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Bikepacking Mount Lawson Loop

Mistakes were made, no one died!

Unlike Autumn 2022 when it didn't stop raining, Autumn 2023 was giving us beautiful crisp mornings and blue-sky days, with temperatures in the mid twenties. Easter in Australia falls in Autumn or 'the fall' as our American friends call it. So a long-weekend holiday of Friday through to Monday beckoned and it was promising to be perfect weather for outdoor activities. So, I loosely planned a short bikepacking tour.

Unless you're an occasional and leisurely bikepacker like me, you'd be excused for thinking that the preparation for such a ride would be as simple as "putting a few things on your bike". Alas, a simplified preparation list includes things such as: service bike, mount luggage racks, plan route and download offline, pay emergency locator beacon subscription and test, pack six pieces of luggage, plan water requirements, packing appropriate clothes, charge all electronic equipment and pack.

Each of those points expands, especially the packing of the luggage and the servicing of the bike. The servicing of the bike is particularly tedious because I only use Bay, my Specialized Camber, perhaps once a year, but still there is one job that should be done whether he's been ridden or not, this job I couldn't be bothered to do when I serviced him, and it came back to bite me on the bum!

Some of my bikepacking gear doubles up as car camping gear, I had an overnighter car camp planned before Easter so the pack-up was a little disjointed. Luckily I have a Microsoft One Note tick list for my bikepacking gear, so I knew I shouldn't forget anything. And as it turned out I didn't, well nothing that was on the list!

Some things can't be packed too early, such as spare clothing, down jacket, quilt, food and water, the reasons being: clothing is weather dependent, the down jacket and quilt shouldn't be compressed for unnecessarily long periods, and I don't want stale food and water, so I pack those much nearer to the leaving date. Likewise other things can't be done too early, such as subscribing to my navigation system ride with gps and subscribing to my emergency beacon Garmin, I only wanted to dip in for a month on both due to cost, so wanted to leave it as late as possible. Obviously charging my electronics needs to wait until the day of leaving,.

I checked Bay over, and fitted the Rollpacker front and rear brackets, paying special attention to the rear one, which unless in the 'sweet-spot', tends to fall off. What I didn't do was put some cable ties or bungees on, like I had done for my long tour in Spain, the reason for this was, I had paid such close attention to fitting it this time, I was convinced it wouldn't fall off, I'm not sure why I thought that, as the over-center clamp on the tightening screw is poorly designed in my opinion.

I'd decided I would try carrying my water bottles in my Gorilla Cage fork bags for this ride, instead of in my Rollpackers, as a test for when I may need to carry a lot more water, it meant I couldn't pack my fork bags yet, but I enthusiastically packed my front and rear Rollpacker luggage as much as I could, which really got me excited for the ride.

As a note, carrying the water in the forkbags seemed to work fine although it was a bit of a pain to keep unpacking the bags to get at the water.

A cyclone was building in the Northern Territory, although thousands of kilometers away, it often has an effect on our weather. disappointment was an understatement, when with ten days to go the weather forecast started predicting heavy rain and winds, starting on the Thursday night before Easter, and all through the holiday period. Bugger! It seriously put a dampener on things, I wasn't prepared to do a ride in torrential rain, and boy was it torrential that Thursday night and non-stop on Good Friday, and intermittently raining on the Saturday.

I'd decided to do the Easter Egg hunt with my granddaughter on the Sunday. whilst hunting the chocolate eggs at the ungodly hour of 7:30am I realised the weather had taken a turn for the better. I checked the forecast, and although overcast, no rain was predicted in the region, there and then I decided the bikepacking was back on.

Not for a moment did I stop to think hang-on, I'm back at work on Tuesday, so that only gives me the rest of Sunday, Sunday night and Monday to complete the ride.

I knew generally that it was uphill to the summit, then a whole load of down hill, for around 40 kilometers, well that's what I had in my mind. Looking at the route now, with hindsight, it's an uphill trend to the summit with lots of ups and downs, and a downhill trend after the summit, again with lot of ups and downs.

