Sunday, December 23, 2007

DAY 77: Day off on Philip Island

Fri 21st December 2007
53 km @ 16.6 km/hr
Cloudy, warm, thunderstorm, deluge!
Distance to date 5096 km (3185 miles)

Up around 8 and a little red-eyed, and enjoyed leisurely breakfast chatting to a guy from Broome in WA who has lived in Scotland and even knew someone at Dounreay! Small world. I do enjoy the more social atmosphere of hostels compared to caravan parks, but you can’t have everything.
The weather looked a little uncertain but soon after setting off the sun came blazing out and I regretted not bringing sun block. I needn’t have worried though because it was overcast again within the hour. The weather here in Victoria is so changeable - a bit like Caithness!
I cycled the 20km to Nobby’s Point, a protected seabird and seal colony near to Penguin’s Parade. The scenery was magnificent but the huge ultra-modern visitor centre seemed over the top and out of place. It didn’t have any info about the birds or wildlife either as far as I could see; it was all about selling tourist tat and overpriced food. Happily there was good info on display panels dotted around the cliff walks. Back down the road some 3km is Swan Lake, another restored wetland centre, which was very well planned out and constructed, and which offered a pleasant contrast to the commerciality of Nobby’s Point and Penguin’s Parade. There was 1 other visitor there, a middle-aged lady who was familiar with all the birds and helped me identify some including Grebe, Straw-necked Ibis and Cape Barren Geese.
My intention was to cycle around the famous island so I now headed east into the wind, past the motorcycle Grand Prix circuit, and stopped at Smith’s Beach, a rather ugly resort / town, for lunch of mediocre fish and chips. Nice coffee though.
The lady on the boat had recommended a nice walk near Rhyll, but as i approached this it started to rain, so i erred on the side of caution and turned back towards Cowes, some 7km away. The wind was on my left now and I was making good progress though with lightning and thunder occasionally reminding me of more weather to come. And it came - I noticed the wind was still feeling easterly but the clouds were blowing the other way, and all of a sudden a huge squall broke, and a sheet or torrential rain blown by westerly gale-force winds. I had trouble keeping the bike going straight and had to dive off to shelter in the dense bush on my right, which broke the wind but water was pouring all over me out of the trees, oh what fun. It wasn’t too cold though thankfully otherwise I would have been chilled to the bone in just a T-shirt and Gilet. I was soaked to the skin in seconds. As expected though the worst of it passed over after a few minutes, and I was able to continue progress over huge puddles and still heavy rain. Victoria really needs this rain to replenish lowered supplies, and the damping down should help prevent bush fires which can be common at this time of the year.
On arrival back at base I remembered that my towel was on the washing line, so I had to borrow one to get myself dry. Nice cup of tea and towel / clothes in the drier, and I was feeling OK again. Loafed around for the rest of the evening and had a Sub for dinner.
I was in bed and ready for sleep by 10 but my room-mate was already practicing for the loudest snorer i n the world competition, and it was hard to get to sleep despite being tired after last nights efforts. I finally fell asleep with mp3 player on the go to try and drown it out.

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