Thursday, 29 November 2012

Byron Bay

Well I'm out of Sydney now. Road trip to Byron Bay. Took it slowly, and hung out in places for a few days. 


The plan was to drive up the coast road, but I strayed inland a bit. Even so, had times like this:



House sitting a friends place now. Just hanging out and doing work on the van.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Spider Wasp?

While eating lunch at the Addison Road Community Garden, noticed this wasp dragging a spider along.

The wasp pulled the spider down the hole in the ground in the bottom photo. 

I tried to get a video, but was too slow.. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Jerrawangala State Forest/National Park

Haven't been totally idle hanging out in Sydney. Been running about sorting out the van to make it livable. While there are many layouts online for most van to camper van conversions, non applied to me. Yep, I'm different. I wanted the bike inside, rather than outside. This changes the layout options. In the end, basically I put a mounting for my bike, and a flat space to sleep on. I've still more space than in my tent. Then all the little things that need to happen - clothing, footwear, storage, cooking gear, etc. Have been using the bicycle camping gear a lot, in the cooking department, but decided I wanted to use LPG and have a good saucepan with a thick copper base with a handle rather than thin light camping pot. Using all the bicycle gear in the sleeping area. 

I decided to get some work on the van and needed to empty it. I don't have that much more than my cycle gear. More tools (heavy) and more clothes (bulky) were the main areas that grew the most. 

Had the work done in Woolongong. Yellow water was running off the rubber around the front windscreen. I was worried about rust under there. Was recommended Bears Auto Hospital. To fix it, the windscreen had to be removed and refitted and they would need the van for three or four days. I'd thought (perhaps naively) that "remove rust around the windscreen" meant the whole windscreen. Alas no. After taking off the windscreen, they fixed one corner and left the rest alone and refitted the windscreen. Not happy. When queried on this, I was told to do the whole window would have been a higher price. Arrrrrggghhh.. Not happy!!!  Will have to revisit this another time at another repair center. 

Anyway, while the van was in, not getting work done, I went off camping again. In true style, it was fine every day except the day I needed to pack up. But a good time was had.

I used Kennards Storage in Woolongong to store my gear. They were excellent. The Woolongong center had only been opened about three weeks earlier. Staff were very friendly and helpful. Totally enjoyed the experience there.  

While down south, went to the Jerrawangala State Forest/National Park for a short two hour walk. 


Love the big trees. Will have to do more walks. 


Also visited the Tianjara Falls in the Morton National Park.



There was very little water trickling over. Need more rain to have it really flowing. While I was in the area, it only drizzled.. Maybe another time...

Addictions

Well I've been back in Sydney for a bit now. Glad to see that I
haven't succumbed to an addiction like I did in Perth.

In Perth, it started as we're often told it does : "just try it",
"only one go, it can't hurt", "here free for your first time".

What could it hurt - I wasn't that interested anyway...

Soon I was short of sleep and sneaking slyly about, seeking out
characters with odd sounding names. Searching desperately... Day,
night had no meaning. I just needed to score one more time...
I needed to increase my hit...
Make my hit stronger...
Make my hits hits last longer...
Get more hits...
There had to be a way...

Then as gradually as it started, it faded away. Sense returned. I gave
up playing World of Warcraft (WOW to people in the know), got more
sleep, and slipped out the door to cycle across the Great Central
Road.

WOW as an addiction was very minor - a few weeks hard at it.. My
other addiction, that I fully unleashed the moment I arrived in Perth:
junk food, I'd had many many years. More specifically anything with
lots of sugar in it. High fat also featured, but no as much as sugar.
Its fair to say that most of my travels were fueled by junk food:
cake, chocolate, lollies and my favorite; biscuits (scotch finger
biscuits, chocolate chip, orange creams and ginger nuts featured
heavily, but I wasn't too picky). I was the person who'd eat dessert
first, and sometimes, second if I didn't like the mains choices, and
still have dessert! A family block of chocolate or two. A whole cake.
Tub of icecream. Packets of biscuits for a main meal, no problem.
Yep, I ate a lot of sugar. A lot like cigarette addiction, I'd tried
in the past to cut back, gone cold turkey more than a few times, but
always fallen off the wagon. Looking back, my heart wasn't really in
it. One of the reasons that I'd failed in the past was that I figured
there was always lots of time left to cut back, so what's the harm in
having another cookie now! I can cut back later today, tomorrow, next
week, next month, next year... Any time but now!