You can see my Youtube of this ride here

You can listen to this story here

Back home by 10am, I hurriedly started filtering five liters of water, two for each bottle in my fork bags and one to be carried on the bike for immediate drinking. I packed everything on my tick list, charged my electronics, subscribed to my navigation system and Garmin, tested the emergency beacon, downloaded the route offline, packed some food, loaded the car and within two hours I was ready to leave. Noting I was only able to do this in two hours because of the preparation I'd already done, ordinarily it would take perhaps a day.

I left my house just past midday, with an hours drive to Mount Lawson, I'd be on the bike by 2pm. In my hurry to get out of the door I'd forgotten to message my daughter and send her my route or even tell her I was going bikepacking.

The fireroad into Mount Lawson State Park runs through a farmyard. When I arrived at the farm I stopped at the farm house to ask where I should park so as not to be in their way. Amy, the farmer lady that I had spoken to on my previous visit to Mount Lawson, came out for a chat, she said I could park anywhere in her farmyard, which would save me driving on the rough 4x4 track. So park up I did.

As I was unloading my luggage and bike from the car, along came a lady on a quad bike, turns out it's Amy's mum, Jo. She was just so lovely, for fifteen minutes she held my bike up while I fitted the luggage. She also gave me lots of information on the mountain, and she told me that hunters were due to do some night shooting on their plateau up the mountain, that very night! We had a little joke that as I was back at work on Tuesday (it's now Sunday), that if I'm not back Monday night, she should send out a search party, and I say it was a joke, but really it was kind of serious, Jo was genuinely interested and concerned, but I thought no more of it, of course I'd be back by lunchtime on Monday, or so I thought!

A photo of Jo holding my bike while I fit the luggage
The oh so lovely Jo, she held my bike for ages!

Once my bike was loaded I said my goodbyes to Jo, locked my car, put my keys in my backpack, put my backpack on and started pedalling up towards the mountain, only to get 200 metres and remember I hadn't lubricated my chain, doh! So I returned to my car, backpack off, keys out, unlock my car, get my chain lube out, hurriedly lube Bay, then reverse the key palaver. I didn't mention this in my YouTube video, I needed to cut a lot of things out to keep the film at a decent length.

Before you get into Mount Lawson State Park there's a 3 kilometer track from the farm, through a plain and paddocks to ride, it was rather windy on this day!

A kilometer into the ride across the plain, a ute was coming from the direction I was going, the guy stopped, so I stopped to say hello to the driver, then I noticed there were four people in the back of the ute, we exchanged a few words, the driver was a little surprised I was taking a bike up the mountain, he said it's very steep and seemed a bit miffed! I tried to chat to the people in the back, it seems they'd been hiking, but the driver started moving off, so we both continued on our way.

A ute with four people in the back
A truck load of people!

I hadn't ridden more than 200 metres when I cringed and swore at a loud whirring sound coming from the rear of my bike, I bloody knew what it was. The Rollpacker had fallen off the seat mounting and was dragging on the rear tyre. All the care I'd taken to fit it with precision was a waste of time, damn! In the middle of a plain, with nowhere to lean the bike and unable to move it, I had to do my best to re-connect the bracket to the seat and continue on until I could find somewhere to lean the bike. This I did a little further on, and tightened the over-center screw some more.

A photo of my rear luggage that had come disconnected from the seat
Pointing to the rollpacker clamp that had fell off the seat bracket

I was heading for Mount Lawson summit on the Flaggy Creek Track, there's an un-serviced campsite up there, the summit was around 17 uphill-kilometers away, it was already nearly 3pm, the sun sets at around 6:30, so I didn't want to stop, unpack my fork bag to get the cable ties out and spend time securing the rear Rollpacker bracket. As it was, this decision was a false time-economy, with the Rollpacker falling off another 8 times over the next four hours.

A sign saying Mount Lawson State Park with my bike leant against it, the start of the park proper
The official start of Mount Lawson State Park

I was soon into Mount Lawson State Park proper, I would ride some, and push a lot, the bush and views are very pretty, sometimes rugged, with 'clouds' of copper-coloured butterflies in abundance. The fireroad is badly eroded and steep in some areas. I knew what to expect as I'd had a failed mission a few months back, trying to find Flaggy Creek Falls, where I'd bonked (ran out of energy) and had to go back down.

