The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pyramid Hill to Bendigo


 Pyramid Hill to Bendigo/Epsom = 90km
Cummulative distance = 1095km / 20,001
Morning temperature = 16 degrees, daytime high = 28 degrees
Epsom campground = free!

We have made a decision to cut this trip short and so we rode from Pyramid Hill to Bendigo in one long day!
We woke early this morning after listening to the Geelong game last night and then being woken up by a car load of drunks!
Being a Sunday the road was quiet and we went south for about 56km before turning east for 5km then South for 20km and then east for another 9km.
Not a breathe of wind for the bulk of the ride heading south.  This road starts out lovely and in great condition but you continue south after the turnoff to Mitamo and it becomes really damaged - especially on our side of the road and on the left hand side of the lane.  This is due to the milk trucks that pick up milk around the farms and since the road is cambered the milk sloshes in the tank on the left so the road is more damaged compared to the center of the road and the lane going in the opposite direction!
At one of our breaks along this straight road we come across this bull called 'Boort' he even had his own name sign ...
and here is Boort in all his finest glory ...
 a mean bugger isn't he!  Kouta was super excited to see him and really wanted to ross the ditch to meet him!  Since all around here is livestock farms the flies when you stopped where thick and annoying ...

 At about 56km we turned east so we took a break there and unfortunately Kouta had a touch of loose stool, so we discarded his mat in his basket, turned the basket inside out and he sat in that.  Now Kouta has gone through quite a few dog baskets due to this - we are unable to wash it out most of the time so we have to ditch the pooey basket/mats - so Koutas past baskets are scattered all over the eastern seaboard of Australia covered in shite!!!
So we continue on this road, which is being resurfaced so the road was in a state of disrepair but okay to ride.  Along this road, just before we joined the road going south to Bendigo we came across a herd of mothers and their lambs, unfortunately one little lamb was on our side of the fence so we stopped to help it back over.  Off course they all think we are bad and are going to harm it so they all start bleeting and baaing and the little one is desperately trying to get back through the fence so it is Neils job to try and catch it and put it over the fence ...

 lucky for Neil the little one managed to get itself through the fence.
The road from here is on a nice road it is a bit hilly but the legs are feeling strong and find it no problem, actually it is a welcome relief to be riding hills as this means a down hill and so we get time to free wheel and hop out of the seat.
A further 18km we took another break and alas poor Kouta let his bowels loose again, this time the basket had to go and we made a makeshift basket out of this blanket and pegs - He did not like his new arrangement but it will do until we get to Woolworths in Epsom as it has a reject store to pick up a temporary bed for him!
On this road we come across this sign ...
We did consider going via there but we weren't sure if the road was all sealed, so we stuck to what we knew was sealed.  As you get closer to Bendigo the traffic picks up.
We are keeping an eye on the odometer as at the 89km mark we hit the 20,000km of touring since we left work.  We were umming and ahhing as to whether we would get enough kms up, we even thought about doing laps in the Woolworths supermarket carpark just to increase the kms so we definitely would make the 89km ... but that was unnecessary as we made it - Neil just before the Woolworths and me just after it!
Happy to be here in Bendigo and elated we did todays ride with ease!
Next trip - Pitcairn Island!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Koondrook to Pyramid Hill




 Koondrook to Pyramid Hill = 62km
Cummulative total = 1005km / 19,911km
Morning temperature = 16 degrees (warm!) / daytime high = 28 degrees
Pyramid Hill caravan park = $7 unpowered (cheap!)
 
