Murtoa for 2 reasons - 1. to see the stick shed and if we could have a look in and 2. to pick up some food as we weren't sure if Minyip had a grocer.  Riding along the quiet highway with a very strong cross wind and on my left I can see the Grampians ...
 I did see them yesterday in the distance but it was too hazy to take a photo ... it was a little clearer this morning. 
The Stick shed is famous in Murtoa and is an old grain storage shed and in the inside it has a series of wood sticks holding it up.  It is heritage listed and it is situated in amongst where the store the seasons grains.  It is on the west side of town ...
I don't know why we even contemplated going in to see if we could look in as it is heritage listed and they are very protective of it and say that it is unsafe.  The guy at the grain corp said that we can't go in and even they can't go in.  He said they do have open days throughout the year.  It is a pity as this is a very good tourist draw card for the town of Murtoa.  Even if they opened the door and we just looked in would be enough for most people but alas the historical (knicknamed hysterical) society says no!  This is the building in 2 halves ...

After picking up some expensive food at the local IGA we headed straight north and into a very strong headwind - around 30km plus per hour so the going was very slow.  After about 12km the road swings to a north east direction and it is at this point there is an intersection where a road diverts to Warracknabeal.  Now we are coming up to this intersection and we have right of way but there is a car turning right into the road going to Warracknabeal and she decides that she doesn't want to wait for us as we cross the big intersection at a misely 10km per hour so she cuts in first which is fine with us as she doesn't interfere with us and is on the other side of the road as she enters the Warracknabeal road but she wasn't paying attention when she got to the intersection and was too busy watching us that she neglected to see the person in a card coming from Warracknabeal and entering behind us!  We didn't hear a beep and honking of the horns due to the strong winds making too much noise in our ears.  But we assumed that the car coming from Warracknabeal had seen what she was going to do and stopped - Neil said they did stop for the woman as he was a little further back. 
Anyway the going is getting really tough so we plow on and the road keeps swinging east so the wind moves from infront to the side and is now blowing us out onto the road - fortunately it wasn't a busy road, the road keeps turning east and eventually the wind is almost behind us so we are able to pick up the pace a bit.
We arrive in Minyip around 1.30pm completely buggered and lucky for us there is a small IGA store so we go to the camp ground which is very informal and a bit like Rupanyup and is a community run rest area.  It has a shower and toilets, power points on the buildings and plenty of areas to set up a tent.  By now the wind is really blowing and we decide to seek shelter close to the buildings but unfortunately it is nothing but Lilydale topping that has been compacted and Neil is dead keen to set up close to the building which gives us a little shelter from the wind, after cursing as he is banging in the tent pegs etc he finally manages to put it up, me I give up after the first peg and say lets just set up out in the open as the wind will die down later on this evening, but no Neil continues!  Here is the end result ...
 and looking out towards the bbq where kouta is currently sleeping ...
as you can see not the greatest but good enough for us and cheap with power at $10 per night.  We think we will be the only ones here tonight.
Now let me tell you something about Minyip ... but first I forgot to remind you last night that Rupanyup is famous as this is the place they filmed the Australian series 'flying doctors' now last time we came through Rupanyup and I found out about this I was gutted as I genuinely believed they did it all in the outback out at Broken Hill.  Well do you remember in the series the town of Coopers Crossing?  well that is this place ... Minyip (why they changed the name I don't know!)  I am still a little disappointed in the series now (I know I need to 'get over it' but I can't!) as I remember watching it and think yup I would like to go to that place Broken Hill, and really it is virtually just a suburb out of Melbourne! .... okay a slight exaggeration there.  But really the Royal Flying Doctor service isn't even in this area as it is too close to big hospitals and quicker by car!
When we got here Neil felt like some icecream so we got a 2 litre tub of vanilla and it was yummy so I am not sure if we need to have a big dinner.
Tomorrow we are going north west to Warracknabeal and then onto Brim which has a camp spot a bit like this.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

