A Whole Bunch of Firsts

For 5 days before Easter 2018, I had the opportunity to embark on that most james-like of holidays – a cycling holiday. But that holiday prooved to have a lot of firsts:

  • First time riding on the Bellarine Peninsula.
  • First time riding on the Mornington Peninsula.
  • First time on a ferry or ship.
  • First time I used a hiking tent and pack for a cycling holiday.
  • First time camping overnight away from towns on a cycling holiday.

Sunday 25th March, and the forecast was for strong winds, possibly rain, and fairly low temperatures. Not exactly the best weather for a cycling holiday, but it was that or spend my annual leave at home. After uneventful train trips from Springhurst, near Wodonga, in Victoria to South Geelong, I started the first ride of the holiday – the Bellarine Pensinsula Rail Trail. I always imagined the Bellarine Beninsula as a fairly flat place, but the rail trail was more undulating than a ‘fairly flat’ region would have required. And there were even a few descent climbs which got my huffing and puffing while lugging about 10kg of extra weight in the bike’s panniers and the hiking pack on my back. The first section of the rail trail was over or along side the old broad guage Victorian Railway branchline.

Cycling kit for the holiday: a 29 inch rim mountain bike, an old (as in about 20+ years old) Carribee hiking pack, and a Topeak bag and panniers.

Bellarine Rail Trail

Aleppo Pine decendant plaque near the rail trail.

Aleppo Pine decendant near the rail trail.

The old disued and somewhat overgrown broad guage railway line remains between Drysale and Geelong South.

But after Drysdale, the trail was beside the 3 foot 6 inch guage Pellarine Peninsula Tourist Railway all the way to Queenscliff. The Bellarine Peninsula Railway is on the formation of the broad guage branch, but re-guaged to 3’6″. Being quite insterested in railways, this suited me fine, and I pedalled along at a fairly leisurely pace, or at least it felt that way with the rather strong tailwind that blew me along. I was hoping to see a train or two while riding along this section. Eventually I did see a train or two, but it wasn’t until much closer to Queenscliff.

Drysdale railway station on the Bellarine Peninsula 3’6″ railway.

Drysdale railway station

Shed at Drysdale railway station

Looking towards Queenscliff at Drysdale railway station

Drysdale railway station

Carriages near Drysdale railway station

0-6-0T tank engine, and 2 carriages near Queenscliff.

o-6-0T tank engine at Queensliff railway station.

Shipwreck / marine disater alert bell.

Diesel locomotive and ‘Q Train’ at Queenscliff.

After reaching Queenscliff, I found the Queenscliff – Sorrento ferry, for the next leg of the day’s journey. The ferry was a rather large ship, but not like the huge cruise liners or sea-going ferries. It was large enough to inspire confidence in it’s ability to make the journey, always a good thing! By the time I got to the ferry it was about 2pm, much later than I thought it would have been so while on the ferry I purchased some lunch, hoping that I would not experience sea-sickness. Retrospectively, I needn’t have worried. Even with the up and down motion of the ferry, and a belly full of food I didn’t feel even a slight bit queasy.

Queenscliff Ferry Terminal

The ferry

Looking towards Sorrento from the ferry.

Once the ferry arrived at Sorrento, I continued my journey to the foreshore camping ground I had booked online for the night a few days before. After I had been riding for a while I started to wonder if I had passed it, but just about that time I saw the sign indicating that I was there. Phew! After setting up camp, I had to walk into Rye, a few kilometres away, to buy something for the evening meal and breakfast the next day. While walking back from the Rye shopping centre to Tyrone Foreshore Campsite I found a reconstructed Limeburners Kiln, shown above. A nearby plaque commemorating it said

“This reconstructed kiln is a memorial to one of the earliest industries on the [Mornington] Peninsula and is a tribute to our early settlers and their rugged enterprise. Duein the mid-1800s natural limestone was mined and burnt in kilns to produce lime, for making mortar. Most of the lime as loaded in barges and shipped to Melbourne for use in the building industry. The last commercial burning of lime on the peninsula was carried out in the Rye area”.

