Australia Prt 18, WA: Hopetoun to Albany

Route: Hopetoun – Fitzgerald River National Park – Jerramungup – Ongerup – Stirling Range National Park – Mount Barker – Porongurup National Park – Albany

Day 220: 15 September 2019
From Hopetoun to along Hamersley Drive
50,01 km (Total so far: 10.109,86 km) – Altitude climbed: 540 m
Weather: Cloudy, rain, moderate tail wind

It’s a cloudy, cool day when I leave Hopetoun. Not bad circumstances to cycle, but the views won’t be too good. As I approach Culham Inlet and have a better view off the Eyre- and Whoogarup Range, I see they are almost completely covered in clouds.

I work my way up again that 17% climb towards East Mount Barren.
Glad I came out here on Friday when the weather was glorious and circumstances to climb the hill much better.

DSC01620

The road keeps going up and down, first towards Mylies Beach, then up, inland towards Sepulcralis Hill.
Regularly there’s a sign off the road indicating “water”. I checked them, and I think those are water points for when there’s a fire in the park. It is not drinking water. But this are good places to pitch your tent, as all the rest is densely covered with bushes. I stop at a nice waterhole with some colorful flowers.
Today there were several periods with drizzle, but never serious rain.

DSC01625
View from Sepulcralis Hill.

Day 221: 16 September 2019
From along Hamersley Drive to along Middamidjup Road
74,06 km (Total so far: 10.183 km) – Altitude climbed: 553 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side and tail wind

Continuing my ride on Hamersley drive, I have magnificent views of the different small mountain ranges in the park. About seven kilometer before the junction with the South Coast Highway, I take a left turn onto the Old Ongerup Road to continue riding on dirt i.o. on the highway.
As I experienced already before riding into Hopetoun, the magpies are aggressively swooping down at me. It ’s quite impressive.

DSC01630

DSC01635

DSC01640

DSC01646 (1)
He got a bit agitated.

It is incredible how these things work, but today, I was thinking that it has been a really long time since I had a flat tyre. Those Chinese super-thick tubes, and the extra tube around it as a liner make the bike heavy, but it works effectively against punctures.
And then…. I had a puncture.
In the front, no worries.

DSC01643

Day 222: 17 September 2019
From along Middamidjup Road to along Gnowangerup Jerramungup Road
71,40 km (Total so far: 10.255,32 km) – Altitude climbed: 452 m
Weather: Sunny, strong head and side wind

Uneventful day, riding against the wind. this whole ride between the Fitzgerald and Stirling Ranges National Park is nothing special on its own. Just riding through agricultural land, but I am avoiding the busy highway, which was the main objective.
Jerramungap has an Iga supermarket and a coffee shop.
Originally, I planned to continue via small dirt roads south of the Gnowangerup-Jerramungup Road, but for tomorrow they predict a lot of wind from the wrong direction, and I want to make the ride into Ongerup as short and as flat as possible, so I choose the main road.

DSC01649
I crossed the Rabbit Proof Fence nbr. 2 today (not much left of it, the rabbits have won the battle).
DSC01652
Part of the rabbit proof fence.

Day 223: 18 September 2019
From along Gnowangerup Jerramungup Road to Ongerup Caravan Park
26,93 km (Total so far: 10.282,25 km) – Altitude climbed: 240 m
Weather: Sunny, very strong head wind

A short but tough ride to Ongerup. More storm predicted for the afternoon, night and tomorrow, so I rent a caravan in the caravan park to shelter for two days.
Very comfortable.

DSC01654

Day 224: 19 September 2019
Ongerup Caravan Park
Weather: Rain, very strong winds

Sitting out the bad weather, watching some Belgian tv on the laptop and an oil change for the Rohloff.
While I did the small ride with the cleaning oil in the Rohloff, I spotted two beautiful yellow Regent Parrots.

