Daily Archives: June 3, 2015

Geelong to Camperdown via the Great Coastal Road – 6 Days (310 km)

Carpet weaving machine designed by
Axminster carpet weaving machine.

This six day leg of our Australian tour was memorable because of the beautiful scenery, the  good weather (e.g. sun and very little wind), and the shorter kilometer days. T

Day 1 – Geelong to Torquay (35 km) Geelong is a beautiful small city with a combination of heavy industry along the bay and tourism.  There are plenty of ethnic and seafood restaurants . Before leaving Geelong, we stopped at the famous National Wool Museum which we enjoyed more than we had anticipated. We left for Torquay after a picnic lunch by the water.

These whimsical statues are located all over Geelong.
These whimsical statues are located all over Geelong.

We followed cycle lanes and cycle paths along a river out of Geelong. This route  probably added 10 km to the ride but made it much quieter and more scenic than riding on the highway. We arrived in Torquay near  the famous surfer shop outlet stores including the original Rip Curl shop. After a delicious coffee to warm up, we found a great cabin at the Torquay Holiday Park. Leaving our panniers at the cabin,  we then cycled into the town center and  Torquay beach to watch the surfers.

Cycling from Geelong to Torquay
Cycling from Geelong to Torquay

We later learned that Torquay housed the world surf finals over Easter weekend.  We found the local craft brewery where we met a young couple who saw us looking at our map and shared lots of “must-sees” on the Great Ocean Road. (This was a BIG help!)

Day 2 – Torquay to Lorne (50 km) We woke to beautiful, blue skies and light winds for our first day on the Great Ocean Road (GOR). We started cycling on the coastal walking path between Torquay and Bell’s Beach stopping often to watch the surfers.

Eric and I enjoyed watching the many surfers.
Eric and I enjoyed watching the many excellent surfers.

We cycled on the highway from Bells Beach to Anglesea because the track was better suited for mountain biking at this point. A sign advertising “coffee” and “open to the public” at the Anglesea Surf Lifesaving Club gave us the excuse we needed to take a break.

View from the coastal walking track (we cycled) looking west towards Anglesea.
View from the coastal walking track (we cycled) looking west towards Anglesea.

We met an older, retired man who I think must have been a lifetime member at the surf club. He shared lots of information about the club and the lovely community of Anglesea. Further along the ride we stopped at the Split Point Lighthouse.

Carving at the tree stump near today's picnic table
Carving at the tree stump near today’s picnic table

After stopping for a picnic at the wetlands park near the lighthouse, we enjoyed the relatively flat, scenic  ride into Lorne.

Split Point Lighthouse. Be sure and have tea or coffee at the cute cottage nearby.
Split Point Lighthouse. Be sure and have tea or coffee at the cute cottage nearby.

Day 3 – Lorne to Apollo Bay (52 km) We awoke to another sunny, blue-sky, light-wind day and took time to enjoy the view from the Lorne Pier.

 

I can't get enough of piers and bridges.
I can’t get enough of piers and bridges.

We then cycled past this Victorian hotel on our way out of town.

Hotels like the Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne remind me that this area has been a holiday destination for many years.
Hotels like the Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne remind me that this area has been a holiday destination for many years.

Continuing west, the Great Ocean Road (GOR) has  lots of curves, but luckily for us, little traffic at this time of year (almost winter).

This was a typical scene for the most of the day.
This was a typical scene for the most of the day.

A highlight of the day was seeing my first koala (not a bear – thanks to a reader correction) at Kennett River.

I don't know how this little guy slept. He was the center of lots of media attention.
I don’t know how this little guy slept. He was the center of lots of media attention.

 

Look closely and you'll see a metal part for a wrecked ship.
Look closely and you’ll see a metal part for a wrecked ship.

The arrival into Apollo Bay along the wide bay with gentle lapping waves was spectacular.

Someone dubbed this place paradise and I would agree it's one of many.
Someone dubbed this place paradise and I would agree it’s one of many.

We cycled up the hill to the Holiday Park, dropped our bags and cycled into town for some exploration. We enjoyed some Dooley’s “award winning” ice cream. It was delicious, but made us very cold so we headed back to our cabin.  I cooked dinner and Eric did the laundry and some cycle maintenance. I fell asleep early, but the sounds of crashing waves kept me awake much of the night. (They don’t lull me to sleep)

Day 4 – Apollo Bay to Princetown (86 km) Cycling west out of town we could see lots of evidence of the beauty of this bay.

Fishing boats in Apollo Bay
Fishing boats in Apollo Bay

This was the hardest day of the week. Pedaling out of Apollo Bay seemed easy for about 5 km.  At least we had it easier than film maker and surfer Dan Marsh pulling his loaded trailer who we met on the side of the road.

Dan Marsh film maker and surfer, is one week into his journey to capture the essence of Australia with his  camera.
Dan Marsh film maker and surfer, is one week into his 12 month journey to capture the essence of Australia with his camera.

Then, the remainder of the day was mostly  uphill with some fairly steep grades.

It was nice to see a live kangaroo after all the "roadkill" we'd seen up to this point.
It was nice to see a live kangaroo after all the “roadkill” we’d seen up to this point.

When we stopped for coffee and meat pies at Lavers Hill several people said, “It’s all downhill from here” which gave us a false sense of security.

Little did we know that we were not finished climbing at this point.
Little did we know that we were not finished climbing at this point.

