Cycle touring is not that common in Australia and that has one fall out – People keep wishing me safety from traffic because that for them is the biggest danger in this kind of travel I guess. As I entered Inglewoods 40km from Atisha Buddhist Centre, I passed by an old woman. She stopped me to say something and I thought it would be good day wishes etc… In Australia people have Good Day conversations with strangers, it is sweet. But instead she said, “Stay safe from the cars. I am gonna worry for you”.
Yikes, so scary.
I just pedalled away. I have some worry wart aunts, I lie to them and never tell them about my adventures (until after they are done) :p
So, scrolling back to the beginning of ride 2: as I left Atisha Buddhist Centre I wished a lot of people goodbye – because it was Community Day for them and lots of people were around. And everyone wished me safe traffic. Ahem. Funny then that the big challenge I faced was the weather.
One lady who came to know about my journey was too excited and insisted on giving me something, finally I took a collapsible travel glass from her as I didn’t have one. She also offered a room in her house if I was passing by again. 🙂
So with too many ‘safe traffic’ wishes I started off my ride 2. And I found that Australian traffic is even more gentler and concerned about cyclists than I experienced in Europe. Here there aren’t any signboards telling cars to keep distance from cyclists, but they all do anyway. Time and again I noticed that the cars will actually move to the next lane while passing me by. Only very few times when both lanes had traffic and the vehicle was too big like trucks, then it would pass close to me.
Secondly, the highway I took had ample side lane for cycling. They could just paint a cycle symbol on it and it would be a good cycle lane. But here in Aus there seems to be a culture of big side lanes on all roads. On roads with cycle lanes there is still side lane area… I am not sure what this is for – but I didn’t notice such big side lanes in Europe.
I enjoyed my ride from Atisha Buddhist Centre to Inglewoods.
I passed couple of small towns – Marong and Bridgewater on Loddon. Bridgewater on Loddon is interesting as it has many activities like sky diving, canoeing and so on. Can be an interesting place to stop. Though if you are passing by and are interested, do call and check the various services. Everything has a timing in Australia and also a season. Things change depending on these.
Another thing that was noticeably different from my earlier cycling in Europe are the birds – there are so many of them. Even without making an effort you can see 4/5 different ones like cockatoos, parrots and magpies. And the birds are complimented by silent sheep grazing in the fields protected by alpaca, originally brought in from South America but now bred here in Australia. Often there are horses in farm padlocks. And of course the kangaroos gazing at you from a distance… I have seen them number of times now but they always run away if I try to get closer. 🙂
When it is not farmlands around the road then it would be the eucalyptus trees or ‘bush’ as the wild regions are called in Australia. This unique foliage set a distinct tone for my travels. I began to love the bush and am always looking at opportunities to explore it.
Inglewoods is a small town with a few pubs and cafes. One supermarket/pharmacy and such shops. The place to camp is the motel which was a km out of town.
Cost: $20 for campsite with bathroom & shower facilities. There was a small space for barbecue or cooking with my stove.
There were a few caravans about but no other campers. This is when I realized that I had started out a bit early, it was still chilly and not really camping season.
Hungry as usual after the long ride, I went to the nearby petrol pump which served hot food. It was run by Indians! Voila. Turns out that a large number of petrol pumps in Victoria are owned by Andhra people. And they bring more Andhraites, maybe from their village to service them. I asked the service staff if they liked living here and Yes, they did!