St Arnaud to Rupanyup


St Arnaud to Rupanyup = 65km
Cummulative total = 200km / 19,106km
Morning temperature = 12 degrees, Day time high = 32 degrees
Rupanyup memorial park = $10 plus $1 for a 5 min hot shower
 
Last night we set the alarm on the tablet to 6am as we knew we were going to have a long day and that the temperature was going to climb today.  So the alarm goes off a 6am and I tell you it is pitch black outside.  Fortunately the bbq area has a table and light so we had our brekky there.  It didn't really become light until well after 7am. 
We set off at 8am up the Sunraysia highway for around 5km and then left onto the road to Banyena and we stayed on this road until we hit Banyena 35km later.  Lucky for us for the first hour we had no wind so we covered a fair bit of ground then for the next hour it was a light cross wind.  The road we were on is a quiet road and runs parallel with the Wimmera highway.  Either side has fields of grain (that are now cut and will be resown sometime next month), here is my view on my right (taken while still riding!)
 and here is my view on my left ...
 it is great riding country and as you can see it is 'big sky is is country'.  We haven't ridden this road before.  From Banyena we turned south for 8km (a tailwind too!) to the Wimmera highway and from there we were going west to Rupanyup which is a further 15km on.  The highway to our surprise was quiet - the odd B-double now and then.  By now the wind is blowing across our right and has picked up in intensity but it is ridable. 
This is our biggest riding day yet and poor Kouta is beginning to feel it as when we stop for a break he doesn't really want to get out of the trailer!
as you can see the sun shade he has on the trailer works a treat especially as we are going west. 
We get to Rupanyup just before 1pm so we made good time.  We have stayed here before and the memorial park has a few overnighters here - 2 vans at the moment, us and another who I think will be sleeping in their swag.
The only difference to last time is that we now have to pay for our showers which is okay at $1 for a 5 min hot shower.  There is plenty of shade here and a covered bbq and tables.  There are power points for the vans on the gravel so we are near the bbq using that one.
When we got here there was a group of older ladies that were part of a group run by some local health group that take them out on weekly shopping and outings.  Most were from here in Rupanyup, Minyip or Murtoa.  They asked us to come over and chat to them about what we are doing.  Neil relishes this sort of thing and marched right over and chatted merrily to them and they loved him ... you couldn't stop Neil at all!  Me I just stood to the side and every now and then I got a word in!
Tomorrow we keep going west to Murtoa - to see the stick shed but I don't think we can go in but we can see it from the highway and then we swing north east to Minyip - the reason for the roundabout way is so we can pick up some food in Murtoa - don't think Minyip has much!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bealiba Reservoir to St Arnaud


Bealiba Reservoir to St Arnaud = 42km
Cummulative total = 135km / 19,041km
Morning temperature = 14 degrees and Day time high = 25 degrees
St Arnaud caravan park - $18 unpowered $22 powered (we got charged $15 for unpowered!)
 
It was so peaceful last night all you could hear was some splishing and splashing in the dam (I think by birds foraging) and nothing else.  This is one place I will NOT mention to anyone with a caravan I think!

