Saturday, 31 May 2014

Update from the farm

Quick update; Really enjoying my week of, working on a citrus farm. I've learnt a lot and the people I'm staying with are lovely.

Did an interview with the regional paper a couple of days ago and doing an interview with ABC radio on Monday morning. Great publicity for the charities!

The plan is to stay here until Tuesday and then head on east. If all goes to plan, I'll be in Sydney by the 18th of June. Then spend a month going up to Brisbane.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Watervale to Cadell - 127 km

After having spent two lovely days in Watervale, experiencing great wine and meeting some great people, it was time to head on. I followed the Riesling Trail down to Auburn, before going back onto the road. Such a great bike trail!
So back on the road I had a few hills between Auburn and Eudanda, but still LOADS of slight downhill and flats. Then from Eudanda to Morgan, it was more or less flat. So managed to get a really good average speed.

Tip! If you want see more specific data about my route and the stats (speed, distance, elevation, ascent, descent etc.), click on the Endomondo logo on the right hand side. That will take you to my workout profile. From here you can access all my workouts.)

Morgan = Murray river
The Murray River ( River Murray in South Australia ) is Australia's longest river. At 2,508 kilometres (1,558 mi) in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps,draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest, before turning south for its final 500 kilometres (310 mi) or so into South Australia, reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina. - source Wikipedia

Had to take a ferry across which was so cool. I felt like a little child, waiting by the docks. I say ferry, more like a floating piece of tarmac being pulled along two wires. The crossing was maybe 100 meters long, if that. But still pretty cool.
So from here, I'm more or less following the Murray river down to Albury. So hopefully it will be green, lush and very interesting scenery.
Also saw a lot of colourful flowers today, really nice!

Tonight I'm staying in Cadell, in the local community caravan park. Was only $10, so quite good. Plus the caretakers are a lovely couple in their early 70s. After I'd had my dinner, they invited me over for a second one. So nice of them. Afterwards we talked about everything from Europe and travel to Australias (lack of) green policies and the annual budget.

Tomorrow I've got about 100 km riding to do to Renmark. Here I'll be staying for a week, working on a farm. Also think I timed it good, cause there's a cold front coming in on Tuesday. Woop woop.

A day in Watervale, paradise

Decided to stay an extra night in Watervale, with this amazing couple, because this is a beautiful area. There are over 20 wineries within a 30 km radius. There are so many. So if you can imagine that, driving down through the stunning valley and at every turn-off you see a sign for another winery.

The Riesling Trail runs from just north of Clare down to Auburn. It used to be where the old railway line passed through the valley, but all that is left now are the black and white station signs at each towns. Now it is a very well maintained (fine) gravel road, offering cyclists a break from the cars, trucks and all other sorts vehicles.

Today was also the first day I've noticed the change of seasons. Autumn is coming. The leaves are changing colour and the trees are going bare, ready for winter. It reminds me so much of Europe, this area of South Australia close to the border (of the eastern states). So much trees, greenery, farm and above all, life. Western Australia had some, but the majority of Australia’s population lives on this side of the country and I can understand why, it's beautiful here.

Anyhoodle, like I mentioned, staying with a lovely couple. One of them is a nurse in a local hospital and the other works at one of the wineries. So this morning when I asked if I could stay another night, she gave me a map of the area and suggested a few wineries I should check out.
So off I went on my bike. Had no luggage on, which felt incredibly weird! I was really unstable for the first couple of kilometres (and more so after the first couple of wineries).

So you turn up at the winery and head into the cellar. Here you can learn more about the particular wine they produce and get to taste some of them.
I am by no means an wine expert, far from it, but I do appreciate a good red wine. Because I'm riding at least 120 km tomorrow, I had to limit myself in how much I actually tried. I haven't done enough wine tasting to get into the culture of spitting it out again after having touch you tounge for five seconds. So when you've been to four wineries and tried over seven different types at each place, you do notice the effect when get back on that bike again.

So first stop were two award-winning wineries, the Kilikanoon Winery and the Penna Lane Wines. Both had very friendly staff, that were passionate about their products and were able to provide you with detailed information about the entire process from grape to bottle. Penna Lane Wines also serve lunch on the weekends. We're not talking cheese and crackers here, but lovely and rich flavoured country style meals, made by the winemakers mother. Lovely woman. Makes a killer broccoli and bacon soup with fresh bread. YUM! So after having tasted the wine and also their homemade chutney and jams, I was on my merry way down the road.

