My lazy summer !!

We arrived home from Australia at the end of May, six weeks of relaxation stretched before me until we'd be off on our next adventure. Relaxation, I use the word sparingly, our time back in the UK would be in constant demand.

After the initial sorting of bikes and kit before Naomi headed back to Dudley, I was booked in to run the local 10k run. It's the Run the Rocks second year and is a tough cross country course and as it's local I like to support the event when I'm back. Sadly my performance was dreadful but hardly a surprise as I've not run since the last one !!

Fortunately I was soon on a flight to Kusadashi in Turkey, my sister is married to a Turk and now lives there, not only that but my mum was on holiday visiting them so it was a great opportunity to catch up with my family ;-)

Kusadashi isn't my favorite Turkish resort but it certainly isn't bad by any means, and the surrounding area isn't to bad either…

On my return from Turkey there was just time to repack my kit, grab my touring bike and catch a train to Dudley. I was going to meet up with Naomi, the idea being to leave my bike at her mums ready for our trip to Yorkshire, but first a small matter of Glastonbury. Naomi has been going for about 20 years now and works with the recycling crew. Last year I was lucky enough to be invited by her to help out and as I enjoyed it I was invited back.

We arrived on the Tuesday and spent the day putting up the tent and sorting ourselves out ready for the crews to begin work on Thursday. Despite a few small issues things went well and when Naomi's friend Kathy arrived to help out we were able to take some time to see some bands. I think Dolly Parton was the highlight for me despite not being comfortable in the huge crowd I still enjoyed the occasion !!

The weather behaved itself most of the time although we did have one day of heavy rain which turned the paths and fields into mudbaths very quickly….

All in all a great few days but no sooner had we left and driven back to High Wycombe, it was time to repack and drive to Dudley. We had a little free time here and Naomi and her mum drove me out to Bridgnorth, a beautiful town full of history and interest. It's unusual in that there is also a funicular railway to get between the towns two distinct levels. Great gardens, beautiful architecture, flowing river and a sunny day made this a fantastic day out….

Well no rest for the wicked and with that we were away the following morning. Our bikes loaded we set out for Macclesfield, this would be our halfway stop on our way to Harewood House in Yorkshire. Thanks to Naomi's organisation we were due to meet several friends and spend the weekend camping, cycling and watching the Tour de France, especially the Grand D'epart from Harewood !!

I think the highlight of the weekend though was cycling to Knaresborough for the second day and watching them come past a fairly tight left hand bend, we thought it might slow them down but we were wrong and in a matter of seconds they'd gone !! We consoled ourselves with beer in the local pub and with lunch and fantastic cakes at the church hall, we couldn't believe how cheap they were, not to mention the quality !!

A great weekend but sadly all to soon it was over, our friends all headed home, Naomi cycled off to Harogate and I was lucky enough to get a lift with my friends Jude and Brian, back to Wycombe.

Our busy schedule still wasn't over, I took another train up to Dudley and yet again joined Naomi at her mums, from there we drove to Bristol to meet a small group of friends that were cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats. Alan, Bridget, Alex and Vince were all on the Cairo to Capetown trip we did in 2013 and thanks to the internet we've been lucky enough to keep in touch. It was great to see them all again and despite the long round trip it was certainly worth the effort !!

Well as you can see my relaxing summer was a non stop whirlwind, I'm not complaining, I quite enjoyed being busy and even when I did have a few days at home I was still out on my bike visiting friends in the local area.

So after such a great summer and being well and truly spoilt at my mums the time for me to leave on my final stage of our world cycle tour has arrived. My bags are packed, my bike serviced, the routes planned, ferries booked…I'm ready ;-)

Friday 18th July, today I'll be cycling in the direction of Colchester, I aim to cycle up to 100km and find a B&B or cheap hotel before carrying on the following day. I'll meet Naomi in Colchester and we'll stay the night before catching a ferry from Harwich on Sunday morning. We land on Monday and we'll take a couple of days to cycle to Bording where we'll be going to a wedding ;-)

From Bording we cycle to Copenhagen where we'll enjoy a few days exploring the city with a couple of friends before packing the bikes and flying to Trabzon in Northern Turkey. From there we'll cycle home, not a direct route by any means !! We aim to come through Eastern Europe and Europe and return through Rotterdam and into Harwich in mid December.

I hope you'll all continue to follow our adventure on this final trip and that you enjoy the blogs and photos that I'll post on a regular basis ;-)

Take care

JC

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bridgnorth, Glastonbury, Kusadashi, Tour de France, Turkey | Tagged | 2 Comments

Australia, Adelaide and surrounding area !!

I've been thinking about this blog for quite a while now, it's the last piece of our Australian adventure and I've found it hard to write. In the end I decided to just do a pictorial trip, the details of how we got to places aren't so important but needless to say Naomi's friends Kate and ….., played their part and we are extremely grateful for their assistance.

Kate lives in North Brighton so let's start with there :-

Great beaches right on your doorstep !

