It’s been quite a special journey for me. It turns out I cycled about 1,250km over the 31 days, meandering here and there. Thank you so much everyone for following along and keeping me company on the road. Whilst it’s the end of this journey, it’s now the start of another.
I’m feeling ready to go home. After a morning hike on Day 31 to Hellfire Bay and back along possibly the most scenic bit of coast I’ve seen in WA, I met with my sister and her family who were passing through and came to pick me up from Lucky Bay (it actually brought tears to my eyes seeing my little nieces racing along the beach to meet me).
An overcast Day 30. I set off east again, past the full-scale replica of Stonehenge and into Cape Le Grand National Park. Morning tea at Le Grand Beach and then climbed Frenchman Peak. Pedalled on to Lucky Bay for dinner and sunset on the knoll overlooking the bay. Had kangaroos loitering around my tent in the dark that growled at me when I tried to get past.
Day 29: Cycled the 40km tourist drive past beaches, views of the Recherche Archipelago, wind farms and the Pink Lake, which is no longer pink. The nicest beaches I’ve seen on this trip. My bike stand snapped off, so future photos might have my bike lying down. Took refuge from a thunderstorm in a caravan park. I’ve spent more money on accommodation these last few days than I have for the rest of the trip combined.
Day 27 & 28: Rest days in Esperance, treating myself to a bunk at the YHA. I’m coming to appreciate how these are just as important as my riding days for going the distance. Had my bike wheel repaired professionally, explored the town, went to the markets and the community Carols By Candlelight, and fell asleep on the port tour.
A bright, sunshiney day on Day 26. Repaired the broken spoke at Munglinup Roadhouse using my last remaining spare, then set off down the main highway, mostly through farmland. A while later another spoke broke. No more spares, so I trued the wheel and limped on. About 55km shy of Esperance a second spoke broke. Game over (for today). The first car I flagged down, a builder named Reg, gave me and my bike a lift, going out of his way to drop me at a bike shop in Esperance.
Day 25: Vomited in the night due to food poisoning. Felt rough in the morning, but keen to move on. I set off north then east, through the tiny community of Jerdacuttup, where I interrupted a school concert when seeking to fill my water bottle. Not in the mood to respond to the waves from passing drivers today. Another broken spoke, followed by rain, wind, and the spray from passing road trains. The bike gods are testing me. Finally limped in to the Munglinup Roadhouse, had a much-appreciated hot shower at the truck stop and crawled into my tent — bike repairs would have to wait til morning.
I made my way out of the Fitzgerald River National Park and back to Hopetoun on Day 24, begging some water off some passing Swiss tourists on the way. Washed my clothes by swimming and showering in them at the beach, then holed up in the local library to rest, read and recharge phone batteries. Put needle and thread to work mending clothes at my evening beach campsite.
A nice old man named Frank (octogenarian nomad; ex-infantry; every third word is “bloody”) took me for an early morning drive on Day 23 into parts of the Fitzgerald River National Park that I can’t access on my bike. Had a swim after breakfast at Barrens Beach and a sweltering hot climb up Mt Barren, then cycled to Hammersley Inlet and lay in the warm, salty estuary, which is so shallow you can walk across it. A sheltered campsite by the water with trees to string my hammock between.
Day 22: I’ve reached the sea. After cycling through coastal scrub and farmland, and shepherding traffic to help an unappreciative bobtail lizard cross the road, I arrived at Hopetoun. Had a picnic by the beach and explored the town, and then set off into the Fitzgerald River National Park to see what’s there. The arrival of hot weather must have triggered the mating flights of the ant queens, because the evening air at Four Mile Beach was filled with flying ants. I took refuge in my tent.
Day 21: “Thunk!” — the sound of another spoke breaking and my heart sinking at 5:30am just out of Lake King. Everything was closed til noon on a Sunday, so I decided to push on the 70km to Ravensthorpe, minus a spoke and with the other spokes adjusted to compensate. Poorly graded road through grain fields and mallee scrubland, fingers crossed the whole way. An afternoon of rest, repair and camping in the Ravensthorpe town centre, an agricultural hub on a major crossroads.
Over a final hill on Day 20 and the massive Lake King basin was spread out below; a patchwork quilt of small salt pans and pink salt bush, with a causeway across the middle. Then “ping!”, another spoke broke. Always on the rear wheel side that needs a big spanner to repair. I’m getting better at roadside wheel truing though, and limped across the lake to the town. Trees filled with raucous baby lorikeets practising flying (and crash landing) during dinner. Girls working at the pub lent me a spanner and told me of a secret woodland camp spot.
Sunrise and breakfast at the actual Lake Grace on Day 19, one of WA’s largest inland salt lakes. Then back to the town to pack, and a long, hilly ride on a very straight road through grain fields and mallee scrub to Newdegate. Happy to discover that the amenities blocks in many of these small towns have showers — especially for smelly bike tourists like me, I presume. Found a hidden spot to camp by another salt lake a little further on, this one full of water.
