First of all – thanks to those of you who have been in touch in various forms to offer words of encouragement following my last post – they have meant an awful lot and have spurred me on. Things have been a lot better in the last few days and suddenly the road ahead doesn’t seem so daunting. The homesickness (and I agree that’s what it is) is much improved (there will always be a bit there though I suspect) and I’m not in floods of tears all the time. Yay! Since Inverloch we have wiggled our way, like a snake (which, if you read on, you will find is apt) and have had a rest day today, just mooching around before hitting the road again tomorrow (Tuesday). We pretty much have the next week planned out, which does again conveniently involve staying somewhere on Friday night where there is a ParkRun on the Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning Adam got up bright and early to go and take part in the local Inverloch ParkRun. In New Zealand I accompanied him on these jaunts, but with an 8am start here and the rather cold nights I elected to stay cosied up in the tent and also borrow Adam’s sleeping bag for extra snug. Adam apparently got second place (like Peter Sagan eh?). After packing up we went to the library in Inverloch to borrow the free WiFi and do some admin tasks before eventually hitting the road around midday. We only had a shortish day over to Walkerville, which we had elected to go to as the campsite sounded nice. The roads were mostly empty and it was pretty easy cycling, with courteous drivers and easy gradients. What more could a cyclist want?
Walkerville campsite was on the beach and so was straight down from the main road which was at about 150m elevation (meaning a rude climb first thing in the morning). When we got to the campsite there was a sign warning of snakes and to watch your steps. I will admit that this freaked me out. We got given a “nice” secluded camp spot off the main track which probably meant a higher likelihood of snakes. .The campsite manager had told us because it was cooler temperatures there should be fewer snakes, but then another camper happily told us about the tiger snake he had seen as he drove in. I freaked out even more. It got to the point where I point blank refused to get in the tent first in case there was a snake in there. And everywhere I walked I clomped my feet like an elephant. I also warned Adam that I would need a chaperone at night once it got dark should I need to go to the loo (yeah – send the man into danger first).
We cooked up a stir fry dinner on one of the camp BBQs (these are actually more like gas hot plates) and I don’t quite know if there was an over abundance of MSG or something in the sauce (my body has obviously become a veritable temple in the last few months) but something did not agree with me AT ALL. As we retreated to the tent I considered this unfortunate combination of circumstances – a dodgy belly on a campsite full of snakes. It wasn’t long before I needed to make a hasty run for the toilet, which took priority over any snake worries. I couldn’t wait for Adam to get out of his sleeping bag and come with me so I had to face them on my own. To be honest, I didn’t even check under the toiler seat for spiders either – luckily I didn’t get bitten on the bum.
Thankfully my dodgy belly didn’t last but I didn’t sleep well and during the night I heard a creature running through the bush grunting and it sounded like it was being chased by something else that seemed to trip over a guy rope. Ok – obviously that was not a snake and maybe it was my imagination running wild, but I will admit to being pretty pleased to be getting out of there the next morning and flew up the hill.
We had around 80km to Yarram of which a good chunk was on a cycle trail. Owing to the shorter days we were on the road at 8am (the clocks changed overnight so actually this was 9am in old times). We were somewhat apprehensive about this following our experiences in New Zealand, but it was absolutely fab – we could coast down the hill at 30kph without any issues whatsoever and we didn’t have to take all the luggage off the bikes at each gate and awkwardly lean them over to fit them under the barriers. The 80km flew by effortlessly (we did have a tailwind but clearly I am also a cycling goddess) and we were in Yarram before 1pm. We had elected in advance to have a rest day in Yarram after six days on the road. Neither of particularly felt like we needed a rest but have realised that these are essential parts of staying strong and fresh so stayed anyway.
The campsite in Yarram is fab – run by a guy from Wigan and his Aussie wife. There is a lounge and kitchen so we have places to sit when it now gets dark at 6pm. And of course the obligatory firepit to keep toasty. We’ve realised why I’ve been so cold at night – it is around 4°C at night here. Chilly. This is on the edge of comfort for my sleeping bag, and this is why last night in bed I wore: 2 pairs of woolly socks, my down jacket wrapped around my feet, leggings, merino T-shirt base layer, merino mid layer, fleece, Adam’s down jacket, buff, hat, gloves, and I got right in my bag and tied up the top. Ideally I could do with a warmer sleeping bag for these next few weeks, but as it is only a few weeks, there probably isn’t any point, as once we are north of Sydney it should be warmer. We have also arranged to stay with some WarmShowers hosts for a few nights in the next 10 days so that will help too.