Fabulous Victorian houses line the sidewalk on the way to Glenelg, a great contrast to the modern apartment blocks that are now taking over !

As you reach Glenelg the pier comes into sight, then the Hindmarsh monument, while further north you find the marina, Ferris wheel and more beaches.

Now Glenelg does have a thriving shopping district, cafés, restaurants and bars but I know you'd prefer to see sunsets, and as we walked home we got lucky again. I love it when the sun is reflected in the damp sand and across the water ;-)

Ok, enough beaches, what else did we see !

Well Kate drove us up to Mount Lofty, Naomi and I cycled in to Adelaide and had no idea that we'd come so close to this place, shame we didn't get a photo with the bikes as I think you'll agree the views are amazing !!

Ok, what about the city, well we did finally manage to get there, the first day was more of a fact finding mission, oh and we met a friend of Naomi's for lunch. But the second day….

Old and new creating more great contrast, war memorials honouring the dead, markets, fabulous old buildings most of which seem to be either civic buildings or colleges.

Some quirky stuff just to add a little light relief…

Statues of people I've never heard of, churches and fantastic Victorian buildings…

Oh and one of our favourite places, the botanic garden, such a wonderful place….

And to finish a few contemporary buildings and some funky art…

Adelaide seems to have it all, and we were lucky enough to see a fair bit of it !!

We had a great time in Adelaide and the surrounding areas and can see why it's such a popular place to visit. A huge thank you to everyone that helped us get the most out of our time there !!

Take care

JC

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Adelaide, Australia | Tagged | 2 Comments

Australia, The Flinders Range

As I said at the start of my last blog, the cycling is finished in Australia so were now doing some trips as “normal” tourists, we've already been to Kangaroo Island but this time we head out to The Flinders Ranges!!

We booked the trip online with a company called Heading Bush, we got lucky because they agreed to pick us up where we were staying which saved us having to get a taxi into Adelaide !!

Our guide and driver, Flynn turned up on time and we got settled for the trip. We picked up three other people and that was it, just the five of us and Flynn !

It's great that we had a 16 seater mini bus and so few people, just so much room. Once everyone was on board and settled Flynn gave the introductory speech and outlined a basic itinerary for the next few days, he also said that as there were so few of us we could decide amongst ourselves where and what we should do and see….brilliant !!

It was still very early when we left Adelaide behind us for the trip up to the Ranges and most of us nodded of for a couple of hours but when we reached a place called Snowtown our guide let us out for a stretch, and to take a look at this…

It's a blade from a wind turbine, it's huge !! Now Snowtown is on the map because it has the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, it just so happens that the hills and wind conditions make it a perfect place to sight these behemoths and they produce enough electricity for 70,000 homes !!

From Snowtown we continued north to the coastal towns of Port Wakefield and Port Germaine, the landscape was shrouded in mist and the wind turbines looked quite ghostly standing on the hills !!

We reached Port Germaine, it boasts the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, this is a day of big stuff and big boasts !! Seriously this jetty is huge, over a kilometre long..and no we didn't walk to the end, we didn't have time !!

What with the jetty, lighthouse and some odd looking clock it was a great place to fire up the camera and rattle of a few photos !!

Sadly our stop at this lovely place didn't last long and we needed to get going, we still had a long way to go to our accomodation at one of the original sheep stations in central Flinders !! And we still had plenty to see and do before we got there !!

Our next stop was at Mount Remarkable National Park, here we'd have lunch, but first a little walk along the river and into the bush. Flynn was a great guide, he and his family come from the Flinders area, they've farmed sheep for generations so he was very knowledgable about the various plants, trees and wildlife, made it much more interesting having a little info about what you were looking at !

Needless to say the cameras were clicking away madly, it it was pretty, colourful or moved we took photos ! Then it was a gentle walk back to the minibus and trailer to sort out lunch. Now as with our kangaroo island trip, the guide cooks but the punters get to wash up…no problem !!

Well so far we're all loving this trip, Flynn is a great guide and careful driver, the scenery so far has been fantastic, lunch was excellent and we've only just started,lots more to do and see so what's next ?

Quorn, historic township on the northern end of the Pichi Richi pass and the start of the original Ghan Railway, the old railway buildings are still there but sadly the steam locos stopped a long time ago !! We stopped here mainly for fuel and grocery shopping but we did have a quick look round and it is a very quaint looking place !!

Still heading north and getting more and more remote with each passing kilometre we turn off the sealed road onto an unmade road that stretches out into the distance further than my eyes can see, surrounded by 600 million year old mountain ranges, the sun picking out the crests, the birds chattering and the desiccated trees standing alone in this wilderness….I felt so small !!

