VRT – Wangaratta and Home

Here I will include all my posts for the last few days of the Rail Trail trip – just to finish it off.

Hanging about Wangaratta

Saturday April 9, 2017, 25 km (16 miles) – Total so far: 649 km (403 miles)

A nice day dawned. I had an appointment with Emily at 12.00 hours. Before then I fitted in a wash of my cycling gear – well, two thirds of it. Then I set off on an explore of the One Mile Creek track.

A side branch of the Ovens River
Wangaratta has a few of these bridges over the Ovens. They support a network of tracks along the river bank.
Bridges galore

It was a bit confusing for a silly old fart without a map (again) as it has a large number of unexpected extra bits connecting it to various suburbs and community infrastructure along the way.

A good old tree by the camp

When I cycled through a very new suburb I realised central Wangaratta and Emily were some distance away.

The walking trails include signage that connects the walker with the Aboriginal history of the area. This artwork is about the mating of the black duck with the river rat – an illicit coupling that produced the platypus.
This is like a pink fairy den. Didn’t find out what it is about.

Eventually I did get back in time to enjoy meeting a very interesting person previously known to me through her blogs on Bicycle Life and Crazyguyonabike. Thank you Emily for taking the time out to meet up and have a chat. I was also honoured with an opportunity to talk with “the guys”. Great lunch.

After lunch we went our separate ways and I returned to Painters Island for another go with the Laundry. Is a solo cyclist’s work never done?

When all was sorted it was an opportunity for another ride along some more of the Wangaratta cycle tracks until it was time to visit the supermarket to make sure I had enough grub for tonight and tomorrow which is forecast to be sooo wet a person will not be able to de-tent. We shall see about that. I have some untested wet weather gear and urban legend has it that people from England and Tasmania are not scared of a bit of rain.

So, today was a quiet day but another enjoyable one. Now waiting for the rain to start with the onset of the cold front.

Sunday April 9, 2017

Always knew today would be bad for cycling. And it was.

The tent has performed well even though there was a significant electrical storm late last night. I relocated to the camp kitchen at about 3am as the lightning and thunder occurred with no time delay. A tent sticking up in a grassy area next to a tree seemed a little exposed!

Today, once the kids took over the camp kitchen, the day went downhill – so no more about it!

I did fit in a bit of walking.

Last touring day: Let’s go to Milawa

Monday April 10, 2017, 57 km (35 miles) – Total so far: 706 km (439 miles)

Last night was wet and raining quite hard. As I slept it must have cleared a bit ‘cos the rain had stopped by 6am. During breakfast I debated the merits of another look at El Dorado or to go somewhere new – Milawa. Milawa won.

The start of the rail trail to Oxley and then Milawa.
It’s comforting to see the fire danger as ‘only’ high
I thought this sign was Cafe, Restaurant and Erotica when I first saw it. That would be an interesting mix.
This cafe had a large sign outside advertising it’s gourmet pies – just what I was looking for to add to my BLC total.

There were a few types of pie on offer and they all looked the business.

Eventually a Moroccan Lamb pie was chosen. It was very tasty and included chunks of lamb, more than a hint of harissa and a few chickpeas.

With the BLC taken care of it was then necessary to find a toilet. There was an arrow pointing along a side street but no go. Ended up finding this one in the sports ground.

The door catches were broken giving a new level to the idea of a public toilet. Anyway, it all worked OK.
This artist’s impression of a penny farthing was just one of many bike oriented themes

To return it was a cycle into the wind until Oxley then the wind came in from behind – nice. Before reaching Wangaratta I followed the sign to One Mile Creek and had another attempt to get to the end of the track.

After several kilometers a car park was reached but looking carefully it seemed that the track continued … but I pretended not to see that and turned to go back to the caravan park.

The End: The trip home

Wednesday April 12, 2017, 7 km (4 miles) – Total so far: 713 km (443 miles)

My train to Melbourne left Wangaratta at 13.39 – so I had plenty of time to make sure I packed a dry tent, give away any remaining food and throw away more rubbish than I expected.

