VRT Tour – To Melbourne then Yea

Across Bass Strait: No cycling today – just final packing

Wednesday March 22, 2017

The ferry leaves at 7.30pm, so the day was spent hanging about and every now and again packing another forgotten item.

Finally we leave home and drive to Devonport – weather windy and grey. Had tea at XoXo and then proceeded to the Ferry. Could not see any “Pedestrian / Cycles this way” signs so packed all the panniers etc onto the bike, had a loose carry-on bag and a warm top laying on the panniers. Walked to the vehicle entry road and started down it. After some distance a security man explained this was not the way in for me, “go over there!” pointing to the main building. I bumped down and up a curb and made my way to the pedestrian security checkout area. The security person there got a call to say my loose stuff had fallen off! I retraced my steps to collect them.

After that it was plain sailing into the area for bike storage.

After much walking about deck 8 with it’s bars and cafes, I found my 4 berth male cabin. 3 of us are bearded. One is youngish. 2 discussed their need to pee several times of a night. This should be fun.

At 7.30 exactly we cast off. I went out to watch. Some kids were worried as we start off by going up river. Their Dads said nothing as they probably didn’t understand what was happening either. The boat first travels upriver to an area wide enough for it to turn and point down river.

Bye Bye Devonport

That done I retired to the empty but shortly to be filled small space we fitted into and settled down on my bunk.

Hello Melbourne

And now by train to start the Rail Trail and cycle to Yea

Thursday March 23, 2017, 60 km (37 miles) – Total so far: 60 km (37 miles)

An uneventful but pretty sleepless night saw us arrive in Melbourne Station Pier at 6am. I had to ask how foot passengers get off and where the bike was as last evening walk through the bowels of the ship didn’t form a lasting memory.

Coffee on board is still poor – all this talk of upcoming job loss due to the next round of automation and here we have a push button coffee machine taking the place of an operator. Apparently the machine does use fresh coffee beans but it really doesn’t replace a good Barista.

From the onboard tourist desk I got a visitors Myki public transport card for my journey to Seymour. I have to say that at just gone 6am, following a poor sleep, looking out into the dark dock waiting to be released does not make one feel on top of the world. It will be good to get going.

Getting off Station Pier was odd. I kept finding chains across the way out which I thought was the pedestrian walkway. Eventually I gave up, slipped under a set of chains and joined the vehicles exiting the boat. Just after leaving the terminal I crossed the road and got onto the rail trail into the city proper. A terrific early morning ride following alongside the tram tracks with fast cyclists overtaking me on their way to work. Three stopped and advised when they saw I had my map out. Then came an horrible cracking noise and we stopped with a jerk. The strap on front pannier had come loose and got stuck in the spokes, the strap was pulled out of rivet and was all now wound up in the front wheel. I pulled it out, stored strap for later investigation and continued as I was somewhat of a trail blocker with commuters squeezing past.

It was quite dark on the rail train into the CBD

I was concerned about getting the bike on a train as the information I had gathered before leaving was patchy. It turned out the Spencer Street ticket office was very helpful as were the platform people and any worries I had about being allowed on the train (with bicycle) were set to rest. Sigh of relief!!

Crossing the Yarra heading towards the train station

The train swapped from leaving out of platform 6A to 4B so I changed platforms. 4B was a bit like the Hogwarts Express platform except you didn’t have to walk thorough a wall to get to it. 4B is almost out of the station at the end of 4A. . There was an available bike space on the train c/w a Velcro strap to hold the bike and a friendly conductor.

Platform 4B – still early – not quite light enough for the phone camera

I had several chats with the conductor. She is from Tallarook – the rail trail begins there. I found out there are no shops at Tallarook and so will keep to my original plan of going to Seymour, shopping for food and then cycling to Tallarook and the start of the trail.

As I passed through the station a lot of people had commented on the bike, where am I going, how far a day etc. Friendly with a smile. I do like Melbourne.

Bike tucked into bike space – just

We sped on out way

I found the shops in Seymour after initially heading away from them when leaving the train station. My sense of direction seems a bit stuffed. At the shopping centre I locked up the bike, got food and water and Metho (for Trangia cooking not drinking) but found my pannier usage is not right. The items were squeezed in anywhere they would fit and, I told myself, ‘I will fix up properly tomorrow”.

Getting out of Seymour was a bit tricky but in the end I found Emily St then it was simple to follow my pencilled note to take Dysart Road, then Schoolhouse Lane. After leaving town on the ‘truckers highway’ which was Emily Street, Dysart Road proved to be a “local traffic only” route running parallel to the Hume Highway. After a while it became Schoolhouse Lane, then became gravel for a while and in sections was badly corrugated. An interesting juxtaposition – cycling a rural gravel road while looking across to the dual carriageway Melbourne to Sydney highway / freeway that is the Hume. Along the way I found unpleasant sized corrugations for a touring bike fully laden. All things come to an end and eventually we were back on the black. Running into Tallarook intending to find a lunch, I crossed the Rail Trail. Good. I know where that is then.

At last – away from the trucks
Closing in on Tallarook

The trendy cafe was closed and outside was a Lady in a pinnie who frowned at me as I checked it’s openness. So I joined some other cyclists at the shop, come cafe, come petrol station.

Made it to the start

After lunch I returned to the rail trail start point and set off. Immediately 4 large roos were hopping alongside the trail. Then we passed cattle, then grapes (c/w auto shot firer bird scarer), then clouds of large brown butterflies. It felt good – much better than trucks. The trail surface was initially good. Then it became stuff that obviously gave trouble to heavily laden bikes when wet. There are a lot of deep, weaving tyre indentations that are best avoided at any speed over 10 kph as your own wheels tend to track in them.

Some very nice riding followed

At Trawool I debated the idea of taking off and finding the camp by the river I had read about and planned to use. In the end I decided not to. I was feeling OK so I considered pushing on to Yea unless I see a good camp along the way. Soon the track turned into a loose surface that you can just feel holding you back slightly.

Eventually we made it to Yea. The last 6 ks were either flat or slightly downhill which was good as sleep deprivation was beginning to kick in.

The campsite was OK @ $25. The main road is just across a small creek and is a bit noisy. So Bell birds, white cockies and big rigs were the soundtrack for the evening.

The mosquitoes arrived at sundown so after cooking tea I retired to the tent to read some more of the Barry Sheene (motorcycle racer / sports commentator) biography I found in the cafe at Tallarook. Later I heard the squash and clatter of empty beer cans. It sounded nearby so I got the torch and investigated. Nobody nearby, no lobbed cans. A mystery.

Author: antc1946

Born in 1946 I learnt to cycle about 10 years later. On a bike with rods connecting brake levers to the brakes - anyone remember those? I emigrated to Australia (from the UK) in 1974 and moved to Tasmania in 1984. Bicycles were in my life for most of that time although sometimes they were replaced by motorised two wheels for a bit more excitement. On reaching 70 I decided to stick to pedal power but in 2019 an electric recumbent made an appearance. It is good!

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