We were on our way to visit the grave of a guy called Hugh Proby, the son of a wealthy Scottish landowner, Hugh set out for Australia in the 1850's. He made his home here in the Flinders and set up a sheep station, he was only 19 years old when he arrived here. He worked hard and built a fantastic home (we'll see that later) but sadly during heavy rains he was swept away by flash floods while trying to move his sheep to higher ground. I can only imagine the sheer effort of will needed to carve out an existence in this landscape but to do it at only 19… Incredible !! His family made it out to his grave after several years and shipped his grave stone from the UK, it weighs a ton and must have been a logistical nightmare to get to this remote part of the world !!

From Hugh's grave we carried on, still heading north to our home at Rawnsley Park for the next two nights. Naomi and I had opted for the tent option, much cheaper than the dorm or cabin and as it was warm it wasn't a problem !! We got ourselves settled in then met the other guys for dinner. The sheep station we're staying at is now more for tourists than sheep. It has places for caravans, motor homes, theirs dorms, tents and several levels of cabins with or without ensuite !! There are also plenty of facilities including fully equipped kitchens and dining rooms and plenty of showers and toilets. It's a huge site and it was very busy, I was quite surprised considering how far from major towns and cities it is !!

As we watched the sun set over the Range our guide promised that we would be in a great spot to see not only sunset tomorrow night but sunrise in the morning…looks like we've got an early start then, bed early I think !

No surprise to find us up and about early then, we skipped breakfast as we all agreed that we'd see sunrise then come back for it after. So all aboard the minibus and off we go to the well positioned viewing area, it's up a fairly steep unmade road and we didn't think the bus would get up but we were wrong !! The views were fantastic and as the sun rose slowly into the deep blue sky it highlighted the red rocks just as if someone had shone a torch on them, it looked incredible !! What a great start to our day, and with breakfast still to come it was only ever going to get better !!

As I said earlier, our guide gave us the option to change the itinerary if we wanted to see something in particular but we all agreed to just let him drive us about and show of this beautiful area, our only request was to visit Wilpena Pound so that's where we headed first !!

We made our way there though more rugged landscapes and into the Flinders Range National Park, we had to get our permits to visit this wonderful place. From the office it's a short drive through the campsite to a carpark further up the range, a little less hiking and more time to see things and take photos…good idea.

From the carpark Flynn guided us up the trail through long since deserted farms, through dense bush and up steps carved into the rock of the Pound itself, up and up we walked, the air already hot and humid, the sky a brilliant blue such a great contrast to the rust coloured rock and vibrant greens of the vegetation. Finally we made it to the viewing platform and we were in awe, what an amazing place…

Although from the outside the Pound appears as a single range of mountains, it is actually two: one on the western edge, and one on the eastern, joined by the long Rawnsley's Bluff at the south. A gorge called Wilpena Gap has been cut in the eastern range, and most of the inside of the Pound drains into Wilpena Creek which exits through the Gap. A small part of the high northern slopes of the Pound drains into Edeowie Creek, which drains in time of flood over steep cliffs and waterfalls in Edeowie Gorge to the north.

The wall of mountains almost completely encircles the gently-sloping interior of the Pound, with the only breaks being the gorge at Wilpena Gap and a high saddle in the south-western range over which the Heysen Trail passes. This latter saddle is called Bridle Gap, supposedly because it's the only place other than the gorge where a skilled horseman might ride into the Pound. The interior of the Pound does not rise to a height at the northern edge, but instead simply drops off very steeply to the plain below in a series of steep gullies.

The photo that was taken from above shows if this natural phenomena far better than I can explain it and my own photographs taken from ground level hardly do it justice but take my word for it…..it's incredible !!! Needless to say we took lots of photos, not just of the great view but if plants, rocks, trees and carvings….fantastic !!

Well how do you top that ? Easy, you head straight to Bunyeroo Gorge, stopping along the way to view it first from the lookout. What amazing colours in the rocks and with that unmade road snaking it's way past the Razors back it makes for a fabulous photo, we couldn't wait to get down there !!

This gorge is one of several in the area that we could have visited but Flynn picked because it's home to the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby, strange though, it doesn't have yellow feet but it does have a banded tail and distinct markings on it's face…real cute but very skittish !!

The gorge is through rock that are over 600 million years old and are a treasure trove of fossils, no wonder it's called the “Corridor of Time” !! We hoped we might also get to see kangaroos, emus and ostrich and we did, sadly we still didn't get to see an echidna or any snakes !!

The gorge really did live up to expectation, such a great place to take photos, lots of them, wildlife, plants, trees and rocks were all on the hit list, such vibrant colours..amazing !!

From Bunyeroo we travelled through more incredible scenery to Sacred Canyon but not before we changed the flat tyre we'd gotten on the rough roads through the gorge. A team effort had it done in no time and with the old tyre on the roof rack and the jack stowed safely we were on our way again. The canyon is an Aboriginal sacred site, with it's watering hole and rock carvings it's not hard to see why. We parked up the bus and walked in, surrounded on both side by towering ancient rocks with huge native red gum trees clinging to the scant soil at the base. The path winds it's way through the canyon, over rocks through crystal clear springs until you round a corner and are faced with, it might not look much, a muddy brown pond, but it hardly ever dries up and that's why it's so important. The rock walls are adorned with carvings honouring this place, the split in the rock at the rear of the watering hole leads you further into the canyon and more photo opportunities !! Such a fantastic place ;-)

It's getting late in the day now, it's been an incredible day but we're all a bit excited about the sunset so Flynn heads back to Rawnsley Park and the lookout. As we head back through this wonderful place the sun sinks lower and lower, the rock walls now lit up, there rust colour just seems to shout at you. The desert floor covered on low scrub, home to snakes and numerous other forms of wildlife starts to cool but the contrast of colours is amazing !!