Day 225: 20 September 2019
From Ongerup Caravan Park to between Borden & Amelup
39,81 km (Total so far: 10.322,06 km) – Altitude climbed: 211 m
Weather: Rain, strong head wind

A late start due to some problems with my credit card.
The laptop seemed hacked as well. All the memory was constantly eaten away, even when I was deleting gigabytes and gigabytes of data.
Lousy weather.

DSC01655

DSC01656

Day 226: 21 September 2019
From between Borden & Amelup to Stirling Ranges National Park
50,64 km (Total so far: 10.372,70 km) – Altitude climbed: 586 m
Weather: Cloudy, rain, strong side and head wind

The goal today was to climb Bluff Knoll (1.094 meter) but the thing was covered in clouds as I was riding towards it. But then, some wind, the clouds were blown away, the sun came out.
But all that only for a brief moment. Soon the miserable conditions returned. Vertical rain and cold temperatures are not the conditions for a hike to a mountain top, even if it’s only a thousand meter high.
I continued riding, left Chester Pass Road and took Stirling Range Drive, a gravel road meandering its way through the park. Plenty of wild camping options.

DSC01658
Stirling Range.
DSC01664
Even bats are hit by traffic.

DSC01668

DSC01669

DSC01672
Bluff Knoll.

DSC01676

Day 227: 22 September 2019
From Stirling Ranges National Park to south of Kendenup
55,70 km (Total so far: 10.428,40 km) – Altitude climbed: 873 m
Weather: Sunny, light tail wind

Aaah, the sun is back !
The wind, although having lost all its force, has turned toward the east and is giving me a helping hand.
The ride, it is beautiful. Gravel Road, just a handfull of cars, viewpoints, birds and at the end of the day a super-nice couple, Fred and Wendy, hosting me for the night.
I get my own lovely room and to top it off, the best pizza in years is prepared from their own wood fired oven.
A very good day.

DSC01690

DSC01695
View from the Central Look-out. That’s the dirt road I’m riding through the Stirling Range.

DSC01701

DSC01703

DSC01709
View from the Western Look-out.

IMG_6012 (1)

Day 228: 23 September 2019
From south of Kendenup to Porongurup National Park
37,39 km (Total so far: 10.465,79 km) – Altitude climbed: 475 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side wind

Today, all my troubles (with credit card) were taken away.
No more worries. Well, there’s the laptop which is down, but we’ll see what can be done about that.
Fred and Wendy rode part of the way with me towards Mount Barker. Then, a short stretc of less than two kilometer on the Albany Highway, but there was a reasonable shoulder before the cycle path appeared.
A very nice Iga in town and friendly folks at the tourist info.
My original plan was to ride via O’Neill Road towards the Porungurups, but luckily Fred informed me that is not a through road.
The Mount Barker-Porungurup Road which I took instead was almost traffic-free.
I rode up the western slopes of the Porungurups and pitched my tent in the forest.

DSC01713
At Mount Barker. This must be the most important pedestrian crossing in the little town. There are four (!) of these little red and white triangles at this crossing and one are two of the green ones you see in the middle of the street to warn you not to dare, in your wildest dreams, to disturb the car traffic. Also note they refuse to paint a zebra crossing. As a pedestrian (or cyclist), even at the heart of a shopping area, you shall give way to the almighty car. Amen.

Day 229: 24 September 20219
From Porongurup National Park to Albany
88,24 km (Total so far: 10.554,03 km) – Altitude climbed: 772 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind

Continued my route riding south of the Porongurups. I was in no hurry, so made myself a nice route almost all on dirt towards Albany. Once passed Oyster Harbour it’s all on separate bike paths into town. Really neat.
I was hosted again by a fabulous couple, Beth and Denis.

DSC01717
Porongurups.

DSC01724

DSC01731
The cycle path going around the hill in Albany.

DSC01739

DSC01737

Australia Prt 17, WA: Esperance to Hopetoun

Route: Esperance – Munglinup – Hopetoun

Instead of taking the South Coast Highway, I did my best to find the road less travelled again, riding mostly on dirt roads, except for a few kilometer before and after Munglinup for stocking up on provisions.

