Monday, 20 August 2012

Home again : (

Day 18, Left Ceduna in the pouring rain just before sunrise, took shelter in the slipstream of a west bound road train in an effort to keep safe from any suicidal wildlife. Not too long before the sun was up and the rain abated. The sky was full of cloud but nothing came other than a few brief showers, nothing to worry the Rev'it gear. The Beemer just burbled along without a care in the world, I have been so pleased with the efficiency and performance of my bike and could not wish for a better mount. There are doubters of the GSA's reliability and suitability for long distance rides but I can't fault the bike one bit. I put it through hell on the Gibb River Road and subjected it to long distances between stops and it has never faulted. Today was to be an exceptionally long ride and I am racing the sun to the horizon, a race that can't be won. All of the riding today was done on the Eyre Highway which makes its way through the Nullarbor National Park, hence the reason that some call todays stretch 'crossing the Nullarbor". It's a long and tedious section of road which also takes in 'Ninety Mile Straight' which is the longest straight section of tarmac in Australia. Despite this, the scenery does vary quite a bit even though Nullarbor translates to 'treeless plain'. I eventually made it to Norseman, a distance of 1250kms for the day and across the border into Western Australia. I arrived just as the sun was setting behind the trees, which made for a strobed dash through the final few kilometres. On the run into town I noticed a sign for the Railway Hotel which for some reason sounded appealing, perhaps the thought of accommodation and the promise of a pint. I checked out the local motels on the way through and found them to be above my budget. The Railway Hotel is undergoing renovations which would appear to be out of reach for the current young owner, but she's doing a wonderful job all the same. A warm welcome awaits, and I doubt more affordable accommodation can be found anywhere in town. I paid $40 for b&b and nothing was too much trouble, with the added bonus of this being a beautiful old art deco building, I felt like Clarke Gable! Norseman is a small town surrounded by iron ore mines. Unfortunately for the local hoteliers & businesses the mining companies in this part of Australia supply their employees with on-site accommodation, so they fly in and fly out without spending a single cent locally, doesn't seem fair does it?

 

Day 19, It was a cold night last night and the temperature when setting off was 1˚C. This is the final leg with just 680kms to get me home. It's a familiar ride as it mainly consists of the ride back from Kalgoorlie which I did just a few months ago. The day developed into one of winter's sunny ones, which made for a great ride. Before long I was riding up the street towards home. I never thought that I'd be seeing this place again, but it's strange how things turn out ain't it? I was welcomed by Lynne and Nancy the cat, who tentatively await my next adventure.

 

Despite the initial disappointment of needing to curtail my original plan, I have thoroughly enjoyed my ride through some of this great country. All the equipment that I bought for the trip worked absolutely perfectly and the way that everything was packed and fitted to the bike made life on the road easy, so the months of planning and preparation were worthwhile. I may not be able to make safe passage through Indonesia and South East Asia because of the high temperature effect on my insulin, but I have plans to ride Europe, and North Asia very soon. Now I have the job of cleaning up, which will give me a great chance to reflect on everything. I enjoyed it, and I hope you did too. Best wishes 8)




Saturday, 18 August 2012

North to south, loving every minute!

Day 12, Wandered into Katherine today just to see what's around. Quite a big town, with a lot of Indigenous people seemingly eager to take advantage of any situation. Managed to get a decent coffee for the first time since leaving Perth, and they had Wifi, hence the last blog post. Cadel Evans was born here apparently, so a great big sign says upon entering the town from the other direction. Rode out to Katherine Gorge where there's a visitors centre offering tours and information, so I booked a boat cruise which went through two of the many gorges. Absolutely stunning scenery, everyone on the boat just sat and starred in ore at the size of the gorges and their chiselled, ancient appearance. The detailed explanation of their history and associated Aboriginal beliefs was fascinating. The young Aboriginal guide is from the Jamal tribe and identified all the trees and bushes and the many uses for a variety of applications. There was one tree which had burgundy leaves on it, the Aboriginies that roamed the land would collect handfuls of leaves and throw them into a billabong (pool of water), the leaves would starve the water of oxygen and the fish would float to the surface motionless. Once the Aborigines had collected the fish they required to eat, they would allow their picininnis (children) to play in the billabong thus re-oxygenating the water and the fish would again swim and keep the billabong stocked. This is just one incredible use that they had for their huge variety of plant life. They are quite different to the Aborigines that I saw outside the bottleshop this morning. After a fabulous day at the gorges I returned to Riverview and cooked dinner. Never really do much in the evenings as folk just seem to disappear into their tents and caravans.