Its no surprise that I left Perth more than 10kg heavier than I'd
arrived ; daily cookie consumption, ice cream, chocolate has that
effect. With WOW, junk food, and little exercise, the only surprise
was how I didn't gain more weight. And what did all that do to my
health?

Somewhere about Mingenew (mid June) I decided the time had come reform
my eating habits, cut out the sugar and eat more unprocessed food.
Ideally, more fruit and vegetables, but as I discovered they are hard
to get in country Australia.

Of course I had to eat my last couple of packets of biscuits first,
just start this new eating regime with a clean plate so to speak.

I won't say it was easy. In fact the next two weeks were on and off
sugar cravings. Riding along thinking of tim tams, chocolate, scotch
finger biscuits, ice cream. I could just about taste them... One thing
great about cycling Western Australia - its a long way between places.
So cravings with no shops couldn't translate into buying, which would
then be followed by eating. I did put in considerable effort to resist
in the first few towns. I might have been about to cave in in one
small town, but was saved by a limited selection of biscuits. By that
time I was a biscuit snob. None of the limited selection would do. I'd
resisted so long, I wasn't going to break now just for any old
biscuit.

As time went on, saying "no" got easier and easier, til I didn't have
to say "no" any more: I didn't feel the need, so there was nothing to
say "no" too. I could look at all the biscuits, chocolate, lollies,
icecream and not feel the need to eat any of them. While at Laverton,
the whole dessert section of the all you can eat buffet didn't appeal.
It was truly novel experience for me: Megan in an all you can eat
dessert buffet and not eating any of it!

With this new awakening, come the realization just how pervasive junk
food is. Some roadhouses and information centers that didn't have any
healthy food options at all!

Not to say that I didn't eat anymore biscuits. I was given a snack
pack of two cookies one time. (The travelers insisted.) They tasted so
sweet. Like they were more than pure sugar. How'd I ever eat these by
the packet full? Yes I ate them, but I also refused chocolate,
snickers bars, tim tams and innumerable other biscuit, cake and
lollies offers. Now I do refuse and in some cases have thrown out
junk food forced upon me even after I've said "no thanks" too many
times. There is no joy in eating it, and its unhealthy. But there is
joy in all the other things I'm eating. Its like the amount of sugar
overrode all other tastes. Without it, other tastes have risen up to
replace it. There's a whole world of non sugar meals to explore for
taste now.

I'm glad I've broken my sugar addiction.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sydney

I've been catching up with friends, and rediscovering Sydney. After being away for so long, Sydney has changed. Its exciting rediscovering it. New bicycle paths, old ones upgraded. Buildings gone, renovated, demolished and a new building built. Even new roads and bridges in have been laid. 

I'm still cycling about. The van is handy at times, but bicycle still rules. With paths like this one:



Why would you drive?  This is nearby Parramatta Road. Much much nicer than being on Parramatta Road, even in a van.

Going to be staying in Sydney a while. Stuff to do, people to see. I'm expecting I'll get back travelling sometime, but not sure when. And of course I'll be taking the van with the bicycle in the back. 

One item I did sort out quickly was seeing a dentist. With the warmer weather the toothache I had has gone away, so thinking it probably was sinus related. But more surprisingly, the three cavities I "needed to have fixed" in Kalgoorlie can't be found. How good is that!!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sydney

Being in Sydney is really good. Lots of food choices, easy access to water. Weather isn't cold either. Had stuff to sort out, so been very quiet about being here. 

Now have sorted the most urgent task. 


Yep, bought a van. I'm a motor vehicle owner now. Was an intense and surprisingly difficult experience. After narrowing down the make and model, it was chase up adds - private and dealers - and then try to optimize the choices: year, price, km, condition being the main ones. What a minefield!

But all sorted now.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Broken Hill

Eventually had to leave Wilmington. Headed to Orroroo. Decided to use the GPS and try the suggested bicycle route. It was certainly low traffic and I thought very scenic. It was also 30km longer than the road, and had a good tour de hills of the region.

