Australia Prt 19, WA: Albany to Cape Leeuwin

Route: Albany – Denmark – Walpole – Pemberton – Manjimup – Augusta / Cape Leeuwin

Day 230: 25 September 2019
Albany
Weather: Sunny, cloudy

I destroyed my camping stove by accident in Esperance, and survived on bread three times a day the last month. Finally, I find a new stove in Albany.
I also went to the official starting point of the Munda Biddi Trail, a 1.000 km mountainbike route route between Perth and Albany. I will extend it a bit towards +/- 1.500 km with rides towards Cape Leeuwin and in the Margaret River Area.

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At the southern terminus of the Munda Biddi Trail.  Although I’ve send a few things up the road to Perth to ease the weight, I will be carrying more as in this picture.  I just went shopping and there’s a baguette in the pannier, causing that strange shape 🙂

Day 231: 26 September 2019
From Albany to along Francis Road
41,96 km (Total so far: 10.595,99 km) – Altitude climbed: 282 m
Weather: Cloudy, rain, light tail wind

Denis rode me first into town by car for some shopping. Then I waited till noon time till the rain eased off a bit. I still had a bit of drizzle later in the day, but it was fine.
My first kilometers on the Munda Biddi are ok although it would be nice if they could find an alternative, or some single track, along the Old Elleker Road. But mostly it was pretty nice already. Camping spots were not so easy to find, as most of the trail still goes through farmland here.

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With the new stove, cooking on gas now.

Day 232: 27 September 2019
From along Francis Road to along Denmark-Nornalup Rail Trail
50,04 km (Total so far: 10.646,03 km) – Altitude climbed: 292 m
Weather: Sunny, light tail wind

It is obvious I am riding one of the more famous Australian cycling routes. The big majority will ride the Munda Biddi Trail in a north to south direction, so riding it the opposite way, I will meet many of them. Today I chatted with two couples riding the last day of their trip. Both of them were riding it leisurely, taking more than three weeks to finish it. Some people try to ride it in the least possible time, riding till midnight and starting again when it is still dark. That is also the reason why I won’t stay in the huts and shelters along the route too often.
After a day in the saddle, sound asleep at 9 pm, I don’t want to be woken up by people arriving and leaving again during my night rest.

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Hay River

Good wild camping would be possible on the stretch along Hay River, outside of holiday season (in the season, I assume fishermen and families will park their caravans here). More good wild camping along the rail trail, about 8 kilometer before Denmark.

Denmark has a ‘Super Iga’, which is really well stocked. There’s also a Mitre 10 and a shop selling camping gear.
From Denmark, the Munda Biddi goes south to the coast, but there is also the continuation of the rail trail towards Nornalup. Both suppose to be beautiful rides and I couldn’t make my mind up which way to ride so, I took the easiest option and decided to ride both of them. First down the rail trail, then come back to Denmark via the Munda Biddi, shop again for provisions and ride out again via the rail trail to where it intersects with the Munda Biddi.
Good plan.

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Entering Denmark along the rail trail.

Leaving Denmark, there is a sign at the rail trail saying it is only open to hikers.
Ignore it.
There is an old bridge which more or less collapsed. You have to walk down three meter and take the new iron bridge and go back up three meter. I suppose this is such a life threatening action the town of Denmark decided not to take responsibility for that and therefore put the sign in place.
So just go, no worries.
To my surprise there are not many good spots along the track for camping, but you’ll find something eventually.

Day 233: 28 September 2019
From along Denmark-Nornalup Rail Trail to along Denmark-Nornalup Rail Trail
31,29 km (Total so far: 10.677,32 km) – Altitude climbed: 144 m
Weather: Sunny, no winds

Continued riding the Heritage Trail almost till I was back at the South Coast Highway. I didn’t ride the last few kilometer as they were flooded.
I saw a blue wren today. Almost riding over snakes also has become a daily occurrence.
Rode back to a suitable spot I saw before, along a field with views to the surrounding hills. Short day, so I can catch up a bit with the daily reports after having fixed my laptop.

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Day 234: 29 September2019
From along Denmark-Nornalup Rail Trail to along Denmark-Nornalup Rail Trail
39,09 km (Total so far: 10.716,41 km) – Altitude climbed: 405 m
Weather: Sunny, light head wind

After a couple of kilometer on the same track I rode yesterday, I rejoin the Munda Biddi. First some single track in the bush just next to the South Coast Highway before joining William Bay Road. It is Sunday, a long weekend and school holidays.
So it’s busy.
The Carpark at the end of the road is already full at 10:00 am. Cars turning, looking for a place off the road. Crying children, screaming and yelling parents, all of them arriving at the little look-out, seeing this is not the way down to the water, turning their heels to the other track, without even looking out and admiring the view. The yelling from the people, down below at the rocks is louder then the crashing of the waves on these rocks.
Elephant rocks…. beautiful place, but not on a day like this.
Go, go.
There is a dirt road through the dunes to Madfish Bay and Waterfall Beach. A couple of brain deaths races passed me at 80 km/hr. Another idiot thinks it is necessary to fly his drone at a meter from my head. I find him. Ride up to him. Stop next to him. Say nothing.
He feels uncomfortable.
Good.  He shouldn’t be doing that.

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Then the nice part starts, a single track through the dunes.
And a mistake. My gps track went from Lights Beach over asphalt back to Denmark. Suddenly, no more Munda Biddi markers along the road. I realize I heard people talking about a track along the wind mills. Later I see the gps track must be wrong and I could have continued longer along the beach.

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I went to the Iga to buy new provisions. Lots of people in town. The main drag, Strickland Street, was closed and full of old timers.  That’s gonna be a hell of a drinking and bbq party at the campground all night.
Not me, I’m off to a wild camp, back along the rail trail. Good enough phone reception to watch the world championship cycling tonight.

Day 235: 30 September 2019
From along Denmark-Nornalup Rail Trail to alongside Kent River
66,99 km (Total so far: 10.783,40 km) – Altitude climbed: 856 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate wind all directions, rain afternoon and night

So, the first part of todays ride is the same as what I rode a couple of days ago.
Nothing boring though. In the first kilometer, a big tiger snake is laying rolled up on the track, warming itself in the sun.
Kilometer two; again I get four swooping attacks from that same vigorous magpie. I stared in his eyes when he came down to me. He looked so determined and so aggressive.
Kilometer four, a fox is staring patiently into a small hole, probably hoping his breakfast will come out at some point.

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Turning onto Limbourne Road I leave the rail trail and am again on unknown terrain.
A steep climb on Point Hillier Vista, but with magnificent views back to the coast. Then, descending on dirt roads, losing views of the coast. I first hear, then find and see a White Tailed Black-Cockatoo.

On a small single track through the forest, full with wild flowers, I reach my first Munda Biddi Trail Hut, the Jinung Beigabup. Much larger as expected. It is noon time only, so I just stay for lunch.

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Jinung Beigabup, the most southern of the Munda Biddi huts.

Mount Lindesay is the main feature of the day, seeing it sometimes to my left, sometimes in front, then to my right as the pad meanders its way through the fields and forests.
The sky at the western horizon is getting greyer and greyer. Don’t like that.
Inevitably rain starts to fall just as I cross the narrow suspension bridge over the Kent River. A handy clearing in the forrest just off the track is all I needed. I pitched the tent in a hurry and tucked in.