Rolled in to Lake Grace and the local caravan park just after dawn on Day 18 and took the day to rest legs, recharge batteries, shower, shave, wash clothes, and explore the town. Lake Grace is the site of one of Australia’s few inland mission hospitals, which serviced a vast area and was a hub for the early Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Day 17: Dust devils in the fields, heat shimmers on the horizon, and lots of flies. I’m into salt and mallee country now, with lots of big white salt pans and fields of salt bush. And, of course, more grain fields. I met with ‘Kangaroo Steve’ again north of Pingrup at a site he releases kangaroos on, and we checked out how they were faring and filled some water troughs. An unglamorous campsite in an old sand mine just short of Lake Grace, though another very starry night.
Day 16: I’d stayed the night in Borden with a man known as ‘Kangaroo Steve’, who looks after rescued kangaroos. He had kangaroos everywhere, inside and outside the house (they’re not allowed in the kitchen though), and he would regularly get a bear hug from a big red named Rocky. I cycled on through the grain fields to another tiny town, Ongerup, where I repaired a broken spoke with the help of the local mechanics. Set up camp in a patch of open woodland under the clearest sky. And then the stars came out.
Lunch on the summit of Bluff Knoll on Day 15, the highest peak in WA. I then said farewell to the Stirling Range and cycled into the never-ending grain fields to the north to see what I could find. Ooh, a Dutch windmill!
Day 14: A steep scramble up lots of loose scree and boulder fields to the top of Mt Toolbrunup, WA’s second highest peak. The pointy summit gave 360 degree views while eating morning tea. A girl came and launched her drone as I was leaving. One mountain is enough for me in a day, so I trundled mostly downhill towards Bluff Knoll and set up camp. It was nice just riding through the pass with mountains on either side.
Back on the road and off to the mountains on Day 13, and I managed not to break anything. Cycled from Albany to the Stirling Range, and set up camp at Moingup Spring near the base of Mt Toolbrunup.
Day 11 & 12: Rest days in Albany. Sleeping in til 6am, eating, reading, eating, relaxing… and some sightseeing. The ‘Field of Lights: Avenue of Honour’, a homage to the ANZACs on Mt Clarence, was quite special. Thanks so much to Ingrid for being such a great host!
On Day 10 my chain broke! Thank goodness I’d met that bike guru in Mt Barker who’d given me the tool for it and taught me what to do. What might have been a showstopper was now just a roadside repair job, and I was soon back on the road, albeit with a slightly shorter chain. I climbed up Castle Rock, the more touristy end of the Porongurups where they’ve hung a platform off the side of the mountain top, and then pedalled on down to Albany to camp out on a friend’s floor for a couple of nights.
Day 9 saw me mostly on foot, hiking up various peaks in the Porongurup Range to enjoy panoramic views and gale force winds — and making good use of all my wet weather gear. Afterwards I spent a couple of hours weeding flowerbeds in exchange for a bed for the night at a nearby inn, as I wasn’t keen on camping in the cold and wet.
Alternating sunshine and showers all of Day 8, and the Stirling Range mountains appearing on the horizon. I had a very fortuitous encounter with a bike enthusiast in Mt Barker (the town), who immediately closed his office, cycled with me back to his house, served me tea, then serviced my bike in his workshop and loaded me up with more spare parts — amazing! I cycled to the top of Mt Barker (the hill) to see the rain-obscured view, and then on to the Porongurup Range, finally arriving at dusk.
Out of the forest on Day 7, and in amongst wheat fields (sometimes as far as the eye can see) and sheep paddocks, broken up by patches of grassy woodland. I was confused by a flock of sheep when they raised their heads up, up and up — they were alpacas. My gear cable snapped shortly before reaching Frankland, but a nearby vineyard operator saved me by scrounging a cable off an old rusty bike in his shed and crimping it to my one. My bike is starting to look like a real mish-mash of odd parts. Set up camp beside Lake Nunijup.
Day 6: Not much cycling, but some important lessons learnt. After getting repaired and stocking up on spare parts in Manjimup, my trusty steed and I are back on the road. We got a lift out to where we left off, and set up camp at Lake Unicup.
I was halfway to Frankland along a quiet country road on Day 5 when a rear wheel spoke broke and the resulting wheel warp stopped me — and I hadn’t brought any spares! Disengaging the rear brake and adjusting some other spokes to compensate allowed me to limp along a while longer, but I knew I was risking more breakages. Decided to hitch a ride back to the nearest bike shop in Manjimup (the next one wasn’t til Albany), but there were almost no cars to flag down on the quiet road. Then suddenly a massive truck pulls up and out pops a friend from my hometown — how serendipitous!
Day 3: A long winding road through the karri forest, with big hills that turn your legs to jelly on the way up and set your heart soaring as you fly down the other sides. Ending up at a pretty pool in the forest for the night.
A shorter early morning cycle on Day 4, mostly through rolling farmland, orchards and vineyards, to the historic timber town of Manjimup, where I had a rest day and explored the town. Saw ‘King Jarrah’, the timber museum, and the epic four-storey slide in the local park, which I couldn’t resist. I was lucky to be given a bed for the night at a farm outside town with two lovely people and their pet galah named ‘Sam’.
My second night on the road I camped in the forest by Workman’s Pool near Nannup. Had a swim and snoozed in my hammock (I had doubts about bringing the hammock, but am glad I did). Woke up to a freezing cold morning.
Spent the first night of my bike journey in a converted bus on my Uncle’s farm in Witchcliffe, near Margaret River. It’s an amazing piece of work; and it can still be driven (around the farm at least)!