Did I mention it was dirt. Well, it some places it was grass, no one had been down the road in so long. Certainly was a nice ride. The down side was that with the cold morning, I left late, and then arrived in Orroroo very late. The lady at the newsagency was nice. But, if you end up down that way, stop in Peterborough, or Wilmington. DO NOT stop or stay in Orroroo. I didn't enjoy the stop in Orroroo, that is all I'll say about the town. I found out heading to Peterborough that there is a free camp on that road. I did ask about free camps, but was told there are none. If I'd known... Left very early next morning. Broke my don't get up under 5C rule. Was worse as there was a morning fog as well. But by "sun up" (sun didn't actually shine until way late in the day) I was cycling towards Peterborough and then onto Broken Hill. Was over cold, wet and winds, and more than a bit annoyed over Orroroo, and didn't want to find more towns south like that. I also wanted to see trees again.

Though the trip to Broken Hill didn't have a lot of trees. Lots of space though... But tough for winds. Strong winds were forcast for several days. I was going to stay in Broken Hill until they passed, but then I spoke with the wonderful lady in the information center. There were lots of accomodation options, but Broken Hill is on the Country Link rail network. Rode over to the train station, and dealt with the very very helpful Trevor, at the Country Link booking office.

Few hours later I was wheeling my bike onto the Indian Pacific and resting in a very comfortable chair. Only 16 hours later, after a good sleep, I wheeled my bike off the train in Sydney. Indian Pacific train is not a Country Link train, but the bookings are done at the same place. I don't recall the price of Country Link, but $168 seemed to me to be a bargin. Definitely recommend travelling with them. Now I'm in Sydney.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Wilmington

Left Woomera with forcast Northerly winds, and had a slow three days down to Port Augusta. Lots of opinions in Woomera about the recent mothballing of expansion plans at Roxby Downs. Didn't stop long in Port Augusta. While the traffic from Woomera down had been heavier, arriving in Augusta was overload. The usual bike lanes that vanish just when you need them. Diversions for cycle riders that direct you, and then fail to direct you anywhere else, leaving you wondering just where you are. I didn't need to do much of a shop, as i still had a lot of food from a big buy up in Coober Pedy. I got overly excited about the huge amount of choice in the IGA there and bought way way too much food. The stop in Woomera only put a slight dent in it. So I stopped at Stoney Creek Bush Camp Caravan Park, Wilmington to try a bit harder. Well, not just that, it is back cold and damp again. Crickey it's cold!! The caravan park is well off the main roads, very quiet and I was allowed to put my tent up in one of the camp kitchen areas, so was out of the wind and showers. So nice and peaceful. Also, I must admit, I've been having a bit of a crisis of decision for the last few weeks. This has reared its self now about which way to go. I'm not sure about wanting to stay bicycling and tenting about the country. Some of it is definitely related to the long distances between towns out this way, and all the difficulties that causes, and of course the cold, wet weather. Of course there are many other reasons and its not a simple decision. There are a lot of things I like about cycling and tenting. But there is stuff that I'm starting to miss. I'll expand more on this another time. For now, I'm heading back to Sydney. I'm leaning towards getting a van, but still not sure if that's a good decision. Its still 1500km to Sydney, so lots of time to contemplate that option. For now, the I just need to decide which route to take. Go via Broken Hill, with lots of space between towns and maybe less traffic, or via Renmark. More towns, but definitely more traffic, and maybe colder?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Woomera

I did some tourist stuff. Actually really wanted to see the rockets.

And I found some. There is also other military gear on display also, like this missile.

Once was the time when Australia built and launched its own..

This was in front of a fenced off area of all the bits of recovered from the Simpson Desert. Other than the tourist stuff, lots of hanging about doing not a real lot. The usual stuff - eating, washing, repairs, and of course: baking!

Still feeling really excited about bread. Especially flat breads. Something about mixing the dough up, that is so simple, yet has lots of room for variation. Also like the hands on moving the bread about the plate and flipping over to cook the other side. Haven't geeked out the process at all. Still not using any measures, just eyeballing the amounts in the mixing pot, and judging the cooking time on the amount of heat off the stove. This kitchen stove was not as hot as my MSR. Sometimes I get it wrong, but learning...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Woomera

Bailed on Coober Pedy, and lucky day I did too. Left town at 10am with a roaring tail wind. 120km done before I knew it. The first 100km was very barren. Nothing higher than ankle high. Would have been slow going in a headwind. Was so happy to see the bushs and trees start again. Almost got off and hugged them.

