Day 56 – Apollo Bay To Halls Gap (317 km)

Early start? Nope. It was still around 8:30 before I managed to leave the park… it’s coffee and muesli with the news on the phone that’s doing me in. Oh well…

Traffic was still fairly light, but there’s always one bugger who does half the posted speed limit and refuses to let others through. No wonder there’s road rage! Grrrr. It was still better than yesterday though.

The Great Ocean Road is great (duh). No need to go into details. Although, what I didn’t know is that the Otway National Park through which it passes is yet another rainforest. Before I left on the trip I thought we only had the Daintree. No wonder I sucked at geography.

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Day 55 – Ballarat To Apollo Bay (200 km)

I kept flip-flopping with regards to what I would do. Last night I thought I’d stay an extra night to have a good look around Ballarat. However, after sleeping on it I figured that would be a waste of a day… I have spent a fair bit of time in Ballarat (early 2000s for work) so I’d seen a fair bit. Plus, I know Ellie & I will be back this way.

Since “doing” the Great Ocean Rd was a must, it was unlikely that I’d be able to attend the SA/Vic meet at Halls Gap tonight. However, I could still make the lunch tomorrow. Since this trip was about the ride, and the Club, I figured that was the real goal. So, off I went… after a ride around town for one last peek.

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Day 53 – Deloraine To Devonport (52 km)

It’s a sad day – I have to leave this beautiful island… but not until this evening as I’m on another overnight ferry. So, Diesel will show me around again.

However, before heading out I changed the oil & filter – 10,000 km since the last one in Cairns. I unhitched the trailer first (we’d come back to get it before heading to the ferry), refueled, and we were off.

It was pretty much just follow-the-leader (a lot more than 52 km). We made use of our intercoms again and Diesel was providing a great narration for the trip as tour guide, as well as providing warnings about gravel, cars, tractors, etc. This mean I could have a little bit more of a look around.

We started with a ride up the Central Palteau to see the Great Lakes (camera/operator malfunction – no piccie of the lakes):

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Day 52 – Smithton To Deloraine (184 km)

What a crap night. It was the windiest of the trip yet. The tent more than survived, but I barely slept. The wind on the tent was non-stop and loud. Then, I know subconsciously I was worried about the bike from being blown over again. I’d parked it into the wind on hard gravel so it was likely to be OK, but that didn’t stop the worry. I was also suffering from the Cradle Mountain walk again. I’ve always maintained (for me at least) that “exercise day +2” is the worst. My knees an hips were giving me hell all night, even after fistfuls of painkillers.

Cape Grim was on the menu today. I’d wanted to go there ever since I’d read that is was named as having the cleanest air in the world. I’m not sure if this is true (surely Antarctica has that?). I was aware, though, that it was on private land. There were certainly organized tours that could get me there (not paying the $$ for that) but I wanted to get there on the bike. So, taking a chance – I headed west.

The road headed through some lush green farmlands:

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Day 51 – Cradle Mountain To Smithton (325 km)

No rush today – there would be a little riding and sightseeing along the way, but plenty of time to do it. Ultimately, the intent was to get to Arthur River for camp. It meant the main road across the north west of Tassie would need to be done twice.

So, I tried to “ignore” some of the scenery and not visit the towns along that way while heading west so I’d have them “to do” on the way back.

The north north from Cradle Mountain was as usual – sunny sky, boring roads with horrible bends in them, up and down mountains – quite monotonous really 😉 .

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Day 50 – Cradle Mountain (0 km)

Today was great. Up early, charge the camera, breaky, coffee, and then got ready for the walks. It was hard to know what to take. Firstly, I really wish I’d packed that backpack of mine. Instead, I used the tank-bag with shoulder strap. It clearly wasn’t ideal, but it was OK. The forecast was clear with a possible light shower. Shorts it was though – I can layer up on the top half if necessary – and I’d wear my army-GP like motorcycle boots: nice & comfy with lots of protection. I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t properly prepared for a genuine hike, so I decided to just wing it. I had water, snacks, sunscreen, warm layers, and a rain coat (from the bike).

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Day 49 – Strahan to Cradle Mountain (137 km)

So, last night after I finished catching up on a little blogging I headed back to the tent to find most of the camping sites are now occupied through some late arrivals. To the side and behind me are 2 cars with boats (cos Strahan is seaside). Not that I could have done anything about it, but that should have been a red flag.

At 3am they both started their diesels and towed their clanky boat trailers over the rough gravel carpark road to head off for fishing for the day (probs). I was awake from then on. While it gave me a chance to completely catch up on the blogs, it left me a little shattered.

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Day 48 – Bothwell To Strahan (245 km)

Surprisingly, we both woke full of vim and vigor without suffering any ill-effects from the night before. I was a little nervous about any Spam aftermath, but all good there.

The worst thing was that I had to deal with the Spam-fat covered cookware from the night before. Not pleasant at all. It was then that I started to question the merits of consuming it… probably none I suspect.

In discussing the planned route with Peta, we discovered some was on gravel, so we both chickened out and figured we’d adjust and play it safe. It was to be a great day with great weather.

We headed back the way we came for a bit, then north stopping in this quaint “resort” like town called Tarraleah, with houses all painted in different pastel colours.

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Day 47 – Hobart To Bothwell (335 km)

Diesel had headed from Deloraine for a campsite along the road to the Gordon Dam yesterday afternoon and the plan was for me to scoop him up on the way through.

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a slow start that day and was over an hour later than expected. I knew he’d just head to the dam wall. Sure enough – he was there waiting for me. His story of spending the night alone with a campfire under the stars, a changing colourscape on the cliffs above him, and nothing else but silence and a bottle of red made me envious – maybe somewhere else down the track we could repeat it.

Holy shit! The dam wall was impressive. 140m tall (we found out later) and the view from the top was incredible. Photos will never do it justice, but…

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