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Katherine to Ceduna, a set on Flickr.

Day 13, A long round trip to Darwin today to get a front tyre fitted as the one that came across the Gibb River Road is knackered. I'd put aside a couple of tyres at Cyclone Motorcycles in Darwin prior to leaving Perth with plans of my original trip. When I arrived in Winnellie at the shop I was amazed. Tim, who I had previously only spoken to on the phone, and his partner had recently bought the business and have worked hard on giving it a face lift. What a fantastic job they've done. It is one of the best presented and stocked motorcycle shops I have seen in Australia, and also one of the biggest. They sell BMW, Honda, Husqvarna and Polaris mainly, but also have a range of second hand bikes, farm bikes, clothes and accessories. They have a modern workshop capable of anything, and they are so damned friendly and helpful. If anyone passing through Darwin needs any help with their motorcycle or gear, Cyclone Motorcycles has to be your first choice. The scenery and landscape in the Northern Territory is beautiful, although it did seem that most of it was on fire. The early morning sky was blocked out by smoke nearly all of the 300km journey there, but on my return most of it had cleared. By all accounts there are always spot fires breaking out in the Northern Territory and they are just left to burn themselves out unless they threaten homes or lives, as this clears a lot of the dry land naturally. Someone did say that one of the bird species will pick up a burning stick and drop it in an unburnt area in an effort to flush out its prey, I found this hard to believe, but you be the judge. Upon my return I visited the hot springs at the back of the campsite and once again they were very busy with either simple bathers or those looking to be cured. I was hoping that one of the mystical qualities of the water may just cure diabetes, but alas not.

Day 14, I said my goodbyes to Tammy and Will, and to Katherine the town. Not a bad little place to be based really, just a shame about the rather dodgy looking Indigenous folk, but they're probably harmless, and I certainly didn't hear of any reported trouble. I set off towards Alice Springs, not really knowing where I'd pitch my tent tonight. There was plenty of evidence of bush fires early in the trip, and as the morning sun shone through the smoke it was almost like a scene from a Hammer House of Horror movie, with the blackened skeleton trees and the strange shapes formed out of termite mounds. It was especially eerie as the road was so quiet. I went through service stop and town in search of somewhere that looked remotely hospitable but all the promise that the signage offered didn't seem to be delivered by the location, just one basic run down town or stop after another. I ended up riding much farther than I wanted and did the 620kms to Tennant Creek. I asked a local bobbie which was the best caravan park and he pointed me in the direction of the Outback Caravan Park. And what a belting little place, $16 per night, great facilities, great shop, a bar, pool and nicely situated down a quiet side street away from the probably harmless young Indigenous that were roaming the town centre. The town itself looks like it's big enough to be fairly self sustaining with it's little workshops and maintenance businesses, plenty of shops, hotels and restaurants. Basic but warm and welcoming. I noticed a menu on a letter head from the Tennant Creek Memorial Hall pinned to the notice board in the bar area and enquired as to it's whereabouts. I was passed a business card and told to "give them a ring and a courtesy bus will come and pick you up and drop you off at no charge". True enough they did, so off I went to the Memorial Hall for dinner, Barramudi, Mash, Salad and Hollandaise, very cheap and tasty too. It turns out that Charles & Di have also been there, that's if the photo on the wall isn't photoshopped. And after I'd had my fill they dropped me off back at the campsite and tucked me in!