Actually I did hug a tree when I stopped for the day.. Yep, I'm a confirmed tree hugger. Met another bicycle rider on the road. Kerry on his holiday, cycling up the Highway to Darwin. He was in a hurry, so didn't stop long. I wished him always a tailwind. While he had it that day, the next was a different story.. Lots of caravans on the road. A few wide loads heading north. Wonder if this is for Coober Pedy...

Yesterday was a tail wind! I averaged just over 30km/hr. Rode 170km before calling it quits. It looked like rain. Lucky I stopped then. I just got the tent up in a dip in some sand dunes when it did start showering. Even better, as I found this morning, 4km up the road, the landscape returned to barren. Nothing higher than ankle hight again. Would have been a bad place to stop and put up the tent. A crook night was had. Something upset my stomach. It played bongo drums all night, and periodically wanted out. That really affected the sleeping. Energy levels this morning were not high.. Fortunately the tail wind continued until i was 6km from Woomera when it strengthened and moved. Slowest ride into a wind I'd ever had - just above walking speed. From the side was getting blown about the road. Luckily no trafffic. So taking shelter today. The weather station observations has it down as 50km winds at the moment. Even standing outside is unpleasant. Lucky for me, I'm standing in a camp kitchen, clean, warm and dry. Will have to rest here another day til the winds die down a bit before moving it. Time to check out the history of the place..

Sunday, 19 August 2012

My first damper

Thomas sent me the photo he took on the great central road of my first damper. I was so excited, I didn't get my camera out.

Coober Pedy

Marla was a nice stop. There is a little shop on the roadhouse. Lucky for me, I got a group having a party near my tent. So when i wandered into the shop at 11pm for something to do, I found them stocking the fresh fruit and veg section. The truck had just come in. After that it was pedal down the road..

Quiet and peaceful. Not that much traffic. No one stops to talk, like on the dirt roads. Just watching the landscape change. Spotted this old coral in a bunch of bushes..

When there were more trees about. And no so much steel.. Lots of sky out here.

Also lots of small flowers can be found. But you have to get off the road to look for them...

Close to Coober Pedy, the landscape changes. Barren is the word that springs to mind. There are also signs up warning about tresspassing and the danger of falling down mine shafts. I'm finding that I'm not like the bare landscape. I want some trees, or at least bushes. Coober Pedy is not like I imagined it would be. I'm not sure what I was expecting really. Its a major tourist center by the feel of it. I'll not be staying long. Actually, only until early tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Rock

Well, some people noticed the lack of photos of the Olgas, and the Rock. Reason for that is I didn't take any pictures of the Olgas, called Kata Juta as its other name. I also forgot to take pictures of the rock, until leaving.

There. Done. I did hang about for a bit. And then headed out the highway. It was to have been another dirt road, but some people thought i really needed a permit to be there. I didn't think so, but after thinking about it a bit, decided that I wasn't welded to riding that particular dirt road, so turned back and rode on the highway. This was a mountain on the way that I would have passed closer to.

One thing about the highway, lots of good stuff to pick up. Useful stuff. My bike is loaded up even more than before now. Found a foam bed roll, rolls of duct tape, spoons, forks, knifes, towels, plates, pots, pans, money, and a useful half a meter of underground high voltage cable. It weighs a fair bit, actually, but I have plans for the copper in it. So the highway is pretty good at the moment. And to make it more exciting, I've had a tail wind. Yah.. Managed just over 100km today with that. Made a change from the 60km days into a head wind. Been stopping early to get some baking in before it gets dark. Bought wholemeal flour in Yulara, and been having some type of bread for snacks each day. The last few days been experimenting with thinner bread, cooked on top of the stove on a plate. I like the baked bread, but haven't tried it on the stove yet, and lighting a fire and getting the coals right each day takes a lot of time. The wind doesn't always play its part - sometimes it doesn't die down till late. Sooner or later fire bans will start, so stove use is a must. The thin breads seem to cook faster, well, they seem cooked for me.. Was looking forward to the border crossing today. Was thinking the bins at the checkpoint would be a good source of fruit and veges. But..

