Unscripted – Week 13 – Nunniong Road to Nowa Nowa

14-20 January 2023

154 kms 

Total Part 2 kms: 522

Total Trip kms: 3770

14 January 2023 – Nunniong Road to Timbarra River (The Culverts) –  Jaitmatang and Gunaikurnai Country – 29 kms

I wake. I take stock. The lumpy throat is gone. It’s replaced by a scratchy throat – not sore, just scratchy. No runny nose. No chest tightness. No fever. I am not overly tired, maybe just a bit blah. But really, I feel okay. 

So what to do today? Even though I feel okay, I am still concerned. Strenuous activity too soon after a virus is what dropped me over the edge into post-viral fatigue syndrome and a cascade of health issues over 4.5 years. I just did strenuous activity yesterday. Maybe we should just hang here today. We’ve got access to water and plenty of food. We can do day 2 of 5 in isolation here. 

But maybe we should get closer to civilisation. What if I take a turn for the worse? Maybe we should make a move while I feel ok. In the back of my mind is my doctor, early in the days of COVID, telling me to do everything I could to avoid the virus because it could be ‘catastrophic for your recovery’. My body has knocked me down for 4-5 days after each vaccine dose. What’s it going to do with the real thing? My immune system response to stuff is still a bit unknown.

I lie there and contemplate.

I decide we should get up and over the Great Dividing Range today. We can do about 30 kms to a camping area on the upper Timbarra River. We’ll still do a heap of climbing today, but I know the road from the river to Buchan and know that it won’t be too difficult. So let’s do a short, hard hop today and have the afternoon to rest. Then we can do the easy 65 km-ride into town tomorrow or the next day.

So off we go at 8am. It’s already warm, even at this altitude over 1200 metres. When will the heat break?

I’m so glad I stopped when I did yesterday. The next hill goes on forever and is pretty steep. I never would have made it up this yesterday. I would have turned around and gone back to the spot where I camped last night anyway.

There’s a lot of up to start the morning. Glad we didn’t attempt this yesterday.

So up we go in the warm, still air, climbing up to 1340 metres through tall trees and a wide firebreak. There are puddles everywhere from all that rain yesterday evening, but at least it’s easier to get up the steep bits with all the dirt sticking together. 

We’re heading up to Brumby HIll, the road high point. It is aptly named. There is feral horse shit everywhere (from them marking their territory). And I see 10 of them in three different groups in the 29 kms we ride. 

Five horses ahead. Not everyone’s up yet.
Now they are up and on the run. See the black one to the left? That’s the stallion with his mares and their babies. Shoot them all, please.

There is no phone service and no view from the road high point. I traverse a bit higher to Brumby Hill. I clamber up from the road, cautiously climbing through the conglomerate outcrops to try to get a view. But there’s not much. It’s hazy today anyway. A discarded snake skin in the jumble of stones and logs makes me even more cautious! It’s definitely a snaky-looking spot. 

Here’s what the VRO Sites of Geological Significance says about this site: Cliffs, exposing up to 20 m of conglomerate, occur on the southern aspect of Brumby Hill. The conglomerate clasts are predominantly comprised of quartzite and quartz sandstone with minor vein quartz and chert clasts.

See the heart rock, Mom and Dad?
View from the top of Brumby Hill.
The forlorn sign goes with the name of the track.

From here, we get a series of long downhills on a pretty good surface. So I just let it fly. Yipppeeee!! The hardest part is just avoiding all the feral horse shit. I do get a bit carried away rapidly descending and totally miss a curve’s apex. All of a sudden we are heading on a crash trajectory off the side of the road into the trees. But those fantastic brakes and one leg out for balance on the inside sees us recover it just before we sail off into the bush. I tone it down a bit after this!

Sorry, the camera lens keeps fogging up this morning.

Past Jam Tin Flat the road surface becomes worse and there are a few climbs in there, so it’s not an easy day even with the short kms. I don’t feel too bad at all though, and I really enjoy the change in vegetation from sub-alpine down through the mountain ash (what the loggers have left anyway) and then some acacias and peppermints on the lower slopes. 

By the time we get to the Timbarra River, three hours after leaving last night’s campsite, my throat is still just scratchy, but I’ve got a mild headache and a very blah feeling like you get on day 2 of a cold. It’s not terrible but I’m ready to be done. So it’s nice when there’s no one camping in the area to the south of the road. 

