A Perth-ect Start

I’m in Norseman, Western Australia.

Since the last update I have flown to Australia and have cycled from Perth to Norseman.

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In order to fly with the bike, you have to take off the handlebars, pedals and front wheel so that it can all fit in a box. I’m always slightly nervous as to how it will come out at the other end (will they have piled everyone else’s bags on top of my bike box?). Thankfully it made it to the Perth unscathed.

In Perth I was met at the airport by a fantastic Warm Showers host. As he is a keen cyclist, he had lots of local knowledge about the best routes to take. He also had lots of stories about his encounters with crocodiles, sharks and snakes – at times it felt like I was staying with a real-life Crocodile Dundee. I spent a day getting bits and pieces sorted (map, phone card, food, reassembling bike) before heading off the following morning.

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Setting off from Perth. The arm warmers are to keep the sun off (rather than keep me warm). Note also the muffins strapped to the back of my bike because my bags were so full there was no room for them

I decided to take the route that follows the coast, rather than heading inland immediately. Thus I headed south east towards Albany and Esperance before travelling north again to Norseman. This route is apparently a bit more interesting than the inland route and it allowed me to cycle through some impressive forests.

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An ice cream stop
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“Experience the Magic” 

 

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In Manjimup I stayed with another Warm Showers host who lived on a farm. He gave me a tour of some of the eco projects that he was working on, but the definite highlight was riding on a tandem through the orchards there.
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The Diamond Tree. It’s a tree that was used as a lookout for fires (before being replaced by spotter planes)
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Don’t look down: the view from the top of the tree (about 50m up)

It doesn’t take long before it starts to feel pretty remote in that part of Australia. On the third day after leaving Perth, I cycled 75 miles without passing through any towns or going past any shops: just 75 miles of trees, with the occasional parking spot at the side.

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Lots of rain on the way to Walpole
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I met another cyclist at the youth hostel where I was staying in Walpole. Check out the 5 inch tyres on his front wheel!

 

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Some big trees in the Valley of the Giants

There are lots of kangaroos here, although I’ve not been able to get a picture of any of the live ones yet. A couple of days ago I saw a couple of kangaroos jumping through the field next to where I was camping. I’ve also seen them jumping across the road as I’m cycling in the early morning.

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There are also lots of colourful birds here, but some of them can be quite aggressive. Over the past week I’ve been chased four times by some birds. They’re not big birds (maybe the size of a magpie), but they will follow me down the road, swooping down repeatedly over my head until I leave their airspace. One of them even clipped my helmet a couple of times. It was like something out of The Birds.

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More exotic road kill

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The other thing to mention is the road trains. There are lots of them on the road and they are pretty big (they are essentially three HGVs strapped together). The draft from them is huge. If I’m standing at the side of the road and one goes past, the pocket of air will shake my whole bike (even though my bike weighs over 50 kilos when loaded up). When I’m cycling on the road the drivers will normally move over to the other side of the road to overtake.  However, if they can’t see far enough ahead to pull off that manoeuvre, then they will blast their horn and I’ll have to go off into the gravel at the side of the road. I’m happy to oblige – I certainly don’t want to pick a fight with one of those things!

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ROAD TRAIN!!!!
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A late finish to reach the town of Gibson
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There were wild fires in this region a couple of weeks ago. Note the damage to the road sign

I’m now heading east across the Eyre Highway. This will be one of the most remote parts of the trip. There are no big towns on this section until Ceduna which is 1200km away. The only thing they have are service stations (or roadhouses as they are known here). However, even these can be 200km apart, so I’m going to have to carry a lot of food and water.

There aren’t many places with WiFi here, so it may be a while before the next update.

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