Had to stop and read that again.. So for now, just plugging along down the Stuart Highway towards Coober Pedy. I'm thinking the bins might not be so full when I get to them...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Great Central Road Summary

Overall, how did I find it. I'd rate it as the best road I rode in Western Australia. I enjoyed the dirt riding. The level of traffic wasn't excessive for me. There were days when only a few vehicles passed, other days,  a short stop while the convoy passed and it was good to go again.
I carried 24liters water out of each road house, so had ample water for the weather to make it to the next water stop. While I was initially planning 80km days, the cold nights meant a late start to the day - the sun needed to be well up and have warmed to between 5 and 10C before riding. When sunset in WA was at 5pm, I'd stop at 2:30 ish to have a relaxed camp setup. Overall this meant shorter riding days but 60km was achiveable.
I didn't find the road terribly bad. There were certainly sandy spots that I walked. The road in NT was more sandy than in WA.  There were times of dragging the bike through the sand. Been on better, had worse also.
Corrogations - yep, plenty. Weave about the flat spots, or worse case, ride slowly over each one. Riding was still faster than walking..
Sometimes the sides and the banks were in good shape, but other times they were churned up also. I experimented with going off road a couple of times, but when the road was sand, off road was also sandy, so it was no gain. Worse in fact.
Seemed to be more upgrades happening in WA, but it may also depend on the time of the year of the ride - it upgrades have just happened for the tourist season, and before its had time to break up again.
Slowest average for travel in WA was 12km/hr. In NT it dropped to 9km/hr.
The other traffic - is the full list of considerate to "did they see me?". Lots of wonderful people stopped and handing out fruit or other food treats. Always very much appreciated. How can you thank those people enough?
I had enough food options at the road houses that I didn't feel constrained. Basics were available everywhere. Prices are higher, but your a long way from anywhere, and it costs a lot to get food in.
Traffic on the Great Central can only go up. Talking with carvaners, many said the numbers have risen in recent years as more baby boomers retire, load up the 4x4 and set off to "do" the desert tracks.
Camels - my count was less than a dozen, till one herd of eight upped the numbers. Not sure why this was. I saw dust in the distance a few times. Maybe they have been culled lately.
Car wrecks also was down. I did spot some collecting areas where perhaps the road crew had gathered up the wrecks.  One thing on the wrecks, the cost of a tow from the Great Central Road would be pricy. I spoke to a guy who broke his axle, $4000 was the quote for a truck to Alice Springs. Kalgoolie would be the nearest point in the other direction. Insurance options off road were also pricey, or not an option. So dumping the car could be a sane financial decision, expecially if the car is old, like most of the wrecks were.
One funny incident. I rode up to two guys whose 4x4 had just rolled to a stop. I called out "I can give you a tow, but I don't have a rope". One called back "push push".. They were getting stuff out of the car,  and I stopped. "a push" the other guy said. I was worried this point, did they think I was serious? Turned out they had a flat tire, and yeah, the battery was flat, so the more help push starting on the sandy road was certainly welcome. I got a laugh from it..  And yeah, push starting a 4x4 on sand is a hard push!

Uluru, Ayers Rock

Well, after that last post, you probably thought I had a feed of hot damper. Sadly, that wasn't the case. After it was cooked, it was packed up and we left. Thats right, no damper eating. Twas a sad moment. But still, it planted a seed.

As I left next morning, I thought about how simple it looked making damper. Then I met Mike. I'd heard about a cyclist heading my way, but reports were sparodic. I hadn't heard anything in days, so thought he might not actually be on the Great Central Road. Then I met Ted. Wonderful gentleman stopped and we chatted. The cyclist was about two hours back, so at say even 80km/hr, that was a long way back. But then he said later, between here and Warakunna Roadhouse. Oh.. I was 90km from there, so we could meet today. In the end I stopped and made lots of effort to mark the road. It he missed the markings I'd have to backtrack and find him. We met. Mike rode 88km and was going to stop at 90. So it was a lucky chance that we met that night. Ted also left me a block of chocolate. Mike got some of it from me. Ted was so nice!

