Day 16 – Northcliffe to Fernhook Falls

We grabbed some breakfast in town and left Northcliffe by 8:00am, fuelled up and ready for a long day in the saddle. The forecast was for rain from 10:00am onwards and we wanted to get as many kms under our belt as possible before it hit.

Today is the first day we have started to turn East towards Albany; it was quite noticeable having the sun in your face for the morning session. We left town on a few forest roads which were easy to ride, and head towards the Shannon National Park. The trail is getting noticeably more sandy as we get closer to the southern coastline.

  

There were massive fires here in February. Steve the publican had told us that many of the Munda Biddi Trail markers were lost in the fire and that they’ve only recently been replaced. Consequently, he didn’t see any riders come through Northcliffe for months.

  
  

The area damaged by fire was enormous. Almost our entire day’s ride was through fire ravaged bush.  The track had only recently reopened and some roads were still closed or being reconstructed. 

  

The landscape was pretty cool, blackened trunks and little or no under growth. Most of the larger trees had already started re-shooting; It’s cool how the Australian bush regenerates after fire.  Some of the bigger Karris had also dropped their burnt bark.

 
   

The trail then heads through some crazy swampy badlands around the Shannon river, which is absolutely covered with green ferns. It was also covered in flies which, with Tennis’ current fragrance was not a good combo.

   
 

There was some good hills too – unfortunately the map makers change the vertical exaggeration on the profile of this section which meant the hills were a little steeper and higher than we expected.

  

After threatening to rain for about three hours, the heavens finally opened up around 1:00pm. It absolutely pissed down and we got soaked for the first real time on the trip.

  

We were planning to stop for lunch but as we were only 15km or so from camp we decided to push on; we’d been making good time and there was no real shelter to stop under anyway.  Unfortunately the track got much more difficult and our pace slowed considerably. The trail became narrower and less well defined. There were a number of fallen trees which lay across the path that created a fair bit of frustration – anything bigger than about 300mm means you need to unhitch your trailer and lift your gear over. 

  
At one point we got to a river crossing where the bridge had been washed away.

   
 
After another two hours of these sort of obstacles we made it to Fernhook Falls campsite, tired, hungry and wet.

Thankfully there’s a hut at the campsite so we were able to hang our wet gear up. I was pretty happy we didn’t have to pitch the tents as the rain got heavier in the late afternoon and continued through the night.

   

   
  

There’s a cool little pot belly stove in this hut, although with no dry wood around we couldn’t get it started. There was really nothing else to do but to get into bed at 3:30pm and drink port – not a bad way to spend a wet afternoon.

   
 

We cooked up a mean vegetable curry and hit the sack at 7:30pm.

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