Day 15, It's 7.00am, filling up the tank and it seems strange that every cash point in town including the one in the petrol station has a young Aboriginal lad doing things with it. Maybe it's just me but why do they need cash so desperately at this time of the morning? Anyway, onwards and upwards, off I headed to Alice Springs. The long black ribbon of tarmac going through the red centre is wonderfully smooth but it would seem that somebody pulled it too tight, as it's very straight. I stopped for coffee at Wycliffe Well and by all accounts it's the 'UFO centre of Australia'. Along with petrol and the usual refreshments, they sell an extraordinary amount of different UFO/Alien paraphernalia, which appeared to flying out the door! The reason for this is that many years ago a UFO was allegedly spotted flying nearby, It was probably more likely to be Charley Boorman! The scenery as I approached Alice became more dramatic with large ranges of Limestone taking up the horizon, I also came across the Devil's Marbles. As I rolled into town I couldn't help but be impressed with the surrounding countryside forming a backdrop in every direction. I made camp at Stuart Caravan Park, which has everything a guy could want, but little more. Basic facilities, clean and tidy for $17. I must add that a lot of the campsites will let you pitch your tent just about anywhere if you ask them nicely, so don't feel that you need to pitch it on the only dusty little patch left available, find yourself some shade. I wandered into town to pick up some provisions and it would seem that Alice suffers the same problems as other Northern Territory towns, Aboriginals & alcohol. It's a pleasant little town but I feel the countryside with its many national parks has a lot more to offer, and of course just down the road is Uluru. Alice has a lot to do and see, weeks would be needed to do it justice, but I must move on.

Day 16, The surrounding countryside of Alice is absolutely stunning, it really is a beautiful town. I head off south not really knowing where to, but I know it's going to be a long run. For about 150kms the mountains and rocks of Alice extend until it becomes rolling hills and treescape. Across the border into South Australia I'm heading for Coober Pedy with the hope of finding a site for camping, the road is long and straight following the Central Australian Railway for a while, the spectacular colours remain for the time being. I'm stalked and chased by a dingo, either that or he's impersonating a dog just chasing tyres. On the run into Coober Pedy the horizon is littered with different sized sand piles, dozens at first but then thousands. Coober is an opal mining town and it would seem that they dig a hole, find an opal and leave the hole, there are signs everywhere warning of deep shafts and not to run across the surface. 10kms out of town I join a queue of motorists waiting to go through a drug and alcohol test station set up by the local police, the senior officer advises me that there is little on offer in town. I call in for petrol and have a look around, it may be unfair of me to make such a quick appraisal but I tend to agree with the officer. I continue, after Coober Pedy the countryside becomes vast treeless plains offering neither the emus or myself little protection from the wind that is howling from the west. If I were a yachtsman today I'd be one of those acrobatic guys standing off the side of the boat while it leans at a ridiculous angle, that's how I feel on the Beemer right now. from memory there should be more camping available about 160kms out of Coober, I travel for 244kms before it finally appears, Glendambo. A dusty truck stop with two petrol stations, a neat wooden building pretending to be a hotel, caravan site and a bunk house. After surveying the dusty undernourished campsite I plump for the bunk house as my accommodation for the night. The bunk house, for $20, is a wooden shack with five rooms, 3 have two sets of bunks in each, 1 has a 1950's TV and an old couch and the last is a bathroom, all very run down. Still it's blowing like hell out there tonight and I don't wish to get my tent full of sand. I dined in the hotel for just $16 but the beers were horrendously priced. While walking back from the hotel to the bunk house I watch as the huge road trains pull in out of the dark to refuel in preparation for their run through the night. They look absolutely fantastic, immaculately presented with their coloured lights making them look more like a Blackpool tram than a long haul rig. They sit motionless with their engines rumbling continuously in the waiting yard while their stablemates refuel anxious to join the convoy.

Day 17, Yesterday was the first day since day 1 that I noticed clouds in the distance, overnight the clouds moved in and dampened the roads. Leaving just before sunrise the roads were still wet and the wildlife requiring better road sense included kangaroos, sheep and emus. The landscape maintained it's baron appearance until closer to Port Augusta, where the beautiful winter colours of trees and plants became more prominent as did the hillsides. Last night I decided it's time to stop fighting the cold, the temperature has been dropping since leaving Katherine and the morning starts have found me in need of better protection. So I've put the dry liners and the thermal liners in my Rev'it gear. I have also dug out my new winter gloves. What a difference, I can now ride without noticing the temperature or worrying about weather conditions. All the way to Port Augusta the road heads either East or Southeast, but once there I turn sharp right and head West on the Eyre Highway. Once out of town the countryside turns emerald green with rolling hillside of pastoral and multi farming land, it looks absolutely wonderful especially after the light rain. The storm clouds threaten but only once did I ride through a brief shower all the way to Ceduna. I'm like a race horse, once I'm in sight of the finish line I can't wait to get home. I'm now riding through country that I have been through and seen before although it still remains a fantastic ride. Tonight I stayed at the Ceduna Airport Caravan Park. I stayed in a small overnight villa, very basic, not too expensive, but convenient.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

And now the bad news!

