Bangkok Days

Bangkok, by far my favorite town in the world, is an excellent place to start or finish a trip. Normally I always try to stay in another part of the town whenever I am here, just to get to see and know more of it. But I still had a bicycle waiting in Bangkok, so went back to the same hotel as a couple of weeks ago.

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One of the best ways to travel fast and cheap through the city are the fast river boats in the picture.  Be aware that they make really formula 1 style stop & go’s at the pier, so you better be quick hoppin’ on and off.
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River style housing along the Chao Phraya river.
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Genuine Thai smiles at the flower market.

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Flowers on a skewer.

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I always wanted to visit the Baiyoke Tower in Bangkok, but it never happened in the past.  Baiyoke Tower is the highest hotel tower in southeast-Asia with 84 floors.  The tower is 309 m heigh (328 meters with the antenna on top of it).   It stands on 360 Continue reading “Bangkok Days”

Thailand: Mae Hong Son – Chiang Rai – Sukhothai

After visiting Mae Hong Son I rode in one long day to Chiang Rai via the famous road nbr 1095. There are reportedly  1,864 curves on this route.  Doing it now by car instead of on the bike, it seems much harder as back then.  (The report of my 2008 journey can be found here.)  One thing is sure: traffic has become about ten times more than back in 2008.  It is still a spectacular route, but I had multiple close calls with cars and motorbikes.  On a bicycle, I wouldn’t recommend this route anymore.

Chiang Rai and the surrounding area has some interesting attractions:

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Wat Rong Suea (The Blue Temple)
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Inside the Blue Temple. Stunning Buddha image.
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On the way to Khun Khorn waterfall, one walk through impressive bamboo forests

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Wat Rong Khun. This is the forst time I saw ‘The White Temple’ with my own eyes. Unforgettable and probably second on my list of must sees after the Golden Palace in Bangkok.

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Continue reading “Thailand: Mae Hong Son – Chiang Rai – Sukhothai”

Thailand: Bangkok & Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

After leaving Australia, I flew to Thailand for a month. My mother flew in as well and I showed her around the country. We started off in Bangkok.

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Wat Arun is a good starting point to show a first time visitor to Thailand. It is a very impressive temple and it involves a nice boat trip across the Chao Phraya River to Thonburi.
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Chao Phraya river by night.
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On the way up to Wat Saket (Golden Mount), one of my favourite temples in Bangkok.
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The stunning Loha Prasat.
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Loha Prasat. You can walk around here for hours and still, every time I’ve been here, I’ve been virtually on my own. It’s not on the tourist trail. Good.

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The Golden Palace in Bangkok, with Wat Phra Kaew.  It was my fourth visit to this place and it seems to get busier every time.  Rightfully so because few places on earth can match this place.  But I prefer the quieter times of my first visits.
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Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.  It is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.

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Guardians of the Golden Palace.
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The Golden Palace from outside its walls.
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Wat Pho is the oldest and largest (80.000 sq.m.) temple in Bangkok.  It houses more than thousand Buddha statues, more than any other temple in the country.

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The reclining Buddha, 15 meter high and 46 meter long.
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The Buddha’s feet are 3 m high and 4.5 m long.   The different panels on his feet are displaying auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified.  At the center of each foot is a circle representing a chakra or ‘energy point’.
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One of the many buildings inside Wat Pho.

The night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is very popular with tourists. I can’t understand why, because you miss all the scenery along the way, so we took the daytime train, leaving Hua Lampong train station at 8:30 am and arriving in Chiang Mai at 19:30. The last hour is still in darkness, which is a pity as it is the most beautiful part of the trip.

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Arriving in Chiang Mai in the evening, first priority is Thai food !!!
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Wat Chet Lin, a quiet temple in the centre of Chiang Mai.

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Wat Chedi Luang, also in Chiang Mai’s centre.  The fences around the temple weren’t there yet during my previous visits.  The toll of mass tourism.

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Wat Phra Sing. All this golden stupas were still white concrete stupa’s when I visited it years ago.
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Wat Phra Sing.

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More Wat Phra Sing.

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A must see when you are in Chiang Mai is Wat Doi Suthep, about 15 km outside the city in the surrounding hills.

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Black elephant statue on the way up to Doi Suthep.

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Wat Doi Suthep.

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A bit further up the hill, you’ll find Phu Phing (Bhubing) Royal Palace, built as a winter retreat for the Thai King.  The palace is closed for the public, but you can visit the gardens.

