Vic Winter tour - The final night on the Goulburn River, Gear Run down, day 6 & 7

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Cycling Tour of the Victorian Winter - Day 6, Echuca to somewhere on the Goulburn River.

 

I had a great sleep last night, and finally, after 30 years of marriage, we had worked out if the option was there, to stay in a twin room and wake up well-rested.

We put the ABC news on at 6:00 am, hoping to determine what might happen today or tomorrow regarding the Victorian ‘lockdown’ with the very recent COVID outbreak.

Reports were that it was imminent, but the Premier would announce the exact details later today. 
With that in mind, we had to decide what was best to do.

It was currently Thursday, and we planned to arrive home on Sunday; we knew that, at the very least, this new lockdown would be occurring on Friday, so the decision was easy.

Let’s stay the night on the Goulburn River and then catch the train home from Shepparton the next day. 

We went for a walk to have some coffee and breakfast, packed up our gear and checked out at 10:00 am. 
Then it was off to the supermarket to get supplies for our final night.
Leaving Echuca around 11:00 am.

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It was now my turn to get a puncture this morning. With all the rain that we had yesterday, no doubt it was just random debris on the bike lane. 
It did not seal well, so the well versed “plug ‘er up” Normie boy sorted my front tyre out, and we were off again.

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Before long, we were in the rural backblocks that skirt the Murray River, feeling the sunshine and a slight tail crosswind. 

For the first time in 6 days, we didn’t have a headwind.  

Perhaps it was the lack of wind, or the sunshine on our backs, or the knowledge that this was our final night, but today we were both feeling pretty awesome and very excited at finding our slice of paradise to spend the night.

We spoke about the route, how far we would travel, and the conditions after the rain. So far, so good on well-built dirt roads, but we both knew that the tracks that wove in and out of the Goulburn river would most likely be kilometres of wheel clogging mud.

Norm had done a lot of research on the Yellowbelly Track, written about by rider Nick Hansen. 
It runs from Echuca to Tallarook using the Goulburn River as its guide.  The route has four sections marked to take if the weather is wet. 

It is Winter; it has been raining, lots, so wet slippery muddy tracks, well, it was a given really, but Norm was keen to see for his own eyes how bad it just might be.

Initially, the gravel roads lulled us into a false sense of what was to come; even the initial sections of the river track were very rideable, albeit slippery, with a few puddles to negotiate.  Then, out of nowhere, sections would turn to a muddy mess, not for long, but I was cautious not to fall in it with a loaded bike.

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It was slow going at ten kmph in these conditions, but we were making progress.  
We were having fun.

Kangaroos were crossing our path, the sound of cockatoos screeching as we would disrupt their space. 
There was no one else around.  

As we were having success, we pushed on. 
Loaded rear panniers created a fishtail effect in these slippery conditions, and it was a mix of speed, commitment, and not changing your line that got us through the mud and puddles. 

Then out of nowhere, a puddle reached out and snatched my front wheel away from me, and I was on the ground, just like that.  

It hurt a little, and I welcomed the rest and just laid there on the side of the track, resting.  I had a little laugh but then said to Norm, maybe we should just ride the farm roads as it was just so slow going in the mud.

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I would love to come back another time in drier conditions to ride the whole trail to where we had planned to, which was Seymour.  The links are at the end of this blog post.

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We were 60 km in as we found ourselves at the Lower Goulburn National Park and started to see the small offshoots of tracks that led to riverside camp spots.  Now it was the task of making sure we picked the right one; we had time, the afternoon light was generous, it was only 3:00 pm.

Our first pick was a winner, a north-facing aspect on a bend of the river with plenty of privacy, views of the river and previous firepits.  

I kept saying to Norm, wow, this is beautiful, this is why I wanted to do this ride, to come here. 
It was just as I had imagined it would be. Often when you are free camping to get from A to B, it’s just a spot to rest your head so you can ride again tomorrow.  But today was the kind of place I could have spent a couple of nights, stoking the fire, collecting firewood, reading a book, having an afternoon snooze and winding down from the hurry of life.

It probably also helped that it wasn’t raining, but it was a magical spot; I reckon it would have been beautiful even in the rain.

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With one bar of 4G coverage on our phones and halfway through setting up, we heard the Premier’s announcement that Victoria would go into lockdown at 11:59 pm tonight. 
It was around 4 pm when we found out.


I guess this was our last night after all. Tomorrow we were catching a train from Shepparton, and Norm quickly booked our tickets on VLine.

How perfect. At least now we knew the next phase of our plan and could enjoy our final night.

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The cockatoos were so noisy this afternoon, and it was music to my ears.

We set up the tent, offloaded our gear, got changed, and I started to collect kindling and then larger branches for our fire. 

There is a beautiful feeling of being self-sufficient, providing warmth and also entertainment. 
Having the fire tonight was the highlight of our entire holiday. 

Since coming home, we have decided we are getting ultralightweight camp chairs to enjoy it even more so.

As the light disappeared, the acoustics of our riverside location amplified.

The fire crackled, the cockies screeched, and our voices became softer as we spoke. 


I could have cried; I was so happy. I didn’t want this night to end, so I made an effort to cache this memory for what it was and being grateful for this spot and my passage along the river.  Norm and I both knew how special it was and used this land with great respect for its past.

Not every day can be perfect; yesterday had been a tough one. 
Yet here we were living our best life on the banks of the Goulburn, on our final night. 

What a way to see out six days of riding bikes; it will be hard to replicate this ending, that's for sure.

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It had rained for a couple of hours overnight, but this morning revealed a beautiful sunrise, clear skies and a tailwind to Shepparton, and we had all the time in the world to get to our train.