It was a very warm morning this morning when we had brekky.  The Kookaburras were noisy so they woke us both up - Kouta can seem to sleep through their noise and was not so enthusiastic about getting out of bed this morning.
We left about 7.45am and joined the road that goes to Cohuna.  The forecast today was for very light northerly winds and since we are going predominantly south today it was a relief that wind was not going to be a factor ... well the direction of the wind was correct but the speed was completely wrong - it was a relatively strong tail wind for us - considering the winds are light this time of the year todays winds was enough to let us comfortably sit on 19-20km per hour - fast for touring! (unless you are going down hill).
So within the hour we were on the outskirts of Cohuna where Neil remembered there was a street with my surname and we just had to get another photo ...
 you are probably wondering why I am not closer to the sign ... well there seems to be a lot of broken three thorn jacks lying around and I noticed that around the sign were the three thorn jack plants - some have the thorns on them - they are green and still are sharp - we assume the mature over winter and dry out through spring and get into everyones shoes and tyres over summer!
We picked up a little bit of food at the IGA and of course Neil comes out with items that are marked down and things we don't really need ... like a 2 litre juice and another 4 pottles of yoghurt - fortunately today is warm but very cloudy so they stay relatively cool in the Ortleib food bags.  Cohuna itself is a nice enough place and they have redone the toilet block and have included an information center.  The park land is nice and the lake has this alongside of it ...
not sure what type of fish this is meant to be - carp or murray cod?
From Cohuna we sort of took the back roads to Pyramid Hill and zig zagged our way through predominantly milking country so there is a stark contrast in parts of the landscape - exceptionally dry fields next door to heavily saturated lush green fields.
Riding along we se a hill in the distance and Neil is trying to tell me it is Pyramid Hill, I am saying that I don't think it is so I still take a photo when I have the opportunity ...
 and as we got closer to it with our raging tailwind you could see that it wasn't shaped like a pyramid and I still doubted it was Pyramid Hill ...
 as the road went past it there was a turn off to Mt Hope - site #11 for the Burke and Wills expedition.  So the hill was Mt Hope all along. From there the road undulates a bit but with our tailwind the crests were easy to ride!
Further down you see another hill that definitely looks like a pyramid ...
 and the road goes past it just before you reach the town of Pyramid hill - it is on the right side of the road as you approach it from the west ...
 and believe it or not exactly opposite on the left side of the road they are starting on a 2nd Pyramid Hill ...
 they are just starting on the base!  Not sure what the piles are - there was no sign.
The caravan park is just before you get to town so we haven't been into the township yet - will do that tomorrow morning as we go through it.
Not many people in the park - just a local, not sure about the other tent and us.  The toilet block is really old but clean, the showers are tiny - I could barely fit in them and it was difficult to dry yourself in them, but at least they clean.  We have taken an unpowered spot since it is only $7 (powered was $15) and have come over to the local tennis club as they have table, chairs and a power point.
my road kill today was a boomerang frisbee - Neil is very happy with this find.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quambatook to Koondrook

 
 
 
 Quambatook to Koondrook = 66km
Cummulative total = 943km / 19,849km
Morning temperature = 13 degrees / daytime high 29 degrees
Koondrook caravan park = $25 powered

It was a tough day this morning - for days now the Elders website said today would be a south south westerly which would be a cross tailwind for us today but alas as our luck would go we had a south south easterly a cross headwind and a strong one at that.
We were the only ones in the Quambatook caravan park so it was very peaceful.  We left early this morning and headed east to Kerang, the first 20km was okay but the last 20km to Kerang the wind really picked up and was blowing from our right so whenever a truck went past we would wobble all over the place or stop dead from the wind draft if it was going in the opposite direction to us!  I thought this road would be busy with local traffic but I was surprised just how much truck traffic there was and not much car traffic.  As per usual Neil had his hawk eyes looking for road kill and he fortunately found yet another 8mm shifter ... find #1 and probably 8mm shifter #5!
Early in the morning we came across a blue tongue lizard sunning itself on the side of the road.  Haven't seen too many lizards on this trip.
 Got to Kerang about 11am and it is a big enough town that it has a woolies so we picked up food and had a cuppa there. We then continued east towards the Murray River again. This road is flat and in open country and you start to see large fields divided into sections for irrigation and they are a green as grass (!) this is where there is alot of open channel country - all for paddocks for fodder for milking cattle.
Not far out of Kerang Neil found a very good rear bike light - find #2 for today.
We got to Koondrook a little later than what I had expected, at around 2pm.   Just in time for a cuppa so I go to the camp kitchen and was walking back with my pot full of hot water and looking at the ground passing the bbq and I saw 2 little round discs and quickly realised what it was, momentarily forgetting that I had a pot full of hot water I quickly bent down to get them and nearly poured the hot water all over my feet ... woo hoo it was 2 $2 coins .... winner!
 this trip is definitely different compared to the others as Neil always finds the money and I find the 5 cent pieces whereas this trip I have found $6 so far and Neil has found 5 cents!!!
The campground is quite, has alot of permanent holiday shacks as it is on the gunbower river which flows into the murray river about 50m from here - so a popular little spot.  We have a lovely shaded spot.
Went for a walk this morning and took these photos ...
The Gunbower river -
 The Murray River ...
 
