Warragul to Cowes

28&29/3/16. The weather here has definitely turned! We have been wearing at least one more layer when cycling and, in the evenings, socks and trainers have appeared!!

After church and a spot (not spit, as per the typo in the previous post!) of playing with bikes on Sunday morning, we met up for caffeine/chocolate fixes before having a mooch around the town of Warragul (which has a number of impressive old buildings) and then having a “Lazy Sunday afternoon” (in the words of the song).

We were anticipating another strenuous day on Monday heading towards the inlet of Western Port (where 300+ species of bird can be seen!) and the town of Grantville where we had booked a night’s stay. As it transpired, it was nowhere near as tough as we were expecting as (a) the hills were shorter and less steep and (b) it was 60 km rather than 70+. In fact, it was a most enjoyable day! The countryside was “rolling”, rather than “hilly”, and, while there were many farms, it was also “well preserved” countryside – it was a pleasant mix between “cultivated” and “bush”. (Apologies for the multitude of inverted commas in that last sentence – it is just the author displaying his sensitivity about his inadequate literacy background!)

On the way we passed through a town called….

Nice name!
Nice name!

…which brought a smutty, schoolboy snigger from Stephen. It was actually a nice place with a few old buildings such as
Poowong.
Poowong.

and
Poowong.
Poowong.

Grantville itself was nothing special, being just a cluster of houses and shops and cafes on the Bass Highway from Melbourne as far as we could see – but we just dropped down to the coast from the hills above for a night’s stop before heading back up the next morning. In addition, our limited experience of the place may have been coloured by a campsite with poorer facilities but a higher price than the one in Warragul, the previous night.

The next morning, the Bass Highway looked singularly unappealing for bikes so we headed back the way we had come, but only for a short while. Soon we reached a road that (broadly) followed the track of a former railway. It was a lovely route along quiet country roads (quite a novelty compared with our general experiences in the southern hemisphere which have been either designated cycle routes or main roads with (variable) shoulders).

At Woolamai we joined another rail trail (the Bass Coast Trail) with signs that warned of snakes and birds attacking users of the trail. Thankfully, we experienced neither. Victoria appears to have far more of these rail trails than other states and they are for the most part, great – except when you have to clamber over storm debris! We followed this one for about 5 km, as far as Anderson, where we turned off towards Phillip Island.

Initially we were on quite a busy road (the only one leading to the island, so understandable for a popular holiday spot close to a major city) but there was a reasonable hard shoulder which kept us away from the traffic. However, we were soon able to join a brand new section of cycle track that is being constructed to link the rail trail at Anderson to the main bike path on the island itself. While this was very welcome, the steep gradients made it clear that this was not following an old railway.

Just before the bridge to the island was a little town called San Remo where Stephen posed for a photo next to the road sign proudly displaying his cycling club jersey from Bellinzago, a town near Milan. (There is a major annual cycle race from Milan to San Remo – the Italian one!)

Once on the island, we headed for the main town of Cowes which is, not surprisingly, linked with the Isle of Wight town of the same name. The similarities are really quite marked (and almost certainly not coincidental) – both islands are roughly diamond shaped (the UK one more recognisably so), Cowes is located at the most northerly point in both cases, both have a ferry link to a large city, there is a place called Ventnor on both islands, and both islands have a scenic attraction at their westernmost point with a silly name (The Needles in the UK, the Nobbies in Oz)!

We understand that the surfing is better on the southern hemisphere version, though! And it has a motorbike GP circuit.

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