Day 206: 1 September 2019
From Esperance to Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve
15,33 km (Total so far: 9.741,88 km) – Altitude climbed: 197 m
Weather: Sunny, rai in the evening, storm head wind

This was not a head wind, but a head storm. I am exhausted and have sour knees after ten kilometer so decide to call it a day at the first opportunity. I pitch my tent behind a tree and some bushes giving some reasonably good wind shelter. I think technically I’m not supposed to camp in the Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve, but I feel there was no other option.

Day 207: 2 September 2019
From Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve to near junction Browning and White Road
49,12 km (Total so far: 9.791,00 km) – Altitude climbed: 314 m
Weather: Sunny, very strong head wind

I first roll down towards the Monjingup Lake. They have built a small but nice shelter with information, there is a clean toilet and a nice shelter for bird watching at the lake’s edge.
I must say the responsible people for all this infrastructure do an excellent job, the bike path, the very well maintained waterfront all along the town, the infrastructure at the lakes around town,…

DSC01382
A (Carnaby’s ?) Black-Cockatoo on a Banksia tree.  These birds are getting rarer and rarer as a result of historic persecution and continued loss of habitat.

I am riding in a westerly direction over the Telegraph Road. A few kilometer to my north is the South Coast Highway, which I want to avoid desperately, and to the south are some high dunes. All maps show the Telegraph road ends after a few kilometer and you have to loop back to the Highway. My map on the computer showed a tiny red line continuing westward.
At the junction with Bates Road, a sign says the Telegraph Road won’t continue, but I
ignored it. I was rewarded with a completely free sandy road, a bit undulating and views to some really high dunes. Some sections were to sandy and I had to push, but this is wayyyy better than the highway.
I spot a flock of Black Cockatoo’s. Really beautiful birds.

DSC01391
Telegraph Road
DSC01392
Why ride a highway if you got this !

I hit the asphalt again at the junction with Murray Road, riding through a swarm of wasps for 50 meter. None of them stung, but it was a strange experience hitting all these wasps.

I have to ride 1,5 kilometer on the highway before I take a right turn on the Dalyup Road where I am again on dirt and completely traffic free.
Apart from the traffic on the highway I only saw a school bus in the end of the afternoon.
Very hard day against the wind. And the forecast is it will continue. the wind will shift to southwest, but so will my driving direction as well.

DSC01397

Day 208: 3 September 2019
From near junction Browning and White Road to along Jonegatup Road
65,82 km (Total so far: 9.856,82 km) – Altitude climbed: 338 m
Weather: Sunny, cloudy, very strong head wind

Another day battling against a fierce head wind. Not long into my ride I see a snake taking a sun bath on the road. He/she is about 90 cm long. After I stamp the ground a few times with me feed, he/she wakes up and makes a quick exit to the side of the road.

The rest of the day is quite uneventful, just that hard work against the elements. I remain on the undulating dirt roads north of the highway. Kilometers and kilometers of fields with yellow flowers.

DSC01403

DSC01410

DSC01412

DSC01416
Cheerful place to wake up 🙂

Day 209: 4 September 2019
From along Jonegatup Road to along Doyle Road
38,00 km (Total so far: 9.894,82 km) – Altitude climbed: 321 m
Weather: Sunny, cloudy, lot of rain at night, very strong head wind

From my well sheltered camping spot, I could hear the wind in the trees as it was picking up force after sun rise. And boy was it a head wind again. My track was climbing at one percent, and combined with this head wind I was moving forward at something between 4 and 5 km/hr.

Eventually I hit the South Coast Highway again.
Five kilometer later I’m in Munglinup, where there’s a roadhouse, my reason for going shortly on the highway. They sell drinks, bread, chips, ice-cream, chocolat. I eat a warm unhealthy lunch of fries and ….. I don’t know, some mysterious things which I imagine counts as the meat of my meal.