It’s not as hot today, but I do have a headache and fatigue for a few hours in the afternoon. I just follow the shade around laying on my plastic sheet. I also give the guys a long float and force myself to eat. 

The group with horses that are camping over on the north side of the road come down in one of their 4WDs to check me out. It’s four women and they are rough and ready rural chicks who look strong and stocky. They’d be better on a rugby team than a gymnastics squad. They’re probably all in their mid-30s and are here for a couple weeks to ride their horses. They ask if I need anything and say to come over if I do. I tell them I’ve got covid and am just going to rest and I’ll stay away from everyone. They ask if they can take the big logs at the communal fire pit and I tell them they are all theirs as I don’t plan on a campfire. 

And so I laze the afternoon away, wondering if this is the worst of covid or you go downhill on Day 3. There are storms to the north and east that rumble about and darken the sky in those directions but never get to us. They are dumping rain over the Buchan River headwaters again – after the long storm yesterday.

Originally I was thinking I would turn north at the Glenmore Huts, head past Mt Stewart, ford the Buchan River and then head down the Tulloch Ard Road to Buchan. But that is several more days of remote riding, and I’m still nervous about this whole covid thing. I think I should head straight to Buchan and take it easy there for a few days. You have no idea how scared I am of long COVID since I’ve had it before, just for a different virus back when it was just called post-viral fatigue syndrome regardless of what virus you got it from. 

I watch the sun set as dark clouds gather. I watch the shade from the adjacent slope edge higher and higher and then swallow the tent. It starts to sprinkle and then rain a bit as the sun sinks and disappears. There’s a rumble of thunder now and again as I drift off to sleep and sigh as I think I’ll have a wet tent yet again to pack up in the morning. 

15 January 2023 – Timbarra River to Buchan – Gurnaikurnai Country – 65 kms

I’m up early as I want to get to town before mid-day to figure out my options. I rode this part of this road back in 2017, so I know I’ve got a lot of downhill today. I figure if I leave at 7am or a bit earlier, then a conservative estimate of four hours gets me to town before lunch time.

I roll up the went tent and roll out of the campsite. There is a long and gentle climb away from the river through large trees that haven’t seen fire too recently. I roll along in the dim light of a dawn covered in scattered cloud. 

We head down and across the Nunniong Plains. In places, trees give way to circular-shaped grassland where cool pockets of air settle. We’re still high here, over 1200 metres, and snow gums line the large frost hollows where it’s too cold for the trees to establish. A few huge ash trees dot the landscape here and there, their multi-pronged branches reaching to the sky in a chaotic mesh of angles. 

A wallaby crosses in front of me on a mad dash followed closely by a black and white wild dog. They crash off into the bush with the sound of tearing leaves and breaking sticks. That’s my only wildlife sighting today. 

Further down, the road begins to descend with a bit more steepness and we roll fast on a crappy surface. It’s a lot of large loose rock and steeply angled curves. I’m proud of myself for riding up this road on the touring bike back then. It’s a very long climb! I do think the surface was better that time.

I get back into areas that burnt in the 19/20 fires. It is a mix of light and more severe burn. It would be better to view this from the air, then you would be able to see how the fire moved and why some tongues of fire burnt hotter than others. 

Further down we get into an area of clear cuts. Ugh. It is just decimated through there. (I’ll read later that this was one of their target areas over the past couple years, in addition to an area at Swifts Creek that I’ll ride through later on this tour.)

I remember on my 2017 trip that I was taken aback by how how intensively managed the area was for timber. In my journal I wrote about how it seemed like all the trees along this road, which were all 25 years or younger in age it seemed, had a use-by date. There was no conservation or consideration of ecosystems through here. I remember passing a clear cut with just a couple trees left standing and being pretty appalled.

Well, that clear cut is now thick with regrowth, and the couple of trees left to reseed the area and provide habitat have died, as often happens. All the new clear cuts amaze me – knowing that in the past those areas would have been allowed to grow and sometime in 50 or so years, the area would have been selectively thinned for saw logs. However, policy changes that allowed clearfelling for pulp wood to supplement saw log supply quickly became the all clear to just go after pulp wood. This means that pulp wood is now the end product of 85% of logging in the forests with only 15% of logging being saw logs (because there are so few big trees left!). They go after young trees now and the cycle of growth can now be under 25 years. And the state-owned corporation still has be to subsidised. The landscape change here over six years is eye-opening.

