The rides and sights
Jan 23 to 30
Day 55 – 57 Rest days at Yambuk
Strange how just a week ago seems to be so long past – I guess being on the road and seeing so much makes time slow down (a good thing at our age!) The three days at Yambuk were a welcome rest, though it was surprisingly cool…we seem to have missed most of the heatwave conditions that have been typical of this summer. Our stay at Yambuk Lake Caravan Park was an opportunity to catch up on domestic chores (washing, shopping) and, of course, blogging. As connectivity was rather hit and miss down at the campground we spent a couple of afternoons in Port Fairy sitting in cafes and pubs as we blogged away. We were lucky enough to be there when there was quite a lot of entertainment due to the Moyneyana Festival – including a fabulous Irish band that had folk up dancing in Michael Flatley style!
Otherwise, Steve and I spent our time strolling around Yambuk Lake and nearby beach, reading and generally taking it easy. We were amazed by the huge straight side island out to sea, known as the ‘Pirate Island’ by the grandchildren of our camping neighbours, one of the regular families that holiday at this special spot (more properly known by it’s Aborignal name, Deen Maar, or as Lady Julia Percy Island). The famous Yambuk slide was another feature, and Steve enjoyed a few goes at it :).
On the Monday we again went into town to make a special call on Skype – my Dad turned 90! He was celebrating with my four brothers and partners, his youngest brother and wife with lunch cooked by his wonderful wife and carer, Jo. Happy Birthday Dad! On the way back we took a detour to have a look at The Crags, a nearby spectacular coastal stretch – and the subject for one of my artworks. Steve will tell you about the ride from here on in…
Day 58 Yambuk to Peterborough (change of previously stated plan to go to Cobden…)
We had decided to stick to the coast rather than head inland to Cobden, so after saying farewell to Park manager Ev I once again set off down the Princes Highway towards Port Fairy, ‘The World’s most Liveable Community’ and home to the month long Moyneyana Festival that was in full swing during our short stay.
I left the highway to follow the Port Fairy to Warrnambool rail trail which has an excellent surface and has retained the signs for all the old railway stations that used to exist along the way. One station, Koroit, has been restored and is in excellent condition and includes a sign declaring: ‘Change here for Port Fairy and Rosebrook’.
The rail trail passes through farming country and remnant forest, skirting the north side of a 25,000 year old volcano (Tower Hill) and traverses wetlands and coastal dunes. Next to one of the wetland boardwalks a hand written sign about a metre off the ground stated: ‘if this sign is underwater, rail trail is impassable’ – go figure! Further along some rather official signs appeared that noted that ‘Rail trail closed when inundated’. Luckily there was no inundation at the time so I proceeded without incident.
After passing through Warrnambool I was back on the Princes highway for a short while before turning onto some dirt roads and zig zagging my way via The Cove to the Great Ocean Road where a number of lookouts provided spectacular views of this magnificent part of the Victorian coast. There was a quite a lot of a smoke haze from the Tasmanian bush fires which had blown across Bass Straight!
Yet again the wind was vicious and my legs were spent by the time I arrived in Peterborough and the Great Ocean Road Tourist Park was a welcome stop. After a shower and change we did some sightseeing of the coastline: the Bay of Islands and the Bay of Martyrs, to get us in the mood for the upcoming stars of the Great Ocean Road – the Twelve Apostles, the next day.
Day 59 Peterborough to Apollo Bay
The ride to Apollo Bay was just beautiful – early on I dropped into more lookouts with enticing names such as London Bridge and Thunder Cave before arriving at the iconic twelve apostles.
Leaving the relatively flat riding along this spectacular cliff top section, I began climbing through the Otways for a delightful lunch at Lavers Hill. Over lunch I chatted with Ian, a retired owner of an engineering company in Warrnambool, who regularly rides his motorbike over the Otways to pass the time and who left me with a generous donation.
The descent back towards the coast was especially exhilarating as my sense of speed was accentuated by a massive thunderstorm that provided a spectacular light show and torrential downpour for the last 20km.
Rather disconcertingly as you travel along the Great Ocean Road you come across signs every few kilometres that remind drivers to keep to the left hand side of the road in Australia! I raise my alertness level and treat every car turning onto the road with suspicion. Thankfully I can report a zero incidence of cars on the right hand side of the road as I rode.
By the time we set up camp in Apollo Bay the rain had cleared and we walked along the beach watching the dedicated surfers catching their last few waves as the sun began to set. We were lucky enough to spot a koala sleeping in one of the trees in the park near the amenities block completely unconcerned by the dogs and people in close proximity.
Day 60 Apollo Bay to Torquay
After admiring the glorious sunrise, I continued along the scenic Great Ocean Road accompanied by a favourable breeze and more rain before being forced to stop to repair a flat rear tyre a few kms out of town. Not long after I rode into the area affected by the Christmas Day bush fires. The damage around Wye River and Separation Creek was severe and, sadly, there were a number of security guards stationed on closed roads protecting properties from looters, and sightseers from danger. (Headcam video here)
I arrived at the Torquay Caravan Park completely drenched and after warming up with a hot shower retired to the pod to listen to the rain falling on the plywood roof and to investigate the source of a small leak which had dampened the sheets at the foot end of my side of the bed. On inspection I discovered a small screw hole in the side wall – I decide to repair it at a later opportunity.
