Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DAY 52: Clare to Riverton

Mon 26th Nov 07
49 km @ 12.7 km/hr
Sunny, hot afternoon again 30+C
Headwind (light to moderate)

I had kind of decided I would spend another night here but after visiting the TIC next door to the CP I learned that the Riesling rail trail to Auburn ran past very close by, and went to have a look. It had a very good surface, and there were plenty of CP’s, at Auburn and beyond, that I decided to pack up and head south along it - this was in any case in the direction of Adelaide where I need to be by Wednesday. It’s around 24km from here to Auburn, and very pleasant riding indeed - no traffic of course - in fact I only saw 2 other cyclists and a few walkers, and the trail is lined with all kinds of trees hosting many varieties of bird. Although it was another clear blue sky and promised to be hot again, the dappled shade from the trees made for comfortable progress. In places the crickets gathered to create a deafening noise, though I didn’t see a single individual. I was in no hurry and took my time so as to savour the experience. Being a former railway line there are no steep hills or sharp bends to worry about - just easy cycling, even loaded up.
In just under a couple of hours I was entering Auburn, which is a tidy and pleasant little place. In keeping with most small towns I have visited in the past few days there are a lot of older building - 19th century I presume - that add considerable character. Perhaps the presence and wealth produced by the many local vineyards (many producing Riesling wine) helps this process - clearly many old houses and other buildings have been restored and maintained sympathetically.
The Bakehouse bakery /cafe was another quaint building and they did a fantastic afternoon tea for $8 - 2 lovely fresh scones of gargantuan size with cream and jam, and a nice mug of tea - mmmmm, went down a treat.
The TIC lady this morning had told me that there is another rail trail running from Auburn to Riverton - the Rattler - so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately it was not finished or maintained to the standard of the Riesling trail; the surface was very coarse being primarily 25 to 50mm stone, there was no tree cover whatsoever, just open wheat fields, and worst of all there were gates across the path. Not ordinary gates mind that are easily opened and closed, but lengths of fence roughly wired or tied up - not easy to undo and re-fasten, especially when trying to hold up a fully-laden touring bike with nowhere to lean it whilst doing this. The forth such obstacle was not actually a gate at all but a full-blown fence, and pretty cheesed off by this time I had to take all the gear off the bike and physically lift everything over. At this point I decided to abandon the trail and got back on the tarmac road a km away.
After another few km (all uphill and against the wind) I picked up the trail again so gave it another go. The remainder of the 19km from Auburn to Riverton was OK - there were gates, but proper ones that had catches and easier to manage. The trail was still very dull though, scenically benign unless you like several-square meter cereal fields. The last 2km before Riverton was very nice though, through a dense avenue of trees.
Riverton is a lovely little place - sleepy but smart, again with lots of old buildings - I really liked it. The small caravan p-ark is part of the oval (cricket ground) and swimming pool complex. The CP had plenty of old gums for shade, and the birds, particularly the ubiquitous Galahs, and Corellas, were much in evidence.
I got myself a couple of beers from the nearby bottle shop and settled down in my Thermorest chair to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.
I cooked myself a seafood spaghetti and watched the last of the sun disappear over the horizon at around 2015. I felt quite tired again - the last 2 or 3 days have been among the hottest and must be draining my energy, or maybe I’m not drinking enough water. Next time I stop at a cafe I must remember to get a top-up of cool water and have a good drink while it’s cold - it isn’t long before it’s warm and less palatable.
No internet again today, library closed Mondays, will try tomorrow when I arrive in Gawler, which is only 40-odd kms from Adelaide.

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