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Local dancers @ Wat Sri Suphan

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A temple I never visited, never even heard of during my previous visits to Thailand: Wat Sri Suphan.  The temple was originally built around 1500 to serve as the main temple for a silversmith village.  The process of completely covering the temple in silver only began in 2008 though.  By now, he temple is completely covered in silver, from the walls to the roof.

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We rented this little Honda to make a 2.200 km tour in Northern Thailand.
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Close to Chiang Mai is the mountain Doi Inthanon, Thailands highest peak.  It’s a national park.  A few kilometer before the top, you ‘ll find two remarkable pagodas: Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon.   They were built by the Royal Thai Air Force for King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthdays in 1989 and 1992, respectively.  Until recently, one had to climb the stairs to the pagoda, but nowadays, progression  is unstoppable and an escalator will bring you up there, if you wish.
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The highest point of Thailand: 2.565 meter, 33 centimeter and 4,1 mm above sea level.  Precise up to a tenth of a millimeter haha.
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From Doi Inthanon, we rode via Mae Cham towards Khun Yuam.

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Thung Bua Tong Fields 
These Mexican sunflowers begin to blossom only in November and early December (for a period of less than 40 days). 
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Mae Surin waterfall, the highest of Thailand.

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Some fantastic accommodation in Khun Yuam.
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Sunrise from the bungalow.

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Khun Yuam is very close to the border with Myanmar, which shows in the style of the temples you’ll find here.  This one is in a small village west of Khun Yuam.

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More Burmese style temples along the way from Khun Yuam north to Mae Hong Son.

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On arrival in Mae Hong Son, we first visited Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu, a pagoda at the top of a hill.
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Spectacular views from Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu.  You can see the small provincial capital Mae hong Son, the airstrip and the surrounding mountains.
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The lake in the centre of Mae hong Son.

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The Thai kitchen, by far the best in the world.
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43 kilometer north of Mae Hong Song, near the border with Myanmar, is the village Mae Aw, also know as Ban Rak Thai.  On the way, we’re passing a few waterfalls. The Chinese style town was established by Yunnanese (Yunnan is a southern Chinese province) Kuomintang fighters who fled from Chinese communist rule in 1949.
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It’s Thailand, it’s right on the border with Myanmar, but it’s all Chinese style here.
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The reservoir at Ban Rak Thai.
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Tea, lots and lots of tea.
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I think, anno 2019, they earn more from the tourist bungalows in the tea plantations as from the tea itself.

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Very beautiful flower, found in a bamboo forest.
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Flower detail.
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A bike, panniers…. freedom !!
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Su Tong Pae bridge, supposedly the longest teak bridge in Thailand.  It looks old but was built in 2012 only to make a connection between Wat Tham Poo Sa Ma, which you can see in the distance, and  locals of Ban Gung Mai Sak village.  During certain periods of the year, this rice fields are full with water, and the bridge makes life easier for the monks to visit the village, and  for the locals to reach the temple for making  merit  and visit to the temple for monk chat and praying.

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Four faced Buddha.
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Inside Wat Tham Poo Sa Ma.
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I guess this is to make wishes.
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Lots of wishes here 🙂

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Hear nothing, speak nothing, see nothing.

Next episode: Going from Mae Hong Song towards Chiang Rai along route 1095, hyped as the ‘hardest road of Thailand’ (it’s not), with supposedly 1864 curves, then from Chiang Rai to Sukhothai.

Australia Prt 21: The data, the good, the not so good, the tips

2019 was a good year with a total of 323 days of traveling during which I visited two countries. 288 days in Australia, my only ‘new’ country this year. The other 35 days were spend in Thailand.

Some data about the Australia trip:

* Total kilometers cycled in Australia: 12.441 km
* Total kilometers all trips combined : 116.190 km

* Kilometers cycled per state (chronologically):

– Tasmania : 1.811 km in 47 days
– Victoria : 512 km in 13 days
– New South Wales : 712 km in 10 days
– South Australia : 2.274 km in 44 days
– Northern Territory : 2.291 km in 46 days
– Western Australia : 4.841 km in 128 days

* Average kilometer per cycling day: 55,30 km

* Total meters climbed: 85.917 meter

* Shortest cycling day: 5,52 km (Gog Range – Tasmania)
* Longest cycling day : 123,11 km (towards Tjukayirla RH on the Great Central                     Road, WA)

* Highest speed : 69,75 km/hr (on Cradle Mountain Development Road, Tasmania)
* Highest point : 959 m (on Cradle Mountain Development Road, Tasmania)

* Longest day in the saddle: 7 hrs 48 minutes (for 71,77 km near Warakurna, WA)
* Total time in the saddle: 931 hours
* Average time in the saddle on cycling days: 4 hrs 12 minutes

* I slept 229 nights outside:

– Wild camping : 220 nights (76,6%)
– Campgrounds : 9 nights (3,1 %)

* I slept 58 nights inside:

– Hosted by people : 40 nights (14,0 %)
– In trail huts : 9 nights (3,1%)
– In hotels : 7 nights (2,5 %)
– On a boat : 2 nights (0,7 %)

* Flat tyres: 16 (after I changed to real fat and heavy Chinese tubes, it became much better).

