September 16, 2002 - Paynesville 136k/82m*

It wasn’t an exciting day, but it was much better than I thought it would be. The forecast was for high winds, cold and rain. We got the cold and rain.

Melbourne is a big, world-class city. It has layers of suburbs linked to the downtown by radii of rail links. To avoid the Monday morning showers and traffic, I took Hemmings’ advice and caught the V-Line train at Flinders Station to the suburb of Warnnagul. .

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I sat across from Phillip and Alice Sanford, a couple in their 70’s heading to Lakes Entrance for a holiday. They used to manage a Caravan Park in Sale (a town I rode through today), but now they are retired living in their own cottage in a “Brotherhood village (?)” in Melbourne. They take care of themselves, but the place provides security. Phillip just started using a walker, and Alice brings her own seat cushion. They said the biggest American influence on Australia was WWII, when a lot of GI’s stayed down here and brought their language and habits with them. (This is the shot across the isle of the rain on the windows and the people on the train.)

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Due to conditions, this would be the last picture I took this day. Around 9:45A I arrived at Warragul, packed up and began riding. Rather than play around with side streets, I stuck to the Princess Highway (A1). 40km into the ride, the rain broke for a bit, and I caught a mileage sign.

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Heading east out of Warragul, the terrain was slowly rolling, relatively flat, through the ubiquitous pasture lands. I rode the 136k at an average of 27kph or so in the rain, with only one sit down stop in the five hours of riding. That was for a chicken-avacado lunch in Traralgon in one of the casino things that doesn’t say it’s a casino. There were a few other small towns along the way, but I couldn’t comfortably stop. 90% of the time it rained and 100% of the time it was wet roads with traffic throwing up mist. It was 50F, 10C and the only thing that kept me warm was riding.

Lisa caught up to me in Sale and took some entertaining shots of me dripping wet, but somehow they vanished. We stopped at a pub there where I changed into some dry clothes and then pressed on towards Bairnsdale and hopefully some nice accommodations. By darkness I was still 35k out of town, it was still raining, and Lisa lifted me in.

We decided to go to the “Boating Capital of Victoria”, a small town maybe 15k south of Bairnsdale for the night. We didn’t spend much time there, but saw the ferry and had another gourmet meal at another un-gourmet seeming restaurant. Lisa says they have lots of fresh ingredients and serve cappuccino everywhere in Australia. I say they start teaching cooking in grade school. here,

Tomorrow I press on for Cann River, 175k to the east.

– The father east we’ve gone, the smaller the farms have become. It’s more fertile in eastern Victoria than western. Many of the places here you could look around and feel like you were in Wisconsin.

– They don’t have billboards, per se, around here like they do in the states. It appears the governments have rights to roadside signs, and they put up uniform little signs for businesses. It certainly makes things seem more civilized.

– Road quality is good, and everywhere the road makers are considerate of bikes. Even the Princess Highway has continuous signs reminding bikers to stay on the shoulder and warning both cars and bikes of each other at all entry and exit ramps. Small and big towns alike have bike lanes.

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