A bit late in getting up this morning due to the sun rising around 7am so the birds don't get up and make a noise until around them ... it will be better once daylight savings ends and we should be getting up around 6am and until then we will struggle to leave by 9am!
Just after brekky I went for a quick waunder around and kouta decides to follow and the next thing I know he is trotting of in front of me trying to develop his hunting skills ...
 yeah right kouta as if you could catch one of those birds for your meal tonight ... stick to the my dog packets you 'hunt' for each night!
Below is the position of our tent in the scheme of things ...
lovely setting isn't it.
We did manage to get away at 9am and it is a slow 3km ride back into town on the gravel road - a few bits of soft spots and big chunks of gravel to ride through so this made the going very slow.  Once back on the road that goes between St Arnaud and Dunnolly we pick up speed and realised that we missed our 'woo hoos' at the 1km mark as we hit the 19,000km mark of touring since we left work. 
We have ridden this road before but from St Arnaud to Dunnolly and we had a raging headwind when we rode it and believe it or not we have a raging headwind again today even though we are going in the opposite direction!  we have the worst luck with wind!
The road is very quiet this morning so the riding was okay.  It is undulating a bit but not hard.  This is our 3rd day riding and the legs are okay but will be thankful for a rest tomorrow!
At about 9km before St Arnaud you join the main road that links Avoca and St Arnaud so there is an increase in traffic and also a big hill to ride up - around 4km long, no real shoulder to ride in but at least the gradient to ridable although the cross headwind made it a little tough as I kept getting blown into the line of traffic but no beeping of horns so that was okay.
St Arnaud is a lovely looking town, full of old buildings and little shops and the council has made an effort with its presentation of the town.  It has a reasonably good supa IGA.  The campground is up the hill and is council run.
Not a full park around 7 tourists and 8 permanents here.  We are on an unpowered site (1 of 2 in the place) and she only charged us $15 instead of the $18 for unpowered, here is our site ...
we are on the edge of the hill and the wind is blowing a gail (it is a westerly) we get a nice view of town but tomorrow is very little wind by a hot day compared to what we have been having so we chose this close to the edge at it gave us shade for tomorrow in the afternoon.
The campground has a bbq and it is free.  There is a power point by the bbq which is what I am using now.
The best thing about today is the fact that we both had our first shower since Thursday evening at Bendigo - we have had 2 free nights camping in the bush and after 3 days of riding we certainly needed a shower - I felt dirty and gritty and my hair was sweaty, dirty and had to be washed twice before I could get a lather up!
Tomorrow is a rest day.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bendigo to Laanecoorie to Bealiba Reservoir


Bendigo to Laanecoorie = 50km
Cummulative total = 50km
Morning temperature = 10 degrees, todays high is 21 degrees (feels like 15!)


Laanecoorie to Bealiba Reservoir = 43km
Cummulative total = 93km
Morning temperature = 9 degrees, Day high temperature is 24 degrees (feels like 15 again due to the wind)
 
