Date written: 29 November 2020
Date posted: 4 December 2020
This post was written by hand in my diary on the road, and entered into the blog when I got home.
I got up nice and early this morning — 0500 — to catch the Ballarat V/Line train to Melbourne at 0615. I packed the bike last night, making sure everything was lashed and ready to go. Then lo and behold, the skies opened up and rain started pouring! Not the most auspicious start to the trip…
I didn’t care too much about the bike getting wet (I planned for such weather as rain is forecast for Tuesday) but I did want to be dry for the six-hour train trip to Swan Hill. So my partner Danielle and I scrambled to unload the bike and throw my gear in the back of the ute, and she drove me down to the station. I reloaded the bike at the station and boarded the train with plenty of time, and a good practice in case I have to do it again later in the day [luckily I didn’t!].
The trip to Footscray Station was pretty uneventful until I got there. Once on the platform at Footscray, I really had to use the toilet, and there as a dodgy-looking character pissing from the platform onto the tracks, off his tree and shouting at existence. Not wanting to leave the bike, I resigned myself for waiting for the 0807 train to Swan Hill. 0807 came and passed and no train. It turns out there was a major delay and stuff-up caused by some contractual problem with the rail works at Spencer Street (Southern Cross Station), and the train came late. I boarded and laid my bike down in the luggage car, then sat for the approx. four hour journey.
At Swan Hill, a local Woolworths employee enjoying ‘smoko’ offered to watch my bike and gear, and I got some cold drinks, filled up my canteens with water and found some salad for lunch, then set off as quickly as I could. I didn’t stop long in Swan Hill for photos or anything as the wind had picked up, it was hot and I knew I had a decent ride in front of me.
The 55km between turning off the main highway at Swan Hill, and reaching Murrabit, was quite hard going. There was a strong 20 knot SE headwind, and as I was heading southeast this meant almost constant headwind the entire way. I tried to sit up in the saddle and just relax, not push to a particular speed or time but just embrace whatever the day brought, and this helped a lot for my mood and enjoyment, but with no shade from the sun, and my legs tiring after the first 30 kilometres or so, I was glad to reach Murrabit.
I was even happier when I learned that Murrabit has a pub, the Murrabit Tavern, and though the bar was closed the store was open and I bought some cold beers, some frozen lamb for dinner, worms for bait and plenty of water for camp. I filled my MSR Dromedary bladder, which holds 10 litres, slung it on my back and headed down Hughes Lane to the Murray River to camp for the night not far from town.
I set up camp, and caught a little Murray cod — who being both under-sized and out of season was promptly and safely released — had a smoke of my pipe and relaxed for the rest of the evening.
On my travels today, I passed through such beautiful country and would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of that land, and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present. I’d like to thank them for looking after the country for more than 80,000 years.