I started this morning in the worst possible way — disaster struck my rear axle. I snapped the ‘Burley Balls’ rear axle bolt, which was made out of cheap Chinesium, as I went to depart the Darlot Motor Inn! I was devastated — this could easily have been the end of the adventure right there. I was completely immobilised. Without a rear axle I couldn’t even walk the bike to the local bike shop. I rang my partner Danielle in despair.
Luckily, after some wrangling with the local taxi company, I finally got onto a friendly cab driver willing to try fitting my bike and trailer and gear into the back of his maxi-cab. Just fit by about half an inch. We got to Horsham Cyclery, where the very-awesome Damian saved the day with a replacement bolt, jury-rigged to fit the Burley adaptors. Real steel this time! I feel so relieved, so grateful to Damian and the Horsham Cyclery guys, and so incredibly pissed off at Burley for compromising a $600 product with a 10c bolt. Damian, ever the helpful legend, charges me a paltry $5 for his 20-minute repair job, so I bought a few extra things from the shop to say thanks and give a little support right back.
With a light day in mind, of just camping by the Wimmera after pulling up a little sore and worried about the weather, I headed off to a laundromat, then a local café called the Cheeky Fox. It looked very nice from the street, but was incredibly loud inside, and the service was standard at best. The coffee was enormous though — when they say large, they ain’t kiddin’!
As I said, I was in for a light day of camping on the Wimmera, so I headed off for Pimpinio, with the view to then head due west from there to the Wimmera and just free-camp. I stopped in Pimpinio to fill up all my water bottles and 10L bladder for the camp, at a little caravan dealership called Ansu Leisure. I ended up staying for a cup of coffee and a great chat with the owners, Andy and Tanya. Andy’s dog was a beaut, performing a fun trick where she jumps on Andy’s back for a piggyback ride. Andy suggested I push on to Dimboola, as there are more suitable camping areas and better roads. After my experience on the corrugated gravel in Langi Ghiran State Park the other day, I agreed to take Andy’s advice and strike out to Dimboola, effectively starting my Leg 4: Horsham to Bordertown section early.
I ended up enjoying a beautiful, leisurely and thoroughly enjoyable ride to Dimboola, following the railway tracks — big thanks to the freight train for giving me a supportive toot as they passed — and I even saw the helpful cabbie from this morning along the way.
I arrived in Dimboola caravan park just as the sun was about to set. The manager, David, offered me a free berth in support of the charity cause, and I picked a spot just outside the park grounds where the trees were the most suitable for my hammock. I met a nice bloke from Adelaide, Jim, who was an electrician on a camping trip ahead of his wife and daughters, from Adelaide and Melbourne, who joined him later in the evening. Jim invited me to share their campfire, and I gratefully accepted. They were yet another lovely family I met along the way.