Robe – Timboon
Leaving Robe, the tailwinds persisted and the sunshine made for a perfect day of cycling. For lunch, we stopped at Beachport, a sleepy fishing village surrounded by surf beaches.
We camped in Millicent and not feeling like tackling the big lights of Mount Gambier we zigzagged on quite rural roads towards the Victorian border. ||
The Mount Gambier area is famous for its sinkholes so we were chuffed to stumble across one, materialising out of the surrounding farm land. Formed due to the corrosion of limestone rocks, some sinks holes are over 77m deep. Guy dipped his toes into the freezing water but stopped short of a swim.
Just around the corner we came across our final border, after countless border crossing from one foreign land to another we now entered our home state of Victoria. All of a sudden we felt home was very very close.
Rolling into the small settlement of Nelson just across the Victorian border we ran into Dan, a Canadian cyclist who had cycled across the Nullarbor desert from Perth.
Dan liked to talk kit so we soon fell into geeky discussions; Dome Vs Tunnel tent design, MSR XGX or MSR Whisperlite. Guy and Dan had a “boil off” to see which stove could bring 2 cups of water to boil first. Much to Dan’s delight the MSR XGX, legendary for its roaring “Jet” style flame took the honours by about 15 seconds but certainly lost points due to its potential for operator ear damage.
We cycled out with Dan on a cold and showery morning. Dan liked to compose songs when he cycled and we enjoyed such classics as “Oh No Not Another Hill” and “Road Train Approaching, I’ve Got The Hippy Hippy Shake”.
At Portland we had lunch together before Dan pushed on while we looked for a campsite. None of the campsites in town had a decent camp kitchen where we could sit and work, but we eventually found a campsite with a decommissioned bunkhouse which they offered us for a cheap price.
Not long after jumping back on the bikes we arrived in Port Fairy, a posh seaside village popular with holidaying Melbournites. Exploring the fancy cafes and antique shops was the last thing on our mind as we searched for a campsite in the driving rain.
We had hoped to take a day off here but as there were no good facilities at the campsite and the weather wasn’t great, we decided to push on.
We passed through Warrnambool and stopped off at Logans Beach for some whale spotting. In winter, Southern Right Whales migrate north from Antarctica and are often seen in the bay as the females calve in the warmer waters. The Southern Right’s were considered the “right” ones to hunt as they float when killed and swim close to the shores. Prior to hunting they numbered over 60,000; today though the numbers are slowly increasing there are still only around 7,000.
We waited around for an hour or so but the whales weren’t coming out to say hello so we pushed on towards Timboon where we wanted to visit John and Rachel, a couple we had met a few months ago at Uluru.
John and Rachel are currently living on John’s mum’s property which they have transformed from a sparse, empty field into a blooming garden. The fences were lined with berries, there were countless fruit trees ranging from plums and apples to guavas and oranges, and the veggie garden brimmed with healthy greens, artichokes and giant carrots.
It was great to catch up with John and Rachel, learn about their take on biodynamic gardening and permaculture, sit by the fire and enjoy Rachel’s hearty root vegetable stew. We left the following morning with a huge bunch of freshly cut silverbeet, a handful of camomile flowers for tea, and a bunch of jerusalem artichokes to plant when we get home.
A gentle climb took us to Timboon where we were persuaded to stop at an old whiskey distillery that had been converted to a swanky restaurant.
No sooner had we got back on the road than we were again persuaded to stop at a local cheese factory: The Mousetrap, run by a French cheese maker. During the cheese tasting we chatted to a lovely French couple living in Melbourne, Bruno and Marlene, who kindly offered to invite us for a drink.
Bursting at the seams from so much food we struggled up a small incline before making our way back to the coast, excited as we knew that some of the worlds most dramatic coastal scenery was just around the corner.