* Number of pictures taken: 8.898

* And the info everybody seems to want:
Average cost/day: 31,88 aud (= 19,80 euro, = 21,50 usd)

This includes only my daily cost during the trip for food (probably 80% of the cost), entrance fees, camp grounds and other small purchases like sun cream, tubes, etc…).
This does NOT include any bicycle or camping gear, nor flight tickets to and from Australia or the transfer to and from Tasmania with the m/s Spirit of Tasmania.

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Trip highlights:

– Cradle Mountain National Park (Tasmania)
– Bruny Island, Maria Island, Freycinet National Park (Tasmania)
– Cycling the dirt roads along the Murray River (Vic & NSW)
– The Mawson Trail (South Australia)
– The Flinders Ranges
– The scenery along the Oodnadatta Track (South Australia)
– The Sandover Hwy + the small back tracks towards Plenty Hwy (NT)
– Harts Range & MacDonnell Ranges (NT)
– The endles dirt, corrugations and scenery along the Great Central road (NT & WA)
– Cape Le Grand National Park (WA)
– The area around Hopetoun (WA)
– Stirling Range (WA)
– The Munda Biddi Trail (loved the forests) (WA)
– The friendliness and openness of a lot of the people I met
– The often awesome wild camping spots
– Vast open spaces

What I didn’t like so much:

– The behaviour of the majority of car drivers
– The flies.
– Uluru National Park
– Too much traffic on the Oodnadatta Track (due to water in Lake Eyre)

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Tips & advice for other cyclists:
It’s Australia. What makes it special and unique in my opinion are its deserts, its empty, remote areas. Go there and explore it on the dirt roads. With a bit of common sense, you should make it. Yes, you have to look a bit after yourself, carry water and food (sometimes lots), but if disaster strikes, you are not on your own.
When I was doing my research for this trip, people said they wouldn’t even go on the Stuart hwy without a satellite tracker like Spot or Garmin InReach.
That’s ridiculous.
Unless you decide to wander off the track in a random direction, you will have somebody passing you every day. The longest I was on the Great Central Road or Oodnadatta Track without seeing a car was probably 3 or 4 hours. Only a few times I saw nobody the whole day on smaller tracks. So up to you whether you want it. I had an InReach, but in hindsight, I don’t think you really need it. People have been doing this stuff since ages, long before mobile phones and satellite trackers were around.

The Stuart Highway between Darwin and Adelaide seems to be popular with a lot of cyclists. Although I rode only a small part of it south and north of Alice Springs, I think this road is totally unsuitable for bicycle touring due to the amount of traffic, no shoulder and the attitude of the drivers. Same goes for the Lasseter Highway going to Uluru.
It’s a nightmare. Avoid it.

If I would cycle the GCR again, I would ride north of Alice via the Tanami Road, then the Kintore Road, than take the Sandy Blight Junction Road to connect to the GCR. Or, if you want to go via the MacDonnell Ranges, take the Namatjira Drive out of Alice Springs, then connect via Haast Bluff towards Kintore Road, then further as above.
I assume you’ll find provisions in Mount Liebig and in Kintore.
If you do, let me know how it was !

I rode with 26 x 2.0” tyres. Unless you choose to stay on the asphalt (which would be a shame), I think 2.0” tyre width is the minimum you need. Something in 2.25” – 2.5” range would be optimal.
There are lots and lots of corrugations. Invest in a quality bike with the very best wheels you can find, quality racks and quality bags.
And keep it simple. Your Gates belt, your fancy disc or Magura brakes or electronic shifting are recipes for headaches, possibly for disaster.
I went without suspension. Front suspension might be a good idea, but only when it is a very good fork.

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A decent double wall tent and a sleeping bag with at least a comfort range of -3 °C should be sufficient for this trip, unless you go to Tasmania outside summer season.