DSC01419

DSC01420
Good, stocked up with water and bread I continue. Another 3,5 km/hr on the highway, then I take aleft turn to another dirt track. The ladies in the roadhouse said I shouldn’t take this road towards Hopetoun. “Too dangerous.”
“Why ?”, I ask them.
“There could be snakes on the road.”
Well, I think those snakes are far less dangerous as the car drivers on the highway. Especially snakes on the road, which I see from far away.
Snakes in the bush, when I am searching for a camping spot, that’s another story maybe.
I call it a day pretty early as it seems it might start raining. I pith the tent along a little side track of this dirt road.
Only half perfectly sheltered for the wind. Hopefully it will be sufficient.
It was much easier to find good sheltered places in the desert as here in this agricultural region.
I can see kilometers and kilometers of new land is cleared from forest to make new farmland.
It is not only Brazil which is a problem. Everywhere on the planet we are doing the best we can to destroy it. But of course, ‘this little bit is not going to make any difference…’.

DSC01433

DSC01438

Day 210: 5 September 2019
From along Doyle Road to 12 Mile Beach
70,18 km (Total so far: 9.965 km) – Altitude climbed: 404 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

It rained a lot last night and the little dirt road towards the main dirt road is flooded. My main dirt road is mostly dry but so soft it feels like riding over a sponge. Combine that with more head winds and little hills and the going was slow again.

To my surprise there is almost no traffic on that little road skirting the shores of the Southern Ocean. Four cars all day. I see a few kangaroos and a fox.

There are not many direct views of the beach, as the dunes are in between and the road is mostly a few kilometer from the shore. There are a few lakes between my road and the dunes, the biggest one Lake Shaster.

Starvation Bay is one of the few places where one can actually go on the beach.
It is also the beginning (or end) of the Rabbit Proof Fence, an 1.832 km fence running all the way to Port Headland. I didn’t see any fence though.

DSC01447

DSC01450

DSC01455

DSC01459
Starvation Bay

DSC01461

DSC01468

Day 211: 6 September 2019
From near 12 Mile Beach to Near 2 Mile Beach
29,06 km (Total so far: 9.994,06 km) – Altitude climbed: 217 m
Weather: Sunny, light tail and head wind

Today my route runs much closer to the beach with a lot of possibilities to go over the dunes and have a look at the fantastic empty white beaches and the blue ocean.

DSC01473

DSC01475

DSC01484

DSC01488
Jerdacuttup Lakes

DSC01490

DSC01495

Day 212-219: 7 September – 14 September 2019
Hopetoun
65,79 km (Total so far: 10.059 km) – Altitude climbed: 856 m
Weather: Sunny

I took some rest days in Hopetoun. It is a perfect place for me. It is just a small village, at the end of a death end road. I guess it gets busier during holidays but for now, it’s all peace and quiet.
The beaches are spectacular, both sides of town.
I also made a trip to East Mount Barren. I will pass there on my way out, but I wanted to make a full day trip of it and take my time to enjoy it.
There is a new road, just opened a month ago, running between the Southern Ocean and the Culham Inlet. Then there’s a steep climb up the flanks of East Mount Barren.
The hike to the top takes about 45 minutes. The views to the coast and to the Fitzgerald River National Park and the Whoogarup Range are spectacular. I was more lucky with the weather then when I wanted to climb Frenchman Peak in Cape Le Grand National Park.

DSC01517

DSC01520
The roller coaster road towards East Mount Barren.
DSC01536
East Mount Barren, rising up out of the Southern Ocean
DSC01538
Only a short bit at this gradient, but it makes your heart pumping.

DSC01545 Southern Plains Banksia

DSC01560 Royal Hakea
Royal Hakea
DSC01565
Coneflower
DSC01585
Racehorse Goanna
DSC01586 Coneflower
coneflower

DSC01590

DSC01601
Enjoyning the view from the top of East Mount Barren.
DSC01596
This view ! 😀   To the left, Culham Inlet, to the right the Southern Ocean.
DSC01611
My road when leaving Hopetoun, through Fitzgerald River NP.  In the distance, the Whoogarup Range