Sunday, December 6, 2009

Adventure at Melville Caves

I headed north to Lancefield and then on through so many wonderful backroads, to Mia Mia, Sutton Grange, through Golden Point to Castlemaine. As I walked back to the bike at a petrol station outside Castlemaine a woman smiled at me as we passed and I became aware of the reason: I had an infectious smile on my face. Riding had done its work.

Just beyond Lancefield, on the Burke and Wills Track.

Burke and Wills vie with Major Mitchell for historic markers throughout this region. I'm a Major Mitchell man myself, because he left behind interesting journals. At his Expedition Pass Reservoir I stopped.

Riding through Castlemaine to Maldon I stopped for lunch and then rode up Mount Tarrengower Tower. The road up is steep, used every year since the 1920s for hill climbing competitions on what are now vintage cars and motorcycles.

The afternoon was hot. I chose narrow back roads to Eddington, then Dunnoly, Moliagul, Rheola.

These are my favourite roads. Narrow or wide they are mostly empty, with straight stretches but enough sweeping curves to please. There is often gravel in the corners, but an easy pace means I can negotiate such hazards safely.

From Rheola I intended to ride to Kingower and Inglewood, but saw a sign pointing north-west to caves and followed it.

Up a winding road into Kooyoora National Park, alone aside from the shrill of insects and birds in a dry blanket of heat, I found Melville Caves. Named after the bushranger 'Captain Melville', who used this as a post in the 1850s, the caves are the spaces between granite boulders of Egyption proportions.

Here's the main entrance to the caves

Because the photos don't capture the size, I balanced my camera and included myself to give you a sense of the dimensions:

Looking up from the entrance

The first part of the cave. The following shots are taken with the Flash, and don't convey the eerie sensation of entering a dark cave on your own in the bush.

Looking back at the entrance from where the cave drops away to a lower floor.

With the Flash off

The lower floor, looking back to the first entrance, again with the Flash on.

And into another room,

with a beautiful ceiling.

Looking back at an exit.

I rode back on wonderful roads via Llanelly, Newbridge, Maldon, Castelmaine, and down the Calder Freeway to home, back to the stresses of life having taken a deep, relaxing breath for a day.

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