Life’s a Beach

13 December 2019

Monday 9 December 19 – Policeman’s Point to Kingston SE – 96km

We briefly saw our German neighbours as we were packing our bikes at 5.30am, but we didn’t really get a chance to properly chat, which was a shame.  It was so hot yesterday afternoon that it was just too uncomfortable to be outside so we didn’t get to see them very much then either.  One thing we did find out was that they’d started their Australia ride in Darwin right in the north, back in September, and had cycled south through the heart of the country. That must have been pretty uncomfortable riding and likely to have been even hotter than our ride across the Nullarbor.

We can’t have been much ahead of them on today’s journey, but when we said goodbye at the motel that was the last we saw of them. Our ride took us along the southern part of the Coorong, but unfortunately we couldn’t see the lagoon, so the scenery was actually quite dull. We did see this replica of an old oil well…

Apparently they drilled in this area in the late 1800s and early 1900s thinking that there was oil under the Coorong. Some rubber-like substance had been discovered nearby and it was thought that this came from an underground reserve. Turns out that the rubber-type substance came from algae not oil! They did find oil under Australia…just not around here.

The wind along this part of the coast has made a rather good job of sculpting many of the trees at the side of the road…

…and about halfway through our ride we got a full taste of that wind as it hit us in the face and made for really tough cycling into Kingston SE (the SE means South East and is used to delineate from another Kingston in SA). The first thing we saw on our way into town was this enormous lobster…

….not dissimilar to the giant galah we saw in Kimba a couple of weeks ago and also a bit of a tourist gimmick. Looks sunny in the picture, but unfortunately it didn’t last!

We’d thought that Kingston SE was going to be like Ceduna, but there’s much less here.  But we set up camp, took a brief walk around town and to the jetty (note black clouds in the background)…

…cooked a barby and went to bed as the rain came on!

Tuesday 10 December 19 – Kingston SE to Robe – 46km

A couple of hours before we were due to get up I woke up to the sound of rain on the tent and thought ‘oh good”! By the time we had to get up, however, thankfully it had stopped and although the ground was wet, at least we stayed dry. The wet weather did bring out hundreds of very small snails, which had attached themselves to our panniers and tent and we spent some time getting rid of them as we packed up.

We only had a short hop to Robe, just down the coast, so although we were in no real rush to get going we were still on the road before 7am. The first half an hour took us along the foreshore and we got a chance to look at some of the nice houses along the front – mainly holiday houses we think as most of them were shut up.  The rest of the ride was reasonably uneventful until we came across these camels lazily grazing in a field…

Supposedly there are lots of ‘wild’ camels in Australia but we haven’t seen any, so these will have to do. Apparently in the early 1800s, when a lot of Australia was still unexplored, camels were brought in from Afghanistan because horses and humans couldn’t manage well in the inhospitable environment. Camels and the cameleers proved to be invaluable and others were brought in from other countries –  some arriving on boats into Port Augusta where we were recently. These are the first live ones we’ve seen although Martina saw a dead one while crossing the Nullarbor.  There are apparently many running wild in the desert.

Our initial impressions of Robe were that it was a really nice little town and we’d been told that the coast here was very spectacular. So we made the immediate decision to trade one night in a cabin for two nights under canvas at a campsite literally right on the beach.  And here’s the view we had from our tent on our first evening…

Having set the tent up and settled in we did a quick supermarket run and then went for a short walk along the beach to the east…

We cooked up another barby (when in Australia and all that!) and had an early night.

Wednesday 11 December 19 – Robe 0km

Turned out that our decision to stay an extra night was right! We both slept pretty well and even managed a lie-in in our tent. We had an enormous breakfast and went for a walk along the coast and weren’t disappointed. First up was the harbour and jetty…

Then there was a view point with panoramic views…

Some more amazing coastal views…

We had a picnic on the beach sitting by rock pools right along the sea…

…and were back in the campsite for an afternoon snooze, an enormous barby and another early night. It also appears that we were here at a good time of year as all the coastal wild flowers were in full bloom …

All-in-all a perfect day off – and Robe was a great place to spend it.

Thursday 12 December 19 – Robe to Millicent – 88km

The roads out of Robe were lined with thick trees which meant that we didn’t see very much, but saying that, the cycling was still quite pleasant. We made pretty good time and got to Beachport by late morning where we decided to stop for a coffee. In our planning, Beachport was a potential stopping point for us instead of Robe, and although it looked quite nice we were glad we had chosen Robe. The area by the jetty however, where we had our drinks, was particularly nice…

Between Beachport and Millicent we stopped for a sandwich at a rest area that had an interesting information board to read while we ate.  This particular area of South Australia has the largest rainfall in the state but as it has no rivers the water can’t drain away naturally and therefore creates large areas of wetlands. The Aboriginals used to canoe between the natural lakes that developed but Europeans came along and drained the area for agricultural, destroying the routes between the lakes. A bit of shame that man came along and messed with the natural ecosystem.

We made it to Millicent by 2:30pm where we contacted Peter, a WarmShowers host who’d agreed to take us in. He met us at his house, and very trustingly let us in, showed us around and then went back to work – while we spent the afternoon doing some chores – washing, shopping, snoozing, etc.

We had a super evening with Peter.  He cooked dinner and we supplied the beer – a great combination! Peter is the local town planner and an anthropologist who has travelled in Russia and Kazakhstan, among other places. Really interesting conversations and never a quiet moment as he was very easy to chat to.  Before we’d knew if it was 10:30pm (way past our normal bed time!), which goes to show how much talking was done!


Friday 13 December 19 – Millicent to Nelson – 96km

The first 50km from Millicent to Mount Gambier was along a main road with a narrow shoulder, which because there was moderate traffic made for some uncomfortable riding at times. We made it to Mount Gambier by 10:30am and decided to have a coffee, during which we had a long talk with a local vicar who was interested in our travels. Turns out that his daughter and son-in-law owned the coffee shop we were sat outside and he kindly treated us a drink.

On our way out of Mount Gambier we visited a huge sinkhole which has been converted into a sort of subterranean garden…

It was really lush and beautifully planted – but what was really amazing to us were the natural bee hives attached to the craggy walls.

We also visited Mount Gambier’s main attraction – Blue Lake. Apparently we caught it at exactly the right time as it’s only blue for about a month each year…

….although the picture really doesn’t do the aqua blueness of it justice.  But it is very pretty and a great place to have lunch. The lake is formed inside an extinct volcano, which was plugged with debris and then filled with water. It last erupted 4,800 years ago, which in geological terms is about 5 minutes ago!

The final 35km were along quieter roads with some rolling hills, which took us back to the coast and to the small village of Nelson. Just outside of the village we crossed into the state of Victoria and hopped yet another 30 minutes forwards in time. There are in fact 4 time zones in Australia, it’s just that the very small one at Cocklebiddy, on the Nullarbor, is only used by a handful of people – very confusing!

I was happy to enter the state of Victoria, honest.  It’s just that I had a mouthful of chocolate when the picture was taken!


  1. Comment by Fleur

    Fleur Reply 18 December 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Loving the posts from Australia. What amazing hosts you have had all over the place, heartwarming to read.
    Merry Christmas! Love, Fleur, James and Aurelie.

    • Comment by Martina

      Martina Reply 20 December 2019 at 9:01 am

      Thanks Fleur. Yes Australia is definitely top of the tree for hospitality. We are completely blown away by how generous and welcoming they have all been since the day we arrived. New Zealand will have a lot to live up to! Merry Christmas to you all in London. Xx

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