The fire that has licked its way along the road in various places has left open areas with good views over the hills to the east. Everything in the distance rolls – there’s nothing flat anywhere to be seen.

We eventually climb to a couple gaps and then find ourselves on a long, gentle downhill through severely burnt forest. When I rode up this in 2017, this part of the forest was dark, and the trees overhung the road. It felt like a goblin forest. Now it is all open with fuzzy sticks of epicormic regrowth and standing dead trees conducting a symphony of weeds at their feet. For it to look this bad three years later, I cannot imagine what it looked like in the days after the fires. 

Eventually we pop out of the forest along a ridge and overlook cleared and rolling hills. Off to my right I see a dark cloud that looks like it’s coming this way. So I stick the guys in the panniers.

If you saw that in the distance, would you put your crew somewhere they would stay dry? Later in the tour, we’ll be rding around that tall peak in the background.
Rain or fog? The guys go in the panniers here.

But it’s not the right call. That’s not rain, it’s fog, and we descend into it as we lose altitude. 

Down, down we go through that open farmland. Eventually we get down below the clouds and it’s just an overcast day. It’s such a contrast to the sun early on.  

The few cars on the road turn off on the Old Buchan Road which is a straight shot and a steep downhill into town that has a stop sign at the end. I take the new road which runs down the outside of the hill in a series of curves. There is no stop sign at the bottom of this one, so we go roaring right into town above the 50 kph speed limit. 

Buchan is a tiny place – a string of buildings along two frontage roads on either side of the main road. We swing into the picnic area with public toilets. It is cool now in the cloud as my sweat evaporates. I put on more clothes and go brush my teeth at A SINK! We’re pretty nasty after more than a week without a proper shower.

Community Hall, Pub, cafe not in business, B&B, and to my right is the post office/general store and a tiny health service building.
Roadhouse and the next building up with the verandah is the really good cafe.

I then sit down on a picnic table, pull out the phone and look at my camping options. There used to be a hostel here, but it’s been gone for awhile and the building has been sold privately. There’s a small motel here and some cabin accommodation, but camping at the Buchan Caves Reserve is only $17 a night and there is a laundry and hot showers on offer. Luckily I can book this online so I won’t have to go in and talk to someone and potentially spread germs.

While I wait for check in time, I check out the town. Police station, community hall, pub, disused cafe, post office/general store and a health centre down one side. Roadhouse, cafe and houses down the other. I’ve been through here on a bus before but not stopped. I then head over the pedestrian bridge over the river (not bicycle friendly) and go fix some food on a picnic table outside the tiny old home that is now the Neighbourhood Centre which is closed for the summer holidays. I pick up Jessica, a Bryce Courtney book, from the book exchange, as it’s the only thing that seems like it might be decent. (It is not – I only make it halfway through before giving up – the stereotyped characters are too much to bear).

Overlooking part of Buchan from Moon Hill.
Buchan River.

Then it starts to drizzle/rain so I head over to an undercover area by the tennis courts, call my parents and thereby kill an hour. 

The Caves Reserve is beautiful. It’s somehow missed the fires, tucked down in the hills as it is. Back in the day they planted lots of different trees to create an arboretum, and the cloak of deciduous trees makes the place feel like a state park in Indiana – deep greens, lots of shade and well-manicured grassy areas.

Feels like an Indiana State Park. Absolutely amazing the fire skipped over all of it.
But the fire did get very close. This is up the cave entrance end.
Part of the campground. My site is just off to the left across from that mini-van.

I find my tent spot, chosen because the description said “shady all day”, and set up my stuff. There’s a decent number of sites taken since it is school holidays. Kids roam the area on bikes, and parents laze about in lawn chairs swilling alcohol. 

Pic taken the next day when the sun and heat returned.

I go take a long, hot shower, keeping my mask on after I wash my hair and head. They say you should isolate for five days. I’m only on day 3, so I keep my mask on if I need to go to the toilet and then keep to myself outside the rest of the time. This is the best way to ‘isolate’ in a safe place without spending $150 a night on accommodation. 

I again get a headache and a few hours of fatigue in the afternoon, but I am totally surprised that getting covid has been such a non-event. Thank you!

