The Mighty Murray River!

The Mighty Murray River!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mortlake to Colac


 Mortlake to Colac = 85km
Cummulative totals = 8501km and 28,502m
Neils Parents caravan park = free!

Well it is the end of yet another cycle tour.  We managed to cover 8,500km or the right hand side of Australia!  Not sure when our next cycle tour is but I think Kouta might have to hang up his cycle knicks ... then again he may decide that yes he would like to go cycle touring again but only on smaller trips with not so many big days ... I think the past 2 weeks have been very hard on him and he was excited to get here to Colac ... mind you if you look at the photo below (taken on the couch in the Kitchen at Mortlake) he would have quite happily stayed here this morning!
 The kitchen is quite good, in need of a little clean and tidy up but great for us as Kouta could come in and since it rained last night we could park the bikes in there this morning and pack them ...

 It was a very cold days ride today and the sun would shine, then the clouds would build, then it would rain a bit but we got to Colac relatively dry and with a very handy tailwind for the most of it!
We took the quiet back road to Camperdown and this is a lovely road to ride, then on to the highway for a few kms to Camperdown where we had a cuppa, then back on the highway out of town and then  onto the quiet roads are Lake Purrumbeet.  these back roads are a series of roads going north south and east west so we would have a tailwind then a cross headwind then back to a tailwind and then onto a cross wind ... it all depended which way the road was going with this strong west south westerly.  At one point we had such a strong cross wind that I could feel it pushing me off the road so I had to lean into the wind and to look from behind I am sure the bike was at an angle like this ... / there was no other way to ride but physically lean towards the wind - fortunately we were still on the back roads.
We rejoined the highway at Stoneyford and for the next 25km we were on it ... it wasn't bad but if it wasn't for the tailwind I think I would have hated it!  We rode in the shoulder which wasn't too bad but could be wider in places.  The traffic was okay  but you really had to be careful when the trucks overtook you with their back draft ... it had a tendancy to drag you out.
So we are very weary today while riding and at one point we had to text Ray to come and pick us up the going was that tough ... we text Ray and Flo from around the corner to come get us! LOL what a great way to end this trip!
Along the way today Neil and I did discuss what we would be getting for dinner ... I threw up the  idea that maybe a roast - Neil said Lamb as it is on special this week but I said Pork and then I said what do you think is for dessert ... I was hoping for Lemon Meringue Pie ... but that might be a bit to summery for todays weather ... we were both wrong - we are having spag bol tonight as they had roast last night so the roast meal for us has been delayed until tomorrow ... we are calling it a pre game roast meal - Geelong vs. Kangaroos.
Dessert tonight is not lemon meringue but something else ... not sure but what ever it is Neil and I will have to have smaller portions.
We weighed ourselves and Neil has lost 10km and is down to 67kg and I have lost 7kg and also down to 67kg.
Until the next tour ...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ararat to Mortlake


 Ararat to Mortlake = 96km
Cummulative totals = 8416km and 28,417km
Mortlake Caravan Park = $19 unpowered

