Monday, 5 September 2011

Cruising the Coorong

Adelaide – Robe

Pouring over maps, we came to the realization that there was simply no way of getting out of Adelaide without a major hill climb. Eventually we picked a quiet route with a fairly gentle 500m climb leading us east towards the Murray River.

The morning of our departure presented us with the worst weather we had had in our entire 17 days in Adelaide: rain and wind. Raincoats and lights on, we said goodbye to our friends and headed down to the river. We followed the bike path along the river for about 12km out of the city, then hopped on to Gorge Road to follow a misty river valley up into the mountains. ||

Waterfall   River valley

In the afternoon, the weather cleared and we coasted all the way downhill to the Murray River where we must have looked so tired that the owners of Mannum campsite gave us a senior’s discount – not bad for a couple of 32 year olds!

The following day began with sunshine and blue sky, and we expected an easy day of 70km. But as soon as we left the campsite, the winds picked up and clouds came over again. Stormy gusts blew us sideways off the road as birds struggled in vein to fly.

A friendly cafe offered a welcome rest from the rain and cold stormy weather. When we finally made it to the campsite at Wellington, it was already dark, our “easy day” having turned into one of the hardest of our journey through Australia.

With that in mind, we didn’t think twice when presented with the option of renting a cabin for the night ($25) instead of camping ($19).

Farm shed

With persistent headwinds our progress was slow the following day and we only made it as far as Meningie, a small town on the edge of the Coorong wetlands. We camped next to a lake and spent a relaxing afternoon watching pelicans.

Pelicans    Wild flower

The Coorong is a 145km long national park emcompassing the Younghusband Peninsula. The lagoon landscape is a haven for birds, and we spotted dozens of pelicans during our cycling day.

Just as we were contemplating how suitable the Coorong wildflowers would be for making honey, we came across a little “buy honey here” sign pointing down a driveway. A self-service fridge revealed tubs of local honey. The only available size came in 1kg pots.

“Freddie, I just have to buy this honey,” Guy insisted, reminding her of his dream to one day become a beekeeper himself. “Otherwise I will wonder for the rest of my life how it would have tasted.”

On completion of the purchase, Freddie somehow found herself with a 1kg tub of honey swinging from her handlebars while Guy took to the road unencumbered.

Honey purchase

The Coorong national park offered many opportunities for wild camping. Bushland had replaced the ever present fenced-off farmland, and we were reminded of the Outback up North when we easily found a wild camp spot. It was, however, quite muddy – a haven for mosquitoes.

In the morning, a cyclist’s dream came true: the wind had switched and we were blessed with a ferocious tailwind. We had only planned to ride to Kingston, 70km away. When we arrived there at lunchtime, we decided to push on to Robe, making it a 120km day.

Campsite in Robe  Robe harbour

Robe is a lovely little fishing village, popular with tourists from both Melbourne and Adelaide. However, on a Sunday afternoon in mid winter, most of the town was closed, including the supermarket. The caravan park was unmanned, so we strolled around and found a lovely pitch on a slopey grass ledge with a 180° sea view.

The following day we had a stroll around the village enjoying the beautiful weather and 20°C sunshine. Not bad for a winter day!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good to see that you arrived 'home'! Hope you have a fantastic time. We met along the way close to Darwin (2 Dutchies)and kept following your blog till the end. Wonderfull outback adventures! CU later mate!
Frank and Martje

Freddie and Guy said...

Hi Frank and Martje, thanks for your comment! Gosh that seems a long time ago already, we were only a few days out of Darwin then. It's great to be back home. Did you manage to find jobs in Darwin?
F&G

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