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Day 236: 1 October 2019
From alongside Kent River to alongside Frankland River
52,98 km (Total so far: 10.836,38 km) – Altitude climbed: 873 m
Weather: Cloudy, no wind

Another Munda Biddi Trail rider passed my camp this morning while I was breaking down. I assume he must have ridden 35 km already from the previous hut. He didn’t stop.
When I reach the Booner Mundak hut, the second one on the trail, I see he wrote his name in the guest book and was planning to do the whole ride in seven days.
No time to stop then, of course.

A cyclist I spoke in Albany warned me already there is a ‘killer climb’ this side of Walpole. Also some entries in the visitor book at the hut showed some people really suffered. Well, we’ll see, it’s about 55 kilometer to Walpole and I still have food till tomorrow lunch time.

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Some parts of the Middle Road, north and south of the hut, are very sandy and require some pushing. Not too bad now, after the rains, but I guess in dryer periods it might be an issue.
I meet three riders riding north to south and have a chat with two of them.
They don’t seem to be too knocked up from the climb they must have had earlier in the day.
Turning on Thompson Road (this are all dirt tracks), a steep part begins. 17% says the little cyclometer.
I push.
I remember fifteen years ago, in the spring time of my life, I cycled up 18% hills in Thailand.
Don’t even try anymore.
Just take my time and push and look at the giant trees in the forest.
After all I heard and read from this hill, in my imagination it had risen to Mount Ventoux-ian proportions.
It is not a long climb, just a few minutes pushing, no worries.
Near the top I have a chat with a friendly couple hiking the Bibbulman Track ‘the posh way’’, as they say, staying in lodges and hotels.
Steep down, 18%
I ride that, this is great fun.

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There is a turn off, 600 meter to the Valley of the Giants.
The hikers told me they just went there and it was horrible. Full of kids, lots of noise. Right on the turn-off, there is ‘carpark 2’.
I guess that means there is a carpark 1 as well, and who knows a nbr 3 and 4 also.

Why would I go and pay an entrance fee to see the same trees I have now all around me, with chirping birds i.o. over exited, yelling humans ? Worrying about leaving the bike behind with all my stuff on it.
I’ll probably miss out on the hot dog, but they are terrible here anyway. They put the sausage between a loaf of this horrible white, spongy toast bread.
Not the good stuff.

I roll down deeper into the forrest of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. More huge trees, small streams, plants, bushes and birds everywhere. No cars, no people.
No phone reception 🙂

At the bridge crossing the Frankland River I find a nice spot to pitch the tent for the night.

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Day 237: 2 October 2019
From alongside Frankland River to Kwokralup Beela Hut
52,08 km (Total so far: 10.888,46 km) – Altitude climbed: 900 m
Weather: Sunny, wind a bit from everywhere

It is a very beautiful ride alongside the Frankland River into Walpole. Some short steep sections, both up and down, but pleasant. No need to go for that treetop walk if you’re riding the Munda Biddi. Here, you cycle in the tree tops as the path is at points so high above the narrow valley.

I stay a couple of hours in Walpole to recharge all devices and do the necessary shopping for provisions. The plan was to cycle half way to the next Munda Biddi Hut, 30 kilometer from here and do the remainder of the ride tomorrow morning. As from the afternoon, heavy rain is predict until Sunday. I’m loaded up with food for five days, so I can sit out the bad weather, and ride the two days to the next village, Northcliffe.
The weather was so pleasant, and there was enough time left that I cycled all the way to the hut already, arriving at 5:30 pm with an hour of daylight to spare.

I pitched the tent at one of the designated spots as there was already another couple in the shelter.

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Day 238 & 239: 3 & 4 October 2019
Kwokralup Beela Hut
Weather: Cloudy, very strong winds and heavy rain

The bad weather was predicted as from noon time on Thursday (3rd). It didn’t look that bad in the morning. Clouds, but from time to time a blue spot in the sky. Still, I decided to move from my tent to the hut. I had brought that food for a reason and it doesn’t pay off to ride two hours in the dry to become soaked later in the day.
But it remained dry all day.
Bummer, I could have gone outside.

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Pitched the inner tent so I’m protected from mosquito’s, flies, ants, snakes, ticks, ….

The next day, it was still dry in the morning.
What to do ?
The forecast is for very heavy rain showers.
At times like this, one goes outside, looking at the sky and almost wishing for rain. Otherwise you stay idle without a reason. Finally, by 11:15 it starts. At that time a few guys ride in. Too much excitement, too much noise and testosteron, too many “whooo’s” and “whaaaa’s” from far away in the forrest. As always in a group of guys under thirty years old, there is the tough guy who has to limp a bit. He is so tough, despite his limp he still goes out on the bike. but off the bike…. limping.
This is the soccer player of the group.

They only stay for lunch, and then they go, in the rain.
I read a bit, drink a coffee, eat a cake, fall asleep, clean my bike, laundry was done yesterday already.

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I applaud the care for our smallest creatures, as requested at signs in every hut.  But what about all these “prescribed burns” going on continually in all the national parks ?  “Grass tree leaves grow slowly”, “fallen branches are home to many small creatures”…  Does park and wildlife warn and evacuate the small creatures each time they burn the place down ?  Do they rebuild their homes, or… is it only visitors of the huts that must take care and once the pyromaniacs of park and wildlife come it is ‘bad luck’ for the small creatures and they are burned alive, together with their homes ?   Let alone all the other animals, trees, etc….

Day 240: 5 October 2019
From Kwokralup Beela Hut to 3 km before Yirra Kartta Hut
43,16 km (Total so far: 10.931,62 km) – Altitude climbed: 773
Weather: Cloudy a bit of sun, light head wind

Hmm, cloudy.
Just as cloudy as yesterday. Taking it slow and easy, I leave the hut around 11 am. It’s a bit of a climb up the hill again. Some rain drops from time to time. Not very attractive weather.

There is the junction towards Mount Frankland (410 m), from where you suppose to have nice views.
Not with these clouds.
More rain is coming. As everywhere, even these low hills make their own weather.
I wanted to go to the top, but again let it pass. There is no use in doing so now.

And so, the mountain is a metaphor for your professional life. If the circumstances of going to the top are unfavorable and make you unhappy, move away from it and soon the sun will come out again 🙂 .

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Bridge at Fernhook Falls.

And so it did today. Riding away from the hill, the first rays of sun appeared. The ride towards Fernhook Falls is all on single track, very nice.
Fernhook Falls itself is a nice stop, but not overly impressive. So is the ride after the falls. You stay in the forest, which I like a lot. It is not super impressive, but just very good riding, almost all on single tracks.
After crossing the South Western Highway, I have to clear the track from some large branches that probably came down during yesterdays strong winds.
I decide to pitch the tent a few kilometer before the next Munda Biddi hut, Yirra Kartta. It is Saturday and school holidays.  Don’t want to push my chances too far. Just want to have a quiet evening.
A very good day on the bike again.

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Typical Munda Biddi forest single track.