Our 2nd to last day today and tomorrow we think we will almost certainly reach Colac ... that depends on a certain hairy little 4 legged dog, who shall remain nameless, it depends if he can cope with yet another long day - 80km by highway, 86km by a combo of back road and highway, 105km by back roads ... I think I will go for the happy medium of the combo!
Kouta is really struggling with the longer days in the trailer, today he was almost balistic when we took him out of the trailer.  On our last break he refused to get in the trailer and Neil had to chase him and then for the last 20km he was moving from side to side for no reason at all except to be out of the trailer and in his basket asleep!  If he is still unsettled tomorrow I will bite the bullet and do the shortest option of the highway the whole way from Camperdown.
So onto today ... again we didn't get our north westerly winds like forecasted, instead they were more from the west and they were strong (not as strong as our notherlies the other day!) so they came across us with just a very slight behind to make it so it is not a headwind.
There is a short nasty uphill out of Ararat and we were on the Warrnambool road which is really crappy and I am ashamed to say that we tell everyone that Victoria has the best roads - I will have to stop saying that!  At Maroona we turned off to a marginally better road that took us to Lake Bolac.
this road is rolling and the countryside is so green but unfortunately we could not see the Grampians for the low cloud lying around.  It is very cold and the clouds build up, threaten to rain and then move on.
The only highlight today was coming across 2 little lambs that had escaped from their field, so we stopped and Neil tried to encourate them back over the fence but they kept running away from him ... hilarious to watch!
 plenty of canola fields out here ...
 and here is a close up of the canola flower ...
 We had a cuppa at Lake Bolac and no one came up to me to ask me if I was the one that threw the keys away to a white ute a few years ago!  See Mum no worries!
We continued to Mortlake and at Woorndoo we took another quick break and Neil decided to go a bit 'artsy' with this photo ... he thinks this photo epitomises our trip ...
I can understand how the bikes and I epitomise our trip but the toilets?  when I asked him he just said the rec field and toilets we relied on alot during this trip!  yeah right Neil.
so onto Colac tomorrow - the back roads to Camperdown, a little on the highway, then onto the back roads and back on the highway ... don't be surprised Ray if you get a phone call from Kouta begging you to come and get him as he is just 'over it!'

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rupanyup to Ararat


 Rupanyup to Ararat = 84km
Cummulative totals = 8320km and 28,321km
Acacia Caravan Park = $26 unpowered

Well we didn't end up where I said we hoped to end up last night.  There was a thunderstorm and lightening show last night and poor little Kouta didn't cope too well with it, not sure when it came through but I woke to the smell of hot stinky breath in my face ... no not Neil!  But Kouta having a panic attack due to the thunder and lightening.  So we put him between us and laid our hands on him to reassure him and nodded off back to sleep to leave him to cope with his insecurities about the weather.  He must have settled back down after the storm had passed as in the morning he was fast asleep in his basket.
There was very little rain with this storm and in the morning the wind had subsided but was still cloudy.
We set off after having to fix yet another flat tyre on my bike ... we are finding the patches to repair punctures are not holding and either it is the glue or the patch or both that is no good so we put a brand new tube on the back wheel.  This delayed our start and didn't get away until 8am.
We took the quiet road to Stawell and eventually it began to drizzle a bit, so on came the rain coats and this road is popular with a few trucks so we coped a fair bit of water from the spray from their tyres ... we were more wet from that than from the brief showers.
Stopped for a cuppa t 40km and both admitted that we were tired and doubted we could make Willaura today (about 117km) also because the supposed northerly winds were just not there so we resided that we would get to Ararat and brave the main highway between Stawell and Ararat.
Just after the turn off to Stawell we pulled into a rest area for some lunch ... Now Ray and Flo do you recognise these?

 the photos aren't great but they are stones or boulders that have been graffitied ... Neil has never been here before but he recognised them from your photos.
The highway shoulder between Stawell and Ararat is okay according to Neil but I thought that it could have been better.  It is practically non existent for the first 5km out of Stawell and then it becomes a wide lane but full of lumps, bumps, crap and bits of branches and sticks from yesterdays winds.
It is a very scenic route to Ararat though and that is the only positive about this highway.  The traffic is heavy but I suppose the wide shoulder is better than nothing.
You are gently climbing up to Ararat - not hard hills but a nice easy gradient and you cross over the great divide at a whopping 342m above sea level!!!
 We get to Ararat around 2pm - an early day, we are tired and are hoping for better winds tomorrow.  Kouta is absolutely knackered!
We have stayed at this caravan park before and it has new owners we think and it is no longer part of the Top Tourist chain so we didn't get our discount - hence the expensive camping!  I did however have a very long hot shower to make up for the over charging!  It does have a camp kitchen so tonights dinner is up to Neil and that could be anything from pies, crumbed fish, lasagna, pizza  and chips ...depends what is marked down or is on sale!
Tomorrow we are hoping for Mortlake if the legs feel good or if they don't then Lake Bolac ... remember that place last time I was there?  I wonder if that guy found his keys to his ute!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hopetoun to Rupanyup


