Australia Prt 16, WA: Esperance and Cape Le Grand NP

I had some fantastic days in the Esperance / Cape Le Grand area. Sorry, an overflow of beach pictures in this post, but I hope it is a welcome change after all the red sand pictures 🙂

Day 199: 25 August 2019
Esperance
Weather: Sunny

Rod takes me out on a drive. We visit the Rotary Lookout and ride the loop along Ocean Road and Pink Lake. What fantastic scenery !
Tomorrow, I repeat this on my bicycle.

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There are signs everywhere along the beach, asking you to stay below the water line and out of the dunes as not to disturb the nesting birds. Fifty meters further on, the dunes and beach is full of 4WD tracks. And it is allowed ! As the kangaroos must go to the kangaroo school where they should learn not to jump in front of the cars (yes, they are responsible for their own death), the birds must go to the bird school to learn not to put their nests / eggs on beaches where people like to drive 4WD’s.
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Ron buying vegetables from a local farmer 🙂

Day 200: 26 August 2019
Esperance
Weather: Sunny

Esperance must be one of the neatest towns I’ve seen so far in Australia.
Melbourne and Renmark were nice as well, but they can’t compete with the setting of Esperance right at the coast of the Archipelago of the Recherche.
AND, Esperance has quite a bit of bike paths.
Today, I follow the bike path going west out of town, towards West Beach. From West Beach, I ride to Salmon Beach and on the Twilight Beach.
Yesterday, by car, we rode the whole loop, via Ten Mile Lagoon, …. but the pike path doesn’t go that far. It goes inland here, crossing the hill directly towards Pink Lake after which it loops back into Esperance.
Really nice ride !

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The old pier in Esperance
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Clock tower, Esperance
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West Beach

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Blue Haven Beach
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Blue Haven Beach
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The excellent bike path out of Esperance.
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Riding down to Salmon Beach

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11 mile Beach

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National Park put the island on fire. “Managing nature”….
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The whole bay was covered in smog by late afternoon.

Day 201: 27 August 2019
Esperance
61,48 km (Total so far: 9584,01 km) – Altitude climbed: 499 m
Weather: Sunny

I forgot to reset the gps and odo-meter yesterday, so above figures are from yesterdays and todays ride.
Today I rode out of town towards the east to Esperance Bay.
Kilometers long white beach, only for me.
Brilliant day again.

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Bandy Creek Harbour
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The beach at Esperance Bay

Day 202: 28 August 2019
From Esperance to near Dunns Beach
61,93 km (Total so far: 9.645,94 km) – Altitude climbed: 240 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

The first ten kilometer or so, I backtrack the road I rode when I came into town.
South of the Myrup Airstrip, I take a right turn. Nice scenery as I’m riding along the Mullet Lake Nature Reserve.
A few steep hills and a bit more traffic as expected.

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Looking at maps the previous days, I was not sure how far east I wanted to ride. First I settled for Dukes of Orleans Bay, just south of Condingup, but as the weather looks bad for Friday and Saturday, I only have today and tomorrow with fine weather.
So, I take a right turn on Dunn Rock Road (mainly because that’s a gravel road to the coast, the others are paved haha).

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A nice +/- 17 km ride brings me down the Dunns Rocks and Dunns Beach.
Wauw !!!
A kilometers long bay, paper white sand, water in various tints of blue, big white dunes a bit further on. And no one around.
I must be the happiest person on Earth for a while.
I climbed the rock for better views, then rode my bike on the hard packed sand of the beach towards the dunes.
Spectacular.
The sea water is way to cold to swim. It’s still winter here and there’s nothing between the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

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The beach west of the Dunn Rocks

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Day 203: 29 August 2019
From near Dunns Beach to near Merivale Rd & Cape Le Grand Rd
45,06 km (Total so far: 9.691,00 km) – Altitude climbed: 369
Weather: Sunny, strong head wind