From camp to Shepparton, just a short 30km ride before spending the rest of the afternoon on the train back home to Geelong. 
We were in lockdown now, a perfect time to wash the bikes, clean and sort all our gear out and start planning for the next trip.

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As I write this final instalment today, we Victorians have exited this lockdown directive, time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors again.

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STATS:

  • Echuca to Goulburn River camp spot - 62km, 3hr 30 min, 110mt vert, 17.5kmph
  • Goulburn river to Shepparton - 30km, 1hr 40 min, 81 mt vert, 17.6 kmph
  • Sleep 9/10
  • Food 9/10

EXPENSES:

  • Coles shopping Echuca $65
  • Brekky Echuca $45
  • Vline tickets 1st class $70
  • Bakery Shepparton $25
  • Food for train $20
  • TOTAL $225

HIGHLIGHTS: 

  • Camping on the Goulburn River for our final night
  • Lighting a fire
  • Getting home and seeing our cats and dog

THINGS WE WOULD CHANGE:

  • No changes at all; it was the perfect way to spend our final night.
  • Go back and do the entire Yellowbelly route in drier conditions and more camping on the river.

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My Strava link to both rides: 

https://www.strava.com/activities/5629815178
https://www.strava.com/activities/5634463537

 

Norm’s YouTube video of the day:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YINCm5_BcsE&t=4s

 

Jess’s YouTube video diary of the trip:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxZLl6MuPoA

 

Yellowbelly Trail blog and info:

https://nixtrader.wordpress.com/the-yellowbelly-track/

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Gear Run Down:

Daily Cycling Kit   Total weight kg
Marmot Lightweight Fleece with 3/4 zip    
Cederberg Long sleeve top    
Rapha Randonee shorts    
Rapha Cycling shorts    
The North Face etip gloves    
Shimano Gravel shoes    
POC helmet    
Adidas cycling glasses    
Endura wool socks    
free buff from hells500    
Total weight    2kg 
     
Clothes - gear spares    
Salewa Micro Primaloft puffy jkt    
polypropolene thermals    
spare rapha randonee shorts    
2 spare riding tops    
macpac heavy fleece gloves    
bathers    
undies x 2    
fleece buff    
leg warmers    
Liv rainjacket with hood for helmets    
2 spare socks    
spare face mask (covid)    
bootie covers    
light weight shoes    
wipes    
sunscreen    
insect repellant    
brush    
vicks nose clearing thing    
spare masks    
ear plugs    
toiletries and bag    
toothpaste-toothbrush    
moisturisers    
lipbalm    
total weight    2.7 kg
     
The rest of the gear    
a few spare food items    
mug    
electrolyte tabs    
gas cannister    
head lamp    
iphone buds    
power banks x 2    
cords and recharge station for power point    
front and back lights    
patch kit for mattresses    
volie straps x 4 spare    
bike repair kit to compliment Norm's    
first aid kit    
sea to summit dry day pack    
sewing kit    
microfibre towels    
dry bags x 6 use to store gear in    
Total weight    3 kg
     
bags etc    
Ortlieb pannier bags   1.9
handlebar sling   0.18
roll bag for front with sleeping gear   1.3
dry bag with sleeping bag in it   1.2
naglene bottles with water 1lt x 2   2
700ml bidons x 2 with water   1.5
6 x voile straps used on gear   0.15
2 x Bike bag dude chaff bags for handebars   0.15
     
total weight    8.38kg
     
Bike with Racks and front racks    12kg 
     
Grand total Weight kg of everything    28.08 kg

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Expenses - holiday cost

Day 1 Geelong to Colac to Meredith Park totals
  Woolworths shopping 40
  Netball food 15
  Free camping 0
    55
     
Day 2 MP to Skipton  
  IGA restock on arrival 70
  Free camping 0
    70
     
Day 3 Skipton Roadhouse brekky 20
  Linton Potato cakes 10
  Ballarat Hungry Jacks 18
  Motel Accom in Daylesford 125
  Coles restock 60
  Takeaway chinese food 40
  laundromat 10
    283
     
Day 4 Breakfast in Daylesford 50
  Free camp night in Bendigo 30
    80
     
Day 5 Breakfast in Bendigo 50
  Lunch at Elmore 25
  Motel in Echuca 125
  Indian for dinner 50
  Car wash for dirty bikes 10
  Laundomat for dirty clothes 10
    270
     
Day 6 Breakfast in Echuca 50
  Coles restock 60
  Free camp on river 0
    110
     
Day 7 Brekky on river 0
  Bakery at Shepparton 30
  Car wash for bikes 10
  Train fares 70
  Myki fares 15
  snacks for train 20
    145
     
  Grand total for holiday 1013

 

Days - Distance - Data

  Locations distance km total vert mt total distance km total ride time minutes notes
day 1 Armstrong ck          
  Colac          
  Meredith Park 108 985 108 372 Free camp
             
day 2 Meredith Park         Ran out of food and water
  Skipton 92 366 200 315 Free camp
             
day 3 Skipton         lots of resupply options on rail trail
  Ballarat         Hungry jacks in B'rat
  Daylesford 107 1027 307 403 Hilly all the way to D'ford
             
day 4 Daylesford         Porcupine road - 5 star!!
  Bendigo 86 1245 393 300 chose not to resupply and go into towns
             
day 5 Bendigo         stayed at Roz's
  Echuca 98 113 491 321 Wet and cold - good choice
            muddy road along railway line
day 6 Echuca          
  Goulburn River 62 110 553 210 wow....5 star camp site
            take more water and more food, stay longer
day 7 Goulburn River          
  Shepparton 30        
  Home 5 80 588 120  
      3926 588 2041  

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