dst. (km) Today 45.4 Trip 132.5
A few spots of rain as we packed to leave this morning but none noticeable during the ride. Muesli and fruit in the cabin for breakfast, then pack up and start back towards Leongatha.
Leaving the caravan park we headed straight out onto the Long Jetty for an essential last visit – out to the end, said hello to the catchless fisherman then turned around and back to land, rejoin the road to the far end of Port Welshpool, turn left and head inland on a few unmarked local roads and rejoin the rail trail. This was one section that definitely could do with some more signage. It was also the section where we saw our only wildlife other than rabbits, two foxes a couple of kilometres apart. A bit surprising that with all the wombat holes and trees we didn’t see a single wombat, koala, kangaroo or wallaby, but perhaps we weren’t out early enough in the morning.
A quick photo opportunity at the old Welshpool station site – unlike some of the rail trails almost all of the station signs are gone and have been replaced by modern replicas. The only original sign we saw was alongside the track in Meeniyan.
From Welshpool it was back along the long straight section through various types of surrounds; dairy farms and different lightly wooded types of bushland. A quick detour up the road at Buffalo to see what was there, the sign on the trail had a large red cross through the symbol for a cup of coffee – it looks as though the shop is being refitted though, so with luck it may open again in a few months.
Heading in to Toora we saw a raptor – a harrier I think – getting harried, first by a willy-wagtail, then by a couple of magpies as it was chased further and further along the trail. White and Straw-necked ibis were plentiful in the paddocks, flocks of egrets, and I think we saw a couple of Spoonbills.
Our arrival at Toora in time for morning tea so followed the signs up through town to the Latte Dah café and were pretty impressed. Good food and coffee, an excellent courtyard garden and ample bike parking, the only tiny drawback is that the rail trail is one side of town, the highway the other, and the café is on the highway – but I can assure you, its worth the ride up the hill to get there, and take the time to admire the locally decorated power poles and historic bank façade.
Then back down through town to the rail trail and an hour or so of riding to Foster, detouring in to visit a different bakery to yesterday and stock up for lunch further up the path. There was a surprise encounter as I turned around to see one of my work colleagues crossing the road to say hello; a chance meeting 200km from home during the fifteen minute window that we were in town and he was driving through to visit Wilsons Prom! The Foster Hot Bread bakery excelled; large salad rolls and some huge pastries, we carefully packed them in the luggage and rejoined the trail, intending to eat them at the lookout at the top of the ridge.
About an hour of gentle climbing from Foster found us at Hoddle lookout, although it seems to be unsigned and unmarked, it definitely could do with signs from the trail since although its only about 50m up to the lookout, the trees and bushes hide the small shelter and picnic table almost completely from view – it was only by chance that Jo spotted it on as we were passing.
Regardless, it was a magnificent view to the south over the farms to the sea, and a magnificent spot to eat a magnificent lunch, topped off by this huge lamington.
Then half an hour of riding, mostly down hill and coasting, had us back in Fish Creek and with time to look around the community gardens at the old railway station. I even managed something I’ve never quite come to grips with previously – using the self-timer on the phone to take a photo of the three of us. Usually my photos of bike tours consist of the places I’ve been, my bike, or the people I’m with, rarely do I get myself into any of them.
While at the station another three cyclists passed us heading east towards Foster, over the past three days we’d seen a few couples and individual riders and a couple of family groups, but this seemed to be the first other group that definitely had touring gear with them.
A short ride from there to the Fish Creek Hotel – a magnificent Art Deco building from the outside, and pleasantly country pub inside. Our rooms for the night were in the decidedly unrenovated slightly shabby 1970s motel rooms behind it. A bit dissappointing with the dim flouro light replacing two of three old bedhead lights and the third just empty, three water glasses but only cups and breakfast bowls for two in a room with three beds, sawn-off stubs of plumbing sticking out of the walls where the old room heater had been removed. One night only, the beds were comfortable and blankets warm.
Arriving almost at 4 pm we hurried back out to visit the Alice Lester gallery and shop, then walked around through town, finding that nearly everywhere else had shut. The exception was Roland Harvey’s studio and gallery where he made us welcome and let us look round, then asked Jo if she knew anything about yoga as he was sketching up designs for a wombat yoga book. She struck a few poses and described them while he quickly sketched – I guess that’s one book we’ll have to look for when it’s published!
Dusk falling, the night cooling. Back to the pub for a quiet beer, then to the motel to shower and get ready for dinner – we’d been warned when we checked in that it was a good idea to book so even though it looked fairly quiet and laid back we did. Good idea as it turned out! Lots of people, full tables and what looked to be a high turnover, a huge difference from last night’s pub dinner in Port Welshpool. Chicken parma for me, there are times when dinner in a pub just demands that this is what you have.
- Great Southern Rail Trail & Tarra Trail