Dave's Trans-Australia Trek

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PathLessRidden, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    This is my first post and first ride report on here, so I'll launch straight into it.

    My name is Dave, I’ve been road riding for ages but I’m just getting into adventure riding. I’ve managed to get six weeks’ leave off work and a half-arsedly prepared DR650, so follow me as I cross Australia twice!

    Well, the first day started inauspiciously enough. I awoke early because although I’d finished packing, I hadn’t actually tried to fit everything onto the bike and secure it yet – so I was leaving it kinda late! Once I had thrown the panniers, backpack, tent and sleeping roll on my first problem was immediately obvious – all the extra weight of gear was compressing the rear suspension so much that it wouldn’t stay on the side stand. One slow drop in the garage and one outside on the pavement gave me second thoughts about my preparedness for the trip, but instead I quashed those and started culling things. Foremost to go was the tent, a relatively large and bulky cylinder that I ditched in place of an Army style hootchie – essentially a 2m x 1m piece of canvas. It’ll keep the rain and dew off but that’s about it...much lighter and smaller though. I also ditched some of the spare clothes (I guess I can always buy some en route if really required, or just be a bit smelly). Finally, I had filled all my water containers prior to loading them, which totalled 8L – great for when I’ll be crossing the desert, but completely unnecessary for the first leg of the trip.

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    I was meeting a friend of mine for the first leg down, as it was his birthday (27 is so old, other Dave!). We started by heading down the Royal National Park just to the south of Sydney, a popular trip for bikers of all varieties due to the flowing corners and great scenery. A quick rest stop at Bald Hill with the lovely Jess, other Dave’s pillion:

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    Once they’d had their day trip, it was time to part ways as I pushed further south. This photo is taken at the base of the Macquarie Pass, another fantastic road that’s very common for sports riders. The mountains you see in the background are part of the Great Dividing Range, and the Mac Pass winds its way up circuitously – making for a great road for bikes.

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    A quick food stop at the Pie Shop at the top (amazing cheese and bacon pies, om nom nom!), then I dropped down into the Kangaroo Valley, with some spectacular scenery as the road dropped over the edge of the ranges – sadly, there’s nowhere to stop and capture photos. I did however manage to photograph the Hampden Bridge, a historic structure in the township itself:

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    Climbing out of the valley and heading ever south, as I followed the ridgelines of the Great Dividing Range, I saw a sign for the Jerrawangala lookout inside the National Park, so I decided to take a look. After an inadvertent detour thanks to the Rangers not signposting an intersection, I was treated to an amazing view over the bush out to the south coast:

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    Shortly after, there was another lookout, this time for Tianjara Falls just off the main road. A mighty waterfall it mightn’t be (more of a minor leak, if anything), but still a spectacular cliffside – it certainly puts into perspective the difficulties the early explorers had in trying to cross the Great Dividing Range.

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    Continuing ever south, the weather started to look ominous. The forecast had called for showers however the day so far had been fine and clear – but it seemed my luck was about to change. Some of the clouds even appeared pink and orange, although sadly the photos don’t do them justice. Fortunately though, after a dozen very large and threatening raindrops, it seems I managed to thread the needle and pass through with storm on either side,
    without getting rained on.

    My destination for the day was Cooma, a town high in the Snowy Mountains near the Victorian border. I had thought the day was tracking well in terms of distance covered and lack of problems (except for dropping the bike twice before setting off!), up until I started to get up into the mountains themselves. The bush closed in, with ghost gums and stringy barks looming over the track:

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    Then the fog started rolling in. It was thick, cold and wet, and dropped visibility down to around 20 metres at times. It was starting to feel like purgatory, an endless track with no other souls on there. Adding to my concerns was the time; it was late afternoon and with the monumentally stupid and suicidal Australian wildlife I didn’t want to be riding at dusk. After what seemed like an eternity, I breached the top of the mountain and as I descended, a bright ray of sunshine pierced the gloom, lighting my path. I’m not at all religious but couldn’t help but laugh at the imagery and allegory I had constructed in my head.

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    That night I checked into a pub in Cooma, got me a belly full of steak and beer, ready to tackle the next day's challenge – across the Australian Alps and into Victoria.
    #1
  2. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    The next morning I left Cooma reasonably early, stopping briefly at a lookout to see the surrounding alpine farmland:

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    Then rolled into Jindabyne for a quick breakfast. Sadly the cafe didn’t oblige with the ‘quick’ part, but the food was OK.

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    My plan was to tackle the Barry Way, a road of some repute that cuts through the Australian Alps from NSW to Victoria. This was the first indication that things were going to be good:

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    Then I entered the National Park:

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    Almost immediately the road started to twist its way down the mountainside, meandering back and forth across the landscape – you can see both to the left and the right (in the distance) where it runs.

