And that was it, for now


Note: photos will be added in a  later post…

Last Friday I left home early in the morning and found the James Reserve near Swanpool in Victoria where Rebecca, Eliana and I would be camping for the weekend, got camp set up, put a new mountain bike tyre on the back rim of my bike, took it for a test ride, then waited for the girls to arrive, which eventually they did.

Sabbath morning we went for a bit of a walk after breakfast and I tried to explain to Eliana what it meant to have a sense of ‘wow’. Later we went for a drive around the area and were greeted with rain, rain, and more rain. Wow! But it was good to have a Sabbath out in nature without any artificial stimuli. After the rain stopped Eliana decided that it would be fun to climb up and down the earth embankment on the other side of the creek with the girls camped next to us. If the level of mud she collected on her clothes was any indication then she really enjoyed herself.

Sunday we woke early, had breakfast, packed up the girl’s camping equipment, and while they headed home I headed to Yea to ride to Alexandra with 2 Strava friends on the Great Victorian Railtrail. By 8am we had started the ride, and we passed through the Cheviot tunnel, then down to Molesworth. From there to Cathkin proved interesting as the recent rains had made the trail somewhat boggy. From Cathkin the trail was better, AND uphill to within a few km of Alexandra.

We stopped there for a while, had some sustenance, and then started to head towards Yea. For the first few kms back I went ok. But then I seemed to run out of energy which didn’t matter too much until the climb out of Molesworth. But by then the lack of energy really took it’s toll as I ever so slowly slowly pedalled up the 10km or so to the Cheviot tunnel. By the tunnel I was exhausted, thankfully there was some downhill most of the way to Yea from there.

At Yea we discussed the ride, and it was suggested that I might have been dehydrated or not properly fuelled for the ride, both of which I had the opportunity to test later on my holiday.

From Yea I travelled back to camp and made myself some soup / noodle / veggie concoction which tasted great. The next day I packed up camp and travelled to Mountain Creek Campground near Mount Beauty and set up camp.

From there the 4×4 track beckoned so I took the bike for a spin towards the Eskdale Spur. As there were a number of creek crossings I chose to use the bridges on the parallel walking track for the creek crossings where they existed. Even still, I had to traverse at least one creek where there was no walking bridge. About 5km into the ride I decided enough was enough – those hills just seemed to be getting steeper! And so turned and headed towards camp. At one point a stick jammed itself into the rear derailer which caused a failure of one of the many vital components. Not to worry, it was mostly downhill back to camp.

The next day, Tuesday, my plan was to ride along the Trappers Gap Road from the campsite until it stopped going up hill, which was about 8km, and then return back to camp. But first I had to make the vital component that failed the previous day not-so-vital.

Wednesday, and this was to be a real challenge. The plan: ride the ascent of Mt Buffalo. I decided to have a high protein breakfast to start the day – 2 x Nutolene sandwiches, an Up-n-Go, and a banana. And before the ride I had 600ml of water. So dosed up on carbs, protein and water I started the ride from Eurobin Creek Picnic Area. This ride should have been harder than the railtrail ride, but overall my energy levels were better than the railtrail ride and more consistent over the 20+ kms of climbing probably helped by the more regular sips of water along the ascent and the banana and Up-n-Go I had at the Mt Buffalo Chalet. And I guess the promise of 20km of downhill roll on the way back spurred me on somewhat too. I suspect I need to pack some low-GI snacks and plenty of water on long or hard rides in future and not be reluctant to actually partake of them enroute.

After completing the Mt Buffalo ride, I headed back to camp and as I had heard that there was going to be rain I decided that it would be better to break camp while everything was still dry, and so packed up and travelled to my parents-in-laws for a few days to see if there was likely to be any more fine days before the weekend.

Great Southern Rail Trail ride


In my previous post I stated that I was going to try and ride as much as I could of the Great Southern Rail Trail yesterday and today. Today I fulfilled that statement. I rode the Foster – Toora section, and the Buffalo – Koonwarra section. This means the only section of the GSRT that I didn’t ride was the Leongatha – Koonwarra section.

GSRT: Foster – Toora

This section of the GSRT can be described as flat(ish) and straight(ish). Most of the time the trail has trees along side it, and the views were somewhat limited as a result. I knew that Wilsons Promontory lurked over to the south, and that there were hills to the north, but most of the time I could only catch glimpses through the trees. Not that I am complaining! I have ridden all kinds of trails that have varying amounts of trees in hot weather and trees along the side of trails make a huge difference to the comfort level when riding them.