 Hopetoun to Rupanyup = 113km
Cummulative totals = 8236km and 28, 237km
Rupanyup Memorial Park = $10 powered or unpowered and $1 for a shower

On the road around 7.15am this morning!  The wind was already blowing ... in fact it was blowing for most of the night.  It is blowing from the north east and quickly turned to a northerly around 9am.  Since we were going south to Warracknabeal we had a wonder tailwind and were able to sit on 22km per hour.  It is a shame the road is a little lumpy and bumpy and very hard to see where the road has a dip until the last minute and then you have no other choice but to ride through it!
We got to Warracknabeal around 11.30 and picked up our dinner and continued on to Minyip which is south east of Warracknabeal.
This is a very quiet road and only the odd truck every now and then.  The wind is really blowing now and is a cross tail wind for us and it blowing us along.  The wind is around 30km per hour and gusts are around 50km an hour ... I am thinking maybe we could make Stawell!
We had decided that we won't stay at Minyip and continue for another 20km to Rupanyup since we have such a good wind.
Minyip is where they filmed the Flying Doctors (I have mentioned that previously as we have been here before) in fact it is 'Coopers Crossing' in the show.
 The road from Minyip to Rupanyup is even quieter than the road we were just on and again it is straight south so now the wind is completely behind us and pushing us along that we get to free wheel alot!  Just out of Minyip you can see way off in the distance one of my favourite places ... The Grampians ...
 and as we go further south toward Rupanyup we get closer to this beautiful mountain range ...
 and tomorrow we get even closer and will ride alongside of it after Stawell.
We get to Rupanyup around 2.30 and have just completed our longest day of the tour so far - 113km and it doesn't feel like we have ridden that far since the wind helped us! and you know what it only took us around 5 and half hours!  Gosh it took us that long to do the 50km days when we had headwinds going to Coober Pedy!!!
Rupanyup has a community caravan park and there is no one here except us - this is our 3rd time to camp here and we always go to the same spot ...
 this time the grass is really green!  It is sheltered here from the wind and the rain that may come later tonight.  We are hoping there is not much rain as there are good northerlies tomorrow (not as strong as today but good enought!) and we would like to move on.
So dinner tonight is a real treat for us - Scotch Fillet (Economy cuts), mushrooms, onions, eggs and toast (done on the bbq) ... yummy!
and on the chopping board is cheese which I picked up for $2 for a 250g block of live free cheese which  is really low in fat (only 5.5% compared to normal cheese that is really low!)  It is almost a white cheese and is quite sharp in its' taste but it is really nice.  It is way off its' use by date but there were lots marked down ... I suspect people don't like its' pale colour and the fact that it is not creamy - a bit like parmesan cheese!
Tomorrow who knows where we will be ... either Moyston or Willaura!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Walpeup to Hopetourn


 Walpeup to Hopetoun = 84km
Cummulative totals = 8123km and 28,124km
Free camping at Lake Lascelles

It was a funny sort of day cycling today ... I found it hard to get into a rhythm of constant speed and peddling.  For 3/4's of the ride today the wind was coming from the east (and not the forecasted north east!) and since the road was generally running in a south east direction the wind was either a cross wind, a cross tailwind or a cross head wind ... it depended on the amount of wiggles in the road!  The last 20km I am happy to say was with a lovely tailwind as the wind finally swung around to the north and it pushed us into Hopetoun.
We have done this quiet road before but from Hopetoun to a bush camp about 4km before Hopetoun last year - do you remember it was on Grand final day and the next day Neil decides that we will ride the 4km into Walpeup to have brekky and I complained all the way and found I couldn't cope with anything on an empty stomach and no coffee!!!
This morning was a little warmer than previous mornings but the short hill out of town was a real killer on the fingers and toes ... point noted I don't like going down a hill first thing on a cold morning!  Crikey both Neil and I were complaining endlessly for the first 30mins that we can't feel our fingers and toes .. we might have to get some gloves tomorrow at Warracknabeal when we pass through!
Our cuppa spot was about 40km along and it is a very lush environment at the moment although they do say the crops of grain could do with a little rain ... but not until we get to Colac!
 this is the road we are on (looking back where we have come from)
 So not alot happens along this road but I did see this bike outside someones farm gate ... a good use of scrap farm machinery parts!
 We get to Hopetoun quite early and the idea was thrown up to continue to another 30km to Buelah as the winds were strong ... but we decided to go and free camp around Lake Lascelles ...
 This is our third time at Hopetoun and the other times we have stayed at the caravan park as it is not a good idea to camp at this lake on a weekend or public holiday as I think it is quite popular but today is Sunday and not many are around ... Here is Neil and Kouta enjoying the serenity ..
We are not far from the toilet block (about a 150m walk).  The toilet block does have showers but they are cold so we both had a very bracing cold shower just enough to get the grime of us ... it would be okay in Summer but late Winter is a bit hard.  Fortunately the day is warm so once out in the sun we soon warmed up!   so it was a lovely afternoon sitting in the sun until it got the better of us and we both had to turn the chairs around away from the lake as the sun was burning us.
the sunset tonight was beautiful across the lake ... but as soon as it went down the temperature did as well.
Tomorrows destination is Minyip but if the wind is strong like forecasted then we may try for Rupunyap

