Friday, November 12, 2010

Nowa Nowa to Bemm River

Friday 5th November

Rode 20 k from Nowa Nowa to Lakes Entrance on the Pacific Hwy that cuts through the Colquhuin Forest. Stayed at the Rec Reserve caravan park for $14. Set up camp about midday, right on the beach at North Arm. A seal swam past as i was setting up camp. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Had some fish and chips and delicious(ly bad for you) calamari rings, then used the internet in the library. Rode up to the lookout. Rode back down to town and bought a couple of decent sand pegs as I've snapped a couple of small ones (not in anger, just in rocky soil).

Back at camp I saw a sea eagle try to snatch a duckling. Listened to the boring leaders debate for the vic election on news radio. I'd forgotten all about the state election. It was so windy and cold that night i had on my long johns and down jacket.

Saturday 6th November 

View from the free camp 4 km North of Marlo
   Rode 75 km to a free camp 4 km North of Marlo, right on the Snowy River. From Nowa Nowa I had the choice of a 40 km ride on the rail trail to Orbost or 35 km on the Pacific Hwy. I remember that that section of rail trail has a few trestle bridges over some deep gullies, that you cannot ride on, leaving the cyclist to trip down and up the gully. Which would mean me having to get off and push the loaded bike up a gravelly hill.

I opted for the highway. On the highway there is still big hill, but it was managable staying on the bike. You can still see a couple of the trestle bridges from the highway, and it travels through the same forests.

Just before Orbost there is this long flat bridge over the floodplain, next to some long trestle bridges from the old railway line. Here I experienced some of the most dangerous crosswinds so far, threatening to knock me off the bridge. It was pretty scary so I rode as close to the middle of the road as traffic would let me.

Just as I was about to get off this bridge I met Pierre from France who has ridden about 7000 km from Darwin, and was heading for Melbourne and them Tassie, followed by NZ. He commented on the big hills.

At Orbost I grabbed some food and continued South on Marlo road for about 10 km in a ridiculous wind. It was really knocking me about.

At the free camp i spoke to Rick and Yvonne from Melbourne who own one of those hideous coach-sized RVs with a car towing behind. They're the type who drive across the country just to go to motorhome rallies and chat to other people who own bus RVs or B-doubles or whatever keeping up with the Joneses mentality has reached the "simple travelling" world now. As if there aren't enough big rigs on the road as it is. At one point he said there was no point living like a bum. Not sure if he was refering to me.

Rick asked me had I seen the goanna yet and pointed out a water dragon to me. I let him know it wasn't a goanna, that goannas are much larger. He then said he saw a goanna on the road the other day with its frilled neck. I bit my tongue.

Rick also told me about the sticker they have on their windscreen that says "Leave no trace". I didn't ask if it meant "leave no trace of fossil fuels for the next generation".

Anyway, despite being a bum and not travelling with two motorvehicles, a lounge suite, and bathroom with vanity, I do just fine sitting on the grass instead of upholstery, toileting with a view and being a part of the natural world, minus glass and metal cage, enough that I know a little bit about reptiles.

Sunday 7th November

Cape Conran

Rode 45 km today to Cape Conran and back to the freecamp outside of Marlo. I took my gear with me incase I decided to stay at Cape Conran afterall. This ride is a nice trip through the coastal park. There is a great view from East Cape. Here I met a retired couple who are on a bike tour and are heading to Adelaide. The lucky woman gets to carry only two pannier bags while hubby tows a Bob trailer.

I headed back to Marlo to grab an Icypole (I am back on that drug, have one almost daily now that days are warm).

While at Marlo I saw a man getting help to heave a huge backpack with things hanging off it onto his back, and then he walked slowly off North up Marlo road. He had with him a dog which he was swearing profusely at and being quite hostile.

An hour later I passed this same bloke on the road where he was hurling things into the swamp. Oooo-kay. Strike two.

When I was about 1 k past him I took a phone call and about 2 minutes into that call I could hear the guy screaming out in anger. Ok, that's strike three. This guy is likely a freak. This guy is to be avoided.

My plan was to freecamp just another km up the road. I decided to hide nearby, just so he wouldn't see me wanting to camp there or generally want to talk to me. No one else was around. He had stopped at the freecamp and had taken his pack off, I could see from a where I was crouched behind some bushes to guage the situation. Crap. It looked like he planned to stay. Luckily, after dumping about a kg of dry dog food in a pile there, he kept on walking, heading for Orbost. I waited until I couldn't see him 1 km up the road anymore and made camp.

One dodgy character in 4 months of travelling is probably not bad odds, especially if I could avoid the situation.

Associated photography: Snowy River to Cape Conran
Monday 8th November
From the freecamp in Marlo, I headed back into Orbost and charged my phone at the BBQ area, had some breakfast and waited for the post office to open. I had to figure out how to vote in the election. I was pretty sure I couldn't vote in NSW. I rang up the AEC and they said the only early voting centre I could use was in Bairnsdale. That was out. So I had to organise a postal vote and figure out where to send the forms via post restrante. I also had to find someone willing to witness my signature on the form, difficult when you are travelling on your own and don't know anyone in town.

Anyway, I figured out a hotel postal outlet that I'll likely be near when they send out the forms and rang them up to make sure they weren't just going to throw post restrante mail in the bin. I then went to the information centre and asked if they wouldn't mind too much witnessing a signature saying they believed I was who I was.
After this run around I went to the Foodworks and stocked up. I finally left Orbost at 11 am.
My plan was to head to Bemm River but it was about 5pm when I got to the turn off for it and it was another 25km (hills likely) so I opted instead to go three kilometres up to road to Bellbird Creek Hotel where they let you freecamp in the back paddock. Here I met Walter and Hans who are riding from Sydney to Melbourne. Walter is fundraising for cystic fibrosis and his website is
Had a counter meal at the Bellbird Hotel, shared a bottle of wine with Hans, and Monday nights are Euchre night so we watched two groups of Euchre players until sleepiness dragged me back to the tent. The freecamping area is lovely shady grassed areas. You can use their shower for $5 and they give you a real towel to use.
Tuesday 9th November
Rode the three kilometres to the Bemm River turn-off with Walter and Hans. Once we said our goodbyes and goodlucks, I rode the enjoyable 25 km through the forest to Bemm River, stopping at the rapids lookout.
I checked into the caravan park ($15) and after lunch spent an hour sorting out my panniers, putting the cold weather gear into a satchel to send on to Brisbane. I won't be needing it anymore. This ended up being 3.6 kg of weight. 
Once the day had cooled down a bit I rode to Pearl Point along the 4WD track, which is a big rough and slippery in places, and about 10 km in length. There are places to camp along this road. I finally got to Pearl Point after having to push my bike in places and reaching the wooden stairs I said out loud "YES! It was worth it". There is a stunning view. I rode back to the township just as the sun was setting.

Pearl Point

Bemm River and its surrounding forest and beaches is a very pretty spot, nice and quiet, and well worth the meander.

Associated photography: Bemm River

1 comment:

Mal said...

Angry-backpack-man-with-dog reminds me of the human capacity (obviously not always exercised) to co-exist peacefully with strangers. It's hard to imagine a group of chimps boarding a flight without them attempting to kill each other. If only they could focus on the bag of peanuts they would get for their in-flight snack.