We reach the viewing area in plenty of time and take our positions, cameras ready, batteries charged for the greatest show on earth, sunset at Flinders Range !!!

How amazing is that !!!

And so back to camp, weary after a long hot day but elated, we've all taken literally hundreds of photos and I for one can't wait to see them on my ipad but first the small matter of showers and dinner !! The group worked well as a team and dinner took no time at all, we were ravenous and it was soon demolished, the dishes washed and then we joined Flynn for a quick beer under the stars before heading to the tent for much needed sleep. It'll be another early start in the morning and we need to pack up our kit, it's a long drive back to Adelaide and we have a few things to see on the way !!

I got up early and relieved Flynn in the kitchen, I made breakfast for everyone, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and tomato, Naomi played commis chef and sorted the toast, we just got it to the table as Flynn and the other guys arrived…perfect timing and a very tasty start to our day !! Then Flynn looked up and noticed this huge spider above where I was working, he said it was a huntsman and although not deadly it would be very painful. Next thing you know he's off looking for more spiders and spots this one right by the door, a red back, again not life threatening but certainly painful if bitten !! Let's get out of here !!

Our first stop of the day was to be Hugh Probys Homestead but as the sun climbed higher into the sky we noticed this beautiful spot and persuaded Flynn to stop for photos…

Well worth the stop I think you'll agree but we really must get on, we've got a long way to go. The Proby estate is big, in it's heyday it must have been an impressive place and hard to believe the guy was only 19 when he arrived here. Its sadly now ruins but the sheer scale of it is still amazing and it certainly makes for some great photos !!

Well it's still early in the day and we're already having a great day, where next we wondered ?

The answer was a place called Melrose, the oldest town in the Flinders Range and a very pretty place indeed. We'd be having lunch here but first a short walk through some of the idyllic countryside. The diversity of plant life here had me snapping away like a maniac, such great colours. Not just plants either, fungi, leaves, trees were all there to be photographed not to mention the old brewery, old doors and stone work !!

After the walk we met Flynn in the local public garden where the pay as you go electric BBQ was getting full use, grilled chicken was on the menu with some great salads and bread to accompany it. The food was good and plentiful but yet again I was longing to take photos, such a beautiful place !!

Heading south back to Adelaide and with still quite away to go we had to cross the railway lines more than once but we got caught out by a passing train on one occasion and boy did it take a long time to pass. I stopped counting after 50 carriages and it still had lots left….makes for a great photo though !!

Now were approaching the Clare valley, one of Australia's best wine regions and that means another stop but this one is for wine tasting !!

To be honest when we pulled into Mr Mick's winery we were all quite disappointed, it wasn't quite our idea of a Clare valley vineyard, we were expecting somewhere a bit more rural, vines, a nice farmhouse, outdoor tables with stunning views. The reality was a modern facility next to an old stone building but it was situated in what looked more like an industrial area and was next door to an Australian version of B & Q !! Hardly a romantic setting and to be honest the wine wasn't up to much either, it was the first and only disappointment on this trip and we quickly forgot about it !

With just one more comfort stop before Adelaide we took the opportunity to sit and have a coffee and cake, the owner had a parrot outside, lovely looking animal but we gathered he could be quite naughty so fingers were kept well away !!

It wasn't to long after that we arrived back in Adelaide, Flynn was a star and dropped us back at our place in north Brighton !

Well what a trip, great guide, fantastic scenery, lots of photos and nice people, it was expensive but worth every penny !!

I hope you enjoyed this tour of The Flinders Range and that you'll continue to follow our adventures ;-)

Take care

JC

 

Posted in Australia, Bunyeroo Gorge, Flinders Ranges, Hugh Proby, Melrose, SA, Port Germaine, Sacred Canyon, Wilpena Pound | Tagged | Leave a comment

Living your dream !!

Let's see if you recognise this scenario, it's a weekend, you've just got up and gone downstairs. You've got bed hair, your wearing your pj's under a robe and your first act of the day is to light up as smoke !!

Next is to put the kettle on and while it's boiling you switch on the TV, you take your tea or coffee and slump into your nice comfy armchair. Maybe you even curl your legs under and get nice and cosy !!

On the TV is a live sporting event, it's the London marathon, you've never had any interest in running but for the next few hours you sit and watch while countless thousands of normal people run 26 miles.

Some are elite athletes who make it look easy, some are running in costumes, some are old, some young, some are fast while others are slower and some are in wheelchairs !!