16-18 January 2023 – Buchan – Gurnaikurnai Country

The days are hot and lazy. The fellow caravan park families are mellow through the day and then party into the evening and night. The possums come out at night, too, and roam the campground, begging for food and knocking over pots and pans as they look for food scraps. The parents drink and gossip loudly. The kids run around chasing possums. And so go the days. I feel fine in the mornings but get a headache and a few hours of fatigue each afternoon with nary a respiratory symptom. 

One day, I take the guys for a walk on the trails. Some trails are still closed from the fires, and you can just imagine how soft and shady and cool these walks used to be. The very bottom bits along the creek didn’t burn too severely, but up on the slopes or where you clamber along on rocks above the creekbed, it’s a different story. 

I love trees that live on rocks.
Ok, so it’s an interpretive trail sign, but my first thought when I saw the sign was: “put the butterfly in the bin”.
A big sinkhole.

Various groups stop by to chat and invite me over to their groups for dinner or drinks. I’m definitely the odd one out here. One evening, a guy with two young kids stops by to say hello. I’d seen him looking at the bike longingly a few times. He loves to ride and one of his friends runs the Adventure Cycling Victoria website. That guy has totally convinced this guy that bikepacking is awesome. This guy, Ben, would love to give it a try, but the family commitments prevent him. I tell him that lots of people bike tour or bikepack with littlies and suggest that he’ll find some video and article inspiration for it on bikepacking.com.

On the really hot day, as I repeatedly wet down my shirt and follow the shade around my site sitting on my plastic sheet, a guy comes down and offers me a beer. 

“Gosh, everyone is sitting around drinking, and you are looking all hot and parched up here at the end,” he says.

I thank him lots for the offer but tell him that, after a mozzie virus, gluten is no longer my friend. We then get into a nice conversation. It turns out he is from Baranduda – a suburb of Albury-Wodonga. We don’t know anyone in common but both agree we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. He’s an artillery manager at Bandiana (the army logistics base in Wodonga) on a private civilian contract and has been involved in some of the stuff being sent to Ukraine. He’s got an Italian wife who’s been in Oz for 10 years, but she wants to go back to Italy to live as she misses her family. But Mr Baranduda is an all Aussie bloke and doesn’t want to go. He asks if I ever get homesick. I tell him I miss my family dearly and carry around a heap of expat guilt, but after 22 years in Oz, it’s my home now. 

We then start to talk about where we’ve been. He’s got a 4WD ute with a fold-out tent thing-o on top. He’s been all over VIC in it over the years and absolutely loves exploring on his own. The wife has no interest. I take advantage of his experience and go over some maps with him (he’s had covid in the past month – a first timer, too, so I don’t worry too much about standing somewhat close). I ask him about various routes near Dargo and what some of the river crossings are like. 

He asks where I’ve been, and when I tell him my route down from Corryong, he just looks at me in disbelief.

“Really? You did that on the bike? I mean, really, you just rode over the spine! I cannot believe you rode over the spine!”

He’s referring to me riding over the Great Dividing Range. He’s very impressed. I tell him I couldn’t believe the extent of the 19/20 bushfires and how much logging had been done. It turns out that he actually worked on the salvage logging project – driving a dozer and backhoe type vehicle. He says that it was just incomprehensible how much wood they pulled out of there. He said the stockpile site would have had thousands of tonnes of timber at it. He also says that one old forester bloke kept pulling some of the big trees aside so they could be taken for saw logs instead of pulp. But the guy in charge said, “Nope, it all goes to Bairnsdale for pulp”. The guy says it seems like such a big loss to pulp such giant trees. So gosh, even the conservative dozer driver, who made it clear he hated the Andrews Labor government, thought the logging was overdone. (And even with all that salvage timber, they still made a loss in 20/21 and had to be subsidised by the taxpayer!)

I go into town each day to get food to preserve my supplies. I wear a mask, order a burger at the Roadhouse and wait for it outside. It’s a really good burger and not expensive! Highly recommended. They use local beef, too. And they’ll give you two extra slices of beetroot to use as a bun if you ask nicely. 

I also go to the nice cafe one day and get a delicious veg bowl. The menu is full of healthy stuff and there are home-baked goods available, too. Supposedly the coffee is really nice. The guy who owns the place grew up just down the road in W Tree. He moved to Melbourne and worked in and ran cafes for 13 years there. But his heart pulled him home and he opened the cafe when the building came up for sale. Super nice guy and super helpful staff. And the gluten free Persian Cake is to die for!

Bit high in oxalates, but oh my goodness that is so yummy and just what my body wanted!

The heat finally breaks with a big rainstorm that lasts all afternoon and evening on my last night. My nice and shady site that has kept me cool has no grass, so there’s mud all over the tent after the first 5 mm downpour. They predicted 10mm, but we end up getting 20mm. It’s not cold like October-December, though, so I really don’t mind a bit.

19 January 2023 – Buchan to Costicks Weir – Gurnaikurnai Country – 54 kms

The possums and people are hung over. So it’s quiet and still in the campground with no signs of life as I wipe all the mud off the tent and pack up. We’re rolling out before 7am.

The twisties and curves that were so fun coming into town are a decent grade climbing up, so I just escalate. I spin and content myself with a slow speed. The views back to town showing the short little main street tucked right into the base of the hill really show how isolated the town is and how hilly the country is around here.

Road heading up.
Looking back – Buchan is that cluster of buildings at the bottom of the hill. The line of green at the base of the far hill is the Buchan River.
Somebody had a very bad day after neglecting trailer maintenance.
See the cluster of buildings tucked down there in the distance? That’s Buchan.

The overcast clouds give way to some sun as we climb Mackieson Road up through the cleared paddocks below the Tara Range. It is steep to start but then backs off. We pass by nice homesteads, one of which has a huge, gorgeous veggie patch and another that is my perfect place. It’s a little cottage surrounded by deciduous trees. It’s got a verandah all the way round – if I ever owned a home, it’d have to have a verandah.

It is quiet as we reach the forest on a gentle climb before a sharp dive to a creek. Yee-ha!  It has burnt all through here, but not too harshly. The ferns, always the first to come back after a fire, grow tall in the gully below. The top of the climb to the headwall is a bit steep, but then we have another downhill through regenerating forest. We’re high in the landscape though there are no distant views.

Looking back – the final climb to the headwall of the creek is a bit steep.

Through part of this, they’ve made a huge fuel break, so it feels more like riding along an airstrip instead of through a forest. 

Grunt, grunt, get up there!

There is one really steep drop to a creek over a kay and an equally steep climb out. I spin a tyre and have to put a foot down on the uphill and so then have to push my bike up the rest. I get super dizzy by the time I get to the top. It’s the first instance of vertigo that will plague me for three weeks. Other than some afternoon fatigue for a couple more days, this is the only lingering covidy symptom I have. Man, I have got off lightly!

The road is in good condition, so it’s a nice ride, even we are riding an airstrip instead of a road as we duck down and climb out of all the dents in the ridgetop. There are no cars. 

We meet up with the track that leads to some mottled gums. This is the only place in Victoria where these trees grow.  How did that get here? Or how did they cling to this refuge as all the others succumbed to loss? Thankfully, they’ve survived, even though they’ve been scorched. The very unique fire tower further down the road did not make it – I don’t bother to go see the vacant site. 

The soil changes from red, rough and rocky to white and sandy in the blink of an eye. We are getting closer to the coast here. The topography flattens out a bit, and the vegetation is thicker and looks happier on this sandy stuff. There are kms and kms of clear cuts. They’ve been going hell-for-leather through here and still losing money!

We have a good downhill to the Hospital Creek/Waiwera valley. Wow – it burnt hot through here! There are many dead trees standing like burnt wicks. Some homes have been rebuilt, some are unburnt, and some people are still living in government-provided container pods. Looking off to the northwest it’s lots of whiskers (standing dead trees), not much stubble (epicormic regrowth). 

Verne is happy to see this sign.

The fire came from Buchan. Eleven homes were lost. Everyone ended up taking refuge in the community hall halfway down the valley, and the firies just stayed there and defended that. They could not directly fight the fire as it was too fierce, so they just protected life instead of property, for the most part.

As we ride down the open valley, one hillside is planted to some crop, and all the workers in fluoro stand out as little dots on the hillside. Down lower the valley closes in and the road twists and turns on the western slopes. 

