Last evening the possums were out and about. This morning, it was the kangaroos. They hopped through the camping ground in hoards. And then there was the echidna waddling across the road. An animal rich day cycling through the undulating landscape south of Canberra.

Kangaroos at the camping ground

Kangaroos at the camping ground

The echidna was sweet. It tried to hide from me on the side of the road by scrunching itself into a tight ball. Slowly it got less nervous and started poking around with its snout.

Echidna

Echidna

Lake Jindabyne was beautiful in the warm sun, and there were many views of it to be had as the road rose and fell around its edge.

Lake Jindabyne

Lake Jindabyne

Tomorrow Canberra, and the end of the first (longest) leg of the trip to Sydney.


“A car can drive up,” he said, pointing up into the heavens from the Thredbo skiing village.
“If a car can do it, so can I!”
Well, I made it to the top of Koscuiszko but almost passed out from exhaustion on the way. Sitting in the camping ground down the other side, with food in my stomach, I am really content and happy.

The summit of Koscuiszko

The summit of Koscuiszko

Thredbo was a-buzz with a mountain biking event. People were scooting through the village on their mountain bikes, and discussing the different routes over dinner.

The weather forecast for Thredbo yesterday was for sun in the morning, and pouring rain in the afternoon and evening. Given that time is moving on, I decided to try to scale Koscuiszko in the morning by catching the chairlift to the top, and then walking. Well, I paid my $35, and the chairlift didn’t run. Winds of 120km/h saw to that, and so I had a complete rest day in Thredbo. The rest day included 4 hours sleep in the afternoon and 12 hours sleep at night. All ready for the ascent today.

Today’s forecast was for rain/snow in the morning (maybe) and then good weather, so I slept in, had a big breakfast, and started once the rain had stopped.

The road up the mountain was extremely steep – climbing 400m in 2 km. For the first time ever, I had to take the bike and luggage up separately which made for slow progress. I passed the mountain bikers regularly who crossed my road while doing ‘The Flow’. I staggered up to the top of one of the chairlifts to cheers from the mountain bikers.

Mountain bikers

Mountain bikers

Part of the way up the mountain

Part of the way up the mountain

Then, just in the final stretch up to the top of the highest chairlift, the mountain bikers were racing on my road, and not just crossing it. They were hurtling down at the rate of knots, and so I didn’t dare to push the bike up on the same road. Plan B was the walking path up steep stairs.

Foot path

Foot path

I got to the top, expecting an easy cycle on the footpath that goes to Mt Koscuiszko. The description of this path was ‘not steep, and a moderately easy walk.’ Well, I pushed the bike up multiple stairs, and through steep snow patches.

The top of the chairlift

The top of the chairlift

Snow over the path

Snow over the path

The last 1.5km was through some particularly steep snow.

Steep snow

Steep snow

The views from the top were spectacular. I felt like I was on the roof of the world.

View from the top

View from the top

The way down was not all down either. I read somewhere in the Internet that it is all down from Charlotte’s Pass. Well, it isn’t. I really hadn’t stopped much for food as I wanted to get down from the heights before nightfall. I was really running on empty as I descended into a valley, only to climb out the other side – over and over.

Hut

Hut

Road down to Charlotte's Pass

Road down to Charlotte’s Pass

The pristine road down

The pristine road down

I passed a camping ground as it was starting to get dark, and pulled in to call it a day. Today was fabulous – the best days are with an element of struggle. Today certainly fit that description.


Today was always going to be mammoth – 3000m total climbing over 100km. Heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow set me this challenge – cycle to Thredbo in one day. It was a stunning day cycling in the glorious sun, steep up and steep down, under the imposing presence of Mt Koscuiszko.

Arrival in Thredbo

Arrival in Thredbo

I left just after dawn through the low hanging fog, and over a few small passes with views over the Murray River – a much smaller stream up at these heights.

Early morning mist

Early morning mist

View over the Murray

View over the Murray

A huge chicken schnitzel and 2 litres of milk later, I left Khancoban – the last piece of civilization before Thredbo. The road rose to 1000m before descending again (with lots of uphill bits too) to around 300m where it had started. At the top was the most spectacular view. Opposite, on the other side of the valley, was the ridge of the highest mountains in Australia. The sky was blue, and the air was oh, so clear. These mountains are spiritual for the aboriginal people, and I could feel why.

View of the highest mountains in Australia

View of the highest mountains in Australia

A few climbs and descents later (returning to almost the same altitude I started the day), the slog up to Thredbo began in earnest. And it was steep. I really didn’t think I would make it, with plan B camping in the last marked spot half-way up the last climb. The first 10km were the steepest, and as I continued crawling up the mountain, I realised I was going to make it. As I got higher, I entered into a spooky forest with just white, leafless trunks. Everywhere. They covered the sides of the mountains all the way to the top.