Day 241: 6 October 2019
From 3 km before Yirra Kartta Hut to 3 km after Northcliff
58,38 km (Total so far: 10.990,00 km) – Altitude climbed: 866 m
Weather: Cloudy, moderate head wind, rain in the evening

I am really starting to miss the blue skies and the warm weather of the interior.
(Not the flies though !)
Today was another grey, cold day. Night time temperatures are between 10 & 12 degrees, which is good, but daytime is between 16 & 18 degrees, which is ten degrees too cold.

Luckily, the track was super pleasant riding again.
First I rode into Yirra Kartta Hut where Stephen, a cyclist from Hong Kong was still busy packing up. He rides a Surly Wednesday fat bike, pretty well loaded up. Heavier than mine, I think. But he has the right travel spirit and is in no hurries. The other guys with whom he shared the hut left at first daylight and were already in Northcliff by 9 am, I heard later from other cyclists coming the opposite way. Rather they then me.

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Lot’s of trees are cut.

As I said, the riding is all day in the forest on tracks completely free of any traffic. Towards Northcliff the land opens up a bit, some farming. Nice for a change. One sees the hills, but with human habitation also come the swooping magpies, which were very aggressive again.
Mind the head !

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Day 242: 7 October 2019
From 3 km after Northcliff to Warren River
23,31 km (Total so far: 11.013,31 km) – Altitude climbed: 281 m
Weather: Sunny, no winds

A Bibbulmun hiker passed my tent and stopped for a chat this morning while I was still having breakfast. Generally taking it easy till the tent was dry.
After Northcliffe, there is an asphalt section of about 2,5 km where I had the most aggressive magpie attack so far. It started of with a couple at the beginning of the section, but that only lasted a couple of hundred meters as always. Then, near the end of that asphalt section I was attacked by four magpies at once. Every two seconds another one dived at me. It went on and on for at least 500 meter. That’s a long time !   Super aggressive they were.
Back in the forest, I was safe again but the track passed some more fields and farms, and that’s where the magpies are.

Here are some video’s from Youtube, really worth watching:

Probably the best clip here:

Another nice one here

Even the tough guys on moto’s get swooped:

The weather was finally sunny again. Down at the Warren River there’s an old wooden bridge. The setting was just too beautiful to pass by. I stopped for the day and camped.

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Day 243: 8 October 2019
From Warren River to 12 km passed Pemberton
31,33 km (Total so far: 11.044,64 km) – Altitude climbed: 540 m
Weather: Sunny, no wind

I woke up to the most incredible bird sound orchestra ever. Kookaburra’s and dozens and dozens and dozens of other bird songs. (example here)
The sun was out.
A few kilometer into my ride some heavy Caterpillar (the company specialized in making equipment to destroy the planet) machinery was at work clearing forestry roads. Soon, these magnificent trees I am cycling along now, will be cut. It is un-be-lie-va-ble this is still going on. I heard that Australia is, after Brazil, the second largest forest clearing country in the world.
Good on you, Australia !
It makes me mad. I was outraged on my bike, thinking they were going to clear this whole area soon. Should I attack the Caterpillar driver ? It would probably delay things only with an hour and have me labeled as a foreign trouble maker, kicked out of the country.
There is zero hope for this planet if people in so called civilized countries still continue these practices.

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Loggers making new tracks through the forrest, so they can erase it.

In my rage, I rode over a snake on a downhill. He was just laying next to a branch. I stopped to check him out. A tiger snake, not fully grown yet. Luckily he was ok. I think the branch caught most of the impact. Don’t want to end up creating road kill myself.

A bit further on, one of this small birds that always hop along with you, from branch to branch landed at a meter and a half from me. Sitting on that branch he/she started to sing a song, showing off that beautiful tail they have.
Fantastic !
But the loggers will soon destroy your habitat my friend.
No worries, it is called ‘managing the forrest’.

There is a nice switchback climb, not steep from East Brook towards the Gloucester Tree area.
Close to the top, I had a flat tyre in the back.
Pemberton has a good supermarket and friendly visitor centre. I talked with some grey nomads from Victoria and Queensland whilst having lunch.

Riding out of Pemberton and hitting the dirt again, the tyre in the back was flat again. I know by now how to fix a tube. To patch was ok, no sharp things stuck in the tyre, the tube even held the air when I blew it again. Changed it for another tube and will fix this one later. I’d like to keept it, as it is one of this really heavy Chinese, more or less puncture resistant.

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Some of the Australian bank notes. On the 50 Aud on one side is an Aboriginal guy, David Unaipon. On the other side Edith D Cowan, the first Australian woman to serve as a member of parliament. The 10 Aud shows Banjo Paterson, the guy who wrote Waltzing Matilda. The girl on the 5 Aud is not named. First I thought she’s maybe just an anonymous girl, but later I thought, maybe it’s the queen ??

Day 244: 9 October 2019
From 12 km passed Pemberton to along Parsons Road
38,82 km (Total so far: 11.083,46 km) – Altitude climbed: 705 m
Weather: Cloudy, no noticeable winds

A grey and cloudy day.
Temperatures in the low 20’s, so okay for cycling.
A few kilometers into my ride, just as I turn into Ivan Road, a big emu runs out of the bush and crosses the road maybe ten meters in front of me. I can feel the wind it makes. So impressive how it accelerates and runs away with these strong legs and flat feet.
But you don’t want to collide with them, I think.

For a second time I cross the Warren River, the road goes up, a bit down again and I am making the most of the ‘momentum’ for the next hill.
Pea gravel, a bend to the right in the road, 45 km/hr.
(Pea gravel is something typical for this area, but imagine you are riding over ball bearings, strewn a few centimeter thick over the road).
The bike starts to swing all over the place. For a moment it seems I get it under control again, but the edge of the gravel track comes nearer and nearer and I crash hard. On my left knee, the one I had troubles with a while ago, the left shoulder and elbow.
What a shame I don’t have a Gopro and filmed it. I get up and check the bike. It seems ok.
Then I make a few steps. I seem to be ok as well. Big bang on the knee and some blood and some road rash on the left shoulder and elbow. Luckily I was wearing gloves to protect the hands.
It all seems ok, but as the great José De Cauwer always claims when a cyclist falls on tv, the night will be a sleepless one and the real pain will come tomorrow.
We’ll see.

The knee glows a lot, but it functions well up the next hill.
And that’s where José goes wrong. The pain doesn’t come tomorrow, it came after 6 kilometer.
Also the left elbow and the palm of my right hand hurt. Can’t even remember I used my right hand in the crash.

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José De Cauwer

I take it easy the rest of the day. Still had a close encounter with a Western Brown snake, the small bush flies are out now, after the good weather yesterday and some aggressive magpies swooped me a bit in Quinninup.

There is a very steep hill out of Quinninup, 15% up, 12% back down.
I meet another cyclist from Hobart with quite a bit of experience in South-America, Mongolia, China, Taiwan, …

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“The bird population is in decline as many of their nesting trees with large suitable hollows are no longer available for them”.  This is a picture hanging out the Quinninup tourist info.  It is exactly here a lot of logging is going on, cutting down the old forrest with the kind of trees this birds need.  Than they ‘replant’ worthless trees, neatly in lines.  Worthless forrest, supporting barely any wildlife.

I pitch the tent just beyond a stretch of forest that has been completely cleared by loggers.
Apart from the crash, good cycling tracks today.