 The Gunbower meeting the Murray river ...
 The might Murray river ...
Tomorrow we are off to Pyramid Hill - never been there before but been on part of the roads that we are taking to get there.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Swan Hill to Quambatook


 Swan Hill to Quambatook = 62km
Cummulative total = 877km / 19,783km
Morning temperature = around 13 degrees / Daytime high = damn hot at 30 degrees (with not a bre"ath of wind)
Quambatook Caravan Park = $   unpowered

Well it had to happen sooner or later ... we had to leave our 'executive' camp spot at what I like to call "Swan Hillton" since we paid $41 per night which is completely luxurious to us and is probably our version of 'staying at a Hilton hotel' LOL
It was a still morning and last night 3 cycle tourists camped in the unpowered section - they are riding from Falls Creek to Darwin and raising money for MS.  Neil had a little chat to them this morning in the camp kitchen, one looked like he was ready to drop yesterday evening.  There are 2 older men and an older lady.
Generally before we ride off we take Kouta for a quick walk so he can dump and pee.  This morning was no exception except that we can now proudly say that Kouta has officially scored his first 'road kill' not in the literal sense but that he found himself a little treat - just like how Neil finds shoes, water bottles, money etc and I am marginally a little better than Kouta and find the odd thing here and there.
We got back from the walk and he is all funny around the trailer and it is like he wants to get under it but can't so he comes around to jump in but doesn't and quickly ducks under and comes up with his 'road kill' - a schmako!  he quickly gobbles it down before we can take it off him.  When Neil put schmakos in Koutas little bag one must of dropped unbeknownst to us and Kouta until he found it ... we are so proud - if only he could sniff out coins!
Kouta was a happy little vegemite after that ... so off we all ride along the highway for 5km then west for a few kms and then the straightest road ever south to Quambatook.  Initially we thought that this would be a quiet road but between 8.30am and 10.00am this was a busy little road and it is one lane for the first bit and then once you cross over into the Gunnawarra shire it becomes a normal road.  So after 10.00am it quietens down a bit and we can ride side by side.  It is relatively flat and no wind to speak off.
Riding along I see something big circling above us and stop and see that it is a wedge tail eagle - possibly looking for his 'road kill' ... kouta!  I think he was circling look for mice in the wheat fields - easy to see now as there is only stubble.  I tried to get some photos and took quite a few dud ones but managed to get 2 good shots once I editted them ...

 these are beautiful birds and we don't always get to see them this close to us - usually way in the distance but this one was right above us and did about 6 circles and then moved on.
Since there was very little or no wind today the temperature was hot and you really felt it when you stopped and our cuppa break wasn't very pleasant - heaps of small agressive ants and loads of blasted flies - at least they weren't around when you cycled.
We got to the campground just on 1pm and no one was around, had to go back to the general store and they rang up Norma who came down and opened up one of the ensuites for us.
This town is on the Avoca river and last time we came here (Feb 2011) the park was still being fixed from the floods and the Avoca river was full and flowing ... today there is just a stagnant pool of green sludge the rest is dry.
The park is fixed and they have a new undercover tabled area with a kitchen which isn't open at the moment and I think it is used for when the 2 dorm blocks are used - maybe for scout groups etc.  At Easter there was 6,000 people here for the Tractor Pull - the campground was chockers and everywhere - it may have been a strain on the 8 ensuites.  But today there is just Neil and I.
We have chosen a lovely shady spot and the shower is hot and hasn't got a water saving shower head so it was a fab shower!  The washing machine is free - so we washed the bedding and cycling clothes.
Kouta was knackered when we got here - knackered from celebrating his road kill!
tomorrow we got to Kerang and then onto Koondrok.  Have been to these 2 places before but not on the road from Quambatook to Kerang.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