I had to break my tent down before breakfast. The night was already very windy, but nothing to worry about. After sunset, the wind gusts just got stronger, so best not to take any risks with the tent.
There are two possibilities to go from Dunns Rock towards Luck Bay.
Back via the road I came and then take the asphalt road into the park, a total distance of about 50 kilometer.
Or straight over the beach, a distance of 10 kilometer.
The latter option required waiting for low tide for a few hours. I know worse ways to spend your time than waiting for low tide on this stunning beach.
So, lay down on the sand I did for a while.
Around 1 pm the moment was right to start the trip.
The first 1,5 km it was a bit of riding and a bit of pushing as the sand was sometimes too soft.
Then followed a five kilometer section which I could ride perfectly. The last three kilometer I had to push again.

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Rossiter Bay, which I cycled east to west

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The bike, waiting for low tide and hard sand.

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Via a gravel road I passed Lucky Beach & Thistle Cove.
One of my goals in the park was to climb Frenchman Peak.
I started it, took the first steep part up, but as the track went up, it got more and more exposed to the north and the wind gusts almost threw me off my feet.
I didn’t continue all the way up, too dangerous. but the views I had from halfway up were already pretty nice.

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Lucky Bay
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Frenchman Peak
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View from half way up Frenchman Peak

Unfortunately I could not go down to Cape Le Grand itself. The road was blocked off for ‘controlled burn-offs’. They do that all the time. These park rangers are a bunch of pyromaniacs. Nature was coping pretty good, even without our burn-offs, but the national parks here seem to think it is necessary to burn the place down regularly.
Woody island was completely on fire a few days ago, I read a lot of sections in the national parks along the Munda Biddi Trail are closed for burn-offs.
Yes, …. we people know how to do it.

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Day 204: 30 August 2019
Near Merivale Rd & Cape Le Grand Rd
Weather: Rain

As predicted it rained. I stayed put in the tent.

Day 205: 31 August 2019
From near Merivale Rd & Cape Le Grand Rd to Esperance
35,55 km (Total so far: 9.726,55 km) – Altitude climbed: 142 m
Weather: Sunny, very strong head wind

I ride back to Esperance the same way I came out here, via the Merivale Road. Riding out, I was battling against an easterly wind, riding back, I am battling my way against an even harder westerly wind. At times, I can make 8 km/hr only on the flat.

I stay one more night in Esperance before starting the last stage of the trip, westward towards Perth.

Australia Prt 15, WA: Coolgardie to Esperance

Route: Coolgardie – Lake Johnston – Norseman – Esperance

Day 190: 16 August 2019
From 6 km passed Coolgardie to 45 km passed Coolgardie
52,26 km (Total so far: 9.069,12 km) – Altitude climbed: 247 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side wind

I rode back to Coolgardie to restock supplies, take water, visit the museum and have a shower in the community centre for the friendly price of 3 Aud.

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What a bizar sign. You’d have to smash your head through the glass before you could put your head inside the helmet.

All the ground beside the road is this sticky red mud which sticks like mud to your shoes and tyres, but the road itself is in good condition.
This is salmon gum country. The road is slightly undulating and when at high points, when one stands on the pedals, one has a brilliant view over the forrest, hundreds of
kilometers nothing but salmon tree forrest. Only saw two other cars on the road today.

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Day 191: 17 August 2019
From 45 km passed Coolgardie to somewhere along Victoria Rock Road
63,09 km (Total so far: 9.132,21 km) – Altitude climbed: 386 m
Weather: Sunny, very strong head wind

I had a really nice camp site last night. Beautiful scenery, good sheltered from the wind, quite a lot of bird life around again (a lot of Lorikeets among others) and well drained for the rain that fell again during the night.
But before the rain, I saw a splendid full moon rising.
Also, perfect quietness. Not a sound apart from the birds and the wind.

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It’s that wind that made the day today as one of the hardest I had here in Australia. Most of the time, I managed a meagre 8 km/hr on the flat.

