Still Cycling

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January 22nd 2011
Published: January 25th 2011
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Tuesday 18th January – after the excitement of the previous evening at the Sovereign Hill ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ show, we were a little slow getting going today. But we managed a drive to Buninyong, an historical small town, where we wandered round the botanical gardens and found a nice café for a bit of lunch. A nearby garage had an air-line and Graham, following advice from several fellow campers, raised the pressures in the car tyres from 30psi to 40psi. In the afternoon we decided to take the bikes over to Lake Wendouree and cycle the 6 kms around the lake. We had debated several times on our trip whether the hassle of loading and un-loading the bikes each time we moved the caravan could be justified. It’s quite a complicated procedure particularly as the bike rack rests on the spare wheel at the back of the car. When the caravan is attached there is barely enough room to get both bikes on the rack so the temptation has often occurred to “leave them behind”. But occasional cycle rides like todays make us realise that bikes offer a great alternative to driving or walking so I’m sure we’ll persevere. Today by Lake Wendouree there were still short stretches of paths that were under water but we were able to by-pass them quite easily. It made for a lovely relaxed afternoon, that was until Graham came to put the bikes back on the bike-rack and one of the main retaining knobs fell off!!! The thread had worn away, probably because of the constant adjustment each time we moved. It seemed as though the decision to keep or abandon the bikes was going to be made for us – no bike rack – no bikes!! Graham made a temporary adjustment which he hoped would be good enough to get us back to the caravan park where he could spend some time trying to mend it properly. Luckily we managed to get back in one piece and Graham set about repairing the bike rack. Rather cleverly he replaced the faulty knob with one from a different section of the rack and then replaced that one with a nut and bolt which, by sheer chance we happened to have and which, by sheer chance, happened to fit. So for now the bikes get a reprieve and we resolved to use them more often.
The Arch of VictoryThe Arch of VictoryThe Arch of Victory

and the Avenue of Honour

On Wednesday we didn’t get on the bikes but went in the car to Daylesford. There were plenty of places we would have liked to have visited but the roads to some towns to the north and west were closed due to flooding so we were rather limited as to where we could go. Creswick, a small town only a few kms from Ballarat had been badly affected otherwise we would have called in there. The photos in the local newspapers told a bleak story of the terrible floods although the front page photos showed the changes to Lake Wendouree in the last three years. There were no problems getting to Daylesford – it’s a pleasant, touristy town so we had some lunch and a wander. Then we drove to the nearby lake which Graham remembered visiting with Daphne in 2002 when he came to Aus on his own. There is a well placed café there so we had a cup of tea with a view. It was only a few kms to Hepburn Springs where we had a very pleasant walk. Still with plenty of the day left, we went on to Trentham Falls which, of course, looked great with the force of the water going over. Our first choice of a different route to return to Ballarat failed because of flooded roads so, rather than take any chances, we returned via the route we had taken earlier.

Thursday was the day we had decided to move on from Ballarat. Our original plan was to travel to Horsham where we knew that David was due to visit for a few days. However, most of the routes which went through or near to The Grampians were closed so our onward direction was somewhat limited. Hamilton was the obvious alternative so we investigated the likely routes and settled for The Glenelg Highway. We knew it had been closed so we rang the Hamilton Caravan Park to check and they confirmed that the road was now passable. It wasn’t a long journey so we took our time to pack things away but by 10:00am we were on the road. At times we wondered if we had chosen the right route as there was so little traffic – was The Glenelg Highway really open? The key point was at a place called Dunkeld which we reached and passed with no trouble. Thereafter it was an easy hop to Hamilton and the Lake Hamilton Caravan Park. We had a wander around the park before checking in – something we had spotted other campers doing but we had always taken “pot luck”. The park looked delightful so we had no qualms about checking in and chose a large, level block to set up on. A quick drive around Hamilton confirmed that it was a pleasant area to stay and we consolidated our day by having a fish and chip supper by the lake.

Friday saw us back on the bikes. We had spotted a cycle trail around the nearby lake the night before and were determined to see what it was like. As with the lake at Ballarat, it was delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed the slightly more rural aspect of the Hamilton Lake with plenty of wildlife and loads of noisy frogs – we could hear them although we couldn’t see them. We cycled on into town where we secured our bikes (disappointingly – no bike racks) to some railings and fully explored the town on foot. After having some lunch we cycled on to a wetlands area and then back to the caravan park. Later in the afternoon we drove to the nearby Nigretta Falls and then on to Wannon Falls. Both sets of falls were magnificent with the quantity of water probably as full as it’s ever been. They certainly made for some spectacular photos and we were lucky to have them to ourselves for most of our time there. In the evening we made contact with David who, after a bit of a tortuous journey, had found his way to Horsham to spend some time with his old friend Ian. We had originally planned to spend a day in The Grampians with David and Ian but, because of the flooding troubles, we agreed to meet on Saturday at a small town called Cavendish which we knew was accessible from both Hamilton and Horsham.