Day 5, and a little of day 4… met up with some of Mazza's work friends and what nice guys they were. Very friendly and sociable, and couldn't do enough for this drift-in. Mazza lives in a company house in Pretty Pool which is right on the coast within a stones throw of the beach, but apparently there have been salt water crocodile sightings of late so that put paid to a swim.  On the Sunday, we, Mazza and I, just caught up while she told me all about the history of Hedland and showed me many of the sights, and what a great place it is too. Essentially it is a mining town and that's about it. Every single driveway has 2 or 3 or 6 mine approved vehicles on it. The mining companies as well as a few associate companies rent just about every house in Hedland and put their employees in them for nominal rent. Most employees are 'fly in fly out' so they spend very little money in Hedland which means it has very few facilities, but what it has are very good. The biggest commodity is iron ore, and the iron ore trains run out of town 200 carriages long. Work never stops in Hedland, nor in any other North Western Australian mining town, and the people just keep on coming for the work. I had a great time with Mazza and her friends and will always remember them.

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Port Hedland to Katherine, a set on Flickr.
Day 6, up at sparrows, said my goodbyes and headed off into the morning sun. The cows were once again out in force but this time they behaved, I reckon I got the only suicidal cow in WA the other day. Amazingly the road train drivers don't even lift off when they see them standing by the side of the road, quite obviously a 600kg beast doesn't harm a road train when they make contact. Today I was headed to Broome, 600kms further along the north coast. The scenery was forever changing from green fertile bush to dry baron plains to charred remnants of the aforementioned, The soil changed constantly from deep reddy brown to nearly every shade of orange you can imagine. Groups of small birds seemed to find fun in swooping down in front of the bike, while overhead or waiting in the occasional tree top, goshawks kept tabs on their prey, perhaps it was me. The road itself was incredibly straight and tedious, but at least the caravans and camper vans have once again replaced the mine site vehicles. I still can't figure out which road trains are going to affect your stability when coming in the opposite direction, some nearly blow you off the road while others pass as gently as an angels fart. I've studied their shape and size but their doesn't appear to be a common denominator for the turbulence. Shortly after lunch I rolled into Broome and after disappointment at a few of the campsites I finally got a great little spot in the Palm Grove Holiday Resort. Quite pricey, but that seems to be the norm in these parts. The ablution block comes a very close second to the Anchorage in Kalbarri, and I very quickly made use of their swimming pool. Once refreshed I investigated the town which is pleasant, but the Cable Beach area is very nice. It's a happening kind of place that is absolutely chockablock full of tourists, but not to the detrement of it's atmosphere. It has a great vibe and is wonderfully clean and tidy. In the evening I wandered down to Cable Beach to take the obligatory shot of the ships of the desert at sunset and followed that with a pint in the beachside bar. All in all a great day.

Day 7, I left Broome bright and early as usual, and headed to Derby. The scenery pretty much the same as the day before but steadily getting warmer, eventually reaching 35˚C. Derby seemed like a nice place with plenty to do, but patience got the better of me. So I decided to fill up, get a spare 5 litre fuel container just in case, and filled that up, and headed off along the Gibb River Road. The first 120kms or so isn't so bad as there is a single bitumen road that takes you that far. It would appear that vehicles don't give up that single strip of bitumen as I was run off the road and into a deep sandy gully within the first 50kms. After the bitumen it's hell on earth. I did visit the visitors centre in Derby to get a little advice on distances etc. There should've been a sign up on the wall saying "Any motorcyclists wishing to ride the Gibb River Road make sure you either have the ability to complete the Dakar, or be a complete twat!". Unfortunately I didn't know any better. There was one guy in the visitors centre who had just completed the trip in a 4WD and was offering his tuppence worth, eventually ending the conversation with "well that's what you guys buy those bikes for ain't it?". On approaching the dirt I let a little air out of the tyres, hoping for good traction and control, pah! The road consists of gravel, sand, rocks, stones, corrugations, oh and creek (river) crossings. The biggest problem I found was there was no consistency for any length of time, the stuff under the tyres changed in an instant and then just as you may be getting to grips with that surface, it'd change again. Then there were the idiots coming the other way in 4WDs and camper vans, people who obviously have no regard for their vehicle whatsoever, flying along as fast as their nerves would stand. They also had very little regard for the safety of others coming in the opposite direction, showering them in whatever the road surface was and blinding their vision with the thickest cloud of dust you could imagine. My first stop was Manning Gorge Roadhouse which is 200kms in. They also have a campsite another 7kms further into the bush, which was my only real option. I arrived absolutely knackered and filthy dirty, with lungs full of dust. While I was setting up camp I was approached by a lovely couple, Ian and Angela, who had recently retired and were travelling around Australia with a caravan. They offered me dinner, which I graciously and desperately accepted. We had a great evening exchanging horror stories about the Gibb and life in general. It was common belief around the site that I still had the worst ahead of me. I slept terribly. 

