A cold and overcast morning. Slow start and a leisurely breakfast hoping the sun would emerge to dry the tent. There had been some additional light rain overnight. No luck with the sun, so pack yet another damp tent and hit the road by 10am.
Up the highway to Hamilton – a large country town for petrol and a coffee break. The riding is pleasant enough. Good roads and not to much traffic. The countryside is green and lush. Prime agricultural land around here. The farmers wives are all driving Mercedes Benz SUV's!
The road from Hamilton to Dunkeld is even better, with distant views of the Grampians enticing me forward. Passing through Coleraine I spot an amazing old bus pulling over at the chocolate factory. It's the original (beautifully restored) FLXIBLE Clipper that Reg Ansett imported into Australia in 1947. Being driven by an old codger (Ken Turnbull) who used to drive it on a daily run from Mt Gambier to Melbourne in the good old days.
On to Dunkeld – gateway to the Southern Grampians. I take the back road through Victoria Valley north towards Halls Gap. A great minor road – single lane in places, but sealed all the way. A superb run up the middle of a wide flat valley – again rich agricultural land - between two parallel ranges – with spectacular views on both sides. The road finally cuts right and over the Sierra Range through Mirranatwa Gap back to the main north south road to Halls Gap. A great little section of up and down twisties. Best riding since leaving Perth!
On the way to Halls Gap, I stop at a couple of camp sites and check them out. My plan is to spend two nights in the park and do a day walk. Ideally up to the ridge or a peak for the views. After checking in a NP HQ in Halls Gap, and taking their advice, I end up in the northern section at Troopers Creek camping area.
A fantastic route out of Halls Gap bak up and over the range – fantastic bike riding. Yipee!
Troopers Creek is a lovely quiet spot in the bush, with just a couple of camp sites, below Mt Difficult. Tomorrows goal – weather permitting - is to climb Mt Difficult. About 4.5km return straight up and down. Here's hoping the weather is fine!