Cycling Adelaide to Melbourne: Day 8 – Mount Gambier to Portland

Rich and I were so incredibly happy to get out of town today. Everything about Mount Gambier I found irksome. Since we were in a place with ample cafes, we had considered venturing out for coffee in the morning, but neither of us wanted to start off the day in an awful mood and decided it’d be best to avoid the locals. Over dinner the previous night we got stuck listening to a group of fourteen year olds who were sitting across the outdoor patio from us loudly discuss where they could find some Ice (crystal meth). According to these kids it is quite easy to get… Lovely.

So, not wanting to go out, we contented ourselves to an in-tent breakfast of Pop Tarts and bread rolls.

The next place on the list was Portland, a reasonably sized town in Victoria, over the border with South Australia, and about 105 kilometers from Mount Gambier. We were not expecting a particularly fun or interesting ride today, as we were going to be too far inland to see the sea and had 700 meters of elevation gain to conquer (Rich had started looking for data on Strava to get us a better idea of what to expect in terms of elevation and distance, instead of Google).

Luckily we escaped Mount Gambier early enough that we avoided my potentially getting into any fights with the residents, and before the buses took over the road. There was, however, one massive hill acting as a final barrier from freedom just at the edge of town. We hadn’t had enough of a warm up before reaching this hill so Rich and I endured a bit of a struggle to get up and over. As soon as we were out though, I felt free and as if I could relax again. My inner angry New Yorker could go back into hibernation mode.

The ride was indeed quite hilly and dull, with very little in the way of sights. After about thirty kilometers we were out of South Australia and into Victoria (something that according to Rich meant better overall road quality – to me it just meant that we were mostly home). About five kilometers after that we reached the town of Nelson. Though we lacked any phone reception here, I definitely would have preferred spending a night here rather than in Mount Gambier, mostly because the food was amazing.

The general store in Nelson is owned by a former butcher, and his staff makes all their own meat pies, sausage rolls, and jaffles, along with various pastries from scratch. Having food made locally, and by a guy that knows his meat made for a wonderful combination. Rich and I had an egg and bacon jaffle, a sausage roll, and split a cinnamom muffin. All of it tasted like heaven. I wanted to stay there and eat my body weight. Alas we had to leave, and as we were departing, the woman working the counter made sure to remind us to be wary of emus. Seems that a fair amount get hit by cars on the road between Nelson and Portland. Well, that certainly got our attention. I was tired of seeing dead kangaroos on the side of the road. A live emu would make for a nice change.

Sunset over Portland
Sunset over Portland

After Nelson there was really little to keep us happy. The ride was dull and uneventful (seems to be a running theme for the trip). There were plenty of ups and downs, but the scenery consisted of stacks and stacks of fallen trees. There was nothing pretty or nice about it. Egged on by the pain in his knee, Rich started complaining half way through about the lack of emus. We hadn’t seen a single one and we weren’t going to see any for the entirety of the trip.

Eventually, bored and unamused, we arrived in Portland, set up camp, and found a pizza shop near the beach where we were able to gorge ourselves. Neither of us really cared about the trip or what we were doing now. We just knew that we weren’t going to stop until we finished.

Longest commute of my life.

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