I started the ride fairly early, partly because I wanted to ride to Toora before I had to vacate the tent site at the caravan park, and partly because I was already awake and had breakfast so why not. It was a fairly crisp morning, around 14 degrees C or maybe less, when I started and I felt the coolness of the air for the whole ride to Toora and back. Toora is a small town with an interesting history. In the past it has had a tin mine, timber mills, a 700 feet long jetty, cheese factory, and dairy farming. Today dairy farming seems to be the main industry.

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

Wind turbines above Toora

Wind turbines above Toora

Factory at Toora

Factory at Toora

Toora station

Toora station

Toora main street

Toora main street

View from trail

View from trail

GSRT: Buffalo – Koonwarra (almost)

This section of the GSRT has been described as ‘undulating’, and it certainly was. It didn’t have the long steep climbs like the Foster – Buffalo section, but it still had some fairly long grades, but not as steep. Generally a much easier ride, although by the time I was within 5km of Buffalo on the way back to the car my legs were starting to feel fatigued. Maybe it wasn’t so much today’s rides as the accumulation of fatigue since Monday!

The biggest town on this section of the trail is Meeniyan. But the real highlight was the bridges that cross the Tarwin River between Meeniyan and Koonwarra. The old railway trestle bridge is looking a bit dilapidated, but there is a new trail bridge which is very well engineered.

Trail bridge across Tarwin River

Trail bridge across Tarwin River between Meeniyan and Koonwarra

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Between the Tarwin River bridges and the end of the trail there was a rather large clearing which I am guessing was probably the site of a station at some point in the past as it had that look about it, and even some remnants of what looked like station platform, but I couldn’t be entirely sure. I couldn’t work out whether the clearing would have been the Koonwarra station (it seemed a bit far away to be the station for that location) or not. It could have been a station or platform and freight loading area not connected to a town. Between Stoney Creek and Buffalo there is such a platform, which is really out in the middle of no-where not even any houses nearby and seemingly no road or track to get to it. At least the one between Tarwin River and Koonwarra has really good access – it was not far from the main highway.

Platform remains in the middle of no-where

Platform remains in the middle of no-where a few kms from Stoney Creek

And then, 3km from Koonwarra, the trail abruptly ends. And trail users are directed up to the highway for the last 3km into Koonwarra. From Meeniyan to the end of the trail at this location I could hear the constant movement of traffic, and I really didn’t like the idea of venturing out on the South Gippsland Highway. So I turned around and headed back towards Buffalo and the car. Here are some pics of the ride.

Old buffer, Meeniyan

Old buffer, Meeniyan

Freight platform, Meeniyan

Freight platform, Meeniyan

End of trail near Koonwarra

End of trail near Koonwarra

Wombat hole beside trail near Buffalo

Wombat hole beside trail near Buffalo

Along the GSRT over the last 2 days I have seen a variety of animals: a number of foxes, a cat which nearly jumped out of it’s skin when it realised I was behind it, some black cockatoos (the ones with white tips on the underside of the wings), white cockatoos, king parrots, some yellow green and purple parrots (not sure what they are called), a bird of prey hovering over it’s breakfast, kangaroos and wallabies, and evidence of wombats. The weather has been drizzly rain, strong winds, some sunny patches and blue skies, cold mornings, warm afternoons – a very mixed bag. Which has all made for a very interesting couple of days. For now, that’s all folks!

For GPS data for todays rides, try these:

The Bass Coast


By sunrise I was well on the way to the Bass Coast region in south east Victoria. The plan was to ride the Bass Coast Rail Trail (BCRT) and as much as I could of the Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT). On the way I saw a flag flapping frantically in the wind indicating that the wind was a strong westerly / southwesterly, and so I decided that I would start the BCRT ride at Wonthaggi and ride into the wind to Anderson, then in theory I should have a tail wind all the way back to the car. I arrived at Wonthaggi and quickly prepared the bike, and started riding. It was fairly tough riding into the strong wind, but at least until Kilcunda it was fairly flat.