Day 245: 10 October 2019
From along Parsons Road to Karta Burna Hut
60,65 km (Total so far: 11.144,11 km) – Altitude climbed: 786 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

A perfect sunny day, temperatures mid twenties.
Beautiful tracks towards Manjimup, the biggest place since Denmark, I think (the two big supermarkets Coles and Woolworths are here). I went for lunch in ‘The Two Black Birds’ (Burmese Curry Chicken Samosa) while I was recharging my devices.
As rain is predicted for tomorrow, I push on the the next Munda Biddi Hut, so I can wait it out in the hut. But I pitch my tent a bit away from the hut so I can have a sound sleep.
Two other cyclists are in the hut, Marcus and Daniel, whom I met just outside Manjimup already.
Good cycling day, apart from the puncture in the front 1,5 km before reaching the hut. The tyres, having 11.500 km now over often very rough terrain are really getting at the end of their life span.

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Day 246: 11 October 2019
Karta Burna Hut
Weather: Rain

Stayed in the hut, repairing the tyre, changing brake pads, reading, sleeping, …

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Day 247: 12 October 2019
From Karta Burna Hut to near power line service track
61,64 km (Total so far: 11.205,95 km) – Altitude climbed: 472 m
Weather: Cloudy, sunny, light and moderate head wind

This hut being at one of the higher points along the Munda Biddi, the day starts with a downhill along a switchback single track. Lots of switchbacks, so easy both going down or up.

At the bridge over the Donnelly river, I leave the Munda Biddi Trail for a while to visit the Margaret River area. Soon I can leave the asphalt road again, taking a left turn on Coronation Road.

When I’m on Four Acres Road, I am a bit disappointed, it being a wide, straight dirt road, not too exciting. But, there is a small track branching off to the right, into an unnamed national park. No hesitation, and I steer the wheels in that direction. It is sometimes a bit sandy, there are some muddy pools from the recent rains, but the scenery is nice and the sense of adventure is there.
Trying to stay on the smallest tracks, I eventually end up on the service track under the power line. This one goes straight up and over every hill and is sandy quite often.

I find a nice protected spot for the night, on grounds that would drain the rain very well. Bad weather predicted for the night.

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The track under the power lines, apparently named ‘Warren Blackwood Stock Route’.

Day 248: 13 October 2019
From near power line service track to forest along Courtney Road
40,74 km (Total so far: 11.246,69 km) – Altitude climbed: 121 m
Weather: Rain, moderate head and side wind

A miserable day.
They morning rain stopped around 10 am, and it looked like it could be an ok day. I packed a dry tent away and got going by 11 am. The track under the power lines was much better as yesterday and soon I reached the asphalt Milyeannup Road.
I should have followed this one south towards Governor Broome Road, but no … I saw a smaller, lesser travelled option.
Often I am rewarded that way, but today this became a bit of an ordeal. The tracks were very sandy, or, more often, flooded. Sometimes even temporary rivers, one of them 90 centimeter deep. I made very slow progress, traversed some planted commercial forest (with ‘keep out !’ signs), I build some temporary bridges with branches to cross flooded areas, …
In short, the going was slow, and in the end, the feet got wet anyway.

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The track is a bit moist.

Around 2 pm it started raining and I had travelled only about 18 kilometer so far. Drizzle alternated with rain, it was grey, windy, depressing weather. Actually, since leaving Hopetoun, the weather has not been really fantastic.
Just like on the Mawson Trail, where they recommend to ride it in April, they recommend to ride the Munda Biddi in September or October.
All wrong !!
I understand you don’t like cycling by 40 degrees, but also 16/17 degrees, or less the last week, is not pleasant.
I think November and March are ideal for this trails. A bit warmer.

I Pitched the tent at the edge of a tree plantation

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Day 249: 14 October 2019
From forest along Courtney Road to Skippy Rock Road
51,09 km (Total so far: 11.297,78 km) – Altitude climbed: 484 m
Weather: Cloudy, cold, moderate head wind

I made a little loop to avoid as much as possible riding on the Brockman Highway, but a stretch of about five kilometer can’t be avoided, as the highway has the only bridge over the Blackwood River. Taking the Glenarty Road, I pass the first vineyards of the Margaret River area.
Augusta, the little town sitting here at the edge of the Australian landmass is touristy. They’ve made a nice path of a few kilometer right at the edge of the Blackwood river. Some old wooden piers still standing.
I save my visit to the light house for tomorrow but ride already in that direction, camping along Skippy Rock Road. It is a very windy night, but I am perfectly protected by the bushes.

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Day 250 – 252: 15 – 17 October 2019
Augusta
37,14 km (Total so far: 11.334,92 km) – Altitude climbed: 311 m
Weather: Cloudy, sun, rain

Just around the corner from where I pitched my tent, I have a spectacular view towards the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse below me. This lighthouse, at the southwestern extremity of Australia is the tallest lighthouse of mainland Australia. It is not as old as some of the lighthouses we have in Europe, but then again, nothing is here.
I am lucky the sun is out in the morning, although there are still too many white and grey clouds in the distance to prevent making nice pictures.
It costs six pounds to visit the grounds of the lighthouse, twenty for a guided visit. Zero to view the lighthouse from a distance.
I opt for the 6 Aud option.

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Quarry Bay
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Oyster Catcher
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Another Oyster Catcher.
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Cape Leeuwin lighthouse in the background.

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Old waterwheel.

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That’s because I want to go behind the lighthouse. This is not only the southwestern most point of Australia, it is also the place where two oceans meet, the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean. You can see the waves rolling into each other from two angles.
You could say that this way, I am seeing the third ocean since I’m in Australia, The Indian and Southern Ocean here, and the Pacific Ocean also in Tasmania.

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But I don’t know whether that statement is entirely correct. It depends which source you use.

The IHO (International Hydrographic Organization – considered the authority for such conventions) draws maps where the border of the Southern Ocean comes nowhere near the Australian landmass.

I found this on Wikipedia:
Australian standpoint:
A map of Australia’s official interpretation of the names and limits of oceans and seas around Australia
In Australia, cartographical authorities define the Southern Ocean as including the entire body of water between Antarctica and the south coasts of Australia and New Zealand, and up to 60°S elsewhere.[35] Coastal maps of Tasmania and South Australia label the sea areas as Southern Ocean[36] and Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia is described as the point where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.”

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A map of Australia’s official interpretation of the names and limits of oceans and seas around Australia
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And the generally more accepted limits of different oceans, showing Australia to be entirely surrounded by the Indian & Pacific Oceans only.
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View out to the Southern Ocean.  Or is it the Indian Ocean, after all ?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I crossed the Rabbit Proof Fence nbr. 2 today (not much left of it, the rabbits have won the battle).
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Stirling Range.
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Even bats are hit by traffic.

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Bluff Knoll.

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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.

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

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View from the Western Look-out.

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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.

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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.

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Porongurups.

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The cycle path going around the hill in Albany.

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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,…

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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.

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Telegraph Road
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…’.

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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.

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Starvation Bay

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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.

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Jerdacuttup Lakes

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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.