There was also time for coffees, reading the paper and taking in a light lunch before heading to the station.

I wheeled the bike through town and, after the above, up to the station. I realised that on the entire trip there was only one hill I couldn’t climb and that was on the Great Victorian Rail Trail where it looked like a house had been built on the line of the railway and there was no way they were going to move to allow cyclists access. So, before the house there was a diversion up a steep loose gravel embankment to a gravel road also with loose gravel – so loose the vehicles using the road had made quite a pile of gravel as a centre line. It was just not possible for me to cycle a laden touring bike up this obstacle. This was the only walking point apart from safety walking the bike through town centres and from the Southern Cross station in Melbourne to the start of the Rail Trail leading to the Spirit of Tasmania at Station Pier.

The train appeared on time and the bike was strapped into the goods compartment. We travelled through some marvellous country heading west initially for Euroa and then down to Seymour and finally Melbourne. A 3 hour trip. I particularly enjoyed listening to my fellow passenger on her phone. Thoughtfully she had it on Speaker so we could all hear both sides of the conversations. I really enjoyed the call from Telstra that, just as it got to the reason for their call, we went out of mobile range so that left a mystery.

As reported above, on reaching Melbourne I walked the bike out of the station and down across the Yarra until we reached the start of the Sandridge Rail Trail. Riding the trail was interesting – so many other cyclists, trams to avoid, people just standing and sitting taking in the sun (it had been quite wet in Melbourne) and just following an easy trail through a busy part of the capital. It deposited me opposite the Spirit of Tasmania I which had just opened it’s gates for passenger entry – what great timing. As I passed through security and quarantine I realised I had an apple left. No problems, it was declared and then eaten with the core going in the quarantine bin. Don’t want to bring any pesky bugs into Tasmania and we lose our important export trade with the local Asian countries – we have no fruit fly or fire blight.

Having pushed and ridden a measly 7 kilometers to day I dumped the bike in the alcove allocated for bicycles and walked aboard to an almost empty ship. Most people were either queued up in their cars or hadn’t yet turned up.

Bye Bye Melbourne
The Spirit at approximately 5.50am this morning. Only a few people who couldn’t sleep were about. 10 mins later and the area was full of people waiting to be given the OK to go to their cars.

6.30am today we were released at Devonport. There were 2 other cycles in the alcove – both fully laden for adventure in Tasmania.

Outside Sue was waiting and I just put my bags in the car, bike on the back and we went home.

Conclusion : I had a bloody good time on a bloody good trip !!

VTR – Myrtleford to Wangaratta

Back to Wangaratta: An in-ride decision to miss out a night at Everton

Friday April 7, 2017, 57 km (35 miles) – Total so far: 624 km (388 miles)

It took some time to get the tent dry this morning. Not that it rained overnight, rather it was a bit misty so the moisture in the air prevented the moisture from me getting absorbed – so it was all over the inside of the flysheet.

Eventually all was sorted and I had final coffee at Ruby’s before departing Myrtleford at 10.00 hours. Initially I was heading to Everton for an overnight stay. As I cycled back up through Gapstead and then Taylor’s Gap I realised that things were going well. I also realised that if I went through to Wang then I would have the tent up if it did start to rain tomorrow. So I cycled the rest of the rail trail back to Wang.

It was an uneventful ride although quite a few cyclists were also on the trail – in both directions. The sun made the scenery sparkle as it has done for the past several days, the track surface was quality chip seal or pebbledash and the wind was generally off to one side and not as strong as a good ol’ Tassie wind anyway!

14.30 hours and I had the extra night booked making the stay here a 4 night one before catching the train to Melbourne next Tuesday. It was time to set up tent for (fingers crossed) the last time this trip.

Just before the climb to Gapstead starts. This rail trail bridge truely shows it’s railway heritage. It even has old sleepers for you to ride over – with a suitable warning of a rough surface.
Old dead gums often have a sculptural look to them. I liked this one

Tomorrow I will look for a local ride and enjoy riding an unladen machine for a day.