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Edwins Bicycle Tour Downunder
Sunday, 28 January 2007
Sunday 28 January. Renmark to Swan Reach.

Today the weather started with clear skies clouded over midday and cleared again by late afternoon. Temperatures got to a fairly low 24C. We again had to to fight against a strong 20mph SW headwind.

There was interesting scenery in the first 20 miles of the trip. We had an early breakfast delivered to the room and checked out of the 20s Art Deco Style Renmark Hotel and then headed out near the Murray River. I found a good unofficial viewpoint looking down from the cliffs on the wide river valley.

We crossed the river and stopped for elevenses at one of the few cafes in Loxton open on a Sunday morning. We all had bacon and egg rolls.

So far there had been a moderate amount of traffic but we soon turned off onto an unclassified road where we saw a car every 10 minutes.

The road was dead straight and bends were a major event.We rode on it and saw few habitations for 60 miles. Like many outback roads we had experienced the road gently undulated with enormous wheat fields either side. The road had verges 50 to 100ft either side with bush trees and various types of parrots.

We stopped for lunch at the back of a hall in the tiny village of Wunkar and then the next break at Maggea which had one house. We eventually got to Swan Reach and the Swan Reach Hotel overlooking the Murray River.

Martin and Peter said they were Ride lagged from crossing the time zone on yesterday's ride, the first time any of us had ridden across a time zone on a bike.

85 miles for the day and 948 ft of climb.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 10:03 PM EADT
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Sunday 28 January. Peter on the Cliffs above the Murray



remote Posted by Edwin at 9:54 PM EADT
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Sunday 28 January. Overlooking Swan Reach and the Murray River



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Saturday, 27 January 2007
Saturday 27 January. Mildura to Renmark.

After the hot weather yesterday today was much cooler reaching only 24C. There was a lot of cloud around in the morning which cleared to blue skies in the afternoon. After 4 days of tail winds getting from Halls Gap to Mildura our main problem of the day was a 20mph SW head wind as today we turned west to go towards Adelaide.

We started early in expectation of the wind and a long 88 miles for the day. After breakfast in the room we left just before sunrise at 6.30. With few alternatives we had to spend the day on a major trunk road the A20 Sturt Highway. With an early start and riding on a Saturday traffic was quite light and we had the benefit of a good hard shoulder.

Soon after leaving town and not long after Sunrise Martin spotted for us 2 Kangaroos. They were too far away for decent pictures but were the first we had seen since Halls Gap. They sat and watched us for a good minute so we waved at them and they quickly hopped off into the trees.

Much of the day was notable for straight roads again with vast wheat fields stretching for miles. We had the unhappy combination of open land with nothing to stop the wind and gently rolling so there were a lot of little climbs.

We met and chatted to some Australian Cyclist travelling the country but they had light race bikes and car assistance to carry luggage.

We stopped after 38 miles for 10s at a Service Station at Cullulleraine. After 55 miles we stopped for lunch at a picnic rest stop but were immediately covered in the dreaded bush flies so lunch was hurried. The flies never bother us while cycling but often hitch a lift and start buzzing again when we stop.

We later rode across part of the Murray Sunset National Park with some interesting Bush scenery.

We next came to the boundary between the states of Victoria and South Australia. Here we crossed a time zone with South Australia being 30 minutes earlier than Victoria so I put my watch back 30 minutes and we had more time to do the Ride!!

There was a big Welcome sign for South Australia and signs warning that the importation of fruit was prohibited to prevent fruit fly spreading. A few miles up the road we came to an Inspection Station and I had to surrender some grapes from my panniers uneaten from lunchtime.

After the Inspection Station there was a Service Station doing food so we quickly turned in this being the first Caf? in 40 miles. We all ordered Apple Crumble with ice cream and were rewarded with enormous portions at least twice the size of anything available in the UK at a cost of about 2 pounds.

On the last stretch into Renmark we had views of the Murray River and then reached the grand Renmark Hotel by 4.00.

88 miles for the day and 797 ft of climb. Despite the headwind we managed a respectable 11.6 mph average.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 9:15 PM EADT
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Saturday 27 January. Early morning cycling shadows



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Saturday 27 January. enormous apple crumbles with ice cream



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Friday, 26 January 2007
Friday 26 January. Australia Day, Rest Day at Mildura.

Weather today was again hot and sunny, very hot at 36C, 97F. Today as we were staying 2 nights in Mildura it was a rest day and for a change we did no cycling at all. Quite accidentally as I had not checked for this when planning the trip our rest day fell on Australia Day, a Bank Holiday.