A bushland fire road, steeply uphill and eroded, with the handlebars of my bike in view
The sometimes steep and eroded Flaggy Creek Track

Last time I didn't get to see the falls at all, I'd been so close, I found them this time but didn't have time to stop and search for a way to get up close. First I could hear them, then I could see them through the bush, I leaned Bay against a tree, and clambered through some fire-damaged gum trees and bush, took a couple of photos and got on my way.

The front of my bike looking across the woodland to another mountain
A love view to be had just after the water fall

A rocky water fall, with a nice rockpool to swim in at each of the four levels
The more impressive than I thought they'd be Flaggy Creek Falls

I continued pushing and riding the fireroad, it was so very pretty, never dull, after riding roughly eight kilometers, mostly uphill, I came to a large plateau, this is also Amy's land and it's where the shooting was to take place this night. I passed through the gate and skirted around the right hand side of her land. I'd stopped to take the photo below when along came three guys in a ute, turns out they were the hunters that would be shooting. Their plan was to camp up at the hay shed which was atop a hill in the distance, we had a chat and went our separate ways.

Me, my bike, a tree with a hill in the distance
A quick photo on Amy's plateau

I rode alongside a pretty creek that was running through Amy's land, which I presume is the Flaggy Creek. Very soon I was back on the fireroad running through mature bushland with the most beautiful tall gum trees.

It was around now that I realised I hadn't told my daughter where I was going or that I was even going bikepacking, being without mobile phone signal, I sent her an email message on my Garmin satellite device, I didn't send a text on it as I only get around 10 with my subscription so didn't want to waste one. Little did I know that my daughter doesn't check her email messages, so she never knew I had gone away at all!

I happily continued my uphill pushing, interspersed with some downhill stretches, sadly knowing that every descent meant I would need to re-ascend by the same height. I didn't see another soul as I happily meandered along, alas I didn't see any wildlife either. In fact on the whole ride, I only saw one wallaby, cows and cockatoos, oh and a snake! There was one thing determined to ruin this beautiful ride, and that was every twenty minutes or so, the Rollpacker would fall off. But still I was telling myself that I would waste half an hour fixing it properly, so I should just persevere.

By now my bike had fallen over perhaps four times, crashing to the ground after I leant it up against a tree. One day I'm going to get caught out by this, I'll either do serious damage to the bike or it'll tumble down a mountain. As it was, I could have knocked the steering out of alignment when it fell. It's hard to understand just how unstable a fully loaded bikepacking bike is, you think you've done a good job propping it up, only to turn around to take a photo or do a wee and it comes crashing to the ground. I had forgotten my cable ties that I usually keep on my handlebars to pull the brakes on when parked, something I must add to my ticklist! Again I was lazy, I could have unpacked my emergency kit and got a new cable tie out.

With around 5 kilometers to go until the turning to the summit road, which in itself was then another kilometer or two to the summit, the sun was rapidly dropping behind the hills and dusk arrived.

Another thing I didn't show in my YouTube was that by now I was suffering terrible cramps in my legs. I had taken a lemon with me to squeeze into my water, but couldn't find it, so added a quarter of an electrolyte tablet to my water, knowing full well that I suspected electrolyte tablets give me terrible cramps. It was so painful, I had them in my upper and lower leg, I had to stop frequently and stretch to rid myself of them. I kept pushing in pitch dark for around an hour, it was neither creepy nor miserable except for the cramps, but I eventually realised that still with 3 kilometers until the turning, I wasn't going to make it to the summit that night as the cramps were too painful. I put my head torch on and started looking for a small spot to pitch my tent, where the trees were healthy and alive, it would be too risky, especially after the recent storm, to pitch under dead branches. I found a nice little spot, luckily not directly under branches and the surrounding gum trees were lovely and healthy. It was on a very slight incline, so I had to orientate the tent so it faced inwards to the bush, with the back to the fireroad. With no problems at all I was soon pitched. I didn't bother fitting any guy lines, I was quite sheltered should the wind have picked up. One pain in the bum is blowing up my airbed, it takes 50 big puffs, not something I really fancied doing and was annoyed with myself that I hadn't bought the miniature air pump I'd been looking at on Amazon! Anyway as it turns out 50 puffs really isn't such a big deal, after all, I do thousands of them every day! Luckily my airbed covered the great big rock that I’d unknowingly pitched my tent on!!

