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..

Yalgoo, Mt Magnet

Yalgoo was a small town. Its claim to fame is the church. Design and built by a priest.

The weather was kinder on the way to Yalgoo, but while I was in town, the smell came on the wind; petrichor. The scent of rain. It started raining a few minutes later. Temps have been about the 10C mark. Without the wind, its pleasant. With the wind it's shivering time. I was told in Mullewa that I was on the road at the right time. Several of the mines have shutdown for upgrading. So the number of trucks on the road is way down. One guy said that they averaged 1500 a day. This seemed a lot, but then today in Mt Magnet, a local was saying he counted 70 in an hour. At 130 tons each, its a lot of stuff moving about. Anyway, there are less trucks right now. So, the road crew is doing what road crews do: patching the roads. We passed each other lots. Road work is happening from Geralton to Mt Magnet.

Mt Magnet, didn't stop in town long. Feeling restless and liking being out camping. In town feels busy. I stopped at the shop, and spent a lot of time talking with people. The daily paper delivery to the shop was running late, so everyone was hanging around waiting. Lots of mining workers about in town and on the roads. Most look young. They don't wave when we meet on the road. I wave, and they stare back with bovine indifference. The locals, and most truckies wave. Sometimes I get a blast on the horn. Some trucks horns are way underpowered for the size of the truck. While the last few days has been warmer, the forecast for the next few includes lows of 0C and frosts. Going to be nippy. Today, after lunch, it was a sweltering 20C. The weather, what can you do..