Day 29: Alexandra to Clyde return

Mon 20 February 2017

  • Km today: 26
  • Total Km: 500

Otago Central Rail Trail 

The OCRT officially travels for 150km between Clyde and Middlemarch. As I am staying in Alexandra I will walk back to the trail head in Clyde today and return by the river trail to Alexandra. The holiday park is conveniently located nearby the rail trail so it doesn’t take me long to get going. No pack today, just a cap, sunscreen and bottle of water. This will be a pleasure after having to carry my life on my back. The trail follows the old railway line between Alex and Clyde – it’s almost a straight line, like a miniature version of the Nullarbor and maybe not quite as hot. I’ve set off early to beat the heat which will be high 20’s soon enough. It’s mainly lifestyle blocks lining the trail. There is water being applied in great volume from sprinklers in gardens and paddocks. It would be dry and rocky otherwise. Where water is not applied it basically looks like desert. Grapes must like this terroir as the vineyards of Rua and Toi Toi attest from their trail side vines. There are no cellar doors on the trail though… now isn’t that a shame. The first difference I notice today from the Clutha Gold Trail is the number of cyclists. Within an hour today I have seen 3 times the amount of cyclists than I saw on the entire week prior. And when one lady rides past I get a whiff of perfume. Now that I haven’t experienced with any TA’s or cyclists in a month. This is obviously going to be a different kettle of fish to what I am more recently familiar with. Shivers I better take a shower and wash some clothes! I found another plum tree and had a tasty fruit breakfast before arriving at the 110m wooden viaduct at Muttontown – named for a miners camp where a farmer provided mutton to hungry men. The old timbers rattled and creaked as I was crossing which I loved but I’m sure it might not be favoured by many.

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Shortly thereafter the trail finishes (or commences depending on your route) at the Clyde railhead. It was once a station and is now home to a company which provides cyclists with trail support. I purchased the official Otago Central Rail Trail passport and located the first passport stamp box outside. Bang! my first stamp. 17 more to collect by the time I reach Middlemarch. From here I stroll onto the old Clyde centre. The homes and gardens are immaculate as are the community walking/cycling paths. It is a very small town and apparently real estate is like hens teeth. I stop for a gelato at Nom Nom – selecting apricot chocolate chip is an inspired choice as it is so good I almost go back for another. But no I’m after a good coffee. Fortunately Oliver’s has a cafe adjacent so I can get my fix. Funny I think back on Auckland life which required at least 2 coffees every morning and now I am lucky if I have 2 coffees in as many weeks. Habits.

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I’ve taken as many photos as one can in a one horse town, so head to the river trail which will take me back into Alex. It’s about 12km following the Clutha from below the dam. Much of the way is sided by tailings from the gigantic sluicing dredges which plundered the river bed. Every now and then I would come across a random piece of equipment – a massive drill, a steel rope, some mangled iron. Unfortunately no signage accompanied this flotsam so I don’t know how it came to be there or what it is from. I did spot some brown fish in the river for the first time however – it has been too full and swift to reveal any previously. A little further along I take a pic at the Fraser River bridge, my nephew will like that. Once I get back into Alexandra I make a quick stop at the i-Site to follow up on accommodation for the rail trail then return to the holiday park as my smelly laundry is calling. This evening I meet up with a friend for dinner and conversation which is so appreciated after so much time on my own.

I’ve reached a milestone – 500km

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