The woodland was silent, the sky was clear, the stars were starting to prick holes in the black vastness, it was quite perfect. There were very few insects around, which was one less thing to worry about, usually it is such a pain dealing with flying insects.

The temperature was around 9°C, not too cold, but I knew it would get colder, so I put my thick ski socks on, my LongJohns, a winter hat, a long sleeved top and a fleece. oh and some weird bootee things I’d picked up in the charity shop! The fleece started me reminiscing, I'd had it 23 years, it was a piece of team kit from when I worked at Arrows Formula One team, we had the best looking car and the best looking kit during the Orange Arrows years, in fact it was driven by the current F1 World Champion's father, Joss Verstappen! And I fondly remember the lady that designed the kit, Lisa Palmer, top lady. I set about making myself some noodles and a cup of tea, and enjoying the tranquility of the night.

By the time I finished my dinner it was around 8:30. I noticed I was occasionally getting a 4G phone signal, it came and went, so I caught up on some Facebook browsing then snuggled down in my quilt and got to sleep. I was awoken around 11pm with a terrible pain in the middle toe on my left foot, I checked it out, nothing looked unusual, so I went back to sleep only to be woken around an hour later with even worse pain. I was alarmed at this, because I had a long way to ride and hike back to my car should this escalate, it didn't just hurt a little, it hurt a lot, an intense throbbing pain. I didn't mention any of this in my video, again it took up too much time. I removed my sock got my Swissarmy knife out and used the scissors to cut the toe nail right back on that particular toe. the pain didn't subside immediately, it was gone midnight by now, then I got distracted and the fright of my life, a large spider was walking around the roof of my tent, luckily it wasn't in the sealed mesh cell, but it would be able to get into the vestibule, worse still fall into it when I was getting out for a wee! I know it wouldn't hurt me but it scared me!

A spider inside my tent
The spider - Around 80mm diameter, a juvenile Huntsman, so I'm told.

It took me an age to usher the spider out of my tent using my long handled spoon, I'd get it nearly out, then it would come back in again. By now I was fully awake. I needed a wee, which is when I realised I needed to add my shewee onto my One Note packing list, as I hadn't packed it. I'm not sure if I will pack it, the device itself is small and lightweight, but I'd also need to pack a plastic bottle which would take up some of the all important limited space, perhaps I could use a plastic bag? I'll think about that! I got out of the tent, the night sky was stunning, lots of stars, a beautiful gibbus moon, absolute silence, not a leaf was a rustling! So very beautiful. I checked the temperature, 7°C, so not too cold, and my sleep system did a fine job keeping me warm after getting back to sleep at around 2:30am.

I had a good night's sleep after the spider and toe pain palaver, with the pain having completely gone. I awoke at around 6am, still tranquil, a little bit misty, a little bit chilly but a fine and wonderful morning. It's a happy place to be, knowing you survived the night, that you have a nice cup of coffee to come and a great days riding ahead of you. I knew that I still had 4.5 kilometers uphill to the summit, then another 38 kilometers what I thought was downhill to complete my proposed loop!

I was in no hurry, I had a small tin of cold baked beans for breakfast, a couple of cups of coffee then set about breaking down camp. Before I finally packed up, the most important job of the day was to fix the rear Rollpacker. I added two cable ties, one to stop the lever moving up and one to stop the lever moving down, then I added the only spare strap I had on me wrapping it tightly around the bracket of the seat and the Rollpacker.

Me in my tent drinking a coffee
Me thinking I had all the time in the world!

The ride to the summit was up and down up and down. I think it may have rained a little overnight further up the mountain, or it was still slightly wet from the storms, as the sometimes rocky ground was slippery in places. Pushing my heavy load of an estimated forty kilograms with all my might, up a steepish incline I slipped and fell hard onto the rock, then the bike fell on top of me.

It may have been at this point that I knocked my steering askew, something I didn't realise until I was editing my video footage at home. The fall caused a jagged cut to my right knee and a grazed left knee and left elbow, and a sore thigh muscle from where the bike fell. Nothing debilitating, I was lucky.

