Saturday 21 December. Anglesea to Tootgarook. 70km.
After yesterday’s extreme temperatures we had some rain and thunder overnight and woke to grey skies and cool temperatures. I don’t think we could ever get used to the volatile weather changes here!
Although we didn’t have a lot of kilometres to cover we had a ferry ride to cross Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne sits on the northern side of the bay) so we had our usual early start…after Nigel had fixed a puncture on the back wheel of his bike which appeared overnight. We had a bit of a climb out of Anglesea but after that we were on a bike path that took us along the coast through some sand dunes. At first we couldn’t see much of the coastline but that soon changed and we had a spectacular ride almost along the sea front between Torquay and Barwon Heads….
….with a nice tail wind to blow us along nicely.
After a short snack break we continued our journey by joining the Bellarine Rail Trail – a dedicated bike trail that follows the route of the historical Geelong-Queenscliff Railway Line. Initially along the beach front…
…and then nice and flat along a lovely tree-lined path overlooking Swan Bay that took us right to the ferry port at Queenscliffe. We didn’t have long to wait to board the midday ferry and it was a windy 40-minute crossing to Sorrento – a very posh Melbourne suburb – on a very full ferry.
Lots of fantastic houses overlooking the bay with boats moored below along the way.
Disembarking the ferry was easy and because we weren’t taking the highway into Melbourne most of the ferry traffic went one way and we went another….there was a bike path along the coast as far as Tootgarook, where we had a camping spot booked along the beach front. Although it had a great view it was quite exposed to the public using the pathway to the beach nearby as well as and the main road, so not the best campsite we have ever been to. But Nigel set up the tent while I ventured out for some munchie food to enjoy for our last camping night in Australia.
After that there was nothing to do except chill out and watch the tide come in. What a chore a few days before Christmas!
Sunday 22 December. Tootgarook to Elwood, Melbourne. 74 km.
It was very chilly when we headed off early for our last riding day in Australia. I was so cold I couldn’t feel my hands and feet properly until a big hill climb into Mount Martha, which was a good hour into our journey. We were both also feeling a bit low because it was our last riding day in Australia but with the fantastic scenery en route it was hard to feel down for long – and a pit stop for a second breakfast improved our mood even more! There were loads of cyclists on the road and as we got nearer Melbourne the friendlier they became. One of them told us that we had picked the right route into Melbourne and the right day to cycle it as on Sundays in some areas parking isn’t allowed along the roadside so as to encourage cycling.
We’d expected to be right along the coast but the road and the bike paths were always one street back, but it was still pleasant cycling. As we cruised through places like Chelsea and Brighton it felt like we were back in the U.K. and we had a lovely tailwind the whole way. We stopped for lunch at Red Bluff Cliffs ….
…and then it was the final push into Melbourne, which we could see in the near distance. (The “no bikes”symbol in the photo was only for the left hand lane where the photo was taken….the right hand lane where we cycled was for bikes!).
And it definitely goes down as the easiest and nicest ride into a major city that we have had on this trip,
As well as Melbourne being the end of our cycling in Australia, along the route into the city we reached another huge milestone….. the 32,187km mark. And the significance of that? It just happens to equate to exactly 20,000 miles since we left London in April 2018!
For our 2-week stay over Christmas and the New Year we will be staying with an old school friend of mine, Cara. We haven’t seen each other in about 30 years but since starting out on this trip we had been in touch on Facebook, and when she knew we were coming to Melbourne she offered us a place to stay. We arrived at her house around 1pm with me feeling slightly nervous about how it would be to meet up after such a long time. But I needn’t have worried – a big Buncrana welcome from Cara, her partner Yael and Scotty dog Kilter and we were soon settled in. This will be our longest period in one place since we set out in April 2018 so we could actually unpack clothes and feel like we were starting a holiday! We decided to go for a wander around the local area, Elwood, to see what it had to offer and walking down the street the most bizarre thing happened. A girl in a parked car at the side of the street rolled down her window and said “Martina!”. I couldn’t place the face so assumed a huge coincidence of another Martina walking right behind me so I turned around to have a look. When there was no one else there I turned back and she was still looking at me, smiling and said -“Martina the cyclist” so it had to be me! It was Sheena, a lovely girl who we met many months ago while on a walking tour of Bratislava with her husband Tom. Both from London, they spend six months of the year in the U.K. or travelling and then six months in Melbourne. When we met in Bratislava we went for lunch together after the walking tour and have sporadically stayed in touch since. We had planned to get in touch once we got settled in Melbourne, but not for a minute would we expect that in a city of nearly 5 million people we would just bump into them – and they only live a 5-minute walk from Cara and Yael’s place. What are the chances??! After a quick catch- up we swapped numbers and made plans to meet up properly again soon.
So here we are…Christmas in Melbourne and the eating frenzy has already begun….
And to give a flavour of Christmas in Australia, the Aussies obviously take a humorous approach to Christmas. And instead of the usual Santa decorations we came across this selection on our recent travels.
Cycling Santa (note rather bizarre, multi-wheeled bike!)….
Cool dude Santa….
And our particular favourite, a Ned Kelly hold-up….
Merry Christmas everyone!