So Mike and I sat and talked and talked. It was good to met another tourer. Been a long time since my last one. Was a real boost for me, and was also great to give Mike tips that I'd found out the hard way. Go read about Mikes trip at Crazyguyonabike.com
Mike also lit a fire. So next road house, I bought flour. Got buggered up with the timezones for the weather balloon launch at Giles weather station. Hammered it to get there before 8:30, only to find I was too late. The launch was Central Time, I was on WA time.

Almost missed the shop also, it posted a sign saying it was shutting for a while just as I arrived. A funeral was taking place at the local community. I'd heard another report of two cyclists heading my way. So, set out to find them. As it happened we camped 5km apart and met first thing in the morning. Thomas and Stuart. I'd figured they would light a fire a night, and I'd have an experiment with making damper. Blow me down, I'd meet the traveling bakers. I'd no sooner explained about damper, that it seemed in minutes they'd produced scones, damper, and a cake! All baked on a fire, or a small stove with a couple of pots. Wow. I was so impressed. Speechless in fact. A huge thanks to Stuart and Thomas for sharing some of their skill with baking with me. We also stayed the whole day talking. And next morning I baked my first damper. Thomas has a photo. I was to excited holding my damper to get my camera out.. It was (and still is) so exciting. Been baking a damper or two each day that I can since then. Lots to learn about fire temps, getting the coals right, length of bake time, etc. But so easy to get an edible damper. And so tasty doing the eating! I'm still in the space of raving unbidden to people about cooking dampers. I'm sure it will pass in time... But it is really simple, fun and exciting. Try it :) Thomas and Stuart had a bag of fruit a lovely couple had given them for me. I'd met them the day before and been given a banana, chips and a couple of biscuits. All food that was happily accepted and eaten, but later they thought they'd should have left more fruit. Some people are so nice. After farewell to Thomas and Stuart, onwards to Docker River.

Wasn't too many trucks on the road, but when they did, it wasn't too hard to decide where to be. Upwind!!

The road changed. Hills happened in the distance. Something to feast the eyes on.

Early snake or legless lizard. Whatever, I decided to act and chased him or her off the road before the next vehicle arrived. Sadly, I arrived in Docker River 5minutes after the shop had shut on a Saturday. I'd forgotten the day. So, another day and a half of resting, till the shop reopened on Monday at 9.

Couldn't say there where no facilities on the side of the road. If I hadn't already cooked damper the night before... Another morning, I met up with Henry and Jane.

Weren't too many motorcycles on the road, and even less with a sidecar. Talked for about an hour. They have some similiar experiences with people stopped, asking a few questions and then leaving. Also met William. Cycling on a single speed with full touring gear from Newcastle westwards. We didn't chat long. He was in a bit of a hurry. Speed for him on the sand was slow. We met early in the morning - I was still packing up the tent. He'd managed 36km the day before - so lots of walking. The day for me ended up being 63km, proving what I'd found earlier in my travels - its slow touring on a single speed. Then yesterday the dirt road ended. Tar is back, and with it lots more traffic. Tourists out in force. Until the next dirt road...

Friday, 20 July 2012

Morning out bush with people from Warburton

Well, I'd lucked into the morning out bush. First time offered here. A learning experience for all parties. The thought is to offer it as an on going tourist experience. Anyway, I jumped at the chance. Seemed a good way to get some local knowledge, and learn a bit more about the land I've been travelling through.
I almost was the only "tourist", but Mena, a worker new to the area came along also.
Learned lots for the morning. We had a goanna hunt. Learn't that they live deep down their hole in the ground. Its not really a hole, more a multi level underground sky scraper. Dug down a bit over a meter following the tunnel about as it curled down. Learnt that just because there is a goanna hole, and it goes down a long way, doesn't always mean the goanna is home. Score one for goanna, zero for hunters.
But the fire was going, coals nice and hot, so lamb chops and spuds in aluminium foil went in instead. On another bed of hot coals sans the foil was a damper baking. 
The damper was self raising flour mixed into a dough with water. The fire burned down to coals and the coals raked away. Some flour was sprinked on the ground, and it started browning. The damper dropped onto this. About the shape of a turkish bread, and about an inch thick. Coals were then raked over the top. Some time later, coals raked off and the loaf turned, and coals added to the top again. When it was deemed ready, the coals were raked off, and the loaf hit with a stick to shake all the coals off. Serve with butter and honey.
Sorry, no photos provided as cameras were not allowed. But sitting around on the ground we learned a bit about the area and the people.
An interesting morning. Glad I had the chance to go along. Thanks to the people from Warburton and Ngaanyatjarra Council for providing the opportunity.
Tomorrow, the agenda is up early and start pedalling. It will be another long gap to the next update when internet is available again.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Warburton

Well, the start from Laverton, was cool and cloudy.

