The “Overland” Interstate Train departs from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne daily around 8am and takes approximately 10 hours to traverse the 823 kilometres to Adelaide in South Australia. With seven stops along the route at regional centres: Geelong, Ararat, Horsham, Dimboola, Bordertown and Murray Bridge, before arriving at Parklands Interstate Rail Terminal which is located 3 kilometres from the city centre. My ticket cost $57.00 while my fully laden Surly Touring bike got to travel for free in the luggage car.
I was traveling to Adelaide to ride in the 30th annual Great Victoria Bike Ride. A mass participation bicycle touring event which was to begin at Mt Gambier some 550 km away in a weeks’ time where I had planned to meet up with my wife Therese and good mate Andy, along with in excess of 5000 cyclists who together would meander over 9 days through mixed terrain covering the 610kms back to Geelong in Victoria.
After a leisurely stroll along Adelaide’s Hindley Street, the notorious red light, restaurant and nightclub strip, it was off to bed for an early night at the close by mid-range hotel I had treated myself to. Adelaide is known as “The City of Churches” which provides a different vision of the city than the one on display in Hindley Street.
Riding along North Terrace past the Holy Trinity Church, State Museum and Art Gallery their beautiful sandstone Victorian elegance offset by the carpets of mauve flowers falling from the Jacaranda trees that line the street. I made my way towards the Princess Freeway which leads back towards Melbourne. Bicycles are banned from the freeway and it’s just as well, given that the volume of traffic, which is relentless, even on this early Sunday morning.
The Adelaide Hills surround the city are a favoured wine growing region. I share the cycleway that parallels the freeway with the Sunday morning road riders. We are headed to Crafers some 15kms away. The climbing is constant. A passing roadie yells “good effort mate” acknowledging the difficult climb to “The Eagles Nest” on the fully laden touring bike, even with a 32 teeth rear cog. A few kilometres further on at Stirling, I’m a little perplexed when confronted with the highway once again. A local gives me directions to Mylor via the old Mt Barker Road where I find myself riding in near perfect conditions with clear skies and the temperature in the low 20’s. Lots of cover from the abundant trees while the open farmland and rolling hills provide opportunities to run through the gears and take in the wildlife. Lots of blue tongue lizards out sunning themselves on the verge. Pink galahs, rosellas, lorikeets and other birds too quick for me to identify are numerous, all the time I’m enveloped in that sweet eucalyptus smell of the Australian bush.
I stopped briefly at Macclesfield, which appeared full of Sunday day trippers out for lunch at the wineries. They were courteous too, allowing me plenty of room often tooting their approval or waving.