So on Saturday we made our way to Cavendish for our rendezvous with David and Ian by the War Memorial at 10:30. We arrived early and spent some time admiring the splendid memorial and wondering how such a small town could support such a magnificent memorial. David and Ian duly arrived (a little late but their journey was much longer than ours) and after
Tribute to Queen VictoriaTribute to Queen VictoriaTribute to Queen Victoria

erected by the residents of Buningyong (near Ballarat) on December 13th 1901
a quick cuppa we piled into David’s (Grant’s) car and headed for Mount Abrupt which Ian thought would be accessible. Alas, the quantity of low lying water made several routes impassable and after a couple of thwarted attempts we eventually arrived at a small lake near the base of Mount Abrupt where we decided to have our picnic lunch. It was a beautiful rural location and a great place for a picnic. Both Ian and I had prepared ample sandwiches and cake so after scoffing ourselves silly we needed a good walk to work off our food intake. David began to write some postcards he had of the specific area anticipating that we would reach the summit of Mount Abrupt - he said he always tries to be absolutely authentic and writing postcards in the actual location is as authentic as it comes. We relocated to the start of the walking track a little way away and, suitably kitted out, began our walk towards the base of the mountain. It was typical bush country and Ian was able to identify most of the local flora and fauna as he is a bit of an expert in this field. After walking for quite some time we came upon a large quantity of lying water which spread either side of the track and for some considerable distance along it. Despite several attempts to bypass it, the bush proved far too thick to penetrate so, reluctantly, we settled for the bush walk and made our way back to the car. David said he would need to amend his postcards to explain that we didn’t make it to the top of the mountain and Graham pointed out that, actually, we hadn’t even made it to the bottom of the mountain!!!!

Ian knew of another mountain that was worth climbing and presumably not too strenuous so we drove towards Mt Sturgeon but we soon came to more ‘road closed’ signs. We actually found a car-park which gave access to Mt Sturgeon but all tracks were closed, not because of floods but because of land-slides. We realized then that it would be pointless to venture further into the National Park and Ian identified another area which could prove interesting so we made our way towards Rocklands Water. On the way we returned to Cavendish and collected PIE and followed the other two as we made
One scone for me and two for Graham!One scone for me and two for Graham!One scone for me and two for Graham!

Relaxing by Daylesford Lake
our way towards what we thought would be the dam which resulted in Rocklands Water. After a while we found our way to the waterside but not at the place Ian had anticipated. What we found was a remarkable location where rough camping, canoeing and fishing were the popular pastimes in a fascinating, eerie landscape which was wonderfully different to what we had expected. We enjoyed a stroll by the water’s edge, spotting a sea eagle gliding over the lake in the distance. We wondered about the possibility of camping here but concluded that it was mostly for families and fishermen and that’s not us (not at the moment anyway!).

We said our goodbyes to David and Ian – we hope we’ll be able to spend a bit more time with David later on in the year but that probably will only happen if we go right the way around Aus. When we were here in 2003/4 Ian had taken us to the Table Tennis Club in Horsham of which he is a prominent member and we half hoped we’d get another chance to go there now. But because of the flood risk all the tables had been moved
Hepburn SpringsHepburn SpringsHepburn Springs

I didn't think the spring water tasted very nice at all!
out of harm’s way so there was sadly no possibility of us having a game – oh well, never mind.

We drove back to Hamilton via Balmoral, where we paused to eat ice-creams by the river, and then Coleraine. In spite of not being able to climb any mountains we’d had a super day. Thanks very much David for being driver and Ian for being navigator and guide.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 27


but there's not much joy elsewherebut there's not much joy elsewhere
but there's not much joy elsewhere

the pictures tell the story of the flooded areas around Ballarat

25th January 2011

glad the bikes had a reprieve!
Good to hear you are both safe & well, we've all been thinking of you. Excellent news that the bikes have had an airing, & that you didn't get soaked in the process. That's more of Dyer holiday experience, I'm sure. Keep safe & enjoy Claire & all from Tewks
25th January 2011

Fantastic ....
The travelling is obviously doing you both well, you look fantastic and very very healthy! It must be the scones! Shame you missed out on a game of TT. I played for Netherseal last night in a doubles cup match. What with the handicaps, a pen-holder from the prem division and the fact that our opponents won the competition last year we weren't expected to win ..... but we did, by one single point!! Great photos, keep it up! x x x
25th January 2011

On our bikes
Hi Claire and Simon - the Tour Down Under took place last week but only for a week. It was around Adelaide so we just saw bits on the TV - I think an Aussie won. We'll keep cycling as long as the bikes/bike rack do! Jan xx
25th January 2011

Table Tennis
Hi - it would have been nice to play but never mind. Good to hear you're still doing well - keep it up! Mum xxx

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