I had to get the phone out and check the gps that i was on the right road. After that little hitch, there wasn't any choices. The cold mornings continued, thought the days did warm up a bit more.

But the sun rise is worth getting out of bed for.

Lots of empty space out here.

Some of the flowers are just coming into bloom.

Makes the air so sweet. No bees though. Think of the honey it would make... The first few days I had lots of people stop me and ask the questions. Was given some oranges a couple of times. One wonderful couple feed me well, and gave me oranges, apples, bananas, and some nut bars. Their bread, butter and honey sandwich, I almost pinched myself to see if I was dreaming. I was so yummy. I didn't, because I figured that if it was a dream, I didn't want to know. Was such a nice sandwich. The honey was from their local area, and I'd rate it as the best. The last couple days no one has stopped. The most I've had is people slowing down a bit and indicating if I'm okay. Otherwise, days slipped by, just peddling away. The grader crew where on the move. I found their work though. First roadhouse: Tjukayiria. Was a welcome site. Had to try their Tjukayiria burger. Was so good, had another one. Was told that I was the first person to eat two in one go. I was hungry. I managed to fit another one in in the morning before leaving. Martha, working there, kindly showed me about the local area.

One of the animals in the zoo. Can you see the elephant there? On wild life, I have seen some camels, an emu, and one dingo and one wallaby. Someone would ask how the road is. Well, its a dirt road. Its got character. Some bits have a hard surface, others are really soft. But the secret is to ride on the hard bits. Sometimes I've had to walk for considerable distance looking for a hard bit. I was planning to average 80km per day, but with the cold mornings and short days, am finding that even that is a struggle at times. Fortunately with all the cold, water isn't a problem. I'm carrying 24liters, leaving the road houses, and its well enough to get the distance done. Could even stay on the road a day or two extra. I'd still say that this is the best road I've had in WA. Will be in Warburton another day, then will head on up the road. Will be no reception for sometime again.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Laverton

Been a wet, cold day. Was a balmy 15C overnight, and very windy. Then early this morning, the temperature dropped, and the showers started. And so it continued on and off all day, interspersed with drizzle. I wasn't expecting to make Laverton today, but had a  tailwind, and I had to keep pedalling to stay warm.
Passed a few mine sites today, and a refinery. Was interesting to see small wind mills on top of the poles, with solar panels underneath. Guess it gets windy out here.
Started seeing the car wrecks on the side of the road. The number is only going to go up from here.
Staying in the caravan park tonight. Luckily it  has a camp kitchen: a dry, warm, and out of the wind place to hang out in.
Applied for the permits for the Great Central Road at the visitors centre, and got them.  Leaving in the morning. Will be no mobile reception until Warburton, about 550km away.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Menzies, Leonora

Well, the stay in Kal was good, but being on the road again is even better.

Lots of history about here. Though, most of it seems to be signs - something was here before. In this case, a town, now its just a mine site. With all the mining boom, it seems like the the towns are dying. Menzies, the road house has closed down, there is a pub left.