Next stop was the Mitchell Winery. Though it was quite an interesting place, seeing as they produce everything there and I could see the entire process, the wines weren't AS GOOD as the others. Later I was told they mainly produce wine for other wineries, which is used to mix in with their own wines.

Last stop for the day was the Skollogalee Wines. Their Shiraz was quite good, fruity and rich on flavour. The Riesling however (which is what this area is known for) was exquisite! I'm not a big white wine drinker and Riesling just brings back bad memories from high school of pre-drinks before going to some godforsaken house party. But this was totally different to the standard German Riesling we're accustomed to in Europe. It had a much more of a citrus flavour and a lot more refreshing (yes I know I'm not using the “proper” wine terminology here, but sue me...).

After this I decided to call it a day and headed up to Clare to do a bit of food shopping, before taking the Riesling (bike) trail back down to Watervale (15km south of Clare).

It was the feeling of pure joy seeing the valley, riding on the trail and passing through vineyard after vineyard. The changing colours, autumn coming in. The sweeping hills with rows of vines neatly lined up next to each other. This to me is like my own personal Disneyland. It's magical, colourful and ever-changing.

And as I was riding down from Swan Hill into Watervale, faced with the spectacular scenery, I could not help but to think of Europe. About how much travelling New Zealand and Australia has made me love Europe even more. It might seem odd to some, but I'm more determined than ever to settle down in a European country after having seen all this. It reminded me of Pembrokeshire and Brecon National park in Wales (UK) and about the fjords on the west coast in Norway. Even the forests close to where I grew up and the variety of rivers.

So to family and friends; relax, I'm coming home to Europe, not settling down in Australia. Though I still don't know which European country, but at least you'll have me within reasonable flying distance.

A huge thanks to Louise and Kerstine for having me. They have a beautiful home and a lovely (and friendly) greyhound. Both do something they're are passionate about and I greatly admire that. I wish them both the very best of luck and hopefully I'll meet them again some time in the future, maybe on a bike trip in Europe. Who knows.

Tomorrow I'm heading off again. Leaving the Clare Valley. I hope to do just over 120 km tomorrow and then do about 110 km the day after into Renmark.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Gladstone to Watervale - 91.7 km

Finally the scenery improves. I'm now entering the wine region of Australia, where some of the best wine in the world is produced. I've travelled past many vineyards, both big and small, all day. It's something about that Mediterranean feeling it gives me. I suppose you can say it soothes my soul. I don't even mind the fact I'm doing some of the biggest hills since Western Australia.

There's also towns every 20-30km, which breaks up your journey a bit more. Also allows you to easily stock up on food and water on a more regular basis. Fun fact: the reason why these small towns are so close, is because that was the length the bulls (who pulled the carts or similar) could travel before they needed to rest. At least that is what I was told by the lady in the tourist office. Quite cool I must admit.

Stopped in Clare for a long three hour lunch break at the Wild Saffron cafe. Amazing food AND free WiFi, a combination in Australia which is very hard to come by.

Heading further south towards my final destination, Watervale, I see even more vineyards. So nice.

I found a lovely couple to stay with through Warm Showers (cylist equivalent of Couch Surfing). I was greeted by two cupcakes left in the kitchen for me and a lovely greyhound. Louise works as a nurse and Kerstin works for a winery nearby. Unfortunately Louise had to work, but will hopefully meet her in the morning. Kerstin spoiled me with an absolutely amazing Thai chicken dish and some local Clare Valley red wine. Oh the flavours, yum!! She also told me a bit about the regional wines and that if I see an Australian red wine from 2011, I am to steer clear of it. Apparently that was an awrful year for Australian wine. There you have it people. Next time you buy a red wine, make sure it's not Oz 2011.

Showed her my route and she said I'm coming into some areas with beautiful scenery along the Murray river. I cannot wait. Really starting to enjoy Australia now.

Anyhoodle, it's getting late and I need to sleep before getting up for riding in the morning.


Thursday, 22 May 2014

Quorn to Gladstone - 120 km

I don't know why, but the Blogger app automatically places my photo at the end... So scroll down first, look at them and come back up here again. Might make more sense.