After a few kilometer, I arrived at Queen Victoria Rock. It is towering only about 50 meter above the surrounding landscape, but you have amazing views. The strong southerly wind almost blew me off the rock. I enjoyed this rock much more than Ayers Rock, although it has nothing of its grandeur. You are here on your own to enjoy it.

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Endless views from the Queen Victoria Rock.

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About five kilometer after Victoria Rock I started riding through an area which must have been on fire recently. It lasts for thirty kilometer. Thirty kilometer through a completely burned down area where nothing stops the wind.
I had a rain shower and rode through a sandstorm here as well.

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As far as you can see, in all directions, everything is burned.

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Then the sun came out and the only car I saw today stopped to offer me some chocolate and fill a water bottle.

The variety of greenery is enormous today. A lot of salmon gum trees but also so much other plants, bushes and trees. Also saw an emu.
I passed the junction with the Holland Track. I think that must be a beautiful track to cycle as well. I continued straight south on the Victoria Rock Road.
Very few times the road becomes to sandy and only a very few sections with corrugation. This is a much, much nicer ‘outback road’ again as the more famous GCR & Oodnadatta.

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Junction with the Holland Track.

Again, I pitch the tent in a very scenic places and spend a night in all quietness.
My right knee hurts. It started half way during the day. Probably from working so hard against the wind with that heavy bike. It continuous to bother me all night.
Hopefully it will get better again.

Day 192: 18 August 2019
From somewhere along Victoria Rock Road to Disappointment Rock
61,97 km (Total so far: 9.194,18 km) – Altitude climbed: 187 m
Weather: Sunny, strong head wind

My knee hurts terrible. Kept me awake at night.
After more than 110.000 km bicycle touring, I think I have my first injury.
I wonder wether the rest days before the windy day of yesterday could have something to do with it. The first twelve kilometer, I stop three times to give my knee a rest.
What to do, what to do ??
I don’t want to stop. Too many nice things to look forward to in the remaining kilometers in Australia.

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So I carry on and hope for the best.
The road I’m following, still free of traffic and the environment lift the spirits a bit.
For the first time since long, a kangaroo hops away over the road.

The road meanders between some lakes. Mostly dry, or muddy now after the recent rains. I walk through the mud to an island in the lake.

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At the junction with the Hyden-Norseman Road I turn left. This road carries a bit of traffic, say a car every fifteen minutes.
The road winds its way around Lake Johnston. The western side of the lake is forested with salmon gums, the eastern side almost barren with some low bushes only.
I camp opposite Disappointment Rock. Too late in the day to hike to the top. Give that knee some well deserved rest. It doesn’t seem to get any better.
Well,…. maybe I’ve got to admit I reached the autumn of my life. It’s not going to get better from here.

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Day 193: 19 August 2019
From Disappointment Rock to 16 km before Norseman
68,03 km (Total so far: 9.262,21 km) – Altitude climbed: 300 m
Weather: Sunny, light head and side wind

First cross the street and up to the rock. I thought this was going to be a quick run up the hill, but no… it’s much more interesting. There is an interpretive trail with little signs and interesting information. The views are fantastic. I stayed 1,5 hour on Disappointment Rock, but never found out why it’s called that.

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You could find fresh water here.

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Again, endless views, this time from disappointment Rock.

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Rest of the day is relaxed cycling through the salmon gum forrest.
‘The knee’…. I was thinking.
The knee is much better !
Yes, I still feel something, but definitely not the pain from the previous days. Pedaling goes rather smooth.
Ah, let’s face it, after all, I am still in the high summer of my life.
Things look good, no reasons to worry, forward with the goat !

