Written by Emi
One very fine Saturday morning, at a half past 6, I awoke to the sound of a rather insistent alarm and the beginnings of an excellent hangover. The hangover, lack of sleep and judgement was soon forgotten, however, as I got on my bike and headed to Southern Cross Station along Kings Way, my focus completely consumed by the desire to simply continue breathing.
I found Rick at the station on a mission for coffee, also mumbling something about “red wine” and “copious quantities”. High on caffeine and coconut water, we made our way to our own private train and snoozed on an all too short journey to Tallarook. There we met up with Caroline, Simon and Katka to start the Great Victorian Rail Trail, the longest rail trail in Victoria! Australia! The WORLD! (that’s actually not true just FYI – just Victoria).
We took off out of Tallarook, stopping for the obligatory “start photo” where we all looked smashing, and for photos beside a café sign where we started munching away on the beginnings of what turned into a weekend degustation menu. That eating continued as we arrived in Yea for lunch. Yay for Yea! Those in need had a quick nap on the lawns while the remainders visited an outstanding op shop!
Slightly sluggish due to headwind and lunch, we took off towards Molesworth. Rick got stuck in a rut, literally and probably figuratively we surmised. We also encountered the steepest section of the ride for that day. That slight incline however was soon forgotten as we approached the highlight of the entire trip! The entire challenge! The entire year! (that’s not actually true either FYI). A RAIL TUNNEL. Cheviot Tunnel to be precise. Being cold and dark it was not only a good place to seek respite from the sun but also the ridiculous numbers of flies that seemed to be enamoured with our stinky, sweaty (sexy) bodies. More photos. Of course. And a vague idea of holding a great dance party in said tunnel.
We slowly cruised down to Cathkin Junction where we turned off for Alexandra, and Simon’s very accommodating and gracious relatives’ farm. Greeted by sheep, a patio and a hammock we soon made ourselves comfortable and continued our weekend degustation.
Simon regaled us all with stories of family and canal boating, CANAL BOATING!! And I had a canal boat spasm, possibly highlight of the year (this could actually be true). Dinner consisted of crackers and delicious dips as an appetiser. Garlic with a side of mushroom and a very aesthetically pleasing salad for entrée, haloumi and roast vegetables for mains and biscuits for dessert.
In the morning Simon, Rick, Caro and Grant (the farmer and gracious host) took off to Alexandra. Katka and I took in the sunshine. Katka – because she was ill and I – because I’m just lazy.
The gang soon returned breathing heavily from an impromptu time trial and the excitement of seeing an old railway or something.
On their return we bike ganged off to Yarck for breakfast at Giddy Goat Café (or second breakfast for some) which was decadent and delicious. Secure in the knowledge of delicious Giddy Goat cake in saddlebags in case of dire emergency (read lunch), we slowly pushed on to Bonnie Doon (ah the serenity! Only broken by the numerous two and four stroke engines in the vicinity). Caro and Rick took in the lovely waters, essentially getting muddy and wet, and the rest of us just ate and considered finding drinkable water. This water was discovered soon after Bonnie Doon where a lovely person had set up a roadside water stop with fresh, cold water (for free!) and a nice pavilion to relax in. Pushing on to Mansfield, disaster struck! We’d left the keys back at the farmhouse. Many frantic phone calls later, Maureen & Grant had picked up the keys for us and had them ready soon after our arrival in Mansfield.
In conclusion it’s fair to say that we can all ride hard (braving snakes, illness, hangovers and headwinds), eat hard (if we ate any harder a wafer would have definitely taken us out), play hard (hangovers and canal spasms attest to this) and plan hard (it was a car shuffling logistical nightmare). The end.
Great Victorian Rail Trail, including the trip to and from Alexandra
Total Ascending: 858m
Total Descending: 724m
Total Distance: 149km