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Murrayville to Walpeup


 Murrayville to Walpeup = 81km
Cummulative totals = 8039km and 28,040km
Walpeup caravan park = $9.00 unpowered (it is only $10 for powered!)

Woo hoo check it out we passed the 8,000km mark today at about half way and to celebrate we had pikelets when we got to Walpeup - they were supposed to be celebratory pikelets for Geelongs win over Hawthorn but that was not to be!
We over slept today as the alarm didn't go off and didn't wake until 6.30am and on the road just before 8am.
We managed to get the first 20km wind free and then the strong easterly set in for the final 60km.  We anticipated an easterly headwind today and from now on we go south and the winds will be northerly mainly for the next few days although as we get closer to Colac they are changing to westerlies and each time we look at the weather forecast for the week the winds are switching from a northerly to a north westerly and when I next look it will be a westerly and then  more than likely when we get there it will be a headwind at south westerly!!!  just our luck!
So todays ride was okay - rolling and very little traffic going our way and only car traffic was going the other way.  Very few trucks (just one!) and maybe that is because it is the weekend.
The sun was out today so we warmed up after a very cold start (2 degrees) so the fingers and toes were frozen.
Walpeup has a community caravan park and the town is only just a few houses and a small takeaway/general store.
The park has a shower and toilets and a free bbq were we cooked our pikelets that we have been carrying since Barmera where Neil got them marked down.


the pikelets were delicious and for dinner tonight we are having weetbix as we won't get to Hopetoun until late afternoon and the IGA will be shut so we are saving our tetra pack chicken until tomorrow.
At Hopetoun we will free camp around the lake.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Barmera to Paruna to Murrayville




 Barmera to Paruna = 71km and Paruna to Murrayville = 91km
Cummulative totals = 7958km and 27,959km
Paruna community caravan park = $10 powered or unpowered - bargain!
Murrayville caravan park = $9.90 powered ($8.80 unpowered for 2)

Day 1
This is our 6th cycle day since Port Augusta and we are both finding the legs are fine and are not lethargic or fatigue yet.  We will go one more day to Pinnaroo as the winds albeit light will be slightly behind us tomorrow.
Today we woke and it was about 1 degree and a little cold.  Each morning now the tent fly has condensation on it and usually picks up whatever is on the ground - gravel or sand when we pack it up and each day we have to put it up and let it dry and then brush the inside off whether it be gravel or sand ... I hate camping on any of those especially when the tent gets condensation.
I have decided that I can't go any further with the clothes I have ... I sent home my long sleeve t shirt when at Mt Isa thinking that I don't really need it but today I decided that nope I am going to the op shop at Loxton (where we will pick up food) to find a thin long sleeve shirt to wear under my woollen jumper instead of my thermal which is quite stinky at the moment as I have worn it for the past week in both cycling and after cycling!  poooooh stink!
We were quite excited that we would only be on the Sturt highway for a few kms and then we would be leaving the traffic behind ... well that excitement was short lived as the damn traffic came with us to Berri and continued on to Loxton with us!  Although it was mainly car traffic and very little truck traffic.  We had a shoulder to ride in but again it was rough riding.  It took us a long time to get to Loxton as it was very stop start and hard to get a rhythm going as you have to stop for traffic, slow down with all the rough road in the shoulder.
Just before getting to Berri you are surrounded by vineyards and the occassional orange farm.  Berri has the massive Berri Estates which is where they make wine and I tell you this is NOT your small time boutique wine ... I couldn't believe the volume of vats that this factory had ... so many that they had a factory on each side of the road and believe it or not it is linked by a series of pipes that run across the road ... at first I thought it was a walkover but it is not - it is pipes for the wine!
the first photo is one side of the road with vats and the factory (assuming for the bottling or putting it in wine bladders and then in a box!).  The second photo is the majority of the vats on the other side of the road and the third photo is the series of pipes that runs between the 2 parts of the factory!