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    There were several lookouts which afforded great viewing.

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    And sometimes I just stopped on the road to capture a quick picture.

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    Once at the bottom of the valley, the road crossed Jacobs’ River, one of the many tributaries involved in the Snowy River scheme.

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    Then for a long while the road ran parallel to the river valley.

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    We Aussies have such original names, sometimes...

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    More river valley, further along.

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    Then I came to the border, crossing from the Kozcuisko NP to the Alpine NP in Victoria.

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    If I had thought the scenery was spectacular before, it was nothing short of amazing now.

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    Crossing Suggan Buggan Creek (names again!)

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    Then the road became precipitous, going had to be careful as fixating on the view would make you fall off the edge!

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    After crossing a number of peaks and valleys, I crested one last ridgeline, and suddenly was back in high-country farmland.

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    Parts of the area are still recovering from terrible bushfires a few years ago – I only noticed the wallaby after stopping to photograph the burnt trees!

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    Sweeping country roads through the northern part of Gippsland were fantastic for touring on a bike, alternating between stretches of forest and undulating farmland.

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    We do have some strange animals over here, don’t we?

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    A long stretch though the Gippsland Plains was a little boring, livened by crossing some wetlands and a historic swing bridge.

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    Then back to the wide open plains and straight roads.

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    Passing through Sale into South Gippsland became interesting again once I’d hit the coast.

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    With some windfarms providing the final scenery for the day.

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    That night I camped in Yanakie, just north of Wilson’s Promontory, which I would explore the following day.

    That's the first two days. I'm actually on day 4 now, so another catch up two posts tomorrow then it'll be basically real-time. Let me know if you're interested in me continuing with this, if not then I won't keep it going for the full 6 weeks...

    Cheers,
    Dave
    #2
  3. westfrogger

    westfrogger Moron with a bike

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Bottom left corner of Africa
    :*sip*
    #3
  4. Not the Messiah

    Not the Messiah Old enough to know better, but slow learnin'

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
    Oddometer:
    776
    Location:
    Melb'n, 'Straya
    Hi PathLess,

    Great start! Looking forward to more:clap

    Cheers
    Brian
    #4
  5. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunrise just outside Wilson’s Promontory.

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    I then headed into the park.

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    Initially I was a little disappointed, there wasn’t much scenery to speak of, just the usual scrubby bush hemming in the road, the same as vast tracts of non-National Park land. I did however catch sight of some emus.

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    The deeper south I got into the park, the better it got. Early views were still only OK...

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    Then at around the half way point, everything clicked into place:

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    The main township inside the park is Tidal River, where there’s a monument to the original WW2 Commandos, as this was the first training location where the Australian battalions were raised.

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    Wilson’s Promontory includes the southernmost point in Australia, however it’s a 30+ kilometre overnight hike to get to, so considering my limited
    timeframe, I decided to climb Mt Oberon and try and get a view of it instead. The hiking path wound its way up the hill through vegetation almost reminiscent of rainforest.

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    This little guy kept me company for at least 500m of the track – he would fly ahead a leg as I approached, then wait for me.

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    Although there had been patchy clouds as I set off, by the time I reached the summit the clouds had closed in completely, leaving me with absolutely zero view. I took the survey point as proof of the climb instead. Stupid Victorian weather.

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    After that I left the park and set off towards Melbourne, back through the Gippsland Plains.

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    The closer I got, the closer to the coast we came, until the road was running parallel to the beach.

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    As I was making good time, I decided to take a little detour.

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    First stop was the GP circuit, with a quick wander through the museum, then out to the trackside to see the bikes going around – just a normal track
    day, I think.

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    Next up was Pyramid Rock.

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    I had planned to see the Penguin Boardwalk as well but sadly ran out of time.

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    Back across to the mainland, looking back at the bridge.

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    Then it was a long run through featureless plains and farmland, through to the outskirts of Melbourne and down the Mornington Peninsula to Sorrento.

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    The next day I'd hop onto the ferry across Port Phillip Bay, then onto the Great Ocean Road. Plenty more photos to come!
    #5
  6. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Hmm, I seem to be having trouble posting the next leg... Meanwhile, I'm actually about to hit Adelaide...
    #6
  7. mattadv93

    mattadv93 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    404
    Location:
    Newcastle, Australia
    subscribed :lurk
    #7
  8. DockingPilot

    DockingPilot Hooked Up and Hard Over

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    11,031
    Location:
    Andover, N.J.
    IN!
    :lurk
    #8
  9. ScooterC

    ScooterC Woohoo!!