You watch, fascinated by the spectacle and a thought goes through your head…”one day I'd love to do that” !!

Admit it, you've thought that, you have I know because I did the exact same thing years ago !!

It was only a small thought, it barely registered but you know you still want to do it, well guess what ! Unless you put down the computer, switch of the TV, get dressed and put on some trainers and get outside it will never happen. Shock horror, things don't happen just because you thought it…nope, you actually have to make an effort !!

Right now your making excuses right, not enough time to train, the kids need looking after, the in laws are coming to stay, the car needs washing or the grass needs cutting…..just excuses !!

Maybe running the marathon isn't your dream, maybe it's something else ! Maybe you want to swim the channel or climb the three peaks or cycle across America, who knows what secret dream you have. The fact remains that unless you make the time and effort your dream will always be just that…a dream !!

I know it won't be easy, you dream big ! But trust me it's worth the effort, most things worth doing aren't easy otherwise everyone would be doing it !!

The second you take that first stride though…..your a runner, you belong to a world wide club, you feel better, you'll lose weight, gain confidence and be more energetic, your friends will notice the improvements and will take your lead. In six months time you'll be running that marathon or completing whatever challenge you've dreamt of for so long.

Imagine how you'll feel when they hand you your medal, it feels fantastic, but what feels even better is watching your friends finish as well and knowing you had a part in it !!

So, what are you waiting for folks, go get dressed and start living that dream !!!

Just do it !!

Good luck

JC

 

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Australia, Kangaroo Island

So having arrived in Adelaide it was time to pack the bikes and relax. We had about two weeks before we were due to fly home so we started looking at trips we could do. When I say we, what I really mean is Naomi started looking !!

After a little research on the internet she proposed a two day trip to Kangaroo island, I had a quick look at the itinerary and thought it looked great. We decided to book it through a travel agent, that way we get the documents in our hand and we get to ask questions about food and accommodation. I have to be honest, it wasn't a cheap trip but we decided we'd do it as we're unlikely to come back !!

The day arrived and we were up at 5.00am to get a taxi a few miles up the coast to Glenelg. We'd arranged to meet the minibus at the Stamford Grand Hotel and it turned up on time…a good start ! The minibus then drove us across South Adelaide to meet the coach that would then take us to the ferry at Cape Jervis. Now I'm sure the scenery on the way down was fantastic but sadly I fell asleep and only woke on the arrival at the terminal !!

The coach doesn't come on the ferry so we walked on and took our seats for what was a very smooth crossing across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island. We were met as we disembarked by our guide a very bubbly young lady called Kate. She rounded up our small group before giving us some info and setting off !

We were lucky, the minibus could seat about 24 people but there were only 12 of us so lots of room to spread out and get comfy. The info was mainly safety related, seat belts, doors, not talking or distracting the driver (Kate), the usual stuff. It also gave more info on our itinerary and what was expected of us. For instance, at meal times Kate would prepare and cook but we as a group would be expected to clean and wash up…reasonably fair ;-)

We got going and headed out to Rob's Sheep Shearing, it wasn't to far from the ferry terminal, about twenty minutes was all. Now I have to be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this bit, I just wanted to see the rugged coastline !! So it was a bit of a surprise to me that I actually enjoyed it, Rob was a great guy and spoke with passion, honesty and knowledge about his farm and life…..it was evident that he loved it. He literally told his dogs to go fetch the sheep and of they went, five minutes later they were back with a dozen sheep…brilliant. He told us all about the sheep, the wool, shearing and weaving, the demonstration was great to watch and then he answered all our silly questions…..all in all a very worthwhile visit.

Next up was a visit to a stunning beach, sadly I can't remember the name, on the way we passed some stunning scenery and Kate gave us a running commentary about what we were seeing.

From the beach we had a short drive to a eucalyptus distillery where we would also have lunch. The distillery is a little out of the way and it took a while to get there, great place though ! When we arrived we were introduced to Phsyco the emu, scary looking bugger !!

Inside were plenty of things to spend your money on, mostly eucalyptus based, the free sample was more than enough for me though !! Outside, rusty trucks made for great photos as did the old carriage in the foyer. Lunch was ok, sliced meats, bread rolls, salads and fruit, plenty of it and cheap tea and coffee if you wanted it..perfect !!

Well so far, great trip, and it just kept getting better…

Next up, a trip that several us us had been looking forward to….Seal Bay !!

Self explanatory really, a colony of sea lions have made this particular beach there home and to protect them you can't visit without a guide. There's a wooden walkway and steps down to the beach and on the way we saw plenty of seals resting in the undergrowth, they do look cute !!

Once you get on the beach the guide gives you the do's and don'ts before leading you in the direction of the seals.

Your not allowed to approach them but if your stationary and they come to you it's ok !! There were plenty of seals and they were reasonably active so we all got some great shots…another cracking visit !!