We started the day by going to the Mildura Australia Day Breakfast in the Park laid on by the Lions Club and District Council. We were given Australian flags to wave and after breakfast a band played Australian folk songs including Walsing Maltilda. We really felt we were getting the swing of things especially as we had learned and were using the local expressions such as "gday" and "no worries!" Peter even decided he was starting to believe he was really in Australia.

For the second part of the morning we walked along to the River Warf and boarded the Rothbury paddle ship for a 2 hour cruise up the River Murray. The Murray is The major River for the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and runs for over 1000 miles. It is very wide and in this area forms the border between New South Wales and Victoria.

After the cruise we headed back into town to find a good air-conditioned lunch. We decided the rest day was much needed with about 87 miles to ride tomorrow.

Edwin


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Friday 26 January. Peter collects his Australia Day Breakfast



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Friday 26 January. On the River Cruise. Martin relaxes



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Thursday, 25 January 2007
Thursday 25 January, Ouyen to Mildura.

Today the weather was again unbroken sunshine and temperatures up to 33C. We again had the benefit of a strong southerly tailwind. After breakfast in the room we stocked up for lunch at the local Supermarket.

With no alternative byroads we headed due north on the A79 main road. Traffic was quite light to start with, about a car every 3 minutes getting busier nearer Mildura.

We soon entered the Sunset Country Desert National Park with remote areas of Bush where Martin got his first puncture of the trip.

We stopped for a caf? break at a Service Station amongst the Bush at Hattah. We parked the bikes against a wall painting of Kangaroos and Malle Birds and then enjoyed bacon and eggs rolls. While we were there a house turned up on a lorry with a wide load escort.

Further up the road we came to signs for a fruit fly exclusion zone and requiring all fruit to be dumped in bins. We worried about the lunchtime bananas in our panniers but carried on.

There were a lot of other signs all along the road suggesting motorists take a powernap if they were tired so when we stopped for lunch at a rest stop I suggested to Peter T that he took a quick nap. We ate our picnic lunch including the bananas as seruptitiously as we could.

Tea was taken at a pizza bar in the town of Red Cliffs which was a welcome break in the heat.

We arrived at our motel in Mildura for 4.20. Martin cooled off in the pool. We went to a Greek Caf? in town for Dinner. We persuaded Martin not to eat baby goat which was on the menu so he had Kangaroo (descended from Skippy?) infused with chilli.

65 miles for the day and 551ft of climb.

Edwin


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Thursday 25 January. Martin mends a punture



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Thursday 25 January. A house arrives at our elevenses stop



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Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Wednesday 24 January. Warracknabeal to Ouyen

Today's mileage at 96 was the longest of the trip. I had been worried when planning the ride that the prevailing wind for the area was a hot northerly which would have given us a strong headwind and temperatures of 40C. In the event we got very lucky with a strong southerly tail wind all day and cooler? temperatures of 30C!

We woke up to the sound of many Kookaburras sounding like laughing together with the sounds of different types of parrots.To enable an early start we had Breakfast in the room using Supermarket bought supplies. This included Crumpets toasted in the rooms toaster one of which we overdid and set off the rooms smoke alarm!!

We were on the road by 7.00 am.The first 38 miles of the ride were pan flat across wheatfields and dead straight. The road was the B200 but as in Australia the A roads are reserved for major trunk roads it was really equivalent to a UK A road. The road surface and width were similar but traffic levels were a little different with about a car every 10 minutes.

With the benefit of the tail wind we got some speed up averaging 15 mph to Hopetoun which we reached before 10 and stopped for a 2nd breakfast combined early elevenses.

Soon after leaving Hopetoun we turned off on the C247 to Patchewollock. Traffic was a little lighter, a car every half hour. We were now seriously in the back of beyond with bush lining the road. 10 miles after the turnoff we rode alongside the Big Desert National Park. We stopped for a group photo in the middle of the road and I set up the Digital Camera on a mini travel tripod and used the timer to get in the picture.

We stopped for a picnic lunch in a clearing and then went on to stop for tea at the post office stores in the tiny bush town of Patchewollock. The stores owner said a number of people from England including some Cyclists had called in on the store. He was mystified why people would come all the way from England and then come to a back of beyond place like Patchewollock.

The last 20 miles was constant undulations but we got to our Motel in Ouyen by 4.20.

96 miles for the day and 708ft of climb. Average speed was 14.5 mph.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 8:21 PM EADT
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Wednesday 24 January. Martin riding in the outback on the road to Patchewollock



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Wednesday January. Group picture in the Big Desert taken on mini tripod



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Updated: Saturday, 27 January 2007 10:27 PM EADT
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Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Tuesday 23 January. Nhill to Warracknabeal

Today the weather had completely cleared with unbroken clear blue skies and temperatures rising to 28C.

