I'm back from Mallacoota after a lovely relaxing (but cold) week, filled with lyrebirds, sugar-gliders, cold weather, possums, schoolwork, cold weather, pot bellied stoves... did I mention it was cold down there?
This week, the south-eastern bit of Oz has been BLOODY cold (well, by our Aussie standards anyway). Yes, it's winter, and winter is supposed to be cold – but it's been colder than usual. Having seen footage of ice storms in North America's most recent winter, and of massive snow dumps in the UK and Europe, I shouldn't really be surprised – but I was anyway. Not to mention underdressed.
The plan was to leave Mallacoota this morning and go across country in the general direction of Melbourne. After a week of glorious (but cold) weather in Mallacoota, imagine my dismay when there was a massive black bank of very ugly cloud pressing down just before sunrise, and moving inland, rather than out to sea. Grrrr. More cold ahead - with wet stuff as a bonus. Last night on the news they said "morning showers, falling as snow above 900m." Uh-oh...
I froze on the way down here a week ago, so for today's trip I upped the ante – TWO sets of thermals, t-shirt, jumper, winter jacket with quilted liner, neck warmer, wet weather gear. Does my bum look big in this? You bet it does. It's the size of New Zealand, fer God's sake!
So me and my massive arse rode west, hitting really foul weather, and some spectacular rainbows, after only about 25kms. By the time I got to Cann River I was a little fat-arsed Betsicle – wet, frozen and miserable, waiting far too long for a watery hot chocolate in a beautifully warm cafe. All I wanted to do was go home to my fridge of a house and have a hot bath.
To get to Canberra you chuck a right at Cann River and head north. You'd think it'd get warmer as you headed away from Antarctica, wouldn't you? Not so. Holy crap, I was breathing pure white air into my helmet, and the bottom half of my face felt thick and rubbery – but at least I could feel it – my toes disappeared somewhere between Bombala and Cooma! The clouds were heavy and grey, and only about 20 feet above my head. Not sure what was in them, but I'll bet it wasn't sunshine or lollipops!
Staying warm in such dire weather demands dire action. The heated grips were on FULL and I was inside about fourteen thousand layers of clothes already, but was still feeling a little chilly. The old surfers' trick of peeing into your wetsuit only works if you're actually wearing a wetsuit, as opposed to a wet suit, and I knew that peeing in my gear would be a very short term solution, so I avoided it. That was difficult, especially when I actually arrived at Cooma, desperate to pee, and had to remove fourteen thousand layers in a BIG hurry before I could even contemplate putting fuel in the bike!
If you promise not to tell anybody, I'll share a secret, heh heh. While peeing in your gear is Simply Not On, you can probably get away with a lovely warming botty-burp or two on the road, as long as you haven't been eating curry or licorice allsorts. Make sure you use this supply of hot air judiciously, because, while renewable, it is not inexhaustible, and you run the risk of Following Through, which would be just plain icky.
Also, on the Monaro Highway - watch out for dickheads coming in the opposite direction and overtaking inappropriately. It's ski season, and everyone's in such a hurry to go to the cold places (weirdos!)
That's my advice for the day.
I'm sad that I changed my plans and came home three days early – but after a nice hot bath and a glass of red – I have to say that it's good to be home!