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

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Coneflower
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Racehorse Goanna
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coneflower

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

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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Australia Prt 14, WA: Leonora to Coolgardie

Route: Leonora – Menzies – Davyhurst – Ora Banda – Kalgoorlie – Coolgardie

Day 177: 3 August 2019
From few km before Leonora to 12 km before Menzies
105,54 km (Total so far: 8.733,10 km) – Altitude climbed: 287 m
Weather: Sunny, strong and moderate tail and side wind

After riding back into town, I first visited Gwalia, an old mining village a few kilometer outside Leonora. The rest of the day was spend on the Goldfields Highway.
Much less busy than f.e. the Stuart Highway, but still too much to make it a pleasant ride. Too much of your time is occupied with watching the rear view mirror and negotiating traffic. Can’t let the mind wander and enjoy.

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The “mini-superpit” from Gwalia

I find a nice camping spot a bit before Menzies. The spot is nice and although I’m almost 500 meter from the road, the noise of the road trains is too much to call it peaceful.
Tomorrow, back on gravel.

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Day 178: 4 August 2019
From 11 km before Menzies to 10 km before Davyhurst
67,44 km (Total so far: 8.800,54 km) – Altitude climbed: 225 m
Weather: Sunny, light & strong head and side winds

Menzies, an old mining town, is pretty neatly maintained. Lot’s of tourist signs and information about their past. A hotel, a tourist information, a campground, but no shop (the so called ‘general store’ in the hotel is nothing). I drink a coke at the hotel pub before leaving town, back on gravel. 250 kilometer / 3 days on asphalt since Laverton has been enough.

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I take the Evanston-Menzies road going west out of town. A light wind from the northwest works against me. If I would have stayed on the highway, it would have been to my advantage. But this is so much better, even when the wind picks up soon after that.
A perfect gravel road, hardly any corrugation, no loose sand.
Pretty soon, I get taller trees again. Nice to see, as nothing grew much higher as the six meter mulga trees the last months.

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On the 27 kilometer stretch to the junction with the Davyhurst Road, I saw two cars. On the 27 km after the junction, on the Davyhurst Road, still on excellent gravel, zero cars.
Cycling heaven, outback cycling as I had imagined it.
Lots of different plants and trees.
The fauna even feels a bit tropical.
Temperatures are more agreeable as in the tropics. 23 degrees in the shade, 33 degrees in the sun. 8 degrees just before sunrise.
A perfect day.

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Sometimes it’s like I’m cycling in a garden, but is just nature creating this.

Day 179: 5 August 2019
From 10 km before Davyhurst to few km passed Ora Banda
80,20 km (Total so far: 8.880,74 km) – Altitude climbed: 321 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate side and tail wind

Another brilliant day.
Well almost.
First I rode through Davyhurst. At the map and in the tourist information in Leonora and Menzies, they say it’s abandoned. Well, nothing is left. The hotel once standing there its heydays is just a pile of stones. There is apparently a mining office where you should present yourself when continuing on the road to Kalgoorlie, but I didn’t.
This is a national park, this is a road on the map not marked as private, so they have to leave me alone.

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The total lack of wildlife both in Northern Territory and WA surely must have something to do with the poison they lay out everywhere in nature. Strichine and 1080 to kill (wild) dogs, foxes, … Of course other animals will eat from these carcasses and…

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The rest of the day cycling towards Ora Banda, the road goes up and down a bit all the time. So much different trees again, it’s fantastic. The first 75 kilometer of the day I see one truck and two motorbike riders, that’s all.
I expected Ora Banda to be deserted as well.
The hotel next to the camp ground burned down recently.
The campground itself is a place for the miners, I think, because mining is what they do here.
A lot !
What I didn’t expect either, was a paved road from Ora Banda. I hoped to be on gravel till rejoining the Goldfields Highway at Broad Arrow.

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I passed through abandoned Siberia.

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Thoses causes of death 🙂

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I pitched the tent a few kilometer southeast of Ora Banda. The night was loud with continuous road trains passing the road a few hundred meters away.
To make this a perfect loop, I think you better continue riding the dirt directly to Coolgardie. I wanted to have a real supermarket again, because I haven’t seen one since Alice Springs, 2.500 kilometer ago. Also want to buy a new bottle of shellite for the stove. Kalgoorlie has a Bunnings. The next one would be in Albany only (although I later found out Esperance has a Bunnings store as well).

Day 180: 6 August 2019
From few km passed Ora Banda to Kalgoorlie
62,76 km (Total so far: 8.943,50 km) – Altitude climbed: 173 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail and side wind

Rode the paved road towards Broad Arrow, where there’s an ancient pub. I asked the bar tender wether there’s a possibility to follow the dirt track along the railway towards Kalgoorlie (instead of the Goldfields Highway) but both he and the people in the kitchen didn’t have a clue. The pub is right beside the railway.

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The pub in Broad Arrow. I parked my bike next to the Angels’ rides. The moment I also put my helmet on my mirror, like they do, I think they started to realize I was making fun of the situation.
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All walls inside and outside are written full.

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I took my chances and tried it. First halve, there are a couple of active mines and every time I thought there would be signs that it’s forbidden to enter, but that track along the railway is open all the way down to Kalgoorlie.
Fantastic !
No worries about traffic.

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Second half, the scenery improves, but the track becomes a bit more sandy and deeper gravel the last 10 km before Kalgoorlie.
Overall, very recommended.
I can stay two night with Shirley and Eddy in Kalgoorlie. Susie, a teacher I met on the GCR arranged it for me.

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Day 181: 7 August 2019
Kalgoorlie
Weather: Sunny

Eddy takes me out in his car to visit Bunnings and a few of the highlights. The main one of course the Super Pit.

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The Super-pit in Kalgoorlie / Boulder, one of the largest gold mines in Australia.  It is about 600 meter deep.  The largest open pit is near Slat Lake City in the Usa.   Over here, they blow out about 15 million ton a year.  They find a gram of gold or so in every ton they blow out.  Huge environmental impact but good for someones economy.
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Especially for me, they made a nice explosion which later filled the whole pit with dust.

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Theatre inside the town hall.

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Day 182: 8 August 2019
From Kalgoorlie to the forest a few km outside Kalgoorlie
13,39 km (Total so far: 8.956,89 km) – Altitude climbed: 150 m
Weather: Sunny

Shirley and Eddy left town for a couple of days. As I don’t want to go too far south too soon (it’s still winter), I chose to take a few rest days in that forest outside of town. Just load up some good food and enjoy the quietness.

Day 183-185: 9-11 August 2019
Forest, 8 km outside Kalgoorlie

Rest days

Day 186: 12 August 2019
From forest, 8 km outside Kalgoorlie to 6 km passed Coolgardie
59,97 km (Total so far: 9.016,86 km) – Altitude climbed: 347 m
Weather: Sunny

Rode back into Kalgoorlie.
Lunch at MacDonalds and shopping at Coles.

As I found a good road to ride into Kalgoorlie along the railway line, there is also a good option to avoid the highway between Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie.
Studying the map, I saw there was a (water)pipeline running between the two towns, and a maintenance track alongside it.
It is good riding almost all the time.
Most of the time, I stayed south of the pipeline. There is a track north of the pipeline as well, but less scenic.

