Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny with the slightest hint of a breeze to send us on our way, along with ‘BUM’, the new ‘unisex’ deodorant the Captain and Stoker would be sharing, courtesy of the brother-in-law.
We rode up Sydney Rd to get out of the city, and were quite pleased it was a Sunday morning and not peak hour! There was plenty of room on the shoulder on the multi-lane road, so cars could easily move over if necessary.
When we turned left onto Somerton Rd, we were greeted by some lovely hills to remind us of home. Our chain came off halfway up a particularly steep hill, but there were no latex gloves necessary. A piece of scrap paper from the side of the road, a couple of deft manoeuvres by the Captain and we were on our way.
Our goal for the day was Lancefield, roughly 70kms from Coburg, where we had been staying. We reached there about lunchtime and pulled into the Visitor’s Centre, which was attached to an accommodation place, to have a look. A lady standing outside smoking waved at us as we pulled up. Here’s an idea of how the conversation went…
Lady: Can I help you?
Us: We just wanted to look in the visitor’s centre.
Lady: What do you want to know? I’m the person who works in the Visitor’s Centre.
Us: Well…where the caravan park is? And…where the supermarket is? And…just generally look at what’s around in Lancefield really.
Lady: Caravan park is that way, supermarket is that way. There’s not much to look at.
The conversation continued in that fashion for a short while. The lady told us the only cafe she would eat at in town (obviously the town was full of cafes that were no good), had good food but the coffee was too strong. There was also not much to do in Lancefield, so it was obviously not such a good town to have stopped at! And this from the lady at the Visitor’s Centre whose job is to promote the area! We rode away chuckling, but ready to try that ‘strong’ coffee.
After our coffee and a bit of lunch we felt inspired to keep riding (it must have been the days we spent hanging around in Melbourne). The caravan park at Lancefield didn’t look that exciting but we were excited by the idea of ‘stealth camping’. This would be crossing new frontiers, camping somewhere that is not an official camp spot, and that you’re technically not allowed to camp.
The Stoker wanted to go to Hanging Rock, about 20km away, so we decided to buy food for dinner and head off, hopefully coming across a suitable spot for our first night of ‘stealthing’ along the way.
If you’re ever in Lancefield, it is well worth going to the fruit and vegetable store there. We didn’t notice what it was called, but there is only one in town. They sell local produce and the prices were astoundingly cheap for good, fresh vegetables, even better than supermarket prices. We bought our dinner supply of one carrot, onion, snow peas and broccoli and set off for the afternoon.
The road was narrow, but quiet, and we had a nice time pedalling through beautiful scenery, following the signs to Hanging Rock. It was so remote out here, and from the tops of hills we had great views of the surrounding bush and farmland. The final road to Hanging Rock was even narrower, with eucalypts hanging over the edge of the road and the occasional wallaby scarpering off into the scrub. We turned into the entrance gate of Hanging Rock and…
…people! There were people! Hundreds of them! Kids and adults, picnicking, playing cricket or footy, laying around, walking up and down near the kiosk. It was like we had been transported back to Melbourne! This is obviously a very popular day trip destination from Melbourne!
We did the walk to the summit of Hanging Rock, about 1800m, wearing our touring shoes that are suitable to walk in but not so good on rocks. The path was quite steep at times and we had to walk on our heels so our cleats didn’t slip on the rocks or bitumen path.
By the time we left there, it was about 4pm, just enough time to get to Woodend and find somewhere to camp for the night.
Woodend was lovely and have a shady, green area near the river that looked good. Being conscientious, we thought we would go to the Visitor’s Centre and check out our options.
“No camping allowed in Woodend” said the older, gruff gentleman working that day. Apparently the nearest caravan park is in Macedon, about 12km back towards Melbourne! Not our idea of good touring.
We decided to keep going to Kyneton, which was another 15 or so kms away, and kept our eyes peeled for super stealth spots, none of which grabbed us enough to take the risk and stop (yes, newbies, and yes, nervous).
By the time we reached Kyneton it was after 5pm and the Visitor’s Centre was closed. The town map had a caravan park listed on it so we set off in that direction, only to be mystified by the lack of caravan park signs, the ones you normally see guiding people to the caravan park in town.
Just as we were coasting down a steepish hill heading out of town and beginning to think we had gone too far, there was a terrifically loud explosion and we came to a stop. We had blown two holes in the side wall of the rear tyre. This was great, it was nearly half past five, we didn’t know where we were going to camp, and now the bike needed nearly major repairs.
Where was the bloomin’ caravan park! A fully loaded tandem does not walk well for very long, we had ridden 125.8km (no rounding up :)) and were tired and starving! The Captain asked some curious kids on the street where the caravan park was. We looked hopefully where they were pointing to an empty park.
“But it shut down”.
So, stealth camping it was after all. We weren’t going any further, and this place used to be a caravan park after all! It wasn’t that stealthy though, judging by the number of people who drove through the park to walk their dog, have a smoke, ‘talk’ to their girlfriend or boyfriends. There was a toilet block but no water anywhere. Thankfully we had some left in our bottles.
The Stoker tried to look casual while cooking dinner and the Captain put on the spare tyre without getting dirty, then, when we couldn’t keep our eyes open any more (about 7.30) we put our tent up behind a clump of bushes and went to bed.
Apart from the playful yelling of children, barking of dogs, revving of cars, shunting of trains and squawking of cockatoos and galahs, we had a fairly good night’s sleep and woke around 5.30am to a freezing cold morning.
After breakfast at the local bakery it was onward ho! to Bendigo…and a caravan park with a hot shower!