A big thank you to Hans & Claudia, Sophie, Paul, Ian & Keryn, Fred & Wendy, Beth & Denis, Nico & Mykal, Stan & Briony, Dylan, Libby, Eddy & Shirley, Susie, Diana & Rod, Febe, Geoffry, Will & Jenny, Craigh and David & Marianne. All of them accommodated or helped accommodating me and were without exception interesting and very pleasant contacts and a welcome change from the long, long road.
Stay in touch please !

Below, the map from my route on Tasmania and mainland Australia.
All routes can be downloaded from Wikiloc.

Australia Prt 20, WA: Cape Leeuwin to Perth

Route: Cape Leeuwin – Margaret River – Nannup – Collie – Harvey – Mandurah – Perth

Day 253: 18 October 2019
From Augusta to Boranup Forest
38,98 km (Total so far: 11.373,90 km) – Altitude climbed: 499 m
Weather: Cloudy, sunny, moderate side and head wind

I first went for a long overdue visit to the barber shop in Augusta. I was lucky, because he’s only here on Fridays and Saturdays. Then I ride to the Jewel Cave. I think the entrance fee of 22.50 Aud is a bit hefty, but ok…
It is a beautiful cave.

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Inside Jewel Cave

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I made a small side trip to the beach at Hamelin Bay. A huge bay, long white sand beach, hardly any people. Nice.
Good I visited that cave first, by the way, as later on it seems I plotted my route exactly on the same single tracks the Cape to Cape (‘C2C’) mountainbike race which is going on today. By the time I arrived at the single tracks, the race was finished.  I want to camp in the Boranup forest but it is very much overgrown just next to the single track. I do find a
nice spot just next to the trail. To be sure that race won’t come back tomorrow morning, I check their website. It is safe to camp here, they were here only today, but I find out this Cape to Cape race is not at all a race from cape to cape (Cape Leeuwin in the South to Cape Naturalist in the north of the Margaret River area. It is just four stages making small loops, but in no way do they connect the capes.

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A seagull admiring my bike at Hamelin Bay.
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Spot the tent just next to the single track.

Day 254: 19 October 2019
From Boranup Forest to along rail trail to Cowaramup
48,87 km (Total so far: 11.422,77 km) – Altitude climbed: 390 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail and side wind

Excellent weather today, blue skies, temperature around 27 degrees in the shade, a wind sideways from the back. The remainder of the ride through the Boranup Forest is great, mostly on single tracks. When I left Augusta, I passed a few magpies that didn’t attack me. Maybe the season is over. But today, I was attacked by a Wattlebird. He swooped me five or six times and was very aggressive.
Then the rail trail to Margaret River, the regions’ capital and more or less famous for its wines. It is Saturday and on top of the usual tourist crowds coming down from Perth in the weekend, the C2C-bikers are here as well. Most of them seem to ride around with bikes on the back of their cars i.o. actually riding their bikes.

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Kookaburra

I enjoy an excellent lunch on the terrace of the Korean Tedis Big Spoon restaurant. Margaret River has a Coles supermarket. Prices seem to be half of what I’ve paid most of the last months. Good, I won’t feel the restaurant visit in ‘my budget’ 🙂

Day 255: 20 October 2019
From along rail trail to Cowaramup to near junction Canebreak & Sabina West Toad
39,68 km (Total so far: 11.462,45 km) – Altitude climbed: 354 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind

Another excellent, sunny day.
Maybe I have to mention I’m doing some zigzagging around the Margaret River Area, because I try to put in some extra kilometers, as my plane to leave from Perth is only on 22nd November. That’s also the reason I enjoy short riding distances. The alternative would have been an extra loop north of Perth into the weath belt, but I think relaxing in this area is nicer.
In Cowaramup, everything is about cows because the name of the town starts with ‘cow’. Not very ingenious. There are plastic cows in the park, a candy cow shop, etc, etc…

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Here, I ride east, inland, away from the never ending stream of tourists going to and fro between Dunsborough, Busselton and Margaret River. Not five seconds go by without a passing car.
So I choose the small tracks inland. A magpie attacks.
“Hey, the season is over !”.
Yeah, forget that, I’ve been attacked another four times today. The magpies will decide when the season is over, not me. I ride through farmland via Bramley River Road but once on Canebreak road, I’m back in the forest. I camp in a forest plantation. Chances are smaller Parks and Wildlife will put that on fire while I’m in there, I guess.

