Planning a winter getaway tour along the Great Ocean Road

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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!

My part­ner is work­ing from War­rnam­bool that week, so I’ll meet her and spend a few nights togeth­er chill­ing out and enjoy­ing the local hos­pi­tal­i­ty, before she heads home and I depart on my way. I’ll ride from War­rnam­bool to Gee­long over the space of a few days, camp­ing along the way, with a hotel here or there, and even a spot of trout fish­ing planned at Aire River.

From Apol­lo Bay to Angle­sea, I’ll ride along one of Aus­trali­a’s best stretch­es of tar­mac, the world-famous Great Ocean Road. I’m look­ing for­ward to the low­er traf­fic that win­ter will bring, even if it means brav­ing the elements.

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If you are alone, then the coun­try is not your play­ground, it is your com­pan­ion; and nature becomes Nature, a per­son, some­one to whom you can almost talk. You do not only walk through mea­sured miles; you sit, dream­ing, con­tem­plat­ing, absorb­ing it all, through unmea­sured minutes.

Christo­pher Robin Milne

A broad outline of the trip

  • Warrnambool

    Start­ing in War­rnam­bool, head­ing east towards Allans­ford and then mean­der­ing down towards the start of the Great Ocean Road and stop­ping for the night in Port Campbell.

  • Port Campbell

    Leav­ing Port Camp­bell and pass­ing the Twelve (or less!) Apos­tles Marine Park before climb­ing through to Lavers Hill and stop­ping the night at Johan­na Beach.

  • Johanna Beach

    Leav­ing Johan­na Beach, hope­ful­ly get­ting in a spot of fish­ing on the Aire Riv­er,  then arriv­ing at Apol­lo Bay.

  • Apollo Bay

    Cycling along the coast all the way from Apol­lo Bay and stop­ping at Lorne for the night at the Mantra hotel.

  • Lorne

    Leav­ing Lorne and head­ing towards Angle­sea, then leav­ing the Great Ocean Road through Torquay and then Geelong.

  • Geelong

    If I’ve still got the ener­gy to ride home from Gee­long, I might make anoth­er day’s trip out of it, but I’m just as like­ly to call it to an end and train it home. TBC.

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The Great Ocean Road is heavy with tourists, and I’m going on the assump­tion that even in the off sea­son there will be places to stop and eat. I’ll take some freeze-dried meals just in case, as well as my “fuel” for cycling, but oth­er­wise it affords me the chance to slim down a lit­tle on the cook­ing gear.

I am also not need­ing things I would take into the bush, like fire­light­ing gear, hatch­et, fish­ing rod hold­ers — I will fish, but not with bait — solar pan­els, water blad­der and so on.

The reduc­tion in bush camp­ing gear will be off­set by increased cold and wet weath­er gear. I’m plan­ning to take both my sleep­ing bag as well as my wool blan­ket. I will take both tarps, but have man­aged to reduce the ropes a lot by using 1.75mm Dyneema lines with Dutch­Ware hard­ware, tiny lit­tle tita­ni­um tie-offs giv­en cute lit­tle insect shapes and names like Fleaz, Flyz, Ring­worms and Stingerz.

I took a lit­tle test ride today (Sun­day 21 August) ful­ly loaded to test the han­dling and every­thing is hunky dory. I tried to wob­ble and throw the bike off and my trusty Ser­e­na just kept on true to form.

One of the weird­ly per­verse ben­e­fits of antic­i­pat­ing wet and windy weath­er is that I’ve paid a lot more atten­tion to water­proof­ing and weight dis­tri­b­u­tion, which in turn has led me to prob­a­bly my most care­­ful­­ly-con­sid­ered pack yet. Here’s hop­ing it goes the distance!

Pho­to of Angle­sea road by Wee Ping Khoo on Unsplash. Aer­i­al pho­to of road and beach by Gagan­deep Singh on Unsplash.

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