The residual refrain: Day 9

Stratford – Mitchell River National Park: Dick’s Knob and other roads that go up

Sunday March 26, 2017, 48 miles (77 km) – Total so far: 427 miles (687 km)

It’s still dark when I wade through the extensive dew to the amenities block. My feet get as wet as if I’d splashed through a creek. The water rolls off the tent as I pack it up.

The only other people moving about are the couple a few sites down that had a strong and loud disagreement late into the night about their responsibilities to each other. They don’t seem to be much happier with each other this early morning. I can’t imagine saying the things they said to each other to anyone I love, let alone at loud volume in a caravan park. Nevermind, I’ve been fortunate never to know such acrid hatred with anyone I’ve ever loved.

Now, let’s go see some rocks! Read more

The residual refrain: Day 10

Mitchell River National Park – Bairnsdale: Lettuce live(s) at Lindenow

Monday March 27, 2017, 29 miles (47 km) – Total so far: 456 miles (734 km)

My plan is to get up before first light and on the road as quickly as possible. I want to beat the wind and heat forecast today. But those plans are interrupted before they even begin. The wind creeps in even earlier on gentle puffs and sighs. This grows to a consistent breeze and then a tent door-flapping gustiness by the time I start packing. The good thing is that I get to pack up a dry tent for the first time on the trip. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 11

Bairnsdale

Tuesday March 28, 2017

I have a set of beliefs which influences how I perceive the world. I believe in science, and when I look at the landscape, I see it through a lens of geomorphology. I see erosion and deposition. I see clues in the hills that tell the story of mountain building through faults and unconformities. I understand this as how the landscape came to be.

However, I know this is not the belief system of everyone. I find Indigenous Dreamtime stories fascinating. It’s a different way of seeing the landscape and understanding how it formed. I like to compare them and think about a particular mountain as an emu, or a river course as the flips and flops of a particularly giant fish. It is a different kind of depth and richness compared to the depth and richness of geomorphology. So when I discovered that there is a ‘keeping place’ here in Bairnsdale that told stories of the areas I’ve ridden through, and that the building also held a lot of cultural items, I wanted to visit. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 12

Bairnsdale – Timbarra Bridge: Climbing the mobile phone tower hill

Wednesday March 29, 2017, 69 miles (111 km) – Total so far: 525 miles (845 km)

Hellooooo, Autumn. Welcome. Once again. I love your crisp nights, warm and sunny days, your lack of flies, and your still and stable air masses that park overhead for days on end. You are my favourite season – in the northern and southern hemipsheres.

The cold front the day before yesterday ushered in autumn. Before that, the ride still felt like summer. Hot days, warm nights, occasional storms. Dry. Dusty.

But yesterday morning and this morning have been nippy. The crispness in the air mirrors the crispness of the apples now being harvested. Yes, autumn is so much more preferable to summer. The only drawback is the short daylight hours. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 13

Timbarra River – Nunnett Plains: Running out of legs and light

Thursday March 30, 2017, 24 miles (39 km) – Total so far: 549 miles (884 km)

The phenomenal night sky disappears around 3am. I don’t see it happen, but I hear it. The rain begins. It’s steady – more than showers but less than heavy. I just curl up deeper into my sleeping bag and let the soil drink it up in the silence. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 14

Nunnett Plains – Swifts Creek: Not for the faint-hearted

Friday March 31, 2017, 35 miles (56 km) – Total so far: 584 miles (940 km)

It’s 3 degrees Celsius. It is wet. It is cold. But the sky is clear and the sun is sprinkling rays through the spaces between the boughs and leaves of trees. Autumn has the most glorious mornings. Tell that to my arthritic fingers, though. They are none too happy at bending and packing a tent in that cold and damp. But I’ve done this thousands of times, so I can do it blindfolded and with fingers that work like sticks. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 15

Swifts Creek – Omeo: On the path of miners

Saturday April 1, 2017, 22 miles (35 km) – Total so far: 606 miles (975 km)

There is no easy way to Omeo. To get there, you’ll have done some climbing somewhere. Coming from the south, you’ve got a couple options: 1) the main highway over Tongio Gap (with dirt or paved options – old and new routes – at the top); or, 2) the Cassillis Road over an unnamed (as far as I can tell) gap.

Today, I’m heading up the Cassillis Road. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 16

Omeo – Near Big River Bridge: My favorite road – Part 1

Sunday April 2, 2017, 28 miles (45 km) – Total so far: 634 miles (1,020 km)

What makes a perfect road for touring? Low traffic? Good scenery? A few challenging climbs mixed with some fun descents? Curves, wiggles and meanders? Something out there away from it all?

For me, the Omeo Highway is the perfect touring road. It’s got all of that above, plus logistics that aren’t too hard to figure out and beautiful bush campsites that you can have all to yourself along a river. My favourite road near home is the Murray River Road, but my favourite road that’s not exactly local is the Omeo Highway. I could ride this road over and over and never tire of it. Highway is also a misnomer. It’s a curvy, winding mountain road that was only fully sealed in 2014. It’s a highway in name only. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 17

Near Big River Bridge – Tallangatta: My favorite road – Part 2

Monday April 3, 2017, 79 miles (127 km) – Total so far: 713 miles (1,147 km)

The day starts early. Really early. I wake up around 1am and can’t get back to sleep. Finally, around 3.30am, I give up on sleep. The clouds have given way to that phenomenal night sky. I unfold the extra plastic sheet, put on another layer of clothing, and then pull my sleeping pad and bag out of the tent. I lay the plastic sheet over the dew-covered grass and then place my gear on top. I slip back into my bag and drink in the night sky. Read more

The residual refrain: Day 18

Tallangatta – Jindera: Under that big blue sky

Tuesday April 4, 2017, 36 miles (58 km) – Total so far: 749 miles (1,205 km)

The weather is perfect today. Warm, sunny, light winds. Not much smoke hanging about in the air. I finally reset my watch. Daylight savings ended on Sunday, but an actual ‘time’ has not mattered the past few days. The numbers given to when the sun rose and set were pretty extraneous. Read more