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Day 256: 21 October 2019
From near junction Canebreak & Sabina West Toad to along Great West Road
47,95 km (Total so far: 11.510,40 km) – Altitude climbed: 441 m
Weather:Sunny, moderate tail and head wind

I keep riding east, away from Margaret River. Once one Jalbarragup Road East, things become more interesting but after crossing the sealed Mowen Road, it seems my dirt road sees more traffic. It becomes very corrugated and sandy.
A partly overgrown road to the right, Stellar Road comes to the rescue. The partly overgrown road soon becomes fully overgrown, but only for a while and the second half of Meteor Road is rideable again. A right turn onto Mcatee Road brings me back on my planned road, and now I am riding west, back to Margaret River.
Soon I am on the Great West Road. Don’t imagine too much from its name. It is a sandy track, in parts overgrown, and hasn’t seen any traffic in a long while.
Perfect.

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When I start looking for a place to camp, I realize that if Parks and Wildlife Australia wants to burn this down, I surely would never have seen a sign. I joined this section via overgrown paths where they wouldn’t bother to place to signs. It seems this forest hasn’t seen a fire in a while, so it must be high on their wishlist to burn it.
Well, I’ll take the gamble and hope for the best.

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Climbing up to a hill top that recently burned down.

Day 257: 22 October 2019
From along Great West Road to along 10 mile Brook Walk/Cycle Track
46,00 km (Total so far: 11.556,40 ) – Altitude climbed: 478 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

I felt a bit weak today and very thirsty for some reason, although I always drink enough.
The Great West Road keeps going west, doesn’t improve in quality, which is good, because I see nobody else. Lot of hills to be tackled as well.
Eventually I reach the sealed Rosa Brook Road. There is a very charming General Store in Rosa Brook. From here the road gets busier.
Via the bike paths of 10 Mile Brook, I ride towards the city. Just after I pitched my tent, I start to smell a fire.
Had to happen of course, it’s been going on in my head too much the last days. As I am riding the Munda Biddi Trail, I keep an eye on the notification they give, and it seems like the whole trail has diversions because Parks and Wildlife is burning the forests down. Surely, some forest must be on fire on the other side of the highway. Well…. I hope it’s on the other side.

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White tailed black-cockatoos are flying to and fro, making lots of noise and are completely in panic. Maybe they still have young chicks left behind in the trees on fire ?
What with all the beautiful goanna’s, like I have seen several ?
Can they run in time ?
Sure many of them get burned alive.
And parks and Wildlife Australia is burning forests since weeks already, so many eggs of the birds must have been stil in the nests.
They kill it all.
And if they don’t burn it, also here in the Margaret River area, just as anywhere in Western-Australia and Northern Territory, every few hundred meter there is a sign that the 1080 poison is laying around.
Burn the wildlife, poison it or kill it in traffic…. unreal.

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Well, to stop with a positive note, this morning, while breaking down my tent, a mother kangaroo jumped from between the trees with a very small young. It crawled into it’s moms pouch, dad waited, and then the tree of them jumped away.
I also saw ducks with fresh born chicks. A couple of goanna’s as mentioned before, a blue wren and I had a chat with two red tailed black-cockatoos.

Day 258: 23 October 2019
From along 10 mile Brook Walk/Cycle Track to along rail trail
33,07 km (Total so far: 11.589,47 km) – Altitude climbed: 351 m
Weather: Cloudy, sunny, rain at night, moderate head and tail wind

After buying provisions in Margaret River, I went out to the beach today, along a 10 kilometer bike path. Luckily that bike path is there, because although it is a dead end road to the coast and it is just a Wednesday, this road carries a lot of traffic.

First I took a look at the little Greek Orthodox church in Prevelly, then I went down to the beach at Surfers Point. It had been cloudy all day, looked like rain, but just as I arrived at the beach, the sun came out, the sky turned all blue and the colours of the sea in front of me were fantastic. Huge waves too, I can see why the beach has this name.

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This chapel was constructed in conjunction with the Greek Orthodox communities of Australia as an ongoing symbol of the ties between Greece and Australia. It was built to thank the Greeks who risked and gave their lives to protect and give shelter to allied servicemen during the 1941 Cretan campaign of WWII.
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Surfers Point at Prevelly, Margaret River

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Also the river mouth of Margaret River, just at the end of the road is worth to have a look at.
I hang around for a while, till the clouds return, and I do the same towards Margaret River.

