Sunday, December 23, 2007

DAY 75: Torquay to Blairgowrie

Weds 19th December 2007
66 km @ 16.0 km/hr
Cloudy, warm
Distance to date 4970 km (3106 miles)

I was awake just after 5 despite not getting to sleep easily last night. Decided to get up earlier and got going before 8. There was plenty of traffic heading to and from Geelong but I turned off this main road at the Queenscliff junction. Traffic was much lighter now and there was still a good 1.5m shoulder. I was glad to see signs saying “Watch out for cyclists”.
Nothing much to report about the journey to Queenscliff; it’s quite a nice little town and has some good bakeries, and although I got to use the TIC internet it wasn’t working properly and they didn’t charge me. After lunch I headed straight for the ferry across to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsular - officially the sea is the Bass Straight between Melbourne and Tasmania.
Just to explain - Melbourne is at the north end of a large natural harbour, called Port Phillip Bay, whilst Sorrento is at the southern end some 40km away - it’s a big bay. There’s quite a narrow entrance at the south and the ferry I took cuts across this, and is mainly used by people travelling east to west who don’t want to go through Melbourne. I took this route to take in Phillip Island and see the penguin colony there, then head back to Melbourne up the east side of Phillip Bay.
The ferry took 40 minutes and cost $11 (£3.75) including a free copy of the Melbourne broadsheet The Age, enough time for a large piece of hedgehog (kind of biscuity chocolate bar) and an iced coffee. I popped in the TIC to see what was where but the young woman was unusually rather unhelpful - she kept referring to local road names which of course mean nothing to me, and I got little eye contact. By and large the TIC folk have been excellent here - usually go out of their way to help. I eventually found out where the YHA Hostel was but it was unmanned with a phone no. to ring, which I did 3 times, and there was no answer. I figured it might be like Apollo Bay where you couldn’t check in until 1700, and that was no good to me at 1300.
I kind of gave up on YHA and went to the nearest CP - $40 for an unpowered site for 1 person - what a rip-off! I told the manager this and I don’t think she liked it. I’ll sleep on the beach before paying that much! I decided then to cycle out of town towards the other ferry terminal for Phillip Island as I had noticed on the map there were some camping sites marked thereon, and sure enough some 6km away there was a nice site operated by the local community (or some similar arrangement that I haven’t worked out yet. Well, the caretaker was really pleasant and helpful and found me a pristine site atop the dunes right on the beach - perfect - and the charge waqs negligible. I fell lucky again when things looked bleak. I’m learning to just trust that things will be ok, because it usually works out that way.
Just as I was setting up the sun came out - hurrah - and it stayed out all afternoon. It was a pleasant 25 or so and I popped on my swimming trunks and bounded down the 10 steps down to the beach with towel, paper and wine, and spent the next 2 hours alternating between reading, swimming in a lovely warm blue ocean, and sipping red. (I would apologise to those Scottish readers currently suffering the usual foul weather up there (he he!). Sufficient to say I had a blissful afternoon undertaking such activities.
At 7 I cooked the usual spaghetti for dinner; I nened to work on something new as it’s getting a bit samey.
The beach nearby has a row of pretty wooden beach huts, and I got talking to a group of around 6 who were stationed in one of these next door to me, and the owner was telling me they sell for around $100,000, despite being no larger than a garage. They are very nice though, and the sea comes to within a few metres. They were asking about my trip, and I was finding out where to go to. One man was talking about the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and I hadn’t thought about that possibility I must admit.
I left them as it was going dark (2030) and lightning had been flashing away for a while, and by 2200 we had heavy rain - God knows the land and reservoirs need it badly though.

No comments: