Unscripted – First Half Week 17 – Dargo to Wellington River

11-14 February 2023

Total weekly kms: 334 (for whole week)

Total Part 2 kms: 1653

Total Trip kms: 4901

11 February 2023 – Dargo – Sportsmans Creek – Gunaikurnai Country – 44 kms

Thick fog covers the campground – everything is damp or sodden. It’s still dark at dawn down in the fog, but the kookaburras carry on anyway. 

I haven’t slept well, but I still pack up quickly and get rolling along a six-kilometre gentle climb out of town. We are riding up a tributary of the Dargo River, as we make our way around a mountain that pokes up in the centre of the valley and divides the Wonnangatta catchment from the Dargo. 

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Unscripted – 2nd Half Week 16 – Timbarra River to Dargo

7-10 February 2023

311 kms (for the whole week)

Total Part 2 kms: 1319

Total Trip kms: 4567

7 February 2023 – Timbarra River to Swifts Creek – Gunaikurnai Country – 55 kms

I imagine the river with fire all around, the roar of energy, the heat, the trees flaming like candles as the bushfire crowns. I imagine the animals fleeing ahead of the fire front as it creeps or races across the ground. I imagine the wombats heading to the depths of their burrows and the lyrebirds stealing some space in the burrow, too. I imagine the reflection of all that orange on the surface of the water, as the firies come to fill up their tankers. And then I imagine the black and the silence afterward when ash still flutters down from the sky and smoke still curls from stumps and snags still burning deep within the wood. 

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Unscripted – 1st half Week 16 – Buchan-Orbost Road to Timbarra River

4 – 6 February 2023

311 kms (for the whole week)

Total Part 2 kms: 1319

Total Trip kms: 4567

4 February 2023 – Buchan-Orbost Rd to Mt McLeod – Gunaikurnai Country – 37 kms

The first shafts of sunlight filter through the trees. I’ve slept well in my roadside accommodation. There was no traffic through the night. The silence this morning is enveloping – no birds, no people, no vehicles. There is just the sound of a tent fly being shaken, tent poles clacking and a bike being pushed through the bushes back to the road. It’s 6.15 am, and we’re heading out hoping to beat the winds forecast to be 30-45 kph out of the northwest.

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Unscripted – Week 15 – White Bridges to Orbost-Buchan Road

28 January – 3 February 2023

277 kms 

Total Part 2 kms: 1008

Total Trip kms: 4256

28 January 2023 – White Bridges – Gunaikurnai Country – 0 kms

I’m standing on the road surveying the situation. I walk to the upside of the road and peer down into the vegetation. I can’t really see the creek at all down there. The drop-off from the road is pretty much straight down. So I go over to the downside of the road. I can see the water flowing out of the culvert before it spreads into a wider course through muddy banks.

We’re going to have to get water from that side. Now, how to get down there. The grass is about boob-height and you can’t really see the ground itself. But it looks like the embankment they’ve built for the road has large rocks down by the culvert itself that I could stand on. I’m sure at some point there was a bridge here, hence the name White Bridges, but it seems that in more recent times they’ve funneled the creek through a culvert and then just built up the road on an embankment so there was not a steep drop to the creek. The area is state forest, but it really just has an industrial plantation feel given the extensive logging that’s gone on here. Nothing seems natural here at all, so who knows how the creek used to run.

So I gather my water bottles, my cooking pot and filter. I put it all in my little backpack and look for the easiest way down through all that grass. I have no choice. I have to get water.  I step down off the road and pound my feet, warning any snakes that I’m coming, so please move off and don’t end my life with a bite here today.

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Unscripted – Week 14 – Nowa Nowa to White Bridges

21-27 January 2023

209 kms 

Total Part 2 kms: 731

Total Trip kms: 3979

21 January 2023 – Nowa Nowa – Gunaikurnai Country – 5 kms

Ahh, to sleep in and let the sun hit the tent, to lie in my sleeping bag on soft grass and let the day’s warmth wake me instead of the alarm. Rest days align with my innate preference to wake up at 8.30am and start the day slowly. Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you I am not a morning person. Don’t try to have an intelligent conversation with me before 8am and don’t expect me to want to eat before 10am. 

I do like the early mornings on the bike, though, and I will drag myself out of the sleeping bag to enjoy the quiet of a pre-dawn start. I do love watching the sun rise while listening to the first beats of the day’s diurnal rhythm. I also really enjoy putting down the kays while there is little wind, heat and traffic. It really is a special time of day to be on the bike when the shadows are still long.

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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.

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Unscripted – 2nd Half Week 12 – Dart River to Nunniong Road

10-13 January 2023

204 kms 

Total Part 2 kms:368 

Total Trip kms: 3616

10 January 2023 – Dart River to Bullocky Creek – Jaitmatang Country – 74 kms

4.45am. My alarm goes off. The kookaburras haven’t even started yet, and there is more light from the almost full moon than there is from the sun. It’s not yet first light. So I snooze for a bit longer. 

There’s heavy dew again, but it’s not that cool. It will get hot today, hence the early start. 

Yesterday there were clouds that gathered around 5pm. The humidity went up and the flies got very sticky. The mozzies came out early. There were a few raindrops around 6pm, then rain showers for about 30 minutes from 6.15pm. There may have even been a rumble of thunder. But it is clear now, and that early warmth says ‘get going before it gets too hot’!

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Unscripted – 1st Half Week 12 – Jindera to Dart River

6-9 January 2023

164 kms

Total Part 2 kms: 164

Total Trip kms: 3442

The plan is to stay with Nigel for about a week over Christmas – just long enough to order a new rear tyre, revise gear and have a short rest while the roads are very busy with Christmas Holiday traffic. But the tyre takes a while to arrive, then there’s a heatwave for a few days (which feels especially hot since we haven’t yet had spring temps to acclimate), and then there’s a big front that comes through. Three months away means poor Nige is pretty lonely and wants me to stick around longer, too. Now that is a labour of love!  So after two weeks of rest and losing way more muscle and fitness than I would have at a younger age, we finally set off for Part 2 of the trip on 6 Jan.

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Unscripted – Part 2 – The final days of freedom

There is a moderately strong northeasterly trying to impede our progress. The waves on Lake Hume have whitecaps. They crash to shore with such force that I cannot give the guys a float. They’d just get tipped over. 

But it is sunny, and the day promises to be warm, as we round the southern shores on the rail trail. I know this rail trail very, very well now. I’ve ridden it a zillion times since it gives good access to several mountain valleys. It is convenient and scenic, but it does lack the thrill of riding somewhere new. 

Yes, it feels like a weekend ride. It’s just another ride where we know all the hills and valleys and how all the roads connect. There’s the possibility of some new roads to ride, but they will linked with roads we’ve ridden many times before.

There is good weather for the next five or six days. Cold, damp nights laden with dew and/or fog and warm, sunny days. I have about four different rides in my head that I could do by peeling off from the rail trail at various points. We’ve got four days to play with over Fri, Sat, Sun and Monday.

But it’s been a big couple weeks and the next couple weeks could be kinda stressful, too. So I pass by all the turn-offs to the more ambitious rides in my head and just have a lazy day climbing up the gentle grade on the rail trail.

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