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    London
    Dude, great report! Fantastic pictures, reminds me of being through that area many years ago in a burnt orange Ford hatchback. You're doing it a better way...
    #9
  10. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    That morning I woke up slightly rusty thanks to a few too many beers and rounds of cards at the YHA (thanks Anna, Francine, Peter and Nick!), but it was only a 5 minute ride down to the ferry at Sorrento, to head across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff.

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    Note the stupid expression as the sun was in my eyes, and I was gripping the
    brake lever to stop the bike from falling over with the swell.

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    On arrival the signs for “The Great Ocean Road” immediately caught my eye, but first I had to find some breakfast – overlooking Surf Beach at Torquay, of course. Ahh bacon, is there no injury to spirit or body that you can’t fix?

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    The road wound its’ way down the coastline through a number of small hamlets, presumably full of summer houses for rich Melbournian socialites.

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    Then you hit the ceremonial gateway for the GOR itself. It was built after the First World War as an employment project for returned servicemen, so there are a number of memorials along the way.

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    It was from here that the coastline became more rugged, the roads more interesting.

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    This went on for perhaps 50 or 60 kilometres of motorcycling heaven, endless sweeping corners and stunning coastal vistas. Sadly there was a lot of slow traffic, particularly caravans, however most were polite enough to pull into one of the many turnouts to allow you past – all except one particularly slow bus driver who tried to block every effort to get past.

    After a while the road bends away from the coast (well before reaching the scenery fatigue point) and travels through a combination of rolling farmland and dense forestry areas – both of which still provided amazing motorcycling and great views, albeit of a different kind.

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    But after another 40 km of inland routes, it was time for the big ticket items. Almost immediately upon the road returning to the coastline, you come to the 12 Apostles, one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks. It’s hard to quantify just how large and spectacular these are without seeming them yourself – monumental monolithic sandstone pillars jutting out of the pounding surf, framed by vertical cliffs down to the beach.

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    Then further along the coast there are half a dozen more sights where there are amazing patterns of erosion in the limestone coast. This is the Loch Ard Gorge, named after a shipwreck nearby.

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    The Arch.

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    London Bridge (which was linked until about 20 years ago when it collapsed, trapping two people on the outcrop).

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    And the Grotto.

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    But no matter where you were, the views along the coastline were spectacular and rugged, combining with the open sweeping corners to create a kind of two-wheeled nirvana.

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    Sadly once the Great Ocean Road ends it returns inland, but instead of glorious touring roads with plenty of corners, it’s back to the dead straight lines through endless pastures - pretty in its own way, but not compared to the rest of the day’s touring.

    This day has honestly been one of the best days of motorcycling in my life, with great roads, great views, and now being far enough into the trip to be truly in the rhythm, at one with the bike. I pulled up at a free campsite half way between Port Fairy and Portsea, surrounded by backpackers’ vans and grey nomads. Next up, crossing into South Australia to Mount Gambier and the surrounding areas.
    #10
  11. slowbike smallpenis

    slowbike smallpenis Tester of Tooheys Old

    Joined:
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    21,029
    Location:
    Just above Tasmania
    Absolutely
    #11
  12. Ozxx

    Ozxx Practising Wannabee,,,,

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4
    Location:
    South of Oz
    Absolutely.....thanks for sharing.
    #12
  13. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Sorry guys, laptop has died on the road, will look at getting a new one before leaving Adelaide, but further posts will be delayed for the moment.

    I did post up Day 3 yesterday but it hasn't appeared yet - anyone know why that'd be?
    #13
  14. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    732
    Location:
    Oregon
    Oz is a diverse and amazing place!
    Please keep posting :thumb
    #14
  15. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I was woken early at the campsite by a group of three wallabies grazing no more than 5 metres from where I slept. Once they’d had their fill and moved on, it was time to pack up and hit the road.

    If there’s one image of Victoria that will remain with me (apart from the endlessly overcast weather), it would be something like this:

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    Despite the mountains and the Great Ocean Road, huge swathes of Victoria are just rolling pasture land.

    Once underway, it was a quick run to the South Australian border.

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    And on to Mount Gambier, the regional centre of the area known as “the Limestone coast”, for its unique geography. For example, this sinkhole in the middle of a suburban park.

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    As well as the Blue Lake, inside an ancient volcanic caldera.

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    The township also had several wonderfully preserved buildings.

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    Then it was back on the road, heading North for a change. At first the roads were surrounded by massive pine plantations.

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    Then I rolled into the Coonawarra region, the southernmost of SA’s wine-growing districts.

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    Interspersed with more wide open plains as pasture land.

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    Further up the road was the World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves, famous both for their beautiful limestone formations and for the rich and diverse fossil history discovered there.