Well it's getting late in the day now so it's time to head to Vivonne Bay and our rooms for the night. Kate drove all the way to the beach first, and what a beach, no wonder it was voted Australia's best beach at some point !! A huge bay with exquisite soft white sand that just went on for miles, and hardly anyone on it !!

We took a few photos before Kate drove us a short distance to the lodge. Some of the group were in dorms but Naomi and myself had opted for a private room. I think everyone was impressed with the accommodation and facilities, very modern, clean and bright. Pool table, television, free tea and coffee, great kitchen, lounge and dining room and some great outside spaces as well….excellent !!

Once settled in you could either borrow a bicycle and hit the trails, borrow a kayak and take a leisurely paddle down the river or take a walk to the beach. We opted for a walk, hoping to spot some local wildlife. We'd seen some wallabies and kangaroos but what we really wanted to see were Echidnas, they look like hedgehogs but aren't even related !! The walk itself was lovely, great brush, fantastic view but sadly no wildlife ;-(

Dinner was fantastic, a proper BBQ and plenty of it, good salads and bread were also on offer as was a desert….Kate did us proud !!

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast it was time to get back on the minibus, first stop, a kuala sanctuary. It's not a hospital but rather a safe place with the correct species of eucalyptus trees that they need. On the way in we were amazed by the amount of kangaroos grazing in a nearby field, later we'd get closer for some great photos. The sanctuary is basically an avenue of trees, they put markers underneath the trees if there are Kuala's in them….makes finding them much easier !!

After a good walk, great photos and a coffee we were once again back on the minibus, our next stop would be the highlight of the trip..”The Remarkable Rocks” !

The trip to get there was almost as good as the rocks themselves, incredible roads and scenery !! Before you get to the rocks there is an opportunity to stop for photos of the view from a distance. The road twists and turns away in the distance with the rocks standing on a steep cliff above the bay, it looked amazing and we couldn't wait to get closer.

Our arrival was timed perfectly, one coach load had just left and there were only a small amount of people left. We managed to get some great photos of this incredible place without people getting in the way. The orange lichen that covers huge areas of the rocks was such an intense colour with the sun shining on it and made a great contrast to the coarse grey granite. Of course we posed for a few silly photos before heading off to the next attraction !

Cape du Couedic, the lighthouse and Admirals Arch were the highlight here, not forgetting the colony of seals !! To get there we passed through Flinders Chase National Park, we'd stop for lunch here on the way back. We stopped briefly to take photos of the lighthouse before driving down to the car park and then walking down to Admirals Arch.

It's a natural arch in the limestone cliff, it's huge and difficult to take good photos as the arch is in shade but the sunlight streams through, the contrast is tricky.

Lunch was great, chicken wraps, salsa, sour cream, avocado and veggies….mmm !!

A great place as well, Kuala's and wallabies made themselves comfortable in our presence and gave us all more great photos.

Our last stop was at Little Sahara, a huge expanse of sand dunes, quite a long way from the sea where we would have time to do some sand boarding. Well I tried but I think it's a young mans game so I just took some photos of this wonderful place.

After everyone had played enough and was thoroughly covered in sand we headed back to the ferry port. Time was on our side so Kate made a brief stop at the islands Beehive and honey shop, tastings and photos taken we were off again ;-)

On our way to the ferry terminal we were gifted a beautiful sunset, a fitting end to what was a fantastic trip. The subsequent ferry ride and coach trip back to Adelaide went without any problems and we were soon back at Kate's house in Brighton.

Looking back on the trip it really was one of the highlights in our Australian adventure and a trip I would heartily recommend to anyone !!

Hope you enjoyed this blog and that you continue to follow our adventures ;-)

Thanks

JC

 

 