Felt a bit like Donald today. As I was setting off from Quorn, my mate Paul pointed out that my back tire seemed a bit flat. So he brought out his bike pump with a pressure gauge. Guess what? Turns out the pressure in my tire was 40psi. The ideal pressure is 60psi. That's a shortfall of 20psi... Have you seen the Donald Duck episode Clown of the jungle? Donald tries to take a photo of the beautiful birds, but another bird messes with him. When he finally manages to get the shot and is going to take out the film for developing, it turns out he never put film in it in the first place. He goes loopy. That is how I felt this morning, haha.

Anyhoodle, set off. Heading; south. Immediately I noticed the amazing scenery. After Port Augusta it has improved ten thousand times. The ONLY interesting thing between Esperance and Ceduna was the Bunda cliffs. So seeing sweeping hills, trees and wildlife every day, all day is a most welcome thing. All the locals I've spoken to have all said it will only get better from here. Excited!

Small towns all over the place. Today I passed through six towns, all quite nice. Finally staying within civilisation. Less water and food to carry. Also breaks up the day a lot more and motivates. As I was causally peddling through Melrose, I passed a well equipped bike shop. A BIKE SHOP, in a town with less than 200 people. Got talking to one of the staff and he told me there's a lot of mountain bikers coming through here because of many good tracks in the area. Staying there for a good 30 minutes. So if you're passing through this way, make sure you stop by. They also have a cafe and free WiFi!

Along the way I passed these big hollow trees all over. Reaching probably 20-30 meters into the sky, they all have partly or fully hollowed out bases. So cool to see.

My new setup is working great. I'm still carrying 45ish kg, but all on the bike. It took some getting used to, but so much easier to build up speed. I mean, I was flying today. Reached a maximum speed of over 45km/h and a good average of 22.1km/h (according to my speedometer).

Because I'm now only doing 100-120 km a day, I can take my time and stop at places I like. Not having to rush like I had to on the Nullarbor. Also stopped in a town called Laura and ended up talking for ages with the lovely ladies in the information centre.

After setting up my tent (it needed to dry first) and making a lovely tuna & cous-cous dinner, I had to bring my sewing kit out. My tights have started to...shall we say open up to the world. These tights are amazing. I bought them in St. Maxine in southern France in 2008 when my grandparents took me to see one of my great aunties whos got a house down there. Beautiful place by the way. St. Tropez, Nice, Monaco... If you ever get the chance, go. It is absolument magnifique!! Sorry, back to the tights. We went shopping and bought a few gym clothes, including those tights. So I've had them for six years. Six years! Still going strong, but might have find another pair when I get to Sydney.

Like I said, I'm truly starting to enjoy Australia now. Finally getting interesting. Can't wait to see the rest. Tomorrow is a short day, only 80 km. Heading to Watervale, where I'll be staying with a nice couple I met through the cycling site Warm Showers (cylist version of Couch Surfing basically). Then from there I'll head towards Renmark, camp out and hopefully arrive on Sunday.

Nos da! (Welsh for 'good night')

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Updated route

After careful consideration I've decided to change my route. I've spoken to locals and other cyclists and they all say the same thing; don't go to Adelaide and Melbourne, it's way too cold and wet this time of year. So instead I'm staying north and going through Mildura and between the Blue Mountains into Sydney. We're still talking at least 2500 km left until Brisbane, so heaps left.
So will have to come back in the future (in a van/on a motorbike) and see Melbourne then.

I've managed to get a week of work on a citrus farm in Renmark (just before Mildura). So plan to get there late Sunday/early Monday and then stay for a week. After that I plan on heading right to Sydney, only stopping to have a rest day every five days. If all goes to plan, I should be in Sydney by the 18-19th of June. Then I'll have a whole month to get to Brisbane. I can't wait.