This was the very first time I had camped in a hiking tent when on a cycling holiday where I had to carry everything I needed. And so by the evening I was very thankful for the rest.

Private bathing boxes near Tyrone Foreshore Campsite

Campsite at Tyrone Foreshore Campsite

View from the campsite

Reconstructed Limeburners Kiln between Rye shopping centre and Tyrone Foreshore Campsite

Monday dawned overcast and windy, with threatening grey skies. So I wore 3 layers of clothing on my body – a cycling jersey, a second long-sleeved layer for warmth, and then a waterproof jacket just in case it started raining. Well, it didn’t start raining. But there were some places along the ride where I was thankful I had the waterproof jacket on. In places the route I took was within about 10 metres of the beach, and the wind was so strong that the normally docile Port Phillip Bay looked like a surf beach and sent sea water spraying over me from the waves breaking against the sea walls.

The Bay Trail

Lighthouse near Bay Trail

Waves crashing over the beach wall.

Mural on the Bay Trail

View across the water from near Safety Beach.

Bay view near Mornington

Statue of Matthew Flinders at Mornington.

Rougher than usual bay near Franskton.

After climbing through Safety Beach, Mt Martha and Mornington I eventually arrived at Frankston, expecting that I would have a nice leisurely train ride into central Melbourne. Alas, this was not to be. About 3 stations along the line from Frankston, the passengers of the train I was in were informed that the overhead wires that feed electricity to the train were damaged and that the train wouldn’t be continuing and would be replaced by a bus. Not one of this big coach busses with plenty of space to carry a bike in it’s metallic belly but those much close to the ground metro busses with no storage area at all. So I had to ride to Cheltenham, about 15km away. Thankfully it was fairly flat, and it wasn’t raining, and I could ride along the roads that followed the railway or I might have got somewhat lost. Eventually I arrived at Cheltenham railway station and caught a train to Southern Cross statuon in Melbourne. Then it was on to Bendigo, where I stayed at a caravan park about 10km from the railway station.

Bendigo has a good network of bike trails, but I only really got to ride on one of them that day, the Bendigo Creek Trail.

Lake Weeroona.

Chinese building near Bendigo CBD

Giant flower near the Bendigo Chinese Musuem

Flowers in the park near the Bendigo CBD

Flowers in the park near the Bendigo CBD

Flowers in the park near the Bendigo CBD

Flowers in the park near the Bendigo CBD

Sculpture near Epsom on the Bendigo Creek Trail.

By the next morning the weather forecast for the region was for sunny days, even as high as the high 20’s celsius. And I was on my way to Pyramid Hill. A place I had been through on the train numerous times, but had never actually explored the town and it’s environs. The plan was to explore the town, ride out to the town’s namesake – a pyramid shaped hill and stay overnight at the caravan park. This was been the least expensive caravan park I have ever stayed at, costing only $10 for the night. After a rather pleasant afternoon riding around, and talking to others staying at the caravan park, I went to bed early (there really wasn’t much else to do after dark).

Bendigo railway signal box at the south end of the station.

VLocity northbound, and locomotive hauled southbound passenger trains at Bendigo Station.

Bendgo railway station

Pyramid Hill caravan park

Commeorative Plaque to Major Mitchell, the disciver of the Pyramid Hill and surrounds.

Pyramid Hill, in detail

Pyramid Hill rock formations

Pyramid Hill, rock formations

Entrance to Pyramid Hill via the Golf Course.

Pyramid railway station, which serves the town of Pyramid Hill

Pyramid Hill memorial hall

Pyramid Hill IGA supermarket – rather ornate for a supermarket!

Pyramid Hill silos

Pyramid Hill railway goods shed – it’se not been used in a while.

