Sunday, December 30, 2007

DAY 84: Kurth Kiln to Noojee (Loch Valley)

75km @ 13.6 km/hr
Fri 28th December 2007
Distance to date 5394 km (3371 miles)
Hot and sunny (33 deg C), light N wind

Just got to sleep last night when someone arrived at midnight and in setting up his tent made no attempt to keep the noise down, so I just picked up my book and carried on reading to get sleepy again. It is a good book mind - another Oz classic “A Fortunate Life” by A.B.Facey, the life story of Albert Facey, a parentless boy who started work at the age of 8 and stayed positive despite many setbacks, including being severely whipped at age 10. Nevertheless I awoke at 0630 and decided to go bushwalking before breakfast on one of the designated walks around the Kurth Kiln area. I took about 45 minutes to walk the 2.4 km there and back through increasingly sun-dappled forest as dawn advanced. This whole area is dense with very old and huge trees; many Paperbark and Stringybark so unique to Australia.
After consuming most of a fruit loaf with peanut butter, plus 2 cups of coffee, I went on the second designated circular walk along a tributary of the Bunyip river. There were plenty of colourful butterflies cavorting around but hey didn’t keep still long enough to get a pic. Invisible frogs croaked and Kookaburras chuckled loudly over the gurgle of the small river.
I packed up after this and left at around 1100 when it was well up into the 20’s C. I headed north on Launching Place Road (C424). After a few km of utter silence rising and falling along the remote, winding and undulating road, dense forest either side, I got a shock when I heard a voice behind me - 2 young ladies in lycra on a training session in the hills. They slowly (ahhhh!)passed me as we exchanged pleasantries, and I shot past them on the next downhill thanks to Mr.Gravity’s assistance. This went on for a while, but then on a steep 2km climb they were lost for ever - shame, such a rear view is so motivating! Vicky Pendleton, eat your heat out.
Soon after noon, and having covered less than 20km in 90 minutes due to the slow climbs, I rolled into Launching Place.
Q/ Why is Launching Place so called?
A/ Because logs arising in this afforested area used to be ‘launched ’ into the upper Yarra river nearby, to float down to Melbourne for gathering and distribution.
I know this because I asked a guy in the excellent fruit and veg shop in the village, where I stocked up on fruit, veg., peanuts and fudge.
Just 4km up the road is the larger town of Yarra Junction, where I stopped for a while under a huge old gum tree to escape the intense midday heat. I asked about the internet and was told the library had it, but was unable to find the library with the instructions given. At YJ I turned right onto the C425 in expectation of more steep hills, but they didn’t appear, just gentle rises and falls with plenty of lovely shade. I stopped at the Powelltown pub shop for a pastie and iced coffee, and after this there was a huge 7 to 9% hill for over 3km - i thought I was back in the Alps again; however it was just one hill and after a 5km descent the gentle undulations returned. The map showed a campsite in Noojee, but I was to be disappointed - it closed in 2005 due to a ‘criminal element’ to the campers! I was pretty disappointed since in this heat I was ready to stop riding, however my main oir only option was to ride another 8km up to Loch Valley camping area. I might have considered carrying on to seek a wild camp site somewhere, but the last few km had been pretty intensively cropped with fruit and vines with little chance of a campsite.
As it happened the metalled road up to LV was still undulating so no big climbs. But the site was packed, and very noisy with loud music and lots of motorbikes buzzing everywhere - chaos and bedlam. It was too late to go anywhere else so I would just have to stick it out. There didn’t appear to be much in the way of walks / scenery either - a few tracks, but these were regularly used by the scramblers. If anyone reading this should think of coming up here in high season to camp be warned - it’s awful. I can’t wait to escape first thing in the morning. It’s actually quite dangerous - speeding bikes and lots of kids wandering about; accident waiting to happen, pretty much anarchy.
As I type this there’s a cacophony of noise around me - competing heavy rock / people shouting and screaming and whistling to test the echoes in this (beautiful?) valley. Hmmm. You can’t always get it right.

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