It’s really NOT all downhill. As a matter of fact there is a really long, big uphill before Princetown.

We were hoping to camp in Princetown but both the campground and hotel in town were closed for the season. We were directed back up the road 1.1 km to the Twelve Apostles Cottages where we spent a beautiful evening overlooking farmlands that rolled gently down towards the ocean.

The view from our cottage window at dusk made a nice way to unwind for the day.
The view from our cottage window at dusk made a nice way to unwind for the day.

Day 5 – Princetown to Timboon including The Twelve Apostles (43 km) Today’s journey was my favorite! It was filled with amazing scenery, fantastic geological formations, and nice walking/cycling trails.

Our first "apostle"?
Our first “apostle”?

We took plenty of time to cycle down each trail, read the historical markers, and enjoy the scenery.

Trying to show just how big these formations are. Eric took this photo from the same height at the formations.
Trying to show just how big these formations are. Eric took this photo from the same height at the formations.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The next few apostles. There are 11 remaining. 1 has fallen down. Several news ones are being formed from the strong wind and surf.

After a great lunch stop in Port Campbell which has many cafes, restaurants and take-away places, we then cycled uphill most of the way to Timboon, a gem of a town at some farm crossroads.

A sip of very smooth single malt whiskey was a nice end to a great day.
A sip of very smooth single malt whiskey was a nice end to a great day.

The distillery makes a great single malt whiskey and carries many fine local craft brews. We stayed at the Timboon Hotel and although not fancy, more than adequate/comfortable for the night.

Nothing fancy but the room was clean with new bedding and the owners are very nice.
Nothing fancy but the room was clean with new bedding and the owners are very nice.

Day 6 – Timboon to Camperdown using the Crater to Coast Rail Trail (44 km) Thanks to the owner of the Timboon Hotel who pointed out the rail trail, we had a beautiful ride to Camperdown.

The start of the Craters to Coast Rail Trail in Timboon.
The start of the Craters to Coast Rail Trail in Timboon.

The Craters to Coast trail is shaded in a canopy of trees and covered in soft eucalyptus bark making it a very pleasant ride.

One of the several steep detours that required pushing.
One of the several steep detours that required pushing.

Be prepared to push you bike along some of the detours around old, decaying trestle bridges and be mindful on the slippery track and sleepers still remaining along some parts of the trail.

Decaying bridges and detours.
Decaying bridges and detours.

The final 10 km into Camperdown is a long, slow uphill between two volcanic crater lakes that is both beautiful and tiring.

The reward of a beautiful lake from the top of the long uphill.
The reward of a beautiful lake from the top of the long uphill.

Camperdown is a cute, old railroad town with plenty of cafes, a great tourist information site, and a train station for a ride back to Geelong or Melbourne.

Camperdown Train Station
Camperdown Train Station

Thanks from the Bottom of My Heart

Thank you readers!

I’m overwhelmed and surprised by the support and encouragement Eric and I have gotten from our article in the Wall Street Journal. The response from readers around the world has opened our eyes to the amazing power and speed of the internet to connect people and inspire the human spirit. Writing this article has been an adventure in itself. In fact, had we never embarked upon our cycle tour, I might never have attempted to write an article.

Several people have asked how this article came to be so here’s the back story…

I was reading the January 20th edition of “Second Acts” in the WSJ about a couple spending their retirement traveling in a way that fit their retirement budget. I thought to myself that someone “might” be interested in our story. So I wrote an email to the editor listed at the end of the article. I also included a link to my blog so he could see what we were doing.

When I woke the next morning, I was ecstatic to see a reply in my inbox.

Me: Eric! Wake up! I got an email from the WSJ. One of the editors is interesting in talking to us!
Eric: That’s nice. What does he want to talk about? Is the coffee ready?

(Confession here… I travel with a Bodum French Press coffee maker. I can sacrifice many comforts of home except for my morning cup of coffee. The French Press is one of those cycling extravagances because of the extra weight and volume, but it makes living in a new place every night feel like home.)

Me: He wants to learn more about our cycle tour! He’s read my blog. He thinks I’m a pretty good writer. He can have someone write an article about us, or he suggested I can write an article for them.
Eric: That’s aweseom! And, thanks for the coffee!

After some conversations back and forth and encouragement from both Eric and the editor, I decided to try and write my first article. Isn’t this “cycle journey” really a metaphor for trying new things? And, wouldn’t writing an article be something “new”?

I gave it a go. I submitted the first draft in early April. There were revisions, clarifications, finding places to elaborate, giving examples, condensing. It was a good reminder of what my students go through when they write.

Fast forward to the article’s publication on June 1st…

I was surprised at how excited I was about seeing my first article in print. But I was even more surprised, overwhelmed, and grateful for all the heartfelt responses to the article and to our tour.

Writing an article and cycling touring have some similarities. Both can be a little scary. Putting words to paper is intimidating. Putting feet to pedals day after day can be both physically and mentally exhausting. But, for me, both have been rewarding because they are challenging.

Above all I have been thrilled to read that people are inspired by our trip. We have been inspired by so many people we’ve met along our journey that it’s exciting to be able to “pay that inspiration forward.”

So, again, thank you readers for giving your support. We’ll pedal on with a renewed spring in our shoes and fresh oil on our chains.

Tuesday Two-for-One marguerites to celebrate.
Tuesday Two-for-One marguerites to celebrate!