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Once the track south of the pipeline joins the main highway, it is only a few hundred meters before the pipeline goes underground for a bit and you can cross to ride along the track north of the pipeline, away from the highway.
If riding the opposite direction, towards Kalgoorlie, there’s a small hill to tackle just outside Coolgardie. Don’t be discouraged by it, the rest of the road is only slightly undulating and in much better shape.

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Coolgardie is a historical mining town. The highway runs through it.
Hope to visit the museum when I come back in a few days to buy provisions.
Rain is forecasted for the day after tomorrow, and I don’t want to be in the middle of the dirt track between Coolgardie and Norseman, so I will pitch the tent outside town and wait it out.
There is a campground in Coolgardie, but it is right next to the main road. That will be awfully loud.

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Day 187-189: 13 – 15 August 2019
6 km passed Coolgardie

Quite a lot of rain was predicted for Wednesday 14th August. The 13th was still a nice sunny day with blue skies, and what’s more, a pretty strong wind from the north. That would be a tail wind, if I were to ride today. But I didn’t want to be caught up in the bad weather somewhere in the middle between Coolgardie and Norseman on these dirt roads, so I decided to take some more rest days.
14th of August brought indeed a lot of rain.
Around sunset, I heard a thunderstorm coming from my left and another one from my right. Of course, they met each other right above my head.
Hundreds of lightnings, immediately followed by loud thunders, strong wind gusts, rain and hail.
The whole area flooded, my tent standing in two centimeters of water.
Too much to worry about, especially those lightnings above my head, so I decided to distract myself and prepare a nice meal. Cutting broccoli, peppers, carrots, onion to prepare a delicious vegetable curry with couscous.
I heard the water flooding under my tent but I stayed perfectly dry inside.
By the time I started eating, there was some time already between the lightnings and the thunder and by the time I finished my meal the worst was over.

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Impressive sky. Looks like lungs.
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Feeding the local wildlife.

Contrary to the predictions, the 15th was also a rainy day, so I stayed put another day.

Australia Prt 13, WA: Docker River to Leonora

Route: Great Central Road: Docker River – Warburton – Leonora

Day 160: 17 July 2019
From 25 km before Docker River to junction GCR & Tjukuria Road
57,44 km (Total so far: 7600,24 km) – Altitude climbed: 88 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail wind

Started of today with a section of 3,5 km which was pretty good before getting stuck in the sand again. More bike pushing.
The road is paved a few kilometer before and after Docker River.
I rode into the aboriginal community of which I was warned it was a rough place. “Rough” meaning potentially dangerous, as it was brought.
I didn’t think it was rough at all.
But it is a sad, depressing place where I wouldn’t want to live.
Poverty and a lot of rubbish and garbage everywhere, as in most aboriginal places I’ve seen so far, despite plenty of garbage bins provided.
Apart from the small garbage, also the smashed-up, often burned-out car wrecks are everywhere. It is not allowed to make pictures in the Aboriginal Communities.

All people will tell you “The Great Central Road (GCR) will get better from the border with Western-Australia”. It is something they hear, and what is just being repeated.
It does not get better.
The first 27 km I have done now on Australia’s biggest state, Western-Australia, are aweful.
By the way, as I wrote in my first post about Australia, it is the worlds sixth biggest country. If Western Australia would be a country in itself, it would still be among the ten biggest countries on earth.

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Leaving the Northern Territory and entering Western-Australia.

Day 161: 18 July 2019
From junction GCR & Tjukuria Road to 25 km before Warakurna
55,43 km (Total so far: 7655,67 km) – Altitude climbed: 134 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail, side and head wind

Started the day with pushing the bike through several kilometer of deep, corrugated sand. After 33 km, a better section follows, but not for too long. During the better section, I ride through an area with the Australian pine trees. Very picturesque. The needles these trees drop prevent the spinifex from growing and would be nice places to pitch the tent.
More car wrecks along the road, all upside down and burned out.
Maybe it’s a traditional thing ?
I stop early. Could have pushed on till sunset and reach Warakurna, but I was tired, had enough water for an extra night out and this way I can make another short day tomorrow and have time to do laundry at the roadhouse in Warakurna and camp there.
Average speed today: 9,88 km/hr.
And even more telling; maximum speed I had today: 17,15 km/hr.
Yes, it’s a hard road, the Great Central Road.

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Oh, and as I entered Western-Australia, the clock is turned back 1,5 hour.
So I am now only 6 hrs away from C.E.T. (Central European Time) at home. When I started in Tasmania, the difference was 11 hrs (opposite winter/summer times also made 2 hr difference by now).
I didn’t turn my clock back 1,5 hour. That would mean I wake up at 6:30 am and be on the road at 8:30 am.
Way too early. That WA time might be convenient for Perth, but that’s a few thousand kilometer away. For the time being, I remain on the same time as the Northern Territory.
All this messing with clocks is good for nothing. From now on, I will live on M.C.T.: Most Convenient Time.
With M.C.T., the sun will rise around 7:30 am.
In Warburton, a few hundred kilometer further west, I will turn back the clock 30 minutes, and then I will review again in Leonora whether I change it another 30 or 60 minutes as I head further west and as spring days get longer.

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Not too much wildlife around here, but still roadkill.

Day 162: 19 July 2019
From 25 km before Warakurna to Warakurna
22,67 km (Total so far: 7.678,34 km) – Altitude climbed: 63 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

Another hard remaining 25 kilometer into Warakurna with a few short push-a-bike sections. The rest was deep gravel or sand, hard to make progress.
I will stay the night at the camp grounds behind Warakurna Roadhouse.
Clean facilities and a washing machine.
But the night is as expected to be bad, with cars driving around till midnight (must be from the community a bit further down the road), humming generators and dogs and dingo’s and smashing doors,…
But, me and the clothes are clean and the devices are recharged.

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Warakaurna Roadhouse. Look at the cages around the fuel pumps.

Day 163: 20 July 2019
From Warakurna to 70 km passed Warakurna
71,34 km (Total so far: 7.750,00 km) – Altitude climbed: 190 m
Weather: Sunny, cloudy, very strong head wind

Leaving Warakurna, it is 230 kilometer to Warburton, the next settlement along the GCR.
Riding the 1,6 km from the Roadhouse back to the actual road, I saw the grader must have passed.
For 3,5 kilometer, I had a smooth, hard packed gravel road.
Sweet.
Then followed a section with deep, loose gravel.
The corrugations where graded away, but what remained was unrideable.
After about 20 kilometer, I passed the grader. The guy told me they are on a 4 week on, 2 week off schedule. Working 7 days a week. They are a team of two man, and have two twenty foot containers on a truck in which they live.

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The graders

The track improves a lot now.
But alas, an easy day is never to be had, it seems.
Where I had nice tail winds the last days but still could hardly get my average speed above 10 km/hr due to the devastating quality of the track, now I have Patagonian style head and cross winds with some harder wind gusts from time to time almost knocking you off the bike.
It was again very, very hard going.
But I had to make 70 km in order to reach Warburton in three days.
I made that, fifteen minutes before sunset and was totally exhausted and sore everywhere. The knees, my pulses, my back. Everything hurt.
Average speed on a smooth Great Central Road: 10,1 km/hr.