Posted in Australia, Kangaroo Island | Tagged | Leave a comment

Australia, Strathalbyn to Adelaide

The penultimate riding day of our Australian adventure takes us 33km from Strathalbyn up to Hahndorf, a pretty little German village in the heart of the Adelaide hills area.
But first we've got to leave the fabulous Victoria Hotel, we were well looked after, good food, great wine and friendly hosts, what more could you want. After breakfast in our room we finally got going around 9.00am, with such a short ride there was no point starting earlier.
Although it's a short ride it does involve a fairly big hill, 450m of climbing to get to Mount Barker and a little more from there up to Hahndorf. The gradient isn't to steep so we settled in to a nice steady rhythm and just admired the scenery. We were hoping for spectacular views but it wasn't to be, just pleasant rural landscapes or tree lined roads, oh well !
I think people must have taken there happy pills today as an awful lot of drivers were waving or tooting horns in a friendly manner, not complaining, just a little surprised is all !
We made it to the top of the first section of climb, a T junction, we turned left and passed through a tiny village called Wistow, pretty much a gas station and a few houses and not much else. From there is was more uphill to Mount Barker, we thought we'd passed straight through it but after stopping and talking to a local we realised we'd just passed through the industrial outskirts and that the main town was a little further on.
When we did find the centre we of course stopped for coffee and cake before continuing on our way up the hill. Only another 8 or 9km and we were there, tree lined streets, expensive looking tourist shops, restaurants and hotels….yep, we'd arrived alright !!
I quick trip to the tourist info shop for directions and off we went to get booked into the Hahndorf Resort. Not quite as posh as it sounds, we'd booked a budget cabin, although this cabin does have ensuite !!
We got ourselves sorted, cooked lunch, chilled out for a bit then took a walk into town. Like I said earlier, very pretty and expensive and to be honest unless you want or need to shop, there's not much else to do. Sure, you can go wine tasting, hire bikes, go for walks or take your motorised transport and visit any one of the local attractions, but for us, we just wanted to relax ;-)
We walked the length of the Main Street and stopped to look in a few shops, some lovely stuff but not when your on bikes. We did however take a look in a leather shop and Naomi fell in love with a jacket, it's not even leather, more of a waxed cotton affair…she bought it !!
By the time we'd finished our walk it was time for a beer, being a German town they have a license to use litre steins, it would be rude not to have one…wouldn't it ?
After that came dinner, again the German theme, huge German hotdogs, sauerkraut, mustard and fries…bloody lovely. Well after that we walked back to the cabin, needed a walk after all that beer and food.
Just one more ride day now and the cycling aspect of this trip is all over, a little sad but also excited to have made it !!
But first a few photos….

Lovely place but as you'd expect, very expensive !!

Couldn't sleep, so excited to be finally cycling into Adelaide and the end of our trip, and yes, a little sad too !

After breakfast we started packing the bikes when the local ducks decided to come and say goodbye, Naomi couldn't resist feeding them with the last of our bread. They made so much noise and it was still quite early, there're funny little things and they certainly have a pecking order, there were a few really bossy ones. No surprise that as soon as we'd run out of bread they left, traitors !!

We finally got going and headed off down the drive and turned left, the directions would take us under the freeway, up a large hill and on to Mount Barker Road. The hill was tough going but well worth the climb with rolling fields of lush green grass on both sides. We passed through Bridgewater and Stirling, very expensive areas, you could almost smell the money, luxury houses, cafés and expensive looking shops were the order of the day here. We cycled on to Stirling and stopped for a coffee, and yes, a cake ! We just lingered over our coffee and took in the beautiful surroundings, the autumn leaves against the blue sky just seemed so perfect. We were in no hurry, we'd almost completed the hardest bit.

At the Aldgate Pump Hotel we turned right up Ayers Hill, a short but very steep climb, we were now at the highest point of the day, it's all downhill now.

We were on Upper Sturt road, it follows Belair National Park around the south side before you descend into Hawthornedene and pick up Shepherds Hill Road for the run into Brighton. Sadly yet again there were no great views from our lofty position, the dense trees making it hard to see much at all. It should have been a great descent but it was a very narrow twisting road with more traffic than expected, it made for a very nervous decent, shame after all the hard work getting up there. We didn't like Shepherds Hill road, it was large and very busy, fortunately there was a bike lane !! The road changed direction about 3km from the coast and we were lucky we spotted the change onto Sturt Road otherwise we'd have ended up going into the city, not what we wanted !!

Sturt Road runs all the way to the Brighton Road which runs parallel to the coast and the road we wanted was only about one kilometre away, but first a quick look at the sea and perhaps a beer. We made our way across the railway lines and peddled the last kilometre onto the esplanade where we turned right. The sea was now on our left, glistening under the winter sun. We headed for the pier opposite the Esplanade Hotel, took our photos, high fived each other then went and had a beer and lunch. We sat outside looking out over the calm waters, reflecting on the last few months.

We'd started in Auckland on New Year's Eve and now it was May 15th and after cycling for nearly 6000km we'd made it. We've seen and done things I never imagined I'd get a chance to do. In New Zealand we stood on glaciers, bathed in natural hot springs and rode over passes to name a few, the scenery was incredible, empty beaches, dramatic mountains, incredible wildlife and so much more.

In Australia we visited four major cities, some of there best beaches, the blue mountains, the Coorong and the Gold Coast and all on a bike. Again the scenery and wildlife has been amazing not to mention the plant life. I've also been lucky enough to take trips to Uluru, Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Range, places that really do show Australia at it's best !!

Yes it's been a great trip, not all of it, I've had my moments, my doubts, but I'm proud of us both ;-)

I'd like to take the opportunity to give a huge thank you to all our friends, both old and new, who helped us in any way with our journey. We will be forever in your debt and hope to return the hospitality someday !!

That's it for the cycling blogs but I'll be posting a few more about Kangaroo Island, Flinders Range and our time in Adelaide, until then, take care ;-)

JC

Blimey, nearly forgot to show the photos !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My last set of directions, I've written a few through New Zealand and Australia !!

After we'd settled into Kate's house we went back to the Esplanade later for a beer and to see the sunset…neither of them was a disappointment !!

 

 

What a fantastic way to celebrate the end of a trip !!