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Day 194: 20 August 2019
From 16 km before Norseman to along Dundas Heritage Trail
28,53 km (Total so far: 9.290,74 km) – Altitude climbed: 256
Weather: Sunny, light side wind

Every day has its highlight.
Today, for some that might be the first phone connection in five days, or it may be that hot shower you can take next to the visitor info centre (2 Aud, but much, much less clean as the facilities in Coolgardie).
But I think the real highlight was Lake Cowan, the big salt lake I crossed before entering Norseman. And also the first part of the ‘Dundas Heritage Trail’, a 25 kilometer dirt road going south from Norseman. Excellent to avoid the highway. I camp at the highest point of the track, a hill top with great views to the forested flat lands to the east.
I wanted to take some rest days at Norseman, but next two days a light northern wind is forecasted, and I’m going to take advantage of that, riding south to the coast.
Rain is expected on day three though.

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The track crossing Lake Cowan.

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It is a pitty people here have to ride on everything with their 4WD. Also in the desert, tracks literally everywhere, on beautiful plains. They will be there for years. And in a country where so many things are forbidden, this isn’t.

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It is wild flower season.

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Day 195: 21 August 2019
From along Dundas Heritage Trail to Gilmore Lake Nature Park
67,38 km (Total so far: 9.358,12 km) – Altitude climbed: 252 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail and side wind

Continued along the Dundas Heritage Trail. Only one car passed me her. It’s a beautiful track and interesting trail.
Recommended.

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A favorite ! 😛
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Dundas Heritage Trail.

Eventually, I arrive back at the highway which I have to follow for about 40 kilometer. The original plan was to ride via Peak Charles (which would involve only a 30 kilometer ride over the highway) but with the recent problems with me knee, I decide to take it easier.

From the highway I have views to the beautiful Lake Gilmore.
At Beete Road, a dirt track running south of the lake, I leave the highway behind. Agricultural land and forest along the road.

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As everywhere, an idiot has to drive his 4WD here.

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I tried to cycle the dirt track along the railway as much as possible to avoid the asphalt.
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Lake Gilmore
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Suddenly…. back in farm land. Grass as far as the eye can see.

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Day 196: 22 August 2019
From Gilmore Lake Nature Park to near junction Styles Road and Truslove Road
99,37 km (Total so far: 9.457,49 km) – Altitude climbed: 455 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

A beautiful cycling day on quiet country roads, all unpaved, less than a handful of cars. It is nothing spectacular, just relaxed cycling. Lot’s of grassland, fields with yellow flowers, vistas to Peak Charles in the distance and lots of small lakes. And the lakes have water now. Due to the salt and minerals, they can have all colours. Some are red, others green and another one blue.
The farmland is fenced off, but there are several ‘islands’ of forest where one can camp.
North of the junction with Styles Road and Truslove Road is a bigger forest of 15 km or so.

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From now on the lakes have water (salt).

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I found this water reservoit. No idea why they once covered it.

Day 197: 23 August 2019
Near junction Styles Road and Truslove Road
Weather: Rain

a wet day, and as I don’t like cycling in the rain, I stay a day in the tent, give the knee some more rest, read a bit and make a short walk around a small lake.

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The little lake where I camped.

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Day 198: 24 August 2019
From near junction Styles Road and Truslove Road to Esperance
65,04 km (Total so far: 9.522,53 km) – Altitude climbed: 170 m
Weather: Cloudy, moderate head wind

I am surprised to hit the asphalt already 40 kilometer before Esperance.
But the road stays quiet until the junction with Dempster Road and Fisheries Road, at which point I’m almost in Esperance.
And back at the see for the first time since leaving Melbourne.
I am lucky to have people hosting me. It is again arranged by Susie whom I met on the GCR and who had arranged already my stay in Kalgoorlie.
Now I stay with Diana and Rod, both originally from New-Zealand.

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Everywhere along the road I see these empty jerry cans of poison. Are they just dumped, or does it have a certain meaning ?
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Salt lakes in every colour along the route.
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I notice very frequently people like to wear out there tyres asap.

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Below a map of the route since leaving Alice Springs. The gpx-track can be downloaded from Wikiloc

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