Slept in slightly, then as I was leaving from home and not coming back, needed to double-check that everything was packed into the trailer and the gear was all ready to go. Thus I arrived one hour late for my own send-off at Ballarista in Lydiard Street, Ballarat. I had my coffee and said my goodbyes, then departed up Sturt Street, following Remembrance Drive all the way through Lucas, onto Cardigan Village and joining the Western Highway. I did forget to pack more bananas, so stopped by Wilson’s Fruit & Veg in Lucas on the way.
I had a nice, but relatively uneventful (except for some roadworks) ride into Beaufort, which is about 50km from Ballarat. On the highway entering Beaufort I was pulled over by a police squad car, though luckily the local Beaufort cop just wanted a chat and to see what I was up to. I told him I was planning to stop at the bakery for a pie, to which he highly recommended the Pyrenees Pantry café across the road. I decided to try his suggestion as I hadn’t eaten there before, usually returning to the bakery for their awesome chunky steak pies, but I should have heeded my own advice on this one — the coffee, whilst OK, was nothing to rave about, and the service and attitude from the young bloke working there was pretty poor. Ah well! Maybe they put more effort into the policeman’s order, which is probably a good policy.
I headed out of Beaufort and enjoyed a nice ride into Ararat, or just shy of, where I pulled off the highway at Langi Ghiran State Park to camp for the night. Rode my bike a few kilometres up a corrugated dirt road — hell on a bike! — to the formal (but free!) camping ground. I met a nice family whilst camping there. David and Nicole were from Lalor, in Melbourne, and were camping with their little boys, Sam and Charlie, 5 and 3 respectively. They were good kids, especially little Charlie who had fantastic manners for a child his age, and was great seeing them enjoying a camping trip with their mum and dad. Dad sang them a song on the guitar to put them to sleep — which I was informed by Nicole was a regular nightly occurrence, not just a camping thing — and then had a great conversation as they shared their campfire with me until the late hours of the evening, when I finally dragged myself away from the campfire and hit the hammock at about 2300. The hammock is comfortable enough and very warm, but being my first night camping in a hammock, I still need to get used to the sleeping angles.