A photo of my bike leaning against a felled tree, and me sitting on another felled tree
My best photo ever!

The ride up the mountain through glorious mature woodland was just beautiful, I could have ridden in this tranquility and beauty all day. There were signs of humans when I came across some large gum trees that had been felled, I used the felled trees as a photo opportunity, I think it was the best photo of me and my bike that I've ever taken!

Large mature gum trees in the woodland
Some of the glorious mature gum trees

Wide tall gum trees in a woodland setting
Look at the size of these magnificent gum trees

By now I noticed I was being followed by some squawking sulfur-crested cockatoos. Mostly it seemed to be just two of them. As I moved they moved, when I stopped they stopped. With the distraction of the cockatoos and the magnificent mature trees the time passed quickly.

A sulfur-crested cockatoo in a tree
One of the cockatoos that followed me

I got into a little game of squawking back loudly to the cockatoos, which would then cause a whole flurry of activity from an entire flock with squawking aplenty, so funny.

A cockatoo in a tree
Cheeky squawker!

I was soon onto the left turning onto Mount Lawson Road which leads to the summit. The ground was littered with gum tree bark shed from the many enormous trees in the beautiful mature woodland, so littered you couldn't even see the ground for around a kilometer. With the cockatoos still following me, I made my way to the summit signpost, arriving around midday.

By now I was starting to be aware of the time and I was thinking if it's nearly lunchtime now, I'm not going to be back at my car by lunchtime like I imagined I would be, I better get a move on.

With time being an issue, I didn't have long to spend at the summit, which was a real shame as I'd have loved to explore a bit, especially as I'd heard there was some indigenous rock-art up there.

I didn't find the campsite, but imagine it was to the left of the sign in the photo below. I pushed up the road to the right of the sign and came to a sign showing a map of a short summit walk, with a lookout around 200 metres into it. I started the walk, along a fireroad then along a short piece of singletrack pathway through some woodland that opened up into a clearing with some pretty impressive boulders.

A forest sign stating Mt Lawson Summit with my bike leaning against it
Mount Lawson Summit Sign, which isn't at the summit really I don't think

A granite slab with my bike leaning against it and an enormous boulder on top of the slab
A huge granite slab with an enormous boulder atop

As usual with my useless sense of direction and as usual the trail signposts being non-existent, I struggled to find the lookout. I walked alongside the massive granite slab, then walked up it, then turned right when I got to the enormous bolder, walked along in front of it then followed the granite slab around, along which I saw a couple of hi-viz orange arrows pointing in random directions, I continued on until I could see some views. There are many boulders on this granite slab, all very impressive, the view was nice but I just didn't have time to explore further so I returned to my bike.

Looking across a valley to other hills with dark clouds gathering
View from Mount Lawson Summit with dark clouds rolling in

By now the sun has suddenly disappeared and dark clouds were gathering, little did I know they were preparing for a massive storm that night, so good job I wasn't camping a day later. Being worried the clouds were going to bring rain very soon I changed out of my longjohns and put on my leggings, it had turned far too cold for my cycling shorts. I also made sure my poncho was at the top of my forkbag. Sadly I had to leave the summit and start getting down the mountain, because of what I thought was impending rain. I wasn't sure whether to go back the way I came or to continue my loop. My video shows my indecision here, I say 'I'll do the loop, I've got all day', famous last words! It started as a fast ride down from the summit, back onto the road I came in on, then turning left when I hit the junction where I'd turned left towards the summit. Eventually this road, still called Mount Lawson Road, went from interesting fireroad to a wide, hardpacked gravel road, bulldozed through the woodland. It was muddy in places, fast and nowhere near as interesting as a narrow fireroad. With the speed I was going and with the sky now clouded over, I was freezing cold so had to stop and change into my ski socks, put my longjohns on over my leggings put my fleece on and my winter hat on, was icy cold! After a few kilometers on the mostly downhill, wide logging road I had the choice to stay on that and return to my car via a proper gravel road then a paved road, or turn right onto the Koetong Creek Track that was part of my loop. I stupidly chose to continue my loop thinking it would be mostly down hill, and that it was much shorter than the former option, little did I know what was to come.

