3962km in the wrong direction

December 16, 2011 - Melbourne, Australia

 

Melbourne, the Australian capital of culture, my approach was via the long scenic route (the Gill would have been proud, if only it didn’t significantly delay my arrival), finding that bit of extra motivation in the realisation that this was the end of my journey here and likely my only opportunity to see the southern most region of Australia. On rounding the dull caravan corner (between Eden and The Entrance there is literally nothing, hills, trees and wind summarise more than fully), I aimed for Seaspray at the tip of Ninety mile beach, keen to see such an incredible feature. For the detour it’s not too far from your conjured image doing exactly as it says on the tin, beach as far as you can see.

It was whilst I was at Seaspray that I bumped into some people with large inflatable dingys, as such it was impossible not to approach them. I did manage to catch a ride on the dingy but I also got an invitation to return with them to Sale (a town I’d left that morning) to play guitar hero. I was assured a lift back afterwards, since it was already 6pm I was unsure of the guarantee in this claim but it certainly beat a lonely evening in Seaspray, with the total commercial activity summing to one shop I quite fancied some company. Despite paying $20 for the privilege to camp I packed my tent and bike and headed 36km back along the road I took that morning. As roads go between Sydney and Melbourne this road at the time was indisputably ranked my number one favourite, fairly dull but a rarity at being flat and inoffensively windy, so I didn’t mind revisiting it, especially in a car.

 

Guitar Hero ended up morphing into a drinking (or rather a bladder control) challenge between Mark and Tities (named for his physical attributes but I’ve no idea of his real name), whereby they strapped the equivalent of 4.5pints of Budweiser to each hand with masking tape and attempted to consume them both before peeing (which was an impossiblity courtesy of the fixed bottles). Perhaps surprisingly deep though went into the operation, to the extent that both full bottles weren’t strapped on to begin with for fear that that one beer would get warm, and so a replacement dummy empty bottle was strapped to the left hand until consumption of the first bottle was complete. Initial complaints were not of needing to pee but the painful numbing of the hands under the weight and tape. Later the bladder control issues became prominent, neither managed beyond the first bottle but both refused to pee before the other so even the peeing was timed and co-ordinated. Mark had a 5am work start, so the chances of me making it back to Seaspray the following morning were looking slimmer than Mark’s chances of making work on time. He was only two hours late and I did get going the following day but I also got an awesome tour of the Gippsland (and not Gypsyland). It’s a huge dairy farming region, I waited on several occasions for crossing cows and consisted of slight rolling hills. I toured Wilson’s Prom, the southern most tip of the Australian mainland, featuring scenery not out of place in Jurassic park, I feel fairly miffed to not see a dinosaur.

 

From there I plodded around the coast to Phillip Island, here I was desperate to see little penguins. Most evenings at dusk little (a one foot tall breed) penguins emerge from the water to nest, breed or feed their young. They would make fantastic May ball crashing companions, when they first hit the shore in pairs or groups they quickly scan up and down the beach, if they’ve landed in a particularly exposed area they rush back to the water and re-emerge further up shore in a more rocky area. Then it’s a series of short quick bursts holding their white stomachs close to the ground before freezing and scanning the surroundings. I was not the only one at the beach, it is hardly an untrodden unique experience with busloads of hopefully sightseers pouring in, and concrete steps on the beach for viewing and a loudspeaker system to keep everyone informed. But in contrast to other commercial attractions it was a heritage site with the aim of protecting the penguins rather than making money and we were viewing a natural part of penguin migration. Therefore despite the stealth employed by the penguins they were being watched by a few hundred people who were supposedly seated and silent, but trying telling the hordes of Chinese who can’t help but jump, clap, point and rush to the beach on the first sighting of a penguin! I was surprised that they did manage to keep their cameras in check. Later that evening I had an email from the Sale police, inquiring into my welfare following a sighting of me getting into a car with two males in Seaspray, clearly not stealthing around the coastline myself!

The final day involved a ferry journey, which equated to unavoidable lie in, the only ferry leaving at 8.45am. The ride into Melbourne was also unexciting bar a fantastic view of Melbourne bay half way in, but it was inoffensively windy or hilly and so I was able to cruise in, basking in my last few miles in Australia and waiting for the Gill to hit his lunch (which involved vegetables, a dietary component I had forgotten existed!).

I am so pleased to have reached the end of my journey in Australia, it’s been tough, it’s been great, it’s been lonely, it’s been incredibly welcoming, it’s been beautiful, it’s been monotonous and it’s been exceptionally unpredictable. What have I learnt, Australia is a big place, not many people live here, the winds COME from the south, everything is expensive, not to trust James Gill’s geographical knowledge and I like it. I would never ride here again, but I will defiantly be back with a motor.


Pictures

The Cairns chancers
Narooma rocks
Camping in Bermagui
Mark in Wilsons Prom
 
 

1 Comment

Jools Emblin:
December 18, 2011
Hi Charlotte, dont know where you are mow but all of us here in Noosa still talk about you and it was marvellous to read that you had ridden through Gippsland in Victoria and had visited Wilsons Prom. I grew up in this area and still love it but do know what you mean when you speak of the WIND. Whereever you are I hopw you have a Christmas with fun in OZ.
Cheers Jools
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