Day 61 Torquay to Stony Point
There was further rain on my journey towards Queenscliff where I had a welcome stop for lunch with Miranda while we waited to catch the 1pm ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Portsea. After lunch we investigated a gallery, both to keep out of the rain and due to Miranda’s interests – it was new to the area and had a lovely variety of painted and printed works of very high quality – you can check out the Queenslcliff Gallery & Workshop here.
There was much evidence of the upcoming Cadel Evan’s Great Ocean Ride with many lycra clad teams perusing the route and signs warning motorists of road closures and delays. The cycle paths around Queenscliff and Portsea were terrific with plenty of room for parking as well as unobstructed well marked and generous dedicated cycle lanes.
The 40 minute ferry trip provided welcome respite from the rain and once in Portsea I donned my ‘tassie proof’ wet weather gear and rode the remaining 50 km past the longest caravan park / colourful boat shed stretch I have ever seen before crossing the Mornington Peninsula to the fishing haven that is Stony Point, our destination for the day.
Approximately 20 km from Stony Point, on a very narrow and treacherous piece of road I got another flat rear tyre. I was desperately hoping not to have to change the tube in the rain so used some tyre plugging goop that I had packed for just such an occasion. Unfortunately, after riding about 500 m, the tyre was once again flat and I was forced to install a new tube after all. As is often the case, I could not locate the source of the puncture in the tyre and with about 5 km to go the tyre once again became flat. It was a slow leak so I pumped enough air into it to get me to to camp where I could change the tyre and tube at leisure in the camp kitchen out of the rain.
Day 62 Stony Point to Melbourne
With the rain cleared, a favourable wind and excellent roads (once I had gotten off the treacherous C788 from Stony Point to Dromana) I headed for Melbourne closely following Port Phillip Bay then the Nepean Highway.
There were many other cyclists out riding and signs for a number of upcoming cycling events including the Melbourne – Ride the Night taking place from 10 pm Saturday. I went by Luna Park, docklands and the capital city trail to arrive at Parkville and home away from the pod for the next couple of days.
People Along the Way
We had a wonderful time staying at Yambuk and this was in no small part due to Ev and Trev who run this lovely caravan park and camping spot. We were greatly supported by them and Ev’s daughter and family: Jean, Mark and the two kids by way of donations, buying merchandise and providing us with free accommodation. Other campers also made donations and we had many interesting conversations about their memories of camping trips past in the area. We also met another teardrop caravan and hot rod devotee – he had trialled using another caravan behind his old Dodge to come down for the weekend, it was not a success!
The morning we left Yambuk I returned to the Crags to try and capture the impressively rugged scenery from the platform lookout using aquarelles. Initially I happily worked away on my own, and then the tourists starting arriving and a few got chatting, which is always lovely though a bit distracting! When I had done enough and it was time to depart, the Perryman family corralled me to give a donation and have a chat and wish us well on our journey. At Peterborough, Great Ocean Tourist Park manager, Sarah, made us very welcome and kindly donated a powered site and supported us on her FB page. This park has to have some of the best facilities of any we have visited – down to real hand towels and bath mats in the Ladies!
Of course, the Twelve Apostles were a must for an artwork so I took my sepia pens out to do a sketch at what has become quite a spectacular lookout and visitor’s centre to suit the spectacular views and serve the large tourist numbers visiting.
As I sketched away a NZ couple, Robyn and Martin, were intrigued to find someone drawing – I guess it is a little unusual. They kindly donated and later wrote to me on instagram (@miranda1459) – always great to hear from people we meet along the way.
It may have been damp at Apollo Bay, but we did get to meet interesting people – Erwin from the Netherlands, Vincent and family from Adelaide and in the morning Michelle, Lewis, Monique and Missy the dog – thanks to all for your support!
At Stony Point, after unpacking the van etc I headed to the camp kitchen to get out of the rain and to complete a mixed media I had started at Barwon Heads (the threat of more rain convinced me to do a quick acrylic underpainting to which I was adding pastels). As I sat there nine year old Tia became very interested and so we spent an hour drawing together. With her parent’s encouragement, she decided to buy some postcards and head scarf, meanwhile we chatted to the rest of the family, patted Molly and enjoyed hearing stories of the locality.
Onwards to Melbourne to stay with cousin Natalie – always a treat and a welcome change of space from being enclosed in our pod for a few days, much as we love it!
The Itinerary (approx.)
Feb 2 Day 65 Ballarat
Feb 3 Day 66 Lake Bolac
Feb 4 Day 67 Halls Creek via Grampians rd
Feb 5 Day 67 Dimboola
Feb 6 Day 69 Yaapeet
Feb 7 Day 70 Lake Tyrell
Feb 8 Day 71 Lake Charm
Feb 9 Day 72 Euchua
Feb 10 Day 73 Dargile Reserve Camping Area