  The vineyards come in all shapes and sizes and it looks like most are machine pruned (you would be disgusted Mum when you see just how rough and ugly the vines look when they are machine pruned)
 The vines look like they have had a really bad crew cut when pruned by a machine.  The ones that have been hand pruned look tidy and nice (albeit very rare to see that!)
The road from Berri to Loxton is just as busy but we had no problems - there is a short sharp hill just out of Berri after you go over the Gurra Gurra flood plains.  Even cars were struggling to get up this hill!  It is up and down to Loxton - not hard but rolling.
Just before Loxton we bought a bag of navel oranges for $2 - it is about 2kg worth and they are very sweet and lovely.
Loxton is a nice town, didn't see much there as we just stopped at the town center for a cuppa and to food shop (has a small woolies there as well as a farmland and an IGA.  I managed to get a long sleeve shirt and it is nice to wear under the woollen jumper.
From Loxton we left and headed for Pinnaroo along the Browns Well highway - it has been soooooo loooooooong since we have been on a road that is just us and very little traffic.  It was wonderful riding, very rolling but that didn't matter.  It is 34km to Paruna from Loxton and we arrived about 2.30pm.  It has a tower but the internet is very slow and takes ages to upload photos so this is why I have waited until we get to our next camp spot.
The town has a population of 11 and the shop closed down a few years ago and the school closed down about 3 years ago.  It does have a community caravan park and there are 2 other lots with us and it is $10 for powered or unpowered so we have been charging everything up since it has been cloudy for the past 2 days so very little opportunity for solar charging.  Here is our campspot ...
 Tomorrow there is suppose to be a chance of a shower so we are hoping it holds off until we are somewhere along the road.  We stay on this road to Pinnaroo where we will join the Mallee highway and head east.

Day 2
It looks like it is going to rain today so we managed to check the radar before loosing reception and the radio also confirmed that there maybe showers but it looks like the bulk of it will be dumped on the ranges east of Adelaide and if any showers did come it maybe late afternoon.  so while I made brekky Neil packed up the tent and his trailer - the park had a table under a shelter hence why Neil could pack up his trailer as usually that is our table!
We were off to an early start at 7.30am, it wasn't spitting but just constant drops were failling that eventually everything got damp (not soaking or wet just damp!)  this morning is a little cool and because we were wearing our coats we began to sweat so that made us cold.  Riding along it is the same as yesterday - rolling.  Not a breath of wind today which is probably our very first day without any wind (it was forecasted as a cross tailwind but no wind is better than a headwind!).
We made pretty good time to the 40km mark where we had a cuppa and Neil was looking at the map and said if we take a dirt road 10km north of Pinnaroo we could bypass Pinnaroo and go to Murrayville - we have been there before and Neil loved it but for some strange reason I couldn't recall staying there until he mentioned the park is at the top of  the hill with the water tower ... then I remembered!  So we decided that it would be in our interest to make our day 20km longer so that the leg east across to Walpeup would be that little bit easier especially if the easterlies are blowing, so off we went and turned left onto Summerton road at the 10km Pinnaroo marker.  It is an ok road, very wide I suppose for the grain trucks during harvest time.  Very rough except for along the very edges.  Just before we get to our right turn to take us down to the Mallee highway we cross the State border and put our clocks 30mins forward.  We guestimated that the spot marked 'x' is where the Victorian and South Australian border is ...
just after that at about 6km we turned right for another 6km to the highway, beleive it or not but just as we crossed into Victoria the sun peeked out from the clouds and stayed there for the rest of the ride (another 24km to Murrayville).
Neil was very happy when we crossed the imaginary border and is happy to be back in Victoria.
We got to Murrayville at around 2.30pm very tired and weary.  Even Kouta is feeling it - today is our 7th day straight riding and we have covered about 609km in 7 days since leaving Port Augusta.  So tomorrow is a rest day for all of us to recover and to prepare ourselves for Geelongs finals match against Hawthorn ... go cats!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cadell to Barmera


