We’d entered Victoria, the Garden State, in mid December but to be truthful it didn’t feel like an Aussie summer at that point in time. The weather was still very cold at night and wet and windy quite a lot. We took a break from the bikes and headed home to Broken Hill for Xmas and then returned to much the same conditions in January. But…that didn’t last ling as a heatwave swept across Southern Australia and we were faced with the challenge of plus 40 degrees C and bush fires ravaging the state. The scenery was greener than South Australia and ruggedly beautiful as we hugged the coast for much of the way. We also started to hit the big hills as we made out way East and crossed the southern part of the Great Dividing Range. We met up with friends that had help inspire this journey and friends of old who I’d ridden with many years ago. We also met up with travellers doing stranger things than us. Victoria definitely provided some of the big highlights of our 2013-2014 Cycling Tour across Australia.
Number 1. Taking a break from our bike journey we grabbed a train from Warrnambul and dropped them off in Melbourne with a couple of mates we’d met when they were cycling across Central Asia. These guys were a big part of the reason we were inspired to start cycle touring and it was great to catch up, reminisce and compare experiences on the bikes.
Number 2. Not long after we started our trip back after Christmas we hit the start of one of the most iconic Road Trips in Australia. The Great Ocean Road. Expectations of a great ride were high and we weren’t disappointed.
Number 3. Even though the weather wasn’t that great the views were still stunning. Rugged coastal scenes with stunning rock formations abounded along the stretch between Port Campbell and Lavers Hill.
Number 4. The “Twelve” Apostles (that number quite a few less these days )make a stunning addition to the views of the Great Southern Ocean.
Number 5. The ride up to Lavers Hill was the toughest on this leg of the journey. 18 km up with a limited shoulder on the road in some areas made it a bit scary. There are no water stops on the way and we miscalculated how much we’d need. Luckily some local residents were used to this situation and happily filled our water bottles. A great ride but we were pretty buggered by the time we got to the top and the lovely Tavern was a welcome sight. and the pints didn’t even touch the sides.
Number 6. A lucky conversation with fellow campers at the Lavers Hill campsite saw us take an alternative route to Apollo Bay. Rather than the massive downhill follwed by another big up we rode allong the ridge through Beechforest and then down Skeynes Creek Road. It was a stunning ride that included the very beautiful Turton Track through the rainforest (fresh from the previous nights rain). Definitely one of the best days ride of the whole trip.
Number 7. A wonderful surprise walked in the door of the Hostel we were staying at in Apollo Bay. We’d last met Jacques Sirat in Tajikistan as he rode across the roof of the world. With 20 years cycling around world under the belt he’s definitely one of our greatest inspirations.
Number 8 As we headed off from Apollo Bay the scenery changed. It was every bit as stunning but the beaches had become way more accessible. Not that it was warm enough for us to get in!
Number 9 Just before Torquay we officially completed The Great Ocean Road. Despite the weather it had been a real highlight of the journey so far. WE can only hope the authorities make the road a bit more bike friendly for others who want to complete the journey in safety.
Number 10 In Torquay we caught up with more friends who I’d had the pleasure of cycling with a few years back. Sure it was on road bikes but they had been part of the reason I love cycling. A few too many drinks made the ride to Queenscliffe a little challenging the next day but it was well worth the hangover.
Number 11. On the way out of Torquay we had the pleasure of passing through 13th Beach. Nice quiet roads with stunning ocean views and winds that had the kite surfers kicking up their hills. Thankfully it was at our back for this leg of the journey and the sun had come out. Perfect weather for riding.
Number 12. Rather than head around Port Phillip Bay and have to go through Melbourne again we headed for the Ferry at Queenscliffe. We’re so glad we did as the town itself is a real gem. Lovely historic buildings, plenty of cafes and restaurants and great views from the beach.
Number 13. The Mornington Peninsula was definitely another highlight of the trip. Unfortunately it was peak season so traffic and crowds were an issue. But… they wouldn’t have been there if there was nothing to see. We really do have to learn to share our favourite sites!
Number 14. As the the most severe heat wave of the year swept across Victoria we sought relief at Lakes Entrance. Certainly on of the most stunning parts of the coast we were treated to three nights in an air conditioned cabin as a bonus.
Number 15. As the cool change came in we headed inland to Snowy River Country. We were lucky enough that the bushfires in the area had been controlled and the main road was re-opened just in time to let us through.
Number 16. The threat of bushfires certainly added a bit of adrenaline to the journey and we were hesitant to bush camp. With the threat still very real we pulled up for two nights at the pub in Cann River. It was a great insight into country life in this nexk of the woods and a welcome rest for our legs before we hit the big hills to the East.
Number 17. Could this be one of the loveliest free camps in Victoria. Maintained by the local community in Genoa they do a great job judging by the number of people who use the facilities.
Number 18. The pub at Genoa saw us swapping tales with Jaeson from Korea and Jamie from Ulladulla. Jaeson had bought a bike in Melcourne and was on his first cycle tour. Jamie was pushing a cart from Ulladulla to MEebourne. And you thought we were strange!! A big bonus was the awesome food the pub served up for dinner. Best pub grub in Victoria.
Number 19. Jamie and his cart. No he wasn’t doing it for charity. Just like us he thought it was a great idea at the time and was in it for a personal challenge. A fantastic guy and enjoying his trip immensely at that point in time. Hope he made it and inspired others along the way.
Number 20. We’d made it to NSW border. The last part of the journey through the hills had been tough but incredibly beautiful. I wouldn’t say the road conditions are optimum for cycling. Non-existent shoulders in places make it tricky but we’d got there alive and in relatively good shape. Overall we were feeling pretty damn chuffed with ourselves.
As one of the smaller states in Australia, Victoria sure punches above it’s weight. We were already planning future journeys through areas we hadn’t been able to visit. Great scenery, lots of goodcamping, pretty good roads in most places and just enough hills to keep a cycle tourist honest. Next up we’ll be trying to pick out the highlights of NSW. Pretty sure that won’t be easy either.
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