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Day 259: 24 October 2019
From along rail trail to Blackwood River
44,90 km (Total so far: 11.634,37 km) – Altitude climbed: 445 m
Weather: Sunny, light tail wind, rain at night

After last nights rain, I wake up to a perfectly blue sky. Taking it easy to let the tent dry, rinse out some socks in the little stream next to the tent, I ride into town late morning. I buy provisions for four days in Margaret River and head out east, back to where I left the Munda Biddi Trail last week. A few annoying kilometer on the busy Rosa Brook Road, then turning off onto Rosa Glenn Road, still paved, but much quieter.
I’m back on gravel at Crouch Road and the Great North Road. Haven’t seen a single soul since leaving the asphalt.
There is no real bridge over the Blackwood River here. They’ve made a concrete lane which you can pass if the water is not too high. I find a nice spot to pitch the tent a few meter above the river.

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The Blackwood River

Day 260: 25 October 2019
From Blackwood River to Milyeannup National Park
48,39 km (Total so far: 11.682,76 km) – Altitude climbed: 656 m
Weather: Cloudy, sunny, no noticeable wind

Pfff, what a day !
After the rains during the night, I woke up to grey, cloudy skies. As the hours went by, the weather became better and better, until I had bright blue skies in the afternoon.
But it was a very hard day. The flies and the horseflies around your head, the mosquito’s around your legs. I grow bit tired of the attacks all day every day of these creatures when cycling off-road. On-road, you can add attacks of magpies and drivers. Because of this, hardly ever a possibility to just take a break along the road, relax and eat something.
The track is much harder as anticipated. Blackwood Road is a very sandy affair, often impossible to ride. Then there are all the little, almost dry, side streams of the Blackwood River that have carved their little valleys. Often I had to push the bike through deep sand up steep hills, from one side stream to the next.

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Honestly, I felt pretty miserable during the morning but as the day went on, the sky became blue and the track nicer once I crossed the Brockman Highway, it all ended well in a nice camping spot.
If it were not for the dozens of loud horseflies circling around the tent tirelessly.
So, a bit good and a bit bad today.

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Day 261: 26 October 2019
From Milyeannup National Park to Yanmah State Forest
50,54 km (Total so far: 11.733,20 km) – Altitude climbed: 716 m
Weather: Cloudy, sunny, light side wind

Same procedure as the last days. Grey sky when I woke up, which is actually very good, because it doesn’t get too hot in the tent when I go through my slow morning rituals.
I find there is not so much bird life on what I call the Margaret River peninsula (the area west of the Vase Highway towards Margaret River). But this morning, a little bird with the most fantastic and varied songs was sitting next to my tent at 6 am, giving a concert of 15 minutes.

I am not sure the track I’m riding is still the Blackwood Road. In Garmin Basecamp it is classified as a ‘G3-track’, which basically means it is not much.
Well, I think often several weeks go by before this track sees a vehicle.
I come to a junction. The ‘main’ track goes left. I go right, because that way, a few kilometer further on, I just have to cross to Vase Highway on yet another track leading me further east.
The track has not been used in a long time and is completely overgrown. Give it a few more seasons and it will be forest again.

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These signs are always planted in areas without phone connection.

When I arrive at the Vase highway, the track at the other side has a sign that I can’t enter. Something with disease control.
I remember seeing those signs when I rode the Coronation Road almost two weeks ago.
There is also a sign that cameras are in use to check. Yup, cameras, even in the forest.
Nothing to do then follow the Vase Highway north and then turn right on the Graphite Road. That way, I am adding 19 kilometer of asphalt riding to my route. It’s pleasant, hilly country here.

I stop for lunch at One Tree Bridge, where I resume my ride on the Munda Biddi Trail.
Nice single track again. I have a chat with three other riders, two from Cairns and one from Broome who ride in a southerly direction.

Day 262: 27 October 2019
From Yanmah State Forest to Beaton State Forest
23,85 km (Total so far: 11.757,05 km) – Altitude climbed: 388 m
Weather: Sunny

Perfect blue sky in the morning 🙂
I notice I have three cracked tent poles. I put some ducktape around it and hope it will hold for the remainder of the trip.
I ride into Donnelly River with another cyclist who stays there for a few days. Donnelly River is the side of an old timber mill. Anno 2019, only three people live there permanently. They run the small general store and rent out 38 tourist homes (the old houses of the timber mill work force). There are old pictures everywhere. Glorious pictures of though looking guys who mow down 500-year old threes. Very though. With a chain saw mowing down a tree.
I find the pictures terrible, but apparently I am the only one.

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After recharging some stuff, I ride out. Detour off the trail because they are cutting down some part of the forest. The whole area is in smog because some burns in other part of the forest.
I camp on top of a hill.
I must go slow, slow, as my plane out of Perth is only on 22nd of November, and I am getting really close to Perth now. More short days ahead of me, but that’s okay, it gives me a lot of time to read.

