The Long and Winding Road…

Okay –  midlife crisis, pre-menopause or whatever you want to call it, makes a person do some crazy shit!! This last weekend was definitely one of those. As I mentioned in my last post hubby and I are wanting to enjoy life to the max and experience more things rather than spend our days slogging to pay off mortgages and Uni fees and whatever else seems to bog people down these days. So we decided  to escape all the kids this weekend and attempt to cycle the Great Southern Rail Trail. It was of course not good enough to cycle it one way – NO – we had to do it both ways of course (mainly for practicality as going one way would mean needing a lift back). I guess the stupidity of parking one end means you don’t have a choice but to cycle back again. Did I mention that this track is a 150 km round trip? Yep, we just cycled that in two days.The Great Southern Rail Trail follows the old rail line across Gippsland (The South Eastern side of Victoria)

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We left early on Saturday morning and headed out in beautiful Autumn weather to tackle the unknown.The scenery was spectacular – rolling farmlands and natural bush.

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We spotted many Parrots and Lorikeets, a Kookaburra, some Eagles and most exciting of all some Koalas.At one point hubby nearly rode into a swamp Wallaby that hopped in front of him. Even after living in Australia for six years I still get amazed by the beautiful birds here and the unusual wildlife – it is so different to Africa where I come from but equally fascinating.

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We were not expecting some serious hills after reading that the trail has gently undulating terrain – may seem gently undulating if you’re cycling downhill but trust me when you have an uphill, it is no smiling matter. My vocabulary has slightly increased this weekend to include some very naughty words – I shall say no more.

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Our first day cycling was a complete adventure as we set off without even a map. All we had was a backpack with some extra clothes and toiletries and a bottle of water each. The track was well signposted and even had some dunny’s (Aussie version of a long drop toilet) along the way.There were little towns every 8 to 12 kms along the way to grab refreshments and refuel.

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The most beautiful point along the way was definitely between Fish Creek and Foster where we had a beautiful view right across the countryside to Wilsons Promontory (a National Park) in the distance.

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We finally arrived at Port Welshpool at about 4:30 pm as the sun was getting lower. Then we cycled back to Welshpool to our hotel accommodation for the night. I have never been so happy to see a bed (even a soft, bad motel bed) and a steaming hot shower.

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We bought pizza (to carbo load for the next day) and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (to kill the pain). We found a Marlborough wine from New Zealand called The Haka and thought it was appropriate.

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At about 4:30 am all hell broke loose. We were woken by a raging storm – I thought the roof would blast off our hotel. We had expected some rain according to the forecast but nothing like this – I spent the next two hours stressing about how we would get home. There is no way we can cycle in this, I thought.

By 7 am when we got up the storm had passed and the sun was shining. However there was a pretty strong, icy wind blowing. Fortunately we had packed some rain jackets and leggings and so we were warm enough.

Cycling into the wind the whole way back was hard work – after an hour into our cycle we hit torrential rain and it beat our faces as we cycled. We arrived in Foster looking like two drowned rats. A strong cup of coffee and some breakfast soon had us smiling again. By the time we had finished our brekkie the sun was out again so we set off. The return trip was both satisfying, frustrating and excruciating. The wind and rain made it very tiring. Without fail we would cycle and approximately one km from each town it would come down in torrents, soaking us – then we would take cover and dry off over a drink and the sun would peep out again and the cycle would start all over. We also had a few trees to climb over as they had blown down in the storm. About three kms from the end my legs started to cramp so badly. The last stretch back to our car was a hill of about two kms. I  just gritted my teeth and plodded up the hill.

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This was a wonderful trip for hubby and I, but honestly I think we were insane to tackle it both ways. I am suffering today as I type this – sore, aching muscles and I don’t think I will be able to sit properly for the next week at least. Am I glad we did it? You bet! There is nothing nicer than accomplishing something that seems huge. All in all it was a great weekend – aching muscles, pelting rain and all!

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