I am now 50 km past the grader, so he must have been here a few days ago and the track is already getting destroyed again by the people who feel they have to race over it at 130 km/hr, so I have no illusions it will be good for much longer.

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A note about wild life. In my seven weeks in the Northern Territory, I saw two kangaroos, hardly any birds or other wild life.
On the Mereenie loop some horses and here on the Great Central Road (GCR) a few camels.
When I read other reports like that of G.J. Coop who seemed to have been surrounded by Cockatoo’s at so many of his campsites, I have hardly none of that.
This is one gigantic dead region. No emu’s, no kangaroos, no wallaby’s, hardly any birds.
His tour was ten years ago, so I wonder whether the wildlife is dying out that rapidly….

Traffic on the GCR: at least 50 cars a day.
Today was quieter for the first time, about 25 cars.

Day 164: 21 July 2019
From 70 km passed Warakurna to abt 75 km before Warburton
84,18 km (Total so far: 7.834,18 km) – Altitude climbed: 201 m
Weather: Moderate side, tail and head wind

Today is our National holiday and it was the best day so far on the Great Central Road. I still had the advantage in many places of a recently graded road (although less and less, the further I ride west). The area is mostly flat. Few low inclines, but it’s rather tough going up with the winds, the sand and the weight off the bike.
This must still be the Gibson Desert. The map doesn’t show an exact line, but I guess after Warburton it will be the Great Victoria Desert.
Traffic was ok today. A bit in the morning, none for about three hours early afternoon, then quite a bit late afternoon. All in all about 25 / 30 vehicles.
Average speed for the day: a very satisfying 13,47 km/hr.

Day 165: 22 July 2019
From abt 75 km before Warburton to abt 10 km before Warburton
69,28 km (Total so far: 7.903,46 km) – Altitude climbed: 143 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head wind

State of the road today: 70% good, 30% bad.
I’m happy with that and would sign for it to be all the way like that to Laverton.
Wind was again working against me today. Saw quite a few camels.
Abt. 30 kilometer before Warburton is a bore with a windmill. Plenty of water and I took the opportunity to wash myself and the clothes of the last days.
I camped about 10 km before Warburton to stay out of the nightly sound and light show that comes with a settlement like that.

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Day 166: 23 July 2019
From abt 10 km before Warburton to abt 50 km after Warburton
64,51 km (Total so far: 7967,97 km) – Altitude climbed: 255 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head and side wind

A rough ten kilometer into Warburton. The place itself is like other communities full of garbage. The general store is pretty good. Big iron gates to secure the store, just like they do at the gas station. Crime must be something here.
I heard from a local the army was brought in during the Christmas Holidays. houses tend to be broken in almost guaranteed if people are away.

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So, Warburton is a good opportunity to resupply, although a bit expensive.
From here, it’s 245 kilometer to the next resupply point, Tjukayirla Roadhouse.
I had heard a lot of stories about paved sections of road after Warburton, but as ever, the stories varied immensely.
The first people to tell me about it were a couple of grey nomads at Warakurna. When I asked them how long these stretches were, after debating among each other, they agreed that it was one section of about 30 kilometer.

I asked the graders outside Warakurna about it. A section of 20 kilometer and a section of 50 kilometer, they said.
Some other grey nomads said it were only a few short sections.
The man behind the counter at Warburton Roadhouse said it was one longer section just outside town and then a few short stretches.
A couple in the general store told me “You’re gonna fly to the the next roadhouse over the asphalt”.

I met my first other cyclists on the GCR, a couple from Queensland. They confirmed I was on the 20 kilometer section of asphalt, and there’s a longer one at the next roadhouse.

So far, I can tell the asphalt starts about 10 kilometer outside of Warburton, and the stretch is 27 kilometer long.
Good camping tonight between the mulga trees.

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The only other cyclists I met on the GCR, a couple from Queensland.
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Typical scenery along the GCR.

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Day 167: 24 July 2019
From abt. 50 km passed Warburton to abt. 80 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse
123,11 km (Total so far: 8.091,08 km) – Altitude climbed: 355 m
Weather: Sunny, cloudy, strong and moderate tail wind

So just like a couple of months ago, it seems I ‘ve just got to moan about never having favorable road and wind conditions and hupsakee, within 48 hrs they are delivered. Today I got what I wanted.
Left the camping spot at 10:00 hrs (MCT). The wind was blowing pretty hard from the south-west, so working against, but it turned and turned all day. From south-west to south, to east to north and ending north-west. So most of the time pretty much in the back and by the time it came from the north, it blew much less strong.
The road surface: smooth gravel for the first 65 kilometer.
Then the second asphalt section started. From what I understood that was only to come tomorrow.
It last for exactly 51 kilometer.
So it starts about 110 kilometer after Warburton, or about 85 kilometer after Tjukayirla if coming from the other side.

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Never expected to ride 100 kilometers in a day on the GCR, let alone 123 !
It is my biggest distance in a day so far in Australia.
Average speed of the day: 17,40 km/hr.

Late afternoon it got very cloudy. Seemed like rain but it remained dry.
Temperatures rose to 38 degrees in the sun. Nights are getting warmer us well, around 12 degrees.
Coldest night so far on the GCR was 0 degrees, and that’s mid winter.

Still not much wild life. No camels today, kangaroos are a thing from a distant past, no cockatoos, no parrots, no birds of prey, not even those damned crows anymore.
Three swallows, that’s all I saw.

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Day 168: 25 July 2019
From abt. 80 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse to abt. 6 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse
73,21 km (Total so far: 8.164,29 km) – Altitude climbed: 220 m
Weather: Cloudy (few rain drops !), strong head and side wind

Amai, even though I rode 50 kilometer less than yesterday, it felt much, much harder. Excellent conditions can last for maximum one day only of course.
The track was still smoothly graded, best so far apart from the asphalt.
As so often, the problem was that strong head wind. If it is right in front of you, it doesn’t tend to turn around, like yesterdays tail wind.
Nothing to do than to push forward, slowly, and listen to some podcasts. I run out of Tour de France episodes today, and there’s no Telstra coverage in Tjukayirla. I’ll have to download the episodes of the last week in Laverton.
Spoke with the grader driver about 15 kilometer before the road house. A very friendly guy, French origin. He wondered whether those cars were slowing down for me.
Negative, I said.
They won’t for him either, but he refuses to make space for them in his grader. “20 tons of steel, not much they can do to me”.
I pitch the tent a few kilometer before the roadhouse.
Wildlife sightings today: flies.

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The bottle of Jim Bean at the dashboard 🙂

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Day 169: 26 July 2019
From abt. 6 km bf Tjukayirla Roadhouse to abt. 70 km after Tjukayirla Roadhouse
76,12 km (Total so far: 8.240,41 km) – Altitude climbed: 124 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate head and side wind

It’s been a very windy night. Wind from the south-southwest and it increases in force early morning. I consider taking a rest day but I’m not too pleased with my camping spot to stay a full day, so pack up anyway and ride towards the roadhouse.
It’s the usual setup, a gas station, with the pumps completely locked in iron cages to prevent theft, some greasy, unhealthy breakfast, sausages and burgers on offer and a small, very expensive store. Only frozen, white, spongy factory bread.
There’s tap water so a good opportunity to do some laundry.