Day 8, When I arrived at the Manning Gorge Road House the previous afternoon, the guy behind the counter took my money for the campsite explaining that it was 7kms out the back to the site. So I said I would fill up when coming back through in the morning. When I arrived at the pumps at 7.00am the following morning, they were all locked up, the bloody place doesn't open until 8.00am. So I wasted an hour of the best time of the day to travel just waiting for the place to open. The previous day I'd lost count of the near misses I had just from the tyres, particularly the front, sliding about all over the place. I'd been warned by many campers at the site that the first 25kms going in the direction I was headed, are about the worst, as the grader had been through but not cleared the rocks. And there was plenty of proof in the campsite that these rocks were capable of inflicting punctures. I managed to get through the rock section and continued on my unpleasant way. About 50kms out from the road house I came upon a fairly deep looking water crossing and gingerly took the plunge. With about 2 metres left to go the engine sucked in water and stopped dead. A million miles from anywhere, standing in a river with a flooded engine, great! I couldn't budge the bike by myself, but after a couple of minutes along came Errol, a guy that had been chatting to me while I packed the bike earlier. He was travelling with another camper van, so they all got out, and the two guys took off their socks and boots and helped me to push it out. I took the plugs out, turned the engine over until petrol spat out instead of water, replaced the plugs and bingo, the Beemer fired up. I have given this bike such a flogging over the past couple of days and felt so guilty about what I'd done. After many thanks the camper vans pootled off while I packed everything away again. About 20kms further on I fell off in deep sand, inevitable really, it was all happening today! After another passing vehicle stopped and the driver helped me get the bike upright, I struggled along for another 210kms until reaching Home Valley Station. What a relief to find such an oasis in the middle of nowhere, well not exactly, I only have another 66kms of the Gibb left to do. This station is wonderful, great campsite, great facilities including a pool and a wonderful restaurant which I patronised later that evening. What a terrible day, I hate this Gibb River Road.

Day 9, Up early again in an effort to get on the Gibb before anyone else, not a chance! Onwards I meandered through quite a rough section of mainly rocks and gravel, then the bit many people had warned me about, The Pentecoste Crossing. This is the widest river crossing on the Gibb with a uneven rocky base. I stood at the waters edge and weighed up my options, didn't really have many. Their was a couple who had just driven through in a 4WD stopped over the other side, waiting to take pictures, probably of me falling off! I wobbled in, deciding that riding with my feet as kind of outriggers was the best way, not too much speed else the bow wave gets too big and does what it did the other day. I made it to half way where it gets quite shallow and studied the next deeper section, while I was waiting, another 4WD came passed and gave me a good indication of the depth, about 3/4 of the way up their wheels. Without too much much drama other than bouncing from one rock to the other, I made the other side and I was elated, I had crossed the Pentecoste and was nearly out of the Gibb. The couple on the other side had some great pictures and have promised to send them to me. The section around El Questro was really rough and corrugated but didn't last too long and before I knew it I was back on tarmac. I managed to ride the Gibb River Road, 600kms of dirt, no punctures and only one very minor tumble. 50kms later I was in Kununurra, and pitched my tent at Hidden Valley Caravan Park. Good facilities and great grassy campsites for the tents, has a pool, and good kitchen facilities all for just $12, bargain! I believed Kununurra was big town, but was surprised how small it was. It's surrounded by fantastic countryside and Kununurra Lake which is teeming with wildlife. Unfortunately an unwanted guest has made it's way over from Queensland into the North of Western Australia, the Cane Toad. This venemous reptile is killing all kinds of wildlife throughout the Northern Territory and has now started invading the west, many have been caught in the Kununurra area. The Indigenous people in and around Kununurra are very friendly and welcoming, in fact the only positive encouragement I got along the Gibb was from a young Aboriginal guy who drives it once every year. 