Wind Turbines near Wonthaggi

Wind Turbines near Wonthaggi

Powlett River bridge

Powlett River bridge

A threatening sky

A threatening sky

View from rail trail near Kilcunda

View from rail trail near Kilcunda

From Kilcunda it was a fairly steady climb to Anderson. The information I had read said that the Wonthaggi to Anderson ride was 13km, but the signage and my GPS tracker both indicated it was more like 17km. So instead of doing a 26km ride, it was more like 34km. But those are the breaks. I was able to ride it ok.

Bridge near Kilcunda

Bridge near Kilcunda

View west across Kilcunda

View west across Kilcunda

From Wonthaggi I drove to Foster and set up camp in the caravan park there, and then after some lunch I rode the Foster – Buffalo section of the GSRT. The two trails I rode today were a real contrast – the BCRT was mostly flat and there were plenty of views across the farmland to the hills to the north and sand dunes to the south; the GSRT section I rode today was mostly like riding in various types of forests with very little views of the surrounding scenery and was constantly going up or down hill. Not that I minded the contrast. The GSRT was as wide or wider than a single lane road in some places, and I enjoyed the challenge of getting up and over the next hill (of which there were plenty). I took a break at Buffalo and purchased a fruit juice, after flagging down a passer by to ask them where the shopkeeper was and him arriving at the shop a few minutes later. Friendly bloke he was. But obviously engaged in other pursuits as well as running the shop.

Buffalo is a very small settlement with a general store and a few other buildings. Fish Creek is the average small Australian village, with a number of small shops in the main street, a railway station with no rails (the station platform was being used for a vegetable garden – a novel idea), a church, and I am sure I spotted a ‘pub’ somewhere too. Apart from Foster they were the only other towns I encountered on the GSRT today.

Interesting seat at Fish Creek

Interesting seat at Fish Creek

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek station

Fish Creek station

Fish Creek station vegetable garden

Fish Creek station vegetable garden

As I am writing this on limited internet and Netbook battery, I will leave it at that for today.

For GPS data for this ride, try these:

Mt Buffalo, again


The previous post featured our recent visit to Mt Buffalo, and I realised after I had posted it that there were other interesting things that I didn’t include in that post that were just as interesting as those I included, so here is another post of interesting things we encountered while at Mt Buffalo.

Mt Buffalo is a very rocky place – the rocks are obvious pretty much everywhere. On the way back from The Horn, heading towards Lake Catani, I noticed this rock feature perched atop one of the ridges…

Easter Island Statue Lookalike

It reminded me a lot of pictures I had seen of the stone statues on Easter Island. Although it seems to have a slight ‘primate’ look about it. Closer to Lake Catani, I noticed this rock feature…

Jelly Bean Rock or TheMonolith

When describing the shape of this, the phrase ‘jelly bean’ immediately came to mind. And I would have referred to it as Jelly Bean Rock. But then I noticed when I zoomed in to the photo, that there was a sign nearby, and a fence. it doesn’t show in the above photo as I cropped it, but in the original it is definitely there. I looked at the map of the walks in the Park that I had and I now think this rock is called The Monolith. It looks like it is about to slide away down the hill. What is stopping it? I didn’t do the walk to the Monolith to find out. Maybe another day.

On the Lake Catani walk there is a picnic area which once used to be a sawmill. Called Grossmans Mill, after the owner, all that seems to be left of the mill today is some concrete foundations. I can’t imagine it would have been easy transporting the logs to the mill from elsewhere on the plateau, or transporting the cut timber down to Porepunkah and beyond. Although it seems a local source of wood for the building of the Chalet would have been beneficial.

Grossmans Mill Information Signage

Grossmans Mill Information Signage

Grossmans Mill Site today

Grossmans Mill Site today

While on the subject of the Chalet, when we were on the Haunted Gorge walk near the Chalet we went past a very sorry looking set of tennis courts. At least I think that is what they once were. Trees now grow where tennis players once roamed. The fence is falling down, the concrete is cracked. Just goes to show that nature really will reclaim what we once tried to tame.

Mt Buffalo Chalet - Old Tennis Courts

Mt Buffalo Chalet – Old Tennis Courts (I think)

At the Gorge car park near the Chalet, Zoe spotted a Red Wattle Bird. It’s doesn’t look very red, but that’s apparently because it is a Juvenile.

Juvenile Red Wattle Bird, Gorge car park

Juvenile Red Wattle Bird, Gorge car park

I think that’s about it for interesting things that I managed to get photos of the other day.