Tomorrow I'm taking the bus back to where my bike broke down. Yes I know, I'm crazy. But if I don't, I won't be the first Norwegian to cross Australia. So won't let that happen. Plan:
Monday - Take the bus and arrive in the afternoon. Then bike 67 km to Wuddina.
Tuesday - Wuddina to middle of nowhere, 165 km
Wednesday - Middle of nowhere to Quorn (town outside Port Augusta) 136 km

To achieve this, I'm leaving everything at Pauls except the absolute essentials. Laptop, camera, spare clothes etc. That will shave tons of weight off and will let me fly over those hills. For those of you watch Gavin & Stacey, I'm going Nessa style; femme wipes, undies and TicTacs. So to save power, because I don't have my laptop, I will have probably turn my phones off in the day for the first two days. Then I'll turn them on for a bit in the evening to check messages etc. I'm bringing; spare jacket, one boxer, one pair socks, thermals, GoPro, bike parts, tent, sleeping bag, food and water. That's more or lesi.s it. The rest I'm leaving here.

So wish me luck!

"Norway Day" Aussie style

Happy National Independence Day or just "happy Norway Day" to you all!
A great day to be Norwegian, both in Norway and other countries. This year is also the 200 year anniversary of our constitution, which is still in use today.

So to celebrate it headed to Emily's Bistro for the mandatory ice cream. I also made my own flag with the use of my permanent markers. The cafe is a old general store and still has the old shelves and counter from back in the day. Another cool thing they had, was the money handling system; basically the men behind the counter would receive money from the customer, put it into a small bucket and pull on a rope which then would "fire" it off to a enclosed till room where the ladies would empty it, put in the right change and "fire" it back again via the rails. So cool! The owner filmed me doing it, so will show you that some time.

The Ghan railway used to run through up until the 1980s, but the station and much of the maintenance halls are still in use today as part of a tourist attraction. Every weekend they bring out the old train set, going Port Augusta - Quorn - Port Augusta.
You can just about see the white smoke rise up inbetween the hills. Then coming round a turn, you can see the locomotive. I felt like someone had given me a ticket for the Hogwarts Express, departing from platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter reference). The mere power of that black beast is astonishing. It was truly magical seeing it pull in.

After ice cream and locomotives, I headed back to the house to start test packing. Like I mentioned in previous posts, I now have front panniers instead of a trailer on the back. After going through everything I found a few things I don't need anymore. So gave my full body mosquito net, shotglasses, ducktape, deck of cards and trailer to my host and mate Paul. So now I just need to make sure the rest of the stuff from the trailer fits in bags. Will do that in the morning.

Fun thing happened today. There are over 6 billion people on earth, about 5 million Norwegians and 1300 people in Quorn, the town I'm staying in at the moment. I walk into this amazing bookshop which also looks like something from the world of Harry Potter. Anyhoodle, got talking to James (one of the staff. Guess what? He's currently learning Norwegian and hope to one day study and live in Norway! I mean, what are the odds of that happening? So ended up talking heaps about Norway and the language, with parts of the conversation in Norwegian. So surreal! Weird to speak Norwegian again, face to face I mean.

Tomorrow: pack and prepare to head back to where my bike broke down and cycle here.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Pimp my ride

Upgrade Viking style
My ride has now been transformed and I'm pretty sure I could hear my beautiful bike let out a great sigh of relief at the thought of never having to pull that trailer again.

So yeah, like I've mentioned previously; I intended to replace my trailer with panniers somehow when I got to Port Augusta. Well, universe came to my rescue and it all worked out perfectly fine. Paul, the great guy I'm staying with here in Quorn (a town just outside Port Augusta) had some old panniers he had used on his 10 000 km journey around Oz in the late 90s. So we did a clean swap; my trailer for his panniers. He even phoned up the guy he sold his bike to and asked if he could have the pannier rack back (Photo: silver rack and red bags). Sure enough, 20 minutes later, this nice chap rolls in on Pauls old mountain bike and warmly says You can have 'em if you, no use to me. So I start the process of unscrewing the rack from his bike.

After some tweeking and headscratching, I manage to mount the rack on my bike. Perfect fit.

The issue of water is something that is always on my mind. When I crossed hell, I mean the Nullarbor, I always tried to have a minimum of 9 litres of water when starting out each morning. Now, with the trailer I simply whacked them in there and off I went. Now I had to think of something new. Pauls old bike hade this great front rack above the panniers which he had used for water (Photo: black rack which holds the blue water cintainer). I asked his mate if I could buy it off him, but alas he was using it himself.