Day 10, I was expecting a long day in the saddle today, which was to be the ride to Katherine along with an excursion to Lake Argyle which is about 80km away from Kununurra towards Katherine. After visiting Lake Argyle I decided to spend the day and night there, as it is absolutely idyllic and surrounded by spectacular countryside. I also needed some time to mull a few things over, well one thing really, my diabetic care. Since leaving Perth the temperature has been steadily climbing, not ridiculously but up in the 30s. My Insulin isn't maintaining a good low temperature and this has affected its ability to bring down my blood glucose levels. I'm not at all confident that I can carry Insulin through Indonesia and South East Asia for 4 months and believe it is going to work effectively, in fact I'm sure it'll all be dead long before South East Asia as Indonesia is too humid and the cooling effect of the Frig wallets will be compromised. So it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to bin the ride to the UK as it will place me in too much danger. I'm rather gutted, but diabetics can end up in a world of trouble if they are unable to maintain good control. I didn't sleep well last night knowing that I've failed, but hey, there's always cooler Europe. Anyway, today I'm relaxing and thinking, and floating around in a pool that has the most unbelievable view, and just coming to terms with things. The Lake Argyle Caravan Park is absolutely fantastic, it has a resort type feel about it, yet it is just a caravan park/camp ground. It cost a huge $12 for one person, and that includes the use of all facilities. I am planning on coming back here next week after visiting Darwin to get tyres fitted. I must admit today has been the first day that I have felt how I wanted to feel for the whole trip, not rushed, able to soak up the atmosphere, and it's sensational. The sights, sounds and colours of the Kimberley region have proven to be much more wonderful than I could have imagined, and living in Western Australia for the past 22 years, I've seen many TV programs and advertisements promoting the region. If anyone is looking for a stopover in this area, skip Kununurra and come here instead, more bang for your buck!

Day 11, Bit windy in Lake Argyle last night but the MSR tent stood up to it well. Didn't sleep the best again despite the fact that I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I set off to Katherine today where I will spend three nights. Then on Monday I can shoot up to Darwin to get my tyre fitted and then back again. Then on Tuesday I'll head back to Lake Argyle. The scenery today has been the best yet, from Timber Creek to within 50kms or so of Katherine the roads meandered through spectacular countryside, I could take a million photos but none would do the feeling or scenery any justice, so I just lapped it up. I saw another cyclist on the road today, and I've pitched my tent next to a young couple from Switzerland who are riding a tandem from Darwin to Perth. I can't imagine what compels someone to cycle the long country roads of Australia. There would be days when you start in the morning and at the end of the day get to the point in the road that you could see in the morning when you set off. It takes all sorts I guess. I've just been for a walk out of the back of the campsite to have a look at Katherine Hot Springs. It is a little creek, beautifully shaded, with presumably hot water running through. It was chockablock full of people, it's obviously a very popular local spot. The Riverview Tourist village is I guess adequate, it's your typical sleepy town campsite with the very basic of everything, but it has hot springs! May give them a try tomorrow. Now I'm just relaxing, I've put my watch on 1 and 1/2 hours as I'm now in the Northern Territory. So it'll very soon be dinner time.


Please be patient for blog updates as I can only do it when I have Wifi available, which hasn't been often in Australia.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Perth to Port Hedland

I said goodbye to Lynne and Nancy the cat with a lump in my throat the size of Ayres® rock. But once underway I felt at ease with what lay ahead. The sun rose behind the nights rain clouds making their edges glow like smouldering paper as they disappeared allowing the sun to shine brightly through which set the tone for the rest of the day. The road i took north was the Brand Highway which proved a great choice, fast, smooth and never boring. The countryside has evidently seen more rain than Perth as the lush green rolling hills lay testament. I lunched at Geraldton missing out on the free wifi available at Dome cafĂ© due to my own ignorance. I then continued towards my destination for the day, Kalbarri. On the approach to Kalbarri I visited the cliff top lookouts which offer amazing views of the ravaged limestone edge of this part of the coast. Here I met Andrew, a brave young adventurer from Switzerland who has just begun a 12 month motorcycle tour of this great land as tribute to his Father who passed away last year. We both headed down into Kalbarri and set up camp in the Anchorage Caravan Park. I believe that during the course of this adventure I will be reporting on many of the worlds ablution facilities, and I doubt the ones here will be bettered. We dined at the Kalbarri Hotel where the food was reasonably priced and absolutely delicious, sorry Dave forgot to take a photo! I've had a wonderful first day on the road, and can only hope that there are plenty more to follow.

