It is not down in any map; true places never are.
I’m in Brisbane, Queensland for the Matildas vs. Nigeria football match on Thursday night, as part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. As today is my birthday I decided to take the day off work and spend it fishing and relaxing in the sunshine. So I packed my light gear and travel rod and hitched a train out to Sandgate, and fished the beach around Shorncliffe and the river inlet into Cabbage Tree Creek.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is in full swing and this lucky little bugger has tickets to the Australia vs. Nigeria match in Brisbane on 27 July. To make a real journey out of it, I decided to opt for the overnight XPT train from Melbourne, via Sydney, to Brisbane instead of flying.
So we started planning this trip a few years ago, and unfortunately events at home (and not just the pandemic!) have transpired to keep us off our bikes for the most part…
I took the opportunity this morning to sleep in a little in my nice hotel bed before lugging all my gear and bike downstairs (the hotel doesn’t have a lift) to have a buffet breakfast at The Larder, the hotel’s restaurant. I had a liberal helping of hash browns, bacon, eggs, sautéed mushrooms, muesli, fruit and lots of guava juice. And of course: a double espresso!
I was awoken at various times during the night by the sound of cows mooing in the fields on the opposite bank of the Barham River. What normally might have been irritating was actually and perversely quite pleasant. I eventually rolled out of my sleeping bag just before 08:00, and immediately packed up my gear, tent and bike and got moving.
I left Lavers Hill this morning in heavy fog and light rain, but with good spirits as I rolled easily down the hill, savouring the early morning smells of wet forest, the ghostly gums fading into and out of the fog, and generally enjoying being on my bike in the outdoors. At the bottom of the hill I stopped to take a photo of a kookaburra on the side of the road, and as I checked my GPS to see what kind of inclines I had awaiting me today, I noticed something terrible: I was on the wrong road!
I woke up early this morning, packed my gear and got away as quickly as possible, wanting to maximise the time I’d have to spend at The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge et al. before tackling the long slow climb up to Lavers Hill, the highest point in the Otway Ranges. Even further pressing was the severe storm raging its way across the west of Victoria.
I didn’t want to be riding a steel bicycle in a lightning storm, so I had to reach Lavers Hill by about 13:00, when the storm was predicted by the weather bureau to arrive. I left Port Campbell at 7:00, not even having breakfast as I hit the open road from Port Campbell to Loch Ard Gorge. The sun was rising as I rode along and the tranquil quiet was very soothing.
I spent yesterday soaking and unwinding in the Deep Blue hot springs at Warrnambool with my partner Danielle, and it was a beautiful day of rest and relaxation before tackling the Great Ocean Road.
Today started off just as nice and calm, as we had a breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant before checking out at 10:00, and riding my bike up to Logan’s Beach to meet Danielle at the whale watching lookout (she drove after dropping by the supermarket to grab me a replacement lace for my shoes). Here we saw a Southern Right Whale mother and newborn calf frolicking in the shallow surf.
Although I’m absolutely loving my job at Starlight, I’ve been working pretty hard this year and between the pressures of work, family, home and parenting I am desperately in need of a little break. So I’ve booked out a week’s leave at the end of August to tackle the Victorian Great Ocean Road. And because I’m a silly bastard I’ve opted for the wild and wet weather that the Shipwreck Coast is renowned for at this time of year. Fun!
With everything in my life being so busy lately, I managed to get away for a sneaky mid-week overnight fishing trip on Tuesday afternoon, returning last night.
One of the great benefits of my new job at the Starlight Children’s Foundation is the location of the Melbourne office: right on the Yarra River where Church Street becomes Chapel Street, in a commercial hub of the city known as Cremorne in Richmond.