Take care

JC

 

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Australia, Meningie to Strathalbyn

Last nights cabin was one of our best and possibly one of the cheapest, and to save even more money we were good and cooked both lunch and dinner in the cabin, can’t say we’ll be doing the same tonight !!
It’s a fairly short ride today, 45km over rolling hills, destination Wellington and the Wellington Hotel, we have a basic cabin booked. Basic means cheap but usually with hotels it also means that you have no facilities to cook your own food and it can be expensive eating out !!
We didn’t rush out, we took our time over breakfast, sat and drank coffee, then tidied up, packed, loaded the bikes and set off. It was warm, deep joy, I do so prefer it to be warm, beautiful blue sky and sunshine….hurrah !!
Our first stop was only about 1km from camp, it’s a plastic Ostrich, it’s there to commemorate a highway man who used an Ostrich as his mode of transport, he was only about 5 foot tall so it was a perfect match !!
We of course took some silly photos of us on the plastic beast before setting off on our ride. There were a few small hills which afforded some good views and also gave our legs a rest on the downhills. People always assume that you’d prefer to not have any hills but they’d be wrong, cycling on the flat can be very tiring as you never get a rest and it’s the same tempo all day. Pedalling up a hill can actually give some muscles a rest and then there’s the descent where you get to rest everything ;-)
Apart from one other stop for a quick photo we didn’t stop again until we reached the small ferry at Wellington, a town split in two by the Murray River, although most of the town and certainly all the hotels are on the west side. The ferry is free and is one of eleven similar ferries in the area, I guess that without them many communities would suffer huge losses in trade !!
As soon as you get off the ferry you ride up a short hill and arrive at the Old Courthouse and cafe, well we had to have a look not to mention a coffee and cake ;-)
An interesting place, it used to be the prison, police station, post office and courthouse until it fell into disrepair, it’s now been fully restored and is an historical museum and cafe, excellent on both counts !!
The hotel was only a few hundred yards away and soon we were booked in and shown our room, it looks like a walk in fridge or meat locker from outside but it’s deceptive, inside it’s bright, clean and is even ensuite, not to mention it has a kettle and toaster, that’s breakfast sorted then !!
We did however have dinner in the hotel, $12 Schnitzel night, just can’t go wrong, did however have a couple of beers to wash it down though !!
And so for the usual photo show….

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Slept well last night, nothing like a comfy bed in a warm room, I do miss my tent though and look forward to being in Turkey so I can use it some more !!
We set off into yet another lovely day, blue sky and sunshine, a beautiful crisp autumn day. We only had 50km to ride, destination Strathalbyn, it’s right in the middle of wine country and was founded by wealthy scots towards the end of the 1800,s.
With the headwinds we’ve been suffering for the last few days taking a day off we managed to get a bit of a move on. We soon left the wetlands and Murray River behind, our route took us near Lake Alexandria, not that close, although we did get glimpses of it occasionally. The landscape changed from sparse scrub and low lying vegetation to trees and vineyards, cattle and sheep grazing on lush pasture, such a welcome site after the last few days. I feel like I’ve returned to civilisation, there are even one or two small villages on route so we could stop for coffee.
We cruised into Langhorne Creek, a small pretty little village about 35km into our ride. It’s slap bang in the middle of a wine producing area and you can tell there’s a little money about. We stopped at the local grocery shop, it’s also a cafe and I have to say the coffee and cakes were excellent ;-)
With only 15km left to ride we slowed a little and took it easy for the rest of the ride, appreciating the beautiful surroundings. Once we arrived in Strathalbyn we made our way to the tourist info and asked about things to do, routes and maps into Adelaide and as per usual the staff were helpful and friendly, not sure what we’d do without them !!
From there we made our way to the Victoria hotel, we’d booked a room and were allowed to check in despite it being very early. We’d also booked dinner and breakfast and got a very good deal, lovely big room with a complimentary bottle of wine…fantastic !!
We went out and had a little walk through the park, past the church and along the river before heading back into town for a well earned coffee. In the coffee shop was a notice about some local guys heading off on a charity motor bike ride, the charity is called beyondblue, it’s an independent, non profit organisation that’s working to raise awareness of depression and anxiety. For some reason the suicide rate in this town is 3 to 4 times higher than the national average, as you can imagine as a sufferer myself this is frankly alarming. We made a contribution to this worthwhile cause and if you’d like to you can do so here http://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-involved/make-a-donation .
So, after our little wander we made our way back to the hotel to relax and catch up on email, FB and the like before dinner, we may also have indulged an a little wine as well…hic !!
Dinner was average but at least it was included in the price, or at least $30 of it was. And so to bed, two more cycle days until we arrive in Adelaide, very excited now, it’s been a long trip ;-)
Ok, more photos….

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And so, that wraps up another blog, not to many more to write in Australia but we’ll soon be in Turkey and I’m sure they’ll be something worthy of comment there !!
Take care and keep reading ;-)
JC

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