When we’re on the road our days involve a standard routine of decamping, making breakfast, cycling for 70 kilometres or so, putting up the tent on a new campsite, finding a supermarket, making dinner and then sleeping. Monday was our day off, so it was a bit like a weekend back in London as we didn’t need to perform our normal tasks. When we’d arrived in Yarram we’d been told about the various touristy things one can do nearby, but for us Monday was about not doing anything. Tourists probably wouldn’t even visit Yarram, but for us it was great because the campsite was fantastic, there were supermarkets in town and we had unlimited WiFi in order to complete some admin jobs. So like a Saturday at home I got up and went running (which in the morning autumnal light along the empty rail trail was fantastic) while Philippa stayed tucked up in bed. We had time to make a decent breakfast opposed to the normal affair of tea and porridge and we spent the rest of the day enjoying what Yarram had to offer. We made an unsuccessful attempt at getting the tent zipper fixed, we used the WiFi to read about the possible routes from Orbost (where we aim be on Sunday) into New South Wales and in the evening sat around the fire pit. (For a country that appears on the international news on an annual basis because of the latest bush fires they don’t half seem to like a good camp fire. We’ve both decided we’d like a fire pit as and when we have a house with a garden.)
On Tuesday the plan was to cycle from Yarram to the brilliantly named Seaspray, which, unsurprisingly, is on the coast. Seaspray is actually on Ninety Mile Beach, although I’m not sure if it’s like the Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand that’s only 60 miles long. From Yarram most cycle tourists seem to head straight up to Sale rather than detouring via Seaspray, but we wanted to avoid the main road up to Sale because we’d been told the traffic is dangerous with some cars doing over 150kph (the limit is 100kph) and pretty monotonous. I was also happy with the detour as we’ll now reach Bairnsdale on Friday evening and there’s a ParkRun there on Saturday morning. How convenient!
We knew it would be a flat day to Seaspray, but we didn’t know that it’d be so enjoyable. For the whole day the roads were loooooong and straight, but we didn’t get bored as we were too stunned at the vastness of everything we were admiring. The fields went on forever, the skies never seemed to end and the roads vanished into the distance. We both know Australia is a big country, but we’re currently on the populated coastal strip and it’s staggering how much space there is in this region. The amount of space in the centre of Australia doesn’t bear thinking about. Today was also fantastic because the cycling was really easy, which after all the tough kilometres we rode in New Zealand we felt we were owed.
We had to ride the main road for about 15km and even that was enjoyable as traffic didn’t cause us any issues. For most of those 15km there was a decent hard shoulder and the limited traffic we encountered gave us vast amounts of space when overtaking. In fact, a lot of the cars went all the way into the other lane to overtake. After the terrible driving standards we experienced in New Zealand it’s refreshing to be treated courteously on the roads. Cycling in Victoria really is a joy.
Another cyclist is staying on the Seaspray campsite, but they’re riding the whole length of Ninety Mile Beach on a fat bike and he’s being supported by his wife in a campervan. We’ve been chatting with both of them and naturally have had a go on the fat bike. It certainly rides differently to our touring bikes. We’ve also been given a slab of homemade fruit cake after she looked in horror at the reduced to clear ($1.20 down from $6.00 in my books is a win!) chocolate mud cake we were eating. This is the second person to give us free food after a guy we were talking to in Walkerville gave us three massive, tasty, oranges after we’d turned down the offer of sausages on the basis of me being pescetarian. Wherever we go people see our bikes and come to find out what we’re doing and these interactions are some of the highlights of our time on the road. This only happens because cycling around a country has a novelty factor. It’s a refreshing reminder after all the horror on the news that the vast majority of people are decent folk.
Today (Wednesday) we’d planned to ride to ride up Shoreline Drive (mainly to allow me to explore an interesting looking road) and then cut back inland to Sale. However, the forecast was for a decent amount of rain. It wasn’t raining at 6.30am so we took down the tent and then hung around in the camp kitchen until 11ish before setting off in the drizzle towards Sale the direct way. The ride was similar to the previous day, but by the time we got to Sale we were both soaked. Our Warm Shower hosts are both at work, but they hid a key outside so we’ve had showers, tea, toast and our wet clothes are being washed. We’ve never met these people, but they’ve trusted us with their house. It’s yet another reminder about the generosity of the majority of people.