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    Then as I’d made good time, I decided to get a little closer to Adelaide, back on the open road.

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    One of the most visually arresting features of the South Australian country-side are the dead gum trees that still stand – with their twisted limbs and stark colouring, they become something of an organic statue that stands out against the blue-grey skies and brown earth.

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    That evening I checked into a small pub in a one-horse town called Coonalpyn, as I was riding into a massive storm front – and sure enough, no more than 20 minutes after checking in I was able to watch the sheets of rain sweep across the road and vivid lightning bolts arc through the sky.
    #15
  16. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    After a night in a pub sheltering from a storm that had blown in, I awoke the next morning to patchy clouds, but no rain fortunately. Straight onto the road, bound for Adelaide.

    Tailem Bend, a small town on the Murray River.

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    After a short stint on the freeway I took the exit at Hahndorf to be able to ride in to Adelaide via the hills. Hahndorf is a lovely looking town, full of autumn colours and historic buildings. I’ll definitely need to come back and explore it more fully, but I had a lunch meeting set up.

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    A brief run down through the hills showed some entertaining roads, with views back over the city, however they wound their way through suburban streets so speed was not possible here.

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    Once in the city itself I had a quick wander with a mate, Walshy, who offered to take me out to lunch.

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    After lunch and a discussion of what to see and do around Adelaide, I decided I’d take an extra day or two here and see more than I had initially planned – in particular, visiting Kangaroo Island to the South.

    The run south went along the coastline and through the McLaren Vale vineyards.

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    And then through increasingly rugged hills and winding roads along the Fleurieu Peninsula.

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    Then it was into the Deep Creek Conservation Reserve, just next to Cape Jervis, the ferry departure point, to find a spot to camp. Since there were still a few hours of daylight I explored the area a little.

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    Some locals enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

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    Then it was back up the hill to the campsite.

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    #16
  17. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    The morning started on another boat - this time they strapped the bike down so I didn't have to stay and hang on!

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    Then once we landed in Penneshaw it was straight back into exploring.

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    The roads were mostly straight, but there were some good sections.

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    And some good views from the nearby lookouts.

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    Then it was on to American River (actually an inlet, not a river), where I managed to see black swans.

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    Then it was on to Seal Bay on the south coast, to see the Sea Lions - there's a great self-guided boardwalk tour that gets in nice and close.

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    I kept following the southern coast westward, next stop Vivonne Bay.

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    Then I hit the western most area, the Flinders Chase National Park.

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    After arranging my campsite for the night (with shower, what luxury!), I pushed south to Cap Du Coeudic - firstly the lighthouse, then Admirals Arch and the fur seal colony there.

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    The other sights down there were Weirs Cove and Remarkable Rocks.

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    Back at the campsite I went for a wander around dusk to try and catch some wildlife - particularly a platypus, if I could.

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    Sadly no sighting, although those are definitely burrows on the bank.

    Sunset and and an early night.

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    #17
  18. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    474
    Location:
    The Dandenong Ranges, Vic
    Enjoying your RR + pics.

    :thumb

    Thanks,

    JM.
    #18
  19. makad

    makad P/T Shed Dwelling Hermit

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    457
    Location:
    The Shed, Coolup
    Top stuff Dave!
    How good is Australia looking eh? :norton
    #19
  20. PathLessRidden

    PathLessRidden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Oddometer:
    51
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Although it was an early night, it wasn't a particularly early morning - I was slow to get going (which would bite me later).

    I decided to head back to the mainland, probably getting the lunchtime ferry to Cape Jervis, then following the coast through the seaside towns of Victor Harbor and Goolwa, before finding a campsite on the road back towards Adelaide.

    The road back to Penneshaw was good.

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    But as I pulled in to the ferry terminal at 11:30 ready to check in for the midday ferry, it was already 100m offshore and accelerating away. Turns out it leaves earlier on Saturday. To add to this, the normal 2:30pm run was cancelled, so the next boat out wasn't till 4:30. Oh well, more time to explore.

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    I decided to head to Cape Willoughby, on the southeast corner of the island, to check out the historic lighthouse there (lots of shipwrecks around the island meant lots of lighthouses)

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    Several hours of killing time later, I was on the ship heading back to the mainland.

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    I decided to stick with my original plan despite time being short - it would mean rolling quickly through those towns, but at least I'd get to 'see' them.

    Victor Harbor:

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    And the mouth of the Murray River at Goolwa:

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    I grabbed some takeaway fish and chips in Goolwa, stuffed them inside my jacket to keep them warm, and rode inland to the campsite, just outside Strathalbyn in another patch of wine country.
    #20