Sunday, December 23, 2007

DAY 76: Blairgowrie to Cowes (Phillip Island)

Thurs 20th December 2007
73 km @ 14.8 km/hr
Cloudy, warm
Distance to date 5043 km (3152 miles)

Had a very peaceful night with the waves gently palling onto the beach just a few metres away. It was quite windy first thing but the MSR stove was up to the job and boiled water for tea ok. I didn’t notice the wind once underway though as there was plenty of shelter from the dense trees between thye coastal road and the foreshore. This strip of coastal land, between 100 and 300m appears to be publicly owned and is in effect one long park, stretching for some 10 km or more. This area is also extensively used for camping / caravans much as I used it last night. It is a wonder if developers have not got their eyes on it.
I have found that whenever I have a really enjoyable day, as was yesterday, I feel a bit jaded the next day, and today was no exception. However my mood improved as the day went on, and this was helped by the interesting scenery - plenty of trees, a winding road, and even plenty of hills - these all help break up the landscape and add interest. Some of the hills, for some 10km either side of Flinders, are very steep; 15% or more, and lowest gear was called for a few times. The road was pretty quiet with just the occasional vehicle, and the surface was good quality.
Flinders is a very nice little town with some beautiful old houses, well-kept gardens and lots of mature trees. It wasn’t obvious to me what the obvious wealth of the place wasw built on; there appeared to be no industry other than farming, and that not so intensively - perhaps it is the relative nearness of Melbourne some 80km away. There were several cafes to choose from, and the one I chose served me well (Vivo as I recall thye name). The Italian owner and staff were very friendly and the food delicious. I had a huge roll with ‘everything’ on - egg, bacon, tomato etc., but still had room for a cake, a home-made and very fresh vanilla slice.
Actually on setting off again I felt a little bloated and probably ate too much - there were somemore very steep hills to drag myself over though. Eventually the road levelled out but was still quite picturesque. I stopped for a while at a restored wetland reserve and enjoyed a peaceful half-hour watching feathered friends. Some signs warned to be on the lookout for Koala Bears. There was a school nearby and I noticed that at break time they played some motivational music for the youngsters - My Way and stuff like that. Interesting.
Before long I arrived at Crib Point and then Stony Point from where the ferry to Cowes leaves. Cowes is on Phillip Island, famous for Penguin parade - a daily spectacle whereby the colony of Little Penguins troop from the sea to their onshore breeding colony at dusk every evening. I wanted to see this in particular, though it was to be more commercialised than I thought.
I had thought that the boat would be a roll-on / roll-off ferry as was the Queenscliff one, but this was just a small passenger-only boat, and although it can take bicycles I would have to strip off all the panniers etc. and carry them on separately; no big deal though. It was $14 for me and the bike and the trip took around 40 minutes. I had a good chat with a local schoolteacher who gave me some good advice about what to see on the island (whose name I instantly forgot as is common with me!), which is about 25km by 10km. I sought out the yha hostel and checked in - it looks a decent place as they often seem to be judging by what I’ve seen so far. $30 (£13 / night including breakfast.
I shared a room with James, from US but living and working in Melbourne, and 2 German guys. THere was much snoring in the night and I slept badly - after these 2 nights here I may avoid sharing in future for this reason.

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