Cadell to Bamera = 85km 
Cummulative totals = 7796km and 27,797km
Lake Bonney Discovery Park = $19.80 unpowered (with TT discount)

It was a chully morning this morning and it was great to have the table and shelter for brekky.  We left at the usual time of 8am however we did get lost getting out of Cadell - now this is a tiny town of a population of about 3 people so how we got lost getting out of this town I don't know!  Lets just say we took the long way to get to the road that takes us to Waikerie.
Finally on this road and we have ridden along it before and you would have thought we would have learnt our lesson as it is a shocker of a road especially 10km before Waikerei - very patchy and full of filled in pot holes. Despite the state of the road the scenery is nice - nothing but vineyards and orange farms ... there are still oranges on the trees but most have been picked ...
 At Waikerie we had a cuppa alongside the Murry river and when we went to leave I discovered that I had a puncture in the rear tyre so we had to unload my bike and change the tyre, so that put us back about 30mins.
To get out of Waikerie there is a climb up through town and it is quite steep but the legs coped okay!  We did get a great view of the river ...
 We linked up to the Sturt Highway which again we have ridden and I remember this is an awful highway to ride and today with the strong southerly winds it was absolutely horrendous.  The traffic was heavy especially with trucks and coupled with the wind coming across on our right we copped the back drafts of trucks going both ways and we constantly had to keep the bikes under control.  Also we had to ride in the shoulder and that was as rough as riding on an unsealed road ... it was a real bone rattler!  We had to ride on this highway for 45km to Barmera, so we broke it into 3 x 15km lots. After our first stop we realised that we were on the old road that was the highway so we decided to continue riding on this road for about 200m it was like having our own highway - you can see the main highway on the left of us ...
 In the shoulder we found this pouch there and we thought that it might be a camera but it wasn't is was a self breathaliser which is completely useless to us so we threw it away but did rescue the 2 AA batteries from it!
So we had looked at our tourist map that we have as we don't have a proper road map with us (they are at home!) and saw that the road into Kingston on Murray continued on to the Sturt highway so we decided to take a detour to get of the highway only to find that the road doesn't connect to the highway at all and being in South Australia (who are a bit like Queensland - idiots!) they hadn't indicated at the start of the road that it was a no through road (they did at the end of the road when you couldn't go any further - yeah good one!) so we had to back track about 2km and up the hill to rejoin the highway.
So back on the highway we are both tired and worn out and all I can hear from behind me is alot of sighing and cursing ... me I just kept on peddling letting Neil have his little moments as it is very rare for Neil to have a 'moment' usually it is me!
12km to Barmera and we get there on 3pm and worked out that we have done about an extra 8km today ... fortunately the campground is at the west end of town and it is a nice park, great now as there is no one around but come the summer and holidays this is a park to avoid!  It sits on Lake Bonney and has its own beach front.  Here is Kouta enjoying the view and we were rewarded with a lovely sunset ...

tomorrow we head to a small town called Paruna which is south of us.  We have decided not to rejoin the Sturt Highway and go to Mildura but instead head south to Pinnaroo and then turn east and head in the Ouyen direction - we have done this highway before and it is a much more pleasant highway to ride rather than the Sturt highway!