rest days @ Swan Hill

 The photo above is of Neil with his 'new shoes'.  I forgot to mention this the other day but when we were riding from Chinkapook to Chillingoolah Neil had just finished saying that there won't be much road kill along this road when we came across a shoe that looked in pretty good condition, we made the comment about wondering where the other one was and 50m later there it was ... so upon closer inspection we picked it up and Neil went back for the other. 
Once at Swan Hill they were a perfect fit - great winter slippers!
 Yesterday was another hot day (30 degrees) so we took Kouta for a walk along the riverside and decided to take a dip in the Murray where they launch the canoes.  It is also the spot where the water flows either side of a small island called Goat Island so the water was running quite swiftly and fast in places we found it a struggle to not be dragged down the river a bit ... meanwhile Kouta just sat on the bank pretending to be deaf when we called out to him to join us!
 As you know I get a shocking tan line when I cycle so here is a photo of me wearing my 'white' shorts ...
Shocking isn't it!  I also have  white shirt tan line as well!
Tomorrow we head for Quambatook.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Manangatan to Swan Hill


 Manangatan to Swan Hill = 82km
Cummulative total = 815km / 19,721km
Morning temperature = 17 degrees / daytime high = 30 degrees
Riverside Big 4 Caravan park = $41 powered (OMG!)

I forgot to take a photo of the rest area we were at last night ...
 the buildings in the background are the toilets/shower, water tank and table/shelter.  Nice spot but a little noisy for my liking ... all last night I could hear what sounded like a jack hammer going intermittently ... maybe a pump somewhere on a farm and the stillness of the night carried the noise.
Anyway we knew it was going to be a long day, also a hot day and also the Geelong vs. Kangaroo game is on and it was an early start - 1pm so we decided to get up early ... lets say 5am!  Lucky the shelter had lights so we ate brekky in there and packed up our stuff in there.  No one else here last night so noise wasn't an issue.  We were on the road at 6.30am with 80km to ride.  We were ready earlier but it was too dark to ride.  6.30am is light enough that should a car be on the road it will see us!
Tell you what though it was a sensational sunrise this morning riding along the road to Chinkapook ...
 Great name isn't it - Chinkapook.  I saw this on the map when we last came up here and wanted to go through it but Neil didn't really want to ... but this trip it is on the way ...
 as you can see by the sign it is a legit place and its' aboriginal meaning is 'place of red earth' and the ground is definitely red.  Not much in this town ... a public hall that I doubt gets used at all ...
 a few ramshackle houses ... but I love the name and wouldn't mind living here if it had a supermarket and post office!
From here we take the even quieter road to Chillingoolah which is a further 14km away and the road becomes a single lane and a little undulating. 
The legs are a little tired this morning as it is our 4th day riding and our 2nd 80km day in 3 days.  From Chillingoolah we head east to Pira which is 30km further.  The northerly wind has started up at this time and by now only 2 cars have passed us ... we encounter a few more along this Pira road.  On this road it feels like you are always climbing and I suppose you are a bit and since the legs are really heavy by now the hills feel bigger than what they really are ... We take a break every 15km ...
 the weather is warming up now and we are going along nicely and guesstimate we will miss the 1st quarter of footy as we have to stop to get some food.
About 5km past Pira we turn south east and only 17km from Swan Hill and thankfully what wind there is assists us.
We get to Woolies at 1pm and at the campground 30mins later pay the ridiculous price of $41 powered (peak time) and find our spot is just great - at the end of the park and we are the only ones here of the 4 sites that are suited for powered tent sites so we doubt if we will have anyone near us.  The park is a Big 4 and it takes dogs - we wanted to be close to town and the river rather than stay at the last place we stayed which is 3km south and that is just too far so we decided to bite the bullet and will pay the $41 and they aren't anal about the dogs here so we will go and add an extra 2 nights here and have a good rest.
The park is on the river and were our site is we are on the little murray river which is where the Murray diverts and goes around an island called Pental which is opposite us.  Every now and then a little paddle steamer goes by ... the Pyap ...
 our spot
 our spot looking onto the river (the unpowered is in front of us and I am hoping that tent next to the ute goes soon!)
 and here is Kouta enjoying the view - we are on a slight down hill on this site - so we hope we don't roll out the tent.