September 10, 2002 - Robe 196k/118m**

We haven’t seen a chain restaurant or hotel, or a stoplight for that matter, for the past 300k or so. The September 11 ride was good. 300km, mostly flat, no wind, cool (10-15C), sunny to begin and end the day, and cloudy in the middle. I kept a steady 25kph pace, about 30% faster than yesterday’s 18k (with hills and much wind), so I covered more ground in less time.

I wore my “Proud to Be” American Flag socks, and my red, white and blue American Cyclist jersey today (though it was under a jacket the whole time). There’s a lot of news on it down here. One editorial questioned if there was too much coverage of the event. Specials and all, just like in the USA (though I’m not able to see them.) One guy I talked to says that everyone stayed up all night last year watching the coverage, and they were all shocked and horrified as we were.

Note the television with the mechanical channel changer. Our first two hotels both had this feature, and maybe one working channel

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I rode into Menengie around 7:30A. The Menegie Waterfront Motel, where we stayed, is on the shore of freshwater lake Albert. The town itself consists of a commercial district about two blocks long, with some houses around. Everything except maybe the post office and police station locally owned and operated. The purpose of the isolated town, 50km south of Tailem Bend and 135k north of Kingston, appears to be to be mostly to support tourists going to the Coorang, and maybe fishermen and hunters. None of the 4 motels in the area, including ours, had internet service, contributing to my lateness with these updates.

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You crest a little ridge leaving town come across a big sign that says how far to where. Useful information. Just a little farther on, my first real kangaroo sign. I really wanted to see one, and spent many kilometers glancing side to side, then it happened. I saw one “boingy boingy” across the road, a hundred meters ahead – not close enough to get details, but close enough to see how fast they go, and to understand the purpose of all the roo bars are in the front of cars and trucks.

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The Coorang is based on the very long (140km), very thin Younghusband Penninsula. It’s a strip of sand dunes sometimes linked to the shore by mud flats, but mostly a kilometer or more off shore. The water between the peninsula and the mainland is four times as salty as the sea. There are tons of birds and other wildlife around, and some ranches (stations) sometimes off to the side, but not much else.

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You can’t tell from the map what is just a name on a map with absolutely nothing (Ashville, Woods Well), or a place with a gas station (Policeman’s Point, Salt Creek). I quickly learned to ask what’s ahead. Pulled into Policeman’s point at 9:45A for breakfast. The road was smooth, with an unapproachable 110kph speed limit. Just as in the states, you can see where the old road was, and then the new one carved through hills and made with long smooth curves to allow the speed.

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Saw a bunch of road kill kangaroos and funny looking, scaly, thick, flat, small legged lizards, but the animal challenge for me was the black and white magpies. They repeatedly attacked me. At first I thought I was entertainment, then “whack”, one hit my helmet. I learned to scream, wave my arms, and swerve into oncoming traffic lanes during attacks, but then gave that up because of potential death. Now I watch the shadows and duck.

The only other thing along the Coorang was Chinamen’s Well. Many thousands of Chinese came here during the gold rush in the 1850’s, escaping Victoria’s keep them out tax by landing in South Australia and trekking a couple hundred km. They were organized folks, built wells and mined cooperatively. They were not appreciated by the Australian miners, and now all the Chinese seem to be gone. Who knows where?

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The first town past Menengie was Kingston, home of Larry the Lobster and little else. See “Big things” is on my “Weird Things” list in the Australia section of this site. This is my first one.

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Finally it was into Robe. A very cute, tiny port town founded around 1856 and prosperous for a couple of decades exporting wool and other resources. The town works hard to retain it’s heritage and support tourism. The coastline is dramatic, and they built an oblisk in 1855 to help ships find the port.

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A guy in Macs Grill in Kingson told me I had two more nice days, and then (some Australian term for big, bad weather) is coming up from the Artic. He said I should head inland as I won’t be able to ride in it for a week or more. Hmmm. Miss the Great Ocean Road? I don’t think so.

(bye, thanks… sent from Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia, Sept 13, 6:30P local)

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