Leonora didn't feel that alive today either. Streets empty. Few people stopping at the servo for fuel. I've hit the school holidays. 4x4, with families, some towing caravans all heading north. Got mugged for the faq questions a few times, before they all piled back into their cars and drove off. Met one couple with their small child, they'd driven from Perth for the weekend. Out to look at some sculptures past Menzies. 1600km round trip for the weekend. Needed to be back in Perth Sunday afternoon. Thats a lot of driving for the weekend. But then I look at the mining work out here. Wether its driving the workers out to the mines from Kal, or trucking the ore hundreds and hundreds of kilometers for processing or shipping. There isn't any reason to stay in the small towns. Not when you can live in the city and drive out. The small towns just slowly die as more and more services leave. Had some fun the other afternoon. I got to play tag with the showers. I'd pedal as fast as I could, helped along by gusts of wind just ahead of the rain. I'd just stayed ahead. A quick stop for a drink and bit of a rest, and the showers would catch me up again. I'd pedal and get away before they could wet me. This went on for 30km. Eventually I was out flanked. A cloud from the side got me. Next morning managed to play the same game with the sun bursts through the clouds. Well, till the sun went to do something else.. Sometime in the last couple of days the cycling with all my touring gear has gotten easy again. Since leaving Perth it had been hard work. I guess my fitness is back up now. The area still surprises me. I was expecting cold nights and warm days. Getting the cold nights, and then cold days. The days with the showers were trying. 10C, a strong wind, and then showers. But it will clear up in a few days. Then I'll probably not see any rain for a long time.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Leonora, Kalgoorlie

Second day out of Leinster was one of those magical days. It wasn't too cold overnight, so an early start was possible. The day topped out at 18C, but even better, there was a tailwind! The first in weeks. I flew along. 75km in three hours. A quick food stop in Lenora and back on the road again. Had to use that tail wind while it was happening. Then, at 90km a ute had stopped on the side of the road.
"Want a lift to Kalgoorlie?"
"You bet!".
Couple hours of interesting conversation later, I'm loading my bike up 25km from Kal, when the farmer that owned the land on both sides of the road drove up. Not only did he give me his dentists number, he also let me camp on his land overnight. Bonus!
Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a lot of dentists. But there is large waiting lists for all of them. That dentist didn't have any appointments in the next two weeks, but next morning when I arrived in Kal, I found Smile Dental Clinic that did. And even better, they had one that day. Case of being there at the right time.
I decided to find somewhere close to stay for the night and Di at Weslan Accommodation was very very helpful. If your ever in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and need accommodation, check with Weslan.
The dentists, there were two who looked at my gob and x-rays, couldn't find any obvious problem. In the end they ground a filling down a bit as they thought it was a bit high, and suggested trying a nasal decongestant in case it was a sinus infection. The nerves for the teeth are close to the sinus, so infection in the sinus cavity can show up as tooth pain. Was my nose running? Of course, its been so cold and dry my nose runs constantly! They did find other work that could be done, (Doesn't that always happen?) but with no new appointments for three weeks, I've decided not to stay. Will book an appointment with a dentist when I'm on the east coast again.
So, tomorrow I ride back up to Leonora. I sure will not see a tail wind for that trip. It'll be a case of making friends with the wind.
Bit worried still, but loaded up with nasal decongestants, asprin, panadol, cloves, and other pain killers. Will just ride. If it blows up, I'll sort something out.
I wonder if needle nose pliers are the best sort to have...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Sandstone, Leinster

Paynesville Cemetry has one grave stone.. And he was killed in 1899. But on his gravestone, it is only written 99. That will catch someone out one day..

Its also amazing that at the same spot, George Ellis used to have 20acres of fruit trees and garderns, supplying fruit and veg to passing travellers. Where did it all go? Could do with some fruit and vege about the area.. Sandstone is a lovely little town. Had a wonderful tourist information center there also. I bought two dead tree books. One by a guy that tramped about the goldfields. He puts me to shame. He walked more in a day, than I'm cycling some days.. The other book on Bicycles in the Bush. Its really good.. All about bicycle use in rural Australia. Lots of fantastic info in to. The weather has been cold.. Ice on the tent each morning, so I don't get out of bed util the sun is up. Lots of reading time:)

A lookout outside of Sandstone.

Headed into Leinster from Sandstone. Its a mining town. Got a great all you can eat buffet each evening. I certainly gave it a work out. Lots of salads and fruit. Yum yum.. Also a day to do washing. Last wash was in Mingenew and it rained. The hot shower certainly felt good. The plan from here was to east, but i've a tooth that is causing me some discomfort. Since Dentists will be few and far between heading east. Okay, there will be none until Allice Springs. So I'm going to head to Kalgoorlie and find one there first and then decide what do to. So a fast pedal south.. Into the cold.. Hopefully it will not be a headwind all the way..