White trees

White trees

At the highest point of today

At the highest point of today

At the highest point of today

At the highest point of today

In Thredbo it was time for a dormitory room (all to myself), and a big dinner. I have deserved it. ☺


There are mountains. There are lakes. There are climbs and descents. And there are lovely mountain landscapes. Well, rolling hill landscapes. I put in 9 hours today to put me one long day from the skiing village of Thredbo.

My lovely camping spot

My lovely camping spot

I started with following the Hume Dam – firstly on the road until I realised that the bike track in view of the road was actually flatter (being an old train line). The climbing started in earnest after about 65km, and from then it’s been up and down.

The Hume Dam

The Hume Dam

The flatter bike path

The flatter bike path

The bike path fizzled out

The bike path fizzled out

Today I passed 1000km from Adelaide. It sounds like nothing after my 41000km from Eindhoven – still, that trip also started at zero.

1000km

1000km

The rolling hills view

The rolling hills view

It is 100km to Thredbo and over 3000m of climbing (!). Tomorrow will be fantastic weather, and then the heavy rain will set in. I really want to make it to Thredbo to weather out the storm. I’ll give it my best shot.


Today I saw some small hills. They were in front of me and around me in the last kilometres before Albury. Music pumping in my ears, I realised I am, once again, on the road. I laugh. In front of me are the Snowy Mountains!

Lunch on the Murray

Lunch on the Murray

It’s taken 6 days to have those cobwebs brushed away. This is not a weekend expedition – I’m on the road. Tomorrow I’ll be climbing into the Snowy Mountains – Australia’s highest mountains, to near the source of the Murray – Australia’s longest river.

It is the music. This music always does it to me. Infected Mushrooms – I feel the blood pumping through my body, and I feel alive. Today the music made me laugh because I can see the end of the plains. It made me laugh to think of the cooler weather in the mountains, and the beautiful alpine landscape.

But, today was a day of the river. I followed the Murray River, alternating between roads in Victoria and in New South Wales. I swam in the river in the morning, and at lunch, and remained in its green belt – the green belt of life the water gives to the land.


‘You’re from Adelaide. Lot of left-wing greeny tree-huggers there. Wanting water from the Murray River for “the environment”. Lot of bullshit. And it’s a good thing that Donald Trump is in. He’ll shake things up.’
I was amazed. The first Australian Trump supporter. I kept my mouth shut and laid low.

Murray River

Murray River

And then there was the guy that stopped in the middle of nowhere, got out, and gave me stuff – whatever he had was mine to take. A cake. Water. Chips. He was wearing a cycle t-shirt. He worked at the Murray River environment management. Cool guy. He wasn’t a Trump supporter.

Today was hot as hell. I left late and hung out in supermarkets – in Deniliquin and in Finley. It’s cool there. In Finley they even had a ‘cool area’ for the beer – and for hot cyclists. They didn’t sell individual ice-creams, so I was forced to buy 4 Golden Gaytimes. Such suffering.

Four Golden Gaytimes

Four Golden Gaytimes

It was hot, but was threatening to rain for a lot of the day. It didn’t rain more than a sprinkle, but it was windy and dusty. I thought it was time to return to more civilisation – rather than great distances across flat, dry plains – so I headed south to the mighty Murray River. There are camping spots all along the river, and the idea of going for a swim was very appealing. So, here I am, camping on the banks of Australia’s longest river, and on the border between Victoria and New South Wales. My tent is situated on the sand just next to the river, with all eucalyptus trees around. The cockatoos screech and fly overhead, and the cicadas purr in the background. It is a beautiful place.

Murray River

Murray River


It’s warming up – the weather and the people. Meetings with farmers – at the start and the end of the day, and a meeting with a Belgian backpacker couple. Drinks were shouted by everyone. The land is getting flatter, and bleeker. Today was a cycle through a plain with just dry grass as far as the eye can see. Beautiful.

Endless plains

Endless plains

I was escorted with kangaroos this morning, hopping along next to the road, travelling at my speed through the grass. Lots of rotting carcasses were on the road – you can smell them from a long way off – in different states of decay. First the scenery was similar to yesterday – mallee scrub and the odd wheat field. Also, there were some lakes with lots of birds. After lunch at Moulamein the trees stopped, and it was a ride under the stark sun on and on across the plains of dry grass.

Moulamein pub

Moulamein pub

Ready to leave into the heat after lunch, a Belgian couple invited me for a drink. Then, 16km from Deniliquin, at the first sign of life since lunch, I was called in for more drinks by a lovely group of farm workers, and then invited by the new owners for a lovely shower and a free camping spot. So, here I find myself, camping on the lawn behind the Pretty Pine Hotel.

Belgian couple

Belgian couple

Friend at Pretty Pine

Friend at Pretty Pine