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I told you about flies and horseflies already. Tonight, I had the pleasure to meet some other wildlife.
Just after sunset, as I was eating my diner, I heard a ticking sound on my tent as if it was starting to rain. But it wasn’t that. Hundreds, thousands of flying ants were landing on my tent, both on the outer and the inner. Many thousands of them. I was sitting in a dome, completely covered by flying ants !
No way I could go out, because unzipping the door would mean a thousand of them would fall and fly inside. I switched off my head light. No reading on the e-reader either.
I want them to go away.
What if they would start eating wholes in the inner tent ?
They seemed to calm down after I switched off the light but I could still hear them (hoping it was just flying against the tent, not eating it).

Good night 🙂

Day 263: 28 October 2019
From Beaton State Forest to rail trail towards Jarrahwood
42,18 km (Total so far: 11.799,23 km) – Altitude climbed: 306 m
Weather: Cloudy, moderate wind all directions

The inner and outer tents were completely cover with the wings of the flying ants.
Yesterday was the first really warmer day of the season (28 degrees in the shadow). Maybe that is the day these ants come out ?
Maybe they just fly out and then lose their wings ?
Anyway, the tent was full of them. I blew away the wings.

Today was cloudy and ten degrees cooler than yesterday.
Nannup is what is called a ‘historical town’ here. It’s little over hundred years old. At the bakery I see a poster for a bike ride in November towards Margaret River. What’s remarkable is that Marianne Vos is on the poster. And reading it, I see she actually comes to ride it.
Later I talk to a guy who shuttles luggage from riders, and sometimes the riders themselves. He has been the driver of Marianne Vos in the past as well, as it seems she comes every year to ride this ride.

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I leave Nannup with the idea of riding towards the Nala Mia hut in Jarrahwood. Tomorrow the weather will still be okay, but Wednesday and Thursday will be wet and windy. There is a rail trail between Nannup and Jarrahwood, so it is easy riding. But then I remember Jarrahwood hut is very close to the Vase Highway, so I decide to camp along the rail trail, the quieter option.

Day 264 – 267: 29 October – 1 November 2019
From rail trail towards Jarrahwood to Jarrahwood
11,78 km (Total so far: 11.811,01 km) – Altitude climbed: 79 m
Weather: Very strong, violent wind and very heavy rain showers

The Munda Biddi Hut in Jarrahwood is different from all others. This one is in the village. Not that the village is that much, just a collection of ramshackle houses, most of them abandoned I guess. It is also close to the Vase Highway, just a couple of hundred meters away. It makes it less tranquille than other huts. And it being in a ‘village’, does not have the advantage of shops around, because there is nothing of that in Jarrahwood. Still have to bring all you need, except water.

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Cycling through more burned down areas between Nannup and Jarrahwood.
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Jarrahwood
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Jarrahwood

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As predicted, the weather becomes really nasty. Temperatures drop. Wednesday I wake up to 8 degrees and it doesn’t get warmer than 12 degrees during the day. Thursday it’s even cooler.
The winds turn from north to west to southwest but remain very strong with regular violent wind gusts. Heavy vertical rain showers torture the walls of the hut. You’d need a strong tent to survive this if you’re camping out now.

On the second night I’m joined by Marek and Catherine, originally from Estonia but now living in Perth.

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In the evening, a lot of kangaroos came out to the lawn in front of the hut.

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See the baby kangaroo.

Day 268 – 288: 2 November till 22 November 2019
From Jarrahwood to Perth
630,34 km (Total so far: 12.441,35 km) – Altitude climbed: 4.061 m

As the end of my trip came nearer, I was occupied by other things in the evening and neglected keeping a diary, so here’s just a small summary of the last three weeks.
I kept following the Munda Biddi Trail, riding via Donnybrook to Boyanup where Geoffrey, another enthusiast cyclist, hosted me. I made a small side trip to Bunbury before saying goodbye to Geoffrey. Leaving Boyanup, I visited the small railway museum.

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The Munda Biddi Trail north of Jarrahwood was closed for months. The park ranger arrived at the hut minutes before I departed to re-open the track. I was the first to go through again.

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Boyanup
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The little church in Boyanup
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Railway museum in Boyanup

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I left the Munda Biddi south of the big Wellington Reservoir, in order to buy provisions in Collie.
Aiming to stay on dirt tracks as much as possible, I tried to ride the track under the power lines next to the Mungalup Road. I don’t recommend this. It’s hard, loose sand, unmaintained. Also the tracks I chose east of this road, ending up at the eastern shores of of the Mungalup Dam where often none existing (Yabbberup Trail). Better to follow the Mungalup Road, then take a right turn onto the Siding Street.

