Of Paradise, Vicious Creepy Crawlies and Gravel Roads

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Having handed over the camera we set off from Gosford and headed back into the hills. We stopped by Wisemans Ferry for old time’s sake and had a cool schooner  of beer which revived us in a hair of the dog kind of way. The Inn is always a great place to hang out and watch the weird and wonderful bikes and cars pull in, their drivers with interesting characters to match.

That evening we found an idyllic little fishing spot to camp and set up the tarp, expecting rain as per the forecast we’d checked when we last had reception. But the rain never showed and we spent a couple of days in this little paradise catching up with our diaries and enjoying the views.

We had the rare opportunity to enjoy cold beers from the nearby town (usually they are warm by the time we find camp).

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The odd duck or pelican popped by to see if there was some food to be had and we saw some strange shells of beetles stuck to trees as if they vaporized mid crawl.

When we finally left our little paradise, it was grey and threatening to rain. So we decided on an early lunch and had some fun riding around the mountainside.

Back on the main road a light and persistent ran began and riding into it is like being jet washed. We didn’t have adequate gear and were soaked through within half an hour. Which meant we were freezing cold! When it all became too much we puled up in a small town and found a horrid pub to thaw out. I fashioned some sort of waterproof layers out of a bin bag, poking holes into it for my arms and head to go through. I was already drenched but at least it stopped more water from coming in.

It didn’t help that we were riding around the mountains. When the road dipped down into a national park forest, I pulled over to go for a pee. Aidan stopped too. Suddenly he screamed and started jumping around. We had parked in an ants nest and they were racing up his boots and legs, biting viciously. He jumped off Pippa and tore his jeans off, stomping about completely demented. I jumped on Lea and rode off to park somewhere ant free, then headed into the forest for some privacy. I thought I got away with it. Then I felt the first bite. Within seconds I, too, had ripped my jeans off and stood in the forest in my underpants.

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That evening it sopped raining an we found a pretty field to pitch the tent. It was up a steep hill so in the morning we had some fun taking photos as we were riding down. Aidan first and he almost keeled over gunning it through the puddle at the bottom, trying to make the water splash. Having seen that, I rode through more careful so the water hardly splashed at all. But at least I remained upright.

Riding into town we had reception and checked the weather forecast on my phone. No matter which way we went, it would be raining in the evening except in the area we were in. So we decided to slow down and head for a campsite in the small nearby town (or village really) of Gundaroo, have a much needed shower and do our laundry.

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On the way Aidan suddenly pulled over and stripped. Something had flown up his sleeven and stung him. He was in agony. The sting was still stuck in his skin. But the culprit was gone. So we had no idea what it was or if it was poisonous. 

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The camp ground is actually the local show ground and sports park with bathrooms and showers. For a small, voluntary donation at the local shop cum post office you can camp around the edges. We pitched the tent at the back and had a great time racing the bikes back and forth from the shower block helmetless and in flip flops, wind blowing through our hair.

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Skunk had a bath too.

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Our chores done we headed into town and found a cute little pub with  proper pub feel (a rarity in Australia where they love huge hall-like pubs with TV screens plastered all over the walls showing all different sports). We grabbed a yummie beer and settled in to write our diaries and sort through our photos.

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Back at the tent we had a feast of steak and watched the stars as it got dark. Being in the middle of civilization meant we had phone reception so we used the opportunity to Skype our folks. Back home it was morning and they’d just got up.

It was tempting to stay another day but Aidan ad itchy feet in the morning. We agreed to get going but take our time about it. As I checked Lea over for the day’s ride (oil, tire pressure…) I found some coolant on the engine. But I couldn’t find the leak. Where had it come from? I took off the faring and then tried to take the tank off (much to Aidan’s dismay) to get a better look at the hose that runs under it. But the fuel pipe wouldn’t come off the tap.

I took that as a sign and gave up, putting Lea back together. (Aidan was all packed up and impatiently waiting to get going.) I’d just have to keep an eye on it. Ready to get going Lea wouldn’t start and I emptied the battery trying. Then Aidan checked the fuel tap. I’d forgotten to switch it back on. We spent the next ten minutes shoving Lea up and down the lawn to push start her. Whoops!

Eventually we got going and spent the day mostly on gravel roads through pretty cow country and on forest logging tracks.

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As usual I am much slower than Aidan so I am used to not seeing him for a while till he decides to wait for me. Just as I was beginning to wonder where he was I rounded a corner to find Pippa in the ditch and Aidan in need of a hand to heave her back out. He’d looked back to check whether any of his things had rattled lose and dropped off the bike. When he turned around again, the road wasn’t where he’d left it.

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Sometimes we had a choice of clean, boring tarmac or fun, tricky unsealed road. Guess which one we took?

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That evening we found some overgrown forest tracks and raced around them having heaps of fun. That’s he kind of road Lea was made for! Eventually we found a quiet spot to pitch camp only to ride around the tracks some more the next day.

We went on a little detour that had us riding the awesome twisty road through the Snowy Mountains (once again) from Khancoban to Jindabyne where we would have a schooner of our favourite beer in the place that it was first made. The road through the Kosciszco National Park was amazing but the Kossie micro brewery is immensely disappointing.

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Wiki Camps came up trumps finding a stunning free camping spot down some deeply rutted sand paths onto a paradise peninsula in the lake.

Aidan relaxed reading his book while I went for a swim. The mountains had been super cold but the lake was surprisingly warm.

That day was the first day after the general fire ban period so we made a little bonfire to read and write our diaries by.

The next morning we set off early to ride the mountain road back the way we’d come. Suddenly a huge emu appeared in front of us, narrowly escaping Aidan it raced straight for me in a mad game of chicken. Luckily it changed direction in the last second and I could swerve around the wide eyed creature. It disappeared into the forest unharmed and was gone.

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Back down from the Snowys we soon reached the state of Victoria.

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The road took us past a stunning reservoir lake with lots of dead trees in it. At first we couldn’t get close but then I spotted a path with a sign allowing camping by the lake.

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I insisted we ride in, racing down the concrete boat ramp and then popping off into the sand along the lake’s shore. I was happily zooming along when the rear wheel began to fishtail. The sand was in fact deep slimy mud. I told myself not to slow down, lest Lea sinks in. But it was too late. Heavy Pippa had sunk and Aidan was only digging her in deeper trying to ride out. That would explain why all the other campers had stayed well away from the lake’s shore!

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I parked Lea, letting her sink enough so she’d simply remain upright by herself. Then I went to help Aidan. A piece of drift wood wedged in front of the rear wheel did the trick and we managed to push Pippa out. Aidan opened the throttle, racing to safer grounds, spraying a fountain of mud behind him. Pushing light little Lea out was much easier and I could do it by myself.

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We camped in a state forest that was dried to a crisp. In this area fires are banned the whole year round and I could see why. There is no shortage of ants and creepy crawlies though.

The Sunday was mostly spent in town at cafes to make use of their wall plugs and Wifi to book a hostel for our imminent arrival in Melbourne. When we got back to the bikes, someone had left a note inviting us for a coffee during the week. How sweet! Shame we had to ride on as we had made plans for Melbourne and we couldn’t really wait around for Monday.

The road took us up into the Yarra mountains.

We woke in that coldest hour before sunrise, shivering and listening to the kangaroos hop around our tent. We refused to get up until the sun reached our tent to warm us up and spent the morning having breakfast in bed and making plans for Melbourne and Tasmania.

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Eventually the need to pee forced us to leave the tent and we packed up, rolling into Melbourne a few hours later.

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