Pyramid Hill Catholic shurch

An old style shop in Pyramid Hill

Result of my fall off the bike nearthe Mt Terrick Terrick Campsite

Result of my fall off the bike nearthe Mt Terrick Terrick Campsite

Then there was Wednesday. After a good night’s sleep on my self-inflating bed roll and with my self-inflating pillow to rest me head on, it was time to pack up camp and head south east to the Terrick Terrick National Park, near Mitiamo. When one travels through the region by train, it looks very very flat. But I was to find out that looks can be deceiving. Or maybe it was just the roads I rode along to get to Terrick Terrick National Park were more hilly than everywhere else in the region? The ride was along almost all gravel roads, with the destination being the Mt Terrick Terrick Campground, a free camping campground with no facilities except some tables and a drop toilet. After setting up camp I walked to the top of Mt Terrick Terrick, about 400 metres from camp. Mt Terrick Terrick is a rather large granite outcrop rising to about 120 metres high, and the view from the summit was amazing – 360 degree views, with flat land as far as the eye could see in all directions punctuated by the occasnial mountain range. I reckon one of them looked like the Grampians, but I wasn’t so sure it would be close enough to actually see from where I was. I also rode into Mitiamo to buy some food for the evening meal and tomorrow’s breakfast, and some water. On the way into Mitiamo I was not concentrating on where I was going. The bike went into a deep rut in the road, and as I realised it and overcorrected, the bike slid out from underneath me and I hit the gravel. It didn’t hurt much, and there were no broken bones or concussion. But there was plenty of blood oozing out of the resulting abrasions! So when I reached Mitamo, 7km away, I found the nearest public tap and doused the abrasions in water, to clean the wound and wash away the dried blood.


Cactus with flower between Pyramid Hill and Terrick Terrick National Park

Mt Terrick Terrick Camp Site

Mt Terrick Terrick

Mt Terrick Terrick

Mt Terrick Terrick

Mt Terrick Terrick

Mt Terrick Terrick

View from Mt Terrick Terrick towards Mitiamo

“Intrusion” in the rock of Mt Terrick Terrick

View from Mt Terrick Terrick

Mt Terrick Terrick

Bennetts Rocks, Terrick Terrick National Park

Bennetts Rocks, Terrick Terrick National Park, looking towards Mt Terrick Terrick (that bump in the middle of the photo)

Bennetts Rocks, Terrick Terrick National Park

After retuning to the campsite, I went for a short ride around what was called Bennett’s Rocks. Not quite as high as Mt Terrick Terrick, but the view was just about as spectacular. And the ride itself was enjoyable too. I also found the Mitiamo Cemetery, and it was interesting to see that the cemetery was still being used for recent burials.

Mitiamo Hall, 1885.

Old church at Mitiamo, now a private residence

Mitiamo war memorial

Mitiamo silos

Old country style house at Mitiamo

Mitiamo General Store

VLine passenger train passing through Mitiamo heading towards Bendigo.

The next day, Thursday, I packed up camp, and rode into Mitiamo where I had some breakfast. While eating breakfast, I saw the morning Swan Hill – Southern Cross passenger train rumble through town. Then I struck out for Elmore about 45km away. The ride was very flat, with very straight roads. Not exactly the most interesting places to ride, but the scenery still held a few surprises. After about 20km of straight road, the road turned very lazily to the left and, behold, hi-rise haystacks. And I thought to myself, for there was no-one else around, “you know you’re in the country when there are more haystacks than people”. Eventually I happened upon an asphalt road, and I continued to follow it towards Elmore, with a brief stop to inspect the grain silos and what was left of railway station (not much apart from a mound of dirt) at Hunter.

The very straight and flat road between Mitiamo and Elmore.

Welcome the really really really really flat lands

Haystacks between Mitiamo and Elmore

Hunter hall

Hunter silos. Once upon a time, a railway ran by here.