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Dales Gorge KarijiniApproaching Dales GorgeBloody red earthKarijini Campsite (Dales Gorge)Karijini MapThe Outback
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Perth to Port Hedland, a set on Flickr.
The following day, day 2, started well. It took me 2 hours to shower, break camp and eat breakfast, so i was on the road at a chilly 7.30am. The day gradually got warmer and by mid morning was a comfortable 18˚C. I was heading to Carnarvon, just 380kms up an incredibly straight road from Kalbarri. despite the roads obvious lack of entertainment the ever changing scenery along with Genesis's finest tunes kept me occupied enough to fend off the boredom, thank goodness the panniers are big enough to carry LPs. I arrived in Carnarvon just after midday and had a quick ride around town in an effort to find somewhere to have lunch. I couldn't see anything obvious so I headed to the campsite. Yesterdays campsite was a delight, with it's 5 star ablution block, swimming pool, kitchen areas, overlooking the harbour etc. and all for just $17.50. Todays offering at the Carnarvon Caravan Park is dire, $30 gets you nothing more than a tiny patch of dirt and a dank ablution block for 4 when there must be 100 or more campers! After setting up camp I headed back into town in search of something to eat, I could find nothing better than Eagle Boys Pizza which is bad at the best of times. I searched everywhere for something nice to report on, but I'm sorry Carnarvon, I found absolutely nothing.

Day 3, I headed off early into the dawn as I knew it was going to be a long days ride to Karijini National Park. Not long after leaving Carnarvon I had a run-in with a cow, quite literally. I have seen the sign posts indicating that stray cows roamed the plains, I had no idea cows moved so fast, out of nowhere this young cow appeared, running across the road straight towards the bike, thankfully as I veered to the left the cow also turned and started running in the same direction as me, so we narrowly avoided contact as I accelerated away from it. This however, left me a little shaken and extremely wary of any other wildlife with a death wish. For the next 400kms or so, the road was strewn with road kill, most of it caused by the road trains rolling through the night, but it made it very hard for me to take my eyes off the sides of the road. The miles went by and the landscape changed from flat plains of endless green bush to huge rocky outcrops that looked like the backs of awakening dinosaurs bursting through the whispy light green spinifex. As I rode through the towns of Paraburdoo & Tom Price the only other vehicles sharing the road were the approved mine site vehicles with their flouro decals and red pennant flags atop a flexi fibreglass pole, this is definitely mining country. Eventually I made it to Karijini, and what a place. The first thing I noticed was the ground, how the hell was I going to pitch a tent and get into it with all my gear without getting everything filthy from the brown dust that is everywhere. It's a stoney, dusty grassy landscape that stains everything red that makes contact. Anyway I embraced it and it left me red in colour but non the worse for it. It is a fantastic place with stunning scenery that is so diverse. That night I cooked dinner for the first time on my little camp stove and after referring to the instructions that I had realised I'd need to bring along, everything went swimmingly. Soon later after a fantastic sunset I hit the sack.

Day 4, waking up in a National Park that I've wanted to visit for so many years, and it didn't disappoint. I had my breakfast and broke camp before exploring Dales Gorge and Fortesque Falls by foot. It couldn't get any better, like so many single travellers before me, I'd have to say that the only thing missing was someone to share it with. The camping facilities are simple but in keeping with the surrounding landscape, come prepared, take home what you came with and for $7 per night it has to be one of the finest spots to sleep beneath the stars. Next stop Port Hedland. As the gorges and peaks disappeared, the landscape returned to a more baron giant rock strewn plain with trees and bushes barely clinging to life in the dry climate. Where do these rocks come from? huge rounded boulders one on top of the other, did they come from above or below, and despite being hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town, how is it that someone always seems to have a can of spray paint in their car? Mid afternoon I arrived in Port Hedland, another of Western Australia's booming mining towns. Since leaving Perth and heading north the temperature both night and day have steadily increased and as I rolled into Port Hedland it was 30˚C. I had a bed organised here, courtesy of Mazza, a great sort who I shared an office with a short time back. She decided to leave Perth and return to the place where she was born and raised, and is thoroughly enjoying a new chapter in her life.