At one point I wonder where the road will go, as the creek makes a sharp left. I think we’ll climb around a hill and then high on the valley wall. But, nope, we come around a right-hand bend and the valley pushes through two hillsides. Then, all of a sudden, we’re at the rail trail and the partially burnt bridge there. Apparently, part of the big trestle bridge was on fire, but a local saved the rest of it by using an excavator to push away what was burning. 

We head down the rail trail on a new and excellent white metal surface through the forest to Nowa Nowa. There are a couple steep-ish bits on runarounds past two small trestle bridges, but this is a good section of trail. 

We head into Nowa Nowa which is just a general store at a crossroads. There are a couple caravan parks, but the pub is closed. COVID got it. Once upon a time there was a timber mill here, but they cut down all the big trees, and with no saw logs left, the mill closed. 

Looking up river to the old rail bridge.

The general store has lots of bait, frozen food, and some pies in a warmer. But there’s no OJ or hot food you can order. I suppose Lakes Entrance, a major service town just 24 kms away, means most people stop there if they want food. 

I ride down to the river, have a break and some food, and talk to the council guy who comes to do a playground inspection. I ask him where the council depots are located and how far he travels each day in his work. East Gippsland Shire is a massive area with lots of small, remote communities. He has worked for council for nearly 40 years, it’s one of the few stable employers left. 

He says his son drives log trucks but is out of work for what will probably be a long time. An environment group has had a win in court and there is currently an injunction on all native timber harvesting (since last Nov. and why I haven’t been worrying about meeting logging trucks on the road). The council worker thinks this is likely the end because the Supreme Court found that the state gov-owned timber corporation was not protecting two critically-endangered species and ordered a halt to logging until they went back and did proper surveys of the animals in proposed logging coupes and then actually followed the rules about not logging within a certain distance of the populations found. (They’ve been breaking the law around this for many years with no repercussions, even after a “Conservation Regulator” was established in 2019).

Apparently, of all the proposed coupes, only two sites would be able to go ahead if they actually followed the rules! So the council worker thinks the timber people are going to have find another legal loophole (like the one they use to continue logging old growth trees) before they can resume logging and his son can get back to carting dead trees.

How long do we prop up something that is so obviously damaging and unsustainable? This trip has certainly been eye-opening and mind-boggling related to all of the logging. 

With lunch finished and a top-up of my phone with the solar charger, I head out on the rail trail past the Stony Creek Trestle Bridge (looks ‘same as it ever was’  – cue Talking Heads) to Costicks Weir. 

You’ve got to get off the rail trail and ride down a very sandy road to get to this site – a weir built after the massive 1939 fires to provide fire tankers with water. It’s pretty small and underwhelming, not really worth the detour from the rail trail unless you plan to camp there.

It’s a little underwhelming, even with all the rain we’ve had.

They’ve redone the campsite post-fires and now there is a new toilet, a picnic table, fire ring, and two sites carved into the hill. It’s a bit open and not all that inviting, but it will do. 

I spend the remainder of the afternoon chilling in the shade and planning out where I might go this next week. I’m still a little tired in the afternoon from Covid, but I have definitely gotten off lightly.  I really enjoy spreading the maps out and just pondering routes. I love having a body that can go wherever and for however long I ask again. I am absolutely loving the mountain riding so far. Carrying 10 days of food has not been as difficult as I thought it would be. And I love my little stove and being able to cook up pretty healthy meals on it. The weight of the cooking gear and fuel is certainly worth it for any trip over three days, I think. I’ve gotten into a bit of routine with cooking and setting up camp each day, too, and it feels like I could just do this forever (or at least until the weather gets cold… Oct-Dec has kinda cured me of wanting to ride in cold, wet conditions for quite some time)!

20 January 2023 – Costicks Weir to Nowa Nowa – Gurnaikurnai Country – 6 kms

In places like this, state forest not far out of town, I tend to sleep with the bike just outside the tent door, so no one can take off with the bike in the night. When I wake this morning and look out the tent flap, I can tell that something is not right with the front tyre.

After I get out to investigate, I note that the tyre has lost its pressure. This is the remaining tubeless tyre. Well, that’s odd. So I start to look over the tyre to see where it is leaking air or where there is something sticking out of the tyre that shouldn’t be. I spin the tyre to try to distribute the sealant so it might seal up wherever the hole might be.