We made use of a convenient system in Australian Motels where they deliver a breakfast to the room. We were able to get an early start by 8.00 and do some riding in the cool early morning. We took C numbered byroads via Jeparit. The roads were across generally flat wheatfield plains. Traffic all day averaged 1 car every 15 minutes.

We made good time on the first 25 miles reaching the small bush town of Jeparit for 10s. This looked like an old west town. We felt like 3 strangers riding into town and heading straight for the Milk Bar!!

During the ride we spotted many parrots in trees alongside the road but no cockatoos as this seemed outside their territory. The dead straight roads had a bend about every 5 miles which were major events.Our picnic lunch was at a special spot, a bend and a junction.

We arrived at Warracknabeal at 1.45 p.m.. I us the Library computer and in the evening we went out for a good Chinese meal.

56 miles for the day and only 442ft of climb. Average speed was 13.1 mph.

Edwin


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Tuesday 23 January. Martin and Peter T riding a byroad from Nhill in the early morning



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Monday, 22 January 2007
Monday 22 January. Horsham to Nhill.

Today we temporarily separated from Peter Wilson who was staying on in Horsham for an extra day and then getting a train to Adelaide where he will rejoin the group. The idea is for Peter to avoid the long distance rides in the middle of the trip.

Our ride today was to take us across the Little Desert National Park. Weather started dull and relatively cool at about 18C and we were worried we might have had to ride across a desert without the usual searing hot skies. We needn't have worried though as all the clouds soon cleared and temperatures rose to 27C.

The first 15 miles were pan flat and I set a time trial pace of 16 mph to stop for 10s at Natimuk a small quiet town with a Milk Bar (Australian for a caf? combined general store) Several people enquired where we were from and where we were cycling to.

The B road out of Horsham was very quiet with several minutes between cars. We then turned off onto the C213 for Mitre and traffic dropped to a car every 10 minutes. We then turned off onto an unclassified Bush Road and traffic dropped to a car per hour. This road was lined with gum trees with small parrots noisily taking flight as we passed their trees.

Then it was onto the C206 north with a tail wind through the Little Desert. The first 10 miles of it had been badly burned in a recent Bush Fire. Martin found a live Australian Ant Eater or Echidna. This is a creature covered in spines which quickly burrowed into the sand to escape Martin.

We had a picnic lunch in the desert sitting on a railing to avoid any nasty creepy crawlies.

The rest of the ride was across flat farmland and on to the Comfort Inn in Nhill a small Bush Town. We arrived by 2.30 p.m. a record for the trip so far. The room we were given had 2 beds and a cot. We debated whether Martin would fit in the Cot but I went back to reception and got a room with 3 beds.

62 miles for the day and 669ft of climbing.

Edwin


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Monday 22 January.Martin and Peter T cycling through the charred Little Desert



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Sunday, 21 January 2007
Sunday 21 January. Halls Gap to Horsham.

Today started with some more Kangaroo spotting before breakfast. The hotel rooms were arranged in a courtyard with a small grassy area in the middle. At 7.15 I spotted a large Kangaroo grazing there and took lots of pictures. Peter W came out and flashed it causing it to promptly hop away up the driveway.

After breakfast I found a group of 4 Kangaroos on the lawn in front of the hotel and got a few pictures before they hopped off across the road including a mother with baby behind.

There had been heavy rain the previous evening and night but it was just starting to clear as we left with some light rain for the first 15 minutes. The rest of the day was cloudy with some sunny spells and temperatures up to 19C.

The day started with an 8 mile climb into the northern Grampian Mountains. We gave Peter W a 30 minute head start. We re-grouped at the top at Reids Lookout with great views over the Grampian Mountains. Then we walked half a mile to another viewpoint with a rock shaped like an Alligators Jaws and Peter T and Martin obliged by standing on the top to give some scale.

We then had a fast descent on switching bends with the road littered with torn off bark from gum trees from the previous nights storm. By the time we left the forest of the Grampians we had cycled 16 miles among trees badly burnt from a massive Bush Fire in January of last year. The forest had recovered very well with much greenery rising from the ashes and many trees left undamaged.

As we came down to the Wartok valley we were in another area favoured by Kangaroos with many visible in the fields. We saw one group close to the road and as we stopped they sat upright looking at us. Possibly the battery of Cameras we pointed at them decided them to hop off elsewhere and they hopped across the road in front of us leaping fences with ease.

Lunch was taken at a pottery and shop combined with Tea Rooms in the small village of Wartok. Later we saw a group of 5 Emu in a distant field.

Nearer to our destination of Horsham the land became pan flat farmland with dead straight road. We had a good 25mph tailwind riding to the Best Western in Horsham, a town about the same population as the Sussex version but spread over a larger area American style.

48 miles for the day and 1896ft of climbing.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 10:29 PM EADT
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