September 17, 2002 - Cann River 154k/92m*

We returned to Bairnsdale around 7:30A under partly cloudy skies, with cool but comfortable temperature. Got on the bike. The back tire was flat. Pumped it up and saw water spurting out from around the stem. Everything was soaked from the day long rain the day before, but this was an unusual and ominous sign. Nonetheless, I pumped it up, it seemed to hold pressure as I rode a couple of blocks, and I headed out of town. First thing I noticed was this trail.

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This was the first rail-trail I’d seen and I wanted to ride it. Though it’s destination was unknown, it headed east and there seemed not much alternative for it than the next town or so. With the lack of confidence in the rear tire, and an inability to inform Lisa of the side trip, I passed it and continued on the Princess Highway to the first mileage sign.

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I have regularly been riding 50-70km without a break, but upset with the prior couple days decided to ride 100k before lunch. I told Lisa to meet me in Orbost. It was the usual, ubiquitous, whatever, rolling hills and pastures, however this time broken up by series of real rivers flowing down from the Snowy Mountains. Here’s one of them, the Tambo.

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Then it was downhill into the town of Lakes Entrance.

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The verbal descriptions I had heard about it (cheap crowded tourist beach town) made it sound like Myrtle Beach. The town bills itself as a ‘Riviera’. It is in fact a one street town along an inland waterway with 30 cheap motels and dozens of painted sign shops. The waterway is however, lined with dozens of working fishing boats. I tried to take a representative picture, but as usual, everything is flat and it was hard to get perspective.

Leaving Lakes Entrance is was up into continuous major rolling hills the rest of the day through a series of National Parks and State Forests. From LE to Cann River was a very difficult, but pretty ride. Here’s a road shot, and a side shot of the forests

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These seemed to be relatively natural forests. Small, medium and large trees interspersed with fern under story. Some new bird sounds. I saw wallaby, parrots, wombats, a porcupine like thing, some dead and some alive, and many kinds of flora whose names I don’t know (gum or eucalyptus trees among others). Lisa caught up to me 4 hours into the ride, maybe 10k before Orbost. She said hi, and went ahead. My tire popped. Here’s the post fixed, pre-start riding again shot.

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Orbost is at the base of the Snowy River along the Princess Highway. The “once mighty” Snowy River is famous for a movie or two, some legends, and it’s legendary flow. It’s been reduced to a slow stream by logging, damming, etc. and is now the object of a big environmental fight between the loggers and everyone else. Same as many places in the USA. The signs in town say “Free the Snowy River”. Good luck. Here’s the main street of Orbost, very similar to other small towns around here. Independent specialized businesses with hand painted signs. Community toilets.

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After lunch, many, many more big, big hills. I may have mentioned before that I’m cruising at 26km+ on flat and small hills, 21-22k on big hills. Outside Orbost was the first sign that had the word Sydney on it. (I’m not sure if this is the distance going inland through Canberra, or staying along the Princess Hwy and the coast)

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After a few more hours climbing and coasting, once again, it started getting dark. Lisa came to find me and took me the last 15k. This (more to follow) is getting quite irritating.

We stayed in Cann River. Cann River is an intersection in the middle of nowhere. It has 3 motels, one gas station, a couple of shops and a pub/restaurant. Like always, and I don’t mean to be monotonous about this, the nowhere restaurant had a gourmet menu and a good selection of wines. What’s up with this country?

After dinner I packed up the panniers. Lisa was leaving me at 5:30A to head to Canberra and the USA and it was time to prepare for unsupported touring.

(0918 10:26P Apollo Bay?!)

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