But then I see it. I discover a blister has developed on the tyre. It’s about the size of a 50-cent piece. That’s not good. If I continue to ride that, or put too much pressure back in the tyre, the tyre will blow. 

So I take stock. Do I limp 26 kms to Bruthen or 6 kms back to Nowa Nowa? It would be cheaper to stay in Bruthen, as the caravan parks in Nowa Nowa are expensive. From Bruthen I could get a bus to Bairnsdale or Sale. But I’m not sure if that tyre will get all the way to Bruthen.

So I pack up the super-wet tent. After the front came through at Buchan, it’s been cold since then and it’s pretty cold this morning, too. I slowly and gingerly make it back to Nowa Nowa where I can get good mobile service and then start googling. 

I may have to order a tyre and have it sent somewhere. One of the caravan parks in town, the old backpacker place, is pretty small. So I head over there at 9am to see if I can get a site for a few days and if they will let me use their address to receive the tyre. I need to sort this out pretty quickly as there is a bus to Lakes Entrance at 11.30, and a phone call to a surf/bike/paddle shop there indicates they might have a tyre that wlll work.

The caravan park is super-friendly and helpful. Even though it is early in the morning, he is fine with me setting up the tent and having a shower before I go catch the bus. 

The caravan park has a retro theme. You can pay a lot of money to stay in an old teardrop one. The chickens and rooster are free range.

The bus costs $2.40 – 10 cents a kay. That’s a good deal. And the bus is actually on time. The only problem is that this is a reserved service. I’m supposed to have booked ahead of time. But I’m standing there with a deflated bike tyre, and so I plead my case. The guy concedes with a sigh, adds my name to his manifest list and lets me on since I’m only going to the next stop and he has seats available. All of the bus occupants eye me off as I shuffle down the aisle with that big-arse tyre and rim in front of me. I find a seat next to a guy watching a video on his phone and just keep the tyre in the aisle.

Lakes Entrance is a holiday town and has plenty of shops and accommodation. I’m able to get fruit and veg for a few days while the bike shop people are cleaning the sealant out of the old tyre and putting in the new tube and tyre. I can’t believe that tiny little shop has a tyre that will work! It’s not all that easy to even find them online.

It’s very windy, so it’s not all that pleasant along the water today, but I can see how this would be a really popular place for all kinds of watersports. You’ve got both the ocean and the inland lakes system. Way back in 1998, the backpacker bus stopped here and we all did a cruise and wine-tasting thing. I don’t remember too much about it except that I went for a bushwalk while everyone was doing the wine-tasting and missed being shat on by a bird by mere inches. 

I pick up the bike tyre. They don’t have a tube for that size so couldn’t put the tyre all the way on. I do have two tubes, so I can put one of those in, and then pick up another spare in Bairnsdale. 

The bus going back is a non-reserved service, but it’s a half hour late. This means I don’t get back to the caravan park until after 7pm. But the tyre goes on okay – it’s harder to get on than the rear tyre, but with a little wrestling, I manage it. 

So we’re rolling again after a very long day of logistics and problem-solving. However, I’ve booked the caravan park for a few nights in case I needed to order a tyre and have it sent, so we’re going to hang here for a few days. Mentally I am SOOO ready to get moving again, but given the level of vertigo/dizziness I am getting in the morning and the fatigue for a few hours in the afternoon, maybe it’s better to give it another few days of taking it easy anyway. 

2 thoughts on “Unscripted – Week 13 – Nunniong Road to Nowa Nowa

  • Hey Em,
    I love how you take all the bad stuff in stride. I’ve found certain brands of tires are more likely to blister. If your rims allow a 2.6, those tires are easier to find and you’ll have more options.

    My mom doesn’t know how to leave a comment, but she told me to tell you that the gluten free goods have been a huge hit at the farmers market. She sells out in the first hour and that gives a $75 profit to go towards the programs they run/donations.

    When are you coming back this year? I’m due for a Denver trip – likely a week in late July before planning sessions ramp up.

    • Thanks, Evan – yeah, I’ll get 2.6’s at some point, but that’s about as low as I can go with 45s.
      Sorry I’ll miss you! I’m there end of August and first two weeks of September.
      That’s awesome for your mom. She took me to a gluten free bakery when I was there, so I’m sure there’s some inspiration from that, too. Glad it’s so profitable for her time and the money raised goes to really good causes.

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