I though I must have been within a very few kilometres of Elmore, but the sign I saw near Hunter said it was still about 11km away. So on I peddled, a little less energetically than before, and within about half an hour or so I was at Elmore where I stopped for lunch. This marked the end of my cycling holiday, but my cycling activities weren’t over yet. Over the next few days, while camping at Elmore I managed a few more rides and one rather eventful single track mountain bike trail that destroyed the rear derailuer on my mountain bike to the point where I couldn’t even ride the bike.

Elmore silos

Elmore railway station

Elmore railway water tank

Once we arrived home I removed the deraileuer, and I am still pondering exactly what to do. That is the 3rd rear derailuer that has failed in about as many years. I’m seriously thinking of converting my mountain bike to a single speed – you know, those bikes that have only one gear. That would mean no derailuers! And from what I’ve read, it would make the bike much easier to maintain and repair, and would make it lighter. But it would be harder to peddle up the steeper hills. Maybe I need more of a challenge when climbing hills on my bike anyway.

2014 Cycling Holiday Plans

Last September I had the opportunity to do some bicycle touring around various Rail Trails in Victoria (Australia). One of the biggest bug-bears of that holiday was the swooping of countless magpies, which is s common occurance for cyclists between August and October in many places in Australia. So this year I decided that my cycling holiday would be about as far from September as it can be – March / April! So in just under a week, it’s time for another cycling holiday.

This one will be quite different to the last one, in which I stayed a different town each night. The plan for the March holiday is to stay at my parents house for most of the holiday (they currently have a spare bedroom) and do a number of day trips along various cycling paths – some will be rail trails, and others urban shared paths. Here is the plan:

  • Sunday 2nd: Travelling from home to Cathkin, where I will ride the Cathkin – Alexandra rail trail (the only part of the Goulburn Valley Rail Trail I didn’t ride last September), then travel to my parents house on the outskirts of the Melbourne ‘burbs.
  • Monday 3rd: Ride the Warby Rail Trail between Lilydale and Warburton.
  • Tuesday 4th: Ride various bike trails starting at Belgrave, and finishing at Melbourne CBD. Then probably get the train back to my parents house.
  • Wednesday 5th: Travel by Car to Foster in southern Victoria, via Wonthaggi. Ride the Wonthaggi – Woolamai / Anderson Rail Trail near Phillip Island.
  • Thursday 6th: Ride as much as I can of the Great Southern Rail Trail (Leongatha – Yarram).
  • Friday 7th: Travel by car from Foster to Mirboo North and ride the Mirboo North Rail Trail. Then continue by car to my parents house.
  • Sabbath 8th: Day of rest!
  • Sunday 9th: Travel by train into Melbourne CBD, then ride to Frankston on various cycling trails. Then by train back to parents house.
  • Monday 10th: Travel to Ballarat (or somewhere near there) by car, and ride as much as possible of the Ballarat – Skipton rail trail. Alternatively, travel by train to Geelong and ride the Geelong – Queenscliff Rail Trail.
  • Tuesday 11th: Attempt to ride up Mt Donna Buang (near Warburton, 1000 metre elevation gain), or maybe Mt Dandenong (around 600 metres elevation gain).
  • Wednesday 12th: Ride from parents house to Gembrook and catch Puffing Billy back to Belgrave (or ride back if train trip not possible).
  • Thursday 13th: Travel by car back home.

A number of the rides above are longer than 60km in length, the longest possible one will be about 100km (the Ballarat – Skipton rail trail). And even some of the rail trails will have some fairly relentless elevation gains. So it will prove interesting to see how I manage with the various rides, especially the longer ones.

Of course this is only a vague plan of the things I would like do over my holiday. It will most probably change. The weather may yet be the biggest influence for change of the above itinerary, followed closely by my level of fatigue as the holiday progresses!