Did some research online and found the exact same one on eBay for $5.99 plus shipping. However, seeing as it was in China it could take up to a month to get here. And I don't have a month. So after a few frantic Google searches, we found a bikeshop in Wyalla (a city 100 km south of Port Augusta) that might stock it. Phoned them up and they did. Asked if it was anyway I could have it brought up to PA. She put on the next Premiere Stateliner bus which was headed for PA. Price? $29 for the rack and $10 in shipping. So taking into account I could have what I needed with hours of enquiring, I'm quite happy with that. Then after picking up it from the bus stop, we headed to a department store, which has got everything from undies and onsies to fishing rods and shampoo, to see about finding that perfect water container.
There it was, on the shelf, in bright blue; a 5 litre water can which would fit perfectly on my new front rack. Only $9! Bargain.

So now I've solved the issue of the trailer (in theory). Tomorrow I plan on spending a couple of hours trying to repack everything and see what to put where and see if it will work in real life. At least now I'm in a part of Australia with more towns, people, supplies and shade. So don't need to carry an stupid amount of food and water.

Rule? If it doesn't fit in the trailer, I can't bring it. Pure and simple.

It's funny isn't it? How the universe works. If you really want something, the universe will help you get there one way or the other.

Tomorrow: Go through stuff, test-pack, test-ride and plan future route.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Quorn - Break from biking

Universe works in mysterious ways

If I hadn't had the troubles with the bike, I would never have experienced this. See? Things happen for å reason.

Woke up this morning in the Big4 caravan park in Port Augusta, after having arrived late last night. After my bike breaking down in Poochera I was lucky enough for a truckie to pull in at the exact moment I needed it. Turned out he was an engineer that designs products and develops methods of securing cargo on truck. As more of an intrest, he would take on the occasional job. Funny enough, he had past me on the Nullarbor a few days before (heading west) and was now on his way home. So he offered to give me a lift all the way to Port Augusta.

Anyhoodle, woke up in PA, had breakfast, grabbed my rear wheel and walked across town to the bike. Here I was greeted by a lovely chap who started hammering and working away on my wheel seconds after I'd gone G'Day mate. Turned out he'd been to Norway about 40 years ago and had loved it. He very much reminded me of that stereotypical grandad type, with his white beard, glasses on the tip of the nose with eyes frowning at you Dumbledore style (the first actor who played Dumbledore, but sadly passed away). Anyhoodle, he put in two new spokes and straightened my wheel out. Only $32.50, plus I got two new spare spokes. Bargain!

Then my host, Paul, was kind enough to come down to Port Augusta to pick me up. After we'd done a Mary Poppins style packing of all my stuff, we drove up to Quorn where he lives. This is by far, the most beautiful, peaceful and postcard-perfect town I've seen in Australia. Instead of rundown buildings and a blank characterless town, I was met by old, beautifully maintained old buildings. All complete with quirky old details all over them. All the shops had signs in the historically correct font. And it was so peaceful. No major traffic noise. No drunken people roaming the streets. It was as if time had stood still for years.

Paul himself does tours (kayak, motorbike, camping, vintage cars WTC.) in this region of South Australia. He showed me his motorbikes earlier... Wow, amazing. Will try and get a photo some time this week.

The house I'm staying in is a beautiful (listed) building, built in 1881. Which, in Australia, in considered very old. Nice wooden flooring and majestic fireplaces and rooms that are big and great.

So I plan on staying here for a few days, relaxing and truly enjoying life.

Tomorrow I'm working on my bike rack, on how I can get everything with me. Will keep you posted. Plus going to have a walk around town, taking more pictures.

Like this? Now that I've actually have got signal I plan on trying to post more regular updates like this. Stay tuned!

Posted from my Android phone, so please excuse any minor spelling mistakes.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

How to follow me

At the moment I'm doing the Nullarbor crossing (Norseman to Ceduna) and it is VERY limited signal, so I opted for an offline diary. When I get to Ceduna, or in 'worst case' Port Augusta, I'll upload all my photos and diary entries. Right now I'm using Telstra pay-as-go sim, which hasn't got the best rates to put it mildly, but only operator with signal out here. After Port Augusta I can start doing daily updates here on the blog as well, as I'll get full signal then.

In the meantime you follow my progress via my Facebook page or my Endomondo training profile (link on the right side).

If you want/need to get in touch with me within the next four days, please use the FB page and my friend Dian or my mum Nina should be able to answer any questions.

If all goes to plan, I should be in Ceduna and back to civilisation by the 12th of May (the latest).