North of Collie, one can pick up the Munda Biddi Trail again.
The weather was hot and dry, with quite a bit of wind. The alarm for bush fires was on extreme.
Camping in the forrest east of Mornington Road, I found it bizar some trucks were coming through at night. I couldn’t see them from where I pitched the tent, but I worried a lot whether this might be fire trucks. If this place would go in fire, I would have no chance to go anywhere.

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Yarri Hut, a beautiful location, but it can only be reached via a single track, surrounded by trees. If it would go on fire, you would have no chance to get out.  With the current extreme fire danger warnings, I decided against staying here.

The next morning, I rode on to the Yarri Campsite. This would be the end of the Munda Biddi for me. I understood there are some real steep sections further north. I had made some alternative routes for that, but all the warnings I’m getting for the fires worry me, so I rode a bit back towards Myles Avenue, then descended towards Harvey.
Harvey is a nice little village, famous for the Harvey Meat, Harvey fruit, Harvey milk, …

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Goanna posing for a nice picture.
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Even showing his tongue.
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The Harvey Hotel.

The beach at Myalup is okay, and not crowded at all.
It is just a big shame 4WD are allowed to ride over the beach from Preston to Myalup, messing up this whole beautiful stretch.
Incomprehensible.

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Myalup beach
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Kookaburra chick

I rode back to Harvey, then took small backroads towards the Harvey Estuary.
South of Mandurah, some nice bike paths start already along the estuary. The ride along the coast towards Mandurah is excellent as well.

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Cycle path into Mandurah.
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These irregular rock structures rising out of the limestone are called ‘Solution Pipes’.

W. and J. agreed to host me for my stay in town, but due to some last moment events, we unfortunately never got to meet each other, but they agreed I could stay in their place. Incredible trust they showed in me and I had a couple of really relaxing rest days in their nice home.

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From Mandurah, one could take the train to Perth, but I chose to take the bike path along the Kwinana Freeway. It was a very, very hot day, the little cycling computer showing temperatures up to 53 degrees as I was riding in the sun.

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Near Woodman Point Regional Park, I hit the coast again. Good bike paths with constant views to the ocean lead me all the way to Fremantle, the port, the bridge over the Swan River towards Cottesloe.

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Fremantle

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A few weeks earlier, I met Craig who was riding his bike on parts of the Munda Biddi Trail. I happily accepted his offer to stay for a couple of days. Craig has an apartment with a wonderful view towards the Indian Ocean which I enjoyed for hours from the balcony. Craig took me out for a ride by car to get a first view of Perth.
Febe, not a cyclist, guided me around for a day in the modern town.

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From Cottesloe on the western side of Perth, I cycled along the Swan River towards Darlington. The whole town was covered in thick smog from bush fires outside of town.
My last nights in Australia, I stayed with David and Marianne. My luck with staying in nice places with brilliant people seems endless. I had my own very beautiful room in David and Marianne’s house, both enthusiast cyclists themselves, mainly in Europe. They even had a bike box waiting for me to pack my bicycle !

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You’ve got to be kidding, no ??? People are riding through these streets with pick-up trucks with the heaviest engines making more noise than a formula 1 car. And then a sign “cyclists please be quiet in residential areas” ??? I saw this sign several times and the only explanation I can rhink of is a deep hate against cyclists.  Parking cars or walking on the bicycle lane is, as you can see, not a problem.  No signs warning against that.
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Perth, seen from the bike path along the Swan River.

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Craig explained this blue shed is a popular place with Asian tourists.

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Perth, seen from Kings Park.
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On the day I cycled to Darlington there was a lot of smog from the bushfires near Perth.
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At the end of my holiday, at “point zero”, the position appointed in 1925 as the origin of all road distances in Western Australia.

After 288 days I’m leaving Australia. 288 days full of adventure, unique landscapes, the bluest skies imaginable, the most hospitable people, stunning beaches both in Tasmania and mainland Australia, endless sand-, dirt- and washboard roads, desert landscapes, the strangest animals. The country surely delivered.

Below a map of the route since leaving Esperance. As always, the gpx-track can be downloaded from Wikiloc.

I’ll come back with one more post about Australia with some data, gps tracks, etc…
But first, I go to Thailand for a month before returning to Belgium for a few months.