Also, there’s a small paved section of road, 7 kilometer, at the roadhouse.
Stocked up with Three breads, enough cheese, Nutella, pasta, some vegetables and fruit all the way to the next roadhouse, Cosmo Newberry, 220 kilometer from here.
I have 21 liter of water on board.

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Royal Flyoing Doctor Emergency Service Airstrip ahead.
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You actually ride on the airstrip, the darker asphalt.
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Fantastic Road Train. 140 mt, 78 wheels on the ground, according to the driver.

The GCR is not as smooth as on the other side of Tjukayirla, much more corrugated, sandy sections, sections with big stones, but stil far, far better than anything east of Warakurna. All is rideable.
The wind has eased off considerably as well.
Twenty kilometer on the road, a friendly couple from Melbourne stops for a chat and offers me some small, frozen water bottles. They had recently done an organized bicycle trip from Geelong to Canberra and ask how the traffic behaves towards me, whether they give me some space and slow down a bit.
I tell them the truth.
They had similar experiences, even riding in a group with a support car, other traffic zipped passed them at 40 or 50 cm at high speeds. They were going for a next bike trip in Europe.

Only minutes after we said our goodbyes, a fool passed me at half a meter a full speed.
The road is 14 meter wide here.
You don’t do this by accident.
You even don’t do this by stupidity.
A monkey could do it better.
You do this on purpose, catapulting gravel on me and having me eating dust.
These brain deaths never take my invitation to stop, don’t have the guts for it I guess.
I always call upon all the known gods they will have a breakdown in the next few minutes.
Six months on the road in Australia, I must have had many hundreds of these XXXXXX, in all my cycling career surely more than ten thousand and one day, one day the gods will give me what I want and I will catch that vehicle. I can assure that no flying doctor, nor any other doctor will have to be called upon for him anymore. Or her.

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I need to ride 70 kilometer a day in order to reach Cosmo Newberry in three days. In theory, every day gets easier as the bike gets lighter going through the water and food.
But there are of course other factors, like wind and road quality as well.
All looks good and it starts to feel I’m nearing the end of this little off-road adventure. Only 235 kilometer to go to Laverton and the asphalt, 355 kilometer and I’m in Leonora at the junction of the GCR and the Goldfields Highway.

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Day 170: 27 July 2019
From abt. 70 km after Tjukayirla Roadhouse to abt. 75 km bf Cosmo Newberry
76,34 km (Total so far: 8.316,75 km) – Altitude climbed: 104 m
Weather: Cloudy, very light head wind

Continuing my long, long way through Australias centre. After 5 pm, just as I am ready to leave the road, a car stops for a chat. They have just gone, and another car approaches. I wait a bit to leave the road, as I prefer nobody sees where I go to sleep. It’s the same driver from a pilot car for heavy transport who stopped already a couple of days ago.
He tells me how he has just returned from an organized trip to Italy to follow the Giro. It’s all very pleasant, but with all this talking the sun is almost behind the horizon and I am still standing on the road..
Luckily, almost anywhere is a good place to camp (as long as you have some wind protection), so just before it’s pitch dark the tent is erected and I can start preparing my evening meal. Still cooking in the tent. The number of flies is much, much less as a few weeks ago, but they are still around.
And it rains.
A steady rain for several hours.Doesn’t happen to often over here, I reckon.
I worry a bit what that will do to the track tomorrow. This red dust can surely be turned into sticky mud that stops all progress.

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Day 171: 28 July 2019
From abt. 75 km bf Cosmo Newberry to abt. 8 km bf Cosmo Newberry
70,34 km (Total so far: 8.387,09 km) – Altitude climbed: 140 m
Weather: Sunny, light head & tail wind

The rain doesn’t seem to have affected the road too much. It’s still mostly dust. The quality is again a bit worse than yesterday, some bike pushing. Although the days are still warm, and the nights are getting warmer as well, I can feel in the air I am slowly entering a different climate zone. Not that dryness anymore. Feels like spring is in the air.
Also, for the first time since long, condensation on the inside of the tent in the morning (wetter ground).

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Day 172: 29 July 2019
From abt. 8 km bf Cosmo Newberry to abt. 18 km bf Laverton
84,09 km (Total so far: 8.471,18 km) – Altitude climbed: 256 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

The shop in Cosmo Newberry settlement only opens at 11:00 am. I just needed water, which was available at a tap.
The first 28 kilometer, the track is still not in the a very god condition. Then, the grader is there. I give the man the thumbs up and thanks to a tail wind, I’m flying towards Laverton.

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Cosmo Newberry Airport. At the left in the picture is the airport terminal building.

A bit later, the grader overtakes me and stops. The driver hands me a welcome ice cold coke.
His frist question is how the car driver behave towards me. I tell him the truth, about how they can’t slow down when traffic comes from the opposite direction as well, how some come on purpose ridiculously close to me.
He has the same complaints. He tells me how he then asks them via vhf why on earth they can’t slow down a bit when they pass the grader. Then they answer “why ?”, or “Well, I passed you already now”.
All selfish, stupid idiots.
The other cyclists told me this stretch was still pretty bad when they were here, but I am lucky.
Could have made it to Laverton today if I wanted, but I prefer another night out in the bush.

Day 173: 30 July 2019
From abt. 18 km bf Laverton to Laverton
18,15 km (Total so far: 8.489,33 km) – Altitude climbed: 22 m
Weather: Sunny, strong side wind

Rolled into Laverton. With this side wind, it would have been a good idea to continue towards Leonora. that would have become a fine tail wind, but I feel the body and the mind need a rest.
The mind probably more than the body.
Again, thanks to Libby from Outback Parks & Lodges (http://opl.net.au), I get a nice room for free.

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Doctor Charles Laver, a man who rode his bicycle from Coolgardie to Laverton in 1886.

Day 174: 31 July 2019
Laverton

Rest day.
Since a few days there are a lot more flies again. Cattle stations have re-appeared.

Day 175: 1 August 2019
From Laverton to Minera Road
86,48 km (Total so far: 8.575,81 km) – Altitude climbed: 230 m
Weather: Sunny, strong tail wind

As it goes on days after a rest day, I have a very late start, and the legs seem very poor the first part of the ride. Luckily, I have a strong tail wind, and it’s all asphalt now for a while.
First part of the ride is still nice, but soon the mining traffic picks up.
All land is fenced off as well, both sides of the road.
Fifty km or so after Laverton, I ride through a completely destroyed area. Open mines. There is a stinky cobalt and zinc plant polluting the air. Haven’t seen these dirty chimneys spewing out their poison in a long while.
At the junction with the road to Minera, a gravel road, I take a left turn. No fences anymore and a good place to pitch the tent for the night.
Month of July was a good cycling month with 2.009 km.
That number has to come down next months, it’s way too much.

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Day 176: 2 August 2019
From Minera Road to few km before Leonora
51,75 km (Total so far: 8.627,56 km) – Altitude climbed: 118 m
Weather: Sunny, moderate tail & side wind

Uneventful day. There was a lookout from a hill about 15 km before Leonora with good views over the flat lands.
I rode into Leonora to do some shopping and pick up water, then rode back out of town to camp.

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Imagine living in this street 🙂
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Leonora
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Leonora