A map showing the loop I was riding
The loop I was riding, doesn't look much does it!

The first few kilometers on the Koetong Creek Track are of reasonable quality but clearly it was an unmaintained ex-fireroad, running deep into the river valley so mostly downhill. When I was too far into the river valley to turn around I came across a gate and a sign stating 'Walkers only'. I'm not usually one to disregard things such as this but I had no choice but to continue, as pushing back up several kilometers of uphill out of the river valley would take me hours, so I rode on.

It was very pretty with the Koetong Creek to my right, a reasonably sized creek, quite shallow but running fast over rocks and boulders, with a small waterfall here and there. I wished I had time to stop and have some lunch and enjoy the solitude and views. As it was, I didn't have time. I was so glad that I'd packed more snacks than I usually do! And with drinking just plain water I had not had the return of the dreaded cramps, even when I was pushing heavily up hill and was exhausted.

The track deteriorated considerably as I rode on, from steep severely eroded descents, to just as steep and eroded ascents, it was hard going. Sometimes the track was just loose rock, often it was just grass.

A badly eroded steeply downill fireroad
You can't see how steep this was, it was difficult to negotiate!

My bike being pushed through grass
The track often disappeared and became grass, very worrying as I had no protection against snakes

My bike, the river and a washed away trail
In the distance on the left the mud bank is where the trail used to be, so a detour ensued

At around 2pm I started to get worried that I wouldn't make it out by nightfall, but my biggest worry was that as the track was deteriorating rapidly, that it would suddenly come to an end and become an indistinguishable trail through bush. I was in relative wilderness by this point, there are no turn-offs no houses no farms in a 15km radius.

Clearly an unmaintained track, making fallen trees a frequent obstacle. It was easy to get over small to medium size trees. One was a large tree with no alternative but to either strip the luggage from my bike and carry it all over, or go through unbroken bush with the bike, I chose the latter worrying all the time that I'd get bitten by a snake. And I knew snakes were about as I had a few small streams to cross, at one of them a black snake around 150cm long was in it, which soon slithered off when it spotted me.

I was covering ground very slowly, not only because of the poor quality track and the obstacles, but the steep rocky, grassy or eroded ascents were a struggled with all the weight I was pushing against gravity! At around 3pm I was thinking I would have to spend another night on the mountain, I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn't be going to work the next day, but never mind my daughter could call in an explain was my thinking, not knowing she hadn't a clue I was bikepacking! Then there was Jo, I told her to send out a search party, what if she called the rescue crew out and there was a big palaver! I didn't know her last name, or have any contact details, so I couldn't track her down at all. That did worry me so although I was prepared to spend another night there, I was determined to do my best to get back to my car, so I plodded on.

Because I was hurrying, I was forgetting to take my pedal off when pushing up and down the steep eroded ascents and descents, the calf of my right leg paid the price!

As though things weren't bad enough I heard a weird sound from my rear tyre on a particularly rocky section. There were lots of brambles and thorns on the unmaintained trail which proved too much for the sealant that was left and I now had a flat rear tyre. I do carry a tube and I do carry sealant, but with time being short I decided I would try and pump it up and see if it would hold and for how long it held. It wasn't too bad I had to stop every half hour and put more air in, phew I got away with that my the skin of my teeth. If I had wanted to put sealant in I was worried that I would pop the bead, but on reflection it was already flat so I should have put sealant in. I must learn to calm down when things go wrong and think logically! As for fitting a tube, that would be the last resort as I'd have to strip all the luggage off my bike. One consolation was that my repairs to my Rollpacker bracket did the job and it didn't fall off again.

Me pumping up my rear tyre
Damn! a puncture!

The fear was real though, perhaps unnecessarily so, my main one was the trail ending, if the trail ended I'd have to back track which would mean spending another night on the mountain. Really the only problem was worrying about Jo worrying about me and although I'd only just met her I could tell she was genuine and would worry. I took very few photos during this period as I just didn't have time but below is one where I'm looking very worried as I stopped to photograph Bay by the creek. I was doubly worried when I heard thunder in the distance, luckily I didn't hear it again.

My bike posing by the creek
Bay and the pretty Koetong Creek

Me looking worried!
Looking worried and I was worried!

