Wednesday, December 19, 2007

DAY 74: Kennett River to Torquay

Tues 18th December 2007
73 km @ 14.7 km/hr
Cloudy, misty and warm
Distance to date 4904 km (3065 miles)

Awoke to a diverse range of birdsong this morning, not least the King Parrots, and although I offered them some seed they were quite fussy and were crunching seeds of a nearby bush instead. At least they’re not dependent on humans totally. With hindsight I should have stayed here another night as I have plenty of time before arriving at John and Marjorie’s on Sunday afternoon; I had thought that there were more such places along the remainder of the Great Ocean Road, but as it turned out there was not.
I enjoyed the birds at Kennett River - I also saw a Masked Lapwing and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo this morning, along with droves of Australian Wood Ducks begging for food. One has to step carefully here due to the ducks droppings - and me walking barefoot most of the time lol.
The scenery east of KF on the GOR is still magnificent, but looked a bit muted this morning due to a haze / harr rolling off the sea. Whilst traffic was light at first it got much busier after 10 or so when the tourists started turning out. The going was nice and undulating and pleasant to cycle; there is a good shoulder most of the way along the GOR other than the inevitable broken glass caused by idiots throwing bottles out of vehicles. Before long i reached Lorne, which although marginally more attractive than Apollo Bay, nevertheless seemed pretty charm less to me - beach / cafes / tacky shops. It’s redeeming features were an excellent bakery (Grandma’s something or other) and second hand book shop where I was at last able to swop Ned Kelly for “A Fortunate Life”, biography of Australian Albert Facey, who faced many hardships over his long life in the war and on an Australian farm, but remained positive about life. It was one of the owners favourites. I also did some food shopping and stocked up on a few things before Christmas.
After the best Cornish pastie ever, plus a cheese and ham toasted sandwich, and huge apple cinnamon scroll (big curly bun) I moved on out of Lorne and still had no idea where I would spend the night. There were a couple of bigger hills now and the famous Devil’s Elbow, and the road and scenery were very agreeable, but traffic was heavy. Two cyclists passed me and we exchanged greetings and met later on at Torquay CP where i learnt they were German. Airey’s Inlet passed without excitement, other than for my new FUIC substitute - Mocha Kenya iced coffee drink - hits the spot in a different way to the Farmer’s Union stuff but very agreeable.
After Anglesea the Otway Great NP had finished and development takes over - and the traffic doubles unfortunately. I was surprised at the abrupt demise of the nice scenery; the sea is not seen or heard again until Torquoy, and ,the road here on in is pretty boring (doesn’t really deserve to be called the GOR?! Another cyclist from Germany caught up with me and we chatted for a while, then Geoff Cannon from the Midlands whom I had met at Meningie (and wife Marie) hailed me from the side of the road which was nice - they had spotted me when passing further down the road. I may well meet them again later on - but thanks guys!
Torquay is a surfing resort, very vibrant with lots of young people and a smashed-up Telstra phone box. The CP is huge - I got lost in it once - but it was only $13 thankfully. After setting up in a rather dry and dusty allocated spot I went off for an inspection of the town, which didn’t take long as it is quite small - in fact the CP is bigger I think! There were scores of surfers going for the big one, and I was very impressed with the lifeguards who were having a training session. They were having races in their little rescue canoes out to a point which must have been at least 1 km out to sea, because I almost lost site of them. The leaders were taking about 5 or 6 minutes to get out there, an incredible speed which requires supreme fitness - and they did this at least 3 times while I was watching.
It was dinner time but the camp kitchen was pretty full so I decided to use my own cooking gear back at the tent, but before I had a chance to start the lady opposite came over to say they had a lot of pasta and salad left and would I like some - “yes please!’ - And shed duly filled my plate to overflowing with pasta Bolgnese and salad, even with lots of Parmesan over it. It was delicious; another little bit of road magic as someone I met calls these kind acts. I tried something new today - Nutella. I didn’t think I’d like it but found it very agreeable on spicy fruit muffins, washed down with coffee made with posh coffee bags - ah! The simple pleasures!
I kind of worked out where to go over the next few days - Sorrento / Phillip Island / Melbourne - I’m pretty sure I have enough time, and this will free me up to head due east out of Melbourne after Christmas to approach the Snowy Mountains more directly.