Well we are back on the road again and this time leaving from Bendigo.  We drove up on a very wet and windy Thursday but by Friday morning it had all subsided to be a chilly day.
Left at around 8am and joined the bike path from Epsom to the City to the lotus leaf ...
from there we joined the road and headed out to Kangaroo flat and turned onto the road that takes you to Maryborough.  This road is okay and last time we came in this way it was a hot day and the road was very busy with traffic coming from Maryborough to Bendigo.  But today we were going the opposite way and the trafftic both ways was minimal!
You have a short climb from Aldi of around 2.5km and then it is down and along.  No real shoulder to speak off but enough room for you to duck in when a car overtakes you.
Once at Lockwood you cross over the highway and it is flat with a little up and down.  Our coffee break was at Shelbourne east ...
 this was at the 27km mark and Neil and I both felt okay but poor kouta ... he was knackered already!
from here it is a little bit down but you still have to pedal, very little wind and if anything it is coming from the west so a slight headwind.  At albout Shelbourne the road becomes straighter and flatter and Laanecoorie is only another 11km away.
Kouta was over the moon for us to arrive at the free campsite alongside the Loddon River and by the time we got there around 1pm there were plenty of vans already there.  So we chose our spot on the grass ...
 a lovely spot too with a view of the river and enough room for a van to fit but only if they go length ways ... but off course within 1 hour someone has arrived and parks across and unbeknownst to them blocks the road for the boat traffic to get to where they launch (he found this out a few ours later once he set up and a scout group comes and informs him his van is across the road for them to get their kayaks down to launch!) so he comes over to us to see if we are leaving tomorrow and we are so he will move his van then ... I think he did think about asking us to move the tent and then he can move his van a bit ... neil would have said to move his van on the other side of us!
Anyway we had a lovely spot and the scout group turned up after 6pm so there is at least 50 people here!  The usual crowd of dominating caravans that use and dominate the one and only tap (we find one up by the tennis courts that has better and clearer water!) and unfortunately there are only 2 womens toilets of which there is no toilet paper and the cheek of it all the council would like a donation - not fresh water and no toilet paper = no donation!!!  as you can see from the photo below it is quite crowded ...
 generally where there is a free public camping area there are always some rowdy people and this place was no exception ... and I know as you read this you ALL groan and think on no what has Janet done this time ... well NOTHING!
Expecting some noise and music until late I bit my tongue and fell asleep at 8pm only to be woken up by 2 lots of music at around 10pm so I lay away from 10pm until around 1am and during that time I had Bon Jovi in my right ear and some dance music in my left ear.  Thinking out of all the people here surely someone will say something .... still the music and it is loud and then a very feral male voice starts singing the Bon Jovi songs ... crikey I have to say something ... so I listen for voices and I hear voices and I don't like the sound of the feral male (his voice is very much like Jimmy Barnes but more feral due to alcohol and smoking) it is very drunk and agressive ... I decide to not say anything but then again someone did say something because the camp goes quiet and he is on this feral aggressive rampage about being homeless etc (even though he has a nice car and caravan) and his wife is drunk and just as feral but definitely not as aggressive ... so this ranting and raving on about his pitiful like goes for about 1 hour and his Bon Jovi music has ceased but the dance music from the other group is still going loud by they eventually turn off and go to bed ... but the feral is still going on and everyone can hear.   He finally stops at around 1.30am and I fall asleep with one ear perked up waiting for him to restart.
We get up a 7am just as it starts to get light and the poor scout group also rise and go for a walk and as we pack up the feral bastard comes up to us and acts like nothing happens and poor Neil is trying to not encourage him, meanwhile I have bit my tongue right off and trying hard not to put my fist in his mouth! I do succeed and carry on about my business.  meanwhile the nuff nuff neighbour of ours who parks his van across the road to the boat launching has packed up his van and is waiting for us to finish packing.  He and his wife are trying very hard not to tell us to hurry up! (off course I am sure Neil is packing slower) meanwhile yet another load of kayaks have turned up and are waiting to go down to launch their kayaks ... we are loving this, the nuff nuff and his wife are standing waiting and watching us ... finally we leave :)
LOL it was cool morning of around 9 degrees and about 10 degrees when we set off at 9am.
A nice road to Tarnagalla ... although Saturday traffic is horrendous ...
 as you can see it was peak hour for us.  You have a very slight gradual climb up to Tarnagalla, the road is quiet and the only traffic came from the 40 odd Kangaroos that bounded across the road in front of us - that kept Kouta entertained for around 1km ... he loved it watching them alongside the fields and then up and over the fences, across the road and then up and over more fences.
At Tarnagalla we joined the Wimmera highway to Moliagul.  From Tarnagalla you climb a little more and then what looked like a nice down hill turned into a bad one - you have to stop at the bottom to cross a railroad crossing! 
By now the wind has picked up and is a strong westerly and since we are going west it is a headwind.  The road to Moliagul is a gradual climb and has fields either side so the wind dropped us down to a slow pace.  No shoulder on this road but today there was very little traffic.
We stopped for a coffee at Moliagul.  It is a small rest area and has 3 vans there (all gold prospectors) one is there and chats to us. 
We leave Moliagul and rejoin the Wimmera highway for about 1km and then turn left onto the Bealiba road which climbs a little more and then down basically (a nice down hill too!)  It is about 11km to Bealiba where we pick up water and continue south to Bealiba Reservoir.  It is 3km further and of that 3km about 2.5km is unsealed, a little rough in places.  Relieved to get here and are rewarded with a lovely spot and no one around except for a walking group on the opposite side of the dam who eventually move on, then a few locals come for a fish and just when we think at 4pm that we have this place to ourselves and no feral Jimmy Barnes sounding nuff nuffs ... a damn huge mobile home turns up not far from us (I am cursing now) but lucky for us they decide to move to the other side of the damn opposite us!  So I am happy now ... we will get some sleep ... here is our pristine spot ...
 and neil enjoying the serenity ...
This place has no drinking water and only a pit toilet but it is a very quiet spot and not sure if many people come here.
Tomorrow we make for St Arnaud.