So coming to terms with what will be, will be, I decided to filter some water at a point where I needed to cross the creek. And blow me my bloody water filter was blocked. This was a brand new filter that I had ran water through it when I got it to test it, then followed the storage procedure of running a small amount of bleach through it. I should have tested it before I left, damn! But tadaah luckily I had brought with me a backflush device I had cobbled up, which eventually got a little water flowing. I very slowly filtered two liters of water, one to fill my water bottle the other in case I needed it later. Anyway to the know-it-all lady that criticized when I mentioned my backflush device on Facebook, in your face!

My water filter getting backflushed
Backflushing my water filer with my improvised backflush device

Up and down, up and down, these ascents and descents continued, I was praying that the next one would be the last one, suddenly I noticed the terrain flattened out, and no more steep ascents, yay! The trail started looking less grassy and more fireroad like! Then I came upon a gate, which denoted the end of the walker's only section.

You have no idea how so very relieved I was to get to this gate! and even more joy on seeing that ahead was a recently maintained logging road! Oh my I was overjoyed! I was going to get out! and I wasn't going to have to back track! At this point I wasn't sure if I would make it back by nightfall but I was going to give it a damn good go!! The logging road was in pretty poor condition, I think it had been laid on a very small budget and they were paying the price for that now, but for me it was heaven, gently undulating and most of all it meant I was getting out!

Me pushing my bike up the logging road
Pushing up the logging road

I came to a gate, and soon I was passing through randomly scattered ramshackle farm houses, paddocks and cows, lots of cows. Many different breeds, many different ages! The gravel road meandered through rolling hills, with a gate every kilometer or so.

Some of the cows had got out of their paddocks and were panicked by me riding through, so I stopped and let them go, but still when I caught up to them they'd start panicking again. I tried walking. I tried talking to them, but no, they just panicked.

A guy driving a RAM truck stopped for a chat, he had walked the track I'd just ridden and couldn't believe I'd got through! I was hoping he'd offer me a lift, he didn't! But he did give me a tissue as my nose was running, as it was quite windy. I continued playing cat and mouse with the cows, eventually we got to a gate after around two kilometers, I stood back from it, over to one side, hoping they would just double back, but they didn't ! Five of them thought it better to jump a very high barbed wire fence, the biggest cow fell, I was panicked myself for a moment as it struggled to get up but get up it did and it ran off with the others. I hope it was OK.

I could see the Murray River and the Murray River Road in the distance, this is where I was heading and it spurred me on!

Eventually I hit the surfaced road,! I had thought it was nine kilometers on this road back to the farm, I was dismayed when my navigation told me it was 12 kilometers! But no problem, nothing could spoil my mood! There were pretty views with the road running alongside the Murray, mostly it was gently undulating, with just one stop to pump up the tyre. I gobbled up the kilometers! The clouds were still gathering, but no rain fell, I was feeling so relieved, I said a Buddhist prayer and thanked the gods when I arrived at the farm entrance at ten to six, it was still daylight, hurray! As I packed up Jo drove up in her truck with her husband, they'd been out looking for me, such a relief that I didn't put them to any more trouble than I already had! Thanks so much for being a genuine kind lady Jo, you're one in a million. And so, just as nighttime fell, I drove out of Amy's farm and made my way home thanking my lucky stars and promising myself that I wouldn't be such a nincompoop again ........ but I expect I will! ! It took me all week to assimilate all that happened in these last 28 hours, I was kind of in shock, it had seemed like the end of the world at times, but on reflection, it’s the best ride I’ve ever done!

I have added some checks to my packing list, as follows:

  1. Upload offline route to all devices

  2. Subscribe to Emergency Beacon

  3. Test emergency beacon

  4. Charge all devices

  5. Check water filter is working

  6. Check tyre sealant

  7. Tell someone where you're going

  8. Check luggage mountings are secure

I've also bought a stand for my bike, in the hopes it won't keep falling over. Since being home, I’ve carried out a lower fork service and removed both tyres and cleaned them out, ready for some fresh sealant.

My V4 packing can be downloaded by clicking on the Icon below

Happy adventuring, hasta luego!

Gear List V4
Download XLSX • 32KB

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