Cycling Holiday Day 1 – GVRT Tallarook – Yea

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain, and by the time we were passing through Albury / Wodonga the rain had that menacing ‘raining all day’ look about it. But the further south we got, the better the weather got and by the time we arrived at Tallarook the day was warm, and sunny, with a little cloud. Perfect weather for cycling!

As I removed the bike from the bike rack on the back of the car, there was a magpie stuka that was swooping Rebecca and the kids, but it seemed to be content to leave me alone, so while I got the bike set up to start my trek, the rest of the family retreated to the car.

Tallarook railway Station

Tallarook railway Station

I had never been to Tallarook, or travelled on the road from there to Trawool, before today so that was a new experience. Tallarook was once the junction for the Mansfield and Alexandra railway lines. Parts of the rail trail are adjacent to the Goulburn River and the grades, being old railway formations tended to be up to about 4% (1:25).

Rail trail next to Goulburn river

Rail trail next to Goulburn river

Then at the end of Goulburn River Road, the trail follows the Goulburn Valley Highway towards Yea. There were a number of old railway station / siding locations, which basically showed very little evidence of being an important railway formation, and often the signage was the only real proof that a railway facility (apart from the track) was even there, as at Trawool.


Trawool Station remains (I think)

At Granite, where there was once a station but today the overwhelming feature is the Trawool Valley Resort (I think that is the name of it).

Trawool Resort, Granite.

Trawool Resort, Granite.

A few kilomtres further on was Kerriesdale. At this point in the journey I decided to visit the Kerriesdale Mountain Railway (KMR), a privately owned and operated tourist railway that has a maximum grade of 1:12 (around 8%). The grades reminded me of photos I had seen of the Cass Railway in West Virgina, but the surrounds had a lot less trees.

The views from the Summit and along the journey to the Summit were amazing. The location on the railway called Strath View Siding offered views to the east towards the Australia Alps, and from the Summit the view was nearly 360 degrees with magnificent views into the valleys and mountains beyond! If you are ever in the Trawool area, I would say the the KMR is a ‘must visit’ location. And I am not just saying that because I like trains!

GVRT from KMR train ride

GVRT from KMR train ride

Views from KMR at Strath View Siding

Views from KMR between Strath View Siding and Summit

Views from KMR at Strath View Siding

Views from KMR between Strath View Siding and Summit

After riding the train to the summit and back we arrived back at the Bottom Points station, where I had some lunch. Then I gingerly descended to the rail trail (the road to / from the Kerriesdale Mountain railway was so steep I had to walk the bike up the last section on the way to get to the KMR), and had to navigate through the scrub for a little way to get back on the rail trail – not ideal when riding a portable bike. And then I continued towards Yea.

Not long after I got back on the rail trail at Kerriesdale, I passed over the King Parrot Creek Bridge. This is a fairly high bridge – I am thinking it is probably the second highest on the whole trail, the one over Lake Eildon being higher – but there may be others that I am not aware of. I wasn’t aware of their being a rather long tunnel on the rail trail either until I read about it a week or so ago, so there may be other high bridges I am not aware of too. Also in the area near the King Parraot Creek bridge, there are some old growth River Red Gum forests, which apparently have some trees up to 600 years old.

King Parrot Creek bridge

King Parrot Creek bridge

King Parrot Creek bridge

King Parrot Creek bridge

At Homewood, there was very little evidence of the railway station that once existed. But I did find this:

Homewood station, maybe?

Homewood station, maybe?

There were a number of long-ish grades on the section between Kerriesdale and Yea, but apart from a swooping magpie actually attacking my helmet (a first since I painted it black and added heaps of cable ties) the whole journey from Tallarook to Yea was without any major incident.

Upon arrival at Yea I had a look around the well preserved railway station and good shed, and then headed off to the motel where I was booked to spend the night.

Yea station

Yea station

Yea Goods Shed

Yea Goods Shed

Over all a very enjoyable and interesting ride.

For GPS tracking for this ride, go to :